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Bye-Bye Baghdad

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Posted on Aug 17, 2007
Baghdad burning
AP Photo / Dusan Vranic

By Anonymous

Editor’s Note: The author of this article is a contractor who has lived and worked in Baghdad.  His identity is known to Truthdig’s editors, but he has written anonymously in order to offer an uncensored account.

I have been living and working in Baghdad for the past 16 months and will be leaving next week for good. I am one of those overpaid Department of Defense contractors, or, as some would call me, a “war profiteer.” Yes, I have profited. I am out of debt and have money saved. But it has cost me. I am a changed man. I have become hardened. I almost feel like a zombie.

Although I work in Baghdad, I have no idea what Baghdad looks like. I have been told by soldiers that it is “like one of those Mexican border towns.” I don’t live in the “heavily fortified” Green Zone, which, although heavily fortified, has been getting hit with mortars on a daily basis. No, I live on an Army base. I live in a trailer with four other men. We each have our own space and I am lucky to have quiet roommates. There is a common latrine and shower.

I have had a lot of experiences over these 16 months, and the situation has not changed one bit. I feel like I am leaving a sinking ship. The only thing that has changed is that more trailers have had to be added for the “surge” of troops that have come in. Oh, and our laundry now takes 72 hours to get done.

The majority of my co-workers are Iraqi, and every single one has been deeply affected by the war. Everyone knows someone who has been killed or kidnapped, whether a family member or a friend. It’s a daily occurrence, and they feel helpless, frustrated and, of course, very sad. Those that had the means have gone to either Jordan or Syria. The others are trapped. No country wants them.

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Every day, the Iraqis risk their lives to come to work because they have no choice. The average salary is $300 a month, and many of them are supporting large families. Some of the Iraqis I work with just live in the building we work in rather than risk going home every day. Also, the building usually has electricity, which means there is air conditioning. In Baghdad there is usually one hour of electricity a day and hardly any water. People pitch in and buy a generator and get just enough electricity out of it to have the ceiling fan and refrigerator run.

  Most Iraqis come to work by bus since there is a shortage of gasoline in Baghdad.  People have to wait in line overnight in order to get gas for their cars. I wonder how we in America would react if we had even one hour without electricity or water and had to wait in a line to fuel our gas-guzzling SUVs. For us on the base, getting gas is a breeze. We just drive up to one of the many gas depots and fill our cars up. I can’t figure out how we have such easy access to gasoline and the Iraqis have none.

I was recently on vacation in the States when the bridge collapsed in Minneapolis. Yes, it was a terrible tragedy, but to the Iraqis that is nothing. Our media spent hours talking about how the bridge collapsed and how people were coping with the grief. The authorities immediately brought in grief counselors.  There aren’t enough grief counselors in the world to come to Baghdad and ask the Iraqis how they are coping. But coping they are, and every day is a crapshoot.

Will I get killed or kidnapped or suffer some other horrible tragedy?  Most Iraqis feel that they will indeed be killed, whether by the Sunni militia, the Shiite militia, the American Army or a car bomb.  They live in constant fear. Could you imagine having to live like that? And why are they suffering so terribly? Because we are giving them freedom. Freedom is something that I fear the Iraqis will not have any time in the near future.

It is with a heavy heart that I leave behind my Iraqi friends. Their lives are absolutely horrible, but they have to keep moving every day to survive.  Every day, as they leave for home, I always wonder if it will be the last time I see them.

We have made a mess of Iraq, and the Iraqis, who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, are the ones that are paying the price.

Our troops are losing morale. They know they are fighting a war that will never end, and I feel sorry for them. I feel that the ship will eventually sink and we will have caused the most terrible suffering for a people that just want a day when they can leave their house without the fear of being kidnapped or killed. For the Iraqis, freedom certainly isn’t free: They are paying a heavy price for it.


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By Jim H., August 23, 2007 at 12:49 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

————————-NO WINNERS IN BULLY’S ASSAULT!
———————-What could we posibly “WIN” in “Iraq”?

Our invasion of Iraq was completely uncalled for and an insult to every intelligent person on earth! It has caused the death of hundreds of thousands of humans, mostly innnocent women and children, and destroyed billions of dollars of homes, buildings, factories, buisnesses, and infrastructure. There never was a valid reason for this mayhem and to hope for a win, is insane!  What can we possibly win from a beaten down and destroyed Nation of peoples who have lost so much?
What do the Iraqis have to lose, that we could possibly want?
——————-Or, want to win?
Is it practical to want to kill every last Iraqi Muslim, or every last Iraqi who despises the invaders who savaged their relatives, and ravaged their country?
If this is the win that is proposed, envisioned and so ingenously sought by those who believe we must win at all costs, it is the evil work of insanity.
And If, or when this is finally accomplished, any threat that Iraq might have posed to the sanctity of life of the Uniter States and it’s citizens prior to our invasion March 20, 2003 will have multiplied tenfold. And thereafter wherever in the world American Citizens travel, the threat shall follow! Is this the win we seek?
————————————-
J. H. 5/20/2007

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By Contractor, August 23, 2007 at 11:35 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

hmm…I recently quit my job of 3 years in Iraq.  2 in Baghdad and 1 up north. From this persons description, I can almost guarentee that I know who he/she works for…..mostly by the errors.

