Saturday, August 06, 2005

Troops discover another form of protection

Guard members from East Bay said to charge Iraqis 'rent'

California Army National Guard troops from a unit based in the East Bay charged unauthorized, off-the-books "rent" to Iraqi-owned businesses inside Baghdad's Green Zone to raise money for a "soldiers fund," military officials and sources within the troops' battalion said Friday.
Earlier this year, according to military officials and members of the battalion, soldiers from the battalion's Bravo Company approached several businesses owned and operated by Iraqis. Bravo Company is based in Dublin, and the 1st Battalion has its headquarters in Modesto.

The businesses -- a dry cleaner, a convenience store and others -- catered to U.S. soldiers and were located on the fringe of the U.S. military's operating base inside the Green Zone, the fortified hub of the Iraqi government, U.S. occupation officials, foreign embassies and contractor headquarters. The businesses were asked to pay the soldiers "rent."

Two businesses agreed to pay, Lt. Col. Cliff Kent, spokesman for the 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq, confirmed Friday.

The money was used to create a "soldiers fund," one battalion member said on condition of anonymity. Such funds are used by troops for a wide variety of purposes, such as small loans to repay bills back home or the purchase of commemorative "challenge" coins -- often specially minted to foster morale inside a unit.
There is considerable dispute about the financial arrangement -- how much money was raised, how many soldiers were involved and how important the allegations are. Army officials said the total amount was $4,000, but troops in the battalion have said the scheme raised more than $30,000.
We lefties have been calling the Bush cabal a crime family for some time. Those on the right would have considered such rhetoric a bit hyperbolic, I'm sure. What say you now? Just good old fashioned American captialism, perhaps? And if you want to argue that running a protection racket in Iraq is nothing like the mob because the street goombahs are not paying part of their take up to the bosses -- perhaps we should inquire into who is profiting from the "challenge" coins mentioned above.

When you control the top levels of government, you don't have to dirty yourself with such awkwardness as envelopes fat with cash.


Post a Comment

<< Home

see web stats