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After 9/11, I expected to see the same response to that attack that occurred after Pearl Harbor. There was no call to arms, there was no draft or military buildup, and instead of marshaling our industries for war, we had them outsourced overseas for cheap labor. Tax breaks for the wealthy, and going into debt to China was the way to fund that war, and later in Iraq. Except for 9/11, I would not have supported the war in Afghanistan. Having served during the cold war, I knew that containment works, and the war with Iraq was totally unnecessary.

I opposed the Iraq war, but in addition I was shocked about how poorly the war was conducted and supported. I couldn't believe all the private contractors running around the battlefield getting killed. What the hell were civilians doing there? We just had the first female four-star general appointed, who specialized in logistic. It take a lot of military education to know how to support and supply troops in the field. It is not for amateurs. I also couldn't believe they brought in these military contractors. You could have fielded a number of divisions for the money that has been wasted on them. The war became a cash cow for big business, and the troops were not properly supported in the field. I am glad Congress is looking into this situation, but I don't think I will get any rest after Bush has gone.

Pervis James Casey

Riverside, CA

Nov 14 2008 - 11:16pm

Web Letter

"Here's the problem: we have 140,000 private contractors right there, so unless we want to replace all of or a big chunk of those with US troops, we can't draw down the contractors faster than we can draw down our troops," Obama said. "So what I want to do is draw--I want them out in the same way that we make sure that we draw out our own combat troops."

Here is the problem with president-elect Obama's argument: we have laws that would prosecute thugs like those who committed the Nisour Square criminal act had they committed that same act anywhere in the US, or Europe or Okinawa, or... pretty much take your pick. For those who say that the difference is the war, this does not excuse the wanton and brutal murder of innocent civilians going about their business, shot down by raging hormone undisciplined soldier-of-fortune types. This has little to do with the war or redeployment and everything to do with upholding their sworn duty to protect and defend the Constitution that anchors our values and for which this nation has been well known for over two centuries. To those who may say that they are private contractors and therefore have little obligation to the Constitution: on what basis would the State Department, which is obligated to present the values of this country to the rest of world, have the authority to hire them? Obama cannot have it both ways. If Blackwater is working for the State Dept. it must abide by the values and laws of this nation. And here is the point: clearly, they have not done so, and because of the rampant killing culture that Blackwater has, they cannot be trusted to do so. That is why they need to be evacuated ASAP and those who have been accused of criminal activity should have an open and transparent trial in the US.

That none of the Iraqis were US citizens should not forfeit their rights as human beings. Obama has a losing argument if he thinks that we somehow need to keep Blackwater so that we manage the draw-down of a rogue company at the expense of justice denied to innocent Iraqis.

Laws initiated that would ban the use of "security contractors" such as Blackwater and Dyncorp during US foreign intervention would be to this nation's advantage. If there is to be a business overseas for such contractors, they can get work at their own risk, under US federal laws that constrain their behavior vis à vis the expectations of this nation, and subject themselves to the laws of the lands in which they may be contracted. As for private contracting on US soil, they certainly have a right to do business in conjunction with local, state and federal laws that are public safety centered, not private security centered.

Riad Mahayni

Richmond, VA

Nov 14 2008 - 9:19pm