GI Special C/o firstname.lastname@example.org 10.10.03 Print it out (color best). Pass it on. GI SPECIAL #109 THIS IS HOW BUS H BRI NGS THE TROOPS HOME U.S. Troops “Forced To Withdraw” When Confronted By Armed Iraqis; Resistance Attacks Kill U.S. Soldier & Spanish Occupation Spy; Blow Up Police Station Ian Fisher, Associated Press | New York Times, 09 October 2003 A station wagon packed with explosives exploded inside a police station compound in one of Baghdad's biggest slums early today, killing at least 8 people and wounding more than 40. Witnesses said the car, a white Oldsmobile, rushed through the gate and into the compound at high speed, possibly running down two policemen in the process. The blast left a crater 10 feet by 8 feet, and 4 feet deep, a United States military officer at the scene said. At almost the same hour across town, in Baghdad's richest neighborhood, a 34- year old Spanish diplomat was assassinated at his residence after he opened the gate to a man dressed as a Shiite Muslim cleric, a Spanish official said. The attack appeared to have been well planned and executed, the official said. The night before, people were seen acting suspiciously around the embassy and nearby residences, perhaps conducting surveillance, the official said. When the diplomat, José Antonio Bernal, who was the deputy intelligence officer at the embassy, according to a Spanish official, realized something was amiss this morning, he tried to run. But three men were waiting outside in a brown car. When Mr. Bernal, barefoot and wearing only shorts, stumbled and fell, one or two men shot him at point-blank range, about 30 yards from the gate to his house, the official said. In a separate attack northeast of Baghdad, an American soldier was killed when his convoy was hit with a rocket-propelled grenade in the town of Baqubah. It was the 92nd death of an American soldier in combat since President Bush declared major combat operations in Iraq over on May 1. The attacks also raise questions about how it is going to be possible to stop the war, given that the country does not have an effective police force and that the Americans have concentrated on protecting themselves, living behind walls and patrolling in tanks and with heavy weapons. As a result, coalition officials here say that the resistance are turning to so-called soft targets, which include the Iraqi police. The attacks also raise the question of how diplomats, the United Nations or humanitarian agencies are going to do their jobs here. "It is a juggling act," a Western official said. On the one hand, he said, to be effective, one must be able to move about, to meet and talk with Iraqis, whether officials, businessmen or just ordinary Iraqis. But that is almost impossible to do these days, he said, given security concerns. Mr. Bernal, the Spanish diplomat shot to death today, was the first diplomat not associated with the United Nations to be the direct target for assassination here, other diplomats said. A Spanish official said the embassy had had intelligence reports that it was a target, primarily because of Spain's support for the United States in the war. The bomb at the police station was the latest aimed at Iraqis who have taken official posts under the postwar authority and who are regarded in some quarters as collaborating with the American enemy. Jassim Mihsin, 31, an officer whose hearing and hand were hurt in the blast today, said he did not consider himself a collaborator, but said the danger was too great to continue being a policeman. "I don't want anymore work with the police," said Mr. Mihsin, who has been an officer for 13 years and who rejoined the force after Mr. Hussein's ouster. "I will get a simple job to avoid problems and explosions." Witnesses said they saw several policemen, including the two at the gate, lying dead around the destroyed vehicles. The blast was at the police station in Sadr City, about five miles from downtown Baghdad. It is a Shiite neighborhood, and most of the residents are followers of a radical, anti-American, Muqtada Sadr. After the blast, American soldiers surrounded Mr. Sadr's office, but were forced to withdraw after his followers, many armed, showed up. Immediately after the bomb went off, many young men poured into the police compound, which was being refurbished, but instead of helping the wounded began taking weapons off the soldiers and money from the dead and seriously injured, said Mr. Resem, one of the wounded police officers. American soldiers soon arrived and threw up rolls of razor wire and a barricade of 20 or so Humvees. The crowd on the other side grew increasingly menacing, with most of their anger aimed at journalists. The crowd did not want the journalists taking their pictures. The American soldiers eventually ordered journalists to leave for their own safety, and reporters and photographers had to run a gantlet of angry men. A woman who works as an interpreter for French television was grabbed, the long scarf she had used to cover herself ripped away and the camera equipment she was carrying stolen from her. When L. Paul Bremer III, the American diplomat who heads the occupational authority, was asked at a news briefing today about the status of investigations into earlier bombings, including the one at the United Nations offices, he said that the question should be directed to the Iraqi police because they were responsible for investigations. But Iraqi police officials, and American officials alike, have said that the Americans have taken the lead in the investigations into major attacks. U.S. Convoys Attacked Again And Again Jordan Times 10.9.03 A US soldier was wounded Wednesday when a convoy based near Saddam's hometown of Tikrit came under rocket-propelled grenade attack, US army spokeswoman Major Josslyn Aberle said. And another convoy was targeted in a grenade attack near the flashpoint t own of Fallujah, west of Baghdad, a witness reported. There were no American casualties, but an Iraqi woman was said to have been wounded. Explosion shakes Iraqi foreign ministry: The U.S. military press office said it was aware of “a situation” at the Foreign Ministry but had no details. Ministry employees speculated that a mortar shell may have been fired at the compound. The ministry is located near