FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Dissing Independent Contractors

by DAVE LINDORFF

 

Now it’s personal.

The Bush cabal has begun besmirching the good name of us independent contractors, and I’m pissed.

Imagine. They’re saying that some of the most egregious torture and murder of prisoners at Baghram Airbase in Afghanistan and the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, as well as in other locations around the world, were committed by “independent contractors” working for the Pentagon or the CIA, and that because of this, they are powerless to initiate any kind of punitive action.

Independent contractors, they explain, were granted immunity from Iraqi laws by occupation head L. Paul Bremer in one of his first acts upon assuming authority over the country. At the same time, because they are only working under contract for the military or the CIA, and aren’t employees, they are not subject to military justice, either. Furthermore, because their alleged crimes were committed outside the U.S., American laws don’t apply to them either.

The implication is that, “Gee, we’re sure sorry these guys did all this nasty stuff, but we really couldn’t control their behavior, because they were independent contractors. And we’d like to punish them, but we can’t because they were independent contractors.”

Give me a break folks! How come, when I write an article for a magazine as an independent contractor, there is all this legal verbiage in my contract saying that I am liable for any mistakes I may make?

Here’s an example of one such fairly typical contract’s wording:

“”Author represents and warrants that the work will be original work, that it will be accurate, that it will not have been previously published, and that it will not infringe upon the personal or proprietary rights of or give rise to any claim by any third party, including but not limited to claims based on copyright, defamation, libel, physical injury, or invasion or privacy or publicity. In addition, in the event any complaint or claim relating to the work is made by any third party at any time, whether a formal legal complaint or otherwise, author will fully cooperate with the publisher in responding to and defending against such complaint or claim.”

This particular contract, written by a New York City-based publisher, also requires the author to agree to be subject to the jurisdiction of the New York State court system.

Now don’t tell me that the government of the United States, which makes welfare recipients agree to random drug tests, surprise home visits, and various other invasive surrenders of their rights, that makes employees in many agencies submit to lie-detector tests, etc., didn’t make these “independent contractor” licensed torturers sign legally binding contracts governing their behavior.

There’s nothing about independent contractors that says they cannot be expected, and legally required, to behave in a responsible, legal way, or in accordance with the guidelines set by the agency that contracts with them.

Now maybe the government was smart enough not to sign any contracts with its freelance torturers, but that doesn’t sound like the way a government bureaucracy works-which is by maxiumum possible use of paper. My guess is that there are some interesting contracts filed away in triplicate at the Pentagon and the CIA that would allow them to hang these guys if they wanted to, but we probably will never see that paperwork.

As for that claim that there is no jurisdiction for bringing these miscreants to justice, that’s the Bush administration’s fault. There is, in fact, a World Court in the Hague in Europe, which exists precisely for that purpose, but the Bush Administration has chosen to thumb its nose at that body, saying that it has no jurisdiction over Americans.

The argument used by the U.S. in opposing inclusion in the World Court is that the U.S. is perfectly capable of bringing its own people to justice, but here is a case that demonstrates our inability to do so. So let’s bring charges against the independent contractors in the World Court.

I for one want my profession’s good name cleared. We independent contractors are law-abiding citizens for the most part. And we know that if we step over the line, we are just as liable to prosecution as the next guy.

It’s not because they are “independent contractors” that the freelance torturers hired by the military and the CIA to do its dirty work in Afghanistan and Iraq and Guantanamo are getting off. It’s because the Bush administration doesn’t want to see them facing a public trial, in which they’d start talking publicly about who hired them and what they were hired to do.

DAVE LINDORFF is completing a book of Counterpunch columns titled “This Can’t be Happening!” to be published this fall by Common Courage Press.

 

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 16, 2017
Paul Street
How Pure is Your Hate?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Did the Elites Have Martin Luther King Jr. Killed?
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Clobbers Ocean Life
Patrick Cockburn
The Terrifying Parallels Between Trump and Erdogan
Kenneth Surin
The Neoliberal Stranglehold on the American Public University
Lawrence Davidson
Is There a Future for the Democratic Party?
Douglas Valentine
Who Killed MLK Jr?
Robert Fisk
The Foreign Correspondent in the Age of Twitter and Trump
Dale Bryan
“Where Do We Go from Here?”
David Swanson
The Deep State Wants to Deep Six Us
Dan Bacher
Obama Administration Orders Speedy Completion of Delta Tunnels Plan
Mark Weisbrot
Obama Should Make Sure that Haitian Victims of UN-Caused Cholera are Compensated
Winslow Myers
The Light of the World
Bruce Mastron
My Latest Reason to Boycott the NFL: Guns
Weekend Edition
January 13, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Gregory Elich
Did the Russians Really Hack the DNC?
Jeffrey St. Clair
The President Who Wasn’t There: Barack Obama’s Legacy of Impotence
Anthony DiMaggio
Ethics Fiasco: Trump, Divestment and the Perversion of Executive Politics
Joshua Frank
Farewell Obummer, Hello Golden Showers
Paul Street
Hit the Road, Barack: Some Farewell Reflections
Vijay Prashad
After Aleppo: the State of Syria
John Wight
Russia Must be Destroyed: John McCain and the Case of the Dodgy Dossier
Rob Urie
Meet the Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
The Russian Dossier Reminds Me of the Row Over Saddam’s WMDs
Eric Sommer
U.S.-China War: a Danger Hidden from the American People
Andrew Levine
Are Democrats Still the Lesser Evil?
Linda Pentz Gunter
What’s Really Behind the Indian Point Nuclear Deal?
Robert Fantina
Trucks, ‘Terror’ and Israel
Richard Moser
Universal Values are Revolutionary Values
Russell Mokhiber
Build the Bagdikian Wall: “Sponsored News” at the Washington Post
Yoav Litvin
Establishment Narcissism – The Democrats’ Game of Thrones
David Rosen
Return of the Repressed: Trump & the Revival of the Culture Wars
Robert Koehler
War Consciousness and the F-35
Rev. William Alberts
The New Smell of McCarthyism Demands Faith Leaders Speak Truth to Power
John Laforge
Federal Regulator Halts Move to Toughen Radiation Exposure Limits
Norman Pollack
Farewell Address: Nazification of Hope
David Swanson
Imagine the Confirmation Hearing for Secretary of Peace
CJ Hopkins
Why Ridiculous Official Propaganda Still Works
Ron Jacobs
Striking in Reagan Time
Missy Comley Beattie
The Streep
Graham Peebles
Climate Change: The Potential Impacts of Collective Inaction
Uri Avnery
Confessions of a Megalomaniac
Kenneth Worles
Black Without a Home: King’s Dream Still Deferred
Geoff Dutton
The Russian Patsy
Jill Richardson
The Coming War on Regulations
Jeremy Brecher
Resisting the Trump Agenda is Social Self-Defense
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail