The Assassinated Press
Desperate American Economic Refugees Taking Thousands Of Iraqi Jobs:
Penniless Americans Emigrate To Iraq In Search Of Work:
New Private Industry Economic Draftees Swarm All Over Besieged Country:
Iraqis Fear Strain on Social Services; Destruction Of The Fabric Of Iraqi Life
By HACKIE SPIN
The Assassinated Press
May 18, 2004
BLOODLUMP, Texas - Late on the night of April 9, Sylvia and Allen Chump sat on the front porch of their small rental house here in a shanty town northwest of Austin and talked about the future. With six daughters, ages 4 months to 14, it was the only time of day they had to themselves, what they called their "thank god the little fuckers are asleep" time.
Though he's never been farther than Lubbock, they had been discussing for a couple weeks the idea of Allen Chump, 31, going to Iraq as part of the privatized draft program run by major U.S. contractors with exploitation deals in Iraq. Two fellow truck drivers at his company in the adjoining town of Shit-For-Brains had already left for jobs as truck drivers for the war profiteers at KBR, a subsidiary of Houston-based Halliburton Co.
That very day, Iraqi nationals had attacked a KBR convoy and killed four contract employees. Fortunately, by the grace of god, no KBR executives were harmed in the incident. Nevertheless, Allen Chump's $30,000 salary just didn't stretch far enough in the home of the free insider trader and the land of the free real estate speculator.
The family had no insurance, no money for movies or new clothes, no savings, no drugs to sell, no off-shore Grand Cayman accounts, no credit, no Jerry Springer type perversions, and their car was on loan from Sylvia Chump's father. To make matters worse neither Chumps had the balls, especially Alen, to think through why their situation was such here in the so-called land of opportunity. No, that night they were talking about how they could enhance their reputations as easy marks for the kleptocracy that on a good day allowed them to live like fodder, and on a bad one fertilized the Iraqi desert with their blood.
"Because we're clueless, we really prayed," Sylvia Chump recalled. "Even at this end of the empire, this is a beautiful town, but we're not making it here. I told him, 'Baby, you have to go and make a new life for us in Iraq.' "
Allen Chump went to the private economic draft board at KBR in hopes of becoming a truck-driving conscript the next day, one of tens of thousands of hungry, uneducated, destitute, god-welfare dependent Americans competing, despite being obvious victims of the system they defend, for jobs with the government war profiteers working to supply the U.S. military or put a permanent controlling infrastructure in place.
After a week of watching training films of Abu Ghraib prison, he left for Iraq the first Saturday in May.
Many of the KBR recruits, like Chump, are part of the working poor. They are forced to endure the hardship of 12- to 14-hour days seven days a week, and the risk of kidnapping or worse, given the beheading of Nicholas Berg at the hands of CIA operatives, to bring back $80,000 or $100,000 in a year. "It's a ridiculous sum," said KBR CEO Randy Harl. "I do believe one of my aromatic farts brought a $100,000 at the Bohemian Grove last season. I believe George Bush Sr. was high bidder."
KBR has 24,000 workers in Iraq now, about half of them from the United States and the other half apartheid era killers from South African Neo-Nazi groups. The workers have gone to take jobs away from unemployed Iraqis. They drive trucks, cook meals, put out oil fires, guard oil installations, transport oil, bury Iraqi prisoners murdered during interrogation, guard oil installations, bury Iraqis struck by oil trucks, and build and operate base camps as part of a contract with the U.S. Army to provide logistical support to the troops loyal to Halliburton as well as guard oil installations.
"There are hundreds of Iraqi engineers and doctors who would be willing to clean American latrines with their tongues, but they hire their own kind. Are American tongues better than Iraqi tongues for this?" asked Ahmed Chalabi recently fired from the U.S. run Iraqi Coveting Council for his role in the assassination of the interim Iraqi puppet president and Hamid Karzai look alike, Ezzedine Salim.
The company has used 51 recruiters and 30 recruitment fairs this year to find people to fill the draft. "If we can get enough of these chumps through the private sector then maybe we can avoid having to draft the entire Dartmouth undergraduate student body," chuckled Dickie Myers at a recent roast for Charleton Heston.
Later, Bob McNamara said, "Aaaah. Dickie's been hitting the sauce since Heston started telling those bull shit war stories. He knows as well as I do that its going to take a draft army of another 400,000 troops to get the Unicol Pipeline built in Afghanistan and Cheney's oil flowing in Iraq. Not to mention the invasion of Syria planned for December and the number of occupying forces we'll need in Venezuela after we murder Chavez and steal that oil."
