by David Phinney
Saturday March 2nd 2024



Contractor Deaths in Iraq Nearing 800

Things are getting even rougher for workers laboring in Iraq under US-funded military and reconstruction contracts. In the last three months of 2006, 124 were killed. That brought the total contractor casualties to 301 for the year.
U.S. military deaths totaled 818 during the year, according to reporters David Ivanovich and Brett Clanton of The Houston Chronicle. The two note that if the civilian contractor deaths were counted, the U.S. military’s official casualty figures — 3,063 as of Friday — would be 25 percent higher.

“Since Day 1, the administration has been very, very comfortable artificially deflating the human cost of our effort in Iraq,” said Steven Schooner, co-director of the government-procurement law program at George Washington University Law School.

Besides those killed, another 7,761 civilian contractors had been injured in Iraq as of Dec. 31, the Labor Department told the Chronicle. The Labor Department tracks these numbers because of compensation claims by injured workers or families of slain contractors under the federal Defense Base Act. But the Chronicle found that there are plenty of holes in the department’s data:

KBR, for instance, says 95 of its employees and subcontractors have been killed in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan. Company officials declined to say exactly how many have died in Iraq alone.
The Labor Department provided the Chronicle a breakdown of fatalities and injuries by contractor, through the end of December, but this list does not identify any deaths as KBR fatalities.

David Ivanovich has always been smart on these things, but the rest of the news media routinely ignores the real human cost of the war. The number of contractors performing what were once miliatry jobs has increased ten-fold since the 1991 Gulf War.
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Civilian contractors killed or injured in Iraq are often eligible for the Pentagon Medal for the Defense of Freedom, the so-called Purple Heart for civilians working on behalf of the military. Halliburton will be having such a ceremony on Feb. 10 even as the company begins a new hiring surge to compliment President Bush’s increased troop deployment.

The Labor Department records indicate L-3 Services Group, which provides translators and interpreters for the Army, had suffered the worst casualties in Iraq: 241 workers killed by the end of 2006, including 32 in the last three months of the year.


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