Troops, Contractors, Mercenaries and Atrocities

If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.”
James Madison (1751-1836), 4th U.S. President and author of the U.S. Constitution

“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.”
Sinclair Lewis, (It Can’t Happen Here, 1935)

It’s official: there are more contractors than troops in Iraq (Sydney Morning Herald, Australia)

I no longer have any active members of the military in my family, but two family members are in Iraq as contractors.

What if our mercenaries turn on us? (Philly.com)

Pentagon admits an urgent need for armored vehicles (Yahoo)

2 more defense contractors exposed (TruthOrLies.org)

EXCERPT: An article released today by MSNBC revealed that the “Defense Department put U.S. troops in Iraq at risk by awarding contracts for badly needed armored vehicles to companies that failed to deliver them on schedule, according to a review by the Pentagon’s inspector general. The June 27 report, obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press, examined 15 contracts worth $2.2 billion awarded since 2000 to Force Protection, Inc., and Armor Holdings, Inc.”

Blackwater manager blamed for 2004 Fallujah massacre (News & Observer, NC)

Blackwater sues families of the slain to shut them up (Free Internet Press)

How Antonio Taguba, who investigated the Abu Ghraib scandal, became one of its’ casualties (New Yorker)

UK Army food cheaper than dog food, prisoner food, or a schoolkid’s lunch (Daily Mail, UK)

UK troops receiving “trigger happy drug” capable of keeping them awake over 60 hours (Scotsman)

Pentagon says mental stress of troops in Iraq no longer a bar to duty (Guardian, UK)

Beyond PTSD: The Moral Casualties of War (Uruknet)

EXCERPT: “According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, during the Iraq war, 56 percent of soldiers and Marines (henceforth I will use the term “soldiers” to include members of all branches, both male and female) have killed another human being, 20 percent admit being responsible for noncombatant deaths, and 94 percent had seen bodies and human remains.[i] According to Colonel Charles Engel, MD, MPH, director of the deployment health clinical center at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, between 15 and 29 percent of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan will suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Because soldiers still on active duty are being deployed longer and more often to Iraq, experts say that the PTSD rate among Iraq veterans could well eclipse the 30% lifetime rate found in a 1990 national study of Vietnam veterans. While these numbers are staggering and should give any rational human being pause, the readjustment difficulties suffered by active duty military and veterans because of their experiences in Iraq are not exhausted by references to trauma and PTSD. Tragically, as soldiers experience the horror and cruelty of war, especially urban counterinsurgency war, the moral gravity of their actions – displacing, torturing, injuring, and killing other human being (henceforth “combat behavior”) – becomes apparent, soldiers suffer not only the effects of trauma, but what I will term “moral injuries,” i.e., debilitating remorse, guilt, shame, disorientation, and alienation from the remainder of the moral community.”

The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness (The Nation)

EXCERPT: “Over the past several months The Nation has interviewed fifty combat veterans of the Iraq War from around the United States in an effort to investigate the effects of the four-year-old occupation on average Iraqi civilians. These combat veterans, some of whom bear deep emotional and physical scars, and many of whom have come to oppose the occupation, gave vivid, on-the-record accounts. They described a brutal side of the war rarely seen on television screens or chronicled in newspaper accounts.”

“Their stories, recorded and typed into thousands of pages of transcripts, reveal disturbing patterns of behavior by American troops in Iraq. Dozens of those interviewed witnessed Iraqi civilians, including children, dying from American firepower. Some participated in such killings; others treated or investigated civilian casualties after the fact. Many also heard such stories, in detail, from members of their unit. The soldiers, sailors and marines emphasized that not all troops took part in indiscriminate killings. Many said that these acts were perpetrated by a minority. But they nevertheless described such acts as common and said they often go unreported–and almost always go unpunished… “

“…This Nation investigation marks the first time so many on-the-record, named eyewitnesses from within the US military have been assembled in one place to openly corroborate these assertions.”

Contractors make up over 50% of the CIA’s workforce (TIME)

Almost 12% of this years Army recruits required waivers for criminal records (Int’l Herald Tribune)

Marines on trial for conspiring to kidnap and kill an Iraqi civilian, then planting an AK-47 next to him to make him appear like a terrorist (Yahoo)

Troops’ one-month breaks blocked (TruthOut)

EXCERPT: “US commanders in Iraq are rejecting a recommendation by Army mental health experts that troops receive a one-month break for every three months in a combat zone, despite unprecedented levels of continuous fighting and worsening risks of mental stress. Instead, commanders are trying to give troops two to three days inside heavily fortified bases after about eight days in the field, said Brig. Gen. Joseph Anderson, chief aide to the ground forces commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno.”

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