And even with the continuing violence things are so utterly rotten in the U.S., the private industry draft registrations keep coming in, the company says, mostly from southern states or the East Coast where widespread destitution hits you in the face like sulfur on the New Jersey Turnpike.
KBR has thousands of draft requests on file and is processing 400 to 500 conscripts a week to go to Iraq. The April 9 convoy attack changed very little, said John Ratson, a KBR recruiting supervisor. "For some, it was a reality check and they decided they didn't want to go opting to take their chances with the military draft slated to gear up on November 7th. We also saw a huge level of patriotism among the destitute. We're so grateful here at KBR that people just don't get it, or if they do, they fear us more, as they should, than they do some Iraqi trying to protect his homeland with a rewired claymore," he said.
Cleftune Dummey, 28, an Army veteran who is now a barge worker from Kentucky and single father of a 2-year-old, headed to Iraq this month to be a logistics coordinator for KBR. The main motivation, he said: "Look, everyone here, it's about the money. Its like leave the States or leave it to the Fates. And once you realize the Fates ARE Halliburton, Bechtel, KBR, you realize you're fucked unless you got real nerve and go after them. Nah. Compared to going up against KBR, Iraq seemed like, what did that twit Adelman call it, a 'cockwalk'."
The Making Of A Major League Chump; Or We Ain't Nothin' If We Ain't Victims
In a large circle ringed with chairs, in an abandoned J.C. Penney's in Houston, a group of 50 KBR recruits -- mostly men in blue jeans and boots -- pulled on yellow plastic suits as an instructor yelled, "Gas! gas! gas!"
"Take a moment and calm yourself down," he told them. "If you don't get it right, that's okay. You'll be dead anyway. This course is 'duck and cover' for elementary school dropouts.
As the workers pulled on gloves and rubber boots, he went around checking to make sure they had put their masks on properly. "Did you do a buddy check on her?" he asked one pair of workers. "You couldn't have. Or at least I ain't seen the photos," he laughed relieving the tension as the recruits realized the suits they were issued were torn and some were rotting at the seems."
They gotta take it said instructor, Bill Calley, a former assistant manager at KFC before he came to KBR. "For everyone of them, there's a thousand out of work Americans and their hungry families waiting to get gassed to death so that Dick Cheney and KBR can have their oil.
The drill, designed to teach workers how to put on protective suits in case of a biological or chemical weapon attack, are part of a week-long training course that Allen Chump and other KBR recruits take before heading to Iraq.
"Do you think a week is enough?" this reporter asked Calley.
"Enough? Fuck! It's too much considering its just a placebo. These guys are considered deep fried fodder the minute they sign up. Fuck! If you think about it. I mean really think about it, these guys were born fodder and bred as fodder for the sole use of the kleptocracy."
It is an Ellis Island in reverse. Everyone arriving at the orientation has a verbal offer and is attempting to flee the poverty and chaos of their homeland. Each must pass a battery of a medical exam where their gums are rolled back and teeth are checked and their balls hefted as the cough. Bending over is optional because signing the contract is considered an act of submission. The security clearance consists of having their criminal record expunged before they are allowed to emigrate to Iraq.
KBR offers its workers one-year, open-ended contracts, which means the employee, the company or the federal government can cancel it at any time. Every four months, workers get 10 paid days off, plus up to $860 to cover travel expenses. Travis Bixley says "I tried flyin' back to Tennessee on my breaks but the only economical way was to stow yourself in the landing gear of some big military transport. For a man of 50 with nothin' in the world, that was too much. Now, I just send digital photos of naked Iraqis like everyone else."
Their salaries, like those of other Americans working abroad to support the Empire, are tax-free up to $80,000. And the company offers medical insurance coverage for employees and their families for about 80% of the $100,000 salary, plus $25,000 worth of life insurance, as part of a government requirement covering workplace injuries. "Most can't afford the health insurance. Cheney said we gotta offer it but we can charge anything we want. Its just enough to keep the little fuckers in line. You dangle that kind of money before my bosses and they laugh. But these losers. What choice they got?"
