Some might call them martyrs

Here’s another item that the press should be playing up–especially in light of Jeremy Scahill’s shocking new book, Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. For what that book makes clear, although this AP story doesn’t mention it, is that Blackwater is a Christianist endeavor, whose founder, Erik Prince, is a dedicated and inordinately wealthy player on the theocratic right.

Prince’s crackpot sense of mission, and his lavish paramilitary resources, ought to worry any genuine patriot. No less troubling is Blackwater’s total openness to grizzled veterans of extremely dirty wars throughout the world. (E.g., countless troops trained under Gen. Pinochet are now participating in Bush/Cheney’s “war on terror,” their high salaries paid by your tax dollars.)

And so this AP item is far more important than you’d think from reading its account of the high toll among “civilians working under contract to the Pentagon.” These dead were not merely cooks and truck-drivers and fellas who “did laundry” for Our Troops, but, often, well-paid mercenaries fighting on the payroll of a private corporation with a clear dominionist agenda, and close ties to the Bush regime.


Nearly 800 Iraq contractors killed
Associated Press
Friday, February 23, 2007 2:17 PM

In a largely invisible cost of the war in Iraq, nearly 800 civilians working under contract to the Pentagon have been killed and more than 3,300 hurt doing jobs normally handled by the U.S. military, according to figures gathered by The Associated Press.

Exactly how many of these employees doing the Pentagon’s work are Americans is uncertain. But the casualty figures make it clear that the Defense Department’s count of more than 3,100 U.S. military dead does not tell the whole story.

“It’s another unseen expense of the war,” said Thomas Houle, a retired Air Force reservist whose brother-in-law died while driving a truck in Iraq. “It’s almost disrespectful that it doesn’t get the kind of publicity or respect that a soldier would.”

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