Friday, March 23, 2007

Higher and Deeper

The more one looks into the machinations of the governments, the more garbage tends to turn up.

Jeremy Scahill has been making as much in the way of waves as the popular American press will allow these days by lifting the lid off of a particularly odious can of Washington worms that all goes back to Donald Rumsfeld and – who else? – his merry band of neo-cons.

Mr. Rumsfeld and Mr. Cheney have both long been champions of the privatization of many government functions. A very big area of interest for both of them has been the letting of contracts for support services for the military. By purporting that private delivery of support is more cost effective that having the military do it themselves, they have succeeded in letting a lot of contracts for things like food service, transportation services and special security forces instead of having enlisted soldiers do the jobs.

Of course it takes a lot of support to keep a gun toting soldier in the field. In the days of the draft, there were enough G.I.s around to handle most such tasks. Kitchen and motor pool staff were needed, but recruitment and the draft brought in the bodies needed to fill the slots. Special security wasn’t needed as much back then. When it was needed, Special Forces, SEALS and other such troops were on hand to fill the bill. These days more special security details are necessary, largely because big power arrogance has angered so many people around the globe that it isn’t safe for representatives of gluttonous governments to stick their heads up very far for fear they might get shot off. But the bad part is that contracting doesn’t stop at those kinds of jobs. We have fielded fighting mercenaries in Iraq.

Even though some Senators and Congressfolk have begun to address the issue, the public remains pretty ignorant on the subject, but Jeremy Scahill has been talking about it. He’s written a book about it, appeared on Democracy Now! and published a major article in April 2 issue of “The Nation” – one of the few American magazines that routinely publishes well documented articles about the abuses of U.S.politicians.

In his article, Bush’s Shadow Army, Scahill progresses from Rumsfeld’s most powerful speech (delivered the day before 9-11) on the need to replace existing Pentagon structure with more covert actions, new weaponry and more reliance on private contractors. i.e. new opportunities for old friends. He quotes Rummy’s 2002 article in Foreign Affairs magazine as saying he wanted the Pentagon to “. . .behave less like bureaucrats and more like entrepreneurs.”

Isn’t that just what we’ve always needed – a Defense Department constantly seeking ways to generate new business!! Sheesh – talk about the military industrial complex. Ike must be spinning in his grave!

Scahill points out that by the time Rummy was ushered out of his Pentagon office, private contracts had brought an estimated 100,000 civilian bodies to Iraq – almost as many as the active-duty soldiers based there. The upshot of this, he says, is that, “Contractors have provided the Bush Administration with political cover, allowing the government to deploy private forces in a war zone free of public scrutiny, with the deaths, injuries and crimes of those forces shrouded in secrecy.”

What it boils down to is a private army that is gaining power in the military structure through a pile of secretive subcontracts. Our enlisted young folks are more and more a front for this Administration’s cloak and dagger ambitions, and it’s enough to make you want to vomit in George W. Bush’s lap.

The central contractor Scahill singles out is a group called Blackwater, and the list of charges he levels against them remind a reader of the Reagan days of Iran-Contra. The upshot is court cases filed against the group and the defense that, due to their designation as part of the military effort, they are above the law. Not a new claim for BushCo, but also not one that should be allowed to stand let alone slip quietly by while the public looks the other way.

Scahill is worth reading. Please check out the story in The Nation and/or his book. It won’t be pleasant reading, but it will definitely be enlightening.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. – M.K. Gandhi

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