< HOME  Monday, October 16, 2006

"There was nothing left . . . except his right forearm"

The people the government wants US to forget . . .
Drivers, who are prohibited from carrying weapons, are a daily target, and none more so than those who do the job that Meredith did . . .

On Aug. 12, 2005, his convoy of 11 civilian trucks and four military tanks was finishing a delivery of prefabricated buildings to a military base when two improvised explosive devices went off, killing a driver whom Meredith identified as Larry Stilwell. The convoy commander ordered Meredith to recover the body amid small-arms fire. "There was nothing left of the man except his right forearm," Meredith said. "He had literally been blown to pieces."

Now the image of Stilwell's arm has followed Meredith home to Kansas. He says he can no longer drive a truck -- the only job he has ever known -- because of medication he takes for post-traumatic stress disorder. He has had to hire an attorney to fight for workers' compensation from the insurance purchased on his behalf by Kellogg Brown & Root. Meanwhile, he is facing foreclosure on his home.

* * *
Kellogg Brown & Root, which has 50,000 contractors working across the Middle East, says it repeatedly warns its workers about the dangers in Iraq. [It's not our fault that they're desperate!]

"In fact, during the training process, we spend most of our time giving recruits all the reasons they should NOT accept this job," the company said in a statement after the Wheeler video aired.

So, why do these men take these jobs? For many of the same reasons why enlisted men and women enlist - because there is NOTHING even remotely comparable for them here, at home.

But, notice how the company absolves itself of any responsibility for the terrible choice these men and women make. They set salaries just high enough for people who have no other prospects to consider it worth risking their lives to earn.

And they offer them nothing else. Why? Because they don't have to.

Once a civilian has accepted a position like that, not only have they categorized themselves as expendable, they've alienated themselves from all the people who ordinarily would have stood by them, but who resent making three or four times less for taking similar risks.

The perception that contractors are getting rich working in Iraq -- a truck driver can earn $80,000 a year, about four times the salary of an Army private -- has also undermined the public support for them, said Jana Crowder, a Tennessee homemaker who started the website AmericanContractorsinIraq.com.

When a contractor dies, "a lot of Americans think, well, he got paid to do what he did, to get killed," she said, adding that the discrepancy in pay also creates hostility between the contractors and the troops.
Contractors beware - no one will ever assign a value to your life higher than that which you assign for yourself.

Then, of course, whatever responsibility remains for the welfare of these men, security companies shift to insurance companies, many of which these same companies have a stake in.
The company said it was up to its insurance company to determine benefits in the case of injury or death.
Let that sink in for a minute. Insurance companies would rather pay a team of attorneys at the very least $70/hr to make sure that these men don't get the support that they NEED than pay the benefits agreed upon in contract.

So, tell me again - who is the enemy?
Peter Singer, a specialist on private contractors at the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank, said the dangerous roles filled by contractors in Iraq have been deliberately downplayed by the government.

"If you admit to it, if you say, `We have 20,000 to 35,000 contractors running around the country,' then that shows they don't have enough [military] forces there," Singer said.
What they dare not admit to the public, they make every effort to hide. What else do you think they're hiding?
[Steven Thompson, of North Carolina, ] is also troubled by the memory of driving past a lone, burning fuel tanker on the road, only to realize later that its dead driver -- Kevin Rader, of Utah -- had been part of his convoy.

Thompson said he is angry that the military escorts did not do more to protect Rader's truck. He is also angry that he hasn't received help from the US government or Kellogg Brown & Root since he returned.

"The government wants you to forget about us," Thompson said. "They don't want people to know there's a problem."
'The government' is nothing but a front for corporations.

They want us to forget these people, like they would want these people to forget us if we were in their position, and like they want us to forget the folks in New Orleans, and the people in Afghanistan, and Iraqis, and Palestinians, and the list goes on.

There is only ONE common denominator between us that they want us to always remember - and to dedicate our lives to - until every last one of us is DEAD and BURIED.

If you or someone you know is considering working overseas for one of these vulture corporations, think hard about whether your life - of which you only have one - is worth a few thousand of their worthless dollars.


