Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Shinseki Pick, A Thumb in Rumsfeld’s Eye

Obama’s choice of 38-year-career-Army man General (ret.) Eric K. Shinseki for Secretary of Veterans Affairs is perfect for a couple of reasons. First, the troops love him for telling the truth early on in the Iraq war. Shinseki said the invasion of Iraq would take several hundred thousand soldiers. Which estimate secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld and deputy secretary of defense Paul D. Wolfowitz pooh-poohed. But as the Iraq war descended into a no-win debacle, Shinseki was proved absolutely right. And, second, just as importantly, Shinseki was wounded in Viet Nam and knows the problems faced by returning vets and particularly wounded returning vets. As if Shinseki rising from the ashes of the Bush/Rumsfeld/Cheney failure in Iraq were not enough of a lest-we-forget moment, we have this morning’s headline in the New York Times to remind us of the horrible decision by Bush and Co. to use mercenaries in Iraq: “Plea by Blackwater Guard Helps Indict Others”. The largest “security contractor” in Iraq (read, mercenary thugs), Blackwater, which was started by South Carolina far-right religious zealot, Erik Prince in 1997, and which contracted out as many soldiers-for-hire in Iraq as the volunteer army had in Iraq, has long been the subject of horror stories about its misuse of power. The worst of which was in 2007 and implicated six Blackwater guards. This morning, the NYT says: “In pleading guilty to manslaughter, the sixth security guard, Jeremy P. Ridgeway of California, described how he and the other guards used automatic rifles and grenade launchers to fire on cars, houses, a traffic officer and a girls’ school. In addition to those killed, there were at least 20 people wounded. The six guards were employed by Blackwater Worldwide, the largest security contractor in Iraq.” The Blackwater company has not been charged although it is no secret that Erik Prince and his protégé “Focus on the Family” religious zealot James Dobson believe that private Christian militias should rise up and take over the ungodly, unholy US government. However, this Blackwater black eye will no doubt slow down their planned religious war, particularly since Prince and Dobson no longer have a right-wing partisan zealot in the White House.

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