In depth



Tica Font
Director of the International Catalan Institute for Peace
Tica Font

Tica Font

In 2003, a soldier disseminated photographs of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison. A prisoner said he had been beaten, threatened with dogs and given electric shocks; another said that he had been electrocuted, beaten and hung from a pole for seven days; a third said he was forced to drink gallons of water while his penis was tied to prevent him from urinating, etc.

L-3 Communications, a company founded in 1997, is one of the leading private military and security companies (PMSC). L-3 is a spin-off of the American defense industry giants (Lockheed Martin), and its subsidiaries include Titan Corp and Military Professional Resources Inc. (MPRI). Its turnover in 2010 was $15,680 million, and 81% of this turnover was from U.S. government contracts. The most important contracts were in the intelligence field.

L-3/Titan must be the second largest employer in Iraq, after Halliburton / KBR; it employs some 7,000 translators and 300 intelligence specialists. The USA's Department of Defense hired its translation services for $112.1 million in 2003. But it appears that some of the 31 translators that the company provided took part in the torture in Abu Ghraib1.

CACI is a services company specialising in information technology, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Its revenue in 2009 amounted to $2,730 million. 79% of its turnover comes from the U.S. government, and most of that comes from the Department of Defense. Its most important contract, worth $450 million, is linked to electronic warfare. CACI became involved in Abu Ghraib in 2003, when it acquired the company Premier Technology Group (PTG) and subsequently its contracts. PTG was created in the late 1990s by a group of former army intelligence agents who had worked in Bosnia.
Four former Abu Ghraib prisoners have filed suit before courts in the USA as a result of the torture they experienced while they were detained detention between 2003 and 2004.

According to the CACI spokesman, the plaintiffs' claims of abuse during interrogations are unfounded and baseless. CACI's lawyer said that the allegations were false and that his client has served his country honorably while it had worked in Iraq2.

Three soldiers have been charged, tried on criminal charges and are in prison for committing abuses during interrogations. No employee of these companies has been prosecuted for the allegations.

This issue of the magazine wants to address the challenges that these private military and private security companies are creating from different points of view, in terms of their work, how they can monitored, human rights violations, the conditions of impunity under which they operate, their participation in combat missions, their relationships with the regular armies and the erosion of the state's roles, such as the legitimate use of violence, among other issues.

1. Anual report 2010 (Back)
2. [1-7-2008] (Back)