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Kickback, Brown-nose and Rooting-in-the-trough

Kickback, Brown-nose and Rooting-in-the-trough: KBR Gets New Gitmo

by Julie Webb-Pullman

Havana, Jun 22 (Prensa Latina) Flip, Flop, Flip - Rumsfeld, George W, and Cheney just can't get this Gitmo thing right. A couple of weeks ago, it was the best thing for getting the low-down on terrorism since sliced head, I mean bread.

Then along came Amnesty International and the gulag goss, Democrats and their notions of nazism, a few ex-presidents heeing and hawing about human rights, an ex-Gitmo soldier Sgt Erik Saar´s Book of Revelations (strangely ignored in the US), Senate concerns about Koran abuse - a cascading cacophony of criticism.

Even Republicans are reeling at the repercussions for the reputation of the US (isn't anybody going to tell them that if zero on the credibility meter begins at ground level, they'd better start digging fast, to accurately register their current ranking....or even just to join the other heads buried in the sand.)

I mean, Rumsfeld said at a press conference on 08 June in Norway that the treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo is "professional and humane" and they are not considering closing it.

A 24 hour backflip later he said he'd rather the prisoners were detained by their own countries, and a few floppy hours later George W refused to rule out shutting the facility, saying his administration is now exploring alternatives for detaining the prisoners.

Scott McLellan leapt into the fray, flip-flopping all over the place, considering this and continuously looking at that and reviewing alternative something elses, until Cheney flummoxed Fox TV on Friday, with the announcement that there was "no plan to close" Guantanamo after all, even if Bush was still saying options were under review "on a continuous basis."

As the chorus for closure climbed to a clamour, with Clinton and cohorts calling for Guantanamo to be "closed down or cleaned up", and Bush inviting journalists on a jaunt through the jail, the Pentagon quietly announced a generous $30 million contract, part of a larger contract worth up to $500 million, to KBR, subsidiary of Cheney´s ¢ld´company Halliburton, to build ¨an improved 220-bed prison for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay¨.

Kellogg Brown and Root Services Inc. of Arlington, Va., or Kickback, Brown-nose and Rooting-in-the-trough as they became more popularly known after the Pentagon secretly awarded them an open-ended no-bid contract working to restore Iraq's oil industry, are to build ¨a two-story prison that includes day rooms, exercise areas, medical bays, air conditioning and a security control room, according to the Pentagon, to be completed by July 2006.¨

I guess that´s one way of describing a cage - it´s a permanent dayroom, you can swing from the bars, there´s plenty of fresh air, it´s pretty damn securely controlled, and you can bay as long as you like for medical care...and I guess Vice-President Cheney still has a few flip flops of his own to see to.

After all, as 60 minutes reported in 2003, the Pentagon, under Cheney, commissioned Brown & Root in 1992 to do a classified study on whether it was a good idea to have private contractors do more of the military's work.

As Charles Lewis, executive director of the Center For Public Integrity, said at the time, "Of course, they said it's a terrific idea, and over the next eight years, Kellogg, Brown & Root and another company got 2,700 contracts worth billions of dollars.¨

Two years later, when Cheney left the department of defense, he became CEO of Halliburton, and on flipping out of there five years later, flopped right into the Vice Presidency, where he could really look after his mates in Afghanistan and Iraq and Guantanamo...who says no-one is treated humanely down there?

But if any of you media types decide to take George W up on his offer to swing on by for a look-see, keep in mind that if you´re not for him, you´re against him, and embedded journalism just might take on a whole new meaning.after all, the new look ´Detention Camp 6´ is ¨designed to be safer for long-term detention.and will require less manpower to operate.¨

Sounds suspiciously like Bush-speak for throwing away the key, rather than any intent to release anybody, however innocent. Sounds like a facility that will not meet the most minimal requirements of due process or humane containment, let alone provide ´professional and humane´ treatment in accordance with international law.

Sounds like the entire US citizenry should pull its collective head out of the sand and say STOP. Shut The Obscenity Permanently. And not just Guantanamo, but every other US gulag wherever it may be, Afghanistan, Iraq or anywhere else.

That´s just the easy bit. The really hard bit is for the US, primarily the military and the current administration but also the citizenry who have allowed this situation to develop, to learn respect - for other human beings, individually and as nations - and to start behaving in accordance with internationally accepted norms.


Julie Webb-Pullman writes, edits, and revises for Prensa Latina in Havana, Cuba -

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