On December 27th the Chicago Tribune ran a follow up to its Oct 8th series on the use of forced and coerced labor by sub-contractors of Kellogg, Brown, and Root entitled:“U.S. stalls on human trafficking: Pentagon has yet to ban contractors from using forced labor”

The article, written by Cam Simpson, describes how lobbying groups for US military contractors have been pressuring the Department of Defense to not implement President Bush’s “zero tolerance” directive, issued in February of 2003.

This directive, known as National Security Presidential Directive 22, states

“The Commander and Chief has decreed that all departments of the US Government will take a “zero tolerance” approach to trafficking in persons.”

According to the December 27th article in the Tribune:

“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.”

CorpWatch is running the Trib story without the need to register.

As mentioned, the piece is a follow up to an October series written by Cam Simpson that detailed fraudulent and coercive practices used to obtain menial labor for the US led war effort in Iraq.

According to the October Chicago Tribune series, US military contractor Kellogg, Brown, and Root, has tapped into a “pipeline” of cheap labor that has existed for decades in the Middle East. Along with fraud and coercion, the article described widespread de facto debt bondage coupled with the confiscation of foreign workers’ travel documents on US military bases.

Confiscation of travel documents is a federal crime in the US, when used in furtherance of human trafficking activities.

As some Booman Tribune readers know, an audio interview with Cam Simpson, concerning his October series, is available in mp3 format on the tradio21 web site. If you have the time, I think you will find Cam has a very troubling and compelling story to tell.

As per the interview, Cam states that practices regularly condemned in the US State Department’s annual Human Rights Report and the Trafficking in Persons Report are believed to routinely be used to obtain workers for the war effort in Iraq.

The Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA) was passed in 2000 to allow prosecutions of federal contractors who violate US law outside of US territory. If the country the violation took place in is unwilling or unable to prosecute the crime, under MEJA, the US Department of Justice can pursue prosecution of the crime.

One motivation for the passing of MEJA was the revelation that several DynCorp employees involved in Bosnian peacekeeping efforts were found to be buying women and girls. The DynCorp employees were never prosecuted.

In one case, according to a report from the Criminal Investigations Division of the Department of Defense, an employee of DynCorp told investigators that he had purchased a young woman and an Uzi 9-millimeter automatic submachine gun in a package deal from a local brothel owner. In a sworn statement, the DynCorp employee claimed that he had bought the young woman to free her, and that she lived with him, “as a housemate.”

Without interviewing the woman, the investigators accepted the contractor’s story as truth. He was found guilty of illegally purchasing a weapon.

One woman from Moldova was interviewed later by a UN police station in another country. She reported that a U.S. contractor in Bosnia had been her last “owner,” that she had lived with him like a prostitute, that he had returned her passport, which he had held, only before returning to the United States on a weapons charge.

The whistleblower, Ben Johnston, was also a DynCorp employee. He reported that eight of his DynCorp colleagues had allegedly purchased women and girls in 1999 and 2000. Some had used the women for sexual services and as domestic servants.

From Salon magazine:

“Ben Johnston recoiled in horror when he heard one of his fellow helicopter mechanics at a U.S. Army base near Tuzla, Bosnia, brag one day in early 2000: “My girl’s not a day over 12.”

The man who uttered the statement — a man in his 60s, by Johnston’s estimate — was not talking fondly about his granddaughter or daughter or another relative. He was bragging about the preteen he had purchased from a local brothel.”

After Johnston leveled these charges against his fellow employees, DynCorp fired him. Johnston sued. In August 2002, DynCorp settled with him for an undisclosed sum.

Because MEJA did not exist at the time, the Department of Justice did not have jurisdiction over the incident.

To date there are no known prosecutions of trafficking offenses of Department of Defense contractors.

As per this recent article in the Tribune, language that would make the use of victims of trafficking, or the furtherance of trafficking activities, a clear violation of a Defense Department contract cannot get implemented because there would be “…a clash between mission execution [of the contract] and policy execution.” Thus the lobbying groups are “…looking for a little flexibility.”

As per the article

“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.”

In 2003 the Trafficking in Persons Victim’s Protection Act of 2000 was amended to include language that mandated the President to ensure termination clauses be included in federal contracts for “major functional project, programs, or activities abroad.” These termination clauses would allow the overseeing federal department to rescind a contract if the contractor or any subcontractor of the primary contractor engaged in trafficking, procured a commercial sex act, or used forced labor in the performance of the grant, contract, or cooperative agreement.

As per the recent Chicago Tribune article, to date the President has not performed his responsibilities in accordance with US human trafficking laws.

Cam Simpson’s October series revealed the possibility of numerous victims of trafficking being used to service US military bases in Iraq. Because no investigation is taking place the number is simply unknown.

Neither Congress nor the State Department has uttered a word about this matter. No request has been made to the Department of Justice to investigate.

A version of this has been cross posted on tradio21, Kos and the European Tribune

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