the palace complex, which serves as the headquarters of the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority. IRAQ RESISTANCE ROUNDUP Occupation Fools Recruit More Iraqis To Kill U.S. Troops; “Free Speech” Bush Style? Go To Jail! Jordan Times 10.9.03 Meanwhile, in western Baghdad, about 5,000 angry Shiite Muslims gathered outside a mosque demanding the release of two clerics detained by US forces after publicly denouncing the Americans. Thousands of members of the Mehdi Army militia run by firebrand cleric Moqtada Sadr, wearing black headbands and waving Iraqi flags, marched around the Ali Al Bayaa Mosque as uneasy US troops looked on. US Brigadier General Martin Dempsey told a cleric at the mosque, Sheikh Hassan Zardani: "You have to control your people and I control my people." He said he had no authority to release Moayad Kazrajy and Jaleel Al Shumari, adding that "the charges for both is conducting criminal and anti-coalition acts." Zardani curtly told the general: "The dialogue is leading nowhere." OCCUPATION ISN’T LIBERATION BRING ALL THE TROOPS HOME NOW! TROOP NEWS Congressman Hit With Troops Complaints “From Almost Every Major Unit” The Hill, Oct. 7, 2003 Said Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), the top Democrat on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, “There’s 128,000 [troops] over there right now. To sustain 128,000 American troops [you have to] have more National Guard and reserve troops than regular.” He added, “I don’t think we can afford that. I’m talking about the complaints I’m getting right now from all reserves and guards about their lives being so disrupted. I’m getting major complaints from almost every major unit.” “Home by Christmas!” Rebellious GI's Thwart War Plans in 1945 by Dennis O'Neil, from the forthcoming Fall, 2003 issue of Freedom Road magazine. This Is Part 2 On August 21, less than two weeks after VJ Day, 1945, 580 soldiers from the Army's 95th Division signed a protest telegram to the White House. The 97th Division hung banners from the trains taking them to California, proclaiming "We're Being Sold Down The River While Congress Vacations." On September 15, General Twaddle of the 95th, assembled his soldiers for orders on occupation duty. The Washington Post the next day reported "the boos from the soldiers were so prolonged and frequent that it took [General Twaddle] 40 minutes to deliver a 15 minute speech." Families added their voices to the chorus. Congress was inundated with letters and telegrams, thousands every day, insisting that the troops come home and stay home. As fall turned to winter, some families sent baby booties to their congressmen, with a note which read "Be a good Santa Claus and release the fathers." The outcry rapidly spread to the troops overseas. In his autobiographical Black Fire, Nelson Peery, a veteran revolutionary who in 1945 was a young Black man serving in a segregated unit in the Philippines, recalls: "Perhaps it will never be known who coined the slogan 'Home by Christmas!' It was a perfect piece of agitation. It was painted on the latrines. It was scratched on the directional posts at the crossroads. It appeared as if by magic in the recreation rooms and the mess halls. Sometimes it was even painted on the screened-in officers' quarters." When Christmas Day came, graffiti was no longer enough-4,000 soldiers marched in formation to the 21st Replacement Depot in Manila behind banners saying "We Want Ships!" Their panicked commander said, "You men forget you're not working for General Motors. You're in the army." On Guam, mass meetings called a hunger strike. Halfway round the world, thousands of soldiers marched down the Champs Elysee in Paris on January 8 to rally in front of the US Embassy and shout "Get us home!" The next day in occupied Germany in Frankfurt am Main, speakers at a soldiers' demonstration telegraphed a message to Congress that said only "Are the brass-hats to be permitted to build empires?" With Christmas past, things in the Philippines got hotter. A 156 man Soldier's Committee was elected in Manila to speak for 139,000 soldiers there, "all interested in going home." It issued leaflets which declared, "The State Department wants the army to back up its imperialism." The Soldier's Committee elected an eight man central committee which included Emil Mazey, who had been an auto union local president and played a leading role in the battle to unionize auto in the late '30s. Declaring that "the continued stay of these millions of GIs in the armed forces can only serve the predatory interests of Wall Street," the soldiers' leadership asked the powerful United Auto Workers to present their demands of Congress. The UAW did, further fueling the "Bring Us Home" movement stateside. With rebellion in the ranks turning political, discipline eroding and no sympathy on the home front, the ruling class and the military blinked. Orders to the Pacific were revoked and more vessels, even ocean liners, were pressed into service to get the restive veterans home and demobilized. It was all the generals could do to keep enough troops to maintain the occupation of the conquered Axis powers. The invasion of Iraq will not likely last long enough to produce a wave of rebellion in the military like the Vietnam War did, but even if it doesn't, there's a lot we can learn from the soldiers who organized the post-WWII Troops Home movement, back in the day. Do you have a friend or relative in the service? Forward this E-MAIL along, or send us the address if you wish and we’ll send it regularly. Whether in Iraq or stuck on a base in the USA, this is extra important for your service friend, too often cut off from access to encouraging news of growing resistance to the war, at home and in Iraq, and information about other social protest movements here in the USA. Send requests to address up top. For copies on web site see:http://www.notinourname.net/gi-special/ FORWARD OBSERVATIONS Stretched Thin, Lied To & Mistreated. (Very special thanks to Christian Parenti, for writing this account of hell in Iraq with a clarity and honesty too rare in Iraq reporting, and for sending it to GI Special so you can read about it.) Christian Parenti The Nation, Monday, October 6, 2003; Volume 277; Issue 10 An M-16 rifle hangs by a