Dear Home Despot,
As long as you're advertising on Bill O'Reilly, I'm going to Lowes.
Home Depot email
WASHINGTON - For months September has been cast as a pivotal time for determining the course of the
Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno told reporters after a Senate hearing Thursday that he would need beyond September to tell if improvements in represent long-term trends.
"In order to do a good assessment I need at least until November," said Odierno, a deputy to, the U.S. military commander in Iraq.
Petraeus and other officials testified before theand briefed reporters on Thursday. Making strides toward security and political goals could take more time than first thought, they warned.
A stark assessment came via video link from the Iraqi capital when
The goalposts are being moved again. Instead of admitting that the clusterf**k that is Iraq got that way because of the insistance of a venal, incompetent, imoral, lying, Cowboy - they keep it going in order to squeeze the last drops of gold out of our treasury to the benefit of Halliburton. The same Halliburton who recently moved to Dubai. (Oh yeah, that's
their main just another office)
It's long long past time to get our people out of the meatgrinder.
The heart and soul of America is the rule of law, and the principle that those laws apply to all of us equally. By taking into our heart and soul the terrorists' values and strategies, by spreading fear and violence and helplessness, we destroy ourselves, and encourage chaos in the world.
This is a time in history when we need the goodwill and the cooperation of everyone - the whole world - to turn global warming around and save our grandchildren. Instead, we are running around throwing bombs, killing innocents, and trying to steal their oil.
This. is. immoral.
*For the complete article, go here
Now, the challenges of this privatization strategy are becoming clear.
Everything from who controls their activities to who cares for them when wounded remains unresolved, say experts in and out of the military. This has led to protests from families in theas well as concerns in military ranks about how contractors fit into the chain of command.
"This is a very murky legal space, and simply put we haven't dealt with the fundamental issues," says, a foreign policy specialist at the Brookings Institution in Washington. "What is their specific role, what is their specific status, and what is the system of accountability? We've sort of dodged these questions."
As the inevitable drawdown of US military forces in Iraq occurs, the importance of civilian workers there is likely to grow.
"In my view, the role of contractors is just going to continue to escalate, probably at an ever-increasing rate," says Deborah Avant, a political scientist at the , whose research has focused on civil-military relations.
For example, the new US Embassy now being completed in– 21 buildings on 104 acres, an area six times larger than the complex in – is likely to be a permanent fixture needing hundreds if not thousands of civilian contractors to maintain it and provide services.
In Iraq, up to 180,000 contractors
Estimates of the number of private security personnel and other civilian contractors in Iraq today range from 126,000 to 180,000 – nearly as many, if not more than, the number of Americans in uniform there. Most are not Americans. They come from , , , , , , , , , and other countries.
"A very large part of the total force is not in uniform," Scott Horton, who teaches the law of armed conflict at Columbia University School of Law, said in congressional testimony last month. Inand the , contractors amounted to 3 to 5 percent of the total force deployed. Through the and the first Gulf War, the percentage grew to roughly 10 percent, he notes. "But in the current conflict, the number appears to be climbing steadily closer to parity" with military personnel. "This represents an extremely radical transformation in the force configuration," he says.
Until recently, there has been little oversight of civilian contractors operating in Iraq. The Defense Department is not adequately keeping track of contractors – where they are or even how many there are, theconcluded in a report last December. This is especially true as military units rotate in and out of the war zone (as do contractors) and institutional memory is lost.
This lack of accountability has begun to change with a Democrat-controlled Congress. As part of the 2007 National Defense Authorization Act passed last year, Congress now requires that civilian contractors who break the law – hurt or kill civilians, for example – come under the legal authority of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So far, however, the
So, they don't know who's there, they don't know how many are there, they cannot keep track of these contractors because the military is transferring in and out for their tours of duty while the contractors stay or go as the corporations please. These contractors carry weapons, and can operate lawlessly if they want to, and some have been found, even in the clusterf**k that is Iraq, to have committed grave crimes against civilians with impunity.
Proposed bills in the House and Senate would require "transparency and accountability in military and security contracting." For example, companies would be required to provide information on the hiring and training of civilian workers, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff would have to issue rules of engagement regarding the circumstances under which contractors could use force.
Senior commanders acknowledge the value of contractors, especially those that are armed and ready to fight if attacked.
At his Senate confirmation hearing in January, Army "However, there are tens of thousands of contract security forces and [Iraqi] ministerial security forces that do, in fact, guard facilities and secure institutions," he added. "That does give me the reason to believe that we can accomplish the mission in ."
Can anyone say mercenaries?? What does that say about the US? That we don't have the unity of purpose here to prosecute this war, so we go around the world, hiring the lowest bidder and paying them premium wages, just to do what we don't have the conviction to do ourselves. All the while we cut cut cut the funding for veterans' programs that serve our military families, throwing our own citizens who have risked all to the wolves and (literally) onto the streets to rot.
Nice. Job. Bushie.
Still, many senior military officers worry about the impact that relying on so many civilian contractors – especially armed private security forces – will have on the conduct of future conflicts. This past, for example, a Blackwater USA contractor shot and killed an Iraqi security guard. The contractor was fired and returned to the US. The and Justice Department are investigating.
