Written by James Peters
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Topics: Iraq, Prison

Saturday, 22 May 2004

(Oak Brook, IL) McDonald's Corporation (MCD) announced today that its subsidiary, MCD-Iraq, has been awarded a 2-year, $1.3 billion contract to provide Happy Meals to thousands of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison.

"We are thrilled to be first in this emerging sector," said company spokesman Ronald McDonald Jr., son of the ailing corporate clown. "Despite the recent release of over 1,000 prisoners from Abu Ghraib, we think we'll see strong growth in the Iraqi prisoner market over the next 3-5 years. We'll continue to drive share holder value by winning more of these highly inflated, non-competitive contracts with the Department of Defense."

US Military officials also praised the announcement. "We see this as a very positive step toward improving conditions at Abu Ghraib," said Lt. Bryan Jackson, a spokesman for the 372nd Military Police. "Let's face it. We've dragged these prisoners through the 9th circle of hell. We believe the introduction of McDonald's products, especially Happy Meals, will provide an enormous amount of comfort to these detainees."

While the announcement was praised by industry analysts, it was condemned by human rights groups. In a public letter to Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, Amnesty International spokeswoman Anne Stevens wrote, "The use of fast food to ‘soften up' prisoners prior to interrogation is barbarous, and clearly falls outside the guidelines set forth by the Geneva Convention. We are shocked at the cynicism of this decision, especially in light of the recent disclosures of prisoner abuse."

The Pentagon was not immediately available for comment, though one official who requested anonymity said, "This decision will have no real impact on the prisoners. If this is anything like the Halliburton contract, most of $1.3B will be invoiced for - but not delivered."

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