DoD and KBR sponsor secret ceremony to award medals to contractors killed in Iraq

From the LA Times

HOUSTON — On a cold, overcast day here Friday, nine families came
together in a hushed hotel ballroom to receive one of the nation’s most
prestigious civilian honors.

Executives in dark blue suits shifted uncomfortably as an Army major
general in battle fatigues awarded posthumous Defense of Freedom medals
to the families’ loved ones, all contractors killed while working in
Iraq.

But this was no public recognition of sacrifice. The event was held in
secret, with guards to keep out the media. The Army even refused to
release the names of those it was honoring. The nation’s gratitude was
delivered behind closed doors.

SNIP

The Houston medal ceremony, jointly sponsored by KBR and the Department
of Defense, underscored the meshing of the American military with
contractors. KBR holds the single largest contract in Iraq, with 50,000
workers supplying food, fuel and mail to the military.The contractors work alongside soldiers, helping rebuild the country
and providing private security guards to diplomats and senior U.S.
officials.

All told, the Pentagon has awarded 119 contractors the Defense of
Freedom medal, which is considered the civilian equivalent of a Purple
Heart. Of those, 95 have gone to KBR employees, according to KBR
officials.

The officials declined to provide names or access to the event, citing
privacy concerns. The Times was given access by family members who
received the award.

The article states that “more than 750 contractors have been killed in Iraq [..] the figures
include Americans, Iraqis and other nationalities employed under U.S.
government contracts.” It also relates the problems wounded contractors and those with PTSD have encountered in getting help.
——
I’m not without sympathy for these people who the article stated were often working class folk. More and more we are relying on the support of these individuals to fight these wars yet they do hold a nebulous status. Ought they receive medals? I don’t know but if they are to receive them why the secrecy??? Appears the government would rather not throw the doors open to the myriad of issues involved.

7 thoughts on “DoD and KBR sponsor secret ceremony to award medals to contractors killed in Iraq

  1. Ripley says:

    And, iirc, didn’t I read somewhere that the folks who receive these medals are required to waive any civil actions against KBR for damages? It seems awfully familiar but maybe I’m just making it up…

  2. Nora says:

    If they’re not subject to the discipline of the U.S. Military (such as it is, in the post Abu Ghraib period), I can’t see why they should get the benefits of U.S. medals. The whole problem with contractors — aside from the obscene benefits that the contracting companies get from our tax dollars — is the lack of accountability for their actions. Which, of course, is what makes them so desirable to the Bush Administration.

  3. piegrrrl says:

    Coming soon to patrol a street near you. There was a day I would say this is tinfoil hat territory, but after Katrina and the private security forces there…nope. It’s all about the Benjamins. Wheelbarrows full.

  4. BuggyQ says:

    If their service was of such value to the United States that the government felt compelled to give them these medals (as I believe it was), don’t they deserve to have that honor announced to the nation?
    These are people doing jobs that in previous wars (or should I say “wars”?) would have been done by the military. This isn’t just a symptom of cronyism, it’s a symptom of how badly abused our military has been by this administration.
    Why anybody continues to support the Bush administration is beyond me.

  5. Aaaargh says:

    Really, we’re talking about mercenaries and contract torturers who have brought shame upon our nation. The lot of them belong dead, without honors.

  6. hoppycalif says:

    Mercenaries are rarely ever seen as honorable people. These are people engaging in war just to make money. They are not “fighting” to defend our country, or to defend any country. They are just seeking to benefit financially from the misery that is war. I don’t hate them. I don’t wish them ill will. But, I sure don’t want them to receive medals from my government.
    Private militias, which is what these people are, are a major problem in Iraq, as well as in many countries with weak governments. Our national priorities are way out of kilter when we copy the “traditions” of Somalia and not those of our own country.

  7. I believe many people from the CIA and from Delta use a “private military contractor” as a cover.

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