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Thursday, October 30, 2003

Privatizing the War
We already knew that Halliburton and others have been given big contracts to do things in Iraq that in the past were done by soldiers, like logistics and supply. According to this article, private contractors are involved in many aspects of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan--including combat:

In Iraq, private contractors do just about everything a soldier would do. They sling Spam in mess tents. They tote guns along base perimeters. They shoot. They get shot. Sometimes they get killed. And it's not just in Iraq, but around the world - in conflict zones from Liberia to Kosovo to Afghanistan - that the United States is putting hired help behind the front lines to ease the burden of its overworked armed forces.

By paying civilians to handle military tasks, the Bush administration is freeing up U.S. troops to fight. But the use of contractors also hides the true costs of war.

Their dead aren't added to official body counts. Their duties - and profits - are hidden by close-mouthed executives who won't give details to Congress. And as their coffers and roles swell, companies are funneling earnings into political campaigns and gaining influence over military policy - even getting paid to recommend themselves for lucrative contracts.

I found this part incredible:

The machine-gun toting guards who shadow Afghan President Hamid Karzai and L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator in Iraq, are private-sector workers, as are those who built and operate the cavernous white mess tent on the base of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Baghdad.

There, a $3 million contract with Kellogg, Brown & Root [division of Halliburton] paid for the tent's construction and the Bangladeshi and Indian cooks who feed 4,000 troops daily. One soldier breakfasting inside the tent, a nine-year veteran, said she's been sent to patrol Baghdad since contractors took her job as a cook.

So Cheney's company gets these huge contracts to "rebuild Iraq," but it imports the cheapest labor on earth from India and Bangladesh to a country with 60% unemployment so that a trained and experienced Army cook can get herself blown up doing police work, for which she isn't trained, in the most dangerous city in the world.

Why in the friggin' world would you be importing cheap labor into Iraq? (Oh right; profits.)

Bush and Cheney are completely and utterly contemptible.