Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Jeremy Scahill and the privatization of war

Of course, just about every detail about the US war on Iraq is horrifying and overwhelming, but the first time I watched this, I started sobbing. Which is impressive, considering Jeremy Scahill's dispassionate delivery geared towards convincing the monsters in Congress, and even a presentation that doesn't necessarily question the war, just the way it is being maintained. Nevertheless, the focus is chilling: according to Scahill, author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, there are tens of thousands of hired mercenaries in Iraq, operating without any legal oversight. Although it appears that most US troops (and especially those in command) operate without any concern for "laws," the development of private armies accountable only to the tyranny of profits, without even the pretension of a duty to anything else, is chilling.

Watching this Congressional testimony from May 10 for a third or fourth time, I will admit that I began to wonder why we don't have RadioTube for audio clips instead of just YouTube for video -- it's only somewhat fascinating to study Scahill's face or the cut of his suit jacket, while watching different people’s hands taking notes, shoes and pants and skirts walking in and out. It is worth noting, however, that Scahill mentions that only two private contractors in Iraq have been subject to criminal prosecution, one for stabbing a coworker and the other for possession of child pornography images on his computer (a greater crime than shooting children, it seems). Meanwhile, Free Speech Radio News reported Monday that:

"...the US military has announced it will restrict soldiers’ access to YouTube, MySpace, and nearly a dozen other Web sites that allow users to upload and access media. A memo issued last week says the move is meant to reduce demand on the military’s bandwith and protect information—it calls use of the sites a "significant operational security challenge." In April, the military barred soldiers from posting to blogs or sending personal e-mail messages, without first clearing the content with a superior officer."

It appears that anything that may affirm the humanity of a US soldier (or cause him/her to question the war) must be banished so that the soldier remains nothing but a killing machine. Free Speech Radio News also interviewed Army specialist Agustin Aguayo, who was sentenced to more than six months in a US military prison for going AWOL after being denied conscientious objector status, he describes early misgivings about joining the military after learning a chant that went: "Left, right, left, right, kill. Left, right, left, right, you know I will."

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