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Do You Like Adventure? Prisons for Iraq

by Silja J.A. Talvi

DynCorp International, a subsidiary of Computer Sciences Corporation, was in heavy recruit-ment mode at the Winter, 2005 ACA Conference.
The Dawn of Liberty," blared one flyer. Join Us in the Fight for Freedom EVERYWHERE.

To get current and former correctional employees to consider exciting opportunities in the Middle East," DynCorp was making Iraq sound like a trip to Disneyland. Do you like adventure? Do you like to travel internationally?"

In an ever increasing world of tension and instability, the U.S. Government has expanded its role in establishing societal stability through democratic style of governance.

With an unblemished background," a civilian police officer in Iraq could earn $120,632, with all lodging, meals, transportation, and logistical and administrative support provided at no cost. The small print on one flyer mentioned that a one-year contract was based on six-day workweek, 12 hours per day.

For a prison guard making $12 an hour, this offer seemed mighty tempting. One female guard sat outside the convention center, looking over the materials. I wonder if it's worth it?" she mused.

One of the ACA's workshops was even devoted to Prisons for Iraq," featuring ACA Board member Mark Sauder, a former warden in Ohio.
In March 2004, as he explained, he was sent on a corrections mission" to establish the new Iraqi Corrections Service. His co-presenter was Chuck Ryan, a 25-year Arizona Department of Corrections (AZDOC) veteran and the top deputy director under former AZDOC Director Terry Stewart. Both Ryan and Stewart, who ran for president of the ACA in 2004, were known for setting the tone for a harsh and often brutal prison system. (Many other U.S. correctional administrators and prison guards with questionable histories were also sent to Iraq, including Specialist Charles Graner, the unrepentant Abu Ghraib torturer who was sentenced to 10 years in prison. See the September, 2004, issue of PLN for a more detailed history of the American prison officials who set up the Iraqi regime's new torture and murder centers.)

At the workshop, both Sauder and Ryan admitted that by April 2004, the prisons they were sent to oversee exploded." To repair the damage from ongoing riotsand to control the prisonersthe U.S. contractors locked men up 30 to a cell, some of whom were shown in a slideshow at the workshop wearing nothing but white underwear.

Once the renovations were made, Sauder explained, he and his peers had to try to instill a new prison culture. Our mission was to teach Iraqis how to run a humane prison," he explained.

Speaking of the Abu Ghraib civilian prison, Sauder said: Knowing they were not going to be beaten or killed helped inform trust between guards and prisoners.

Sauder proceeded to entertain the audience with photos of women visiting a mass of incarcerated husbands who could only have contact through a metal fence. When they women arrived, it sounded like a turkey farm," he chuckled.

Sauder showed a picture of an Iraqi prisoner dripping with blood. The man had slashed his chest to get attention.

We knew better than to take this seriously," he said, referring to the common experience of American prisoners who self-mutilate while incarcerated.

Sauder also explained that one of his most interesting tasks was being able to assign the captured Saddam Hussein his official Iraqi Corrections Service number: 005666.

It's the mark of the Antichrist," Sauder said of the 666 designation. If you shaved [Hussein's] head, you would probably see it anyway.

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