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October 18, 2004

Pentagon Rewards Abu Ghraib Accomplices


by Chris Shumway
TheNewStandard

Instead of reprimands or dismissals, one general tied to the torture and abuses at Abu Ghraib prison will probably receive a promotion and another has been recommended for a new command position. At the same time, both U.S. corporations with direct ties to the abuse scandal have been rewarded with lucrative contracts valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and General Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, want to promote Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, the former commanding general of U.S. troops in Iraq, according to "senior defense officials" who spoke to the Los Angeles Times. Investigators have cited Sanchez for creating an environment that contributed to the torture of Iraqis at Abu Ghraib.

A fourth star for Sanchez might not come until after the Nov. 2 presidential election, however, because the general is what one source termed politically "radioactive" right now due to his role in the prison abuse and torture scandal. If President Bush is reelected, Rumsfeld, Myers and other top officials at the Pentagon will reportedly push aggressively for Sanchez's promotion.

Meanwhile, the Army's chief of intelligence said this week that he thinks Major General Barbara Fast, formerly the chief military intelligence officer in Iraq, should be put in command of the Army's intelligence school in Arizona. Lieutenant General Keith Alexander told reporters Friday he has "great confidence" in Fast's ability to supervise the training of Army interrogators. The same investigation that cited Sanchez also blamed Fast for failing to properly monitor activities by CIA interrogators at Abu Ghraib.

In the private sector, the U.S. government has awarded lucrative contracts to security technology and mercenary contracting firms tied to the Abu Ghraib scandal by General Antonio Taguba's investigation.

CACI International, which provides interrogators to supplement the US Army's intelligence and counterintelligence operations in Iraq, revealed last week that it has obtained contracts valued at $266 million.

That announcement came less than a month after the U.S. Army awarded a six-month "bridging contract" worth as much as $400 million to Titan Corp., the San Diego-based security firm also tied to the Abu Ghraib abuses. That contract will likely keep Titan's force of over 4,000 translators working in Iraq until September 2005.

Later last month, Titan landed a National Security Agency deal that will rope the publicly traded defense giant another $300 million. On Oct. 1, Titan scored a five-year "indefinite-delivery, indefinit-quantity multiple-award" technical contract from the U.S. Navy valued at over $1 billion. To continue the streak, on Thursday the Navy awarded Titan a separate five-year contract worth $109 million.

Brian Dominick contributed to this piece.


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Chris Shumway works primarily as a teacher, writer, and community media activist in Columbus, Ohio. In addition to The NewStandard, his articles and media essays have appeared in the Online Journalism Review, Z Magazine, CommonDreams.org, and the (Columbus) Free Press. He is also co-author of the book Digital Dilemmas: Ethical Issues for Online Media Professionals (Iowa State Press, 2003), and an instructor in the Department of Communication at Capital University in Columbus.

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