Sunday, February 27, 2005

Vietnam, Iraq wars cited for minister's suicide

Vietnam, Iraq wars cited for minister's suicide

He wrote that the latest conflict brought back unbearable horrors



Tuesday, February 22, 2005

WENATCHEE -- He never was inclined to talk much about the damage, at least not to his wife and children. They knew -- it was obvious -- that a land mine in Vietnam took large portions of both of the Rev. Alan McLean's legs 38 years ago.


But they didn't know about the .45-caliber pistol. Or the suicide note in his laptop, written but never printed out, seven days before he used that pistol. In it, McLean, the popular rector of St. Luke's Episcopal Church here, apologized to his wife, Betsy, and his children for not being stronger. The war in Iraq, he said, unbearably amplified his nightmares.

He said he'd had enough.

"35 Marines died today in Iraq, only slightly more noticed than my legs," the former second lieutenant typed on Feb. 4. "I did not get any of my Marines of Charlie (Company) killed. It is possibly a sign of God's presence there. Certainly not of my ability."

With his final decision to call 911 from his church office and turn his pistol to his chest on Feb. 11, McLean, 62, became a casualty of two wars, his family members said.

"I underestimated the power of the war to take his life," said his daughter, Mary Watkins, 29, of Tacoma. "And I really feel that though my dad's been in Wenatchee, the war in Iraq killed him."

Betsy McLean, Alan's widow, agreed.


Six months after the Iraq war began, McLean gave a sermon about having faith in what the government was doing. His family and friends noticed the war began to have an increasingly heavy effect on the rector.

Half a year later, he offered a different view, one that divided parishioners in the conservative farming town. He told the congregation he was no longer sure the country was doing the right thing.

"Some people were upset with him," Betsy said. "But he was not unpatriotic by saying that. He was deeply patriotic. He supported the troops, just not the war."


Vietnam, Iraq wars cited for minister's suicide
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Wednesday, February 23, 2005

t r u t h o u t || Supporting the Troops

Lifted from William Pitt's fyi blog. Normally I don't do this, but given that my blog's primary and only theme is the troops, I am taking creative license.

Supporting the Troops

By WilliamPitt,

Tue Feb 22nd, 2005 at 08:09:27 PM EST :: Iraq ::

A blogger named Mike on a page titled 'Cold Fury' has delivered the seven millionth iteration of the old chestnut about liberals hating and disrespecting U.S. soldiers. His impetus for doing so came from a New York Post story that describes troops receiving less-than-fully-supportive letters from schoolchildren. Some of the comments in those letters:

One Muslim boy wrote: "Even thoe (sic) you are risking your life for our country, have you seen how many civilians you or some other soldier killed?" His letter, which was stamped with a smiley face, went on: "I know your (sic) trying to save our country and kill the terrorists but you are also destroying holy places like Mosques."

Interestingly, the Cold Fury page does not bother to actually quote any of the letters themselves, but only relates the reaction of the soldier who received them. Right out of the gate, there is a degree of intellectual dishonesty here. The young Brooklyn letter-writer above clearly states the soldier is defending our country, but dares to ask why civilians are dying and why mosques are destroyed. Not to put too fine a point on it, but that's a fair question, and from the mouths of babes to boot.

The larger issue here, however, isn't about kids asking soldiers about dead civilians and smashed mosques. It's about yet another conservative writer wrapping himself in the flag while denouncing his political opposites for failing to 'support the troops.' This nonsense has gone on long enough.

I received a letter last year from a woman named Jane. It read:

"Dear Mr. Pitt, I must share with you the obituary I wrote for my son, Sgt. Evan Ashcraft, who was killed July 24 near Mosul. I often think of the contributions my intelligent, sensitive wonderful son could have made. He had so much potential. He told us that when he came back from Iraq he wanted to help people. He said he had seen so much hatred and death that the only way to live his life was through aid to others. Look at what we've lost. The loss is not just mine, it's the world's loss. Evan will always be alive in my heart. He and all the other victims of this heinous action in Iraq must be more than mere numbers emerging from the Pentagon's daily tally. His death is a crime against humanity and the fault lies with the war criminals who inhabit our White House. Please share his story so that he may come alive to your readers."

Jane here got her son back from Iraq in a transfer tube, and has only a folded American flag to remember him by. Her son Evan went over to Iraq to help locate and destroy 26,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent (500 tons equalling 1,000,000 pounds), 30,000 munitions to deliver the stuff, mobile biological weapons labs and uranium from Niger for use in a nuclear weapons program. In other words, he went looking for the stuff described on this White House web page, a page that correlates exactly with Bush's 2003 State of the Union address.

Evan Ashcraft died in the process, along with 1,484 of his brothers and sisters in arms in Iraq. He and they died without finding any of the material used to frighten this nation into war. The material remains unfound to this day, and 1,484 American families are left to suffer the hole in their lives and wonder why it need be there at all.

How can it be considered 'supporting the troops' to ignore this harsh reality, to stick your head in the stand and allow matters to continue as they have to date? I would venture that nothing in Mike's or any other conservative's ranting about 'supporting the troops' has anything to do with the troops themselves, but has only to do with supporting their side of the tribal warfare that American politics has turned into. It is verboten to admit that your political tribe has made a bad step, so the alternative appears to be a shriek of nationalist nonsense that covers up the hard fact that you have helped cheerlead a lot of men and women to their deaths.

Are there liberals who have said bad things about American soldiers? Of course; being a bastard is and has always been a non-denominational affair. My father volunteered for service in Vietnam in 1969. His call to the freedom bird came while he was still out in the field. He arrived at Dulles Airport to meet my mother still dressed in his bush greens, still wearing the moustache, with the mud of Vietnam still under his fingernails and stuck inside the waffle of his boot sole.

A few days earlier, he had come across a beautiful old French rifle. It was given to him by a Vietnamese friend, a former teacher with three children who had been conscripted permanently into the military. My father managed to bring this rifle home with him, and sent it on the flight in the baggage hold along with his duffel.

My father and my mother stood waiting at the baggage claim for his things to come down. The people there - and this was 1970, remember - backed away from him as if he was radioactive. They knew where he had just come from. If the greens were not a giveaway, the standard issue muddy tan he and all the vets wore upon return from Vietnam was. When the rifle came down the belt, not in a package or a box, just laying there in all its reality, the crowd was appalled and horrified. My mother and father looked at each other and wondered what these people were thinking. What did they think was happening over there? What did they think it is that soldiers do? Did they even begin to understand this war, and what it meant, what it was doing to American soldiers, to the Vietnamese soldiers like my father's friend, and to the civilians caught in the crossfire?

The looks on those people's faces there said enough. The answer was no. They didn't know, and apparently didn't want to know. Now, thirty three years later, we are back in that same place again, fighting a war few understand that is affecting soldiers and civilians in ways only those soldiers and civilians can truly know. Some liberals have failed to learn the hard lesson of Vietnam - blame not the sword but the hand that weilds it - but most have learned that lesson full well thanks to the experiences of their own fathers and mothers, and never mind what Mike has to say on the subject.

Would it been better for the teacher of that Brooklyn class to check those letter to make sure their content was nothing but supportive? Perhaps. Yet it is always the children who seem to ask the hardest and most necessary questions, and if they don't question aloud why so many civilians and holy sites have been erased in places like Fallujah, no one else will. Certainly the news media can't be counted on; I can number on one hand the times mention of those missing weapons of mass destruction have been referenced in the public discussion. It's about 'liberty' now, and never mind that Rumsfeld pal and Iranian spy Ahmad Chalabi came within an ace of running the place.

Somehow, having a kid from Brooklyn put the question forward is appropriate. The New York Daily News has published a disturbing report on the hapenings in that burg:

Defense attorneys call it Brooklyn's Abu Ghraib. On the ninth floor of the federal Metropolitan Detention Center in Sunset Park, terrorism suspects swept off the streets after the Sept. 11 attacks were repeatedly stripped naked and frequently were physically abused, the Justice Department's inspector general has found.

The detainees - none of whom were ultimately charged with anything related to terrorism - alleged in sworn affidavits and in interviews with Justice Department officials that correction officers: Humiliated them by making fun of - and sometimes painfully squeezing - their genitals; Deprived them of regular sleep for weeks or months; Shackled their hands and feet before smashing them repeatedly face-first into concrete walls - within sight of the Statue of Liberty; Forced them in winter to stand outdoors at dawn while dressed in light cotton prison garb and no shoes, sometimes for hours.

"In December, they left me outside for more than four hours (wearing) only a jumpsuit and a light prison coat," Ahmed Khalifa, an Egyptian, told the Daily News. "I asked them to let me inside. They were laughing and pointing to me. When I finally got back inside, I felt like I had frostbite." The Justice Department's inspector general has substantiated some of the prisoners' allegations - and some incidents were captured on videotape. But the Justice Department has declined to prosecute any federal correction officer at MDC.

"I was informed the videos amounted to nothing more than shoving, but no serious injuries," said one Justice Department official, who would speak only on condition he not be identified. But Inspector General Glenn Fine, whose staff reviewed 380 MDC videotapes, reported in 2003 that "These tapes substantiated many of the detainees' allegations." Furthermore, the officers were not just a few bad apples but "a significant percentage of those who had regular contact with the detainees," Fine wrote last March.

The Justice Department currently is reconsidering its rejection of a News Freedom of Information request for the tapes, after the paper filed an appeal. Meanwhile, interviews by The News with 12 ex-detainees - all but one now deported for visa violations - and a review of sworn complaints filed against the Bureau of Prisons adds shocking detail to the earlier findings of what occurred at MDC. The picture that emerges mirrors some of the abuses the International Committee of the Red Cross denounced recently as "tantamount to torture" when inflicted by U.S. military authorities on prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

This isn't talking about Abu Ghraib or Baghram or Guantanamo. This is Brooklyn, in the good old U.S. of A., in the town of that kid who dared ask a soldier a hard question about his job. Something has gone badly wrong with the way this administration is pursuing its 'War on Terror' policies, and bellowing about supporting the troops can't cover it up anymore.

When we invade a nation on false pretenses, something has gone wrong. When an American administration frightens its own people into supporting an unnecessary war with images of mushroom clouds and poison gas, something has gone wrong. When that war is unfurled with too few troops, too little money and not enough international support, something has gone wrong. When we 'go small' into that war to avoid offending neighboring Saudi Arabia, something has gone wrong. When the soldiers are not given the necessary armor, something has gone wrong. When the rhetoric about Iraq being a bastion of terrorists is proven false, but the invasion itself helps create that bastion of terrorism, something has gone wrong. When we get into the international torture business, and bring that torture home to our own soil, something has gone wrong. When seemingly smart people cannot see the forest for the trees in this matter, something has gone wrong. When our national media establishment refuses to discuss these matters, something has gone wrong.

Mike and his friends would do well to leave the 'Liberals don't support the troops' rhetoric at the door. It's divisive, misleading, flat wrong and bluntly insulting. The mother of Evan Ashcraft supports the troops, thinks the war is wrong, and wants the troops brought home. Her feelings are shared by millions.

When you don the uniform of the United States military and raise your hand to take the oath, you are promising to give your life in defense of your home and family. A promise is made in return: The government commanding you and your fellow soldiers will not spend your life to no gain, will not waste your blood in an unnecessary exercise. That promise has been broken, and I can think of no better way to support the troops who made their promise than by pointing out the fact that this government broke its promise.

Support the troops. Bring them home. Alive.

You fasten the triggers

For the others to fire

Then you set back and watch

When the death count gets higher

You hide in your mansion

As young people's blood

Flows out of their bodies

And is buried in the mud

- Bob Dylan, 'Masters of War'


Supporting the Troops


Found this post at DailyKos

and am posting for the general interest. Will is mentioned at the end of the post:

More and more deserting U.S military - Harper's tells the tale!

by Chrisblue


Mon Feb 21st, 2005 at 22:08:02 PST

Want out of the military? It's possible you can just leave.

I used to think of that info as sort of a trade secret; I was even wondering how to handle it in this book. Now, Harper's Magazine gives it all away and then some - following nine deserters through the process, and even getting it right about what it says about war.......

Diaries :: Chrisblue's diary ::

"I can't legally advise you to go AWOL," we say to the caller on the G.I. Rights Hotline, using language trained into us by more experienced colleagues. "All I can do is advise you of current Army/Navy/Air Force policy." Then I would tell them that certain bases -- Fort Sill and Fort Knox for the Army, Great Lakes for the Navy, Pendleton for the Marines -- also served as outprocessing centers where people who had been gone a very long time can turn themselves in. to receive a discharge marked with an OTH -- "other than honorable conditions."

We then go on to tell them how to do it: how much time it takes ("Thirty days officially, but I'd give them 45 before you call"), the likely time it would take in the processing center itself, and the hazards of staying out too long -- "If you get pulled over for a routine traffic stop, you can get picked up as an AWOL." I hang up knowing that they might be more likely to choose the AWOL option than go through the frustrating, difficult, and sometimes fruitless process of trying to get an honorable discharge for health or financial reasons, or the excruciating if wonderfully empowering process of becoming a military conscientious objector.

I also know that as much as I value the CO process as most legally and morally justifiable, I'm not the one having to put on a uniform, or drill every day, or flinch every time the call to lunch sounds like the siren that might put me on a plane to Iraq.(Not that the AWOL option is open to people facing actual deployment: once those orders are issued, they face far more serious charges. And anyone reading this with an eye to going AWOL needs to instead call 1-800-FYI-95GI right now, since the specifics of the process change constantly.)

I never judge anyone for making that decision -- to throw away whatever benefits they might have coming to them, and to live with the consequences of an OTH-- because it just hurts too much being in. After I've safely hung up, I blow them a virtual kiss and wish them godspeed.

Every once in a while a former GI calls back, elated, after it's over: "I'm out!" More often, the calls come in when there's trouble, when someone's commanding officer is lazy or angry enough not to make the bureaucratic changes that make it possible.

