Thursday, October 11, 2007

AP reports today:

"A series of rockets or mortar rounds struck Camp Victory, killing two members of the U.S.-led coalition and wounding 40 other people on the sprawling headquarters for U.S. forces in Iraq, the military said Thursday. . . The military said those wounded in Wednesday's attack included two 'third-country nationals,' meaning they were not Americans or Iraqis."

These "third country nationals," or TCNs as they are known, surely weren't Americans or Iraqis, they were most likely South Asians working for $1 an hour for one of the multitude of military contractors or subcontractors in Iraq doing the job the military has traditionally done itself. Now that we're fighting war on the cheap, the military can't afford to have the few troops we actually still do have tied down doing things like doing the laundry or cleaning out latrines, that's what we have the Fillipinos for.

One might ask why we're bringing in people from all over the world to work in Iraq when the unemployment rate is about 50% for the normal Iraqi, but that would be one of those reality based questions. Remember, W. & Co. make their own reality. Besides, who would trust an Iraqi to serve one of our guys on the chow line?

According to CorpWatch, the TCNs not only get paid basically nothing for their work for us, but when the indirect fire starts raining down on our bases -- an everyday event in the era of Pax Petraeus -- "American contractors slip on helmets and bulletproof vests, but TCNs are frequently shielded by only the shirts on their backs and the flimsy trailers they sleep in."

The WaPo reported back on December 5, 2006 that after three years of W.'s and Rummy's neoliberal economic experiment in Iraq, the Pentagon had finally done a census of the number of civilian employees working for the US military in Iraq.

"The survey finding, which includes Americans, Iraqis and third-party nationals hired by companies operating under U.S. government contracts, is significantly higher and wider in scope than the Pentagon's only previous estimate, which said there were 25,000 security contractors in the country."

Before the media noticed that Blackwater and other contractors were rampaging through the streets of Baghdad and other cities, firing first and asking questions later, Rep. Janice D. Schakowsky (D-Ill.) saw the number of contractors and the lack of accounting for them as a potential problem. She said almost a year ago that the census "further demonstrates the need for Congress to finally engage in responsible, serious and aggressive oversight over the questionable and growing U.S. practice of private military contracting." [Yeah right, that'll be happening.]

Almost a year later and Congress is starting to wake up from its snooze. After yet another incident of a State Department security contractor -- this time Unity Resources Group -- blowing two women away on the streets of Baghdad on Tuesday Congress is finally getting around to doing something. Congressman David Price of North Carolina has been banging the drum on this issue for a while, but no one was listening. Now they are.

Not that I'm really confident that they'll actually pass legislation with any teeth.

It's probably a bit too late anyway. Retired Army general William L. Nash was quoted in the WaPo articvle cited above saying: "If you're trying to win hearts and minds and the contractor is driving 90 miles per hour through the streets and running over kids, that's not helping the image of the American army. The Iraqis aren't going to distinguish between a contractor and a soldier."

Smae as it every was.


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