....LMB: "Neo-Hessians"....

February 20, 2004

Excellent and fucking appalling catch by Billmon this morning:

Apartheid Enforcers Guard Iraq For the U.S.

(you'll need to register with that site to view the article, or, use this handy site recommended to me by LMB reader "The Librarian"-- BugMeNot.com)

To be honest, it looks as though that article can only document two actual apartheid-era jackboots in Iraq, but notes that the mercenary company they work for was set up by "former South African security officials" and presumes that more work there.

Here's some more background on the individuals involved. Notice how the South African paper reports that one of these fellows "worked closely with ... the notorious Vlakplass death squad."


"Now wait a second Jake, did you say 'mercenary company' a few paragraphs ago?"

Why yes.

The US has been hiring "private security companies" to aid in various military conflicts in recent years. And I'm not talking about service contracts to feed troops like Halliburton, but actual soldiers on the ground to "advise", "guard", and "escort". These companies hire soldiers from around the globe to do the dirty work of their clients. The benefits to the clients (in this case, the United States) is that a) if one of the soldiers is killed, it doesn't go on the clients' body count, and b) since the company has a right to privacy (trade secrets and whatnot), the client can order shady military actions and not have to ever be held publicly accountable for it.

This is a growing, and largely ignored trend. We should keep an eye out.

Posted by Jake at 10:17 AM | TrackBack (0)

jake: "it looks as though that article can only document two actual apartheid-era jackboots in Iraq"

"More than 1 500 South Africans are believed to be in Iraq under contract to various private military companies (PMCs) - and the number will grow as the hired guns increasingly fill the void left by departing Anglo-American forces.

According to a United Nations report, South Africa is already among the top three suppliers of personnel for private military companies, along with the UK and the US."

""You can get well-trained, disciplined South Africans for less than $5 000 whereas British and Americans won't work for less than $10 000," said our source.

The South Africans also take higher risks and are seldom insured by their employers.

The average age group of the South Africans who end up in Iraq indicates that many would have fought in the Angolan bush war in the mid-70s.

"There isn't really a demand for middle-aged, white, Afrikaner males in this country," he added.

Institute for Security Studies military analyst Henri Boshoff agrees that most South Africans in Iraq are former members of the South African Defence Force and South African Police."

Posted by: at February 20, 2004 01:20 PM
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Media News

November 16, 2004

Tales of Media Woe

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill- one of the most depressing stories of the day that didn't involve death or bombs. It's the music and movie industries' wet dream. It criminalizes peer-to-peer software makers, allows the government to file civil lawsuits on behalf of these media industries, and eliminates fair use. Fair use is the idea that I can use a snippet of a copyrighted work for educational, political, or satirical purposes, without getting permission from the copyright-holder first.

And most tellingly, the bill legalizes technology that would automatically skip over "obejctionable content" (i.e. sex and violence) in a DVD, but bans devices that would automatically skip over commericals. This is a blatant, blatant, blatant gift to the movie industry. Fuck the movie industry, fuck the music industry, fuck the Senate.

Music industry aims to send in radio cops- the recording industry says that you're not allowed to record songs off the radio, be it real radio or internet radio. And now they're working on preventing you from recording songs off internet radio through a mixture of law and technological repression (although I imagine their techno-fixes will get hacked pretty quickly).

The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few- blogger Jeff Jarvis discovers that the recent $1.2 million FCC fine against a sex scene in Fox's "Married By America" TV show was not levied because hundreds of people wrote the FCC and complained. It was not because 159 people wrote in and complained (which is the FCC's current rationale). No, thanks to Jarvis' FOIA request, we find that only 23 people (of the show's several million viewers) wrote in and complained. On top of that, he finds that 21 of those letters were just copy-and-paste email jobs that some people attached their names to. Jarvis then spins this a bit by saying that "only 3" people actually wrote letters to the FCC, which is misleading but technically true. So somewhere between 3 and 23 angry people can determine what you can't see on television. Good to know.

Reuters Union Considers Striking Over Layoffs- will a strike by such a major newswire service impact the rest of the world's media?

Pentagon Starts Work On War Internet- the US military is talking about the creation of a global, wireless, satellite-aided computer network for use in battle. I think I saw a movie about this once...

Conservative host returns to the air after week suspension for using racial slur- Houston radio talk show host (and somtime Rush Limbaugh substitute) Mark Belling referred to Mexican-Americans as "wetbacks" on his show. He was suspended for a couple of weeks, and then submitted a written apology for the racial slur to a local newspaper. But he seems to be using the slur and its surrounding controversy to boost his conservative cred with his listeners.

Stay Tuned for Nudes- Cleveland TV news anchor Sharon Reed aired a story about artist Spencer Tunick, who uses large numbers of naked volunteers in his installations and photographs. The news report will be unique in that it will not blur or black-out the usual naughty bits. The story will air late at night, when it's allegedly okay with the FCC if you broadcast "indecent" material. The author of this article doesn't seem to notice that Reed first claims that this report is a publicity stunt, but then claims it's a protest against FCC repression. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not that much of a sucker.

Posted by Jake at 04:02 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
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