Tag Archives | privatization

Since 9/11 Private Contractors Have Made $385 Billion From Overseas Bases

baseworldVia TomDispatch on the staggering sum being passed from U.S. taxpayers to a handful of contracting corporations in the name of maintaining the Pentagon’s global “baseworld”:

Outside the United States, the Pentagon controls a collection of military bases unprecedented in history. With US troops gone from Iraq, it’s easy to forget that we probably still have about 1,000 military bases in other peoples’ lands.

The Pentagon has dispersed around $385 billion to private companies for work done outside the US since late 2001, mainly in that baseworld. That’s nearly double the entire State Department budget over the same period. Almost a third of the $385 billion has flowed into the coffers of just 10 top contractors, [with the largest amount going to] KBR, the former subsidiary of Halliburton.

Once upon a time, however, the military, not contractors, built the barracks, cleaned the clothes, and peeled the potatoes at these bases. This started to change during the Vietnam War, when Brown & Root, better known to critics as “Burn & Loot” (later KBR), began building major military installations in South Vietnam as part of a contractor consortium.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Notorious For-Profit Prison Company Doing ‘Drug Sweeps’ Of Arizona Public School Students

Corrections Corporation of America, recently sued over its collaborating with violent gangs, is now partnering with police to conduct “lock down sweeps” in which high schoolers are locked in their classrooms while canine units search their possessions for illegal contraband. Via PR Watch:

An unsettling trend appears to be underway in Arizona: the use of private prison employees in law enforcement operations.

The state has graced national headlines in recent years as the result of its cozy relationship with the for-profit prison industry. Such controversies have included the role of private prison corporations in SB 1070 and similar anti-immigrant legislation disseminated in other states; a 2010 private prison escape that resulted in two murders and a nationwide manhunt; and a failed bid to privatize nearly the entire Arizona prison system.

And now, recent events in the central Arizona town of Casa Grande show the hand of private corrections corporations reaching into the classroom, assisting local law enforcement agencies in drug raids at public schools.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

State Department Offering Contractors $10 Billion To Operate Overseas Drug-War Airforce

With such an effort, surely this war on drugs will be won soon. Wired reports:

Unsure how your private security firm makes money as the U.S. war in Afghanistan winds down? One option: Go into the drug trade — more specifically, the lucrative business of fighting narcotics. The State Department needs a business partner to keep its fleet of drug-hunting helicopters and planes flying worldwide. You could make up to $10 billion.

Starting next month, the State Department will solicit some defense-industry feedback on a contract to help operate its 412 aircraft, based in at least eight nations, before it reopens the contract for bidding. Among the missions: “Provide pilots and operational support for drug interdiction missions such as crop spraying.”

In Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, Pakistan, and Guatemala, State Department air operations mostly perform “counternarcotics and law enforcement activities,” explains State Department spokeswoman Pooja Jhunjhunwala, and in Afghanistan it does transportation support as well.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

For-Profit Prison Corporation Accused Of Partnering With Violent Gangs To Run Jail

Corrections Corporation of America is accused of using targeted prison gang violence as a cost-saving measure, ThinkProgress reports:

A lawsuit brought by eight inmates of the Idaho Correctional Center alleges that the company is cutting back on personnel costs by partnering with violent prison gangs to help control the facility. Court documents and an investigative report issued by the state’s Department of Corrections show how guards routinely looked the other way when gang members violated basic facility rules, negotiated with gang leaders on the cell placement of new inmates, and may have even helped one group of inmates plan a violent attack on members of a rival gang.

The inmates contend that officials at the prison — the state’s largest, with more than 2,000 beds — use gang violence and the threat of gang violence as an “inexpensive device to gain control over the inmate population,” according to the lawsuit, and foster and develop criminal gangs.”

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Global Corporations Eye The Privatizing Of Highways

As they say, as goes California, so goes the nation. The News Review reports:

It slipped under the public’s radar, but a couple of years ago, Caltrans formed a unique contract that effectively privatized a major Northern California roadway traversed by millions annually. Now, more privatized highway projects might be approved over the next several years as major financial corporations and lobbying groups eye California as a potentially lucrative market for infrastructure, especially highways.

These so-called public-private partnerships, or P3s, are a multibillion-dollar global business. One Swedish corporation has called the United States the “trillion-dollar opportunity” for privatized highways and other public infrastructure.

