November 26, 2005

The few, the proud, the Blackwater

Facing mounting opposition to the War at home and Iraqi requests for a timetable for a draw-down of US forces, Pentagon and Administration officials have begun to float the idea that it might be time to start turning the debacle over to the Iraqis. Lately reports of both US and British troop reductions have appeared in the press. Iraqi President Talabani recently stated that British troops could leave by the end of 2006 and that the Iraqis should be ready to take over in the southern provinces around Basra by that time. Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Chalabi has echoed the same sentiment in regards to US troops.

It would appear from these reports that the training of Iraqi forces has been far more successful then we had previously believed.

Perhaps, as has been par for the course with this administration, there's something they have neglected to tell us.

What could possibly have changed the situation on the ground so drastically? In one word: Blackwater.

With talk of possibly cutting our forces by 50,000 to 60,000 by the end of next year, it's interesting to note that Blackwater Security is in the mist of a massive recruiting campaign for what they call "a multi-phase, multi-year contract in Iraq"

In its October 2005 e-mail newsletter "Blackwater Tactical Weekly" (archived here), Blackwater listed job opportunities in Iraq for a number of positions ranging from trainers and Coordination Officers who would "serve as the primary liaison between Iraqi officials, Coalition Forces, and US Government officials." to Project Managers with "15-20 years supervisory operational experience."

A careful reading of the job descriptions and requirements reveals just how large this program might turn out to be. Blackwater is looking for:

"highly qualified, subject matter experts for several overseas opportunities. Applicants for the following positions:

  • Must be US Citizens

  • Have a current security clearance

  • Must have extensive experience in high-threat environments in such countries as Iraq and Afghanistan"

VIP Protection Trainers

Blackwater USA is looking for highly qualified, subject matter advisors and trainers to assist in the training of Iraqi security personnel. Individuals will be expected to liaison between Iraqi, Coalition, and US government officials. General Requirements:

  • Must have a valid U. S. Passport

  • Must be in good health and able to travel overseas

  • Former/retired US Department of State diplomatic Security Services; or

  • Former/retired US Secret Service or equivalent

  • Must have a minimum of three (3) years of working high level, high threat, and overseas protection detail assignments

Training Department Head

Blackwater USA is seeking a highly qualified manager to oversee training being conducted in Iraq. This manager will be responsible for a wide spectrum of financial and logistic reporting as well ensure that the training is being conducted as required by the contract. This position will support a multi-phase, multi-year contract in Iraq. General Requirements:

  • Must have a valid U. S. Passport

  • Must be in good health and able to travel overseas

  • Must have a minimum of three (3) years of working high level, high threat, and overseas protection detail assignments

  • Must have experience in leading and managing a training cadre of highly specialized trainers and advisors

Coordination Officer

 The Coordination Officer will serve as the primary liaison between Iraqi officials, Coalition Forces, and US Government officials.  This individual will fill a key position that will be critical to the transition of management of training and camp programs to the Iraqi government. General Requirements:

  • Must have a valid U. S. Passport

  • Must be in good health and able to travel overseas

  • Must have served in a leadership position for five (5) years as member of a military or police special operations · Must have excellent command of the Arabic Language

  • Must have at least three years experience of working with both Military and Department of State in special police and protective service operations

Program Manager

An experienced Program Manager to oversee a complex and intensive training contract in Iraq. The Program Manager will be responsible for a large cadre of instructors, Iraqi students, and base support operations.

General Requirements:

  • Must have 15-20 years supervisory operational experience and training in Military and/or Police special operations

  • Must be in good physical health

  • Availability to work overseas for extended periods of time

With extensive backgrounds in both the military and State Dept. required by some of these jobs it appears that Blackwater will be taking on a much more expanded roll in the "transition period".  To my eye it appears that they will be setting up a quasi, shadow diplomatic corps, along with having a larger military presence in Iraq.

