By Peter Duveen

PETER'S NEW YORK, May 15, 2008--The United States could keep military units in Iraq consisting of paid contractors after its troops are redeployed out of that country, an American Congressman said today.
    "They want to leave a mercenary force in Iraq," said Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), in an appearance on Washington Journal, aired by the cable news network C-SPAN.
    Kaptur noted that contractors were paid more than American GIs, and that the disparity in pay was causing discontent among the troops.
    "The amounts of money we are paying these contractors...creates ill feelings within the ranks," she said. Kaptur said she opposed the use of a contracted force to fight the war after GIs leave the country.
    The Congress is considering a new round of funding for the current U.S. military occupation in Iraq. American troops invaded that country in 2003.
    Kaptur said legislation being debated by Congress is divided into three parts, a spending bill appropriating $162.5 billion for the current military occupation, a policy portion dealing with such matters as redeployment schedules, refugees and reconstruction, and a portion that addresses the needs of returning veterans. Kaptur said she opposes the funding provision.
    Kaptur noted that two and a half million Iraqis have been displaced as a result of the invasion and occupation, while about three million are refugees in neighboring countries.
    "There are funds in the bill to help with the refugee problem," Kaptur said.
    In terms of policy, Kaptur said the bill specifies that there will be no permanent bases in Iraq, and includes cost-sharing between the Iraqi and U.S. governments regarding infrastructure reconstruction.
    The U.S. military occupation has increased the threat of terrorism in the Middle East, according to Kaptur. "All across the region, the anti-American sentiment is growing" as a result of the U.S. occupation, Kaptur said.