Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Guards for generals

Via Spitting Image and Unknown News, a great quote from a New York Times article on mercenaries in Iraq (my emphasis):

"Throughout his time as head of the C.P.A., L. Paul Bremer III, whom the insurgency may well have viewed as its highest-value target, was protected by a Triple Canopy competitor, Blackwater USA. Private gunmen, according to Lawrence Peter, are now guarding four U.S. generals."

Don't laugh (ok, you can laugh a little). If you are an American general who has spent years bowing and scraping to the top, and are now just waiting out a few months in Iraq so you can retire to your cushy sinecure in the industrial part of the military-industrial complex, you don't want to put your life in the hands of some 19-year-old reservist from Redneck, Texas, some fodder unit so dumb he actually thinks he's fighting the 'war on terror'. You can afford the best, so you hire the best. On the other hand, this doesn't show much confidence in the army these generals are supposedly leading, and a critical person might think that generals like that should be summarily fired. An even more critical person might think that Donald Rumsfeld, the man who so understaffed the army that it has been reduced to hiring people to guard its own generals, should be fired. Lawrence Peter, apparently both a lobbyist for the mercenary industry and a consultant to the Department of Defense on outsourced security (what a handy combination!), claims there are 25,000 armed mercenaries in the employ of the Americans in Iraq (in addition, of course, to all the unarmed staff provided by companies like Halliburton).