09/07/2006 02:01 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Prison Camps: BushCo's Big Growth Industry?

Bush's speech about Guantanamo and the treatment of detainees left out a lot of things, not just the obvious fact that, according to experts on interrogation, torture doesn't work.

For instance, like a carny barker who forgets to mention the ghastly exhibit behind the curtain, Bush forgot to add that his expanded war on terror is bringing new prosperity -- for the contractors that build the detention centers and help interrogate the prisoners.

Alternet's Joshua Holland reports today on the growth of the torture industry, which not only helps the administration build a base of loyalists, but has helped it elude international restrictions on torture.

In theory laws like the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act could be used to prosecute contractors for their involvement in human rights violations, but the administration that hired these companies would hardly want to prosecute them. And even if someone was willing and able to do so under the law, they might not prevail in any case since, according to Legal Times, the MEJA is "narrowly crafted and ... may not cover some of the abuses -- and abusers -- involved in the torture of Iraqi detainees at U.S.-run prisons."

One question I don't see anyone asking is, how pervasive is the use of contractors at the CIA's secret prisons? We know that employees from CACI and Titan were involved at Abu Ghraib (CACI officials claim they have withdrawn from the interrogation business since the Abu Ghraib story broke, but the company remains a major intelligence contractor). How about other detention centers around the world?

Prison camp construction is also another lucrative income stream for the usual cast of corporate cronies.
E.g. last year the NYTimes reported that Halliburton would get paid $30 million to help expand the prison facilities at Guantanamo, work that was part of a $500 million contract announced in June 18, 2005.

So what's the other $470 million for?

One of the sick ironies in all this, is Halliburton's hypocrisy. The company has been criticized for using "slave labor"" to dig ditches in Australia, ordered to stop trafficking in human contractors in Iraq, and criticized in the U.S. for hiring undocumented workers to replace union contractors on post-Katrina reconstruction contracts.

Yet despite this well-known pattern of exploitation, the company announced in January that Immigration and Customs Enforcement had awarded it a 5-year $385 million contract to build immigrant "detention facilities" (prisons) for immigrants arrested on charges of entering the country illegally and to provide construction and logistics support services in the event of an "immigration emergency," a term vague enough to cause activists to suspect the worst -- that they are openly planning to build detention camps for political dissidents.