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See also The Failure of the US Free Press
Not Occupiers? U.S. Now Has Two Armies in Iraq
by Ward Reilly email@example.com
President "Dubya" Bush says "it is NOT an occupation". As a former Occupation soldier in the 1st Infantry Division, I strongly beg to disagree. And today, in condemning Iraqi Shiite "radical" Mogtada al-Sadr, who is holed up in a Mosque, President George "Dubya" Bush dared to says that "it looks like this one man has made the decision to go to war all by himself". UNBELIEVABLE!!! Bush condemning a man for fighting without allied approval! Is this 1984? George WHO? It can't be 2004!
On March 31, 2004, 5 members of my old Infantry unit, the First Infantry Division, a.k.a. "The Big Red One", were killed in Iraq. They were killed doing what I did a lot 33 years ago, for a long 3 years in a foreign country, which was riding around in an Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) as an Occupation Army soldier. Their APC was blown up by a land mine, and let me tell you that it takes a damn big explosion to kill 5 soldiers in an APC.
I am dedicating this article to their sacrifice, and to all 14 of the dead from the "Big Red One" that were killed in Iraq in March, 2004, alone. Fourteen from the 1st Division in one month! I want to tell you about them, even if the "free press" doesn't.
However, that is not what this article is about...This article is about mercenaries acting in OUR name, the failure of our press, and what the definition of an "occupation army" is.
"Mission Accomplished", President Dubya? "Bring 'Em On" Mr. Tough-Guy Bush? They are "bringing it on" all right. And our troops are defenseless victims of Bush's mouth, and his lies.
When I got the news that 5 members of the First Infantry Division had been killed that day, I did what I rarely do, that being to turn on the television to watch the evening news, because I wanted to find out exactly what happened to my brothers. But something terribly common happened on the news that day, and the U.S. soldiers that gave their lives for you and me were hardly even mentioned.
However, what WAS mentioned, and what is still be mentioned daily, one week later, even hourly, is something that happened on the same day that my brothers-in-Infantry were killed. On all 5 stations I looked at, those being ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, and CNN, they were running long and dramatic stories about "4 coalition civilian contract workers" that were also killed that day. They were called "civilians" in the flurry of news that covered their grizzly deaths, but the truth is that they weren't just civilian workers imported to Iraq to help rebuild the country, they were, in fact, paid paramilitary mercenaries.
There was horror, shock, and cries of "Mogadishu Revisited" in response to the deaths of 4 men who decided to go into Iraq as civilian mercenaries, but there wasn't a peep of horror out of the TV media over the fact that 5 brave volunteer Infantry soldiers had been blown up, or of the two U.S. Marines also killed that day.
Each and every news show I watched pulled up the footage of the U.S. soldier that had been killed and dragged around Mogadishu, drawing incorrect parallels between the bodies being dragged around the streets of Fallujah, and his. They were using that incident to turn the feelings of the TV news audience against the Iraqis of Fallujah.
So, while there was a blitzkrieg of media coverage for four dead mercenaries, soldiers-of-fortune that were earning between $5000-$10,000 a month to carry weapons and guard oil and other U.S. "interests", the men that took the oath to protect OUR NATION and OUR CONSTITUTION, for about $1600 a month I might add, got hardly a whisper of mention from the press over their deaths. Why, I ask? And that is something you should be asking too...
Before President George "Dubya" Bush forced his "war" against Iraq down the worlds collective throat, he said "First, we will demonstrate to the people of Iraq and the world that the United States and the coalition aspire to liberate, not to occupy Iraq."
His representative to the world, U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte, said on March 27th, 2003, speaking FOR President Dubya Bush, that the "Coalition aspires to liberate, not occupy, Iraq."
If this isn't an occupation, then those men from the First Infantry Division AREN'T DEAD. But they ARE dead. They are gone, and so is any chance that Iraq will be our friend and/or ally for a long, long, time, if ever. For certain not before our "non-occupational" army is gone. We attacked a country based on lies, we have killed at least 10,000 innocent civilians, and we have mirrored the Israeli/Palestinian disaster, but on a much larger scale.
We are screwed. Iraq is screwed. "Mission Accomplished", Dubya? "Major combat operations are over" you said... but the Occupation has just begun, and have mercy on us all, if the President doesn't consider what is happening in Iraq right now to be "major combat operations". I wonder what the guys in the 1st/16th Inf. of the First Infantry Division think? I wonder if they think "major combat operations" are over? When the current administration says that we are "turning over" Iraq to its' people in June, that don't mean that our military is leaving, even though our nation was led to believe that we were "not to occupy Iraq" as the President and his cabinet stated, over and over.
