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

Weekend Edition
February 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
David Price
Rogue Elephant Rising: The CIA as Kingslayer
Matthew Stevenson
Is Trump the Worst President Ever?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Flynn?
John Wight
Brexit and Trump: Why Right is Not the New Left
Diana Johnstone
France: Another Ghastly Presidential Election Campaign; the Deep State Rises to the Surface
Neve Gordon
Trump’s One-State Option
Roger Harris
Emperor Trump Has No Clothes: Time to Organize!
Joan Roelofs
What Else is Wrong with Globalization
Andrew Levine
Why Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban?
Mike Whitney
Blood in the Water: the Trump Revolution Ends in a Whimper
Vijay Prashad
Trump, Turmoil and Resistance
Ron Jacobs
U.S. Imperial War Personified
David Swanson
Can the Climate Survive Adherence to War and Partisanship?
Andre Vltchek
Governor of Jakarta: Get Re-elected or Die!
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Destruction of Mosul
Norman Pollack
Self-Devouring Reaction: Governmental Impasse
Steve Horn
What Do a Louisiana Pipeline Explosion and Dakota Access Pipeline Have in Common? Phillips 66
Brian Saady
Why Corporations are Too Big to Jail in the Drug War
Graham Peebles
Ethiopia: Peaceful Protest to Armed Uprising
Luke Meyer
The Case of Tony: Inside a Lifer Hearing
Binoy Kampmark
Adolf, The Donald and History
Robert Koehler
The Great American Awakening
Murray Dobbin
Canadians at Odds With Their Government on Israel
Fariborz Saremi
A Whole New World?
Joyce Nelson
Japan’s Abe, Trump & Illegal Leaks
Christopher Brauchli
Trump 1, Tillerson 0
Yves Engler
Is This Hate Speech?
Dan Bacher
Trump Administration Exempts Three CA Oil Fields From Water Protection Rule at Jerry Brown’s Request
Richard Klin
Solid Gold
Melissa Garriga
Anti-Abortion and Anti-Fascist Movements: More in Common Than Meets the Eye
Thomas Knapp
The Absurd Consequences of a “Right to Privacy”
W. T. Whitney
The Fate of Prisoner Simón Trinidad, as Seen by His U. S. Lawyer
Brian Platt
Don’t Just Oppose ICE Raids, Tear Down the Whole Racist Immigration Enforcement Regime
Paul Cantor
Refugee: the Compassionate Mind of Egon Schwartz
Norman Richmond
The Black Radical Tradition in Canada
Barton Kunstler
Rallying Against the Totalitarian Specter
Judith Deutsch
Militarism:  Revolutionary Mothering and Rosie the Riveter
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir Evoked a Lot More International Attention in the 1950s Than It Does Now
Adam Phillips
There Isn’t Any There There
Louis Proyect
Steinbeck’s Red Devils
Randy Shields
Left Coast Date: the Dating Site for the ORWACA Tribe
Charles R. Larson
Review: Bill Hayes’ “Insomniac City”
David Yearsley
White Supremacy and Music Theory
February 16, 2017
Peter Gaffney
The Rage of Caliban: Identity Politics, the Travel Ban, and the Shifting Ideological Framework of the Resistance
Ramzy Baroud
Farewell to Doublespeak: Israel’s Terrifying Vision for the Future
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail