Blackwater, one of the private security firms in Iraq funded by hundreds of millions of tax dollars which provides armed military-style support for US forces and businesses, has had it's license revoked according to Iraqi officials. Confusion surrounds what this may mean, confusion surrounds what happened as they were escorting a convoy of US State Department vehicles, and secrecy surrounds the contract they (and hundreds of others) have with the US government. The Guardian has more on the dispute.
This follows a report from the Washington Post that the US military is in urgent need of help to provide support services to soldiers as more and more soldiers are being placed into combat patrols.
"With the increased insurgent activity, unit supply personnel must continue to pull force protection along with convoy escort and patrol duties," according to a statement of work that accompanied the Sept. 7 request for bidders from Multi-National Force-Iraq."
Oh boy ...Each time the current White House leaders announce their strategy in Iraq is working, we learn that much of that strategy is in the hands of secret government contracts or that we regular folks just don't understand the strategy. An accurate account of how many contracted soldiers are operating in Iraq remains unknown, and the same lack of accounting is in place for their activities, their casualties, their wounded. While they are there in the name of the US, residents of the US know little of what they do.
"Many Americans are under the impression that the US currently has about 145,000 active duty troops on the ground in Iraq. What is seldom mentioned is the fact that there are at least 126,000 private personnel deployed alongside the official armed forces. These private forces effectively double the size of the occupation force, largely without the knowledge of the US taxpayers that foot the bill."
More on this information, supplied to Congress in May, is here.
Last week's publicity push for the "success" in Iraq continues to be a muddle of information, or as Fred Kaplan wrote in Slate:
"President Bush's TV address tonight was the worst speech he's ever given on the war in Iraq, and that's saying a lot. Every premise, every proposal, nearly every substantive point was sheer fiction. The only question is whether he was being deceptive or delusional."
Oh boy .... If I just stop reading the news, maybe it wont' matter.
Opinions are hardly a measure of reality, still it's worth noting, as Steve Chapman does:
"By March 2006, 60 percent of Americans said the war was going poorly. Yet all Petraeus claims to have done is lower the carnage to the level it was then—a level most people found unacceptable. If this is progress, then treading water should be an Olympic event.
Likewise, his plan to withdraw 30,000 troops by next summer would merely mean reverting to the number we had before the surge. Assuming he's right, we'll have spent a year and a half making an arduous journey from Point A to Point A."
Oh boy ... If I just stop reading news, opinions, accounts of debauched/depressed elected officials and celebrities, national and international banking woes, details of items sold in the US which might kill me or deform children, who's being abducted, who's been found, if I just turn off all the radios and TVs and this internet, and just sit quietly with all the doors locked and the shades drawn down tightly ... then maybe I can pretend all is well and just getting better all the time. I'll be a model citizen!