I used to think of all of the above as sort of a trade secret. I was even wondering how to handle it in this book. Now, Harper's Magazine gives it all away and then some:


The Why and How of Desertion Revealed in March Issue

New York-According to Pentagon estimates, 5,500 U.S. military personnel have deserted since the start of the current conflict in Iraq. The stories of the few who have spoken out publicly against the war are known, but what of those who have quietly returned home? What caused them to go AWOL? What consequences might they face if they are discovered? AWOL IN AMERICA: When Desertion Is the Only Option, which appears in the March issue, presents these young men as they relate their experiences in their own voices. We read about:

Jeremiah Adler, 18, raised by a single mother in a sheltered community in Oregon, who joined the army to find a sense of "macho-ness" only to find his fellow soldiers' zeal for killing to be more testosterone than he had bargained for.

Clay (this name and the following have been changed), 23, who was seduced by a recruiter's promise of big money, then disturbed by the strong desire to kill he felt during training. "I started to see the process within myself, that transition from civilian to mindless killer. It scared me," he tells Dobie.

Matt Burke, who served four years of active duty, then signed up for the Army's Officer's Candidate School. A knee injury got him kicked out of OCS and sent back to regular duty to serve out the rest of his contract, despite the fact that he was told by the recruiter that in such an event, he would be discharged. Burke was court-martialed and served one month in a county jail.

Jason Lane, 19, who is a Marine currently in military custody. Lane fled to the Virginia woods; the final straw in his decision to desert was the 24-hour walking post he was assigned to while suffering from a swollen, infected leg. Dobie accompanied him to Quantico Marine Base when he turned himself in.

"AWOL IN AMERICA," the press release goes on to say, "looks at the many reasons why soldiers are willing to risk tough consequences (made even more severe after 9/11) to get away. It explores the psychology of the deserter as well as the psychological war the military must wage on its recruits in order to turn them into killers. It also provides a practical guide to desertion." (italics and bolds mine.) Hot damn. Kathy Dobie has guts, and so does Harper's.

As always, the current issue isn't online, and neither Alternet or Will Pitt has got hold of it and I can't bring myself to violate Dobie's copyright myself. Go buy the issue. And I will feel freer to write that AWOL chapter now.

by Hissyspit on Tue Feb 22nd, 2005 at 09:05:41 PM EST


REALLY long enough!!

This crap about supporting our troops gets me as riled now as it did back during the Vietnam genocide. We have to grow up past our selfish little childish games of world superpower without the moral backing for such a title. The Nuremberg trials REALLY did happen, Virginia. They came away with one clear message for all humanity - every individual is responsible and accountable for his part in bringing about the horrors that humanity HAS to eliminate.. (the second period was to make sure that you noticed that there is a PERIOD) If we are going to bellyache (and we really should do much more than just bellyache) about the horrors we are doing in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam or any of the more than 200 places around the world where we have gone to take death in the name of freedom, torture in the name democracy, suffering in the name of some other prostituted ideal; then we have to try to become honest both as individuals and as a nation. We, who would protest against our national genocidal tendencies, have to be sufficiently honest to say that the devil Rumsfeld did not personally shoot the Iraqui children - an American Soldier did. Condi did not personally shoot a wounded man lying in a Baghdad street - an American Soldier did. Bush did not personally electrocute naked Iraquis - American soliders did. And on it goes for what is now probably millions of cases around the world where we have made ourselves justified targets of a vengeful victim of the USA.

I am fully aware that each of the devils in the administration carries PART of the responsibility for each of the millions of human rights violations that the SOLDIERS are carrying out, but the other part of the responsibility IS MOST UNDOUBTEDLY ON THESE SOLDIERS EVERYONE IS PUSHING ME TO SUPPORT!!! They are guilty bastards who have killed, maimed, tortured and obeyed orders from satan's favorite liutenants. They are not as guilty as the administration and the prostitutes in congress only because they did not have a chance to participate in the killing of as many as the administration and congress killed, but they are REALLY guilty!!

No, I do not now nor have I ever supported the American soldier in his increasingly constant role of genocidal killer at the service of the hellborn and the corporations. It is a contradiction in terms to support him and then to wonder what happened to our moral structure. Even if these killers are ordered to torture and make people suffer and they obey those orders, I do not support them, HOW THE HELL CAN YOU SUPPORT THEM???? They are the principal and conscious tool of the devils that are turning our world into the final killing field!! Whatever ratiocination you use to come across telling people to support these killers of children is not rational, it is not normal, it is psychologically sick and so is the entire apparatchic that is trying to make us support them. The American soldier will get support from those few of us holding on to the larger vision of humanity when they come home and grab their bosses (the entire lot from hell starting with bush through their generals and commanding officers) and throw the lot of them in or under the jail - NOTHING LESS WILL DO!! Enough already!! We are as guilty as any of the administration satanists if we support people who carry out the horrors that our nation is now casting on the world as normal daily feed.

by ljmgbp on Wed Feb 23rd, 2005 at 08:04:58 AM EST



How can I support the troops?

Because I am a veteran. Because my father was a Vietnam veteran. Because I understand what a difference it makes to come home and not get spit on.

I am sorry that you are completely unfamiliar with the psychological aspects of being a solider in today's military. I am sorry that you do not understand what it is like to be shot at. I am sorry that you do not understand what it is like to be manipulated by higher ups to perform tasks that you would not normally perform. If for one minute you could ACTUALLY imagine yourself in the boots of one of these young men, then you might begin to understand why it is possible to support the troops.

I refuse to assign moral cupublity to our troops as a blanket statement. Trust me on this issue. I know what it is like to go through a war, to be shot at and to watch your friend die. Until you can even feign empathy for what this does to a person's soul, then you my friend are lacking even the most basic of human virtues.

And thank you for your attempt to nullify, William's fine words. I hope that you do not succeed.

by psyntist on Wed Feb 23rd, 2005 at 10:49:59 AM EST

[ Parent ]


Way to miss the point completely

Your lack of understanding of the social and economic realities that drive today's common soldier is profound. A large percentage of troops in Iraq are 'green card' soldiers, i.e. they fight to become citizens. Many are soldiers because there are no jobs in their under-educated and financially-wrecked towns.

Blame not the sword, but the hand that weilds it. Maybe someday you'll get it.

by WilliamPitt ( on Wed Feb 23rd, 2005 at 10:53:48 AM EST http//

[ Parent ]



First of all "support the troops" is just a slogan I don't support simpleminded Bush adminstration sloganeering.

However Demonizing the Troops is not the answer either.It would be disastrous for the anti-war movement

I think the right wing would ABSOULUTELY LOVE anti war types and liberals to start coming out with that line of thinking..It would be much easier for them to demonize the rest of us..Plus if the soldiers start getting blamed it makes it that much easier for the Roves,Cheneys and Wolfowitzes to evade reponsibility for their monstrous crimes. Believe me they LOVE what If you don't believe me check out how the abu ghrab thing played out..

A few low level solders took the fall and the people who were really responsible for the atrocities got promoted.

Throw some ill trained I'll equipped ,unworldy young people fill their heads full of propaganda and throw them into a crazy sitiuation where there seems to be no solid plan or exit strrategy and discipline is going to break down..

Its easy to pass highfalutin' elitist moral judgements when one sitting in the peace and comfort of your cozy den or office or faculty lounge and there are no bombs or guns going off and your friends are not being blasted right before your eyes.

I don't think the writer of that passage has any Idea what kind of pressures these young people are facing. They obviously are not at all familiar with the military or its capacity for coercion.