The 30,000 plus iraqis hired by contracting companies make an average $15 USD an hour.  How do I know this?  I had the opportunity to see audit reports from the State Dept. Thats $2,400 a month….a far cry from 300 a month.  Yes, its true, most iraqis working for the USG and its contractors make more than the trailer trash in the States.

There is no gas shortage in Baghdad or anywhere else.  Theres so much that they sell it on every corner in jugs.  This person is most certainly NOT ‘in the loop’ or they would know where our fuel came from.

Of course they are supporting large families, that is exactly the nature of their culture….they will never live any other way.  They have 20 people per residence not because they are poor, but because thats what they do.  Even the wealthy.

If this writer does not know what the countryside looks like, then they are hardly qulaified to writeabout contracting in Iraq.  Most of us get outside the wire from time to time…even the remfs.

Larry, just what ‘hell’ are you referring to?  Bodies, getting shot at?  Mortars? Having to burn concertina wire because theres too much human gore in it to clean out?  Some of us have no problems with that…so we go.  Personally, I cant stomache arm-chair warriors and fox news.  Different strokes for different folks.

Oh, and NO ONE gets 100k tax free, thats simply false for US Citizens.  the cutoff is less than 90k.

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By Barbara Cavanagh, August 22, 2007 at 10:52 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

In my heart, I already know these things are true. But I guess it’s unfashionable to voice a global interest.  It seems only losers care about other people and their children’s well being. It’s so basic. That’s what defines us as a cruel American society.

Why is it that we are ok with other people’s deprivation, insecurity and suffering and dying from brutal aggression? 

  The Americian Military (of which I am a product—my dad was a 30 year vet and was in active combat in three wars) is am extremely effective killing machine where it is effectively led and directed by a wise Commander in Chief.

But killing begets killing.  Is that what we want? It is fundamental that killing fuels hate.  Nothing stops hate, until the cause of the hate is understood and remedied, and some trust can be established. Yes, the politics of it all is complex.  But men of integrity can figure it out.  There is plenty for everyone on the planet and that can be negotiated if   the greed factor is recognized and challenged.

But, we are just fine letting all that happen.  We are part of the problem. We are hoping someone else will fix this.

The Real sacrifice in a cruel society such as ours, is to be willing to take the backlash for insisting that other human beings be treated the way we want to be treated—with fairness, generosity and brotherly compassion

Don’t we teach our children that the measure of a friend is someone who is willing to “Stand by” and stick up for his buddy? Or are we teaching them that it’s every man for himself?

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By Shannon, August 21, 2007 at 8:53 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sitting here in my comfort zone, reading these ridiculous posts, wondering why its so damn hard for a person who signed up to go to IRAQ, where people are BLOWING EACH OTHER UP, would find it so daunting to simply sign his name.  What is he afraid of?  That’s the only point I had to make with my post.  But thank you Leefeller and Novista for your warm, comforting, fuzzy cuddly replies.  Warms the heart.

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By iluvhilary69, August 21, 2007 at 8:45 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

So, he’s leaving because it takes 72 hours to get laundry done?  Or is it because he lives on an Army base protected by the bloodthirsty lawless men with guns that the iraqi’s are terrified of?  He’s never seen Baghdad, or anywhere else for that matter, yet he feels he seen enough to comment??  For us Americans, freedom was not free.  We have already paid a heavy price for our freedom.  We have also paid a heavy price for other countries freedoms.
I wonder what will change your empty minds about terrorism?  When a school bus carrying your children is blown up right here in the good ol’ USA by a faithless, soulless ass with a bomb strapped to his yellow belly?  Will that change your mind?  Or will it still be President Bush’s fault?  How about if they took 3 airplanes, crashed them into…......oops, already happened. How about if they plant a bomb in a large building in NY…........sigh, that already happened too.  How about if the blow up an American embassy somewhere on the other side of the world where it won’t bother you too much?  Sorry, that happened too.  So I guess, there is nothing that will change your mind about the current state of terrorism in this world.  It’s all Bush’s fault.  Sounds like a good intelligent answer to me.  Wait, it’s the Republican’s fault.  Sounds better.  We all know that things always get better if you just blame someone else.  Its the Democratic way to get things done!

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By scurvybro, August 21, 2007 at 2:33 pm Link to this comment

Hey john—

Isn’t it enough that you lined your mercenary pockets with blood money? One would think that cashing in on other’s deaths and generations’ worth of damage to this country’s reputation and standing with other countries would be sufficient for you to retreat to the lap of luxury of your choosing and quietly count your money.

But no. You feel compelled to cast some noble sheen on your actions by portraying yourself as a righteous freedom fighter.

We’re not buying it, you war-whore. But I believe FOX News might be interested. After all, it just canceled its “comedy” program, “The 1/2-hour News Hour.”

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By David, August 21, 2007 at 1:37 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Have you ever seen the troops draining blood from a dead Iraqi?  I hear they send it back to Cheney to drink and bathe in.

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By mackTN, August 20, 2007 at 10:18 pm Link to this comment

Tom/John

John/Tom

Your comments provide opportunities to enrich our arguments.  Sure, people go over there to make money—that’s exactly what Bush is doing himself.  The only difference is Bush doesn’t risk his life for the money, he has others risk theirs.  These 2 contractors had to put their lives on the line to make those dollars. 

