Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Marines Beat & Stripped US Workers

(I found about this at the "News, and Stuff" RSS feed at Loaded Mouth)

The Guardian's Jamie Wilson reports on a story from yesterday's LA Times: Marines 'beat US workers' in Iraq:

"A group of American security guards in Iraq have alleged they were beaten, stripped and threatened with a snarling dog by US marines when they were detained after an alleged shooting incident outside Falluja last month."

"I never in my career have treated anybody so inhumane," one of the contractors, Rick Blanchard, a former Florida state trooper, wrote in an email quoted in the Los Angeles Times. "They treated us like insurgents, roughed us up, took photos, hazed [bullied] us, called us names."


You'd think that would be big news in America. But there's nothing in The New York Times yet, nor has the Associated Press or Reuters reported on it. Fox has been silent (can ya believe it?)

But a British paper thinks that it's news. British papers also think that the Downing Street minutes are news. Those Brits are pretty crazy, I guess.

After all, this news appeared in the BBC News nearly four years ago but has never been reported in America: Hijack 'suspects' alive and well (I beg you all to follow the preceding link because it will fucking blow your mind).

Here's a link to the LA Times story itself, written by T. Christian Miller: U.S. Marines Detained 19 Contractors in Iraq.

Do you notice the difference in the headlines?

The subheadings are very different, as well. The Guardian: "Contractors say they were treated like insurgents." LA Times: "Most of the men are American security guards. Some say they were abused after being accused of firing at civilians and troops."

Some more from the LA Times article:

"Mark Schopper, a lawyer for two of the contractors, said that his clients, both former Marines, were subjected to "physical and psychological abuse." He said his clients told him that Marines had "slammed around" several contractors, stripped them to their underwear and placed a loaded weapon near their heads."

""How does it feel to be a big, rich contractor now?" the Marines shouted at the men, Schopper said, in an apparent reference to the large salaries security contractors can make in Iraq."

"He also said that during their detention, the workers' relatives in the United States received phone calls from people with American accents threatening to kill their loved ones if they talked about the incident."

This is what the Military has to say: ""The Americans were segregated from the rest of the detainee population and, like all security detainees, were treated humanely and respectfully," Lt. Col. David Lapan said Tuesday in an e-mail confirming the incident.""

That, of course, is a lie. We all know damn well that not all security detainees have been "treated humanely and respectfully." Lt. Col. Lapan didn't even bother to respond to further questions from the LA Times.

Since all the contractors were released it seems that there was no evidence at all that the contractors did anything wrong.

I understand why so many military men resent the contractors and mercenaries in Iraq and Afghanistan. In many cases, they are ordered to protect men (and some women) who are making ten-to-twenty times more money than them.

But Marines follow orders. They don't independently make up the rules. At the end of the day, the blame lies with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and President George Bush. I don't blame the troops (I leave that to the Ghoulianis of the world: Talk Left). I blame our misleaders.

There is obviously some major problems with how the Military is treating detainees all across the globe, but all that US Administration officials want to do is deny, lie, deny and lie some more.


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