Rise of the Fourth Reich


Rise of the Fourth Reich

Congress held hearings last week to get to the bottom of the torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. How did it happen? Who knew what, when? While these questions are interesting, they aren’t as important as others that were touched upon or danced around.


Many times it is the questions that are not asked and/or answered that are the most revealing. Senator John McCain Arizona Republican asked one such question: "Who were the civilian contractors that were involved in the interrogations?" Donald Rumsfeld talked but he never answered. The question that wasn’t asked was "WHY are civilian contractors engaged in sensitive military operations such as the interrogation of prisoners?"


To answer the question, one need only understand the nature of the contracting relationship with organizations. While the relationship between contractors and organizations might start out clean--they deteriorate with familiarity and the amount of money involved in the contract. The more money involved, the dirtier the relationship evolves.


Contracting firms pinpoint the superstars in an organization and they either hire them away or they arrange for them to be eliminated. This leaves an organization with second and third tier personnel. The less capable (i.e. incompetent) the personnel of an organization are, the more dependent the organization is on the contractors, the more money the contractors will make. For this reason, contractors are like a cancer in an organization. In most cases, in long term contracting relationships, the contractors end up running things and the organization’s management become titular heads.


Later in the hearing in answer to another question, it was stated that there were ‘shortages’ of qualified military personnel in the areas of linguistics and interrogation so contractors were hired. Further it was stated that the contractors were former military personnel. It also came out that the General in charge of the prison ‘wasn’t allowed’ into the section where the interrogations were occurring.


The military leadership knew about the conditions at Abu Ghraib prison since January. An investigation had been completed, but the report languished on somebody’s desk at the defense department. Nobody considered it ‘radioactive’ as Rumsfeld called it, until pictures were about to be televised.


The failures to understand the implications of this incident were also apparent in Donald Rumsfeld’s demeanor while he testified. Jon Stewart included some jokes about it in his comedy program. When Rumsfeld said how terrible the abuse and torture was, he was rather matter of fact about it. "It was terrible, just terrible". The only time Rumsfeld showed emotion was when he was talking about how everybody has digital cameras giving them the ability to take pictures that could end up in the press. That REALLY upset him. It was clear that to Rumsfeld, this was more a crisis of image than of character.


The tragedy of this debacle is that the focal point is going to be on the enlisted people depicted in the photographs. The real problem involves contractors involved in military functions. The military walks a fine line. At its fundamental level, the military is comprised of professional killers. Their existence is made honorable by the high purpose of protecting and defending our country. All military training revolves around patriotism and loyalty. Honor, Duty, Country are priorities of the first order. The integration of private contractors into military actions constitutes a dangerous corruption of military values. It changes the priorities to Profit, Longevity of Contract and Image.


Considering the seeming incompetence of both our Intelligence Agencies and the management of the Iraqi War Theater, it shows a cancer in our military. The John Waynes in our military have been replaced by the Colonel Klinks partnered with Gordon Gekkos as contractors. A visit to the Department of Defense web site bears that out. Under the heading of ‘Transformation’, the transcript and diagrams of a speech given by Admiral E.P. Giambastiani, states that ‘Transformation’ is the corporatization of the military. The following is an excerpt from his speech:




"So how can we better integrate industry and JFCOM? How can you parallel our process and participate with us on these initiatives? Brigadier General Jim Warner will brief our plan tomorrow afternoon. And as a reward for sticking around, we can all go golfing afterwards!" "Joint transformation" is something that is still not well understood within the military-both in the United States and in NATO.


To help tell the story on what we mean by "joint transformation," I've brought just three slides. I should make clear that when I use the term "joint operations," I mean the BIG "J" in joint-which refers to a seamless integration of joint forces, interagency and multinational and coalition partners. "


This is just one example of the "process" end of transformation. On the "product" side, you can see that we have focused our efforts on moving the force to a joint operational training environment-and from a force based on attrition warfare to one that is designed and trained to conduct effect-based operations.


You can see the "way ahead" must be aimed at developing and delivering new 4th Block capabilities. We're very pleased that you are here-and your continued participation and robust exchange of information is something that we will need to successfully move our collective organizations to the right.”


The contractors who prepared the presentation for Admiral Klink must have been in stitches as they drew it. It would make a really funny TV sketch. In real life, there is nothing less funny. The diagrams show the military moving from clearly marked lines of authority, ending up in a ‘4th Block’ of chaos and blurred lines of authority and function. The chaos and blurred lines of authority are what allowed Abu Ghraib to happen. 


One of the most famous quotes of Benito Mussolini was: "Fascism should rightly be called Corporatism as it is a merge of state and corporate power." Transformation is the merger of state and corporate power. In this writer’s opinion, the 4th Block represents the consolidation of power in the rise of the Fourth Reich.


Vicky L. Davis is a computer systems analyst.