And don't give me this stuff about how "they volunteered " thats just the elitist Right wing argument turned on its head.. They volunteered to serve their country not to be part of a gigantic boondoogle

by robash141 on Wed Feb 23rd, 2005 at 01:09:44 PM EST

[ Parent ]



When you don the uniform of the United States military and raise your hand to take the oath, you are promising to give your life in defense of your home and family. A promise is made in return: The government commanding you and your fellow soldiers will not spend your life to no gain, will not waste your blood in an unnecessary exercise. That promise has been broken, and I can think of no better way to support the troops who made their promise than by pointing out the fact that this government broke its promise.

I would add that when you take your oath, you promise to defend the constitution. I suggest that when the current adminstration has so successfully convinced people that the very meaning of that, our most sacred document, has changed, it becomes increasing difficult for our troops to uphold their pledge. Our constitution does not allow torture, although adminstration lawyers have agured that very case. Our constitution does not allow for a premeptive war, although that is what we did. Our constitution guarntees the seperation of the three branchs and that has been successfully brushed over. I know that the constituion I took my oath to defend was a much different constitution than the one being branished around currently to justify the most horrid actions today.

by psyntist on Wed Feb 23rd, 2005 at 11:04:44 AM EST


Supporting our troops

Sometimes plain language is needed to break out of the box that authority wants us to stay in for THEIR own protection.

The Bush administration is through the Iraq war making a purposeful aquisition of the world's only remaining cheap oil reserve, largely for the benefit of Bush's family & friends, using the US national defence forces to take it and then paying for the whole project with a loan forced on the next american generation ... a process otherwise known as aggravated armed robbery.

It is like a cop robbing a bank using his police gun and paying for it by taking his kids piggybank to get his skimask, get-away etc..

Actually it's worse ... it is like putting his kids in debt for the rest of their lives for his coup ... in my view an unspeakable break of public trust that no one should support -- directly or indirectly. Let's get the remaining boys and girls home. Take the oil out of the hands of the likes of Cheney's Haliburton and put the UN in charge -- do we think Bush would agree to that? Fat chance ... the "autorities" have already started to tap "their" oil in a feeding frenzy.

"Authority that can make us deny our feelings can make us do anything" N. Svendsen

by gingiskahn ( on Wed Feb 23rd, 2005 at 12:30:55 PM EST

[ Parent ]


How can you not support the troops?

The military has no democratic process. Once you enlist you are by and large at the mercy of the oath you have taken to serve. Sure there are ways out as mentioned, however the majority of our troops are not going to leave. They will stay to finish the job.

Some of them don't agree with the war in Iraq yet there they are day after day putting their lives on the line. Why? Because they believe in their oath and they believe in our country. Right or wrong as far as the decision to go they don't question...they go because they were told they were needed there.

Where would we be without those so willing to serve? Face it without that desire to serve our country with your life possibly being the ultimate price we wouldn't exist.

We can debate should they be there till the cows come home but the cold stark reality is they are there. Some will die there this year, this month, this week, maybe even today.

I know people there right now. Ohio has lost too many of it's sons because of this war. However the blame for that doesn't lie with the soldiers, and it doesn't just lie with George Bush. Congress has gotten a free pass on this issue from most of us. The excuse of well we were given misinformation about the WMD issue isn't a good enough one for me. We went against the UN, Congress supported this. We went in without a clear exit plan, Congress supported this. We went in and spent more money that was stated it would cost, Congress supported this.

What magic information did we have that made this whole war happen that the UN didn't see? There was none, it was our own belief in our superiority that we somehow know better than the rest of the world that did this. We demand other countries follow what the UN says, yet we don't. We selectively pick and choose what we will do in agreement with the UN. Look how many times Israel has been sanctioned by the Security Council. We veto every single time, yet when it was reversed and we didn't get what we wanted? Screw you UN we're going in.

This past election no matter how you felt about John Kerry the re-election of George Bush sent the message that a majority of Americans felt that what he did was acceptable. We gave him a mandate that we as Americans don't expect him to follow the UN that he can do whatever he wants and obviously Congress will support him.

We need to change more than the President in 2008. We need to take a good look at Congress and ask ourselves what kind of government do we want. Do we want the system of checks and balances that our Founding Fathers created? If so we need men and women in Congress willing to do that job. Not yes men that can be bought with the promises of pork.

by psyche777 on Wed Feb 23rd, 2005 at 12:22:11 PM EST


Let Me Just Mention

In my posting of the information/commentary concerning the Harper's article, I was not directly advocating AWOL outprocessing by soldiers. I advocate full knowledge and disclosure of information to the American public, especially concerning legal rights for soldiers, and I felt this was another aspect of Will's editorial of which to be aware. There are, as said, plenty of soldiers who, despite, usually silent or private opposition to the Bush Administration's military adventurism and jingoism, would not feel it was a moral option. It is a complicated issue, which people like our present leadership in the executive branch, have no ethical problem with manipulating.

These soldiers are my students; and for years, I have had no problem with jokingly and seriously referencing the "brainwashing" processes of the U.S. military, the socialization processes, which, whether necessary or not to produce effective soldiers, are deliberately instituted. Everyone kind of knew what I was talking about, or if they didn't were interested in hearing it discussed. I knew what I was talking about, having grown up in a military family, the son of an officer who went to Vietnam twice, a mother who had to go against her personal tendencies to fit into the "Army Wife" behavioral expectations, a brother who became a career officer, and another who joined up for about 4 years. This discussion of this with the soldiers (there are dependents and non-military in my college classes, as well) became much more complicated after 9/11. Discussion of appropriate issues in the forum of my class such as the burning of the U.S. Flag as political expression, became preganant with patriotic correctness tendencies. Guess what? This social censorship tendency has worn away in the past year or so. Are these people to be seen as ideology and complicity set in stone, or are they complicated human beings caught up in social/economic/psychological processes in many ways beyond their control?

I have many of the 'green-card soldiers' in my classes. Many blacks, persons from lower income positions, young women who wanted to assert themselves in a 'new' world, one in which they believe they can wrest some little power from the patriarchy.

Let me put it this way, when I was a teenager, I craved expression of high ideals concerning and through the art of popular music, but where I lived, I was severely limited in my exposure to alternative music and underground music. I moved away in my 20s and became exposed to all kinds of other possibilities, much of which was not profit-motivated. I was thunderstruck to realize how much was being kept from me - ideas and values and other points of view; other cultural potentials and possibilities. Some of these things were kept from me deliberately, others just situational. Many of these soldiers have never been given to opportunity to consider alternate ways of thinking about the world.

As I said, complicated issues about complicated human beings in complicated situations. The discipline instilled by the military (as well as pressure/threat about loss of position and income make these people some of my best students. I am not letting them off the hook for using Fox News as their primary 'news' source, however, it is instructive to consider the impact of having to become aware of and keep from crossing the "thin green line," which is part of the "brainwashing" culture.

by Hissyspit on Wed Feb 23rd, 2005 at 01:38:38 PM EST

[ Parent ]



I'm afraid they are bought with much more than just pork.........

Many have likely been caught in compromising situations, and/or SEEMINGLY compromising situations, and from then on are doing as they are told to keep the video from coming out in public. I couldn't, for instance, ever even take the Gary Hart flack to heart, simply because I have had a number of close yet platonic friends through the years, of the opposite gender, who have spent the night, or a week or so in my home; good enough friends that I could roll around on the floor and laugh with too. If someone with an agenda, or of a prejudgingly intolerant mind, walked in at such a time, that person could come away from there with "proof" of "immoral" behaviour. Such a person would have no clue that there was never any "hanky-panky" involved with the scene they had just video'd or photographed. In addition, if this person was serving a dark agenda, the manner in which the 'photographic evidence' would be used would instill in many to whom it was shown the same prejudicial assumptions.

Still, it eventuates in the same problem: too many congresspersons and senators are bought in one way or another, whether self-servingly with pork, or with a sinister form of bribery, or even with simple fear of seeming, or being called, "unpatriotic". This presents a real quandary for "getting the troops home", or just about any other sensible accomplishment (ie., NOT placing torturers and compulsive liars in cabinet positions!)

Still, the best way that we can 'support the troops', SOMEHOW, would be to get them the heck outa that mess that the neoconic through Rove/Bushco have created.


The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either.-Benjamin Franklin

by G Achin on Wed Feb 23rd, 2005 at 02:15:43 PM EST

[ Parent ]



One would have to wonder whether that less than rational person is trolling to get us reality-based peeps in trouble. The cons would just love to get their hands on that post and splash it all over their own putrid blogs.

by blucat on Wed Feb 23rd, 2005 at 01:40:08 PM EST


Support the Troops

I believe there is no subject more convoluted nor confusing to the bulk of Americans than "Support the Troops." What a sweeping generality! What does it mean? Praying for their safety and return? Sending protective gear and equipment for their protection that the administration can't seem to furnish in a timely manner? Is it displaying Old Glory in a window, tying a yellow ribbon around a tree, watching CNN and FOX for full coverage of homecoming hugs and kisses?

No. The militant cry of "Support the Troops" has nothing at all to do with the hundreds of thousands of men and women who are being sent into a quagmire of death for which a way out is not an option on the table. "Support the troops" for this administration and for its attendant corporate media who are making out like bandits in Iraq means, quite literally -- support Bush or shut the hell up. "Support the troops" means lower your eyes and don't question the next generation of handicapped Americans who must face the bulk of their lives learning to walk without feet, to dress themselves, brush their teeth, and wipe their asses without hands. The good news is when they return in pieces, our burden is lifted because, for some inexplicable reason, they then must assume the responsibility of supporting themselves

"Support the troops" means never having to see flag-draped coffins shuttled into Dover Air Force Base in the dark of night containing mangled remains of youngsters brutally jerked from our midst for no good reason. It means we are saved the grief of sitting through an endless chain of funeral rites -- all depressingly similar and boring after awhile. It means our commander-in-chief is free to "grieve 'n mourn 'n pray" for our "brave warriors" without ever having to attend a funeral.

Fortunately, our job gets easier by the day because there are fewer "troops" to support. Although we're not supposed to ask, I have to admit that I sneak a peek every day at One week ago (Feb 16), 1,480 American citizens had been slaughtered. Twenty-two of those families who knelt to pray for their children's safety did not know they were already dead. Of all the ghastly things about this deranged assault on a helpless country, this tops the list. Think about it. On Sunday, that number had grown to 1,488, with only 19 families yet to be destroyed. Today, the number is 1,495. And, alas, tonight -- the number of famillies who do not know their loved ones are beng summarily boxed up to ship home is back at 20.

American "troops" are, like Henry Kissinger once infamously declared, "nothing more than pawns on a chessboard." Support for the troops starts at the top, and that's where the responsibility for what those troops do in the field ends; however, neither of these functions appears to be in this administration's job description.

If Americans really supported the "troops" -- they would rise as one, and in a single primal scream they would bring Bush's mad vision to a screeching halt. They would realize that there's more to loyalty than silently waving a red-white-and-blue piece of cloth or plastic while their children are being killed.

And they would support the troops by bringing them home.

by Ishtar on Wed Feb 23rd, 2005 at 02:27:51 PM EST


my only question would be...

Bring them home then what?

There is no magic time machine where we can not send them. To bring them home before Iraq is stable isn't a feasible option. To do that would make every accomplishment that came from this mess undo itself.

That is what I don't understand from those of you that advocate immediately bringing the troops home. Is there a point where you can leave? Of course but I don't think that point is now. Too many mistakes were made and too much time wasted in the aftermath to create a quick exit.

If the end result of bringing them home now means an even less stable middle east then when we barged in? Is that what you are advocating?

I'm not trying to be argumentative, I would really like to know from those of you who state they should come home now what you see as the end result if that happened as far as Iraq and the Middle East.

by psyche777 on Wed Feb 23rd, 2005 at 03:15:49 PM EST

[ Parent ]


Supporting the troops - the Kissinger method

I believe the quote attributed to Kissinger (made in the presence of Alexander Haig) is, [Military men are] "dumb, stupid animals to be used" as pawns for foreign policy. Which pretty much encapsulates this administration's position. The real question is, how do we get that message to the heartland? Because it is unfortunately true that many well-intended but in my mind poorly informed Americans believe supporting the troops really does mean that we should not question why they are in Iraq and why so many civilians are dying.

stillkristi is Kristi Johnson

by stillkristi ( on Wed Feb 23rd, 2005 at 03:55:38 PM EST

[ Parent ]


Supporting the troops

Thank you, Will, for raising this issue. It needed to be raised. I think the only solution is to ask whenever possible what anyone who uses this phrase really means by it. Then some reason might possibly be injected into one's expression of opinion. Peace lovers have been fond of equating "bring them home" as a way of support, but obviously from what we see of opinion on this blog, that is only part of it. It's tough to pin down a bumper sticker, but every other appearance of this phrase ought to bring forth a challenge.

Yours in peace, Synchro

by Synchro ( on Wed Feb 23rd, 2005 at 02:45:05 PM EST


supporting troops

Excellent take. Support our troops line reminds me of the ¨Love it or leave it¨ shrieks. As a Vietnam era vet, I had a curious return to my Midwest hometown in 1969. As long as I was wearing my uniform, people would buy me drinks, meals, give me rides, etc. etc. until my hair got so sheepishly long I had to stop putting on my dress uniform. So I think a lot of the getting spit on stories are either isolated or an invention of the right wing or I lived in a very benign city. Secondly, although I was never in combat, I had a job processing hundreds of guys who had been under fire. I heard a lot of bravado, but not once did I hear a real soldier say it was fun to shoot someone. More than a few expressed great remorse, even shame for doing so.

by haybale46 on Wed Feb 23rd, 2005 at 03:20:05 PM EST


Support Our Troops

After 9/11 everyone drove around with an American flag on their car, pasted a flag in their front window, wore flag pins on their clothes. Now, almost everywhere I drive, I see yellow ribbon magnets with "Support Our Troops" inscribed on them attached to car trunk lids. Sometimes two, three, four or more on one car.

These people aren't supporting the troops as much as they are supporting WalMart or the magnet manufacturer. Slap a silly magnet on your car and you've done your part. You don't have to think about the lives, just slap on that magnet because if you don't have one, you're not patriotic.

One of my best friends from high school went off on me during the presidential campaign because I supported John Kerry. He went into a diatribe about Kerry being a traitor, supporting the VC, and other propaganda. The clincher was when he said our mutual friends and classmates who died in VietNam would have felt the same.

This patriotic individual was draft age but never went to VietNam nor even served in the military. How dare he criticize John Kerry's service when he knows nothing about war.

I protested the war in VietNam because I felt it was wrong and I'm ready to protest this war if any of us can find the courage to take to the streets again. At age 55 will I have more credibility than I did at 19, more impact? Will I regret I didn't do more like I regret now that I couldn't do more in 1969 so my friends didn't have to die?

I was supporting my friends in 1969 by trying to stop the war so they could come home. I believe the best way to support our troops now is to stop the war so they can come home.

by smokyflyfisher on Wed Feb 23rd, 2005 at 05:28:56 PM EST


guess I'm not patriotic

I don't have one of the cute magnets either. Nor do I believe slapping one on your SUV shows you really support the troops.

To me the concept of support the troops means agree with whatever is realistically necessary to make their jobs safer, easier and create a situation where they can come home as soon as possible.

To not blame individual soliders for the war since they had no control over it. Of course to punish those who break the law or military code as appropriate but not to treat them as if they are murderers or are somehow responsible for the situation in Iraq. To not wish death or injury upon them as some have in the emotion surrounding this.

It doesnt mean I run out in the streets celebrating Iraqi's killed, it means I recognize that these men and women have agreed to serve and for that deserve the same amount of respect as if they were fighting to defend our country.

There is a difference between supporting the troops and supporting the war though the lines do get very close. Supporting the troops means you want them to be given the plan to finish the job and get the hell out of there as soon as possible. Supporting the war would mean accepting the reasons for it -- many of us will never be able to do that with good reason. Providing proper equipment to the troops is not supporting the war -- it's maintaining the safety of american soliders. It's acknowledging "Hey I disagree with this war but let's do everything necessary to not only end this, but to keep as many of them safe as possible so we can bring more of them home".

I don't agree with the huge sums of money spent, but that doesn't mean I don't want equipment for our soliders. It means I want Congress and President Bush to responsibly spend those dollars not let them get frittered away due to fraud or mismanagement.

by psyche777 on Wed Feb 23rd, 2005 at 07:51:51 PM EST

[ Parent ]


Support the Troops

I was wondering about that "Support the Troops" plastic, manetic ribbon that adorns a high percentage of American cars.

They cost 3 to five dollars, are made in China, and thereby are about as far from "supporting the troops" as anything imaginable.

Obviously, we want our troops to succeed in their endeavours. Of course we support the troops! But being ordered to support them on a Chinese-made bumper sticker is not an effective way to go about it. If everyone who had bought one (or more) of these lackluster designs had instead sent the money to buy body armour, or Humvee upgrades, it would have shown real support.

I certainly don't support a president who lies so treasonably, if that's what "Support the Troops" really means.


by motamanx on Wed Feb 23rd, 2005 at 09:04:22 PM EST

t r u t h o u t || Supporting the Troops
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Thursday, February 17, 2005

We Need The Oil, Right? So What’s the Problem?

We Need The Oil, Right? So What’s the Problem?

by Ray McGovern

Such openness is rare; it set me back on my heels. The question came last Monday as I finished a lecture in Pewaukee, Wisconsin–the first of a handful of talks I gave for “Great Decisions 2005,” a program of the Institute of World Affairs, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

With the “weapons of mass destruction” of recent memory having evaporated as casus belli for the invasion and occupation of Iraq, I had decided to experiment with a tutorial on what I believe to be the real reasons behind the war—first and foremost, oil. Passing by a phalanx of late-model gas-guzzlers on my way in, I found myself wondering how my observations on the oil factor would be received. In the end, I was more than a little surprised that none of the 250 folks in that very conservative audience seemed to have much of a problem.

The Most Recent Death

I had thought I was in for a much more difficult time. Among other things, the news had just broken that 22 year-old Lance Cpl. Travis M. Wichlacz of the Milwaukee-based Fox Company had become the fifth from that company, and the 33rd from Wisconsin overall, to be killed in action in Iraq. His stepmother told a reporter, “Travis was kicking down doors. They were going into houses and finding weapons caches and dismantling bombs.” Cpl. Wichlacz died in a roadside bombing southwest of Baghdad on February 5.

We began with a moment of silence in his memory, and then imagined ourselves into the scene with the newspaper reporter who had spoken with Wichlacz’ father, Dennis. We tried to anticipate questions Mr. Wichlacz might ask us:

Q. “How could our country have had such bad intelligence that President Bush was misled into starting this war?”

A. “I’m afraid it’s not that simple, Dennis. The Bush administration decided to attack Iraq many months before any ‘intelligence’ was adduced to ‘justify’ such an attack. Yes, the intelligence conjured up was bad. But its target was Congress; even Colin Powell has admitted that. And the aim was to deceive our lawmakers into forfeiting to the Executive Congress’ constitutional prerogative to authorize war.”

Q. But what about my son? . . . and the others who died? Why?

A. Oil.


Canadian writer Linda McQuaig, author of It’s the Crude, Dude, has noted that decades from now it will all seem a no-brainer. Historians will calmly discuss the war in Iraq and identify oil as one of the key factors in the decision to launch it. They will point to growing US dependence on foreign oil, the competition with China, India, and others for a world oil supply with terminal illness, and the fact that (as Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz has put it) Iraq “swims on a sea of oil.” It will all seem so obvious as to provoke little more than a yawn.

But that will be then. Now is now. How best to explain the abrupt transition from early-nineties prudence to the present day recklessness of this administration? How to fathom the continued cynicism that trades throwaway soldiers for the chimera of controlling Middle East oil?

The Earlier Cheney on Our Soldiers

In August 1992, Dick Cheney, then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney under a very different President Bush, was asked to explain why US tanks did not roll into Baghdad and depose Saddam Hussein during the Gulf War. Cheney said:

“I don’t think you could have done that without significant casualties. And the question in my mind is how many additional casualties is Saddam worth? And the answer is not that damned many. And we’re not going to get bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq.”

Where the Prize Ultimately Lies

Later, then-CEO Dick Cheney of Halliburton found himself focusing on different priorities. In the fall of 1999 he complained:

“Oil companies are expected to keep developing enough oil to offset oil depletion and also to meet new demand. So where is this oil going to come from? Governments and national oil companies are obviously in control of 90 percent of the assets. The Middle East with two-thirds of the world’s oil and the lowest cost is still where the prize ultimately lies.”

What had changed in the seven years between Cheney’s two statements?

* The US kept importing more and more oil to meet its energy needs.

* Energy shortages drove home the need to ensure/increase energy supply.

* Oil specialists concluded that “peak oil” production was but a decade away, while demand would continue to zoom skyward.

* The men now running US policy on the Middle East appealed to President Clinton in January 1998 to overthrow Saddam Hussein or “a significant portion of the world’s supply of oil will be put at hazard.”

* In October 1998 Congress passed and Clinton signed a bill declaring it the sense of Congress that “it should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein.”

* International sanctions left a debilitated Iraq with greatly weakened armed forces headed by an “evil dictator.”