Critics and union groups, meanwhile, argue that Californians should be wary of privatization of their roads. They remind that the reason California got rid of its P3 laws the first time in 2004 was because of bankruptcies and messy contractual clauses that suggested privatization might not be in the public’s best interest.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

On The Rise Of Predatory Privatization

People for the American Way‘s paper (available in PDF form) titled Predatory Privatization, is a must-read overview of how corporate players are attempting to use state and local budget crises as an opportunity to seize essential public assets and functions, making America closer to an oligarchy:

Privatization is a wonky term that can obscure the real mechanism and process at work. Through privatization schemes to outsource traditional governmental functions, taxpayer dollars are diverted from the building of public assets and institutions to create long-term revenue streams and profit for corporations.

Through privatization schemes that directly sell off assets that belong to the public, legislators enrich corporate interests at the expense of the long-term interests of the American people in assets their taxes have helped build. The privatization of the people’s assets is essentially permanent.

The agenda of privatization schemers was manifest at last August’s American Legislative Exchange Council meeting in New Orleans where ALEC members urged that the government, meaning the people, should not own buildings but should sell them to the private sector, which could then lease the space back to the government at a profit.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Honduras Signs Deal To Allow Investors To Build Three Privately Run Cities

Well, corporations have nothing but contempt for local laws, people, or cultures, so their pursuing this extranational private city-colony model makes sense. The Washington Post reports:

Investors can begin construction in six months on three privately run cities in Honduras that will have their own police, laws, government and tax systems now that the government has signed a memorandum of agreement approving the project. An international group of investors and government representatives signed the memorandum Tuesday for the project that some say will bring badly needed economic growth to this small Central American country and that at least one detractor describes as “a catastrophe.”

The project “has the potential to turn Honduras into an engine of wealth,” said Carlos Pineda, president of the Commission for the Promotion of Public-Private Partnerships.

The project is opposed by civic groups as well as the indigenous Garifuna people. Oscar Cruz, a former constitutional prosecutor, filed a motion with the Supreme Court last year characterizing the project as unconstitutional and “a catastrophe for Honduras.”

“The cities involve the creation of a state within the state, a commercial entity with state powers outside the jurisdiction of the government,” Cruz said.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

America’s Nuclear Bomb Facility Shut Down After 82-Year-Old Nun Breaches Security

The task of keeping the government compound safe is handled by a private company–global security giant G4S, also known for a bungling job at the ongoing London Olympics. Via Reuters:

The U.S. government’s only facility for handling, processing and storing weapons-grade uranium has been temporarily shut after anti-nuclear activists, including an 82-year-old nun, breached security fences, government officials said on Thursday.

WSI Oak Ridge, the contractor responsible for protecting the facility at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, is owned by the international security firm G4S, which was at the center of a dispute over security at the London Olympic Games.

Officials said the facility was shut down on Wednesday at least until next week after three activists cut through perimeter fences to reach the outer wall of a building where highly enriched uranium, a key nuclear bomb component, is stored.

Ellen Barfield, a spokeswoman for the activists who called themselves “Transform Now Plowshares,” said three were arrested and charged with vandalism and criminal trespass.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Protest Criminalized At ‘Pepper Spray University’

Via the New Statesman, on the Davis Dozen, who face ten year prison sentences for peacefully protesting the bank that paid for control over their school:

Sometime in July, eleven students and one professor at the University of California Davis will stand trial, accused of the “willful” and “malicious” act of protesting peacefully in front of a bank branch situated on their University campus.

There has been in recent months a great deal of online coverage of the brutality of public order policing at Davis. The treatment of the Davis Dozen, however, promises more longstanding injury. If found guilty, each faces charges of up to eleven years in prison and $1 million in fines.

As the collapse of the US banking sector caused the State of California to withdraw its funding for its public Universities, those same Universities turned to the banking sector for financial support. On 3 November 2009, just two weeks before riot police would end a student occupation at UC Berkeley by firing rubber bullets and tear gas at the students and faculty gathered outside, the University of California Davis announced on its website a new deal with US Bank, the high street banking division of U.S Bancor, the fifth largest commercial bank in the United States.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Kellogg Brown & Root May Become Part Of Police Forces In Britain

Guantanamo_captives_in_January_2002In areas of the U.K., policing is being partially privatized for the first time ever, and Texas-based former Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root is on the short list of candidate companies, the Guardian reports. Does the public really want the kind of experience KBR brings?

A US Pentagon contractor that was involved in building Guantánamo Bay is on a shortlist of private consortiums bidding for a £1.5bn contract to run key policing services in the West Midlands and Surrey.

The Texas-based Kellogg Brown & Root, which was sold off by the controversial Halliburton corporation in 2007, is part of a consortium which has made it to the final shortlist for a contract that will see large-scale involvement of the private sector in British policing for the first time.

Read the rest

Continue Reading