www.albasrah.net
 

 

GI Special:

thomasfbarton@earthlink.net

10.26.04

Print it out (color best).  Pass it on.

 

GI SPECIAL 2#C3

 

 

 

Lying Is The Most Powerful Weapon In War

 

Mike Hastie

Vietnam Veteran

 

Photo and caption from the I-R-A-Q  ( I  Remember  Another  Quagmire ) portfolio of Mike Hastie, U.S. Army Medic, Vietnam 1970-71.

 

(Please contact at: (hastiemike@earthlink.net) for more examples of his outstanding work.  T)

 

NEED SOME TRUTH?  CHECK OUT TRAVELING SOLDIER

Telling the truth - about the occupation, the cuts to veterans’ benefits, or the dangers of depleted uranium - is the first reason Traveling Soldier is necessary.  But we want to do more than tell the truth; we want to report on the resistance - whether it's in the streets of Baghdad, New York, or inside the armed forces.  Our goal is for Traveling Soldier to become the thread that ties working-class people inside the armed services together. We want this newsletter to be a weapon to help you organize resistance within the armed forces. If you like what you've read, we hope that you'll join with us in building a network of active duty organizers.  http://www.traveling-soldier.org/  And join with Iraq War vets in the call to end the occupation and bring our troops home now! (www.ivaw.net)

 

 

Soldier Defying Deployment Wins One

 

October 24, 2004 BY GLENN THRUSH, Staff Writer, Newsday, Inc

 

The Army captain from Manhattan who is defying deployment to Iraq is getting his wish -- for the moment. Capt. Jay Ferriola, who was supposed to report for 18 months of military police duty at 7 a.m. today, was granted an 11th hour reprieve Sunday while the Army reviews his retirement request.

 

Ferriola, 31, took the Army and U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to federal court on Friday, claiming the mobilization orders amounted to "illegal servitude" because he'd submitted retirement papers on June 7.

 

The Army agreed to temporarily suspend his orders pending a review, for the moment averting a legal battle with possible implications for reservists caught in the so-called backdoor draft.

 

"We're very pleased. ... I'm extremely optimistic that the Army will rule in our favor," said Ferriola's attorney Barry Slotnick, standing outside federal court in Manhattan yesterday with his stone-faced client, whom he referred to as the "former captain."

 

Although Ferriola's resignation was approved by his direct superior, Slotnick said the captain has "nothing in writing acknowledging his resignation" and "nothing in writing rejecting his resignation" from higher-ranked officials.

 

The agreement was announced as both sides appeared before U.S. Justice Robert Sweet in a rare Sunday session.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Judd Lawler, who represented the Army, presented Sweet with a letter formally withdrawing today's Iraq directive.

 

Still, if a settlement can't be reached, the two sides could be back in court next Monday, Sweet said.

 

Slotnick vowed to fight on if the Army decides to order Ferriola back into uniform. "We certainly are preparing our assault if, in fact, they refuse to accept his resignation," he said.

 

Slotnick said Ferriola wasn't subject to the stop-loss agreement, in part, because he had previously been assigned to engineering and noncombat units.

 

 

 

IRAQ WAR REPORTS:

 

 

Estonian & U.S. Soldiers Killed By Baghdad Roadside Bomb;

10 Wounded

 

TALLINN, Oct 25 (AFP) - One Estonian soldier was killed and five others wounded when a roadside bomb exploded in the path of their convoy in Baghdad on Monday, Estonian military officials said.

 

The US military reported the same attack, which they said had targeted a convoy in western Baghdad on Monday, killing one soldier in the US-led coalition and wounding five others.

 

The Estonians were patrolling on trucks when an improvised bomb exploded under one truck, killing a soldier, an army spokesman said,

 

According to official sources, two of the five injured Estonian soldiers are severely wounded.

 

 

Car Bomb Targets Baghdad Australian Convoy;

3 Soldiers Wounded

 

 

US military truck tows an Australian armoured vehicle from the blast scene (AFP)

 

25 October 2004 Agence France Presse

 

BAGHDAD : A car bomb exploded near an Australian military convoy in Baghdad.

 

A vehicle was detonated by remote control as a convoy of three Australian light armoured vehicles was passing through a residential district on its way to the heavily-fortified Green Zone that houses Iraq's seat of government and the US embassy, a US military spokesman said, citing witnesses.

 

Three Australian soldiers were wounded.

 

"One Australian has received some facial injuries and is undergoing treatment at the moment," he said. "The injuries are not life threatening.

 

"Another Australian has received a concussion and the third was treated for minor abrasions and has been released back to duty."

 

Australian Defence Force spokesman Brigadier Mike Hannan says the three soldiers are from the Darwin based 2nd Calvary Regiment.

 

Brigadier Hannon says it is the first time Australian military vehicles have been directly attacked in Iraq.

 

A US military spokesman, Major Scott Stanger, says "It was only a military convoy trying to get to check point 11 near the bridge."

 

An Australian foreign ministry spokeswoman confirmed that a bomb had exploded near its embassy in Baghdad.

 

"I was at the intersection nearby when the suicide bomber crossed through a military convoy and blew himself up," said one policeman.  "I saw one armoured truck damaged and two lifeless bodies as well as several wounded."

 

Ambulances were seen rushing to and from the blast site, ferrying away casualties as US soldiers cordoned off the area.

 

 

Bomb Hits West Baghdad U.S. Armored Vehicle

 

25 October 2004 Centcom Release #041025b

 

At about 8:30 a.m., a patrol reported striking an improvised explosive device in the western portion of Baghdad. One armored humvee received minor damage in the blast.

 

 

Khaldiyah Bomber Hits US Convoy;

Humvees Destroyed,

Number Of Casualties Not Announced

 

October 25, 2004 News Limited, From correspondents in Khaldiyah, Iraq

 

A car bomber has struck a US convoy in a town west of Baghdad, police said.

 

The attack occurred about 10 a.m. (0700GMT) in Khaldiya, about 80km west of the capital, said police 2nd Lt. Omar al-Alwani.

 

There were American casualties, he added, but the toll was not immediately known. At least two Humvees were destroyed in the attack. US troops have sealed off the area, he said.

 

 

Central Baghdad Car Bomb Wounds Two U.S. Soldiers

 

10.25.04 CJTF7 Release #041025c

 

A suspected vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated at 8 a.m. in central Baghdad Oct. 25.

 

Two troops were also wounded in the blast.  The injured were evacuated to a nearby military medical facility.

 

 

Humvee Convoy Attacked In Ramadi

 

Oct 25, 2004 By Alistair Lyon (Reuters)

 

Video footage shot by insurgents and received by Reuters showed an attack on a U.S. column in Ramadi Sunday.

 

"Come on, move," one guerrilla can be heard saying on the tape as he chose his target in a convoy of U.S. Humvees driving past a mosque.  A huge blast and cloud of smoke followed after the guerrilla detonated a roadside bomb by remote control.

 

 

Japanese Troops Get One Warning Shot

 

SAMAWAH, Iraq, Oct. 25 (UPI)

 

A dud rocket fired at Japanese forces in Samawah in southern Iraq may have been a warning, as a decision on extending the troops' stay looms in Tokyo.

 

A 107-millimeter-diameter rocket landed inside the Japanese camp Friday.  No casualties or damage occurred. Had it exploded, the troops likely would have suffered their first casualties in Iraq.

 

Since the rocket was a dud without a fuse, defense officials believe it was a warning as the legally sanctioned period for the force's presence in Iraq ends Dec. 14, the Asahi Shimbun reported Monday.  Tokyo has not yet decided on an extension of the deployment.

 

 

“We Depend On Those Convoys”

 

11/1/04 By Julian E. Barnes, U.S.News & World Report

 

Insurgents, he says, "are trying to disrupt the supply lines.  They hit a big truck full of fuel, ammo, or food--that hurts us.  We depend on these convoys.  Without 'em, we don't get what we need."

 

BAGHDAD--Inside the 31st Combat Support Hospital, Army Spc. Brandon Bagley holds a bloody rag over his face to hide his bloated lips and missing teeth.  Just a few hours earlier, Bagley's humvee was hit by a roadside bomb.  The explosion slammed Bagley's face into the steering wheel, busting several teeth.  Shrapnel penetrated the vehicle's armor, gravely wounding another soldier.

 

For Bagley, the attack has also taken a toll on his view of Iraqis.  "I don't think they want help," he tells his brigade commander, Col. Mark Milley of the 10th Mountain Division.  "It is only a few," Milley responds.  "This is a big country."  [Sorry Col., the vast majority want your ass gone.]

 

On the highways, there is only tension.

 

To soldiers, every broken-down car is a potential bomb; every tumbleweed may disguise an artillery shell set to explode.  With dozens of bombs found each week, soldiers have good reason to be anxious.

 

The military has responded by adding armor plating on humvees and many transport trucks.  But the improvised bombs have grown increasingly sophisticated; insurgents, for instance, are rigging explosives to highway overpasses to hit the exposed humvee gunners.

 

 "It's a matter of getting through as fast as you can," says Lt. Mike Byrnes, an officer with the 10th Mountain Division, who has escorted convoys both inside and outside Baghdad.

 

Insurgents, he says, "are trying to disrupt the supply lines.  They hit a big truck full of fuel, ammo, or food--that hurts us.  We depend on these convoys. Without 'em, we don't get what we need."

 

In an apparent sign of the stress of such missions, 18 members of the 343rd Quartermaster Company, a reserve unit from South Carolina, are under investigation for refusing to make a 200-mile convoy run of fuel trucks to Taji, 15 miles north of Baghdad.

 

Members of the unit, in calls home, complained that they were being sent without an adequate armed escort on a "suicide mission" using trucks that were not armored and in poor condition.

 

Their defiance is being widely discussed in military camps around Baghdad. Some soldiers, like Byrnes, who has made the run to Taji, say they are puzzled about what could have gone so wrong that the unit's members defied orders.  Soldiers at Baghdad's Camp Liberty, where no vehicle leaves the base unless it is armored and armed, say they are hesitant to pass judgment until they learn more. But there is no doubt that soldiers almost universally consider the highways dangerous places--some go so far as to describe the supply routes as the front line in an otherwise frontless war.

 

The military has increased patrols on major highways, trying to spot and disarm bombs before they do damage.  Last week, when members of the 10th Mountain Division spotted a suspicious tumbleweed on one of Baghdad's eastern supply routes, they called in an Air Force explosive ordnance detonation team.  With highway traffic blocked, the team sent out a remote-control robot to pull away the tumbleweed and reveal an improvised bomb.  The robot placed a C4 charge, then retreated to permit the airmen to destroy the bomb.

 

Army Capt. Scott Shaw says his patrols and civil-affairs work in the villages have reduced the incidents of rockets fired at airplanes.  Nevertheless, the threat remains: The U.S. State Department last week reiterated a warning of the danger to civilian aircraft.

 

Iraqis continue to become enraged over some military practices.  From the top of a looted and nearly destroyed palace that once belonged to Saddam Hussein's first wife, Shaw can survey most of his area of operations as he looks at planes heading to the Baghdad airport.

 

He watches as a military C-130 cargo plane fires eight magnesium flares during its final approach.  "That little bastard," Shaw curses.  "He's burning my fields.  I do not know why they do that."  Of course, he knows that the flares are to counter any heat-seeking rocket, but he also knows that the flares often set fire to nearby fields.  The compensation money Shaw hands out to villagers helps but doesn't eliminate the hard feelings.

 

 

Trying To Stay Alive Delivering Supplies:

Four Miles Of Hell In Ramadi

 

[As you read this, keep in mind that all the effort here is about driving a lousy 4 miles to resupply some bases in one city.  Every inch of ground is held by the resistance.  Want a picture of a lost war of occupation?  Here it is.]

 

Oct. 21, 2004 BY Gene Cho, Producer, NBC News

 

RAMADI, Iraq - For 1st Lt. Taylor Biggs, the day usually begins in darkness.  Last week, the Marine combat engineering officer was up by 4 a.m. and getting ready to lead one of the most hazardous missions for coalition forces.  In military parlance, it's a logistics convoy; to the 1,000 Marines of the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, it's simply known as "Boxcar.