Not every country has to be a democracy (nobody buys that tired stuff anymore).  And its not our business to rule a sovereign nation.  But since you are so intent on saving the world, there appears to be some problems in the Sudan, with thousands of people dying from genocide…

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By Michael Gass, August 20, 2007 at 8:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

John,

Oh give me a break; upholding democracy is what we do????  Since WHEN?

I guess you missed that the 1953 coup the CIA pulled in Iran was against a DEMOCRATICALLY elected President and we installed a DICTATOR instead.

I guess you missed that the CIA helped install Noreiga in Panama… another dictator.

I guess you missed our support for Saddam during the 1980’s… another dictator.

I guess you missed the coup in Chile where we put into power another dictator.

Don’t sit here and spew the garbage that we “uphold democracy”.  The FACTS say the EXACT OPPOSITE.

Yes, we will have bases in Iraq for the next 50 years, but it has zero to do with “upholding democracy” and everything to do with fulfilling the foreign policy from the 1950’s of controlling the oil in the Middle East and securing military bases in the region so we can do just that.

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By Leefeller, August 20, 2007 at 8:17 pm Link to this comment

Yes, this is called feathering you own cap John.
We need to pay for the rest of the world to become a so called democracy, only if that democracy votes the way we want.  Yes Democracy, like we have a choice here when the president does not care what the people think or want.

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By john, August 20, 2007 at 7:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Yes, I am also a former contractor working in Iraq. I worked all over Iraq and it isn’t all bleak there. There is a lot of progress. I will admit that we shouldn’t be there indefinitely. We need to finish the job and start bringing the majority of our soldiers home. Incidentally, the US will still have bases in Iraq 50 years from now. You can expect that no matter who is in the Whitehouse. Upholding Democracy is what we do. We also need to protect our own borders. Evil exist everywhere. It is not going to go away if we were to bring all the troops home now. Good Luck to the rest of the World if the Americans weren’t willing to help them. It is time we received some gratitude instead of criticism. John.

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By scurvybro, August 20, 2007 at 12:54 pm Link to this comment

So Tom (#95862 by Tom on 8/18 at 9:43 pm), the Iraqis are better off now than before Americans invaded, eh?

Why don’t you hash it out with these guys and report back on you discussion?

http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/08/19/opinion/ediraq.php

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By Michael Gass, August 19, 2007 at 7:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

to Tom,

No Tom, no don’t need “quitters”... you need adult supervision.

The abuse and torture at Abu Ghraib.  The civilians being killed at checkpoints every day.  The systematic detention of any male who looks at you cross-eyed for occupying their country. 

If the officers said “no”, it would not occur.  If the NCO’s stood up and said “no”, it would not occur.  Right now we have a bunch of kids who have zero ability or desire to think as adults in Iraq.

I was in Iraq in 1991.  We would cruise the countryside in a two-man hummer with zero additional security.  The locals loved us.  When we needed a guide, they were more than happy to give us one.  Can you say the same Tom?  Can you say you can walk anywhere in Iraq with just two soldiers and be “safe”?  Can you say that the average Iraqi would help you if you but asked?  Exactly.  A bunch of kids trying to do the job of adults and because of it you are not safe without 100 soldiers and helicopter gunship support.  You can’t ask for help and get it because most Iraqi’s now want us out of Iraq and if we won’t leave, they feel it is fine to just kill us.

Don’t tell me what you “need”, I KNOW what is needed - adult supervision.

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By Leefeller, August 19, 2007 at 5:29 pm Link to this comment

frab,

Your point is?  You do not believe anything he has to say, or you do not want to believe anything he has to say.  What do you have to say? 

You ever notice the people attack the messenger and not the message,  it is so easy, and truth is not even necessary. We see the same thing from the White House all the time. 

Am I doing the same thing?

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By Leefeller, August 19, 2007 at 4:21 pm Link to this comment

Tom,

Truth is not always what we want to hear, sometimes folks believe the lies because they want to. Keep watching Fox Not The News and be in that comfort zone, which so nicely insulates you from reality.

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, August 19, 2007 at 1:53 pm Link to this comment

The real truth in the world is POWER and MONEY.  History books and eyewitness accounts are worthless, as we have seen.  Keep on digging!  Or quit and make up your own truth.  Would you be any worse off?

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By Tom, August 19, 2007 at 1:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’ll address this to Michael Gass. Stay home, we don’t need quitters over here.

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By Michael Gass, August 19, 2007 at 12:47 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

#95810 by mackTN on 8/18 at 1:43 pm

Mack,

Why doesn’t the MSM interview contractors?  Simple.  The MSM is no longer reporters doing journalism.  They are now nothing more than a propaganda tool of the government.  It occurred when the Republican Party promised to deregulate industry and give corporations the right to do whatever they wanted, no matter how detremental to the United States and its citizens it was - just look at the Utah mine disaster.

When I got the chance to get to an FOB, I talked to some of the soldiers.  Many of them still thought we were there for “noble” purposes.  When I told them about the oil, the lies, etc, there were many who were pissed off.  Sure, some didn’t care, but there were those who did. 

