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.

 

More articles by:

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).

November 23, 2017
Kenneth Surin
Discussing Trump Abroad
Jay Moore
The Failure of Reconstruction and Its Consequences
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Trout and Ethnic Cleansing
John W. Whitehead
Don’t Just Give Thanks, Pay It Forward One Act of Kindness at a Time
Chris Zinda
Zinke’s Reorganization of the BLM Will Continue Killing Babies
David Krieger
Progress Toward Nuclear Weapons Abolition
Rick Baum
While Public Education is Being Attacked: An American Federation of Teachers Petition Focuses on Maintaining a Minor Tax Break
Paul C. Bermanzohn
The As-If Society
Cole A. Turner
Go Away, Kevin Spacey
Ramzy Baroud
70 Years of Broken Promises: The Untold Story of the Partition Plan
Binoy Kampmark
A New Movement of Rights and the Right in Australia
George Ochenski
Democratic Party: Discouraged, Disgusted, Dysfunctional
Nino Pagliccia
The Governorship Elections in Venezuela: an Interview With Arnold August
Christopher Ketcham
Spanksgiving Day Poem
November 22, 2017
Jonathan Cook
Syria, ‘Experts’ and George Monbiot
William Kaufman
The Great American Sex Panic of 2017
Richard Moser
Young Patriots, Black Panthers and the Rainbow Coalition
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima Darkness
Lee Artz
Cuba Libre, 2017
Mark Weisbrot
Mass Starvation and an Unconstitutional War: US / Saudi Crimes in Yemen
Frank Stricker
Republican Tax Cuts: You’re Right, They’re Not About Economic Growth or Lifting Working-Class Incomes
Edward Hunt
Reconciling With Extremists in Afghanistan
Dave Lindorff
Remembering Media Critic Ed Herman
Nick Pemberton
What to do About Al Franken?
November 21, 2017
Gregory Elich
What is Behind the Military Coup in Zimbabwe?
Louisa Willcox
Rising Grizzly Bear Deaths Raise Red Flag About Delisting
David Macaray
My Encounter With Charles Manson
Patrick Cockburn
The Greatest Threats to the Middle East are Jared Kushner and Mohammed bin Salman
Stephen Corry
OECD Fails to Recognize WWF Conservation Abuses
James Rothenberg
We All Know the Rich Don’t Need Tax Cuts
Elizabeth Keyes
Let There be a Benign Reason For Someone to be Crawling Through My Window at 3AM!
L. Ali Khan
The Merchant of Weapons
Thomas Knapp
How to Stop a Rogue President From Ordering a Nuclear First Strike
Lee Ballinger
Trump v. Marshawn Lynch
Michael Eisenscher
Donald Trump, Congress, and War with North Korea
Tom H. Hastings
Reckless
Franklin Lamb
Will Lebanon’s Economy Be Crippled?
Linn Washington Jr.
Forced Anthem Adherence Antithetical to Justice
Nicolas J S Davies
Why Do Civilians Become Combatants In Wars Against America?
November 20, 2017
T.J. Coles
Doomsday Scenarios: the UK’s Hair-Raising Admissions About the Prospect of Nuclear War and Accident
Peter Linebaugh
On the 800th Anniversary of the Charter of the Forest
Patrick Bond
Zimbabwe Witnessing an Elite Transition as Economic Meltdown Looms
Sheldon Richman
Assertions, Facts and CNN
Ben Debney
Plebiscites: Why Stop at One?
LV Filson
Yemen’s Collective Starvation: Where Money Can’t Buy Food, Water or Medicine
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail