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by: ctblogger

Fri Feb 09, 2007 at 15:52:40 PM EST

(cross post from ConnecticutBLOG)

Rep. Chris Shays is a real class act.

Here's the pride and joy of the 4th District repeatedly admonishing Katy Helvenston-Wettengel (who was only trying to answer Shays questions within his endless and shameless rant).

Who is Katy Helvenston-Wettengel you ask? Well, she just happens to be one of the relatives of the four American contractors who providing private security in Iraq that were ambushed by a mob and their bodies dragged through the streets of Fallujah.

Helvenston-Wettengel, and three other relatives of the victims, testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Wednesday about the outrageous conditions their loved ones were forced to deal with while working as contractors in Iraq (i.e., lack of body armour, lack of amour ed cars, no maps, etc).

After these individuals fought back tears testifying about the recounting how the contractors, were sent out into the meat grinder called Iraq without the protective equipment they were promised, the Republicans wasted no time and doing what they do best...attack the messenger. Shays grilling and belittling of Helvenston-Wettengel was so offensive that Rep. Henry Waxman apparently had enough of the 4th District Congressman and pulled the plug on him.

Watch and puke...

UPDATE: The more I watch this clip, the more upset I get. If you feel the same way, then please email Rep Shays and express your outrage.

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Shays is, without a doubt ,unstable (0.00 / 0)
After watching his election night speech how on earth can anyone not see that.This is just more evidence.

Unstable? (4.00 / 1)
The guy that said it was a sex ring and not TORTURE is unstable... Think on that not I, said Yoda...

Drinking Liberally in New Milford
ePluribus Media

[ Parent ]
See below in Shay's GH's (0.00 / 0)
That reminds me, I should up his remarkable acceptance speech from 11/7/06.

[ Parent ]
Shays does seem to raise some points... (0.00 / 0)
This is really interesting, ctblogger, and thanks for posting it. 

I have mixed feelings about the clip, and I wish I had been able to see the whole hearing in context. 

What Shays seemed to be getting at - though I'm not certain - is that these contractors were highly specialized experts who had the choice of whether or not to go to Iraq in the first place.  The points that one widow raises at the end (that perhaps her husband was forced into his last mission on the threat that he'd be left alone in Baghdad without protection if he did not) were shocking and certainly worthy of follow up, but strangely Waxman cuts both her and Shays off there.

I have a real problem with equating the "plight" of contractors in Iraq with the horrible conditions our troops work in.  Contractors are over their for profit.  Most employees are highly paid -- five, six times that of our troops doing comparable work.  They can choose not to work there; our troops can't.

That said, it's not okay for American companies to then further profiteer from the war by not adequately protecting their employees who are working in a war zone.

The real problem seems to me to be the extent to which our military apparatus has outsourced its basic functions to for-profit corporations.  Military leaders have expressed concerns about this for years, and Iraq is rife with corruption and profiteering because of it.  Worse, those Americans who are over there as for-profit contractors are not held to the same standards and rules as our troops are, not subject to military discipline or justice, yet the Iraqi people see them all as "Americans", so if contractors mistreat people or commit crimes there, our government is blamed.  (Which ultimately is fair, since we're the ones who hire these contractors in the first place.) 

If Shays was trying to criticize the contractors, I support his sentiment...but it sure is unclear what he's really trying to get to in this clip.

It's easy Maura (0.00 / 0)
He's grandstanding. The real point of the clip is to show how over-the-top he was towards these people.

If you want the entire event, I can arrange to email it to you. Trust me, it's more heartbeaking to watch it in full...

[ Parent ]
Good print article (0.00 / 0)

One day in 2004, four Americans working for Blackwater Security took a wrong turn into Fallujah. Minutes later they were dead, their bodies mutilated. Now their families have filed a lawsuit that will challenge our government's troubling dependence on private contractors


[ Parent ]
Security (0.00 / 0)
There is a legit debate about the use of security contractors (which many see as a euphemism for mercenaries) - is it cost effective, is it ethical, what are the rules of engagement, etc..

It strikes me as cowardly for Shays to bring that up with the mother of a dead contractor. Does he bring it up with the DoD? The State Dept.?

I saw some of these hearings and the topic was whether Blackwater was fulfilling the terms of their subcontract. Some Congressmen on both sides were guilty of equating the loss of a contractor exactly with the loss of US military personnel. That's false. If you get killed in the line of duty as a security contractor it's a lot more like a workplace hazard that you know about in advance - like working in a mine or a steel plant.

