Thursday, June 23, 2005
Outsourcing the Military
PETER SINGER: I think one of the things that was particularly surprising about what happened at Abu Ghraib was the mass presence of contractors there. The U.S. army found that 100% of the interpreters and up to 50% of the interrogators that were onsite there during the abuse period were private contractors; the interpreters from a company called Titan, the interrogators from a company called Khaki. The army also found in one of its reports that the interrogators who were contractors were involved in 36% of the abuse incidents. And one of the things that was disturbing about this, there's two levels here. The first is that the army looking back found that as many as a third of those contractors who were interrogators didn't have formal military training as interrogators.
And then on top of it, you have the fact that they specifically identified six of them as individuals who were involved in it, and not one of those people, not one of those six contractors, has yet been even charged with a crime, let alone prosecuted or punished for it. And so you compare what's happened to the contractors to what happened to the enlisted men and women there who were rightly court-martialed for it, and it illustrates this gap in the law, this legal vacuum that contractors are in. One of the things that was interesting in speaking with a military lawyer about it is, he said, you know, the problem is that contractors exist right now in the same legal vacuum, the same legal netherworld that the detainees at Guantanamo Bay are in. Basically, there's not laws there to create their status and what -- how you should deal with them under the law.