The one thing to keep in mind is that many of the people on liberal blogs who make comments like “Tom’s” are nothing more than paid Republican blog shills whose entire job is to troll blogs (both liberal and conservative) to spout Republican talking points.  Come on, how many liberals feel the need to frequent conservative blogs to spout liberal talking points?????  Just follow the $8/hr…

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By frab, August 19, 2007 at 12:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Notice the person who wrote the story on “Bye, Bye Bagdad” didn’t put a name to it (cowardly).  Also he mentioned that he is a war profiteer.  Yes, he has alot of money now, is out of debt.

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By mackTN, August 19, 2007 at 10:36 am Link to this comment

Funny how the most uninformed, least documented comments are always by those who pretend to support the Iraq Occupation. 

Given the fact that no al-quaeda existed in Iraq before our arrival, a fact even Bush admits, he now justifies a protracted occupation because they are there now and so we have to stay to fight the War on Terror.  If he had protected the borders after invading the country, Al-quaeda would not have infiltrated the country.  But leaving the borders unprotected by relying on an ultra-light military force and by firing all Iraqui military seems to have worked to his advantage, hasn’t it?  In the absence of WMDs, he can use Al-Quaeda as an excuse to dig in and lengthen our stay. 

Although, who thinks Bush would have actually exited the country in any case? 

Go back and read his press reports during those days.  Iraq was a goldmine that Bush claimed exclusively.  After invading, France and Germany wanted to protect its investments there, wanted to send in their own contractors for “reconstruction.”  Bush denied them.  He shut Iraq down—it was offlimits to all other superpowers except Britain. 

Bush, the Saudis, oil.  Our country—the money we pay in taxes—is being paid out in Iraq bigtime.  If this war is going to cost a trillion dollars, how much of it is going into the pockets of the Bush family, the Cheney family, the Saudis? 

Has anyone ever asked Bush or Cheney if they will personally profit from the Iraq Occupation? 

Recently I watched the movie The Good German.  I was startled to note the similar circumstances after World War II in post-war Germany during its Reconstruction.  The U.S., Russia, Britain, & other countries staked their claims on Germany’s capital remains.  Russia bundled entire German factories off to its country.  Among the ruins, we established headquarters to manage our investments there.  And of course, we built a base there, just as we have in Iraq. 

Do you see Bush tearing up over the degraded lifestyles of the Iraquis? those who haven’t been lucky enough to flee?  No, he goes on and on about how they can have free elections, like they care!  Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs determines that people can only care about the finer things in life if they don’t have to worry about day-to-day survival, basic comforts, food and water. 

I don’t know how many people Hussein is responsible for having slaughtered, but since U.S. occupation over 1 million Iraquis have died.  Those alive live drastically reduced circumstances and wake up each day wondering if this one is their last. 

I think Bush and his entire administration should be impeached—run out of office, even.  And I want them all to swear under oath that neither they or any of their associates profits from this occupation.

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By Leefeller, August 19, 2007 at 10:04 am Link to this comment

#95707 by Shannon

Sitting in your comfort zone it must be nice to tell people what to believe about death and dying. Hope is gone everyday for people of Iraq.  Anyone that would send someone to combat should be at the very front of the line, then peace would be more acceptable and hawks would show their true colors, the sniveling creatures they are. 

Do not believe Shannon, it would require thought and reason, just keep watching the Fox not the news and live your life, knowing that hypocrisy abounds around you, continue to ignore what is real.  Forgo reason it may hurt.

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By jojo, August 19, 2007 at 6:35 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Contractors making bundle$—-and who’s going to pay it later ??
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=le1sqg0gnUk
Not off topic but Book publisher’s are trying to make a silk purse from pig skin—-Chenny’s new Book—:(

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By Novista, August 19, 2007 at 6:21 am Link to this comment

Hey, Shannon

You seem skeptical of the article. Why don’t you enlist, go over and writeyour own report?

I’ve been in the Middle East, admittedly a long time ago, but I can tell you, they don’t hate us for our freedoms but for our license: license to kill, cheat, rip off.

But please, do go check it out for yourself. And do be consistent with your standards and give your name when you report back.

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By Michael Gass, August 19, 2007 at 1:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’ll make this reply to two people…

First, to Tom.  You’ve been there 3 years, yet, “every Iraqi you talk to say they are `better now`”... interesting.  Under Saddam, they had jobs, electricity, could feed their families.  I was there 2 months in 2006 and heard the exact opposite. Oh, yes, they were GLAD Saddam was gone, but, felt they were BETTER now?  hardly!  They had hopes, dreams, and had them dashed by OUR military occupation, OUR folks who abused them at Abu Ghraib, by OUR political hacks in the CPA who raped their treasury just as Saddam raped Kuwait’s.

And to Enuf…

How could someone “sign on”?  How about $3,000 every two weeks when there are people in the U.S. who make $400 every two weeks.  How naive could they be?  How about the bomb tech’s like myself who went to Iraq knowing that we were disposing of ordnance that could be used against U.S. troops, or at worst, would be found by Iraqi kids?  How about that many contractors never leave the FOB’s and never have contact with Iraqi citizens, so they just don’t know?  How about the fact that the televisions are tuned to FAUX News 24/7 over there on the FOB’s, so all people there hear are how good it is?