Shays was all over the map and uses the discomfort of a mother who lost a son to grandstand. He did the same thing during Katrina hearings. He's just an ass.

[ Parent ]
Context (0.00 / 0)
I don't know if it'll be any help (I didn't actually watch it), but Crooks & Liars had YouTube of about 10 minutes of this hearing here:


[ Parent ]
"If Shays was trying to criticize the contractors, I support his sentiment..." (0.00 / 0)
but he does it in the cruelest, least human way possible.

He could have driven home the point quite easilty without coming off like a soulless asshole who's brutalizing and bullying widows in front of an audience.

He makes me ashamed to be from Connecticut.

.Adding Another Dimension of Vituperation Toxicity to Blogging since 1999!.

[ Parent ]
blackwater security (0.00 / 0)
on youtube there is a video of blackwater security sniper in action. here is the link http://www.youtube.c... . these guys are obvious no stranger to the dangers of combat. Hard to portray them as victims. the attacks should be on why we pay over 200 million for this private mercanary army. as you see in this video, they do more then provide security

Theres two things that could keep me in CT for college. (0.00 / 0)
Acceptance into Wesleyan or Ned for Congress in 08.

Shays Greatest Hits (0.00 / 0)
Believe it or not, all three boneheaded comments were made within a few days of one another last October.


squirrels ... (0.00 / 0)
First off, he seems to have alot to say for someone who waited three years to conduct any semblance of oversight. 

Second, remarks like this come as no surprise to anyone that's ever seen this guy in action.  During some of the debates with Farrell, as the greatest hits reel shows, he just was twisted.  Whatever world Mr. Shays lives in, I don't want any part of it ... and I'm willing to bet it's right next door to Veep Cheney. 

How did the voters of the fourth think this guy had shifted his position at all on the war in Iraq?  He is still Bush's lacky, and contrary to CW, entirely beatable in the next cycle.  If I had my way, I'd run that clip as my first ad. 

Shays (4.00 / 1)
Was unforgiveably rude to someone in anguish.  She's not another politician to score points off of.  While I agree that the contractors could be seen as mecenaries and as Maura describes the whole issue of contracting out fighters cries out for serious discussion about how Bush is running the US military, this clip shows a man who does not deserve to be a public servant.  The sheer arrogance he displayed towards a citizen whose loved one did die a horrible death in the service of his country, whatever the circumstances, is disgusting to me.  Yes, he did get a better deal than the ordinary grunts in the Army, but Shays and his Republican allies set up the system that allowed that.  If this goddamn war was so vital to our security then Bush should have stood up and said we need a draft, we need to raise taxes to save our nation.  (The fact that he didn't and still hasn't says more about their priorities than anything else.)  I worked hard to get this Bush enabler out, and can't wait for the next opportunity to try again.  This tape will help show the real Shays.

There is almost nothing more that can be said about Shays. He once served in the Peace Corps and never adequately has explained how he avoided serving in the military; but he has been an outspoken Iraqi war monger and also had at least one very public psychotic episode during the recent election. . . 

He often interrupts others -- and rarely listens to what they have to say, but insists that others should not interrupt him.  He made 15 trips to Iraq (mostly confined to The Green Zone)and now -- along with the insufferable  David Brooks -- considers himself something of an expert on this war's military matters.

He ignores many of the obvious reasons why private military contractors were hired to do some of the uglier jobs in this war -- such as avoiding much oversight(as if it were possible to have less accountability than the previous Congress permitted anyway!)and fewer protections for these non-governmental workers -- while further enriching fat-cat Corporate campaign contributors.

Shays has treated Blackwater's grieving family members with shocking contempt. Some diehards suggest that his constituents should write to him and challenge his unexcusable behavior.  While I share the sentiments that prompt such suggestions, I also believe that this is a total waste of time; if he ever had the capacity to listen (or any interest in doing so), Chris Shays lost it long ago.

Chris Shays has taught us how ineffective letters are (0.00 / 0)
After all, he used as Exhibit A in his campaign that compilations of pillow talk letters he wrote to Bush, and we all can see how much good they did by looking at where we are now.

The only thing I'd mail *related* to him at this point would be an absentee vote.  Long distance lay therapy is not a good use of our time.

