Thank God the Bush administration is filled with good christian folks. I say “Thank God” because I’m sure that, as good moral christians, they can explain this Christmas story for me about defense contractors stonewalling Pentagon regulations banning the use of slaves in government contracts:
Published December 27, 2005
WASHINGTON — Three years ago, President Bush declared that he had “zero tolerance” for trafficking in humans by the government’s overseas contractors, and two years ago Congress mandated a similar policy.
But notwithstanding the president’s statement and the congressional edict, the Defense Department has yet to adopt a policy to bar human trafficking.
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.
Yes, I suppose it is unrealistic in the 21st Century to ban the use of slaves by American companies working for the Pentagon. Of course there is that pesky 13th Amendment to the Constitution to consider:
Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
But then, these are times of crisis, where terrorists threaten our nation’s very existence. And if a “War President” can’t be bothered about obeying the law regarding wiretapping American Citizens, why should he get his tighty whities all in a knot about the use of slaves by American companies and their subcontractors on behalf of the Defense Department? Sure, some fuddy duddy Congressional representatives might get a bit uppity, and claim he doesn’t really care about the issue, but a President’s got bigger fish to fry. And, after all, someone has to provide a way for our boys to “blow off a little steam” now and then, and with the high price of escort services these days it’s just more cost efective to make use of “comfort women”
Sex slaves and the U.S. military
At a time when the U.S. State Department and the United Nations labor to combat the international trafficking in women, the U.S. military supports a flourishing trade in sex slaves in South Korea.
Hundreds of trafficked women, mostly from former Soviet bloc countries and the Philippines, are forced by local bar owners to work as prostitutes in bars that cater to American servicemen. The women are typically lured to Korea with promises of high-paying jobs but end up being held against their will and coerced into working as prostitutes in circumstances that both the State Department and the United Nations condemn as a form of sexual slavery.
(and “comfort boys” too). So why make American companies have to police themselves on this issue?
Besides, use of “forced labor” worked so well for Halliburton in its post-Katrina contract work for the Federal Government (another crisis situation, obviously):
NEW ORLEANS — Halliburton, the energy products and services giant whose name has become synonymous with no-bid contracts and corporate cronyism, is accused of exploiting immigrants and undocumented workers.
Halliburton, through its subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) was granted a $124 million contract to clean up the city post-Hurricane Katrina.
Writing for Salon.com, Roberto Lovato recounts his observations in the storm-ravaged region, including “squalid trailer parks where up to 19 unpaid, unfed and undocumented [Halliburton subsidiary] KBR site workers inhabited a single trailer for $70 per person, per week.” Many suffer from work-related health problems, including diarrhea, sprained ankles, as well as cuts and bruises acquired while working for KBR, he claims.
At one point, undocumented workers were thrown off the job and forced to live in the streets of New Orleans after Halliburton refused to pay a subcontractor for two months. Seventy-four workers filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor seeking $56,000 in back pay, Lovato reports.
One Halliburton subcontractor threatened several Latino workers with deportation if they left the Belle Chasse military base in Louisiana, where an estimated 500 immigrants are employed. Although Halliburton denies violating labor laws, immigration enforcement officials discovered undocumented workers at Belle Chasse in October. “Visits to the naval bases and dozens of interviews by Salon confirm that undocumented workers are in the facilities,” Lovato writes.
The tactics are similar to those used in Iraq, according to the exposé. Workers from poor countries have been lured to the Gulf Coast by shady job brokers who offer wages and benefits that rarely pan out. “They were going to pay seven dollars an hour, and the food was going to be free, and rent, but they gave us nothing,” a teenage worker from Mexico told Lovato. “They weren’t feeding us. We ate cookies for five days. Cookies, nothing else.”
I guess there’s “zero tolerance”, and then there’s “zero tolerance”, know what I mean? By the way, who used to run Halliburton? Oh, yes — this guy.
Need I say more?
Nonetheless, you’d think a good Christian like George Bush might be troubled by American companies and Republican Party campaign contributers being involved in human trafficking. But then again, maybe he subscribes to the doctrines set forth in this “Christian” treatise regarding the morality of slavery:
. . . Especially, however, is it true with slaves and masters, that to “do as they would be done by” is mutually beneficial. Good treatment and proper discipline renders the slave happier, healthier, more valuable, grateful, and contented. Obedience, industry and loyalty on the part of the slave, increases the master’s ability and disposition to protect and take care of him. The interests of all the members of a natural family, slaves included, are identical. Selfishness finds no place, because nature, common feelings and self-interest dictate to all that it is their true interest “to love their neighbor as themselves,” and “to do as they would be done by,” – at least, within the precincts of the family. To throw off into the world wife, children, and slaves, would injure, not benefit them. To neglect to punish children or slaves when they deserved it, would not be to do as we would be done by. Such punishment is generally the highest reach of self-abnegation and self-control. “‘Tis easy and agreeable to be indulgent and remiss – hard to exact and enforce duty. Severe disciplinarians are the best officers, teachers, parents, and masters, and most revered and loved by their subordinates. They sacrifice their time and their feelings to duty, and for the ultimate good of others. . . . Christian morality is neither difficult nor unnatural where dependent, family, and slave relations exist, and Christian morality was preached and only intended for such.
Yes, that must be it.
(Cross-posted at Daily Kos)