How about the fact that I’m trying to get BACK into the Guard KNOWING I’ll go back for my third trip… not to fight Iraqi’s… not to help the occupation… but to simply help keep some of OURS alive until the Democrat’s find their spines to END this occupation!  Not everyone has bad motives for going to Iraq.

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By 1drees, August 19, 2007 at 12:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Well if you ask any IRAQI if he misses the SADDAM days & most probably he’ll cry remembering what that person will term as “the good old days” when there used to be normalcy, jobs, schools, security, control of iraqis over the iraqi oil, absence of US appointed mercinaries that are subject to no known laws of justice, it was also before the Depleted Uranium sprays that had skyrocketed the CANCER rates, and it was when there was hospitals that were actually providing good health care to the iraqis & medicines were a priority to the govt unlike today when they are asked only to keep the oil going to the USA, and what not. the list can be long depending on how real you want to get. these US MERCINARIES think that their saying so will keep the Americans in the dark even now. if anyone wants please go to liberatethis.com and watch the video of a doctors observations on the effects of war as it relates to the general iraqi life and how its been over hte years, i’d rather litsen to an iraqi than some mercinary called “TOM” who most probably made bundles of money scalping people and ripping off DOD.

FOR THE SAKE OF PEACE AND FOR THE SAKE OF HUMANITY, PEOPLE PLEASE BOYCOTT EVERYTHING ZIONIST OR ISRAELI. JIZRAELIS AND ZIONOPIGS ONLY CHERISH GENOCIDES AND LOVE TO LIE, YOU MIGHT NEVER EVER GET TRUTH FROM THEM SO FORGET TALKING TO THEM, OR REPLYING TO THEM, JUST KEEP LAYING OUT THE FACTS FOR OTHER PEOPLE WHO ARE OUT THERE AND WANT TO BE INFORMED, SO JUST KEEP DOLING OUT THE FACTS PLEASE AND DO NOT WASTE TIME RESPONDING TO CHEAP JIZRAELI OR ZIONOPIG PERSONAL ATTACKS THAT ARE TIME WASTING. EVERYONE KNOWS THAT BELIEVING IN THE HOLLOWCAUST IS NOT THAT BIG AN ISSUE THAT WE NEED TO DESTROY THE WORLD OVER IT. BUT ONLY IF THE JIZRAELIS OR ZIONOPIGS COULD EVER UNDERSTAND THAT. THESE BLOKES ARE OUT TO EXTERMINATE GOYIMS SO FORGET THE MINOR HUMANITARIAN PROBLEMS PLEASE, WORRY ABOUT THE REAL THREATS WE ALL ARE FACING.

YES for the IRAQIs this liberation has been paid by them in blood of their dear ones, diseases, loss of their UN money, loss of their OIL income, etc etc. A very very expensive price that the Americans did not explain when they were planning it.

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By Tom, August 18, 2007 at 10:43 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

C’mon now! How much are you getting paid for writing this snivel? The Iraqi people want freedom and are enjoying it now. Ask any Iraqi and they will tell you they are better off since Sadam was removed. The people now have hope! Your story is not credible. I have been there for 3 years, I know. Stay home if you don’t want to report the truth.

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By enuf, August 18, 2007 at 5:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

And yet this occupation might have been over with months ago if not for contractors helping to prolong it.  How could anyone have signed on as a contractor not knowing the realities of this issue? How naive could one be to believe (still) that this conflict is about bringing “freedom” to Iraqis? He bemoans the troubles of his Iraqi friends and co-workers, but not once does he denounce the US government that is responsible for their suffering. I appreciate the author’s comments, but I find it hard to separate his words from his actions.  He was, after all, a willing participant in the destruction of Iraq and her people.

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By mackTN, August 18, 2007 at 2:43 pm Link to this comment

These are among the most riveting comments I’ve read on this website.  Michael Gass, thank you for adding your insight into the Iraq debacle.  I wonder why news organizations don’t go after ex-contractors and interview them about their experiences in Iraq?  Instead Traditional Media relies on reports from “sponsored visitors” who view Iraq through the careful staging of loyal military. 

You must have puked when McCain reported how he strolled the streets of Bagdad enjoying delightful banter with Iraqui citizens! 

Purplewolf—I was guilty of generalizing, sorry.  I didn’t mean to suggest no Iraquis were being admitted.  But 12,000 is miniscule compared with 12-20 million illegal aliens that the government proposed to naturalize.  If you look at the immigration statistics compiled by the DHS or the yearbook figures which you can see here:

http://www.fairus.org/site/PageServer?pagename=research_research9c29

you’ll note that since 1981, we have admitted more immigrants from the Americas than any other country—from 1981-2000, we admitted 9 million people from this region, more than from any other region.  13,000 comparatively equates to nearly zilch.

And I totally agree with you—the jobs Americans don’t want chant is bogus.  Business wants foreign labor who will work at less than minimum wage, won’t complain or rock the boat.

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By Nick Kelly, August 18, 2007 at 2:36 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thanks, editors, for vouching for the author as being what he says he is.  In that light, I will recommend this diary highly.

For anyone interested in an American soldier’s inside view of the situation, I recommend the diary at http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/8/18/54814/0665

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By tzal, August 18, 2007 at 11:53 am Link to this comment

This contract worker’s comments are the tip of the iceberg! Recommend reading Jeremy Scahill’s “Blackwater” for mind boggling account of the ‘force protection’ mercenaries and other contractors
sucking the blood out of military related budgets.