Shortly after George W. Bush entered the White House in January 2001, Vice President Cheney’s energy task force dragged out the maps of Iraq’s oil fields. (We now have some of the relevant documents, courtesy of a bitterly contested Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. But the courts have upheld the White House decision to keep the task force proceedings, and even the names of its members, secret.)

To be fair, taking over Middle East oil fields was not a new idea. In 1975 Henry Kissinger, using a pseudonym, wrote an article for Harpers titled “Seizing Arab Oil," outlining plans to do just that, preventing Arab countries from having absolute control over the modern world’s most vital commodity. But in those days there was a USSR to put the brakes on such adventurism.

Prize Lies

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has claimed that the conflict with Iraq “has nothing to do with oil,” but those who do not limit their news intake to FOX are aware that his credibility is somewhat tarnished. After all, it was Rumsfeld who assured us, among other things, that he knew where Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction” were located. And for a war supposedly not about oil, US military planners certainly gave extremely high priority to securing the oil fields—and even the Oil Ministry in Baghdad.

It will bring no consolation to young widow Angela Coakley, whom Cpl. Wichlacz married last May just before shipping out to Iraq, or to his parents to know that they are not the first to suffer immeasurable loss on false pretenses.

If any question why we died, Tell them because our fathers lied.

--Rudyard Kipling

No Static

In Pewaukee I fully expected such observations to cause some static, at least during the formal post-lecture Q&A session before most of the audience drifted off into a light snow. I was later advised not to misread the lack of demurral as concurrence, but rather to chalk it up to Mid-West reticence.

Some twenty folks did linger in a small circle that was dominated by a persistent, well dressed man (let’s call him Joe), who just would not let go:

“Surely you agree that we need the oil. Then what’s your problem? Some 1,450 killed thus far are far fewer than the toll in Vietnam where we lost 58,000; it’s a small price to pay, a sustainable rate to bear. What IS your problem?”

I asked Joe if he would feel differently were it to have been his son that was killed, rather than Cpl. Wichlacz, but the suggestion seemed so farfetched as to be beyond Joe’s ken. (And therein lies yet another important story). So I resorted to a utilitarian approach. “Joe, we’re just not going to be able to control the oil in Iraq. The war is unwinnable. There are 1.3 billion Muslims, and they are very upset with us; they will not let us prevail.”

But this too made little impact on Joe.

How About Because It’s Wrong

I sized Joe up as one who would press for having the Ten Commandments prominently displayed in the courthouses of America. So I took a new tack, asking him, “Isn’t one of those commandments about stealing...and one about about lying...and even one about coveting your neighbor’s possessions? Would you think we might lop off those four and whittle the tablets down to the remaining six so as to spare ourselves potential embarrassment?”

Joe walked off to drive his gas-guzzler home.

Ray McGovern is on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. His 27-year career as a CIA analyst spanned administrations from John F. Kennedy to George H. W. Bush.

This article appeared first on

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5 Units Of Military Reserve Miss Recruiting Goals

In a sign of continued stress on the armed forces from operations in Iraq, five of the six military reserve components have failed to meet their recruiting goals for the first four months of the current fiscal year, the military's top officer said on Wednesday. The officer, Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee that only the Marine Corps Reserve had achieved its recruiting quota through January. General Myers said the Army Reserve and the National Guard had been particularly hard hit because the Army was retaining more soldiers on active duty instead of letting them retire and join the reserve. A spokesman for the Army's Recruiting Command, S. Douglas Smith, said the Army Reserve was increasing the number of recruiters to 1,524 by April, from 981 in January. He also said the Reserve was offering new bonuses of $15,000 for recruits with military experience and $10,000 for those without.

Military Headlines
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Dentist, 84, Gets An Offer To Reenlist

Philadelphia Inquirer

February 17, 2005

The last time Floyd Baker served in the U.S. Army, Dwight D. Eisenhower was still a general.

So the 84-year-old, semi-retired Mount Airy dentist was a little surprised last August when he got a letter from a local Army recruiting station inviting him to reenlist.

"I was honorably discharged in 1948," said Baker, who was drafted in 1946 and left the Army with captain's bars on his shoulders. "I thought the letter belonged to somebody else, knowing when I got in the Army and when I got out. I thought it was a mistake."

He started believing that maybe it wasn't a mistake when another letter arrived two months later, offering him a $30,000 signing bonus, a $58,646 loan-repayment option, and a "generous retirement plan" to re-up.

Help the soldiers "on the front line fighting the war on terrorism," it said. "Among the difficulties facing them are receiving adequate dental care prior to being sent to areas of danger and conflict. Our soldiers are sacrificing so much for us and we would greatly appreciate the services of fine professionals like you."

Baker really began taking the Army's offer seriously last week after talking to a senior-citizen friend at a local Veterans Administration facility who had received a similar letter.

Click here to find out more!

Army officials, after a few gasps and guffaws, called the letters an honest mistake.

"We need dentists, but we don't need them quite that old," said Maj. Tanya Beecher, a Fort Knox, Ky., Army operations officer who helps process waiver requests for older enlistees. "We're pushing it when we request [a waiver] for someone 67."

A spokesman for the Army Recruiting Command at Fort Knox said that Baker's letter probably had resulted from a failure to check ages along with the names gleaned from recruiting efforts or the mass-mailing lists the Army buys from marketing firms.

"Normally, we try to suppress these people - people who are too young or too old or currently in the military," Beecher said. "It's not foolproof, but we try to suppress them."

Baker's letters may have been a simple bureaucratic mistake, but they also are symptomatic of how the U.S. military is struggling to fill its ranks as it is stretched thin in Afghanistan and Iraq.

To help keep its numbers up, the Army recently expanded a little-used program to recall officers and enlisted personnel to serve voluntarily for up to a year.

More than 300 Army retirees from their mid-40s to their late 60s are on active duty through the program, said Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty, an Army personnel spokesman.

"There were a couple of guys brought back who are really old, in their 60s," Hilferty said. "One went to Iraq. He's a medical professional."

The Army is still looking for a few good dentists. Currently, 938 dentists are on active duty, short of the 1,015 the service is authorized to carry, according to Defense Department figures. Fort Knox's Beecher said the Army was trying to recruit 30 for active duty and 48 more for the Army Reserve.

Whether the letters were a mistake or not, Baker said reenlisting didn't fit into his plans for his golden years, even though "my wife and children say I should go back in, with that much signing money" being offered.

"I told him: 'We can do this,' " Baker's wife, Gerty, 70, said jokingly. "I thought the letter was a hoot. I'm going to frame it."

Dentist, 84, Gets An Offer To Reenlist
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Regaining My Humanity, Camilo Mejia

Regaining My Humanity


I was deployed to Iraq in April 2003 and returned home for a two-week leave in October. Going home gave me the opportunity to put my thoughts in order and to listen to what my conscience had to say. People would ask me about my war experiences and answering them took me back to all the horrors—the firefights, the ambushes, the time I saw a young Iraqi dragged by his shoulders through a pool of his own blood or an innocent man was decapitated by our machine gun fire. The time I saw a soldier broken down inside because he killed a child, or an old man on his knees, crying with his arms raised to the sky, perhaps asking God why we had taken the lifeless body of his son.

