To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Thursday, October 22, 2020

New Observercast

A Bush Legacy

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FRANK P. BELCASTRO Dubuque, IA

Once private companies take on military and war-making tasks in Iraq, where does the buck stop? It is not uncommon, for example, for a company hired to perform a service for the Pentagon to subcontract part of the job to another company, which may then subcontract part of its task to a third. Who, then, is in charge? When something goes wrong, who is culpable?

A recent investigation found that KBR has subcontracted to more than 200 different firms many based in Kuwait to transport materials into Iraq.

One result of this: The United States has ended up paying companies that are essentially enslaving Filipinos, Sri Lankans, and other “third country nationals” who drive supplies into Iraq. A Filipino described how Jassin Transport and Stevedoring Company one of KBR’s sub-contractors took his passport, nullified the contract he had signed in the Philippines, and issued him a new contract written in Arabic. Employees were “given an ultimatum: sign or be abandoned.” Then they were handed the keys to unarmored tractor-trailer trucks and told to drive fast along roads to be dangerous.

One of many legacies of the Bush Administration.

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Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton became editor of The Observer in September 2006. Previously, he served nearly two decades as the Dallas Morning News’ Oklahoma Bureau chief. He also covered government and politics for the San Jose Mercury News, the Dallas Times Herald, the Tulsa Tribune and the Oklahoma Journal.