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By 1drees, August 18, 2007 at 9:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

for the sake of PEACE & FOR the sake of HUMANITY, please BOYCOTT EVERYTHING ZIONIST & ISRAELI. BOYCOTT THE WARMONGERS THAT KEEP CONJURING UP WARS & GENOCIDES

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By purplewolf, August 17, 2007 at 11:34 pm Link to this comment

#395708 mackTN
Mack, I don’t know where you get your information, but when you say our goverment won’t let the Iraqis immigrate here you are wrong. By Detroit, Michigan the people here have been informed that between 2,000-13,000 Iraqi people will be coming into the area to live and work. And the goverment again claims that these people will do jobs that Americans won’t. I am so damned sick of that lie. There are practically no jobs here now and the ones that are here are low pay, part time, no benifits.Not enough $$ will be earned to put a roof over your head type wages.The Iraqi people will be put into an area where they have a higher Islamic population. The Islamic business owners, according to the PTB,(powers that be) claim that these business will have enough job openings to absorb all these new people. These business owners are upset as they don’t have enough jobs and their own people have a very high rate of unemployment in this same area, as well as natural born Americans,and don’t forget the other people legal and illegal in the area out of work. It is really going to be hard for everyone when these people arrive and what will happen to them. Michigan has had a depressed job market for a long time. I keep track of the businesses leaving the state and country and adding more people to an already depressed area is sheer madness on the part of the goverment. I feel bad for those displaced, but I cannot see that bringing them into an area already lacking jobs is helping them. I have heard that Wyoming is in desperate need of people to work in their state and they have had recruiters in the area several times this year looking for people to come there to work. Why not send them where there are jobs. But that makes to much sense for the goverment.

So the person wants to remain anonymous who wrote this.Our own administration practices this all the time making statements to the public but that the
person had to remain anonymous and nobody says a thing about it.

The information was reported in the Flint Journal the week of August 13 2007. There are other articles about the Iraq people coming into the area later in the week also.

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By Michael Gass, August 17, 2007 at 9:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I, too, was one of the “overpaid contractors” in Iraq.  I’m an ex-military bomb tech (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) who took a job working in Iraq doing ordnance/site cleanup operations.  Yes, my salary (like the authors) was huge.  I didn’t spend 16 months in Iraq, however.  I spent 2 months.  That was all it took before I decided to terminate my contract.  But the 2006 trip to Iraq was my second as I was active duty during the first gulf war and was deployed inside northern Iraq in 1991.

The author is 100% correct. 

As a contractor, I was at Al-Faw, Talil, Balad, and Tikrit.  The average Iraqi citizen lives in constant fear, has little electricity, and little job prospect.  Many of the Iraqi workers I worked beside took the job (much like day workers here in the states) simply because it was a job.  I watched some of my co-workers (who were American, British, and Australian) treat these Iraqi men like sh*t.  I watched how the company I worked for (which I will not disclose due to contractual agreements) rape the American taxpayer.  I watched how the company managers cared more for getting production done than they did for the safety of the workers (Iraqi or other). 

Many of the contractors never leave the FOB’s (KBR, etc) and perform support roles for huge money.  I, however, was not one of them.  I lived in a small camp, far from any military support, relying totally on private security contractors who were paid as much, if not more, than I was.  We traveled by convoy, just like the military does, without military support.

I’ve seen, firsthand, the destruction we have wrought in Iraq.  I’ve heard, firsthand, the horror stories from Iraqi citizens who aren’t hand-picked to tell rosy tales. 

We should end the Iraq occupation immediately, leave the bases totally, and let the Iraqi’s put their country back together.

Unfortunately, that will not occur.  We (the United States government) have wanted control of the oil in the Middle East and to get military bases into the region since the 1950’s.  We now have the bases and with the Iraqi Hydrocarbon Law are about to control the oil.

What we have done has been short of war crimes, no different than the Nazi’s who were tried at Nuremburg.

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By mackTN, August 17, 2007 at 6:44 pm Link to this comment

We’ll never get a “man on the street” interview with your average Iraqui citizen.  If they thought their lives were hell under Saddam, what must they think now.  Over 1 million Iraquis have died since we came to their country—nearly all have had their lives transformed for the worse.  Those who remain in that country must wake up wondering if this is their last day on the planet.  And our government won’t let any of them immigrate here.

How sad that the DOD contractor had to post anonymously.  It’s proof, however, of the information blackout imposed by the Bush regime.

The truth will come out.

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By Shannon, August 17, 2007 at 6:42 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Why would I believe anything you say to be true?  Our Soldiers are giving their lives over there, and you can’t even give us your name.  It’s called courage, get some.  Or better yet, just ask any American Soldier over there making $1500 a month, while you make how much???????????

Shannon

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By TJ, August 17, 2007 at 5:40 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“They suffer least who suffer what they choose..!”

    No matter how badly Bush and the rest of his Mafia lied and screwed up it is also the fault of the Iraqi’s for clinging to ignorant hatred and allowing even welcoming al-Qaeda into their midst for so long..

    The Iraqi’s governments leaders are lying thieving hateful greed ridden swine..

