Thursday, May 03, 2007


"We're never going to war without the private security industry again in a non-draft environment."
~ former Marine Colonel Jack Holly.

There's a fascinating article at Asia Times on the American shadow army in Iraq--the military contractors, like Blackwater,and how the Democrats are playing along with the Bush administration on the matter. If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times, there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans, and the Asia Times article is just another piece of evidence to back up my assertion.

Here are some snippets:

The 145,000 active-duty US forces are nearly matched by occupation personnel who currently come from such companies as Blackwater USA and the former Halliburton subsidiary KBR, which enjoy close personal and political ties with the Bush administration. Until Congress reins in these massive corporate forces and the whopping federal funding that goes into their coffers, partially withdrawing US troops may only set the stage for the increased use of private military companies (and their rent-a-guns) which stand to profit from any kind of privatized future "surge" in Iraq.

[ . . . ]

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Henry Waxman estimates that $4 billion in taxpayers' money has so far been spent in Iraq on armed "security" companies such as Blackwater - with tens of billions more going to other war companies such as KBR and Fluor for "logistical" support. Jan Schakowsky of the House Intelligence Committee believes that up to 40 cents of every dollar spent on the occupation has gone to war contractors.

With such massive government payouts, there is little incentive for these companies to minimize their footprint in the region and every incentive to look for more opportunities to profit - especially if, sooner or later, the "official" US presence shrinks, giving the public a sense of withdrawal, of a winding down of the war.

Even if Bush were to sign the legislation the Democrats have passed, their plan "allows the president the leeway to escalate the use of military security contractors directly on the battlefield", Erik Leaver of the Institute for Policy Studies pointed out. It would "allow the president to continue the war using a mercenary army".

[ . . . ]

More significant, there is absolutely no effective system of oversight or accountability governing contractors and their operations, nor is there any effective law - military or civilian - being applied to their activities.

They have not been subjected to military courts-martial (despite a recent congressional attempt to place them under the Uniform Code of Military Justice), nor have they been prosecuted in US civilian courts - and, no matter what their acts in Iraq, they cannot be prosecuted in Iraqi courts.

[ . . . ]

Despite the tens of thousands of contractors passing through Iraq and several well-documented incidents involving alleged contractor abuses, only two individuals have been ever indicted for crimes there. One was charged with stabbing a fellow contractor, while the other pleaded guilty to the possession of child-pornography images on his computer at Abu Ghraib prison. While dozens of American soldiers have been court-martialed - 64 on murder-related charges - not a single armed contractor has been prosecuted for a crime against an Iraqi. In some cases, where contractors were alleged to have been involved in crimes or deadly incidents, their companies whisked them out of Iraq to safety.

[ . . . ]

Consider the case of Blackwater USA. A decade ago, the company barely existed; and yet its "diplomatic security" contracts since mid-2004, with the State Department alone, total more than $750 million.

Today, Blackwater has become nothing short of the Bush administration's well-paid Praetorian Guard. It protects the US ambassador and other senior officials in Iraq as well as visiting congressional delegations; it trains Afghan security forces and was deployed in the oil-rich Caspian Sea region, setting up a "command and control" center just kilometers from the Iranian border.

[ . . . ]

The man behind this empire is Erik Prince, a secretive, conservative Christian, ex-navy special-force multimillionaire who bankrolls Bush and his allies with major campaign contributions. Among Blackwater's senior executives are Cofer Black, former head of counter-terrorism at the Central Intelligence Agency; Robert Richer, former deputy director of operations at the CIA; Joseph Schmitz, former Pentagon inspector general; and an impressive array of other retired military and intelligence officials. Company executives recently announced the creation of a new private intelligence company, "Total Intelligence", to be headed by Black and Richer.

For the rest, including Democratic collusion, see the Asia Times. More on Blackwater. Blackwater in New Orleans. More on Blackwater, Dyncorp, and others from Mother Jones.

More on Blackwater from Youtube:

Imagine if the Turks set up a company like that.

In other news, from IWPR, self-immolation as suicide among women leads to a boom in plastic surgery in South Kurdistan.

I'm disgusted.

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