 

"We pick up all the chow, water, fuel and necessities for each of the bases in town," Biggs said.  "You can be ambushed at any time along the route. T hey can hit you with anything from AKs and RPGs, to roadside bombs."

 

Driving the four-mile route through the heart of Ramadi to each of the three forward operating bases, or “firm" bases as the Marines call them, is far from routine.

 

“This is definitely not a leisurely hop through town," Biggs said of the challenges in Ramadi, a city in the so-called Sunni Triangle, a nerve center of anti-U.S. insurgency. "We need to maintain a constant rate of speed; you definitely try not to slow down or stop."

 

As a combat engineer on his first combat tour, Biggs' usual job is clearing and laying explosives.  But on this day, he led a 15-vehicle convoy that is the lifeline for Marines in the area.

 

"Anytime you're rolling down the road, it's dangerous because you're an open target just waiting to get hit," Biggs said.  "When you're in a base, yeah, you get mortared, but the exposure is far less."

 

"If we don't get this stuff out there, the Marines can't survive," he said. "It can get pretty intense if you're hit, but we've got enough firepower and Marines to take care of business."

 

By daybreak, Biggs was taking inventory of his Marines and vehicles.  Providing protection for the convoy would be five "gunships," armored humvees mounted with heavy machineguns and grenade launchers.

 

The rest of the convoy was made up of 7-ton trucks bearing the Marines' precious cargo. Each Marine checked his individual weapons consisting of an M-16A4 rifle and a 9-mm Beretta pistol.  Body armor, Kevlar helmets and protective goggles were worn despite the stifling heat.

 

For Biggs and his men, not being shot at is a rare occurrence.  "I've made 27 trips down this road so far and on 24 of those occasions I've been hit," Biggs said.

 

Each of his vehicles bore the scars of countless engagements.  From armor plating pockmarked from shrapnel blasts to dents inflicted from AK rounds.  The lead humvee's armored windscreen was a spider-web of broken glass.

 

"RPG round bounced off it the other day," Biggs said matter-of-factly.

 

Before setting out, the young lieutenant gathered all the drivers and vehicle commanders for a quick brief on convoy procedures and route familiarization.

 

There could be no miscommunication on which turn to take or who does what during a firefight — it could be the difference between life and death.  During the briefing, Biggs rattled off map grid coordinates and route names which all had cryptic "call-signs" to quickly identify the maze of streets and back alleys that crisscross Ramadi.

 

"I need you to understand, if you guys take hits — I need to be notified as soon as possible," said Biggs.  "This is our standard convoy; we're going as fast as we can, but we don't want to lose anyone.  Remember to keep checking your rear mirrors."

 

Lastly, Biggs mentioned to his Marines the rules of engagement that must be adhered to in case of a firefight, "Make sure you have positive identification before you fire."

 

The streets were narrow and jammed with traffic.  Each building, rooftop and alleyway could be a hiding place for a sniper.  While a few of the Iraqis smiled and waved, most greeted the Marines with a steely, hostile glare.

 

"Come on man, move!" shouted the driver, a lance corporal.  He would try honking but the horn to his humvee wasn't working

 

As traffic ground to a halt, Biggs realized his convoy was a sitting duck amidst the clogged roadway.  Through deafening car-horn blasts, Biggs barked out an order on his radio, "Jump the median."

 

The entire convoy lumbered over the concrete center divider and drove toward oncoming traffic. The Iraqi drivers quickly moved off the road as the 2-ton humvees bristling with machine guns bore down on them.

 

"That is the worst situation to be in," said Biggs. "Stuck in traffic like that, you're just asking to be hit."

 

The Marines finally reach one of the "firm" bases.  Like a professional NASCAR pit crew, the Marines off-loaded the palettes of food and supplies.  They formed a human conveyor belt emptying the trucks in no time.

 

But Biggs was looking at his watch with a worried look on his face. "We're behind schedule — and we definitely do not want to be on the road when it's dark."

 

A radio call came in giving the lieutenant bad news.  A car bomb had been found on their route and they would have to wait until the ordinance team cleared it out.

 

Biggs decided there was no time to waste.  He pulled out his map, conferred with one of his senior sergeants, and planned an alternate route.

 

As the convoy rolled out of the "firm" base, the Marines passed a sign posted at the gate, "Complacency Kills."

 

"Some of the stuff I say sounds pretty basic, but it's important stuff," Biggs said.  "You have to be meticulous and detail oriented all the time or people will die."

 

 

 

TROOP NEWS

 

 

Injured Marine Joins Celebration

 

October 25 2004 Craig Barnes, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

 

MIAMI GARDENS ˇ A Marine who was seriously injured in Iraq was invited to Sunday's game by Dolphins linebacker Junior Seau.

 

Staff Sgt. Eddie Wright, from Seattle, lost both arms April 7 when a rocket-propelled grenade hit his unit, the 1st Marine Reconnaissance Battalion, in Fallujah.

 

He has a prosthetic replacement for his right arm but not yet for his left.  Wright, 29, has five to six months of rehabilitation remaining at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington.

 

"He doesn't realize what kind of an effect that he has on people," his fiancé, Donnette Mathison said.  "When people see him, it has a lasting impact on them."

 

 

BLACK WATCH GUNS DON'T WORK;

'Worst Weapon Ever'

 

Oct 25 2004 By Paul Byrne, mirror.co.uk

 

BRITISH soldiers are being sent to an Iraqi danger zone with guns that do not work.

 

The L94 chain gun on the Black Watch's Warrior armoured personnel carriers was slammed in an official report as the "worst automatic weapon system ever introduced into the British Army".

 

It added: "It does not work, it is not a weapon of war and is currently an unsafe weapon."

 

Soldiers are said to have lost fingers when the gun, which fires 400 rounds a second, spins out of control.  But troops in the Scottish regiment are angry that it has not been replaced three years after the Army report.

 

A source said: "Once again the needs of soldiers are being overlooked. We need a gun that works."