    How many more billions per week must we throw away, how many more American have to die for this stupid shit..?

    The Iraqi’s will not have Peace and security and stability until They and They only decide they are sick of slaughtering each other and they drag every al-Qaeda out into the street and stone them to death, rather than some poor teenage girl for some stupid ignorant bullshit like kissing a boy or wearing lipstick..

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By felicity, August 17, 2007 at 2:55 pm Link to this comment

I wonder if Iraqis have heard American politicians say, “We’re fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here.”

I know how I’d feel if the situation was reversed and I heard an Iraqi politician say, “We’re fighting them over there (America) so we don’t have to fight them over here.

We’ve managed to, apparently, drive Al Qaeda out of Afghanistan and into Pakistan, out of Afghanistan and into Iraq.  Would that be called enlisting proxies to fight your battle?  And the poor Iraqis thought we were liberating them.  Now they know we’re just chicken-shits.

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By vet240, August 17, 2007 at 1:20 pm Link to this comment

I wasn’t going to log in but I find Bill Abernathys response intriguing.
I would like to hear what he “holds dear”.

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By Evelyn Smith, August 17, 2007 at 11:37 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Since this paper was written by anonymous, we have no way of knowing the truth of what has been written. However, we have read other reports and have seen similar stories on TV news channels of the living conditions in Baghdad, told by credible reporters who are living in Iraq.

This individual feels sorry for our troops who serve in Iraq. He should, he should also feel sorry for himself. The radiation readings of radio-activity in Baghdad are 2,000 times normal background readings. Those frightening readings are due to the use of thousands of tons of depleted uranium ammo by our troops in Iraq. Radiation reading for DU should be zero, as burned DU is not found in nature, except in rare instances and then only in trace amounts.

Any who have been to Iraq in the past five years have inhaled microscopic partiles of DU, they are dead men walking. Oh yes, the girls also. A single particle of DU inhaled will insure cancer of the “inhalee”. A 40 mico-meter speck of DU entering the nasal passage may cross the olfactory bulb and go directely into the brain. There the radio-active particle will emit radiation ten thousand times the acceptable radiation, allowed by a tooth or chest x-ray. The constant gamma ray bombardment will never cease and WILL cause cancer. In addition, it can interfere with the mitochondria and many horrible diseases may result, Parkinson’s, Hodgkin’s, etc.

DU in the lung will insure cancer and it can also enter the blood stream and lodge in any of the body’s internal organs and wreak havoc with the immune system and alter DNA. Thee altered DNA can be passed on to a fetus, causing serious birth defects. The more DU inhaled, the sooner symptoms of radiation poisoning appear, which normally range from two to three years.  For good information on the subject of DU, go to Google and ask for depleted uranium, there are thousands of articles on the subject. Beware of the few denyers, they either have political or monetary reasns for denying DU is deadly.

Our mlitary has spread as much or more DU as has been used in the Mid-East here in the United States on firing and bombing ranges. The winds pick up the invisible specks of death and waft it all over our country. A single speck if inhaled, will eventually kill you. DU will be deadly for centuries, the only thing that destroys it is time. The half life of DU is 4.5 billion years.

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By AJB, August 17, 2007 at 11:32 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is brave.  Thank you.

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By Saskia, August 17, 2007 at 11:27 am Link to this comment

@ #95653 by Bill Abernathy on 8/17 at 9:27 am
“This story rightly belongs in a Dear Abbey column is what I mean; a problem of electric and risk to ones life getting to work is trifling when compared to the atrocities that have been committed in Iraq.”

Mr Abernathy,

Hmm, you haven’t read many “Dear Abbey” columns then. Frankly I think it’s an excellent article that underlines what the normal state of life in Baghdad is, something that often gets overlooked.

The atrocities are extremely bad, yes, but somehow people don’t get moved very much by seeing yet another pile of bloody body parts and weeping men. The problem is, the maiming is dehumanising. You stop seeing actual people, you see a gruesome mess. This doesn’t register as a reality for the lethargic public or policymakers.(See for references for instance Paul Slovic’s excellent work on psychic numbing, it’s googlable).

I think therefore that describing the reality of every day life in Baghdad, which is appalling enough as it is, is actually a better way. Contrasting the horrors of living in Baghdad with the disaster of the Mississippi bridge collapsing is a good way to emphasise that the horrors in Iraq are real, and they are happening to actual people.

It’s rather easy to say an article is garbage just because you view things from a different angle and you’d use a different style to get the message across. By all means, do try to get your message across in a constructive way, it’s been lacking so far.

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By VietnamVet, August 17, 2007 at 11:23 am Link to this comment

RE: 95653 by Bill Abernathy on 8/17 at 9:27 am

Well, Mr. Abernathy, since you seem to know all about Iraq and the atrocities there, how about giving us some details: Have you been there? If not, have you gotten details from someone that can show he/she REALLY knows? What are your sources? I could go on, but you get the essence of what I mean.

If you cannot respond to things like that, folks like you should just read, not write! The contractor made an honest effort to enlighten some of us that HAVE NOT been there; I see nothing but good in his effort.

