Friday, December 18, 2009

Security, injuries

I hope that Yasmine, my sister in law, who was killed in the explosion at the court house eight days ago rests in peace knowing that she was not killed because of a security breakdown in her beloved Iraq- but only a breach that may occur anywhere in the world. I hope her four children appreciate that, too.

The above is from an Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers writing at Inside Iraq of Nouri al-Maliki's press conference this week where he took accountability for . . . nothing. Nouri said "Bloody Tuesday" (which claimed at least 127 lives and left approximately 500 people wounded) was but a "security breach." Not a breakdown. And that it could have happened anywhere. But Nouri used to say that he brought security to Iraq. Remember?

This is from Yana Kunichoff's report that's been reposted at Veterans Today:

According to the report, military contractors currently make up 47 percent of the workforce in Iraq and 62 percent in Afghanistan. Though absolute levels of contracted employees have declined as troop levels in Iraq declined, the use of security contractors has increased by 38 percent.
Along with accountability for weapons and adequately training military outsource workers, the CRS report says additional pitfalls are possible because "local nationals may not draw a distinction between government contractors and the US military, and the abuses committed by contractors may strengthen anti-American insurgents."

You need to remember those Iraq numbers and, as the beggars of Panhandle Media take to self-stroking on the airwaves of Pacifica today, you need to remember those numbers because they reveal who gives a damn about Iraq and who doesn't. Hint, those lopping off the Iraq number, acting as if it doesn't exist? Don't give a damn about Iraq. They don't give a damn about Afghanistan either but they think it's a 'hot' story they can make money off of. That's true of the Queen Of Beggar Media and let's who else makes it through the day taking a study on Iraq and Afghanistan and turning it into 'a new study on Afghanistan.'

We'll note this from T. Christian Miller's "Blinded from a Sniper Bullet and Shortchanged by the System" (ProPublica):

While Iraqi interpreters served directly with U.S. troops, hundreds of other Iraqis have been injured or killed while working behind the scenes to help the U.S. war effort.
And just like the interpreters, these support workers have also found themselves shortchanged by the U.S. system designed to protect workers injured or killed on the job, according to a ProPublica review.

That is one in a series of articles ProPublica and T. Christian Miller are doing on the issue including:

"Foreign Interpreters Hurt in Battle Find U.S. Insurance Benefits Wanting,"
"For AIG's Man in Jordan, War Becomes an Opportunity,"
"Injured Abroad, Neglected at Home: Labor Dept. Slow to Help War Zone Contractors"
"Chart: Iraqi Translators, A Casualty List."

In addition, T. Christian Miller reports on the issues for the Los Angeles Times. From his "Foreign interpreters hurt in battle find U.S. insurance benefits wanting:"

After the invasion of Iraq, the U.S. military discovered that rebuilding the country and confronting an insurgency required a weapon not in its arsenal: thousands of interpreters.
To fill the gap, the Pentagon turned to Titan Corp., a San Diego defense contractor, which eventually hired more than 8,000 interpreters, most of them Iraqis.
For $12,000 a year, these civilians served as the voice of America's military, braving sniper fire and roadside bombs. Insurgents targeted them for torture and assassination. Many received military honors for their heroism.
At least 360 interpreters employed by Titan or its successor company were killed between March 2003 and March 2008, and more than 1,200 were injured. The death toll was far greater than that suffered by the armed forces of any country in the American-led coalition other than the United States. Scores of interpreters assisting U.S. forces in Afghanistan also have been killed or wounded.

Staying with the topic of Iraq and workers, this is Kris Hamel's "Labor delegates vote for withdrawal from Iraq, Afghanistan" (Workers World):

At a national assembly of U.S. Labor Against the War held in Chicago Dec. 4-6, a resolution was passed unanimously that called for "an immediate end to the wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan and military attacks in Pakistan." The resolution also declared that "USLAW calls for the immediate and complete withdrawal of all U.S. military forces and contractors from Iraq and Afghanistan and the closing of all U.S. military bases in both countries."
Another resolution was passed that gave USLAW's endorsement to the anti-war demonstrations planned for March 20, 2010, the seventh anniversary of the U.S. war and occupation in Iraq. Donna Dewitt, president of the South Carolina AFL-CIO, and Alan Benjamin of the San Francisco Labor Council's Executive Committee were among the USLAW members submitting the resolution to the national gathering.
The resolution noted a declaration by the Wisconsin AFL-CIO on the "need to stop the war in Afghanistan and focus the nation's attention on the fight for jobs, education, health care and pensions."
USLAW is urging unionists and labor contingents to march in the national anti-war demonstrations on March 20 in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and San Francisco.

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From "Elaine Brower to Army Recruiters: 'We Will be Your Worst Nightmare'" (World Can't Wait):

I was sitting there in the back office, and then stated "I would like you to know that I am a member of a national organization called 'Military Families Speak Out' and it has about 4,000 members who all have loved ones who are serving or served in Iraq and Afghanistan. We oppose the wars vehemently and are doing everything in our power to stop them."
I thought they would choke on their food at that point. Then I proceeded to say, "Since I work right here, I, along with hundreds of my activist friends, will be your worst nightmare!"
As you could hear a pin drop and confusion spread all over their faces, I continued. "I am so against what you are doing. You strategically placed this recruiting center so that kids who are either coming out of high school with nowhere to go, or those who graduate college in lots of debt and no jobs because of the economy are enticed to join the military." "You are taking full advantage of the bad economy and sending more of our youth off to die and kill for illegal, immoral and illegitimate wars. You should be ashamed of yourselves and I don't know how you sleep at night."
I stood up, took a button off my handbag that I received while protesting at West Point. I said, "This button is for you." I slammed it on the desk. "I got it when I was protesting at West Point when Obama was giving his "escalation speech." It demands all troops home now, you can keep it as a reminder."

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oh boy it never ends