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Blackwater: The Shadow Army

Produced by The Nation magazine.

No one knows for sure, but it's believed that as much as 40% of the military budget goes to private contractors including private armies.

There are thousands of private mercenaries operating on behalf of the United States in Iraq and elsewhere around the world. Nearly 1,000 have been killed in Iraq alone, but their casualties and injuries are not counted. Nor has Congress itself been able to discover exactly how many mercenaries the U.S. employs there.

One of these firms, Blackwater USA, a big supporter of The Wuss, is now deploying on the streets of the United States. They were present in New Orleans after the levee collapses.

[Is the Democratic Party finally beginning to use "the power of the purse" to cut funding and develop the mission in Iraq to the next logical phase in any honest occupation: Leave the country?] [Update: Nope.]

November 20, 2007
House Appropriators Dig In On War Funding Conditions
by Congressional Quarterly

House appropriators said Tuesday there would be no more emergency war funding without a policy change in Iraq, as the White House demanded unconditional funding by the end of the year.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman David R. Obey, D-Wis., and Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John P. Murtha, D-Pa., said they will not support any more war funding bills in the House this year. They said the military can survive on its regular budget until February or March, despite Pentagon and White House statements to the contrary.

Although they were not speaking for the House leadership, Obey and Murtha’s statements raise the stakes over war funding ahead of a short December session and amid increased administration concerns that the lack of war funding will hurt the military.

The House by a 218-203 vote on Nov. 14 passed legislation appropriating $50 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan but also requiring troop withdrawals beginning in 30 days with a “goal” of withdrawing most combat troops by December 15, 2008. The measure would limit the mission of U.S. forces in Iraq to force protection, counterterrorism, and training of the Iraqi security forces, and limit the Central Intelligence Agency to the more restrictive interrogation techniques approved by the U.S. military.

Senators on Nov. 16 rejected 53-45 a bid to limit debate on considering the measure, effectively killing it.

President Bush on Nov. 13 signed into law the regular Defense spending measure for fiscal 2008, containing $459.6 billion in discretionary funding. But the administration says without the emergency war funds, it will have to cut some operations at domestic bases and furlough employees.

“Delays in funding mean that the Army and Marine Corps are immediately forced to begin shifting funds between accounts in order to keep operations running,” White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said. “And the Pentagon will soon be forced to send furlough notices for as many as 100,000 Army and Marine Corps civilian employees at bases around the country.”

[That's known as scaring the labor force to incite pro-war sentiment. Works like magic.]

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