Are Government Contractors Exploiting Workers Overseas?
Our answer is that some Government Contractors are exploiting workers overseas by not filing Defense Base Act Insurance Claims on deaths and injuries of foreign workers. Where is the investigation of this?
by David Isenberg at Huff Post November 7, 2011
The following is an excerpt from the congressional testimony I gave yesterday. You can find the entire testimony on my blog (free registration required).
Testimony of David Isenberg Publisher, PMSC Observer and Author, Shadow Force: Private Security Contractors in Iraq, before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and Procurement Reform, on “Are government contractors exploiting workers overseas? Examining enforcement of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act“November 2, 2011
Chairman Lankford, Ranking Member Connolly, other Members of the Subcommittee,
Thank you for the opportunity to testify at this hearing.
I commend you for examining the issue of whether government contractors exploit workers overseas. It is unquestionably a problem. Though it has come up elewhere it has not yet received the sustained attention it merits. As the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan noted in its final report:
U.S. contingency contractors, opportunistic labor brokers, and international criminal organizations have taken advantage of the easy flow of people, money, goods, and services to capitalize on this source of revenue and profit. Their actions bring discredit to the United States and act as a barrier to building good diplomatic relations.
The subject also means you have to look at the relationship between prime contractors and their subcontractors, which is another problem. It is often, to cite Winston Churchill, a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.
I am pleased to be here to discuss the The Najlaa Episode Revisited report that I co-authored, which was published by the Project on Government Oversight this past June. I have a prepared statement which I ask be included in the hearing record in its entirety, along with the POGO report. In the interest of time I will just summarize some of the main points.
But first, let me outline where I stand on the ongoing debate over the outsourcing and privatization of functions that used to be considered inherently governmental. I am not an opponent of private military and security contractors. Nor am I am a fervent supporter. Over the years I have documented problems with the claims of both sides. Personally, I think most contractors, especially those operating in the field, are decent, honorably men and women, doing necessary, even vital work, under harsh and demanding conditions. Some of them, I believe, especially on the security side, are underpaid. But in the end I am simply an interested observer and chronicler, who, like the Mr. Spock character on the Star Trek television series, finds it a “fascinating” phenomenon worthy of continued study and analysis.
Speaking of science fiction we might note that the use of private actors in war and conflict is something that sc-fi writers have long written about, as in Gordon Dickinson’s Dorsai novels. So, in one sense, the subject of today’s hearing is an example of life imitating fiction.
First, let me address why this is important. For years industry advocates have been claiming that thanks to private military contractors (PMC) U.S. military forces have the best supported, supplied military in any military operation in history. It is inarguably true that PMC are now so intertwined and critical that the U.S. military simply can’t operate without them.
But that is not an unmitigated benefit. Many PMC have had problems implementing contracts. Some have committed outright fraud, thus wasting U.S. taxpayer’s money, and indirectly, negatively affecting U.S. military operations.
While the seven plus years has seen increased attention paid to the oversight of and accountability of PMC most of that attention has been at the level of prime contractors. Only now is government beginning to turn to the issue of subcontractors. This attention is long overdue. As the Center for Public Integrity noted last year
Please read the rest of David’s testimony at his blog The PMC Observer
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