by David Phinney
Thursday January 18th 2018

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The Contractor’s Fight at Home

I hooked up Dan Rather’s producer to many of the sources and events in this Dan Rather Reports: “The hidden story of Americans serving in Iraq, the civilian contractors.” Never did get a thank you.

by David Phinney

March 24, 2007 —

War for Hire: Dan Rather’s producer called me for sources for a report exploring the “invisible army” in Iraq and the combat contractors face. In an extended online report for HD.net scheduled for June 4, Rather portrays the 100,000 or more civilian contract workers as being caught in the “crosshairs,” whose uncounted casualties and injuries go overlooked in daily Pentagon briefings and the news media.

Interviews Include: Injured contractors who have returned to the United States only to battle for disability and medical coverage with their former employers to heal their wounds and rebuild their lives. Video from Iraq constantly suggests to viewers that the civilian truck drivers remain a largely-unarmed and untrained “soft” targets.

One contractor now missing a leg and struggling with serious loss of sight, recalls that before he took a job with KBR, President Bush announced “mission accomplished” and “major combat is over.”

See It Now: Americancontractorsiniraq.com links to the entire program. The Website’s founder, Knoxville, Tenn., resident Jana Crowder weighs in heavily on behalf of the challenges contractors face.

Congress Speaks: Several lawmakers in US Congress also share their thoughts about the lack of attention contractors receive. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., notes that the uncounted presence of contractors supporting the U.S. mission in Iraq “is completely unknown to the American people.”

That may not be the case in the coming weeks. Major broadcast and newspapers are preparing similar reports, which echo a 2005 story originally reported under my byline at CorpWatch: ‘Adding Insult to Injury.’

One Shortcoming in Rather’s Report: The lack of attention to how many casualties and injuries have occurred among third country nationals and Iraqi nationals who are laboring under the U.S. flag.

Reuters Does Notice: in a Wednesday story:

The war in Iraq is killing nine civilian contractors a week on average, roughly three times the rate of last year, and U.S. government statistics show that non-Americans do most of the dying…. The contractors — mostly Iraqis and nationals from more than 30 developing nations — perform jobs from guarding senior U.S. officials to translating, cooking meals, driving trucks, cleaning toilets and servicing weapons systems and computers.

How many of those TCNs and Iraqi nationals are collecting their benefits as guaranteed by the Defense Base Act remains unexplored territory.

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