Saturday, December 10, 2011

The US Privatizing of Crimes Against Humanity

Excerpt from Annie Byrd's "Feeding the Monster..." Rights Action December 9, 2011

Privatizing Crimes Against Humanity

The use of private security contractors by the State Department, the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency has skyrocketed since September 11, 2001.

A two year Washington Post investigation published in July 2010 showed that just in the CIA one third of all employees, approximately 10,000 people, actually worked for private security contractors. Defense Secretary Robert Gates explained that he has not been able to get a number on how many private contractors work in the Secretary of Defense.

Blackwater, among the largest and best known government contractors, was founded in 1997 in McLean Virginia, home of the CIA, the same year that an internal directive limited the possibility of the use of torture by informants on the CIA payroll, and the same year approximately 1,000 CIA informants, at that time reported to be a third of the CIA employees, were purged from their payroll for participation in crimes following controversies that exposed involvement in drug trafficking, torture and murder.

Many known human rights abusers have been involved in the private security industry. Billy Joya, a former member of the 1980s Honduran death squad Batallion 3-16, is reported to own private security companies in Central America, and founded a company in the US in 1997. He was also sighted in the 15th Batallion near Tocoa, Colon in March 2010, a date that coincided with the birth of a death squad reportedly operating out of the 15th Batallion which, to date, has been implicated in close to 50 assassinations.

In September 2011 Joya appeared on the Honduran national news program 'Frente a Frente' with a strange cost benefit analysis of police in Honduras, apparently promoting the argument that the police are expensive and inefficient, the inevitable discourse that proceeds privatization of any state enterprise.

The AUC Colombian state-sponsored paramilitary forces, deeply implicated in massacres, murder, torture and drug trafficking, have long been connected to private security companies. Chiquita Brands Fruit Company is currently being sued by the surviving families of Colombian unionists murdered by the AUC after Chiquita made payments in 2004 to AUC affiliated private security companies.

There is no doubt that private security contracting companies are a means of facilitating impunity for States and corporations by contracting out repression and other dirty business. Lawsuits forced Blackwater to change its name to Xe and move its headquarters to the United Arab Emerites.

The birth of denationalized mercenary armies, contracted for military and police functions, and involved in heinous crimes, is a real threat to the rule of law on a global scale, and it looks like Honduras and Central America may already be their next big theater of operations.

Calls for International Commissions

The measures undertaken thus far demonstrate no real commitment or capacity to achieve effective reform. In reaction, in early November, Julieta Casetallanos put out a call to form an international commission to intervene in the police and carry out a reform process. Real reform and international observation is urgent, especially as Honduras enters a volatile yet potentially transformative electoral process while at the mercy of deeply corrupt and violent state institutions controlled by people put in place by a military coup and willing to do anything to retain political control of the nation.

After the 2009 military coup, a proposal surfaced to create an office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights in Honduras, but few advances have been made in establishing one, and the mandate of a UNHCR office would not be broad enough to encompass the need to oversee a purge of state institutions...

No comments:

Post a Comment