The US military needs to take "a real hard look at security contractors on future battlefields and figure out a way to get a handle on them so that they can be better integrated – if we're going to allow them to be used in the first place," Col. Peter Mansoor, a deputy to General Petraeus, recently told Jane's Defence Weekly.
"I meet with a lot of O-5s and O-6s [lieutenant colonels and colonels] at the war colleges, and you hear a lot of that discomfort with how far it's gone," says Mr. Singer of.
Opinions differ over whether the trend in using more contractors is here to stay.
"Every war is unique, but the heavy use of private contractors in Relying on market sources is intrinsically more flexible than using government workers, and nobody seriously believes that the market will fail to respond to multibillion dollar opportunities even when danger is involved."
God, when will we wake up and say "enough of war and destruction"? It's gotta be bad for business...
"In addition," says Dr. Thompson, "modern military technology often requires support that only the original makers can provide." Hello - why are we producing military technology that is too hard to teach someone to use?
A new military-industrial complex?
Other observers also foresee an increase in military contractors – for darker reasons.
The "military-industrial complex" that former President Eisenhower warned of has been overshadowed by the "war-service industry," says The war-service industry, by contrast, "doesn't build weapons but has to have a hot war or an occupation going on in order to keep its budgets high," says Ms. Rasor. Constituencies will be built within the military and in Congress to promote this growing industry, she predicts.
Just like privatizing our prisons has led to a swelling prison population, so privatizing our "war service industry" will lead to more and more war.
Korb, a former assistant secretary of Defense, takes a different view. He predicts that the number of contractors providing military logistics support will shrink, in part because the US effort in Iraq will wind down at some point and in part because the US plans to increase the armed forces by soldiers and marines over the next five years.
Looking ahead to the need for peacekeeping and stabilization in future conflicts, Dr.
Uh, glad HE's so confident in our leaders.
After trials of war, a lone helping hand in the US
Contrary to popular perception, most contractors are not the beefy, grim guys wearing scary sunglasses and carrying guns. But in a war like Iraq, every one from mechanics to translators has become a target. At least 916 contractors have been killed in the four-year war and more than wounded, according to official statistics and Labor Department figures provided to the New York Times and Reuters. An unknown number experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
But unless they have previous military service, contractors are not eligible for help from the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Many have been denied treatment by insurance companies. In some cases, the companies they worked for have successfully fought legal efforts to declare the firms liable for physical or mental injury resulting from work in Iraq.
Enter Jana Crowder, a "stay-at-home mom with four kids" who started a website for moral support during the seven months her husband was an engineering contractor in Iraq.
"I had no idea what I was getting into," says Mrs. Crowder, who lives in
If we ever do get out of Iraq, we will have this time bomb in the bosom of our society: not only ex-military with horrific maiming and mental problems who cannot get adequate care, but also hundreds of contractors with untreated PTSD.
And the nightmare that I cannot get out of the back of my mind: if the withdrawl ends with 'copters airlifting people out of the embassy grounds, how are all the 150,000 contractors going to get themselves out of there safely? Seems like the contractors as a whole are getting browner and browner, and are being drawn less and less from america. Is the ultimate plan to just abandon them there?
When 12 Nepali workers were killed in an unprotected convoy in route to jobs in Iraq, Chicago Tribune reporter Cam Simpson covered the story. What he discovered was shocking. These men had left their country for work in Jordan, not Iraq. He also discovered that a contractor called First Kuwaiti was holding other workers against their will and forcing them to work. They wanted to leave but were told they couldn’t. article here
[Middle English feloun, from Old French felon, wicked, a wicked person, from Medieval Latin fellō, fellōn-, possibly of Germanic origin.]
"I believe that Gen. Petraeus is a very able man and I don't have any doubts that they'll win some battles," Clinton said. "I hope this works. I think every American hopes this works. But it can't work beyond winning a few battles. It has to be accompanied by ... progress on the political front."
Ratcheting up the stakes in the wake of the GOP’s successful blocking of a vote on Iraq withdrawal just moments ago, Harry Reid just announced on the Senate floor that he won’t allow a vote on the entire Defense Authorization bill until the Senate GOP drops its filibustering of votes on Iraq.
It comes only moments after the Republican filibuster succeeded in preventing a vote on the Reed-Levin amendment, which would have mandated withdrawal by April 2008.
Majority Leader Reid:
I have temporarily laid aside the Defense Authorization bill and have entered a motion to reconsider.
But let me be clear to my Republican colleagues – I emphasize the word “temporarily”. We will do everything in our power to change course in Iraq. We will do everything in our power to complete consideration of a Defense Authorization bill. We must do both.
And just to remind my Republican colleagues – even if this bill had passed yesterday, its provisions would not take effect until October.
So we will come back to this bill as soon as it is clear we can make real progress. To that end, I have asked the Democratic Whip and Democratic Manager of the bill to sit down with their counterparts to work on a process to address all outstanding issues related to this bill so the Senate can return to it as soon as possible.
The adults have returned
*hattip to jeff, over at Shakesville