The outsourcing and privatization of military functions has long been a cornerstone of the Cheney/Rumsfeld doctrine. It now appears that they will be taking it one step further. As US troops are marched out the front door of Iraq to quell discontent at home and abroad, our new privately owned army will be sneaking through backdoor.

November 21, 2005

Operation Yellow Feather

BostonJoe, a regular diarist over at Booman Tribune, has quickly organized a grassroots protest that will target a couple of the Chickenhawk Republicans who slandered Rep. Murtha's military service last week.

Operation Yellow Feather is in full swing!

Click this link for more information, including downloads for faxes or mailings you can send to Rep. Jean Schmidt and State Rep. Danny Bubp of Ohio.

It is time to stop this new era of McCarthyism where the Chickenhawks in power question the patriotism of any American who disagrees with the lies and horrendous leadership provided by the Bush War Council.

Excerpts from BostonJoe's diary below :

In a effort to blunt the effect of Murtha's serious call for a withdrawal of the troops, Republicans hurriedly offered a sham Bill on the issue that had almost no support. During debate on the issue, Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio), a freshman Rep., called Murtha a coward:
A few minutes ago I received a call from Colonel Danny Bubp, Ohio Representative from the 88th district in the House of Representatives. He asked me to send Congress a message: Stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message, that cowards cut and run, Marines never do.

Schmidt's comments were heckled on the floor of our Congress, and she was forced to withdraw them from the record. But she and state Rep. Bubp deserve to know that we were watching, and that we won't stand for neo-McCarthyism, where heroic opponents of this flawed war are discredited as cowards and traitors.

You can help. Please print off one of the protest forms below and send them to the offices of Rep. Schmidt and Rep. Bubp. Take the time to write a personalized note on your form, explaining that the "chicken hawk" tactics of the Republican party will not be tolerated.
Let's bury their offices with "chicken hawk" feathers, so that the next time they feel like squawking in public, they will remember
that we are watching them.

Let's create a firestorm and support Operation Yellow Feather!

Here's a list of the downloads
You can use for fax or snail-mail.

This has officially become a Cross-Blog Protest!

Lost your Chicken Hawk feather?

The Chicken Hawk Unit Patch

The Classic Yellow Feather (Make sure to explain)

The Ugly Chicken Hawk (Fill in the voice bubble)

Send your forms to:

Rep. Jean Schmidt
8044 Montgomery Rd. Suite 540
Cincinnati, OH 45236

Rep. Danny Bubp
77 S. High St
11th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215-6111

Oh. And I'm sure they would love a rushed fax copy, if you have the time.

Jean says fax her for news about coffee at this number (513) 791-1696 (I am quite sure she would like "chicken hawk" news at this number as well).

Danny can be faxed at his office: (614) 644-9494. Let him know that he could still volunteer for war duty -- Rep. Murtha did.

November 17, 2005

NBC: Massive bid-rigging scam alleged in Iraq

U.S. says businessman bribed coalition officials to land rebuilding contracts

WASHINGTON - A criminal complaint unsealed in federal court in Washington on Wednesday alleges a web of corruption and bid rigging in Iraq by officials who worked with the now-defunct Coalition Provisional Authority, the U.S.-led agency that ran Iraq for more than a year after the 2003 invasion.

The complaint accuses an American-Romanian businessman, Philip H. Bloom, of paying officials from the coalition’s south-central region "bribes, kickbacks and gratuities, amounting to at least $200,000 per month," in order to obtain reconstruction contracts through a bid-rigging scam.

According to the complaint, Bloom "conspired with United States government contract employees and military officials to obtain fraudulently government contracts."

A government affidavit alleges that in one instance, the officials rigged bids for contracts in Hillah and Karbala, two cities 50 to 60 miles south of Baghdad. In some cases, Bloom’s companies performed no work, Patrick McKenna Jr., an investigator for the U.S. special inspector general for Iraq, said in the affidavit.

Efforts to reach representatives for Bloom were unsuccessful.