cramped military cot. On the wall above is a message in thick black ink: "Ali Baba, you owe me a strawberry milk!" It's a private joke but could just as easily summarize the worldview of American soldiers here in Baghdad, the fetid basement of Donald Rumsfeld's house of victory. Trapped in the polluted heat, poorly supplied and cut off from regular news, the GIs are fighting a guerrilla war that they neither wanted, expected nor trained for. On the urban battlefields of central Iraq, "shock and awe" and all the other "new way of war" buzzwords are drowned out by the din of diesel-powered generators, Islamic prayer calls and the occasional pop of small- arms fire. Here, the high-tech weaponry that so emboldens Pentagon bureaucrats is largely useless, and the grinding work of counterinsurgency is done the old-fashioned way--by hand. Not surprisingly, most of the American GIs stuck with the job are weary, frustrated and ready to go home. It is noon and the mercury is hanging steady at 115 Fahrenheit. The filmmaker Garrett Scott and I are "embedded" with Alpha Company of the Third Battalion of the 124th Infantry, a Florida National Guard unit about half of whom did time in the regular Army, often with elite groups like the Rangers. Like most frontline troops in Iraq, the majority are white but there is a sizable minority of African-American and Latino soldiers among them. Unlike most combat units, about 65 percent are college students--they've traded six years with the Guard for tuition at Florida State. Typically, that means occasional weekends in the Everglades or directing traffic during hurricanes. Instead, these guys got sent to Iraq, and as yet they have no sure departure date. Mobilized in December, they crossed over from Kuwait on day one of the invasion and are now bivouacked in the looted remains of a Republican Guard officers' club, a modernist slab of polished marble and tinted glass that the GIs have fortified with plywood, sandbags and razor wire. Behind "the club" is a three-story dormitory, a warren of small one-bedroom apartments, each holding a nine-man squad of soldiers and all their gear. Around 200 guys are packed in here. Their sweaty fatigues drape the banisters of the exterior stairway, while inside the cramped, dark rooms the floors are covered with cots, heaps of flak vests, guns and, where possible, big tin, water-based air-conditioners called swamp coolers. Surrounding the base is a chaotic working-class neighborhood of two- and three-story cement homes and apartment buildings. Not far away is the muddy Tigris River. This company limits patrols to three or four hours a day. For the many hours in between, the guys pull guard duty, hang out in their cave like rooms or work out in a makeshift weight room. "We're getting just a little bit stir-crazy," explains the lanky Sergeant Sellers. His demeanor is typical of the nine-man squad we have been assigned to, friendly but serious, with a wry and angry sense of humor. On the side of his helmet Sellers has, in violation of regs, attached the unmistakable pin and ring of a hand grenade. Next to it is written, "Pull Here." READ BAD PLACE TO BE: A US soldier lays barbed wire in front of an hotel in Baghdad prior to a search. BRING HIM HOME NOW, ALIVE (AFP/File/Marwan Naamani) Leaning back on a cot, he's drawing a large, intricate pattern on a female mannequin leg. The wall above him displays a photo collage of pictures retrieved from a looted Iraqi women's college. Smiling young ladies wearing the hijab sip sodas and stroll past buses. They seem to be on some sort of field trip. Nearby are photos clipped from Maxim, of coy young American girls offering up their pert round bottoms. Dominating it all is a large hand-drawn dragon and a photo of Jessica Lynch with a bubble caption reading: "Hi, I am a war hero. And I think that weapons maintenance is totally unimportant." The boys don't like Lynch and find the story of her rescue ridiculous. They'd been down the same road a day earlier and are unsympathetic. "We just feel that it's unfair and kind of distorted the way the whole Jessica, quote, 'rescue' thing got hyped," explains Staff Sgt. Kreed Howell. He is in charge of the squad, and at 31 a bit older than most of his men. Muscular and clean-cut, Howell is a relaxed and natural leader, with the gracious bearing of a proper Southern upbringing. "In other words, you'd have to be really fucking dumb to get lost on the road," says another, less diplomatic soldier. Specialist John Crawford sits in a tiny, windowless supply closet that is loaded with packs and gear. He is two credits short of a BA in anthropology and wants to go to graduate school. Howell, a Republican, amicably describes Crawford as the squad's house liberal. There's just enough extra room in the closet for Crawford, a chair and a little shelf on which sits a laptop. Hanging by this makeshift desk is a handwritten sign from "the management" requesting that soldiers masturbating in the supply closet "remove their donations in a receptacle." Instead of watching pornography DVDs, Crawford is here to finish a short story. "Trying to start writing again," he says. Crawford is a fan of Tim O'Brien, particularly The Things They Carried. We chat, then he shows me his short story. It's about a vet who is back home in north Florida trying to deal with the memory of having accidentally blown away a child while serving in Iraq. Later in the cramped main room, Sellers and Sergeant Brunelle, another one of the squad's more gregarious and dominant personalities, are matter-of-factly showing us digital photos of dead Iraqis. "These guys shot at some of our guys, so we lit 'em up. Put two .50-cal rounds in their vehicle. One went through this dude's hip and into the other guy's head," explains Brunelle. The third man in the car lived. "His buddy was crying like a baby. Just sitting there bawling with his friend's brains and skull fragments all over his face. One of our guys came up to him and is like: 'Hey! No crying in baseball!"' "I know that probably sounds sick," says Sellers, "but humor is the only way you can deal with this shit." And just below the humor is volcanic rage. These guys are proud to be soldiers and don't want to come across as whiners, but they are furious about what they've been