News & Politics

UN Investigation on Military Contractors Begins Today

The Working Group on the use of mercenaries will focus on questions of transparency, accountability, and human rights.

Starting Monday, July 20, a five-member United Nations Working Group on the use of mercenaries will conduct a two-week examination of this country’s use of private military and security contractors (PMSCs). Two members of the Working Group will meet with officials from the Obama administration, members of Congress, nongovernmental organizations (like the ACLU) and PMSCs. This official visit comes at the invitation of the U.S. government. From a statement released [Friday, July 17th]:

The Working Group will in particular focus on questions of transparency and accountability of PMSCs and their personnel, instances and circumstances which may give rise to impunity of contractors for violations of human rights as well as guarantees for ensuring that victims of violations have access to effective remedies. It will also look into the general trend towards the privatization of war and its consequences.

Among those consequences is "extraordinary rendition" -- the kidnapping and forced removal of individuals to places known to torture. The ACLU represents a group of such rendition victims in a lawsuit against a particular PMSC: Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen Dataplan. In our lawsuit, we charge that Jeppesen knowingly participated in the rendition of our plaintiffs by providing flight planning and logistical support to the CIA to kidnap our plaintiffs to be detained and tortured in secret prisons overseas.

[Friday]’sNew York Times editorialized about accountability for rendition, torture and other Bush-era war crimes:

Once the Bush team got into the habit of breaking the law, it became their operating procedure that any means are justified: ordering the nation’s intelligence agents to torture prisoners; sending innocents to be tortured in foreign countries; creating secret prisons where detainees were held illegally without charge.
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