Neil Mackay was one of the best reporters internationally on extraordinary rendition. He has now broken a story that is important for everyone in Scotland and beyond.
I am a supporter of Scotland’s SNP government, but they have made a terrible blunder in handing Scotland’s census to US mercenary group CACI, whose well-paid torturers were famously involved at Abu Ghraib but are also contracted to carry out interrogations throughout Iraq. CACI has used libel lawyers to try to limit knowledge of its connection with torture, but lost its landmark case against Air America. CACI’s own description of its main activties is
1) National Security
3) Homeland Security
CACI has its headquarters in Arlington Virginia – home of the CIA.
I am stunned by this. These people’s main business is providing intelligence services to the US government. Do the Scottish government really want to hand over data on every household in Scotland, including their ethnic and religious background, to the CIA? Does anybody believe that a firm whose primary source of income is the War on Terror and which has wholeheartedly bought into Bush’s “The gloves are off” philosophy – and made a fortune from it – will respect internal firewalls and not give that information to the CIA?
This appointment is an abomination and Alex Salmond must rescind it immediately, or lose much of the ethical high ground which the SNP has so painstakingly won.
There are those who oppose the census per se. I do not take that view, regarding it as useful – but that utility would be vastly outweighed by the danger of giving the individual confidential data to CACI. If the government persists with this appointment, I must with great reluctance join the ranks of those calling for a boycott of the census. Or even better, mess it up with stupid returns. I think, for example, that everyone should declare themselves to be Aztecs working as golf course owners with an improbable number of children, living in a mansion with seventeen cars and regularly worshipping Kon-Tiki. I wonder how much the CIA will give CACI for all that info on Scotland’s billionaire native Americans?