through. They hate having their lives disrupted and put at risk. They hate the military for its stupidity, its feckless lieutenants and blowhard brass living comfortably in Saddam's palaces. They hate Iraqis--or, as they say, "hajis"--for trying to kill them. They hate the country for its dust, heat and sewage-clogged streets. They hate having killed people. Some even hate the politics of the war. And because most of them are, ultimately, just regular well-intentioned guys, one senses the distinct fear that someday a few may hate themselves for what they have been forced to do here. Added to such injury is insult: The military treats these soldiers like unwanted stepchildren. This unit's rifles are retooled hand-me-downs from Vietnam. They have inadequate radio gear, so they buy their own unencrypted Motorola walkie- talkies. The same goes for flashlights, knives and some components for night- vision sights. The low-performance Iraqi air-conditioners and fans, as well as the one satellite phone and payment cards shared by the whole company for calling home, were also purchased out of pocket from civilian suppliers. Bottled water rations are kept to two liters a day. After that the guys drink from "water buffaloes"--big, hot chlorination tanks that turn the amoeba- infested dreck from the local taps into something like swimming-pool water. Mix this with powdered Gatorade and you can wash down a famously bad MRE (Meal Ready to Eat). To top it all off they must endure the pathologically uptight culture of the Army hierarchy. The Third of the 124th is now attached to the newly arrived First Armored Division, and when it is time to raid suspected resistance cells it's the Guardsmen who have to kick in the doors and clear the apartments. "The First AD wants us to catch bullets for them but won't give us enough water, doesn't let us wear do-rags and makes us roll down our shirt sleeves so we look proper! Can you believe that shit?" Sergeant Sellers is pissed off. The soldiers' improvisation extends to food as well. After a month or so of occupying "the club," the company commander, Captain Sanchez, allowed two Iraqi entrepreneurs to open shop on his side of the wire--one runs a slow Internet cafe, the other a kebab stand where the "Joes" pay US dollars for grilled lamb on flat bread. "The haji stand is one of the only things we have to look forward to, but the First AD keeps getting scared and shutting it down." Sellers is on a roll, but he's not alone. Even the lighthearted Howell, who insists that the squad has it better than most troops, chimes in. "The one thing I will say is that we have been here entirely too long. If I am not home by Christmas my business will fail." Back "on earth" (in Panama City, Florida), Howell is a building contractor, with a wife, two small children, equipment, debts and employees. Perhaps the most shocking bit of military incompetence is the unit's lack of formal training in what's called "close-quarter combat." The urbanized mayhem of Mogadishu may loom large in the discourse of the military's academic journals like Parameters and the Naval War College Review, but many US infantrymen are trained only in large-scale, open-country maneuvers--how to defend Germany from a wave of Russian tanks. So, since "the end of the war" these guys have had to retrain themselves in the dark arts of urban combat. "The houses here are small, too," says Brunelle. "Once you're inside you can barely get your rifle up. You got women screaming, people, furniture everywhere. It's insane." By now this company has conducted scores of raids, taken fire on the street, taken casualties, taken rocket-propelled grenade attacks to the club and are defiantly proud of the fact that they have essentially been abandoned, survived, retrained themselves and can keep a lid on their little piece of Baghdad. But it's not always the Joes who have the upper hand. Increasingly, Haji seems to sets the agenda. A thick black plume of smoke rises from Karrada Street, a popular electronics district where US patrols often buy air-conditioners and DVDs. An American Humvee, making just such a stop, has been blown to pieces by a remote- activated "improvised explosive device," or IED, buried in the median between two lanes of traffic. By chance two colleagues and I are the first press on the scene. The street is empty of traffic and quiet except for the local shopkeepers, who occasionally call out to us in Arabic and English: "Be careful." Finally we get close enough to see clearly. About twenty feet away is a military transport truck and a Humvee, and beyond that are the flaming remains of a third Humvee. A handful of American soldiers are crouched behind the truck, totally still. There's no firing, no yelling, no talking, no radio traffic. No one is screaming, but two GIs are down. As yet there are no reinforcements or helicopters overhead. All one can hear is the burning of the Humvee. Then it begins: The ammunition in the burning Humvee starts to explode and the troops in the street start firing. Armored personnel carriers arrive and disgorge dozens of soldiers from the 82nd Airborne to join the fight. The target is a three-story office building just across from the engulfed Humvee. Occasionally we hear a few rounds of return fire pass by like hot razors slashing straight lines through the air. The really close rounds just sound like loud cracks. "That's Kalashnikov. I know the voice," says Ahmed, our friend and translator. There is a distinct note of national pride in his voice--his countrymen are fighting back--never mind the fact that we are now mixed in with the most forward US troops and getting shot at. The firefight goes on for about two hours, moving slowly and methodically. It is in many ways an encapsulation of the whole war--confusing and labor- intensive. The GIs have more firepower than they can use, and they don't even know exactly where or who the enemy is. Civilians are hiding in every corner, the ground floor of the target building is full of merchants and shoppers, and undisciplined fire could mean scores of dead civilians. There are two GIs on the ground, one with his legs gone and probably set to die. When a medevac helicopter arrives just overhead, it, too, like much other technology, is foiled. The street is crisscrossed