August 19, 2004
Private Armies and Winning Elections
BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
The case of Jonathan "Jack" Idema is interesting for many reasons, the greatest of which is the way it connects the activities of mercenaries and bounty hunters to the Pentagon.
Idema has been charged with running an illegal "private" prison in Afghanistan. Eight Afghanis were found in his custody, reportedly hanging from the ceiling. All of them have claimed physical abuse or torture.
Idemaís case was scheduled to begin this week, but has been postponed because, according to him, "the FBI was withholding hundreds of papers, photographs and videotapes showing that he was employed by the agency, as well as by the CIA and the US military."
This may or may not be true, but it seems unlikely that the FBI would have gone through the trouble of ransacking his personal belongings and carting them off if they had nothing to hide. (The FBI carted off "500 pages of documents, 200 videotapes and at least 400 photos detailing his links with the agencies had been seized." Undoubtedly, any incriminating evidence linking US agencies to Idema has been scrupulosly removed.)
And, what would we have found in these papers and videos?
Something (as he alleges) that would connect Idema directly to the Pentagon and the office of Donald Rumsfeld?
No one would be particularly surprised if that were the case. After all, weíre talking about people who have already been complicit in torture and murder.
Why would this matter?
The web of intrigue that surrounds "independent contractors" (mercenaries) has not yet been fully examined. As more information emerges in bits and pieces, we will begin to understand the grave threat it poses for our democracy.
Sure, these "hired guns" can do a lot of the empireís dirty work (assassinations, torture, terrorist bombings) without leaving a messy trail behind like a government employee. But, whatís the real danger?
Perhaps, our perspective would change if we saw these "contractors" as constituting "private armies" loyal to individual members of the administration and completely beyond the range of normal government oversight.
This suggests that men like Donald Rumsfeld may be carrying out their own private war, completely out of the publicís view, and unaccountable to any legal authority.
This, in fact, is how much of activities of private (mercenary) firms are conducted.
They provide their clients (The Secretary of Defense?) with the ability to act with complete impunity and remove the fear that covert operations will be directly connected to their authors.
Itís all very neat and professional.
Now, letís take it one step further.
Letís say things were really going badly in the war and people at home were getting restless about Bush prospects for getting reelected. Do you think that bombing a few Christian churches in Baghdad might do the trick?
After all, if the insurgency is not diminishing on its own, the sensible choice is to try to make it look like civil war is breaking out.
Mercenaries provide a handy way of carrying out "sensitive" missions like that.
Similarly, if much of Iraq is rising up in a popular rebellion, a few well placed bombs can make it look like "foreign terrorists" are responsible. With private contractors it would even be possible to open clandestine web sites and take responsibility for the bombings calling yourself Abu Musab al Zarqawi.
Too far fetched?
How about this?
As the election approaches it becomes increasingly clear that incumbent Bush wonít win.
Would these same "soldiers of fortune" be willing to carry out activities within the US that would disrupt the November elections?
If not, then why not?
Would the mercenaries resist such a directive because of their "high moral character" and "patriotic fervor"?
In reality, "private contractors" would be the logical choice if someone in power wanted to create an excuse for canceling an election.
Is this why Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge is trying to warm us up to the idea?
And, why the urgent need for Congress to review the Posse Comitatus Act (which forbids the President from deploying American troops within the US)?
Do we suddenly need soldiers on the streets of our cities to protect us from Bin Ladenís rampaging militia?
Or, is it part of a larger charade intended to spare the President the embarrassment of returning to Crawford on a permanent basis?
In politics, anything is possibleÖespecially, if you have your own private army.
A BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
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