This is kind of interesting, and kind of frightening, on a couple of levels. First of all, listen to what Americans working in Iraq are saying about the experience of being held captive by US forces:
I never in my career have treated anybody so inhumane," one of the contractors, Rick Blanchard, a former Florida state trooper, wrote in an email quoted in the Los Angeles Times. "They treated us like insurgents, roughed us up, took photos, hazed [bullied] us, called us names."
It seems the "contractors" (i.e., mercenaries) were out driving in convoy near Fallujah when they fired warning shots in the air for the benfit of a nearby car. Marines claimed to have been fired on by a convoy of trucks and SUVs. It is unclear exactly what happened.
Which gets us to the second point: what exactly was going on between these mercenaries and the Marines? There seems some measurable animus between them. Were the mercenaries out for a "joy ride?" Shooting up the town for three hours? Did they, in fact, accidentally fire weapons toward a Marine patrol?
Mark Schopper, a lawyer for two of the contractors, told the newspaper that his clients, both former marines, were subjected to "physical and psychological abuse". He said they had told him that marines had "slammed around" several contractors, stripped them to their underwear and placed a loaded weapon near their heads.
"How does it feel to be a big, rich contractor now?" one of the marines is alleged to have shouted at the men, in an apparent reference to the large sums of money private contractors can make in Iraq.
Mercenaries make a lot more money than GIs, which is wrong in and of itself. Free-market economics should not extend to the American military. It creates resentment among our young men and women whoare fighting for their country, not for an "employer." And if they act out, is it so hard to understand? It's wrong, but is it so hard to understand?
Contractors also say they were treated badly in other ways. One man said a Marine put a knee to his neck and applied his full body weight as another cut his boots off and stripped him of his wedding ring and religious ornaments. Twenty or 30 other Marines watched and laughed, he added, as a uniformed woman with a military dog snapped photographs. Taunts were made about the large salaries of private security contractors, which are often more than $100,000 a year -- sometimes more than $200,000, he said.This idea of having private armies (in point of fact, they're really corporate armies) is new to America, and very dangerous. Organized, lethal force should be regulated by the state, not by corporations. Someone should do something about this.
Isn't this all getting out of control?