BRANDOLAND: Talking to God...For You!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Mercs Gone Wild

Here's the story from MSNBC"

"U.S. contractors in Iraq allege abuses - Four men say they witnessed shooting of unarmed civilians"

Mercs gone wild, yo.
There are new allegations that heavily armed private security contractors in Iraq are brutalizing Iraqi civilians. In an exclusive interview, four former security contractors told NBC News that they watched as innocent Iraqi civilians were fired upon, and one crushed by a truck. The contractors worked for an American company paid by U.S. taxpayers. The Army is looking into the allegations.
That company is - drum roll, please - Custer Battles!
The four men are all retired military veterans: Capt. Bill Craun, Army Rangers; Sgt. Jim Errante, military police; Cpl. Ernest Colling, U.S. Army; and Will Hough, U.S. Marines. All went to Iraq months ago as private security contractors.

"I went there for the money," says Hough.

"I'm a patriot," says Craun.

"You can't turn off being a soldier," says Colling.

They worked for an American company named Custer Battles, hired by the Pentagon to conduct dangerous missions guarding supply convoys. They were so upset by what they saw, three quit after only one or two missions.
"Dangerous missions guarding supply convoys."

I wonder how much they charge Uncle Sam for that kind of service.

"More than you can imagine."

Ya think?
"What we saw, I know the American population wouldn't stand for," says Craun.

They claim heavily armed security operators on Custer Battles' missions — among them poorly trained young Kurds, who have historical resentments against other Iraqis — terrorized civilians, shooting indiscriminately as they ran for cover, smashing into and shooting up cars.

On a mission on Nov. 8, escorting ammunition and equipment for the Iraqi army, they claim a Kurd guarding the convoy allegedly shot into a passenger car to clear a traffic jam.

"[He] sighted down his AK-47 and started firing," says Colling. "It went through the window. As far as I could see, it hit a passenger. And they didn't even know we were there.
Did he clear the traffic jam?
Craun, in an e-mail two days later to a friend at the Pentagon, wrote: "I didn't want any part of an organization that deliberately murders children and innocent civilians."

Errante says he also quit after witnessing wild, indiscriminate shootings on two other missions.  

"I said I didn't want to be a witness to any of these, what could be classified as a war crime," says Errante.

Once back in the U.S., Craun — recipient of the Bronze Star — took the allegations to Army criminal investigators. The Army tells NBC News it's looking into the matter.
I'm sure they'll get to the bottom of this.
This is not the firm’s first brush with controversy. Custer Battles is a relatively new company in the booming field of so-called "PRIVATE MILITARY COMPANIES" in Iraq providing veteran soldiers from around the world for various SECURITY jobs. Named for founders Michael Battles and Scott Custer, who are military veterans, the company quickly nabbed lucrative contracts in Iraq, where U.S. authorities needed firms who were willing to accept high-risk assignments.

The company is already under criminal investigation for allegations of fraud centering on the way it billed the government. Those allegations are also at the heart of a lawsuit by former associates. In September, the military banned the firm and its associates from obtaining new federal contracts or subcontracts.

Custer Battles denies it committed any fraud, and says the company has been the target of "baseless allegations" made by "disgruntled former employees" and competitors. It has said it hopes that the government will overturn the suspension on new contracts.
Which is much more important than investigating allegations of abuse.
Custer Battles declined to be interviewed on camera. The CEO calls the allegations "completely baseless and without merit" and says there's "no evidence" to support them. He adds that the Kurds worked for a subcontractor, not Custer Battles.
There's the great "they worked for a subcontractor, not us" excuse again.

Where have we heard that before?

"The work (in Iran) was done by a subccontractor. Not Halliburton."


Quick question: How many "PRIVATE MILITARY COMPANIES" are working in Iraq? you think the average Iraqi-Joe makes a distinction between American soldiers and gun-totin' white dudes in semi-miltary garb?



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