/ abolition / impractical /
Now this is something I read twice to make sure I understood correctly:
A proposal prohibiting defense contractor involvement in human trafficking for forced prostitution and labor was drafted by the Pentagon last summer, but five defense lobbying groups oppose key provisions and a final policy still appears to be months away, according to those involved and Defense Department records.
The lobbying groups opposing the plan say they're in favor of the idea in principle, but said they believe that implementing key portions of it overseas is unrealistic. They represent thousands of firms, including some of the industry's biggest names, such as DynCorp International and Halliburton subsidiary KBR, both of which have been linked to trafficking-related concerns.
So in other words, "please don't bother us with actually demanding from our contractors that they don't practice slavery, Christ, what's next? we'll have to make sure they're not cannibals?"
Yes, these guys are for real, pay attention now:
Alan Chvotkin, senior vice president and counsel for the Professional Services Council who drafted the contractors' eight-page critique of the Pentagon proposal, said it was not realistic to expect foreign companies operating overseas to accept or act on U.S. foreign policy objectives.
"This is a clash between mission execution [of the contract] and policy execution," Chvotkin said. "So we're looking for a little flexibility."
He said that rather than a "requirement that says you have to flow this through to everybody," the group wants the policy to simply require firms to notify the Pentagon when their subcontractors refuse to accept contract clauses barring support for human trafficking.
Still, Chvotkin said, "We don't want to do anything that conveys the idea that we are sanctioning or tolerating trafficking."
Yes, you see, such outlandish "US foreign policy objectives" (doesn't one wish it were so) as not encouraging human trafficking are completely impractical, really. That trafficking happens to be a gross breach of human rights, and thus one could argue a rather self-evident responsibility, is secondary. Heck why not work with the Russian mob while you're at it... Oh, never mind.
This is BTW a proposal that was already full of holes, as human rights lawyers point out:
In a joint memo of their own, Mendelson and another Washington-based expert, Martina Vandenberg, a lawyer who investigated sex trafficking for Human Rights Watch, told the Pentagon its draft policy "institutionalizes ineffective procedures currently used by the Department of Defense contractor community in handling allegations of human trafficking."
Without tough provisions requiring referrals to prosecutors, they said, contractors could still get their employees on planes back to the U.S. before investigations commenced, as they allege happened in several documented cases in the Balkans. They said some local contract managers even had "special arrangements" with police in the Balkans that allowed them to quickly get employees returned to the U.S. if they were found to be engaged in illegal activities.
...but as the Halliburton subsidiary has a rather grim record, any sort of proposal seems a bit too demanding... To get an idea of the kind of abuse that KBR is easily capable of take a look at this old story:
More Indian workers are returning from Iraq with distressing tales of torture and human rights violations in the military camps of the United States.
"It is slavery there in the American camp. We are being treated worse than animals," Peter Thomas, a native of Mavelikkara in Kerala, who did odd jobs such as cleaning and laundry works in an American army camp, told rediff.com
Thomas along with two of his friends Anil Kumar and Justin C Antony reached Kerala this week, after the Indian government intervened to rescue them in the wake of escalating tension and violence in Iraq.
Thomas said that he was recruited for a cook's job in Jordan through a Kochi-Mumbai-based manpower agency. "But as soon I reached Jordan, I was taken to Iraq by road. I was not alone. There were at least 60 Indians who were with me. We were taken to different American camps," he said.
Anyway, one certainly can't accuse KBR of using different standards home and abroad:
...Martinez, 16, speaks no English; his mother tongue is Zapotec. He had left the cornfields of Oaxaca, Mexico, four weeks earlier for the promise that he would make $8 an hour, plus room and board, while working for a subcontractor of KBR, a wholly owned subsidiary of Halliburton that was awarded a major contract by the Bush administration for disaster relief work. The job was helping to clean up a Gulf Coast naval base in the region devastated by Hurricane Katrina...
...three weeks after arriving at the naval base from Texas, Martinez's boss, Karen Tovar, a job broker from North Carolina who hired workers for a KBR subcontractor called United Disaster Relief, booted him from the base and left him homeless, hungry and without money.
"They gave us two meals a day and sometimes only one," Martinez said.
He says that Tovar "kicked us off the base," forcing him and other cleanup workers - many of them Mexican and undocumented - to sleep on the streets of New Orleans. According to Martinez, they were not paid for three weeks of work. An immigrant rights group recently filed complaints with the Department of Labor on behalf of Martinez and 73 other workers allegedly owed more than $56,000 by Tovar. Tovar claims that she let the workers go because she was not paid by her own bosses at United Disaster Relief. In turn, UDR manager Zachary Johnson, who declined to be interviewed for this story, told the Washington Post on Nov. 4 that his company had not been paid by KBR for two months.
...[Martinez's] situation is typical among many workers hired by subcontractors of KBR (formerly known as Kellogg Brown & Root) to clean and rebuild Belle Chasse and other Gulf Coast military bases. Immigrants rights groups and activists like Bill Chandler, president of the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance, estimate that hundreds of undocumented workers are on the Gulf Coast military bases, a claim that the military and Halliburton/KBR deny - even after the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency turned up undocumented workers in a raid of the Belle Chasse facility last month. Visits to the naval bases and dozens of interviews by Salon confirm that undocumented workers are in the facilities. Still, tracing the line from unpaid undocumented workers to their multibillion-dollar employers is a daunting task. A shadowy labyrinth of contractors, subcontractors and job brokers, overseen by no single agency, have created a no man's land where nobody seems to be accountable for the hiring - and abuse - of these workers.
Nobody seems to be accountable. Period. And no one is planning to be.