the smallest sliver of glass can reflect the brilliance
of the entire moon, full and blazing in the midnight
sky. And just so, a simple story in an out-of-the-way
journal can illuminate the ethos of an entire
age, piercing the murk with a sudden flash of
stark and painful truth.
brutal essence of the Bushist Era was thus laid
bare last week in the unlikely venue of the Army
Times, a corporate-owned military newspaper in
Washington. In an article detailing the effectiveness
of a new kind of ammunition, the paper -- inadvertently,
we assume -- stripped away the patriotic tinfoil
wrapped around the arms industry and revealed
that "patriotism" for what it really is: extortion,
crude and thuggish, a raw greed driven by threats
-- including the threat of turning their death-wares
against the Americans they are purporting to defend.
story, by John Roos, deals with the controversy
over a new bullet made by a Texas firm, RBCD,
and distributed by Le Mas Ltd. of Arkansas. As
Roos explains, the new 5.66-mm Le Mas round is
"frangible" -- it will "penetrate steel and other
hard targets but will not pass through a human
torso." Instead, it effectively explodes inside
a body, ravaging tissue in all directions, "creating
ammo has not been adopted by the U.S. military
yet, but it is being used by some of the "private
security consultants" hired by the Bush administration
to prowl the streets of occupied Iraq. These mercenaries
are not always bound by the laws and codes of
honor that govern regular military forces, so
they're free to do any dirty work that the Bushists
want to keep off the books. They are also free
to carry out productive "field experiments" of
new ammo on human targets, the paper reports.
writes of hired gun Ben Thomas, who works for
an unnamable company carrying out unspecified
tasks in Iraq for the Bush Regime. Thomas cheerfully
relates his first kill with Le Mas' fabulous frangible,
during what he said was a skirmish with Iraqi
gunmen in a rural village near Baghdad. "It entered
his butt and completely destroyed everything in
the lower left section of his stomach," Thomas
said of the single bullet from his M4 carbine.
"Everything was torn apart. Nobody [could] believe
this guy died from a butt shot."
and his fellow irregulars made sure to examine
his handiwork when the fight was over, exploring
the dead man's exploded rectum to study the effects
of the new round. The verdict? The bullet's a
beaut. "There's absolutely no comparison, whatever,
none" to the piddling damage caused by lesser
5.56-mm cartridges, Thomas said. And he should
know, telling Roos that he has "shot people with
various types of ammo" in his shadowy work around
the world. He's stocking up on the Le Mas butt-buster,
he added, and will be taking plenty to his privatized
pals when he returns to Baghdad after a brief
chill-out in Florida.
it seems there's trouble in this shooter's paradise.
Despite the butt-buster's marvelous ability to
create untreatable wounds -- guaranteeing an agonizing
death to any enemy (or innocent bystander, or
victim of friendly fire, etc.) -- the Army has
yet to place an order with Le Mas. Army experts
say earlier tests show the bullet doesn't wreak
appreciably more tissue-ripping havoc than ammo
already in stock. Although more tests have been
mandated by well-greased Bushist congressmen,
Army brass have remained dubious.
Hell hath no fury like an arms dealer scorned.
Le Mas says the Army's tests were fatally flawed:
They fired the bullets into cold gelatin, while
the ammo's true effectiveness can only be measured
by blasting live animals (or Iraqi villagers).
Company officials hint darkly of a conspiracy
among Pentagon brass to protect their own favored
ammo programs. To break the power of this dastardly
cabal, Le Mas has hired lobbyist Bill Skipper
to carry the fight to Washington. And Skipper
has a simple message: cross our palms with public
silver -- or else.
I heard of the ballistic characteristics of this
ammo, as a retired military officer, I realized
it has to stay in the good guys' hands," Skipper
told Army Times. "This is an issue of national
ponder that for a moment. Why is the Army's decision
in this matter "an issue of national security?"
It's obvious: because if the "good guys" don't
buy Le Mas' gut-chewing ammo, then they will sell
it to the bad guys -- to anyone who'll pay the
price. There is no other possible way to construe
the firm's position. The Army's failure to purchase
the ammunition can only put the nation's security
at risk if Le Mas sells the bullets to America's
enemies. If they would forswear this possibility,
there would be no such risk. Instead, they have
made it the linchpin of their money-grubbing campaign.
we see the "morality" of those who traffic in
death -- from small-time players like Le Mas to
the Bushist boardrooms of the Carlyle Group, the
corruption-riddled Boeing Corporation, Britain's
scandal-plagued BAE and all the other masters
of war who girdle the planet with blood and steel.
Stripped of high-vaulting, self-deluding rhetoric,
their pitch boils down to this: Pay us to help
kill your enemies -- or we'll help your enemies
kill you. The money is what matters.
off that mask of patriotism and this is the reality:
a death's head with dollar signs glowing in its
Times, Nov. 24, 2003
Mas Ltd. Rebuttal of Blended-Metal Bullet Tests,"
Mas Ltd. website
Privatisation of War,"
Guardian, Dec. 10, 2003
Chief Refused to Sign e800 Million Hawk Order
Guardian, Dec. 10, 2003
Speaks: The Moral Sewer of Pentagon Procurement,"
With Bill Moyers transcript, Dec. 5, 2003
Pentagon Link in the Limelight,"
Times, Dec. 7, 20003
Force Pursued Boeing Deal Despite Concern of Rumsfeld,"
York Times, Dec. 6, 2003
Has $20 Million Stake in Perle Fund,"
Times, Dec. 3, 2003
News, Dec. 15, 2003 edition
Has Armed Both Sides in India and Pakistan Conflict,"
Times, May 28, 2002
Voice, Dec. 10, 2003
The Ex-President's Club,"
Guardian, Oct. 31, 2001
With a Globe-Trotting Father,"
Angeles Times, May 7, 2000
Texas: Dark Heart of the American Dream,"
Observer, June 16, 2002
Posted: December 19, 2003