I asked another Vietnam era grunt from the First Division, my friend Ron Betts, who served with Co. "C", 2 / 18th Infantry, 1966-1967, what he thinks about the hired guns. He is mad. He said "I think that I've caught all the news reports. the deaths of five of our BROs has not been mentioned one time; the tale of their deaths has not garnered a single word today. None of the media even did a "by the way" on our fallen comrades; like, 'Oh! By the way, five soldiers of the First Infantry
Division also died today when their ARMORED personnel carrier got blown to smithereens by a massive road-side bomb." (They did have plenty of time for an Exxon commercial, Says Reilly) "Their sacrifice has been totally overwhelmed by the assassination of the four "soldiers of fortune"; the civilian security guards from Blackwater Security Corp., who were essentially 'mercenaries' being paid $15K/mo (about 10 X E-3 pay)" Betts added. "Sorry Pal, but I've really got my knickers in a knot over this example of the embedded media. 'Support Our Troops' obviously takes the back-seat when corporate hirelings meet their end in a similar and violent fashion as do our soldiers daily."
An example of the types of people that are working as contractors reads as follows; Last month, The Forward's Marc Perelman reported that contractor Erinys International utilized "former henchman of South Africa's apartheid regime" to guard oil facilities and train new Iraqi police.
"François Strydom, who was killed in the January 28 bombing of a hotel in Baghdad, was a former member of the Koevoet, a notoriously brutal counterinsurgency arm of the South African military that operated in Namibia during the neighboring state's fight for independence in the 1980s. His colleague Deon Gouws, who was injured in the attack, is a former officer of the Vlakplaas, a secret police unit in South Africa," wrote Perelman. USA Blackwater isn't the only security firm hiring ex-military of disturbing origin.
The 4 men that are still getting all the media hype today, one week after their deaths, were, and are, being called "contract security forces", and they are another example of what is so horribly wrong in Iraq. The news media reported that these 4 mercenaries were killed by "insurgents", or "loyalists of Saddam", but in the film footage in these news reports I saw of these deaths, you could see that it was every type of regular Iraqi citizen dancing in the streets to celebrate those killings.
There were children and women, young and old, and the look of happiness and joy on their faces was unmistakable. They had killed "the enemy". And that is what the U.S. military AND the civilian "contract workers" are in Iraq now. The ENEMY. Not liberators. Hardly the saviors "Dubya Bush" sold us on. We are the ENEMY in Iraq, against a nation now defending itself. We want their oil, and they do too."
Today, you can watch the propaganda from the media unfolding before your eyes, as they act as tools for the government/White House, instead of upholding their responsibility to be the free and unbiased press. You can see them using the deaths of 4 mercenaries to build a hate campaign against citizens of Iraq that they label as "terrorists", but it is WE that are the "terrorists" here, now using paid thugs to control the civilians that disagree with an occupying force.
The Iraqi people are DEFENDING THEIR NATION against an army of OCCUPIERS. Don't forget that the Iraqis were (also) told that our army would not occupy their land. They were told that we just wanted to find WMD`s. Well, scratch that. No WMD`s anywhere, in spite of being told HUNDREDS of times by the Bush Administration that they were there. Then we were told we just wanted Saddam, remember? OK, we got Saddam and his spider-hole. Oops, we're still there. Why?
The press is allowing itself to be used to justify the unfolding siege/battle of Fallujah. The OCCUPATION of Fallujah. The bombs are falling as I write this, in retribution for the deaths of 4 mercenaries. And still hardly a peep about the GI's getting murdered in the same way, day after sickening day. I bet they wish they were earning $5000 a month. I bet they wish they were out of Iraq, period.
The salaries of the "contract workers" can be as high as $1,000 a day, the news agency AFP recently reported. A 28-year-old former US army sergeant working in Iraq, told AFP: "This place is a goldmine. All you need is five years in the military and you come here and make a good
bundle." A "goldmine" he says? Ask the Infantry about that. The only "mines" they are finding are LANDMINES!
Facts concerning the contracted military presence in Iraq are difficult to obtain. The Center For Public Integrity's list of U.S. contractors in Iraq, garnered from government agencies awarding contracts, failed to list several security firms now in Iraq.
There is no tally of mercenaries injured or killed in Iraq, nor, of course, the number of Iraqis they've killed or wounded. Estimates for the number of private soldiers now in Iraq range from at least 10,000 to over 20,000, with more expected to pour in as the security situation worsens and as countries hesitate to commit their own troops beyond June 30 hand over of civilian authority to the interim Iraq Governing Council.
