Bought and Paid For
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I'm amazed and discomfitted by the fact that there are more highly paid mercenaries carrying guns for the coalition in Iraq (20,000) than British troops, the largest "nation owned" coalition force. How can the US pay up to 1800 dollars a day for privatized troops when our enlisted folks don't make that in a month? Will our people get so used to the concept that we might one day let these corporate "troops" walk the streets of America as if they were American soldiers?
Now, the Washington Post claims that private security firms, "unable to rely on U.S. and coalition troops for intelligence or help under duress...have begun to band together, organising what may be the largest private army in the world, with its own rescue teams and pooled, sensitive intelligence."
This blurring of civilian and military forces does not bode well for what is supposed to be a democratic effort, a "coalition of the billing" unbeholden to "We the People", killing and dying not for the percieved justice of a cause but for big bucks
seems the antithesis of Patriotism, slurring in my mind the reason our volunteer troops are risking life and limb there.
Volunteer troops underpaid, undersupported and forced to buy their own body armor and other equipment, while mercenaries roll in taxpayer cash.
Many security guards are hired as "independent contractors" by companies that, in turn, are sub-contractors of larger security companies, which are themselves subcontractors of a prime contractor, which may have been hired by a United States agency.
In practical terms, these convoluted relationships often mean that the governmental authorities have no real oversight of security companies on the public payroll.
These guns-for-hire are not considered "lawful combatants" under the 3rd Geneva convention, nor technically can they be called "mercenaries" because to fit that title they would need to fight in a warzone in which their own country is not a participant. They are not subject to the same rules of engagement as our troops.
Government contracting officials and company executives concede that private guards have every right to abandon their posts if they deem the situation too unsafe. They are not subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, nor can they be prosecuted under civil laws or declared AWOL.
Neocon darling Ahmed Chalabi has what amounts to a private army paid for by US tax dollars. The company recieving an 80 million dollar contract protecting Iraqs oil infrastructure, Erinys Iraq, has no prior experiance in the security field, having started up in May of last year. The company was started by Chalabi stalwarts- and Chalabi himself may have recieved a 2 million dollar "fee" for helping arrange the contract.
Asked how much influence Chalabi had in the decision to award the contract to Erinys Iraq, Sam Kubba, president of the American Iraqi chamber of commerce, a congressional candidate in Virginia and a businessman with extensive connections in Iraq, said, "100 percent ... and you can quote me on that."
Yup, that Chalabi, he of the useless intelligence that the Neocons used to get the US into Iraq, promulgating his BS through the news media to sway public opinion. He was paid 1 million dollars for his "intelligence".
On Wednesday Mr Chalabi, a member of the Iraqi Governing Council, shrugged off charges that he had deliberately misled US intelligence.
"We are heroes in error," he said in Baghdad. "As far as we're concerned we've been entirely successful.
"That tyrant Saddam is gone and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important."
That is about as good as Mr Bush's "What's the difference?"
"Mercenaries in Iraq" by Chris Laughlin (pdf) is very informative.
Some links gleaned at KathrynCramer.com