How We Outsourced CIA Torture And Why It Matters


One big revelation in the explosive summary of the Senate report on CIA torture is just how much the U.S. government is outsourcing its dirty work.

The 500-page report on CIA interrogation tactics, released last week, details shocking instances of waterboarding, forced rectal feedings and various other torture methods, in one case leading up to a detainee’s death. It also includes a somewhat-overlooked statistic: Eighty-five percent of the interrogations completed as part of the CIA’s covert program in the wake of 9/11 were conducted by private contractors, who were paid tens of millions of dollars for actions.

The use of contractors for interrogations continues a recent, troubling trend of the U.S. government giving some of its hardest jobs to companies motivated by profit. It raises moral and logistical questions about the use of such contractors, several experts told The Huffington Post, and could make it more difficult to hold people accountable for any crimes committed in the course of the CIA interrogation program.

“These people are outside the normal rules of the game,” said Brigitte Nacos, an adjunct professor of political science at Columbia University who specializes in counterterrorism. Nacos noted that contractors like the psychologists who the report describes as the main architects of the CIA interrogation program are not subject to court martial. “I think in this case it was a big mistake,” she said.

Fighting wars with outside help isn’t new. As far back as the American Revolution, contract personnel have played an important role in armed conflicts. But the use of contractors to fight the nation’s wars has increased in recent decades. And in the future, those who study this issue say, contractors will continue to prove useful in maintaining America’s role as global policeman.

On average, there was just one civilian contractor in Vietnam for every six active duty soldiers fighting there, according to the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, which establishes policies for Defense Department contracts. In the Iraq War, that ratio rose to 1 to 1. During..

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