Thursday, March 15, 2007

In 2005, US forces arrested and abused US mercenaries

This was reported at the time, but I missed it. In 2005 a group of mercenaries working for Zapata Engineering, a reconstruction firm, apparently were involved with a friendly fire incident with US troops. The troops responded by arresting the mercenaries and abusing them while in custody, using tactics familiar to those who followed Abu Ghraib. Here are parts of the account from Corpwatch
All 19 of the Zapata convoy were imprisoned in small, 6 ft. by 8 ft. cells dressed in orange prison garb for three days without charges or legal counsel....
One of the contractors, Rick Blanchard whose home is in Shelbyville, Tenn., 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 Marineswatched and laughed, he added, as a uniformed woman with a military dog snapped photographs.
Eric Westervelt at NPR reported similar abuse:
While in Marine custody for three days, Raiche and some of the other contractors say they were abused and humiliated. One Marine derided the group as rich contractors, Raiche says, and another Marine slammed a contractor to a cement floor and crushed his testicles. Raiche says a Marine sergeant pushed him to the ground with a knee to his back while other Marines mocked him.
I learned about this incident from The Weave, a blog run by John Collins' students covering the global media. Weaver Derek Tracy has been covering military contractors in particular. Good stuff.

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