In a speech before the Disabled American Veterans national convention in Atlanta on Monday, President Obama said: "By the end of this month, we have brought more than 90,000 of our troops home from Iraq since I took office.… Because of the sacrifices of our troops and their Iraqi partners, violence continues to be the lowest it's been in years.… Next month, we will change our military mission from combat to supporting and training Iraqi security forces." But as Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman points out, figures show that July was the deadliest month in Iraq in over a year with over 500 people killed.
As a guest on today's Democracy Now!, The Nation's Jeremy Scahill says Obama is "implementing the policy that was on the desk of George W. Bush when he left the White House." Obama says that we are "changing from a military effort led by our troops to a civilian effort led by our diplomats," but as Scahill asserts, "that doesn’t just mean that there’s going to be negotiations by pencil pushers.” Last month, Hillary Clinton submitted a request to the Pentagon to “beef up” the State Department’s military contractor force. “When you take out all these combat troops, we want to have a replacement for that capacity," says Scahill. He goes on to say that Clinton, who as a candidate said she would ban Blackwater and other mercenary firms, is now responsible for increased reliance on these companies and private soldiers in Iraq. "You can say that officially combat has ended," he says. "But in reality you’re continuing it through the back door by bringing in these paramilitary forces and classifying them as diplomatic security, which was Bush’s game from the very beginning."