Nine Marines died in Iraq on Saturday. It was the deadliest day for the American
forces in half a year. Meantime, U.S. officials go around giving upbeat assessments of the
situation, while actually believing that it isn’t nearly as rosy as they’ve painted it.
For instance, top commanders fear that “Iraq’s expanding security forces, soon to be led by
largely untested generals, have been penetrated by spies for the insurgents.” Further, as has
recently been reported, there are far more hard-core militants than previously guesstimated, and
they’re better financed, too. Add to that the “most disturbing” fact of the intimidation campaign of
“assassinations, kidnappings, beheadings and car bombings” to silence the Iraqi population.
Yet senior military commanders and civilian officials prefer to mutter their doubts under their
breath instead of speaking up loud and clear because, as New York Times reporter Erich Schmitt
writes, they’re afraid “their more candid remarks could be used as campaign fodder back home.”
Well, shit, what the hell is wrong with that? Shouldn’t voters be told the truth?
Oh, and get this: The Congress has approved a defense appropriation bill that includes a
proposal to reimburse “soldiers, their families and charities” who paid for some of their own
combat equipment in Iraq and Afghanistan” because the Pentagon didn’t equip them properly in
the first place. But you know what? The Pentagon, as reported by John Files, tried to kill the proposal.
And do you know why? Because reimbursements would be “a considerable financial burden”
for the Pentagon, as though the cost of the equipment was not a burden to the soldiers, their
families and the charities. As though the billions of dollars spent so far in Iraq are not a financial
burden for taxpayers.
And do you know why else? Because, Files writes, the Pentagon believes the reimbursements
“could undermine the accountability and effectiveness of equipment used in combat.” As though
the Pentagon has been eager to press for accountability from Halliburton and all the other
corporate profiteers. As though the Pentagon’s failure to provide enough equipment to the
soldiers in the field was not the reason it had to be provided at private expense in the first place.