Thursday, December 6, 2007

Iraq war vet: Congress is undermining the 'selfless soldier and contractor'

By playing politics with urgently needed war funding, Congress is undermining the "selfless soldier and contractor" serving the nation in Iraq, a prominent war veteran says.

LTC Steve Russell USA (Ret.) is a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, and commanded a unit that was central to the capture of Saddam Hussein. He says in a Fox News column that congressional critics of Blackwater, led by Rep. Jan Schakowsky, are the real out-of-control "cowboys."

Russell (pictured) is founder and chairman of Veterans for Victory. Here's an excerpt from his column, titled on the site as "Cowboys from Blackwater? Try Cowboys from Congress":

"Since September's now-famous Baghdad shootout that led to the deaths of 17 Iraqis, numerous critics have assailed contractors with Blackwater USA, as well as security contractors in general, by labeling them as reckless cowboys.

"But leading the chorus denouncing contractors has been a different posse of 'cowboys,' this one composed of reckless members of Congress. Their careless rhetoric and soldier funding ambushes amount to the very same thing they accuse Blackwater of doing - shooting first, and asking questions later.

"Recently, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and 13 other members of Congress have introduced legislation to turn the Blackwater incident into an excuse to bar all security contractors from performing their essential role in securing Iraq. Now, Congress sits before the end-of-year recess determined to ambush not just contractors, but also our soldiers serving abroad by attacking their needed funds.

"If these politicians succeed, they will only make the U.S. military's job harder. And American soldiers - as well as ordinary Iraqis - will face a less stable, more dangerous situation.
With victory in Iraq a distinct possibility, who is being the irresponsible cowboy now?"

Russell wrote an important piece about the Blackwater controversy in Stars & Stripes last October titled, "What's Behind Attacks on Blackwater."

Among Russell's many points: "The truth, which few members of Congress are willing to admit, is that Blackwater employees are doing some of the most difficult work in Iraq. And, they are doing a great job keeping Americans safe."

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