September 6, 2003Strategic AbuseOutsourcing Human Rights Violations
By NEVE GORDON
In her book Mercenaries, Pirates, and Sovereigns
, Janice Thomson describes government before company, imparts a definition which helps explain a pervasive strategy used these days to abuse basic human rights: outsourcing, the contracting of violations from sources outside a government, company, or area....
Outsourcing has been put to use primarily in order to abdicate social and moral responsibility. Its benefits are legal, political, and economic.
From a legal perspective, employing subcontractors is an effective device since it obfuscates the connection between the perpetrator and the contravening act, making it extremely difficult to hold the violator legally accountable for the abuses it sanctions.
Human rights groups disclosed that Nike
employed children in substandard working conditions that endangered their health; they also revealed that Nike's
Southeast Asian employees receive a salary of two dollars per day, which cannot sustain them, let alone provide for health insurance and pension funds. When first interviewed, Nike CEO
and founder Philip Knight
asserted that his company wasn't responsible for the violations because subcontractors were committing them. It was later disclosed that Nike
didn't own any manufacturing companies; all production was subcontracted to firms in countries like Thailand.
has already transferred one hundred suspects to ally countries whose brutal torture methods have been amply documented in the State Department's
own annual human rights reports. "We don't kick the [expletive] out of them," one government official told the Washington Post.
"We send them to other countries so they can kick the [expletive] out of them." ...Amnesty International
reports that torture practiced by Israel's
subcontractor resulted in physical injury and, on a number of occasions, the death of detainees.
Military training and support of governmental security forces and mercenaries, used extensively by United States
and the former Soviet Union
after World War II, are
also mechanisms of outsourcing violations. More recently, Private Military Contractors (PMCs),
frequently run by retired military generals, have been utilized to do the dirty work previously carried out by foreign mercenaries. PMCs
are the new big business on the block. Their job is to provide stand-ins for active soldiers, engaging in everything from actual fighting and battlefield training to logistical support and military advice at home and abroad. Writing for Mother Jones
, Barry Yeoman
suggests that they enjoy an estimated $100 billion in business each year, with much of this money going to Fortune 500
firms like Lockheed Martin
, Raytheon, Halliburton and DynCorp
. In the recent U.S.
war on Iraq, the United States employed an estimated twenty thousand corporate workers in the region; that is one civilian for every ten soldiers a tenfold increase over the 1991 Iraqi War
The advantage of subcontracting to PMCs
is clear: it allows the executive branch to avoid public debate or legislative controls.
While Congress capped the number of U.S.
soldiers who could be sent to Colombia
at five hundred, the Pentagon
together with the Colombian
government have been employing additional corporate soldiers from DynCorp
to carry out anti-drug operations. According to Peter Singer
from the Brookings Institute,
the firm utilizes armed reconnaissance planes and helicopter gunships designed for counterguerrilla warfare, and has been involved in several firefights with local rebels. DynCorp
has lost several planes and employees to rebel fire, but there has been no public outcry about the losses, simply because "corporate soldiers" were killed rather than "real soldiers."
In Bosnia, the
addition of two thousand corporate soldiers helped evade the Congressional limit of twenty thousand troops. The issue isn't only that the Pentagon
to undercut restrictions made via democratic procedures, but also that corporate soldiers are accountable solely to the corporations that retain them, rather than to governments.
Employees of DynCorp
in Bosnia were caught
operating a sex-slave ring of underage women and even videotaping a rape
. Leslie Wayne
from the New York Times
reported that while DynCorp
employees trafficked in women including buying one for $1,000 the company turned a blind eye. Since the DynCorp
employees involved weren't soldiers, their actions weren't subject to military discipline. Nor did they face local justice; they were simply fired and sent home.
... An additional example wherein outsourcing is used to systematically violate human rights is the private prison complex, which currently holds over one hundred thousand inmates. In this case both political and civil rights, as well as economic and social rights, are violated.The Nation's Eric Bates
argues that the real danger of prison privatization isn't merely the inhumanity on the part of guards, but rather the added financial incentives that reward inhumanity. ...
Health services, when provided, are often inadequate and arrive too late, according to Allison Campbell
, coeditor of Capitalist Punishment: Prison Privatization and Human Rights.
Rehabilitative or educational programs are seen as superfluous luxuries that prisoners don't deserve and that businesses cannot afford. Finally, lack of adequate food is also a major issue in private prisons. One released inmate reported that he would receive one good meal a month; the rest consisted of instant potatoes, canned vegetables, and pizzas.
"When the prison is a business, such cost reductions make a certain kind of sense," Campbell
claims. "However, physical abuse, inadequate health care and a lack of adequate programming too often amounts to gross abuse of state-sanctioned power and authority."
Outsourcing is, however, not merely employed as a strategy to help the perpetrator abdicate responsibility for the violations it authorizes. It also assists the aggressor in maintaining a respectable aura in the public's eye. It isn't the United States
that tortures Al-Qaeda
does; it isn't the transnational corporation that neglects the health of its employees, but rather its subsidiary in Thailand
The state and transnational corporations use subcontractors in order to conceal pernicious practices, because the success of those in power, as Michel Foucault
convincingly argued, "is in proportion to its ability to hide its own mechanisms." Thus, outsourcing should be considered a technique employed by power in order to conceal its own mechanisms. It is motivated by governments and corporations' unwavering efforts to remain in control.
Neve Gordon teaches politics and human rights at Ben-Gurion University, Israel, and has written about the outsourcing technique within the Israeli context for the Journal of Human Rights http://www.counterpunch.org/gordon09062003.html
Pedophile, Brian Doyle
- Homeland Security
- part of the network "keeping us safe".
In April 1989, John Kerry’s Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Terror-ism, Narcotics and International Operations
released an exhaustive report that concluded that the Contras
were involved in drug trafficking and that Reagan
administration officials were aware of that involvement.
In an April 14, 1989, Washington Post
trivialized the report’s findings and asserted that claims of drug trafficking by high-level Contras “
could not be substantiated.” Subsequently, Newsweek’s
“Conventional Wisdom Watch
” dubbed Kerry
“a randy conspiracy buff.”http://www.inthesetimes.com/site/main/firststone/
When Cynthia McKinney
about the sex slave trade, she suddenly became a "loose cannon" and lost her congressional seat courtesy of Diebold
Truth, honor and integrity have little to do with the direction of the country these days, as Canada
and the USA
follow corporate treason off a cliff, we continue to kill the Frodos
holding the door open to freedom.
Next time John Kerry
stands to speak the truth about Iran contra
, and Viet Nam
- let us listen. Next time Cynthia McKinny
stands to speak the truth about the sex SLAVE scandal, we had best all listen - while we still can.