[ Parent ]
A side bar (0.00 / 0)
So, who can beat him???

he is beatable (0.00 / 0)
Shays has become a mere parody of himself, and not only is he more beatable now than ever, it is more crucial for dems to mount a serious challenge now than it ever has been.

Obviously, the strongest candidate the dems could put up against him is malloy. incredibly popular in the 4th CD; more vocal in his opposition to this war since its inception than most dems in the state, and a solid socially liberal yet fiscally responsible democrat--which is exactly the combo you need for a dem to win in the 4th. Of course, it's also the combo you need for a dem to win state-wide, and it's a pretty good bet that malloy is already concentrating on another run at the governor's mansion.

If we assume malloy won't run, we confront a fairly significant fall-off in strength as we move to the next most likely elected dems. State Senator Gomes from B'port is probably next in line, though Stamford's State Senator McDonald is almost certainly a better bet--a better bet than Gomes, that is, but still a long-shot against Shays.

The wild card, of course, is Ned. I know he didn't do nearly as well in the 4th as he did in the second or other parts of the state, but that stands to reason: the 4th is the gop stronghold in connecticut. Plus, it's where joementum grew up. Ned has the money, the celebrity and the network to challenge Shays, and I sincerely hope he considers it.

In order to take on the challenge, Ned will have to run a much more moderate campaign than he did for the senate, and so i also hope many of his more progressive supporters will understand and allow that. the 4th is more conservative than the rest of the state, especially in terms of fiscal policy. the iraq war will still be a primary issue--don't get me wrong--but ned will have to accentuate his private-sector success and position himself as a pro-business democrat.

I also think that, if we can get someone as strong as malloy or lamont to challenge shays, that challenge should begin sooner rather than later. speculation has already started that shays may be included among possible running mates for mccain (for rudy or mitt a guy from ct wouldn't make sense, but for mccain it might, especially if he holds onto this unearned reputation of independence). If we wait too long, he may simply announce he's not running for reelection to congress and seeking the vice-presidency instead. if we act quickly, we can put him on the defensive in a way that won't allow him to make that move without looking like he's running for his political life. it will make him less attractive as a potential running mate to mcain, and less able himself to slip out of the congressional contest uninjured. plus, even if the veep rumors are unfounded, it mitigates any gain shays' endorsement might otherwise afford the gop frontrunner.

[ Parent ]
malloy (0.00 / 0)
already stated a desire to run for gov.

By the way, what do you mean that Ned would have to run a "much more moderate campaign than he did for senate"? Could you point to an example of Ned's supposed immoderacy?

[ Parent ]
easy, tiger (0.00 / 0)
i didn't mean to insinuate that ned's senatorial run was immoderate, but rather that, in a hypothetical run for the 4th CD, he will have to position himself more as a centrist.

against joe, ned was the anti-war candidate. on that issue--certainly the most important of the day--joe had done a horrible job representing his constituents, and so it was logical for ned, or anyone who wanted to take joe on, to attack him on that issue. admittedly, however, on issues other than iraq, and to some extent israel, joe is a centrist, even somewhat of a liberal on some things.

to come at joe, ned had to do so from the left. if he were to challenge shays, he would need to force shays to the right and present himself as the centrist candidate. he would need to spend more time talking about issues like fiscal responsibility. he would probably have to come out against the estate tax. he would have to take a few pages from the DLC handbook.

Again, I didn't mean to insinuate his senatorial campaign had been immoderate, and in fact, i do not believe i did.

[ Parent ]
Ned fits in the 4th CD (0.00 / 0)
Ned is very well-suited to the district: liberal on social policy, but doesn't like money wasted.  His anti-war message was all people focused on, but he also was very much against things like the bridge to nowhere, earmarks, corporate welfare, extreme deficit spending.  The Republicans voted lock-step against Ned to support Bush, but in other circumstances, a successful, socially conscious, entreprenurial businessman like Ned would be a very strong candidate.

[ Parent ]
I'm ashamed to admit that he was in the Peace Corps (0.00 / 0)
As a former Peace Corps Volunteer myself, it's nauseating to listen to him.  And to hear Shays, who chickened out of the Vietnam War and ALL MILITARY SERVICE, because he believed as a CO that it is always immoral to take up arms in defense of the United States, that these contractors "weren't the sharp end of the spear", i.e., weren't American soldiers, which he refused to become himself when called, is sickening.

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