 

 

Insurgents In Latifiyah Eager To Battle British

 

[Washington Times, October 25, 2004, Pg. 1]

Resistance forces in Latifiyah, just south of Baghdad, are preparing a harsh welcome for Britain's Black Watch regiment when it moves north from Basra as early as this week. Insurgents in the town boast that the British are easier to defeat the Americans.

[With that shit for armament, no wonder.]

 

 

The Generals’ Swimming Pool

 

10/24/2004 Les Chappell , Daily Cardinal (Wisconsin)

 

"You know so much about supporting the troops, especially since the election's taking place," said David Boetcher, a Gulf War veteran headed for Iraq in January.  "Our job is to get to the issues behind the rhetoric."

 

Boetcher presented the audience with statistics showing how veterans are losing service benefits at a rapid rate.  With lowered funding for support programs and the rising trend of soldiers being reactivated for a second tour of duty, there is little incentive to remain in the service.

 

Rather than being reassured, however, soldiers have begun to receive rude awakenings through a "Fed Ex letter" strategy.  "You get a package, and you have to show up [for service] two days later," Boetcher said.  "The military has a plan for action and it's not getting told."

 

Jennifer Giese of the 826th Ordinance experienced this firsthand; she came home and found orders to report to Ohio's Fort Campbell.  After spending 68 days on base due to confusion over troop deployment, she was sent to Tikrit and stationed at an abandoned Iraqi airbase.

 

While the unit suffered no fatalities in Iraq, they were plagued the entire time by supply chain glitches.

 

The unit never received body armor, and had to resort to stealing scrap metal for vehicle armor.  Bottled water had to be rationed due to shortages, but Giese later filled a swimming pool for a general's use.

 

"This was a complete, chaotic mess," Giese said. "In my opinion there was no plan ... no one knew where we were going."

 

Abie Pickett of the 229th Combat Support Equipment division agreed; she said by the time her unit arrived in Kuwait there was no space, save a building with shoulder-high debris.

 

According to Brenda Bickel-Bonds, whose husband Michael is serving in Iraq, soldiers also suffer from detachment due to the stretched manpower. She said her husband was taken away from his unit and stationed in Puerto Rico despite the fact he spoke no Spanish.  Adding insult to injury, time served there did not count toward his total.

 

Boetcher said moves like this have lowered enrollment and confidence among armed forces, creating a serious issue in the military.

 

"The problem with this war is it's not dying down," Boetcher said. "There's got to be something done, because it's (the military's) not going to last."

 

 

News That Sounds Like a Joke

 

Funny Times, Nov. 2004

 

A commander at a military conscription unit in Finland told reporters that some men recently have been discharged shortly after enlisting because they had become “addicted” to the Internet and longed for their computers.

 

Said the official Jyrki Kivela: “For people who play (Internet) games all night and don’t have any friends, don’t have any hobbies, to come into the army is a very big shock.” (All males are scheduled for at least six months in the military, but about 20 percent get specially exempted.)

 

 

News That’s No Joke:

Australian Soldiers Used As Guinea Pigs For Larium Tests

 

10/24/2004 Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)

 

Hundreds of Australian soldiers serving in East Timor were used as guinea pigs by the army in tests of an anti-malaria drug which has psychotic side effects, it was reported today.

 

The Sunday Telegraph said the soldiers were ordered to take the drug, Larium, by the army as part of tests to observe side effects, which can also include depression and paranoia.

 

But it said the soldiers claimed they were not fully informed of the possible adverse reactions and some were planning a class action against the army.

 

Members of the 2RAR battalion and 4RAR commandos had suffered family breakdowns, paranoia and suicidal thoughts after taking Larium, also known as Mefloquine, the paper said.

 

It said one young soldier, who received three service medals in East Timor, took his girlfriend hostage at gunpoint soon after his return.

 

Other soldiers had experienced illnesses such as kidney disease and migraine.

 

It said Brisbane firm Quinn and Scattini would launch a class action against the army on behalf of personnel who took Larium while in East Timor.

 

"We believe liability will be found in these cases," lawyer Simon Harrison was quoted as saying.

 

The paper quoted "army officials" as admitting using soldiers as guinea pigs but claiming the tests involved "dozens" rather than hundreds of soldiers.

 

But it said soldiers it interviewed estimated the number of soldiers ordered to trial the drug was close to 400.

 

 

A Satanist In The Navy

 

October 25, 2004 By Michael Evans, Defence Editor & Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent, The Times and The Sunday Times

 

A ROYAL Navy frigate commander who agreed to let a member of his crew practise Satanism on board the ship yesterday won the full support of the Ministry of Defence.

 

Captain Russell Best, commanding officer of HMS Cumberland, a Type 22 frigate, officially recognised Leading Hand Chris Cranmer, 24, as a Devil-worshipping member of his complement after full consultation with the ship’s chaplain, the MoD said.

 

It is the first instance of its kind in the history of the Royal Navy.  The naval technician, who has recently returned with his ship from a tour of duty in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean, has been allowed to perform Satanic rituals and other acts that conform to the creed of Satanism.

 

The MoD said that Captain Best was entirely within his rights to concede to his request to be registered as a Satanist.  “There is nothing in the Queen’s Regulations that forbids practising Satanism and people are entitled to their own religious beliefs,” it said.

 

The unmarried naval technician, 24, from Edinburgh, said that being a Satanist gave him “the freedom of religion I wanted, despite its controversial nature.

 

“I didn’t want to feel I couldn’t get out my Satanic Bible and relax in bed.  I didn’t want to bite my tongue any more when dealing with idiots,” he told The Sunday Telegraph.

 

The MoD said that it was an equal opportunities employer and, provided that the Satanism practised on board HMS Cumberland did not “impinge on the operational effectiveness of the crew or its morale in any way” there was no reason why Captain Best should not have agreed to the request by Leading Hand Cranmer.

 

However, Ann Widdecombe, the former Tory minister, said that the decision was “utterly shocking”.  “Satanism is wrong,” she said.  “Obviously, the private beliefs of individuals anywhere, including the Armed Forces, are their own affair, but I hope it doesn’t spread. God himself gives free will, but I would like to think that if somebody applied to the Navy and said he was a Satanist today it would raise eyebrows somewhat.”