As The Washington Post reported last week, the Coalition Provisional Authority earmarked $100,000,000 to replace U.S. troops guarding Baghdad's "Green Area" (current home of the CPA and USAID contractors, and future site of the massive new US Embassy) with private security for the first 14 months after the "hand over". Why do we have $100,000,000 for protection of an embassy zone for one year, while we are cutting veterans benefits and money to charity hospitals all over our country this year?
If it looks like an "occupation", if it smells like an "occupation" and it tastes like an "occupation", but the president says its NOT an "occupation"...well what can I say? It IS an occupation, Dubya. I don't care what you say. You are DISHONORING our REAL TROOPS with your lies, just as you have dishonored our nation with lies to start this war.
All I know for sure is that our troops are getting slaughtered every day, and that they are not getting treated as the "great liberators" that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell and Rice told them they would be treated as, and that the press cares more about mercenary soldiers of fortune than they do our REAL troops.
Bring them home NOW, President Bush, and let's see how long your mercenary army can take the heat. Summer is coming, and the Iraqis are getting more angry every day, and it is going to get hotter and hotter, both physically, and mentally, each and every day.
So here is to my brothers and sisters in the First Infantry Division, troops that are being used as sitting ducks for $1600 a month. I love you all, and I want you out of there now. The President says you are not occupiers. You deserve better from your Commander In Chief. Much , much
better. Some of us know the difference between "occupiers" and "liars." George Bush, our self-proclaimed "War President" is both.
This article is dedicated to the following REAL U.S. troops, all KIA in March, 2004, in case you hadn't heard...during the OCCUPATION of Iraq:
Spc. Sean R. Mitchell 24 31 Mar 2004 1st Engineer Bn, 1st BDE, 1st Infantry Division Killed in a roadside bomb explosion near their armored personnel carrier in Habbaniyah, Al-Anbar province, west of the capital, Baghdad.
Spc. Michael G. Karr Jr. 23 31 Mar 2004 1st Engineer Bn, 1st BDE, 1st Infantry Division Killed in a roadside bomb explosion near their armored personnel carrier in Habbaniyah, Al-Anbar province, west of the capital, Baghdad.
Pfc. Cleston C. Raney 20 31 Mar 2004 1st Engineer Bn, 1st BDE, 1st Infantry Division Killed in a roadside bomb explosion near their armored personnel carrier in Habbaniyah, Al-Anbar province, west of the capital, Baghdad.
Pvt. Brandon L. Davis 20 31 Mar 2004 1st Engineer Bn, 1st BDE, 1st Infantry Division Killed in a roadside bomb explosion near their armored personnel carrier in Habbaniyah, Al-Anbar province, west of the capital, Baghdad
1st Lt. Doyle M. Hufstedler 25 31 Mar 2004 1st Engineer Bn, 1st BDE, 1st Infantry Division Killed in a roadside bomb explosion near their armored personnel carrier in Habbaniyah, Al-Anbar province, west of the capital, Baghdad
Sgt. 1st Class Richard S. Gottfried 42 9 Mar 2004 1st Division Support Command, 1st Infantry Division Vechicle Struck by improvised explosive device in Tampa, Iraq
Staff Sgt. Joe L. Dunigan Jr. 37 11 Mar 2004 1st Bn, 16th Infantry Bde, 1st Infantry Division Improvised explosive device during convoy escort northeast of Habbiniyah
Spc. Christopher K. Hill 26 11 Mar 2004 1st Bn, 16th Infantry Bde, 1st Infantry Division Improvised explosive device during convoy escort northeast of Habbiniyah
Capt. John F. Kurth 31 13 Mar 2004 1/18th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division Patrol encountered an improvised explosive device in Tikrit Spc. Jason C. Ford 21 13 Mar 2004 1/18th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division Patrol encountered an improvised explosive device in Tikrit
Spc. Tracy L. Laramore Spc. 30 17 Mar 2004 1/18th Infantry Regiment Died of injuries sustained when his Bradley Fighting Vehicle went over an embankment and flipped over in the river in Baji, Iraq
Pfc. Jason C. Ludlam 22 19 Mar 2004 2/2nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division Electrocuted in Ba'qubah, Iraq, while laying telephone wires.
Spc. Clint Richard Matthews 31 19 Mar 2004 1/18th Infantry Regiment Died in Baji, Iraq, from injuries sustained when his Bradley Fighting Vehicle went over a 60-foot embankment and flipped over on March 17
Pvt. Dustin L. Kreider 19 21 Mar 2004 1/26th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division Killed by friendly fire during a unit weapon test-firing incident
May you never be forgotten, and may you rest in peace. I can only apologize for your Commander In Chief and for our "free press".
Ward Reilly, a veteran, is a peace activist living in Baton Rouge and a columnist for this website. See Ward's Symbol of Peace.
April 13, 2004 - page created by Charlie Jenks