Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Betraying the fallen

"They freed them? The American military did? Somebody needs to answer for it." That's Danny Chism quoted by Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Robert H. Reid (AP) yesterday. We noted it in yesterday's snapshot but we're opening with it because, look around, the events got no real attention. Especially after Abdul-Zahra and Reid's report, you'd think reporters would be covering this but apparently everyone needed a coffee break. So the presumed killer of 4 US soldiers was released by the US in a trade for 1 British businessman (Peter Moore) and 4 British mercenaries who chose to go to Iraq as his bodyguards and line their pockets? Danny Chism is the father of Jonathan Bryan Chism who went by Bryan. Bryan didn't make a fortune in Iraq, he was serving in the military and sent to Iraq by the US government. Bryan's father served in the Navy. Bryan followed his sister Julie into the US Army. Like Bryan, Julie also served in Iraq.

Bryan Chism

That's Bryan, photo from Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs. At Bryan's MySpace page, his brother Steve left this message May 25th:

Sup bro? Well its memorial day and it sucks pretty bad to still not have you here. We miss you alot, dad says he misses you too and thinks about you all the time. Seems like people are starting to forget about you or something, wtf, the last comment you got was a month ago, i dk, maybe people are just busy these days. Well R.I.P. and remember your gunna be an uncle in a few more months. Love you bro and miss you alot.

His brother remembers him. His family remembers him. The government that sent him to Iraq? They apparently don't give a damn. They didn't even have the decency to give his family a heads up before releasing his presumed killer. January 23, 2007 the Department of Defense released the following:

The Department of Defense announced today the death of four soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died Jan 20 in Karbala, Iraq, from wounds sustained when their patrol was ambushed while conducting dismounted operations. The soldiers were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Richardson, Alaska.

Killed were:

1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Neb.

Spc. Johnathan B. Chism, 22, of Gonzales, La.

Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, 25, of Cortland, N.Y.

Pfc. Johnathon M. Millican, 20, of Trafford, Ala.

For more information about these soldiers, contact the Fort Richardson public affairs office at (907) 384-1542.

Bryan Chism's life doesn't seem to have mattered much to the previous administration or to the current one. The US traded the presumed killer for what reason? The British government didn't do a damn thing for two years (as many of the families of the five hostages will note). But the US was happy to release a prisoner to the Iraqi government to allow fhem to claim "We didn't make a trade! We just released him to the Iraqi government! Blame them!"

Bryan's real 'crime' must have been enlisting. If he'd been a mercenary who went to Iraq to make a fortune, his government would have done anything to avenge his death. Instead, his death is so unimportant to the US government that his family finds out his alleged killer has been set free not from the US government but from the press. But then the US government really thought they could keep this hidden and, lucky for them, so much of the press appears willing to aid the government in that.

In other news, the Washington Post has posted [PDF format warning] the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan "At What Cost? Contingency Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan Interim Report June 2009." We'll note this from the intro:

Management and Accountability
�� Neither the military nor the federal civilian acquisition workforces have
expanded to keep pace with recent years’ enormous growth in the number and
value of contingency contracts.
�� Contracting agencies must provide better and more timely training for
employees who manage contracts and oversee contractors’ performance. In
particular, members of the military assigned to perform on‐site performance
oversight as contracting officer’s representatives often do not learn of the
assignment until their unit arrives in theater, and then find insufficient time and
Internet access to complete necessary training.
�� Contract auditors are not employed effectively in contingency contracting.
�� Contracting officials make ineffective use of contract withhold provisions
recommended by their auditors, and many contract audit findings and
recommendations are not properly resolved.
�� The government still lacks clear standards and policy on inherently
governmental functions. This shortcoming has immediate salience given the
decisions to use contractors in armed‐security and life‐support tasks for military
�� Contractors provide critical support to U.S. military personnel in Iraq and
Afghanistan, yet the Department of Defense cannot provide a complete
accounting of all the contracted support it relies upon. The absence of definitive
information affects commanders’ ability to understand and make best use of the
support they receive, and impedes policy makers’ ability to address the
appropriate balance between contractors and military personnel.
�� The Department of Defense has failed to provide enough staff to perform
adequate contract oversight. Inadequate oversight, poorly written statements of
work, lack of competition, and contractor inefficiencies have contributed to
billions of dollars in wasteful spending in the Army’s largest contract for support
services, the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program or LOGCAP contract.
�� Contractors are playing a key role in the drawdown of U.S. military forces in
Iraq. As military units withdraw from bases, the number of contractor employees
needed to handle closing or transfer tasks and to dispose of government
property will increase. Strong government oversight will be required, but
preparations for this major shift out of Iraq and into Afghanistan or other areas
are sketchy.
�� The Rules of Engagement for the military differ significantly from the Rules for
the Use of Force for private security contractors. The Rules for the Use of Force
for private security contractors guarding forward operating bases may not
adequately protect military personnel.
�� Documented problems with the selection, training, equipping, arming,
performance, and accountability of private security‐contractor employees will
require policy and regulatory changes to provide more effective oversight.
�� Attempts to achieve unity of effort and more measurable results are hampered
by weaknesses in the planning, organizing, coordinating, and oversight of
reconstruction and development projects.
�� Reconstruction, stabilization, and development activities in contingencyoperation
zones can involve numerous government agencies, private‐sector, and
nongovernmental organizations. Yet there is no locus of planning, coordination,
and information—a situation that undermines the goals of the total effort, and
one that should be corrected.
�� The lack of coordination between USAID projects and the Department of
Defense’s Commander’s Emergency Response Program funded projects is a
serious problem that needs to be addressed to maximize capacity building and
avoid cross‐purpose efforts.

Robert O'Harrow (Washington Post) covers the report here. We'll cover it more in the snapshot today.

Meanwhile, someone explain to Amy Goodman that Q'Orianka Kilcher was NOT nominated for an Academy Award. I don't know where this b.s. of "short-listed for an Academy Award" is coming from (Kilcher's press agent?) but you're nominated or you aren't. And Kilcher's never been nominated. The Academy does not release a tally for voting so that claim is not only absurd, it's a lie.

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oh boy it never ends