 

Just as most Christians do not regard God as a white-bearded, benevolent deity seated on some literal throne in the sky, most Satanists do not view the Devil as a fallen angel with horns and other prominent goatlike characteristics.

 

He is simply believed to be the embodiment of man’s true nature, one where pride, carnal lusts, sensual desires, self- indulgence, individuality and self-interest are predominant.

 

 

Satanists At The Trough:

Mercenary Suppliers Scoop Up Billions;

Bush Buddies Refuse To Explain How Money Is Spent

 

[Thanks to Lou Plummer who sent this one in.]

 

Oct. 25, 2004 JOSEPH NEFF and JAY PRICE, Associated Press

 

"There is no question the taxpayer is getting screwed," said Bunting, who was an Army staff sergeant in Vietnam.  "There is no incentive for KBR or their subs to try to reduce costs. No matter what it costs, KBR gets 100 percent back, plus overhead, plus their profit.”

 

RALEIGH, N.C. - Jerry Zovko's contract with Blackwater USA looked straightforward: He would earn $600 a day guarding convoys that carried food for U.S. troops in Iraq.

 

But that cost - $180,000 a year - was just the first installment of what taxpayers were asked to pay for Zovko's work.

 

Blackwater, based in Moyock, N.C., and three other companies would add to the bill, and to their profits.

 

Several Blackwater contracts obtained by The News & Observer open a small window into the multibillion-dollar world of private military contractors in Iraq.  The contracts show how costs can add up when the government uses private military contractors to perform tasks once handled by the Army.

 

Here's how it worked in Zovko's case: Blackwater added a 36 percent markup, plus its overhead costs, and sent the bill to a Kuwaiti company that ordinarily runs hotels.  That company, Regency Hotel, tacked on its costs for buying vehicles and weapons and a profit and sent an invoice to a German food services company called ESS that cooked meals for the troops.

 

ESS added its costs and profit and sent its bill to Halliburton, which also added overhead and a profit and presented the final bill to the Pentagon.

 

It's nearly impossible to say whether the cost for Zovko doubled, tripled or quadrupled.

 

Congressional investigators and defense auditors have had to fight the primary contractor, Halliburton, for details of the spending.  The companies say the subcontracts are confidential and won't discuss them.  [While they pocket public money, the tell the public to fuck yourself.]

 

About 20,000 private security contractors are now in Iraq, escorting convoys, protecting diplomats, training the Iraqi army and maintaining weapons.

 

The bills for this work flow from the bottom up.  They start with Blackwater's $600-a-day guns for hire such as Zovko and his three comrades, who were killed escorting a convoy through Fallujah in March.

 

At the top is Houston-based Halliburton, which has an open-ended "cost-plus" contract to supply the U.S. military with food, laundry and other necessities. Cost-plus means the U.S. government pays Halliburton all its expenses - its costs - plus 2 percent profit on top.

 

So far the Army has committed $7.2 billion on this cost-plus contract to Halliburton, which has been criticized for its performance in Iraq.  The company has drawn additional political fire because of its ties to Vice President Dick Cheney, a former Halliburton CEO.

 

Henry Bunting, a former Halliburton purchasing officer, said he heard a common refrain in 2003 in Kuwait from managers at KBR - also known as Kellogg Brown & Root - a division of Halliburton: "Don't worry about price.  It's cost-plus."

 

"There is no question the taxpayer is getting screwed," said Bunting, who was an Army staff sergeant in Vietnam.  "There is no incentive for KBR or their subs to try to reduce costs. No matter what it costs, KBR gets 100 percent back, plus overhead, plus their profit.”

 

The Army said it is satisfied with Halliburton's performance.

 

According to a Defense Department Web site, a soldier with Zovko's experience and final rank (he was a sergeant) would receive about $38,000 a year in base pay and housing and subsistence allowances.  That figure would not reflect additional costs for things such as health and retirement benefits or combat pay.

 

The shift to private contractors has often been justified as cheaper and more efficient.

 

But the real reason for the use of private contractors is to reduce the political costs of war, according to P.W. Singer, an expert on private contractors and the military at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

 

By using private contractors to do work soldiers once did, Singer said, the administration doesn't have to call up more regular troops, or National Guard and reserves, or compromise with allies to get them to send more troops.

 

"We don't need another division there - we've got 20,000 private military contractors," Singer said.

 

A recent audit by the Defense Contract Audit Agency said Halliburton could not document 42 percent of a $4 billion invoice submitted to the Pentagon.  Much of the $1.8 billion that lacked documentation was for subcontractors who helped feed U.S. troops - the area in which Blackwater was working.

 

Halliburton will not discuss subcontracts, saying they are private dealings.  

 

Blackwater's charges to Regency for Zovko's work were $815 a day, a markup of $215.  In addition, Blackwater billed Regency separately for all its overhead and costs in Iraq: insurance, room and board, travel, weapons, ammunition, vehicles, office space and equipment, administrative support, taxes and duties.  Blackwater executives declined to be interviewed for this report.

 

Regency then billed ESS, the German food company.  It's unclear how much Regency tacked on for profit and overhead; Jameel Al Sane, the owner of Regency Hotel, and his associate, retired U.S. Army officer Tim Tapp, declined to answer questions.

 

Kathy Potter, a former Blackwater employee who helped set up the company's Kuwait office, said Regency was making a tidy profit.

 

"Tim and Jameel would do stuff like quote ESS a price, say $1,500 per man per day, and then tell Blackwater that it had quoted ESS $1,200," Potter said in an interview this summer.

 

ESS, in turn, contracted with KBR, the division of Halliburton, which then billed the U.S government.

 

The Army would not provide information on payments to ESS.  The government has no contract with ESS, officials said, so the public must request information from KBR.

 

Neither KBR nor ESS would answer questions about the contracts.  The information belongs to KBR's subcontractors and is confidential, KBR spokeswoman Melissa Norcross said.