Bloom or companies he controls made bank deposits of $353,000 on behalf of at least two CPA officials and bought them real estate in North Carolina as well as vehicles and jewelry worth more than $280,000 in 2004 and 2005, McKenna said.
The complaint says one of the U.S. officials was the comptroller for the region in Iraq based in Hillah and controlled $82 million in cash.


I guess we can start to figure out where those hundreds of millions of dollars of missing cash in Iraq went to. Is this what they meant when they chaulked up the shortfall to the bad accounting practices of those backward Iraqis.

"How were we to know that if you walked around a warzone with trunks full of cash to hand out for "reconstruction", we might lose.....I don't millions of dollars of it."

And this is from the people who were going to run government efficiently like a business.... yeah right.

It gets better:

One official said to admit involvement

Another coalition official, who worked with the first, has been cooperating with investigators and has admitted he "unlawfully received cash and goods" from Bloom, according to the complaint.

Bloom, according to the complaint, ran several companies in Iraq and Romania, including one called GBG Logistics.

According to a biography of Philip Bloom on the Web site of one of his companies, he is an "expatriate America with a war chest of experiences” operating a variety of firms overseas since the 1970s, including Haitian and Puerto Rican airlines. The biography says that "Bloom is possessed off an uncanny knack for finding business, almost psychic in nature."

GBG Logistics says on its Web site that it has worked on a variety of Iraq reconstruction projects. "As one of the first private firms to enter the Iraqi market in April 2003, GBG Logistics is primarily devoted to identifying and developing new business opportunities in the reconstruction effort," it says.

There have been allegations and suspicions of corruption under the coalition government, which ran Iraq from just after the invasion in March 2003 until June 2004 and was headed by former Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III, and during the Iraq reconstruction process, but this is the first criminal case to be brought in U.S. courts alleging wrongdoing by coalition officials.

Previously, the Hillah region came under scrutiny after the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction reported in an audit that $100 million in seized Iraqi funds could not be accounted for.

This is only the tip of the iceberg....It will only get worse from here, as more of the truth comes out.

November 16, 2005

I guess this comes as no surprise

Document Says Oil Chiefs Met With Cheney Task Force

By Dana Milbank and Justin Blum
Washington Post Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A White House document shows that executives from big oil companies met with Vice President Cheney's energy task force in 2001 -- something long suspected by environmentalists but denied as recently as last week by industry officials testifying before Congress.

The document, obtained this week by The Washington Post, shows that officials from Exxon Mobil Corp., Conoco (before its merger with Phillips), Shell Oil Co. and BP America Inc. met in the White House complex with the Cheney aides who were developing a national energy policy, parts of which became law and parts of which are still being debated

In a joint hearing last week of the Senate Energy and Commerce committees, the chief executives of Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips said their firms did not participate in the 2001 task force. The president of Shell Oil said his company did not participate "to my knowledge," and the chief of BP America Inc. said he did not know.

Chevron was not named in the White House document, but the Government Accountability Office has found that Chevron was one of several companies that "gave detailed energy policy recommendations" to the task force. In addition, Cheney had a separate meeting with John Browne, BP's chief executive, according to a person familiar with the task force's work; that meeting is not noted in the document.

The task force's activities attracted complaints from environmentalists, who said they were shut out of the task force discussions while corporate interests were present. The meetings were held in secret and the White House refused to release a list of participants. The task force was made up primarily of Cabinet-level officials. Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club unsuccessfully sued to obtain the records.

Now we know why Cheney fought tooth and nail to keep the records of these meetings secret. Not to mention the huge omelet on the faces of the oil execs after last weeks Senate hearings where they claimed they never met with Cheney back in 2001. Oh what a tangled web and all that....just a little more of the great unraveling I guess. But we've known that all along anyway.

