Because of their abuse and extreme overuse and over-extension of our military troops in Iraq, the Bush administration has been forced to rely more and more on private contractors to fill various roles in Iraq that were previously restricted to military personnel. These private contractors are being drawn into conflicts on a daily basis, essentially making them paid military mercenaries. They operate outside of US and Iraqi law, and they are being killed and wounded in a private war that has gone mostly unreported in the US press.
Today, the Washington Post reported that the number of contractors/mercenaries that have been killed and wounded has gone unreported.
They note that contractors have been “…taking hundreds of casualties that have been underreported and sometimes concealed, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials and company representatives.”
“The U.S. military has never released complete statistics on contractor casualties or the number of attacks on privately guarded convoys. The military deleted casualty figures from reports…”…the military wanted to hide information showing that private guards were fighting and dying in large numbers because it would be perceived as bad news.”
On one list alone that included only a small portion of the total contractor force, 132 security contractors and truck drivers had been killed, and 416 had been wounded since the Fall of 2004.
One particularly terrible incident was described in the Washington Post article this way: “On May 8, 2005, after dropping off a load that included T-shirts, plastic whistles and 250,000 rounds of ammunition for Iraqi police, one of Holly's convoys was attacked. Of 20 security contractors and truck drivers, 13 were killed or listed as missing; five of the seven survivors were wounded. Insurgents booby-trapped four of the bodies. To eliminate the threat, a military recovery team fired a tank round into a pile of [US] corpses, according to an after-action report.”
These shifts in US policy mean that the United States is privatizing its military on a massive scale. Among the troubling aspects of this trend is that private contractors operate outside military law, and outside of Iraqi law, and are not accountable to anyone except for their employers. Further, deploying as many as 100,000 contractors in Iraq is costing US taxpayers up to 10 times more than it would cost to deploy the same number of military troops. Finally, there is the fact that both contractors and Iraqis are being killed in large numbers beyond the sight of the press and the American people.
This trend will only continue under Bush, because of the massive corporate profits being realized by “security” and “supply” companies, and in fact this may be the blueprint for the Bush/Cheney remaking of the entire US military into a substantially privatized “for profit” military force. The US is building dozens of permanent military bases in Iraq, and is planning up to two dozen more spread across Africa “to fight global terrorism”. Obviously, Bush and Cheney want a vastly expanded military presence throughout the world, and it will be a presence of a highly privatized nature.
Write your Senators and Representative, and tell them that you not only want the war in Iraq ended now, but that you want our military to return to a defensive military posture, one that does not include private contractors. Privatizing military functions can even put military troops in greater danger, because profit motives can outweigh safety procedures. If these companies were not making huge profits, they would never even consider sending their employees into harms way. But money talks… no, it screams bloody murder.
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