Congress is finally moving to ban one of the Bush administration's most blatant evasions of accountability in Iraq — the outsourcing of war detainees' interrogation to mercenary private contractors.
Operating free of the restraints of military rule and ethics, some of these corporate thugs turned up in the torture scandal at the Abu Ghraib prison and walked away with impunity. Others are now believed to be in the employ of the Central Intelligence Agency at secret prisons that remain outside the rule of law, exempted even from the weak 2006 rules on interrogating prisoners.
Civilian interrogators are part of the broader pool of hired guns that the administration has deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan and other spots around the world. Their actions regularly enrage Iraqis, most notably last September, when a phalanx of trigger-happy contractors assigned to protect American diplomats sprayed a crowd and killed 17 civilians.
These depredations continue to undermine the United States in the eyes of both citizens of war zones and the watching world. Their use as interrogators are a symptom of the administration's ducking accountability under international law by concocting ersatz redefinitions of civilized behavior and undermining legitimate intelligence operations.
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