David Isenberg – (Isenberg Institute of Strategic Satire) – May 15, 2012 – Continuing on with the topic of worker exploitation let’s turn to a recently published, and unfortunately overlooked, article “Cheap help from Uganda” published in Le Monde diplomatique in France.. The article’s subtitle “Slaves To The Private Military In Iraq” pretty much tells you what the article is about.
The article recounts how private security firms won lucrative contracts to supply support staff and security guards to back up US forces in Iraq. The firms recruited Ugandans and pushed them to the limit, on low pay and no benefits.
Of course, this is hardly the first time this has happened. I noted in my book that in in September 2007, a Nevada-based private security ?rm called SOC-SMG started recruiting in Namibia. People there needed jobs, but when news spread about the risks they’d face in Iraq, there was public outcry, and in October Namibia kicked the company’s offcials out of the country.
Still, that episode is useful to recall because SOC-SMG is also mentioned in the Le Monde article.
Joe Newman – (POGO) – May 7, 2012 – For Vinnie Tuivaga, the offer was the answer to a prayer: A job in a luxury hotel in Dubai–the so-called Las Vegas of the Persian Gulf–making five times what she was earning as a hair stylist in her native Fiji.
She jumped at the chance, even if it meant paying an upfront commission to the recruiter.
You probably know how this story is going to end. There was no high-paying job, luxury location or easy work.
Tuivaga and other Fijians ended up in Iraq where they lived in shipping containers and existed in what amounted to indentured servitude.
In some cases, Stillman found more severe abuses and more squalid living conditions than what Tuivaga and her fellow Fijians experienced.
But like Tuivaga, thousands of foreign nationals in the U.S. government’s invisible army ended up in Iraq and Afghanistan war zones because they fell victim to human traffickers.
Let that sink in.
This human trafficking pipeline wasn’t benefitting some shadowy war lord or oppressive regime. No, these are workers who were feeding, cleaning up after, and providing logistical support for U.S. troops—the standard-bearers of the free and democratic world. Read the remainder of this entry »
These people thought they had a job that provided a good wage, food and housing. They found out they had none of that. (2008 LOGCAP Scandal)
David Isenberg – (Huffington Post) – May 3, 2012 – I confess: I have an interest in an unseemly topic. Last year I coauthored a report on the subject and testified before Congress about it. The subject is labor trafficking.
This is not, of course, a problem exclusive to the PMSCO sector but neither is it something that has happened only now and then either. Suffice it to say that it enough of a problem that this is the second conference ISOA organized on the issue, the first being seven years ago. The conference program guide minced no words in stating why a conference is necessary:
Labor trafficking is a disgraceful practice that plagues many country as well as international peacekeeping and stability operations. Poverty creates pools of desperate labor at high risk of human trafficking of all kinds, including forced labor. The problem is morally reprehensible but of such enormous complexity it cannot be solved by a single sector and must be addressed by stakeholders working in partnership from all sides — private, governmental, nongovernmental and humanitarians sectors; clients and employers
Defiant ‘Lord of War’ Sentenced to 25 Years
Adam Klasfeld – (Courthouse News) – MANHATTAN – April 6, 2012 – Victor Bout, depicted in nonfiction as “The Merchant of Death” and in Hollywood as the “Lord of War,” pointed an accusatory finger at federal agents at his sentencing hearing Thursday, as a federal judge gave him the minimum 25-year sentence based on qualms about the sting operation that caused his downfall.
A Russian national, Bout armed dictators, despots and warring factions in the Congo, Angola, Sierra Leone and other conflict zones around the world.
Sanctioned by the United Nations, Bout remained free for more than a decade until the U.S. government snared him in “Operation Relentless,” a sting in which undercover informants posed as guerrillas with the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), which the U.S. classifies as a terrorist group.
Bout was defiant at his sentencing hearing. He turned to the federal agents who snared him, seated in the front row, and pointed at them when his time to speak came.
“I am not guilty,” he began, speaking in Russian through an interpreter. “They will live with this truth. They will have to go to bed with this truth.” (Click HERE for article)
Alaa Ali case questions whether civilians should be court-martialed
Michael Doyle – McClatchy Newspapers – WASHINGTON – April 6, 2012 – Iraqi-born translator Alaa “Alex” Ali never served in the U.S. military, but the Army still tried him and put him in jail.
This is a subject of more than passing interest to me because last year I wrote a report, published June 14, and commissioned by the Project on Government Oversight, on the exploitation and abuse of the workers of a KBR subcontractor. I subsequently testified at a Nov. 2, 2011 hearing about that report before this very subcommittee.