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:

the acorns and the pinon nuts, the quail and the wild turkey, the giant cactus and the palo verdes – they all miss me. I miss them too. I want to go back to them.”

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.”

Many white mercenaries killed Apaches in the United States and took the scalps into Mexico for the bounty.

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:

One estimate in Mother Jones magazine, compiled from interviews with military experts, suggests that as much 50 percent of the $40 billion given annually to the 15 intelligence agencies in the United States is now spent on private contractors.

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.

The myriad intelligence contracts are typically vague about exactly what the contractor’s work will involve. In fact, many contracts read as if they are for entirely unrelated services. A great number of the contracts signed at Fort Huachuca are officially for “information technology,” but in reality have been used to fund intelligence work — more specifically, the hiring of civilian interrogators to work directly in Afghanistan, Cuba and Iraq.

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.”


A similar technology contract deal was pulled by Maryland-based Lockheed Martin Corporation, which bought up a small company named Affiliated Computer Services Inc. (ACS) with a Department of Interior technology contract, and then used the contract to employ private interrogators at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

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?

Most of the translators hired by Titan did not have security clearances. At least one, Ahmed Fathy Mehalba, had actually failed out of Fort Huachuca’s intelligence school (and later pled guilty to mishandling classified information and making false statements), while CACI employees were drafted to do intelligence tasks that they had never been trained to do. Stephen Stephanowicz is a good example. He was trained at the base to inspect satellite pictures, but worked as an interrogator and is now being sued in federal court for allegedly humiliating, torturing and abusing Iraqi prisoners detained by U.S. authorities.

Chatterjee interviewed experts in intelligence such as James Bamford — whose expose, “The Puzzle Palace” is “now used as a textbook at the Defense Intelligence College” — and the ubiquitous Bob Baer.

“As was made clear by the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, involving private contractors in sensitive intelligence operations can lead to disaster,” Bamford wrote recently in an New York Times op-ed. … Because the issue is hidden under heavy layers of secrecy, it is impossible for even Congress to get accurate figures on just how much money [is being spent] and how many people are involved.”

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.”

See also:

  • “Center for Constitutional Rights Seeks Injunction to Require Private Contractors in Torture Suit to Properly Train Interrogators”
On September 14, 2004, the legal team led by the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Philadelphia law firm of Montgomery, McCracken, Walker & Rhoads filed for a preliminary injunction against CACI International, the U.S. government contractor at Abu-Ghraib Prison and other facilities in Iraq.  The injunction asks that the court require all CACI interrogators to receive proper training in the laws on torture and how to conduct interrogations free of torture.
  • 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.  

From The Artbook of the New West:

The visual power of Tomás  Lasansky’s paintings unleashes other senses. Gazing at the portrait of  “Wolf Robe”, one recalls that the southern Cheyenne leader’s  people were forced to leave their beloved open plains and relocated on a  reservation far from home. Looking at his eyes and the shadowy figures in  the background, one can almost hear the mournful drums, the shuffling gait  of the men, the crying of women and children. Yet despite the pain and  suffering that those eyes have seen, the face possesses a hero’s strength  and dignity. …

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.

0 0 votes
Article Rating