 

"Any contract details between Compass/ESS and its suppliers and employees are confidential and we adhere to a policy of nondisclosure," Mike Moore, managing director for ESS in the Middle East, wrote in an e-mail message.

 

Even the U.S. government struggles to get information about the spending. Accountants in the Defense Contract Audit Agency have had a long-running problem getting Halliburton to back up its invoices with documentation.

 

Congress has a hard time getting answers as well.  Rep. Henry Waxman of California and other Democrats on the House Government Reform Committee have had trouble getting information on basic spending or Defense Department audits of Halliburton.

 

The administration has not turned it over, and the committee has requested but not received copies of KBR contracts with subcontractors.

 

"We don't have accountability, we don't have transparency on where the money is spent," Waxman said. "Taxpayer money is being wasted.  Huge amounts are going to subcontractors, and we have no idea how the money is being spent."  The private companies have also acted to protect themselves from their individual contractors and subcontractors.

 

For example, at least some private contracts protect the companies from their workers' becoming whistle-blowers.  Contractors wanting to work for Blackwater in Iraq, such as Zovko, must sign contracts that compel them to pay Blackwater a quarter of a million dollars in instant damages if they violate their contract for doing things such as discussing details of the contracts or work.

 

The contract between Blackwater and Regency also contains explicit confidentiality clauses.  Singer, the Brookings Institution analyst, said that is typical but troubling:  The agreement is between private companies, but their activities are wholly in the public interest.

 

"The public is paying for it, and it is taking place in a war zone," Singer said. "It illustrates the lack of transparency in this whole business."

 

MORE:

 

Top U.S. Contracting Official Calls For Probe Of Bush Buddy Halliburton

 

New York Times, October 25, 2004 By ERIK ECKHOLM

 

Bunnatine H. Greenhouse, the top civilian contracting official for the Army Corps of Engineers, said the Army granted Halliburton large contracts for work in Iraq and Balkans without following rules designed to ensure competition and fair prices for the government.  She charged that the Halliburton situation threatens the "integrity of the federal contracting program."

 

The official, Bunnatine H. Greenhouse, said that in at least one case she witnessed, Army officials inappropriately allowed representatives of Halliburton to sit in as they discussed the terms of a contract the company was set to receive.

 

In an Oct. 21 letter to the acting Army secretary, Ms. Greenhouse said that after her repeated questions about the Halliburton contracts, she was excluded from major decisions to award money and that her job status was threatened.

 

In the case of the 2003 Iraq oil award, Kellogg Brown & Root was given a secret contract months before to draw up plans for fixing oil facilities.  Once the invasion began, as the letter relates, it was then deemed the only company in a position to carry out the plan.

 

Ms. Greenhouse says she argued strenuously that a noncompetitive contract should not be given for more than one year.  Instead, the company was given a five-year contract worth up to $7 billion.

 

 

 

IRAQ RESISTANCE ROUNDUP

 

 

Collaborator Officials Killed In Mosul

 

Oct 25, 2004 By Alistair Lyon (Reuters) & NTVMSNBC

 

An unidentified tribal leader and two of his associates were killed in the northern city of Mosul by a bomb planted in their car, local government officials said.  The bomb blew up as they arrived in the car park of the regional governorate building.

 

The officials told Reuters the bomb had been planted in his car and blew up when he reached the car park of the Nineveh region government headquarters in Mosul, 390 km  north of Baghdad.

 

Brigadier Mu'ataz Taka, commander of the Iraqi Facilities Protection Service in Mosul, escaped death when a second car bomb exploded.  Three guards were wounded.

 

A Turkish truck driver was killed in northern Iraqi Sunday, shot by unknown gunmen near the city of Baiji.

 

 

Mahmoudiya City Council Head Dead

 

10.25.04 The Associated Press

 

Police said a city council leader was gunned down Monday during a drive-by shooting in Mahmoudiya, about 25 miles south of Baghdad. Dhari Ali, head of the city council, was killed outside his home, police said.

 

 

Collaborator General Wounded In Mosul

 

10.25.04 The Associated Press

 

Insurgents launched two near-simultaneous bomb attacks hitting a government compound and a military convoy in the northern city of Mosul, the U.S. military and Iraqi officials said.

 

Three people inside the compound were killed and another one was injured in the morning blast, said provincial government spokesman Hazem Jalawi.  An Iraqi general was slightly injured in the convoy attack.

 

 

Oil Pipeline Attacked

 

25 October 2004 Focus 1,  Kirkuk

 

Saboteurs blew up a section of an oil pipeline in northern Iraq, sparking a fire but failing to halt exports, Reuters announced.

 

Last week, Oil Minister Thamer Ghadban said attacks on the country's oil infrastructure and its import of oil products due to insufficient refining capacity has cost the country seven billion dollars since the US-led invasion of March 2003.

 

 

 

FORWARD OBSERVATIONS

 

 

I have given two cousins to war and I stand ready to sacrifice my wife’s brother.  ARTEMUS WARD

 

War: First, one hopes to win; then one expects the enemy to lose; then one is satisfied that he too suffering; in the end, one is surprised that everyone has lost.

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN

 

How is the world ruled and how do wars start?  Diplomats tell lies to journalists and then believe what they read.

KARL KRAUS

 

You can’t say that civilization don’t advance, for in every war they kill you a new way.

WILL ROGERS

 

To die for an idea is unquestionably noble. But how much nobler it would be if men died for ideas that were true!

H.L. MENCKEN

 

It takes fifteen thousand casualties to train a general.

FERDINAND FOCH

 

To a surprising extent, the warlords in shining armor, the apostles of the martial virtues, tend not to die fighting when the time comes.  History is full of ignominious getaways by the great and famous.

GEORGE ORWELL

 

 

 

OCCUPATION REPORT

 

 

“You Can Feel The Fury Inside You”

 

[Thanks to Joan Molnar who sent this one in.]

 

10/24/2004 Cox News Service

 

''Our point of view toward the Americans has changed.  You can feel the fury inside you,'' said Amir Shleman, Chaman's brother.  ''If they treated people like human beings, no one would take up weapons against them.''