with electrical wires and there is no way the chopper can land to extract the wounded. The soldiers around us look grave and tired. Eventually some Bradley fighting vehicles start pounding the building with mean 250- millimeter cannon shells. Whoever might have been shooting from upstairs is either dead or gone. The street is now littered with overturned air-conditioners, fans and refrigerators. A cooler of sodas sits forlorn on the sidewalk. Farther away two civilians lie dead, caught in the crossfire. A soldier peeks out from the hatch of a Bradley and calls over to a journalist, "Hey, can you grab me one of those Cokes?" After the shootout we promised ourselves we'd stay out of Humvees and away from US soldiers. But that was yesterday. Now Crawford is helping us put on body armor and soon we'll be on patrol. As we move out with the nine soldiers the mood is somewhere between tense and bored. Crawford mockingly introduces himself to no one in particular: "John Crawford, I work in population reduction." "Watch the garbage--if you see wires coming out of a pile it's an IED," warns Howell. The patrol is uneventful. We walk fast through back streets and rubbish-strewn lots, pouring sweat in the late afternoon heat. Local residents watch the small squad with a mixture of civility, indifference and open hostility. An Iraqi man shouts, "When? When? When? Go!" The soldiers ignore him. "Sometimes we sham," explains one of the guys. "We'll just go out and kick it behind some wall. Watch what's going on but skip the walking. And sometimes at night we get sneaky-deaky. Creep up on Haji, so he knows we're all around." "I am just walking to be walking," says the laconic Fredrick Pearson, a k a "Diddy," the only African-American in Howell's squad. Back home he works in the State Supreme Court bureaucracy and plans to go to law school. "I just keep an eye on the rooftops, look around and walk." The patrols aren't always peaceful. One soldier mentions that he recently "kicked the shit out of a 12-year-old kid" who menaced him with a toy gun. Later we roll with the squad on another patrol, this time at night and in two Humvees. Now there's more evident hostility from the young Iraqi men loitering in the dark. Most of these infantry soldiers don't like being stuck in vehicles. At a blacked-out corner where a particularly large group of youths are clustered, the Humvees stop and Howell bails out into the crowd. There is no interpreter along tonight. "Hey, guys! What's up? How y'all doing? OK? Everything OK? All right?" asks Howell in his jaunty, laid-back north Florida accent. The sullen young men fade away into the dark, except for two, who shake the sergeant's hand. Howell's attempt to take the high road, winning hearts and minds, doesn't seem to be for show. He really believes in this war. But in the torrid gloom of the Baghdad night, his efforts seem tragically doomed. Watching Howell I think about the civilian technocrats working with Paul Bremer at the Coalition Provisional Authority; the electricity is out half the time, and these folks hold meetings on how best to privatize state industries and end food rations. Meanwhile, the city seethes. The Pentagon, likewise, seems to have no clear plan; its troops are stretched thin, lied to and mistreated. The whole charade feels increasingly patched together, poorly improvised. Ultimately, there's very little that Howell and his squad can do about any of this. After all, it's not their war. They just work here. Christian Parenti is the author of The Soft Cage: Surveillance in America From Slavery to the War on Terror (Basic) and a fellow at City University of New York's Center for Place, Culture, and Politics. What do you think? Comments from service men and women, and veterans, are especially welcome. Send to the E-mail address up top. Name, I.D., withheld on request. Replies confidential. For an outstanding front page, see “Bring The Troops Home!” at http://www.socialistworker.org/2003- 2/471/471_01_TroopsOut.shtml OCCUPATION REPORT Iraq War Contractors Raking In Billions; Soldiers Dying For Nothing Spending On Iraq Sets Off Gold Rush; “People Must Be Drooling” By Jonathan Weisman and Anitha Reddy, Washington Post, 09 October 2003 As the House today takes up President Bush's $87 billion spending request for Iraq and Afghanistan, the debate over the bill is increasingly focused not just on the amount of money but also on who will get it. Of the $4 billion a month already being spent in Iraq, as much as a third is going to the private contractors who have flooded into the country, said Deborah D. Avant, a political scientist at George Washington University and an expert in the new breed of private military companies. The flow of money will increase greatly if Congress approves Bush's request. Experts say American taxpayers can expect to pay a hefty premium to contractors in a classic seller's market. U.S. dictator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, center, walks among the happy Iraqi people, Paradise Square, Baghdad, . Oct. 9, 2003. (AP Photo) Among the dozens of projects in the proposal is a State Department plan to spend $800 million to build a large training facility for a new Iraqi police force. Management fees alone would run $26 million a month, while 1,500 police trainers would cost $240,000 each per year, or $20,000 each per month. DynCorp of Reston is likely to get the contract. "All I can say is it's mind-boggling," James Lyons, a former militar y subcontractor in Bosnia, said of the opportunities for private contractors. "People must be drooling." Avant said that as many as 1 in 10 Americans deployed in Iraq and Kuwait -- perhaps 20,000 -- are contractors, a group larger than any of the military forces fielded there by Britain or other U.S. allies. Kellogg, Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Vice President Cheney's former firm, Houston-based Halliburton Corp., has an exclusive contract to rebuild Iraq's oil infrastructure. San Francisco-based Bechtel Corp. is the prime contractor for much of the infrastructure reconstruction. The Iraqi gold rush has raised concerns on Capitol Hill. As the task of rebuilding shifts from government employees to for-profit contractors, members of Congress are worried that their oversight will