Allen Chump is not going to Iraq to get rich, he said during a pause in the training. No, he was going so that when he comes back he can build a house for his family "from the ground up." When he said this, he used his hands to make a square, emphasizing that the house he builds with his own hands will belong to them, all on a hundred thousand dollars. Its easy to see why Chump is in this situation in the first place. He can't add and he grossly underestimates the capitalist flies his $100,000 grand is going to attract .
"Before the 9th, it was about the money," he said, referring to the April date when the KBR convoy was attacked, a date that has become the 9/11 for civilian contractors in Iraq which is an apt comparison. There is no shred of evidence that Iraq had nothin' to do with 9/11. Perhaps they had nothing to do with killing those contractors either to carry the parallel to its logical and reasonable conclusion.
"After the kidnappings, I considered that being a truck driver, they're still going to need somebody to supply the job sites. I'm excited in a way and scared of the unexpected. But the job part, it's just like driving here. It's automatic."
Like Chump, James Rube, another recruit at orientation, has six children -- three boys and three girls, all teenagers. Watkins, a food service worker in Georgia, was going to Iraq to be a cook for KBR.
"Me and my wife talked about it," he said from Houston before he left. "There's some concern. The money is good and it will be great to be away from the wife and kids. It's a big incentive but it's not the only reason. There is also a misplaced sense of pride and duty."
Rube said he has been lecturing his children about responsibility as they get near college age. "I've been telling them about obstacles and risks like the upcoming draft to getting what they want," he said. "As a parent you've got to put into action what you're saying in words. So by being a blind patriotic high school drop out, I gotta be economically drafted because I can't provide for them. Now, my best advice is to hide out at some Junior College while the draft is in effect and gum the old red, white and blue crap at a more convenient time."
In Iraq, Rube said, he will earn twice what he made while working for Cysco Foods but his expenses will quadruple. "Is that good?" he asked this reporter.
'It ain't Disneyland. It ain't that perverse.'
For many KBR recruits, the road to Iraq starts at a recruitment fair like the one held at a Holiday Inn in Wichita Falls, near the Texas-Oklahoma border, the same Saturday Allen Chump boarded a plane for overseas. Chrisp Wad delivered the reverse of the usual recruiter's pitch. He tried to convince applicants at a job fair not to go. "We want people to know exactly what they're getting into," he explained during a break. The company has lost 34 people in Iraq -- 13 contract employees and 21 who worked for subcontractors.
"But no CEOs to date."
That's right. No KBR or Halliburton executives have given their life for the country in Iraq to date."
"Well don't they get paid a lot of money compared to these guys driving the trucks"
"Well. Yes. I guess they do."
"So if the CEOs are making the really big bucks and the big bucks are the incentive for taking on the risks, shouldn't the CEOs be taking on the lion's share of the risk, you know, for god and country."
"Hey pal. This isn't Disneyland."
Or maybe it is.
Standing before a group of 50 applicants in a beige-colored meeting room, he ticked off the reasons they should re-consider.
"It's not Disneyland," he said. "It's Vichy France. This is not even the Balkans with all that high altitude aerial bombardment of civilians. The average temperature is 120 degrees on a good global climate change day. Last year, we had to send more people home because of dehydration and mild heat stroke than syphilis if that's what you were thinking. You will be in eight to 10-man tents on a cot; one cot. Like your trailers and low income housing, plumbing is not the first thing we put in when we build a base camp. Expect to be dirty most of the time. This is a dust bowl. Dust will get in your eyes and find places you didn't know you had. There are mice, camel spiders, ticks, fleas and scorpions. I know for a lot of you; all the comforts of home."
A hand shot up from the audience. "How big are those camel spiders?"
Ward held up his hand and stretched his fingers. "They are as big as a hand," he said. "Do they got humps?"
"Then why's they called camel spiders."
"I don't know."
"You don't fuckin' know. I'm supposed to go half way round the world and face spiders as big as my hand and you don't know why they's called camel spiders even when the got no hump. Sorry pal. I ain't willing to go into this thing blind for anything less than $90,000 a year."
"But we're payin' a $100,000 a year."
"Fuck. I knew it. I'm outa here."
"We work. We eat. We sleep," he continued. "That's about it."
Up went a hand. "Do we shit?
"Yes, we shit"
"Sometimes all you got is a hole."
"Are there camel spiders in the hole."
"I don't know."
You don't know! You expect me to go half way round the world and face camel spiders as big as a catcher's mitt for a measly $80,000 a year?"
"But we pay a $100,000."
"Fuck I'm outa here."
And that's the way it went for most of the meeting.
