The military has sure learned its lesson from Abu Ghraib!
After being detained and jailed for three days in Fallujah, “19 employees of North Carolina-based Zapata Engineering, including 16 Americans,” were released and have resigned. The team of security guards was accused of firing at civilians and troops.
“I never in my career have treated anybody so inhumane,” one of the contractors, Rick Blanchard, a former Florida state trooper, wrote in an e-mail message. “They treated us like insurgents, roughed us up, took photos, hazed us, called us names.”
[T]he men were not allowed to call their families or others during their detention.
The Marines “‘slammed around’ several contractors, stripped them to their underwear and placed a loaded weapon near their heads,” reports the LAT.
“‘How does it feel to be a big, rich contractor now?’ the Marines shouted at the men.”
When the shoe’s on the other foot: We know that contractors get off for detainee abuse and murder, but it turns out they don’t have any rights either when they’re the ones being roughed up:
The LAT covers the legal limbo that contractors find themselves in:
“Two years into the [Iraq war], and there’s still a hole when it comes to a legal structure,” said Peter W. Singer, a Brookings Institution scholar who has written extensively on private military contractors.
“Where in the chain of command do [contractors] fit? Where is the accountability? If something bad happens, who investigates it, who prosecutes, and who punishes?” he asked.
An attorney for the men said he has contacted the FBI and a U.S. Congressman’s office about the treatment of the contractors.
What exactly happened that led to the contractors’ arrest and detention? The stories vary:
Lapan, the Marine Corps spokesman, gave a different account of the circumstances leading up to the detention.
On May 18, he said, a Marine patrol in Fallouja reported receiving fire from a convoy of late-model trucks and sport utility vehicles. The Marines also saw gunmen in the convoy fire at civilians in the streets of Fallouja, where reconstruction was taking place.
Three hours later, a second set of Marines at an observation post reported receiving fire from vehicles matching the description of the convoy involved in the earlier incident, Lapan said.
The Marines stopped the convoy using spiked strips in the road and took 16 Americans and three Iraqi translators into custody. Of the Americans, 14 were armed security personnel, according to the Corps of Engineers. …
Update [2005-6-8 7:36:57 by susanhu]: