Expanded and modified from the original diary at Daily Kos.
In forced exile in Florida, Alabama and finally Oklahoma, Geronimo pleaded “for his Apaches’ return to Arizona.” One day he told General Nelson Miles, who had unsuccessfully hunted Geronimo and his 24 warriors with 10,000 soldiers, “civilian irregulars,” and Apache scouts until Geronimo left his fortress:
Miles replied, “A very beautiful thought, Geronimo. But the men and women who live in Arizona, they do not miss you, … [they] sleep now [with] no fear that Geronimo will come and kill them.”
“Hardened troopers from Fort Huachuca” — a fort in the middle of Apacheria, now Arizona — “tracked down the defiant Geronimo in 1886, and with his surrender brought the Apache campaigns to a close.”
Today, Fort Huachuca is a “military base with a long history of covert military action [that] housed the training of many … interrogators who worked in the prisons of Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay and Iraq’s now infamous Abu Ghraib prison.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Not much in Fort Hauchuca’s mission has changed. Between 1858 and 1886, Geronimo and his 24 warriors had become a mythically fearsome force against which the U.S. believed that overwhelming force — over 10,000 soldiers — was required. Frightened settlers needed to be calmed so that they could once again sleep peacefully at night.
When finally captured, Geronimo and his people (no matter their involvement in the battles) were “rendered” and walled-off in inhospitable climes.
CAPTION: Band of Apache Indian prisoners at rest stop beside Southern Pacific Railway, near Nueces River, Tex., September 10, 1886. Among those on their way to exile in Florida are Natchez (center front) and, to the right, Geronimo and his son in matching shirts. (AmericanIndians.com)
What turned Geronimo into that fearsome force? When he returned home from a tradition excursion to Mexico in 1858 (he had had, apparently, “normal” relations with Mexicans), he found his wife, his mother, and his three young children murdered by Spanish troops from Mexico. “This reportedly caused him to have such a hatred of the whites that he vowed to kill as many as he could.” (From “a single standing teepee“)
Geronimo then “took every opportunity he could to terrorize Mexican settlements.” To get rid of Geronimo and the Apache people, two Mexican states — Sonora and Chihuahua — offered “one hundred pesos for for a warrior’s scalp, fifty for a woman’s, and twenty-five for a child’s.”
The profit-making motives behind fighting terrorism continue to this day, far beyond anything those enterprising white scalpers could have dreamed:
In “Intelligence, Inc.” — published March 7 — the prodigious muckraker Pratap Chatterjee reports on the rapidly growing complex of private “mercenaries” at Fort Huachuca meant — by Donald Rumsfeld et al. Inc. — to keep the men and women of America “safe” and let them sleep at night:
Teaching for Profit
Among the private contractors cashing in on the privatization boom is Virginia-based Anteon International Corp. … grown tenfold in the last decade … has become one of the nation’s primary contractors for intelligence sharing, intelligence training and video game warfare simulators. (From Corpwatch)
Anteon’s founder Frederick Iseman “recruited a group of highly-placed former military officials to his board, … from William Perry, former head of the Pentagon, to Hugh Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Bill Clinton.”
Then there are the “Mysterious Contracts,” Chatterjee reports.
Military intelligence’s private contractors use cover corporations — just like the CIA. The CIA jet used for extraordinary rendition is owned by a corporation called “Premiere Executive Transport Services.”
One Fort Huachuca office is a civilian agency, “the Department of Interior, Directorate of Contracting [which] holds a technology contract for a company named Premier Technology.” Coincidentally, “[s]oon after the contract was issued … Premier was bought up by another Virginia company named CACI International Inc., which used the original contract to hire private interrogators to work in Abu Ghraib prison.”
The Titan Corporation, which describes itself as “a leading provider of comprehensive information and communications products, solutions, and services for National Security,” was also awarded contracts that were used to provide services at Abu Ghraib prison. Although not signed at Fort Huachuca, these contracts supplied the prison with translators, who have also been implicated in the prison abuse.
Just how qualified are the private contractors that are brought in by these private corporations?
Another major problem with privatizing intelligence, Bamford told CorpWatch, is cost. “After spending millions of dollars training people, taxpayers are having to pay them twice as much to return as rent-a-spies.”
Bob Baer, the former CIA Middle East specialist and author of the book See No Evil, says the same phenomenon is happening within his former agency. “After 1997, practically all training is done by contractors,” he says. “The CIA is even hiring contractors as station chiefs in other countries.
There’s much more in Chatterjee’s report, Intelligence, Inc.. And there is a fascinating, separate interview with a whistleblower, Torin Nelson, who “has worked in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. An expert interrogator, he was hired by the Virginia-based company CACI International Inc., to work at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, at the time when prisoners there were subjected to abuse and torture.”
- “Center for Constitutional Rights Seeks Injunction to Require Private Contractors in Torture Suit to Properly Train Interrogators”
- A recent interview with Chatterjee on Democracy Now!
- Another interview on March 1 with Chatterjee and Alan Grayson, the attorney in the case — “Custer Battles: Why Won’t the Justice Dept. Intervene to Reclaim Millions From Military Contractor in Iraq?”
- Remarkable photos of Geronimo
- The history of Fort Huachuca, which was also the home of the “Buffalo Soldiers” and served as the training grounds for black infantry units during WWII
About the artist, Tomas Lasansky, who painted Geronimo’s modern-day portrait that you see first in the diary: Gallery, Articles, and Biography. I have requested Mr. Lasansky’s permission to show this thumbnail.
The emotional strength Lasansky is able to capture on canvas resounds throughout his painting of “Geronimo”. While a faint red tear appears to trickle down from the Apache leader’s eye, the set of the jaw is defiant and unyielding. After all, this was the brilliant military strategist who led 5,000 U.S. military troops a merry chase before surrendering and being shipped off to Florida.
“Even as a youngster, I saw American Indians as strong, fiercely independent and loyal to their beliefs and traditions,” stresses Lasansky. “Of course, when I learned about their history, the greater my empathy and passion became for their way of life. As an American, one who came along long after the Native American, the insensitivity and injustice that have been perpetuated on these people is the ghost that still lingers for me.”
All emphases mine.