Friday, June 22, 2007

I'll Give My Life To My Country, But Not To Protect Corporations.

On June 19, 26 year old SPC Eli Israel put himself at great personal risk.

He decided to refuse further participation in the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

Eli told his commanding officer and sergeants that he will no longer be a combatant in what he calls an "illegal, unjustified war."

“I have told them that I will no longer play a ‘combat role’ in this conflict or ‘protect corporate representatives,’ and they have taken this as ‘violating a direct order.’

"Corporate representatives?" Who are these people?

Apparently, there are lots of them.

By one estimate, as many as half the Americans in Iraq are working for private contractors.

Investigative journalist Dina Rasor, co-author with Robert Bauman of "Betraying Our Troops: The Destructive Results of Privatizing War" (Palgrave) was on The Diane Rehm Show on Monday, June 18th, explaining why she thinks privatization of the Iraq war undermines U-S troops and threatens national security. Eli Israel made his stand the next day.

Bauman and Rasor are sponsors of the Follow the Money Project. According to their website, the project investigates "where the money appropriated for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is going -- especially money that should be going to the Troops."

Bauman and Rasor are old hands at investigating government fraud. In their new book they claim private contractors have put the lives of countless American soldiers on the line while damaging our strategic interests and our image abroad. They "give the inside story on troops forced to subsist on little food and contaminated water, on officers afraid to lodge complaints because of Halliburton's political clout, on millions of dollars in contractors' bogus claims that are funded by American taxpayers. Drawing on exclusive sources within government and the military, the authors show how money and power have conspired to undermine our fighting forces and threaten the security of our country."

Eli Israel is stationed at Camp Victory in Baghdad with JVB Bravo Company, 1-149 Infantry of the Kentucky Army National Guard. You can read more on Eli at Iraq Veterans Against the War.