For more on Big Oil and the Iraq War by IraqFact

November 11, 2005

Of all the Kings Horses

What follows are some of the writings of Daniel Goetz, a stop-loss soldier who is currently serving in Samarra, Iraq. He has been writing about his experiences for the past eight months on his blog "All the Kings Horses". His words speak for themselves:
Mesopotomac (Daniel Goetz)
I joined the army soon after I finished college; the decision was an amalgamation of desire to serve, to belong, and to repay student loans. I wanted the challenge to see if I really could be all I could be. Our country was a vastly different place then; one in which policemen, firemen, and servicemembers were no different than any other American. I had almost completed my two years of training to become an Arabic linguist when September Eleventh dramatically changed the nation's climate. I knew my own role would be pivotal, and was eager to see our country avenged on the battlefield...

Seven months ago, my service in the army was to have terminated. Instead, I am in Iraq for the second time. I sit next to a DOD contractor whose job is identical to mine. Except he makes $120,000 more, works four hours less, and visits home four times more often than I do.
I am not alone in my anger and humiliation. When we were here in 2003, there was anger, but there is a difference between anger and bitter hatred. The atmosphere of discontent is thick and contagious. Even soldiers not stop-lossed feel The Betrayal. They know it might be them next time. Dissent will not change anything for us now because our voices are muted. Still, there is hope. It is that in twenty years, it will be these men and women in office. Perhaps, that alone should make me feel better. I don't think it is enough, though, for our wounded and fallen. I can't speak for them, of course. Not yet, at least.

Operation Truth

Daniel wrote about his story being published by Operation Truth on his own blog:

Censor Senseless?
Operation Truth has published my story as their Veteran of the Week profile. I am excited and nervous for the extra attention this will attract. Excited because the army is trying very hard to muffle the cries of battered soldiers, abused by the system they are sworn to protect. Each time our story is heard by someone new, the country comes that much closer to understanding what is happening to us in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I'm also nervous, though. Every time I add a new writing to my site, I ask myself if I've gone too far. I have a pretty good grasp on what constitutes a violation of the laws I am bound to; in specific, I am very familiar with the sections of the Uniform Code of Military Justice that strips every servicemember of his or her First Amendment rights. Unfortunately, the laws are purposely vague; designed to muzzle even those of us who tread with caution.

From: All the Kings Horses (Daniel Goetz blog)

One week later this appeared on Daniels blog:

Double Plus Ungood
I thank all of you who have been so supportive recently. I have never before received so much positive feedback, and it was very heart-warming to know that so many people out there care. Having said that, it breaks my heart to say that this will be my last post on this blog. I wish I could just stop there, but I can not. The following also needs to be said:

For the record, I am officially a supporter of the administration and of her policies. I am a proponent for the war against terror and I believe in the mission in Iraq. I understand my role in that mission, and I accept it. I understand that I signed the contract which makes stop loss legal, and I retract any statements I made in the past that contradict this one. Furthermore, I have the utmost confidence in the leadership of my chain of command, including (but not limited to) the president George Bush and the honorable secretary of defense Rumsfeld. If I have ever written anything on this site or on others that lead the reader to believe otherwise, please consider this a full and complete retraction.

I apologize for any misunderstandings that might understandably arise from this. Should you continue to have questions, please feel free to contact me through e-mail. I promise to respond personally to each, but it may take some time; my internet access has become restricted.


"All the Kings Horses" was gone by Monday morning, deleted, only a "file not found" at Blogger remained. Luckily his fiancee was kind enough to copy and post his words on her own blog... to leave us a record of his courage....not only his courage to serve his country or his courage to speak up, but rather the courage of spirit, the courage of free thought. I say this because even in his last post...a post of seeming contrition. Daniel left us with a message...a message his muzzlers were apparently unaware of...

Double Plus Ungood
(another NewSpeak term from 1984). In NewSpeak, there is no word for bad or evil, there is only ungood. Modifiers are also ambiguous. One uses the modifier plus for emphasis, so plus ungood means especially ungood. The most emphatic modifier is double-plus, so double-plus ungood is the worst thing you can say about something.

I can only pray for Daniels safe return and thank him. I thank him for demonstrating the power of the human spirit. He embodied in his simple act of defiance, everything that truly makes this nation great. Its greatness is not measured in it's power to wage war and project power across the globe, but rather in the power of one man to speak the truth.