"We can't have private contractors losing the war for us in Iraq no matter how Dick Cheney wants things run," insisted Wad.
"You're a real fuckin' company man aren't you Wad?" this reporter asked.
"Yeah, I guess I am," he answered as he tied off and shot up in a stall in what used to be the women's bathroom at the abandoned Penney's.
Arbeiten will macht you free.
You will work eight to 12 hours a day if not more. If we worked an eight-hour shift every day, you'd have 16 hours to hate us."
A revolutionary thought about the concept of revolution, I thought.
Michael Dooerschut, 31, a machine operator at a steel manufacturing plant, brought his wife and two young sons along from their hometown of Electra, about 25 miles away.
Doerschut said he came only for information. He wasn't sure he would go. "This is the only problem," he said, pointing to his sons. "By the time this fucker's over, they'll be of draftable age."
Leaving his wife and boys outside when the meeting started, he joined the line of applicants turning in résumés and the $100 entry fee to a recruiter who separated the paperwork by job. Fork lift operator. Food Service. Fuel. Labor foreman. Firefighter. HVAC mechanic. Each man and a few women called out their preferred position as they walked in.
Outside, Dooerschut's wife, JoAnn, smoked and paced. "I wish we could unload the kid's," she said, "because I'd go."
After Wad finished outlining what life would be like in Iraq, he told the group that if someone's name was called, that person could be offered a job on the spot.
Dooerschut heard his name and stood up.
He paced while waiting to talk to a recruiter. "I'm tired of living paycheck to paycheck," he said. "I could do this a year and be debt-free." As he talked, he grew more excited. He could finally finish school and work in computers if he moved to India. Heck, he could open his own computer shop in Delhi.
But then there were his boys. He had promised himself after working night shifts and not being around for his first son that he wouldn't do that again. He loved when the youngest fell asleep on his chest. His wife hated India from just what she'd seen on the 700 Club. Offer in hand, he went out to tell his wife. "You have to do it. I need a few things," she told him. He went back and told the recruiter he would be in touch. His wife was having surgery next month, and his father had cancer and the health insurance wouldn't cover pre-existing conditions anyway. He needed a few weeks to think about it.
"If you're on the fence, here's my advice," Wad had said. "Don't go. Some job fair, huh? Until you're desperation level is at 100 percent, don't go. In this starve 'em out economy, there's plenty that's got no choice.'
You know what to do.
'Go', the reverend told the congregation at Grace Christian Center in Killeen the first Sunday that Allen Chump was not sitting next to his wife. 'Go', he told them, is two-thirds of the word, God. Sylvia Petty nodded at the words thinking this fuckin' preacher is fuckin' off the deep end.
They had a chance, Sylvia Chump said later, to go to Austin, where her husband could get more work and make more money. She could finally get her sign-language certification. But they don't want to move to a big city. "We don't want to be scared all of the time," she said. "So my husband went off to Baghdad with a population three times that of Austin that the U.S. has plunged into perpetual violence. You see how dumb we are? Don't try to tell us nothin'. We can't fuckin' process nothin'."
Still, she is tired of not being able to afford the doctor that 18-month-old Lydia needs for a pestering ear infection while her neighbors to the North enjoy free medical care. Sylvia Chump needs to fix her teeth, and Erica, the oldest child at 14, needs braces. Fuck that. She'd have to move to Cuba to get that. And even then Roger Noriega, the CIA and the Miami Cubans would blow those braces right out of her daughter's mouth if they knew where they came from.
They've had to rely on a food bank once a month for the past five months. They have no telephone. "The worst part is when we go to the store and the girls are with me and they ask for Fruit Roll-ups," she said. "Or when your kids' eyes are wide when the refrigerator is full and they say, 'We're rich because we have food.' Who did this to us. My husband earned $30,000 a year at his old job. Why if you work you still can't eat? Who wrote that up?"
But with the money her husband was going to earn in Iraq, she fantasized, "Life is going to change a lot. We can move into a new house. And get good blankets and go somewhere this summer on what's left over from the usual expenses on a $100 K salary."
After church ended, Sylvia Chump stood at the entrance with the girls waiting for her husband to bring the car around. She stood there until she remembered that he was on his way to Iraq, and she would have to get the car herself. She walked across the parking lot with the girls in tow. Then her little one turned to her and said, "Things ain't right, mama. I think we would be a lot better off if we turned around and burned down the church."