diminish, cost controls will weaken and decisions about security, training and the shape of the new Iraqi government will be in the hands of people with financial stakes in the outcome. Avant calls it "the commercialization of foreign policy." "What we're seeing is waste and gold-plating that's enriching Halliburton and Bechtel while costing taxpayers billions of dollars…" said Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), a leading critic of the administration's handling of Iraq. " For example, Fairfax-based Vinnell Corp., a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman Corp., won a $48 million contract in July to begin training a new Iraqi army, a sum that would be dwarfed by the $164 million for military contract training contained in Bush's $87 billion request. Those contracts are only the beginning. Edwin E. Brockway, a manager in the defense and federal products division of the construction-equipment company Caterpillar Inc., said 500 to 600 of his company's machines are already in Iraq. He said he expects Caterpillar to receive many more orders for bulldozers and pipe layers as private companies win contracts to rebuild Iraq's sewer systems, water-purification plants and roads. The bulldozers used by soldiers in Iraq range in price from $100,000 to nearly $1 million, and the Army hires service companies to repair and maintain the equipment. Engineered Support Systems Inc. estimated that the military is using 4,000 of its gigantic portable air conditioners and heaters in tents and portable shelters in Iraq. Each unit costs $11,000 and can heat or cool a few thousand square feet. Congressional aides from both parties point to the police-training program to illustrate their concerns. DynCorp, a subsidiary of California-based Computer Sciences Corp., landed the initial police-training contract this summer, a contract that is likely to expand greatly if all $800 million is approved. The State Department envisions establishing a training camp capable of handling 3,000 recruits and 1,000 trainers and support staff at any given time. The camp would turn out 35,000 Iraqi police officers in just two years. DynCorp has begun recruiting 1,000 "police advisors" with at least 10 years of experience in law enforcement or corrections, an "unblemished background" and "excellent health." The draw? DynCorp plans to pay salaries as high as $153,600, with minimum pay of $75,076.92. "The money is pretty good," said Doug Brooks, president of the International Peace Operations Association, an Alexandria-based trade group of private military companies. Turkey To Deploy Troops In Defiance Of Iraqi Puppet “Governing” Council Jordan Times, 10.9.03 BAGHDAD (AFP) — Ankara's decision to send troops to Iraq caused an uproar both here and in Turkey Wednesday. Several members of Iraq's US-appointed Governing Council condemned Turkey's plan to send troops across the border into Iraq, whose ethnic Kurdish population is alarmed at the prospect. "Sending these troops would delay our regaining sovereignty," said council member Nasseer Chaderchi, cautioning the deployment could affect relations between the two neighbours. Chaderchi said Turkish authorities recently told council members they would not send troops to Iraq without their approval. "It is the wrong thing to do. It does not add to security," said member Mahmoud Othman. In Istanbul, protesters chained themselves to the wire fencing of an American school and shouted "we will not allow our soldiers to be killed." Others gathered separately on central Taksim Square and in front of the offices of the governing Justice and Development Party. Turkey's main Kurdish party, the Democratic People's Party, also denounced the decision describing it has having "brought Turkey to the edge of war." "Don't send our sons to the Iraqi hell. Don't make them shields for American soldiers," protestors chanted in the northern city of Trabzon, the news agency reported. Iraqi Capitalists Uniting To Oppose Occupation Economic Plan October 6, 2003, By BERNHARD ZAND, Der Spiegel By radically opening up the Iraqi economy, America wants to attract international corporations to the banks of the Tigris. Iraqis are concerned that their country is being sold out. The early onset of darkness makes walking home from his office a dangerous undertaking, but the Iraqi fall also brings the prospect of excitement into Feisal al- Chudeiri's daily routine. The duck hunt begins in the meadows along the Tigris in late October, and in November al-Chudeiri and his friends plan to hunt buzzards in the desert. The 38-year-old millionaire from Baghdad is not worried about his personal future. His family, one of the oldest in the land of two rivers, has seen the Ottomans, the British and Saddam Hussein come and go. Since 1772, the family has traded in dates, tea and spices, and in 1881 it founded the first steamship company on the Euphrates River. "Things don't throw us off track that easily," says the junior head of the Karady Group, "but I doubt that this applies to the rest of the Iraqis." Four sheets of paper bearing the sober heading "Law on the Regulation of Foreign Investment" sit on Chudeiri's desk. "The Americans have already made quite a few mistakes in Iraq," he says gloomily, "but this law is their biggest mistake so far. It has the effect of dynamite." In truth, the package of reforms promises foreign interests virtually unlimited access to the country's most profitable industries. Beginning next year, foreign nationals will be able to acquire full ownership of local firms, and even a few banks, and it will be possible to siphon off profits to other countries without restrictions. Hundreds of former state- owned business will be open to privatization, leaving only the oil and gas industry under government control. Scrutiny of potential investors to assess their reliability and capabilities, an absolute necessity during such changes to a system, will not be required. Foreign companies are permitted to establish factories and local subsidiaries, the taxes they pay are capped at 15 percent, and a 5 percent duty is charged on imports. In fact, they will not be liable for payment of any taxes or duties until the end of the year. The British business publication, The Economist, praised the new law for fulfilling