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Avsløringen av fangemishandlingen i Irak vil måtte føre til et oppgjør med privatiseringen av det amerikanske forsvaret, der selv avhør av fanger er satt ut til private, skriver Julian Borger i the Guardian.

The very idea that the act of extracting information from prisoners might be turned into a for-profit operation would have seemed a black joke not long ago, the premise for a Monty Python sketch, perhaps.
Now it is clearly no more than the next logical step in the creeping privatisation of conflict. Security firms have an estimated 20,000 employees in Iraq, a huge private army (more than twice the size of the British contingent) that guards politicians and pipelines, and which has inevitably been drawn into direct combat in recent months. So, if there were not enough military intelligence and CIA interrogators to get around to the thousands of Iraqis picked up in the security sweeps of hostile areas, hiring freelance «intelligence specialists» must have seemed a no-brainer for cost-conscious government planners.

At Abu Ghraib – which not long ago was held up by Washington and London as the most powerful symbol of Saddam Hussein’s sadism – US military intelligence cordoned off a cell block and coopted young military policemen into softening up the targets of their interrogation. Among the interrogators were employees of a company called CACI International, one of the military and intelligence contractors that has prospered over recent years in northern Virginia, within easy driving distance of the Pentagon and CIA headquarters in Langley. Translators, meanwhile, were provided by the Titan Corporation, a California-based contractor on the point of being bought by Lockheed Martin.

Privatiseringen skyldes effektiviseringen og rasjonaliseringen av forsvaret. De samme folkene som søker avskjed, tar jobben tilbake til en langt høyere lønn. Etter 911 hadde Pentagon plutselig mannskapsmangel. Det utrolige er at det ikke foreligger retningslinjer for hvordan de private entreprenørene kan stilles til ansvar. Det er ikke avklart om det juridiske ansvaret dekker de innleide. Dette åpner mildt sagt for utflytende situasjoner.

The military investigation by Major-General Antonio Taguba reserves some of its harshest criticism for CACI employees, whom he accuses of being among those giving the orders in Abu Ghraib. It also declares a Titan translator a «suspect» in the abuse investigation. Seventeen soldiers and officers have been relieved of their duty, and six low-ranking military police guards face the prospect of court martial. But there is no set of rules for the contractors. One was detained by the military investigators but later released because the military realised it had no jurisdiction over him. Both CACI and Titan said they had not been notified by the Pentagon of any wrongdoing by their employees and had therefore not taken any action.

Paul Bremer har eksplisitt unntatt kontraktører fra irakisk lov, skriver Borger. Det er vedtatt en militær lov som dekker forholdet, men den er ikke brukt:

…. Congress has passed the 2000 Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, which allows for prosecution of crimes committed by civilians attached to military personnel in foreign countries, but there is no record so far of the law being successfully applied.

Borger tror at noen er interessert i at det skal være en juridisk gråsone. Man kan benytte kontraktørene til jobber man ikke ønsker å bli assosiert med selv, og kan således stå fritt til å benekte enhver befatning.

Borger mener kontraktørvirksomheten er blitt så stor at disse private selskapene har fått en kommersiell interesse av fortsatt konflikt i Irak. Ifølge en NYTimes-artikkel tar de private sikkerhetsselskapene 25 prosent av budsjettet for Irak.

The danger of market forces

The Iraq torture scandal has emphasised the disturbing consequences of the US military’s reliance on private contractors, writes Julian Borger
Thursday May 6, 2004