Tortured much? Yes? You’re hired


by Rumbold
27th September, 2008 at 9:28 pm    

The awarding of government/state contracts is not always a clear cut business. Firms who have failed in the past are often awarded new contracts in a different department. Whilst the selection criteria cannot be too precise, you could at least assume that a firm engaged in institutionalised torture would not be awarded any more government/state contracts. You’d be wrong, thanks to the SNP:

“A FIRM ACCUSED of torturing Iraqi prisoners at the infamous Abu Ghraib jail in Baghdad has been hired by the Scottish government to carry out the nation’s next census. Granting CACI (UK) – a subsidiary of the firm accused of torture – the £18.5 million contract has not only badly wounded the SNP government’s claims of being more ethical than Labour and putting human rights at the top of its agenda, but has also led to fears personal data on millions of Scots collected by the company might be sifted by the US government given the close relationship between the Bush administration and the CACI head office in Arlington, Virginia.

CACI’s parent company in the US was one of two private US contractors hit with lawsuits from four Iraqis at the end of last month, over allegations they were tortured in Abu Ghraib. Abu Ghraib became notorious in late 2003 when pictures of the horrific torture and degradation of Iraqi detainees were shown around the world. In the prison, US civilian staff working for private American security companies, which specialised in carrying out interrogation work for the US military, were heavily implicated in human rights abuses against detainees.”

It makes you wonder what crimes the firms that didn’t get the contract committed.

(Via Patrick Vessey and Dissident Voice)


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  1. Ashik — on 27th September, 2008 at 10:00 pm  

    A sensational article which places an undue burden on public authorities who often aware contracts after competitive tender.

    The company involved is a subsidiary to that involved in the allegations of abuses at Abu Graib and the nature of the contract in Scotland ie. census-taking is inoccuous enough. Or do readers believe that census takers are going to start using sleep deprivation and waterboarding tecniques on stubborn Scots who refuse to co-operate with the census?

    Corporate responsibility has to be weighed against commercial realities. For example IBM was involved in providing technologies which helped the architects of the holocaust collate and organise inmates of the concentration camps. Yet several PP’ers are likely to be using IBM computers and laptops today to write of their indignation at this article!

  2. Kismet Hardy — on 27th September, 2008 at 10:36 pm  

    IBS is torture

  3. Desi Italiana — on 28th September, 2008 at 12:50 am  

    “Corporate responsibility has to be weighed against commercial realities. For example IBM was involved in providing technologies which helped the architects of the holocaust collate and organise inmates of the concentration camps. Yet several PP’ers are likely to be using IBM computers and laptops today to write of their indignation at this article!”

    Apple has contracts with the US Dept. of Defense. For all of you listening to your iPods and pounding away at your MACbooks, remember that you are indirectly abetting the American Empire.

    Big Brother is watching you.

  4. Arif — on 28th September, 2008 at 11:35 am  

    There is a point to ethical consumption, especially if living in a capitalist society legitimised by the concept of consumer sovereignty.

    Through consumption decisions we would alter demand patterns and thereby price signals which may or may not make a company see commercial sense in changing their ways, depending on how articulate boycotters are in expressing the reasons for their decisions.

    A large government contract is the easiest way to make such a substantial impact and clearly articulate the reasons. So if Government tenders do not currently specify extremely strict Corporate Social Responsibility criteria for its whole operations (including parent and subsidiary companies), they are missing a trick.

    And similarly, I think if we are aware of boycott calls and agree with the reasons for them, and can find alternatives, surely we should take that into account in our own personal consumption decisions.

  5. MaidMarian — on 28th September, 2008 at 4:50 pm  

    Honestly – this is like something from The Modern Parents in Viz Magazine.

    Ashik (1) – If anything the article is even more sensationalist than that. According to this, the firm involved has been, ‘accused,’ rather than anything more substantial. For all I know it could be the people writing the article who are doing the accusing.

    Note also how the article is crawling with similar ‘reaches.’ ‘fears [Nothing more substantive?] personal data on millions [Buzz word alert!]of Scots collected by the company might [not will] be sifted by the….’

    What rather galls me about the article is the shameless way that it just looks for stalking horses to launch attacks. It’s all just a pretty cheap attempt to conflate the word, ‘Iraq,’ into anything – however tenuous the link. And in this case tenuous is putting it mildly.

    ‘It makes you wonder what crimes the firms that didn’t get the contract committed.’ No it doesn’t. It made me wonder when political pressure groups go so lazy and why internet fora started to assume the worst about everyone and indulge these crackpots.

    It’s this sort of reaching that makes the good arguments about ethical consupmtion harder to take seriously.

  6. douglas clark — on 28th September, 2008 at 5:01 pm  

    I agree with what Arif has to say here:

    A large government contract is the easiest way to make such a substantial impact and clearly articulate the reasons. So if Government tenders do not currently specify extremely strict Corporate Social Responsibility criteria for its whole operations (including parent and subsidiary companies), they are missing a trick.

    Except that, if memory serves me, they already do. Although I doubt that that would extend to pre trial allegations. Else, what’s to stop any competitor knocking you out by making a claim?

  7. sonia — on 29th September, 2008 at 12:12 pm  

    Private contractors and torture.

    well it all depends on how one defines torture as we know from the US government’s perspective.

    I’d also ask what about governments torturing people? What about that? they probably dont want to draw attention to themselves, pot kettle black etc.

  8. sonia — on 29th September, 2008 at 12:18 pm  

    Arif..”the concept of consumer sovereignty” is of course a made-up one and a ‘pretence’ capitalistic society uses. no one gives a damn about the consumer of course, unless you happen to also be a major cartel or something like that.

  9. sonia — on 29th September, 2008 at 12:22 pm  

    “The awarding of government/state contracts is not always a clear cut business.”

    you may want to look up EU Procurement Directives which came into force in 2007 if you are actually interested, they are meant to increase transparency of this process.

    Also the FOIA is very useful in this regard.

    (of course if corporations had their way, they’d get rid of these regulations. )

  10. MaidMarian — on 29th September, 2008 at 12:40 pm  

    Sonia (7) – ‘I’d also ask what about governments torturing people? What about that? they probably dont want to draw attention to themselves, pot kettle black etc.’

    And in that spirit, presumably these capmaingers don’t draw any benefit, use state schools the NHS etc.

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