the "wish list of international investors," and called Bremer's creation a "capitalist dream." Iraqis, however, are incensed at what they fear is a sell-off of their country. Powerful interest groups, previously at odds over the country's future course, suddenly find themselves joining forces in a common front opposing the economic reforms. Foreign capital is welcome, concedes moderate Sheikh Sadr al-Din al-Qubanji of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, but he is also concerned about Iraq's loss of control over investors. Radical Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr demands that the law be repealed, "otherwise we will act." The guidelines could eliminate thousands of jobs, warns the Communist Party of Iraq, a point with which capitalists like Walid Hafis, 51, who owns one of the country's largest import and export companies, wholeheartedly agree. Hafis warns that Iraqis could become "guest workers in their own country," and "slaves of the foreigners." It is already apparent that those who stand to benefit most from the new regulations will be major American firms, corporations such as oil industry outfitter Halliburton and construction conglomerate Bechtel. These are firms that have already been awarded lucrative contracts, in some cases without competitive bidding, because of their close relationships with the Republicans currently in power in Washington. The obscure practices involved in the awarding of huge contracts have also angered the Europeans, which explains their lukewarm reception of Bremer's "great vision." The US administrator had asked for a remake of the Marshall Plan, which America used to further the reconstruction of a destroyed Europe after World War II. However, there has been little international interest to date in helping what is still a US-controlled Iraq get back on its feet. "The administration's practice of awarding contracts to its friends as if they were gifts will only delay Iraq's recovery, and with possibly catastrophic consequences." Since early June, hand-picked businessmen such as Chudeiri and Hafis had hurried to weekly economic meetings with Bremer in the former Saddam Palace, and had even presented their own proposals for a more gradual transition from the Baathists' planned economy to a liberal system with Western characteristics. Models were discussed from the European post-war years and from other Gulf States, where local partners must hold at least a 51-percent share in all joint ventures. But their efforts were in vain. The new law, says Hafis, came as a shock to Baghdad's business elite. His fellow businessmen are worried about the prospect of being flooded with funds flowing from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and possibly even Israeli capital. All of this affects chicken farmer Mohammed Hussein. In March, the 39-year-old still employed a work force of about 70 people. Now only four men pass the time of day in his shut-down slaughterhouse, where hundreds of thousands of chickens were once processed. Hussein says he has nothing against the market economy, but that he cannot hope to compete against foreigners. He says that today it costs about a thousand dollars to produce a ton of chicken meat in Iraq, while frozen imported chicken from overseas can be had for only $480. "I always believed that the only victims in this business were the chickens," complains the poultry baron, "but now it's my turn to be slaughtered." Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan DANGER: POLITICIANS AT WORK Bush ”Missing Homework” Scandal Unearthed' Rich Procter, October 06 This transcribed encounter was recently unearthed by an enterprising reporter who pillaged the files of Sam Houston Elementary School, in Midland, Texas.. DATE: October 6, 1957 LOCATION: Miss Zarimba's 4th Period Math Class TEACHER: I want to know why you didn't turn in your homework, George. GEORGE: I did turn in my homework. TEACHER: You didn't. GEORGE: The homework was completed. It was turned in. TEACHER: Did you hand it to me? GEORGE: My colleagues - and I trust they've told me the truth - have sworn to me that the homework was handed in. TEACHER: But I don't have it. GEORGE: I have assured my parents and my classmates that my paper was turned in. That should more than satisfy you. TEACHER: But it's not on my desk. GEORGE: See, now you're making your problem MY problem. The fact that you can't find my homework in no way proves that I didn't do it. TEACHER: But... GEORGE: A survey of my classmates indicates that 53% of them believe that I completed this homework. TEACHER: You mean your buddies? The ones who came to your birthday party last weekend, with all the circus animals? GEORGE: I'm focusing on the truth, ma'am, because that's what I do. I'm focused. Engaged. Fully engaged, and focused. I've presented irrefutable documentation that proves that my homework was done, and handed in. I believe this should answer all your questions. TEACHER: But how can I tell if you did it, if I don't have it? GEORGE: That's not what matters. What matters is that the answers are known. We all agree on what those answers are. Whether I'm the one who discovered them and wrote them down is irrelevant. TEACHER: George... GEORGE: One thing is certain. Never again will my classmates not know what 352 divided by 27 is. That mystery has been solved, once and for all. TEACHER: How much is 352 divided by 27? GEORGE: See, now you're playing "Gotcha." That's a partisan political game, and I'm not going to indulge in those kind of games. I'm a uniter, not a divider. TEACHER: Do you know the answer to ANY of these problems? GEORGE: I've moved on. My classmates have moved on. We need to look to the future, not get bogged down in irrelevant discussions about past homework assignments. TEACHER: I don't see any way I can give you a passing grade... GEORGE: The paper will be found. Make no mistake about that. There will be a paper. It will prove that answers to these problems were known - if not by me, than by people who are known by me. If those answers are not the correct answers, then those people responsible will be sought out and punished. Until that time, I believe that in fairness, you must give me an outstanding grade. TEACHER: But the assignment was due today! GEORGE: These