At Monday, October 16, 2006, Blogger bobw said...

Very strong post, QRS. Everyone should think twice about who they go to work for.

I imagine when you sign up with KBR, they dont necessarily tell you you're going to Iraq. You might be going to Darfur, or some other hell-hole you've never heard of.

I thought mercenaries were illegal under rules of war. What are these guys (companies, I mean) except mercenaries?

Unfortunately, they're the wave of the future. When states no longer have the legitimacy or resources to draft their own citizens, we'll have private contractors for private capital.

At Monday, October 16, 2006, Blogger 89blue said...

Long time reader, first time poster. Fact of the matter is these truckers have gone over there to benefit from the war just as these corporations have. Steven Thompson’s' biggest problem seems to be that the murderers and liars didn't protect his friend Rader so he could go on helping steal and kill more people. I'm sure we'd all like the pillaging and killing of an entire nation to go without a hitch but life ain’t that sweet. I can't feel sympathy for men/women who make their living on the subjugation and murder of millions of people. If getting blown up is the price they have to pay to deal with the devil, it's a fair trade.

At Monday, October 16, 2006, Blogger qrswave said...

It's always great to get a response from someone who has never commented before.

Not, that I don't enjoy hearing from the people who usually comment!

It's great in general to hear opinions other than my own!

Getting to the substance of the comments . . .

bobw - these guys are not mercenaries. They are expressly not allowed to carry weapons.

89blue, you make a very good point. Though these guys are not mercenaries, they do "profit" from the war - if you can call working for a wage 'profit'. I consider it a bit of a stretch - even if you account for the higher than average wage.

I reserve the term 'profit' for speculators, shareholders, and other individuals whose capital gains are not earned through labor, but instead through market conditions which they either exploit, or in some cases, even bring about.

Do I feel as bad for these guys as I do for the innocent people of Iraq and Afghanistan who are being blown to smithereens without having 'agreed to assume any risk' at all? Of course, not.

But, there are degrees of blame and these guys - the ones who are unarmed and just trying their luck at dodging bullets for a buck - don't deserve the degree of scorn they get heaped on them.

If things weren't so bleak for them here, I might feel differently.

My harshest condemnation and scorn is reserved for the people sitting on the boards of banks and defense manufacturers.

At Monday, October 16, 2006, Blogger lesliemai said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Tuesday, October 17, 2006, Blogger qrswave said...

on second thought, 89blue, you make a VERY important point -

I guess what I am trying to convey by my post is that working people must not be fooled into selling their souls to the devil for a paltry price.

It is both divisive and destructive.

But, at the same time, I would urge people not to be too hard on those whose hearts are essentially good but who are fooled by the glitter of gold.

These are people who can be won back to reason, if shown the truth of the matter.

please, keep the comments coming.

At Tuesday, October 17, 2006, Blogger 89blue said...

I agree wholeheartly that people shouldn't betray themselves for some quick green, no matter how enticing the sum. But I wish I had more faith in people like you do. Maybe I'm just a pessimist but I doubt any of these people would stop working for these corporations if they learned (they most likely know) that dozens of Iraqi bodies are found on the street each day. After all, what are dead Iraqis to a trucker whose sole purpose is to get his/her kids through college/whatever reason they took the job for? I gave up believing that people cared about the truth a long time ago because if they did, they wouldn’t be happy living in ignorance. They wouldn’t deny facts such as the 9/11 “conspiracy”, they wouldn’t still be supporting a man responsible for the death of over half a million innocent human beings (30K Iraqis soldiers not included) and they surely wouldn’t be legitimizing that butcher of a state, Israel. But maybe someday I’ll be proven wrong… who knows?

At Tuesday, October 17, 2006, Blogger bruce1337 said...

Slightly o/t, but if you can stomach it, watch what Iraq looks like from an insurgent's perspective (WARNING: Graphic violence)

A terrible meat grinder this place has become :(

At Friday, February 22, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi. nice blog.Ihad already posted my resume in many job sites.Now I think that your blog
is best for free job posts


Post a Comment

<< Home