Ah, catching up. My family got slammed with a turkey of a vacation: 3 days in the hospital with my youngest. Kidney infections in 5 year olds suck! As does 5 tries getting an IV in her arm. I almost punched a nurse over that one. There is no more demanding a self control situation than watching someone hurt your child (albeit to help her).

This one caught my eye and turned my stomach at the same time. It was actually very topical as I’m right now reading P.W. Singer’s comprehensive “Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry“. There is a video out that apparently shows employees of a PMF (privatized military firm) taking pot shots at civilians while driving down “Route Irish”, the road that leads from Baghdad to the airport.

What you are about to see: First you will hear “Myster Train” by Elvis Presley, which sounds like a post-production addition. Next you will see vehicles being randomly shot at behind the vehicle in which the camera operator and gunman are in. Look to the right and you’ll see the muzzle flash from the machine gun. Those pops you hear are rounds going off. Look closely and you’ll see vehicles stopping and/or running off the road.

(hat tip C&L)

The video is thought to be of employees of Aegis Defence Services, corporate warriors led by Tim Spicer. Spicer is mentioned in Singer’s book and appears to be a very shady character with a history of international crimes. In a letter back in August of 2004, Congressman Marty Meehan expresses serious concerns over Spicer’s company being awarded a $293 million contract in Iraq. In it, he says:

?The awarding of the contract sends a troubling message to the world about America?s commitment to human rights at exactly the wrong time,? said Meehan, a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the Congressional Friends of the Irish National Caucus.

View the complete letter

It appears Rep. Meehan may have been right. This video first appeared as a trophy piece on the web site www.aegisiraq.co.uk. The site makes a half-assed claim to not be associated with Aegis:

This site does not belong to AEGIS DEFENSE LTD

it belongs to the men on the ground who are the heart and soul of the company.

Right. Seeing how it belongs to the men and women on the ground who are the heart and soul of the company, chances are the people in this video are they…and Mr. Spicer is still accountable. But, hey! Nice try!

There is more than one serious problem with all of this. First, the use of such hired guns so as to claim “plausible deniability” is irresponsible on our government’s part. These so-called corporate warriors erode the accountability in who carries out the military operations of our nation and goes against the Constitutional concept of a “common defense”. The defense is only common if we, the people, are able to govern it. The concept of PMFs erode that. Singer says it best:

When the forms of public protection are hired through private means, the citizens of society do not enjoy security by right of their membership in a state, Rather, it results from the coincidence between the firm’s contact parameters, its profitability, and the specific contracting members’ interests. Thus, when marketized, security is often not about collective good, but about private means and ends.

The current administration need not worry about military recruiting numbers. They can just “outsource it”. That never really struck me until I started reading this book, along with John Perkin’s “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man”. Just have Aegis, MPRI, or Brown and Root (good article at link) take care of it. IPOA, International Peace Operations Association, is an industry trade association set up to lobby on behalf of such PMFs.

The need to watch is critical. I would also write letters admonishing your legislators and asking them to not let Aegis investigate this on their own and to have it fully and independently investigated and suspend the Aegis contract immediately. This has no place being supported by a supposed peace and freedom loving nation. Imagine being blasted while driving down 670 on your way to the airport! Fucking pigs…sorry…couldn’t help it.

Also good reading is Hunter’s diary over at Kos, which also includes the very interesting story of Colonel Westhusing.

Hunter makes the important point:

And so the circle — or spiral — continues. For those with short memories, it was the alleged misconduct of armed contractors in Iraq that led to the killing and public display of four of them, hanging from a bridge… which led to two separate massive retaliatory assaults against Fallujah… which led to a widespread backlash in Iraq… which led to, among other things, a widened insurgency… which contributed to a situation in Iraq in which armed contractors are necessary for protection of private clients… which led to the alleged misconduct of several of them…

Also, the original Telegraph article

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