The Guardian August 4, 1999


Of jails, spies and chemical weapons

Information has surfaced that the huge US-based security and private 
prisons corporation, Wackenhut, has substantial political and arms 
manufacturing interests in addition to its jails and detention centre 
operations. In Australia Wackenhut subsidiaries  Australasian 
Correctional Management and Wackenhut Corrections Corporation  run a 
number of prisons and immigration detention centres.

The directors of the subsidiaries claim they are independent from their US 
parent company. Mysteriously, though they run jails and detention centres, 
the holding companies for those same jails and detention centres are listed 
on business records as "unknown".

The global giant, with 70,000 employees world-wide, was the centre of 
investigations by US Congress in 1991 and 1992, including allegations that 
Wackenhut tampered with a computer software program for a CIA spying 
operation.

The corporation has also been connected to arms-producing consortiums, 
including the manufacture of chemical and biological weapons.

The company's founder is George Wackenhut, a former FBI agent who first set 
up operations in 1954. With branches in 50 countries, Wackenhut has for 
some time had to fend of claims that it acts as a cover for the CIA.

It employs much of its middle and upper management from the CIA and FBI and 
other intelligence organisations.

At the Arthur Gorrie high security jail in Brisbane, Australasian 
Correctional Management installed an ex-US Marines colonel as general 
manager. Within 13 months four inmates had committed suicide and another 
had died in suspicious circumstances.

Violence within the jail increased, culminating in a riot by angry 
prisoners. This, plus a strong campaign by the Prisoners' Legal Service, 
saw the general manager replaced.

Wackenhut subsidiaries also runs the private jail in Junee in NSW, the 
Fulham Correctional Centre near Sale in Victoria, as well as immigration 
detention centres at Port Hedland in Western Australia, Villawood in 
Sydney, Maribyrnong in Victoria plus another in Perth.

Australia's Immigration Department claims it subjected the subsidiaries to 
rigorous investigation into their integrity and incorruptibility before 
they were allowed to put their prison and detention centre contracts into 
effect.

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