Ethics In Tech & Lack Thereof

Sleeping Under The Cell Tower

By Vahid Razavi

Road to Rendition

Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States the George W. Bush Administration instituted a series of policies and actions that shocked the world’s conscience,violating both the law and any sense of human decency. He launched a global war against terrorism that is still being fought 17 years later, a self-described “crusade” against “evil” targeting half a dozen countries, all but one of them having absolutely nothing to do with 9/11. He made torture official administration policy and vastly expanded state surveillance powers. He embraced extraordinary rendition, the extralegal practice of sending captured suspected terrorists to third countries for interrogation and imprisonment. In addition to sending detainees to countries where US officials knew they would be tortured, the United States also rendered suspects to GuantánamoBay in Cuba and to a network of secret CIA prisons known as “black sites” in over a dozen countries; there, they were held without charges and without access to lawyers or the Red Cross.Many men and women (many of them innocent) were tortured at these sites. The locations ran the gamut from the national security headquarters in the African nation of Gambia to an upscale horseback riding academy in Lithuania. Current CIA Director Gina Haspel supervised one suchblack site in Thailand where, shortly before her arrival, terrorism suspect Abu Zubaydah was subjected to the simulated drowning torture known as waterboarding some 83 times in a single month. It turned out that none of the allegations against Abu Zubaydah were true, and it was later revealed that he was being tortured despite the fact that he was cooperating with his interrogators. 16 Other prisoners at CIA black sites were hung by chains from ceilings for days on end, stuffed into boxes, deprived of sleep, shackled naked in cold temperatures and subjected to mock executions.These were just some of the tortures detainees faced in US custody. Scores of friendly nations, as well as some of the world’s most ruthlessly brutal dictators (including Syria’s Bashar al-Assad,Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, and the mullahs of Iran) gladly participated in Bush’s Rendition regime. The US outsourcing of torture and interrogation required specialized transportation and logistical support, and CSC was there to answer Bush’s call.

CSC’s road to rendition began with its March 2003 $914 million acquisition of DynCorp, anaviation and vehicle services and security firm that earned almost all of its revenue from government contracts. DynCorp was also notorious for its lack of ethics and for the criminal behavior of some of its personnel. In Bosnia, for example, American contractors hired by DynCorp on US military bases were actively engaged in sex trafficking, buying and selling women and girls as young as 12 as personal sex slaves. The girls, who were mostly trafficking victims from Eastern Europe (but who also included locally abducted women and girls), were sold in local bars and brothels to the DynCorp hires for as little as $600 by organized crime groups. Slavery was so widespread that DynCorp employees proudly paraded around town with their girls. They even brought them to company functions. When they grew tired of them the men often sold their slaves back for 50 cents on the dollar; the girls were then often re-sold in turn to other DynCorp employees.

Ben Johnston, a helicopter mechanic hired by DynCorp at an army base near Tuzla, recoiled in horror when one day he heard one of his co-workers, a man in his 60s, boasting that his girl “was not a day over 12.” Johnston often witnessed these child sex slaves playing with other kids, their American owners watching over them nearby. He told Salon that at least seven of his co-workers told him they owned slaves. One even claimed to own half a brothel; he called himself “pimp daddy.” Johnston then turned whistleblower. He informed the Army Criminal Investigative Command(CID), which got a DynCorp employee to admit to buying a sex slave. He also dropped the dime another DynCorp personnel, including a site manager. Then the case was closed. Nobody from DynCorp ever faced any charges for their crimes. Bosnian police tried to pursue the case, but DynCorp hastily whisked its implicated workers out of the country. The worst that would happen to them is that they would lose their jobs. Ben Johnston was also fired. He sued and settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.

In Afghanistan, DynCorp contractors bought drugs and rented young “dancing boys” — a euphemism for what the State Department called “a culturally sanctioned form of male rape” — to“entertain” the Afghan police that the contractors were paid to train. “Dancing boys” are dressed and made up as girls before performing delicate dance routines at all-male gatherings. The boys are then usually forced to have sex with their “owners.” Such behavior spurred the Pentagon to propose a ban on defense contractors involved in human trafficking or sex slavery. However, no less than five military-industrial complex lobby groups representing firms including DynCorp, Halliburton,and KBR rallied to defeat the noble measure.

This was the company CSC acquired in 2003. Almost immediately it set to harnessing DynCorp’s aerial transport and logistics assets. There was a new war on, and wartime is profit time for the corporations that are the cogs in the gears of the military-industrial complex. CSC bills itself as “a global leader in providing technology-enabled business solutions and services.” The company’s website explains that it helps “solve big, technically complex, mission critical challenges.” One of these challenges was the extralegal transportation of kidnapped CIA torture victims. CSC sold outfits DynCorp units in December 2004 claiming they did not fit with the company’s information technology focus. New York-based private equity group Veritas Capital paid $775 million in cash and another $75 million in preferred stock, while CSC retained DynCorp information technology business. CSC had reaped some $1.6 billion in revenue from the divested units during the previous year. Still, documents obtained by the UK-based human rights group Reprieve revealed that after 2004 CSC was still performing rendition-related work for the US government, and when Reprievewrote and asked that CSC sign a “zero tolerance for torture” pledge promising that the company would not participate in extraordinary renditions, it refused.

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