Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Torture Is Our Business 

Via Cursor: John Stanton and Wayne Madsen of CounterPunch checked the want ads and discovered that lots of private contractors are looking for lots of qualified interrogators. In doing due diligence on companies like CACI, ZKD, Design Staffing LLC and CalNet, Stanton and Madsen uncovered corporate ties to quite a few familiar names -- including those of Oliver North and the Carlyle Group:
The U.S. Army has employed as many as 27 contractors to run its interrogation operations, according to media reports. But while CACI and Titan are getting all the mainstream media play, it appears that far more than 27 contract employees were involved in recruiting and placing interrogators in various locations. Some of the firms involved in the Bush administration's "TortureGate" include an odd assortment of telecommunications companies and executive placement firms that have jumped into the lucrative torture business in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan, Iraq and at secret locations throughout Central Asia and North Africa.

Interrogators can earn up to $120,000 per year plying their trade and most are former military and law enforcement personnel. More ominously, these so-called "private military contractors" are nothing of the sort. They are paramilitary organizations that are funded by the US Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State, and assorted other agencies through contract vehicles known as Basic Ordering Agreements or "BOAs" hidden throughout the vast US government bureaucracy. It now is well known that CACI got its money through a BOA with the Department of the Interior . . . .

It is noteworthy that according to The Washington Post, CACI and McNeil Technologies are the recipients of Federal contracts to process Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for Federal agencies, including the Pentagon and Homeland Security and Justice Departments. In what could be a major conflict of interest, any FOIA request from the public or the media for information on Pentagon or intelligence agency contracts with CACI or ZKD on their interrogation/translation work abroad could be handled by employees of CACI, an interrogation contractor, or McNeil, a client of ZKD, another interrogation contractor . . . .

Since the US Congress, the Pentagon, the White House and US Department of Justice seem determined to sweep the entire TortureGate disaster under the rug before the November 2004 elections, the only check on their power appears to be the financial markets. As was recently reported by the Washington Post, directors of one of CACI's pension funds, the California Public Employees' Retirement System, or Calpers, planned to meet with CACI in early July "...to discuss concerns about [CACI] management controls, training and legal procedures at the Arlington-based government contractor... What the management of this company owes [shareholders] is a full explanation of exactly what has occurred, exactly who was responsible and a full accounting of what will be done to reform its practices."
UPDATE: Here (via Avedon Carol) is a modest proposal from David Allen of Thoughtcrimes.

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