I think it is mind boggling that you would think that fear of being killed just trying to get to work is “trifling.” If YOU had to live under those circumstances, I seriously doubt you would have that view! Granted, there are probably greater atrocities happening in Iraq; we hear about them every day…but, NONE that I have read about qualify as trifling. If you need to demean someone, you would do well to limit your comments to the warmongers that started this fiasco. THEY are the ones that should be condemned, not the damn too few that have the guts to speak up!

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By Bryce, August 17, 2007 at 11:03 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I agree with Mr. Abernathy. It is righteous that this author is beginning to be a ‘whistle blower’, however it should be much more detailed. Many articles on this site are 3 or more pages, and this was only half a page or what not. War profiteering is terrible and inhumane to say the least. In NO OTHER WAR did we outsource our atrocities to an “Over Paid Defense Contractor.” I think this author could shed much more light on the details so that more people can be in the know. Let’s stop only feeling sorry for the Iraqis…let’s do something about it!

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By Bill Abernathy, August 17, 2007 at 10:27 am Link to this comment

#95646 by RAE on 8/17 at 8:21 am

Rae

This story rightly belongs in a Dear Abbey column is what I mean;  a problem of electric and risk to ones life getting to work is trifling when compared to the atrocities that have been committed in Iraq.

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By steve, August 17, 2007 at 9:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Abernathy, please elaborate about what you see as “pure garbage”

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By QuestionGirl, August 17, 2007 at 9:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The pain and suffering we’ve inflicted on the Iraqi people is so very tragic. I read yesterday that Iraqi women are prostituting themselves to feed their children.  Anyone who thinks history will show that the pre-emptive invasion of Iraq was the right thing to do is delusional.  If there is a hell, I hope there will be an enormous amount of suffering in store there for the evil bastards that created this mess.

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By RAE, August 17, 2007 at 9:21 am Link to this comment

A couple of things.

Mr. Abernathy you’ve made a clear statement… “pure garbage.” Please amplify. Please share with us your evidence/experience that will allow us to compare your view with that of “the contractor.” Let us be the judge of what is “pure garbage” and what isn’t. If you cannot or will not offer support for your claim then we have no choice but to judge YOUR offering as “pure garbage.” Thank you.

Secondly, I FULLY agree with “the contractor” on at least this point… what we in North America perceive as “tragedy” and “grief” (requiring counseling and likely ongoing support) is EVERYDAY life in many places in the world.

As a counselor for many years I was appalled at the inability of so many North Americans to cope on their own with almost ANY real or perceived trauma in their lives. It’s almost as several generations of “softies” have been raised - pampered, spoiled-rotten, me-first consumers - who have NO idea how to deal with the road bumps of life.

How the hell do people expect and demand to have FREEDOM to live and do as they wish WHEN THEY CAN’T EVEN STAND ON THEIR OWN FEET AND SOLVE MOST OF THEIR OWN PROBLEMS? Many North Americans are nowhere near ready for FREEDOM themselves but this doesn’t stop them from thinking they can impose it on the rest of the world!

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By GW=MCHammered, August 17, 2007 at 9:16 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Exactly what I hear from a soldier on the front and a neighbor who was a contractor in northern Iraq. Our media drums the lie. The poor Iraqui people will be lucky if their country ONLY divides into three.

Note to world: Documentthis time accurately, as we most suredly will not.

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By Charlie, August 17, 2007 at 8:47 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Great work, Anonymous. If writing this obvious, terse piece at the end of your 16 month swashbuckling sojourn doesn’t absolve your personal guilt, your certainly on your way! Remember when you couldn’t sleep because of your credit card debt?! Well guess what…

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By Sharon Ash, August 17, 2007 at 8:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Brought to you courtesy of the Red, White and Blue!  And, the sad part is most of the ignorant red necks in my part of the country believe they have done a good thing for Iraq, really.

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By mark jensen, August 17, 2007 at 8:27 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

every citizen of the usOa should spend a week in baghdad.  starting with our beloved leader “what a dick cheney.”  no armor no gun no escorts, all alone.

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By Leefeller, August 17, 2007 at 8:23 am Link to this comment

Nice to know that the surge is working. Bush has done to Iraq what Japan did to China before WWII. However, hopefully our troops will be more compassionate than the Japanese were before and during world war II. Guess this means we will see, no tossing babies in the air and catching them on bayonets.  Destroying a county is not as bad as tossing babies in the air.

Bush the compassionate one the Christian speaker to God, told to go to war? Congress is party and so are we.

Hypocrisy abounds while shame is absent from all, at least hale mary’s come in handy for some Christians.

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By Bill Abernathy, August 17, 2007 at 8:04 am Link to this comment

#95624 by ~B~ on 8/17 at 6:34 am

This article is pure garbage. There’s nothing I like less than bad arguments for a view that I hold dear.

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By Lisa Wines, August 17, 2007 at 8:03 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I hope that when anonymous comes home he can writemore often and openly. This is a viewpoint that America needs to hear. It is especially critical in these weeks running up to the Iraq war report by the White House.

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By ~B~, August 17, 2007 at 7:34 am Link to this comment

It’s time for more of these men to speak up. Contractors, soldiers, whoever has the guts. Get the ear of a Congress critter and get blowin some whistles. The more who stand up to the fascism growing daily here in America the better chance we have of ever gaining our country back.

B

http://b-political.blogspot.com/

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