things take time! I've hired investigators to track down this paper, and my instructions are to bring it back, dead or alive. My commitment is to find the missing paper. You can ask no more of me. TEACHER: I'm sorry, George. I'm going to give you an "F." GEORGE: (clears throat) I'm sorry to hear that, ma'am. Ah, Karl, could you..." ROVE: Miss Zarimba, it has been made known to us that your husband, Larry Zarimba, a motorcycle traffic officer in Midland, hides behind the hedge at the corner of Maple and Sycamore during morning rush hour. TEACHER: What exactly are you... ROVE: Should this information be passed to our sources in the news media, your husband would be unable to entrap and arrest motorists and meet his ticket quota...which would almost certainly lead to his dismissal. TEACHER: Are you...blackmailing me? ROVE: We're attempting to persuade you to see how important it is to Georgie, his classmates, our school, our school district, our city, our state, our country, and the entire world that you place Georgie's mathematics paper in context, and that you give him an A Plus Plus. TEACHER: Or else you'll... ROVE: We know where you live, Miss Zarimba. And the route you take home from work. And the names of your two kitties, Frisky and Mr. Jammers. We're very serious people, Miss Zarimba. TEACHER: Serious? ROVE: Remember Miguel, the Janitor? The one that, er, "accidentally" fell into the wood chipper last March? TEACHER: (barely audible) O-okay, Georgie, you'll get you're "A" ROVE: "PLUS PLUS" TEACHER: "A Plus Plus," right. Now let's move on to our history assignment... GEORGE: Me n' Karl are gonna split a 32 ounce can of malt liquor in the parking lot, Miss Zarimba. You just go right ahead without us... (LAUGHTER, END OF TAPE) AFGHANISTAN: THE FORGOTTEN WAR US Envoy Khalilzad Warns Of "More Spectacular" Resistance Attacks While Idiot Armitage Blathers Silly Nonsense KABUL, Oct 7 (AFP) - More attacks are likely by Taliban remnants wreaking havoc in southern Afghanistan, future US ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad warned Tuesday, the second anniversary of the launch of the US-led assault on their regime. "Of course we know that the Taliban are more active in recent weeks and months and there are indications that they ... are planning even larger attacks and more spectacular attacks," Khalilzad, nominated by President George W. Bush as Washington's next envoy to Kabul, told reporters at the heavily-fortified US embassy. "Certainly there is a security problem in the south and southeast, that is undeniable." Khalilzad said there was a security vacuum in parts of Afghanistan. US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage visited Kabul and the main southern city of Kandahar on Sunday and said recent attacks were the work of a "frightened Taliban" that saw the writing on the wall. (Having recently captured and occupied five districts, the resistance is more likely to be carving the writing on Richards’ butt soon. Does he thinks anybody at all takes his blathering nonsense seriously?) CLASS WAR NEWS Dollars Goes In The Toilet; The Bankrupt Empire Iraq becomes a money wasting bottomless pit. Tax handouts to the super-rich drive up the government budget deficit, leading to huge borrowing by the U.S. Treasury. The balance of trade with other nations gets worse and worse as U.S. corporations flee to countries specializing in sweatshop wages and brutal anti-labor governments. There are consequences to not having enough income to pay the bills, and, instead, borrowing more and more and more and more to keeping going. Pretty soon lenders think your IOU's aren’t worth much. Eventually they start dumping your IOUs. This operates whether the borrower is an individual, or a nation state. Today, it's the U.S. economy as a whole on the edge of the cliff. As has happened to every imperialist power in history before, the time has arrived for the USA when the huge expenses involved in maintaining the empire vastly exceed the profits returned. The Wall St. Journal, which lives or dies by its ability to explain the world to the rich, put it very crisply: "The currency market's concern over the dollar centers on the yawning U.S. trade and current account deficits. Analysts say the latter is running at around $550 billion a year or about 5% of the country's gross domestic product.” (Wall St. Journal Currency Trading Report 8.8.03) The Wall St. Journal headlines about the fall of the dollar are getting bigger. This week, the fall of the dollar began to accelerate. The U.S. dollar sank to its lowest level against the Japanese yen in nearly three years. The dollar sank to its lowest level against the Canadian dollar in 9 1/2 years. The dollar sank to its lowest level against the Australian dollar in 6 years. The dollar sank to its lowest level against the South African rand in 3 1/2 years. How about those silly "old Europeans" who wanted no part of Bush's silly, stupid, deadly imperial adventure in Iraq? Those governments in France and Germany Rumsfeld made fun of? Guess what. The European common currency, the Euro, has climbed 33% against the dollar in the past 12 months. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that world wide wealth holders are increasingly to dumping dollars into the world currency markets, and this is only the beginning of the decline. People think the U.S. governments IOU's are increasingly risky. Risk demands a premium, or, expressed in currency trade terms, higher interest rates. Since it's been a couple of hundred years since the US had a real currency panic, most people have no clue what it means. Easy enough to figure out. When Brazil, Thailand, and some other countries had a similar currency crisis a few years, the price of everything they imported went up about 50%. Indonesia experienced mass unemployment, because they had no money to buy imports. Interest rates on loans went to 35% or more. Think about your credit card or adjustable home mortgage at 35%. Yes, it can happen here. That's how capitalism works. If printed out, this newsletter is your personal property and cannot legally be confiscated from you. “Possession of unauthorized material may not be prohibited.” DoD Directive 1325.6 Section 188.8.131.52.
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