October 18, 2004

Mutiny on the Tigris

The Confidence Man has been peripherally following the story of the 17 U.S. soldiers in Iraq who refused an order to go on a virtual suicide mission delivering tainted gasoline through a combat zone in unarmored trucks.

Now, the AP is reporting that the U.S. military is denying that the gas was contaminated with diesel fuel; however, many of the stateside relatives of the 17 soldiers independently reported that the soldiers, in calls home after/during the incident, made the tainted-gas claim.

Leaving aside the questions being raised regarding adequate armor, vehicle maintenance, and troop support, the Confidence Man wants to know answers to the following obvious questions:
  • How did the gasoline get contaminated, if it in fact was? Did the contamination happen when being handled by the transport soldiers, other logistical troops, or by petrochem-services NGO contractors? If it was contaminated inadvertently by the troops, had they been properlytrained?
  • Why were the soldiers being asked to deliver fuel that was (a) contaminated and (b) had already been rejected by another unit as unusable?
  • And, most importantly, Iraq is lousy with NGO contractors -- the petrochem sector and the U.S. military's logistics and supply chains in particular; why, then, are troops being used to deliver oil? Isn't this precisely the sort of task that Rumsfeld has been so eager to "privatize"?
This whole situation has the stench of corruption to it. The Confidence Man strongly suspects that a close and honest inspection would reveal the handiwork of the Milo Minderbinders of the 21st Century.

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