 

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Tahsin Ali Hussein al-Ruba'i knew that danger waited in the darkened streets, where American soldiers lurked near poorly marked checkpoints, suspicious of every approaching vehicle.

 

The 32-year-old knew the danger because he made his living in the streets of Baghdad, earning $3 to $4 a day driving his orange-and-white 1983 Volkswagen Passat. But on July 1, 2003, his infant daughter, Tabarek, had the flu, and he decided to risk driving to his in-laws so he could pick her up and take her to a hospital.

 

As his taxi neared the working-class Cairo Street neighborhood, American soldiers spread several Humvees across an eight-lane boulevard, preparing to stop oncoming vehicles.  Fearing someone would be shot because the makeshift checkpoint had no signs, cones or lights, a man selling kabobs along the road 50 yards away started waving and yelling at unsuspecting motorists.

 

Al-Ruba'i apparently never got the warning.

 

Soldiers opened fire with rifles and mounted machine guns, riddling his taxi with bullet holes and killing him, witnesses said.  The family filed a civil claim directly with the American military, asking for $2,500, but the claim was denied.

 

The case is among 4,611 never-before-released civil claims from Iraq - hundreds alleging abuse and misconduct by American military personnel - on a computer database obtained by the Dayton Daily News through the federal Freedom of Information Act

 

''When we first got there, the Iraqis were glad to see us. I believe things changed because there was disrespect to the people,'' said Elizabeth Wisdorf of Colorado Springs, Colo., who served for nearly a year in Iraq as a member of the Colorado National Guard's 220th Military Police Company.  ''There were a lot of accidents, a lot of deaths.''

 

Incidents such as these have turned many Iraqis, such as the family of Samir Shleman Chaman, against the American occupation.  Chaman, a house painter, was killed when a tank crushed his car as he was returning from a painting job - one of at least 150 Iraqis allegedly killed or injured in encounters with military vehicles.

 

''Our point of view toward the Americans has changed.  You can feel the fury inside you,'' said Amir Shleman, Chaman's brother.  ''If they treated people like human beings, no one would take up weapons against them.''

 

Like other Iraqis, Shleman's grieving family became more outraged at how the military handled their claim for compensation.

 

Chaman was a husband and father of a 7-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl.  The day after he was killed, the family said, soldiers left $2,000 near the pillow of his widow - money the family was told was for funeral expenses.

 

When they filed a claim through an Iraqi attorney for compensation for the children, they encountered months of delays and confusion before finally receiving a letter on Sept. 7, 2004, denying the claim.

 

Retired Air Force Col. Sam Gardiner, a Department of Defense consultant, said the fear, hatred and corresponding acts of violence are by-products of lengthy occupations.

 

''It feeds on itself because people are angry,'' Gardiner said.

 

OCCUPATION ISN’T LIBERATION

BRING ALL THE TROOPS HOME NOW!

 

 

Occupation Command Caught Lying About “Foreign Fighters”:

Even Heir To Iraqi Throne Says Fighters Are Nationalists;

Typical Imbecile General Understands Nothing:

The Tal Afar War Crime Revealed

 

October 24, 2004 By Newhouse News Service

 

"One of the basic mistakes the coalition made was misdescribing those who decided to take up arms against the coalition and now the current interim Iraqi government," says Sharif Ali bin Hussein, heir to Iraq's long-deposed king and head of the country's main monarchist party.

 

"The resistance is basically from groups that were marginalized and disenfranchised by the political process in Iraq when the United States decided to impose its exile friends from abroad without giving a role to ordinary Iraqis after liberation."

 

BAGHDAD, Iraq — U.S. forces all but destroyed the northern city of Tal Afar last month, saying it was necessary to cleanse the city of foreign fighters that had taken over the city government. 

 

However, no foreign fighters were found.

 

Instead, say Iraqi politicians and tribal leaders, the insurgents in the city of 150,000 were local citizens angered by months of what they perceived as unnecessary U.S. raids on houses, arrests of innocent people and collective punishment.

 

During the 17-month insurgency since the United States invaded Iraq, U.S. officials have painted a consistent picture of the enemy, pointing to religious extremists, so-called "dead-enders" with ties to the Saddam Hussein regime and foreigners who slip across the country's porous borders.

 

However, interviews with Iraqis of various political stripes suggest something starkly different: a growing but unknown number of ordinary Iraqi citizens have tired of the occupation and armed themselves to fight American troops.

 

They point to Tal Afar as an example.

 

U.S. forces, including the Fort Lewis-based Stryker Brigade, surrounded the city in early September and threatened to launch an attack.  Then, troops said they were barraged by attacks, which they blamed on foreign fighters who infiltrated the city from Syria, about 50 miles away.

 

Songul Shapouk, the sole Turkman representative on the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, said she pleaded with Iraqi ministers and U.S. officials not to attack the city.

 

"We told [the Americans] there are not foreign fighters there," said Shapouk. "Don't attack this city.  They are farmers.  They are simple people."

 

Hakki Majdal, deputy director of Tal Afar General Hospital, said the insurgency grew primarily out of a combination of desperate economic conditions and mounting frustration with the U.S. occupation.  "The citizens are frustrated; everyone is frustrated," he said.

 

"My house, for example, has been searched three times, and the last time they were very aggressive.  They broke down my door.  I was asleep in my house with my children, and suddenly [a soldier] was standing in front of me. I said, 'I am a doctor.' He said, '[Expletive] you.'

 

Mohammad Qasoob Younis al-Jabouri, a tribal leader and a leader of the Iraq Coalition Party, joined a delegation of Iraqis who went into the city, hoping to convince people to turn over foreign extremists.

 

He said in a telephone interview from Mosul that power and water had been cut off, and that many of the homes were empty, their doors open.  Instead of encountering foreign religious fundamentalists, he said, he found only Iraqis, about 70 fighters armed with Kalashnikovs and rocket-propelled grenades.

 

Though he didn't see all the insurgents, he knew the ones he met were locals because they spoke Afriya, a Turkman dialect infused with Kurdish and Arab words unique to the people of Tal Afar.

 

"There were no Syrians or Jordanians or foreigners," Jabouri said.

 

After a days-long barrage, the U.S. forces went into Tal Afar Sept. 9.  After a 13-hour ground assault, the Army's declared victory over forces that had turned Tal Afar into "a suspected haven for terrorists crossing into Iraq from Syria," according to a press release.

 

Although the U.S. military said 180 insurgents were killed in the entire operation against the city, almost no resistance was encountered during the ground attack.  No Americans were killed.

 

"We thought there would be more, the indications were that there would be more, but there wasn't," said Brig. Gen. Carter Ham, the commander of U.S. forces involved in the operation.

 

U.S. officials conceded recently that no conclusive evidence of foreign fighters was found in Tal Afar.

 

Local politicians say Tal Afar was not a exception, that ordinary Iraqi citizens weary of the occupation are arming themselves to fight American troops.

 

"One of the basic mistakes the coalition made was misdescribing those who decided to take up arms against the coalition and now the current interim Iraqi government," says Sharif Ali bin Hussein, heir to Iraq's long-deposed king and head of the country's main monarchist party.

 

"The resistance is basically from groups that were marginalized and disenfranchised by the political process in Iraq when the United States decided to impose its exile friends from abroad without giving a role to ordinary Iraqis after liberation."

 

Added Naseer Kamel Chaderji, leader of a liberal Iraqi political party:  "Many of the insurgents are not terrorists but people who feel betrayed by the process, people who've been left out of the political equation."

 

U.S. officials question whether a so-called wave of nationalism is leading citizens to start battling U.S. troops.

 

"I don't think the resistance is spreading," said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. John DeFreitas, deputy chief of staff for intelligence in Baghdad.  "There are a lot of places in Iraq that have bought into the political process.  And they're participating.  That's a form of nationalism also.  "I don't buy the idea that the resistance is nationalistic.  Someone may jump up and attack and say that this is for Iraq.  That doesn't make it so."

 

[You have just read the profound “thinking” of a total imbecile, with no grip on reality whatsoever, as he denies what everybody else in the world admits: the resistance is spreading and, as even the would-be King says, is nationalism in action.  The Iraqis are right to take up arms and fight an invader for their national independence.  They are right not to allow themselves to be ruled by George Bush, John Kerry, or any other politician sitting in Washington DC and acting for the corporate Empire.

 

[The “participating” with the Occupation he points to is treason for any Iraqi who does so, just as much as was so when Benedict Arnold was “participating” with the British to betray George Washington.  The reason the good general likes the traitors, and praises them, is obvious.  He hopes his disgusting ass-kissing will get him a nice bone from his master, Rumsfeld, in the form of another step up the career ladder.]

 

U.S. counterinsurgency specialists, speaking to a group of reporters during a recent background briefing, said they don't distinguish between foreign radical fighters and armed citizens.

 

"We look at them all as forces from a simple perspective," said one general, speaking on condition of anonymity.  "From my perspective, they're all threat forces.  The motivation is different, the attacks are very similar."  [And some of King George’s Redcoat officers also understood reality in 1776, even as they sent their soldiers to die on behalf of tyranny, oppression, and occupation, as they fought on the wrong side of a very bad war.]

 

 

Chaos, Murder And Mayhem

 

October 25, 2004 Haifa Zangana, The Guardian.  Haifa Zangana is an Iraqi-born novelist

 

We are not celebrating.  Death is covering us like fine dust.  Four-fifths of Iraqi people demand the immediate withdrawal of occupying forces from Iraq. 

 

 

What do you think?  Comments from service men and women, and veterans, are especially welcome.  Send to contact@militaryproject.org.  Name, I.D., withheld on request.  Replies confidential.

 

 

Pinpointed To The Minute

 

October 25, 2004 John Diamond, USA TODAY

 

The moment when U.S. troops realized they had badly underestimated the resistance they would encounter from Iraqi guerrilla fighters can be pinpointed to the minute.

 

At precisely 9 a.m. on March 22, 2003, the third day of the war in Iraq, GIs riding armored vehicles through the southern town of Samawah waved at a group of civilians gathered near a bridge.  Instead of a friendly reply, they got automatic weapons fire. The men charged the armored column in waves, attacking with AK-47 rifles and rocket-propelled grenades.

 

With their superior firepower, the Americans cut down the attackers by the score.  But the incident stunned U.S. soldiers and commanders, according to an account by Staff Sgt. Dillard Johnson, who helped beat back the attack that day.  Lt. Col. Terry Ferrell, one of Johnson's superior officers, had half-jokingly told his troops to "expect a parade."

 

 

 

OCCUPATION HAITI

 

Occupation Attacks Barricades

 

Occupation troops bulldozed Aristide supporter’s barricades.  The occupation installed Premier appealed for more occupation forces to stop growing resistance.  55 citizens are dead so far this month.  (Wire service reports.)

 

 

Received:

 

Looking For Cpl. Daniel Planalp

 

From: Tim Goodrich

To: GI Special

Sent: Monday, October 25, 2004 3:16 AM

Subject: Cpl. Daniel Planalp

 

Does anybody have any contact info you could share for this guy?  This is from the Oct 24th edition GI Special:

 

"This is Vietnam," said Cpl. Daniel Planalp, 21, of San Diego.  "I don't even know why we're over here fighting.  We're fighting for survival.  The Iraqis don't want us here.  If they wanted us here, they'd help us.  They're certainly not helping us in this city."

 

I'm particularly interested b/c I live in San Diego (Oceanside)

 

Thanks,

Tim

Tim Goodrich

Iraq Veterans Against The War Co-founder, Western Region Contact

 

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.  Send requests to address up top.

 

Cistern Bomb

 

From: Gabriel L

To: GI SPECIAL

Sent: Monday, October 25, 2004 1:58 PM

Subject: "cistern bomb"

 

I assume that they mean someone filled an underground water tank with explosives instead - 250 to 1000 gallon tanks that are used to store rain water, etc.

 

[This refers to a news item that a Bulgarian soldier had been wounded by a “cistern bomb” in Iraq, and the question was asked, what’s that?]

 

 

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 3.5.1.2.