I thought of the suffering of a people whose country was in ruins and who were further humiliated by the raids, patrols and curfews of an occupying army.

And I realized that none of the reasons we were told about why we were in Iraq turned out to be true. There were no weapons of mass destruction. There was no link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. We weren’t helping the Iraqi people and the Iraqi people didn’t want us there. We weren’t preventing terrorism or making Americans safer. I couldn’t find a single good reason for having been there, for having shot at people and been shot at.

Coming home gave me the clarity to see the line between military duty and moral obligation. I realized that I was part of a war that I believed was immoral and criminal, a war of aggression, a war of imperial domination. I realized that acting upon my principles became incompatible with my role in the military, and I decided that I could not return to Iraq.

By putting my weapon down, I chose to reassert myself as a human being. I have not deserted the military or been disloyal to the men and women of the military. I have not been disloyal to a country. I have only been loyal to my principles.

When I turned myself in, with all my fears and doubts, it did it not only for myself. I did it for the people of Iraq, even for those who fired upon me—they were just on the other side of a battleground where war itself was the only enemy. I did it for the Iraqi children, who are victims of mines and depleted uranium. I did it for the thousands of unknown civilians killed in war. My time in prison is a small price compared to the price Iraqis and Americans have paid with their lives. Mine is a small price compared to the price Humanity has paid for war.

Many have called me a coward, others have called me a hero. I believe I can be found somewhere in the middle. To those who have called me a hero, I say that I don’t believe in heroes, but I believe that ordinary people can do extraordinary things.

To those who have called me a coward I say that they are wrong, and that without knowing it, they are also right. They are wrong when they think that I left the war for fear of being killed. I admit that fear was there, but there was also the fear of killing innocent people, the fear of putting myself in a position where to survive means to kill, there was the fear of losing my soul in the process of saving my body, the fear of losing myself to my daughter, to the people who love me, to the man I used to be, the man I wanted to be. I was afraid of waking up one morning to realize my humanity had abandoned me.

I say without any pride that I did my job as a soldier. I commanded an infantry squad in combat and we never failed to accomplish our mission. But those who called me a coward, without knowing it, are also right. I was a coward not for leaving the war, but for having been a part of it in the first place. Refusing and resisting this war was my moral duty, a moral duty that called me to take a principled action. I failed to fulfill my moral duty as a human being and instead I chose to fulfill my duty as a soldier. All because I was afraid. I was terrified, I did not want to stand up to the government and the army, I was afraid of punishment and humiliation. I went to war because at the moment I was a coward, and for that I apologize to my soldiers for not being the type of leader I should have been.

I also apologize to the Iraqi people. To them I say I am sorry for the curfews, for the raids, for the killings. May they find it in their hearts to forgive me.

One of the reasons I did not refuse the war from the beginning was that I was afraid of losing my freedom. Today, as I sit behind bars I realize that there are many types of freedom, and that in spite of my confinement I remain free in many important ways. What good is freedom if we are afraid to follow our conscience? What good is freedom if we are not able to live with our own actions? I am confined to a prison but I feel, today more than ever, connected to all humanity. Behind these bars I sit a free man because I listened to a higher power, the voice of my conscience.

While I was confined in total segregation, I came across a poem written by a man who refused and resisted the government of Nazi Germany. For doing so he was executed. His name is Albrecht Hanshofer, and he wrote this poem as he awaited execution.


The burden of my guilt before the law

weighs light upon my shoulders; to plot

and to conspire was my duty to the people;

I would have been a criminal had I not.

I am guilty, though not the way you think,

I should have done my duty sooner, I was wrong,

I should have called evil more clearly by its name

I hesitated to condemn it for far too long.

I now accuse myself within my heart:

I have betrayed my conscience far too long

I have deceived myself and fellow man.

I knew the course of evil from the start

My warning was not loud nor clear enough!

Today I know what I was guilty of…

To those who are still quiet, to those who continue to betray their conscience, to those who are not calling evil more clearly by its name, to those of us who are still not doing enough to refuse and resist, I say “come forward.” I say “free your minds.”

Let us, collectively, free our minds, soften our hearts, comfort the wounded, put down our weapons, and reassert ourselves as human beings by putting an end to war.

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Camilo Mejia Released from Prison

Great news! Camilo Mejia Released from Prison

We were delighted to receive a phone call yesterday, February 15, from Camilo Mejia, letting us know that he has just been released from prison. Some of you might remember Camilo, a courageous soldier who spent more than 7 years in the military, 8 months fighting in Iraq, came home for a 2-week furlough, and decided that he could not—in good conscience—return to Iraq. He applied for Conscientious Objector status, and was declared a Prisoner of Conscience by Amnesty International. But the US military convicted him of desertion, and sent him to serve a one-year prison sentence in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. This happened the same day that Spc. Jeremy Sivits was court-martialed and sentenced to a year in prison for abusing Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib, an order Camilo had refused to obey.

For more information on Camilo go to:

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Saturday, February 12, 2005

U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) On The Draft

" Former President Ronald Reagan eloquently expressed the moral case against the draft in the publication Human Events in 1979:

'[Conscription] rests on the assumption that your kids belong to the state. If we buy that assumption then it is for the state – not for parents, the community, the religious institutions or teachers – to decide who shall have what values and who shall do what work, when, where and how in our society. That assumption isn't a new one. The Nazis thought it was a great idea.'

... Some say the 18-year old draftee "owes it" to his (or her, since HR 163 makes women eligible for the draft) country. Hogwash! It just as easily could be argued that a 50-year-old chickenhawk, who promotes war and places innocent young people in danger, owes more to the country than the 18-year-old being denied his (or her) liberty.

... But the real sacrifice comes with conscription – forcing a small number of young vulnerable citizens to fight the wars that older men and women, who seek glory in military victory without themselves being exposed to danger, promote. The draft encourages wars with neither purpose nor moral justification, wars that too often are not even declared by the Congress.

Without conscription, unpopular wars are difficult to fight. Once the draft was undermined in the 1960s and early 1970s, the Vietnam War came to an end. But most importantly, liberty cannot be preserved by tyranny. A free society must always resort to volunteers. Tyrants think nothing of forcing men to fight and serve in wrongheaded wars. A true fight for survival and defense of America would elicit, I am sure, the assistance of every able-bodied man and woman.

This is not the case with wars of mischief far away from home, which we have experienced often in the past century.

A government that is willing to enslave some of its people can never be trusted to protect the liberties of its own citizens. I hope all my colleagues join me in standing up for individual liberty by rejecting HR 163 and all attempts to bring back the draft."

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Friday, February 11, 2005

Interrogator's defenders cite Bush

Comment: it has always come down from the top and scapegoating the troops doesn't absolve this administration.

Interrogator's defenders cite Bush

The New York Times

Saturday, February 12, 2005

WASHINGTON An interrogator under contract with the Central Intelligence Agency, charged with beating an Afghan prisoner who died the next day, is basing his defense in part on statements by President George W. Bush and other officials that called for tough action to prevent terrorist attacks and protect American lives.

Documents unsealed in the past week in federal court in Raleigh, North Carolina, show that the interrogator, David Passaro, 38, might cite top officials' written legal justifications for harsh interrogation techniques and a Congressional resolution passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon calling on the president "to use all necessary and appropriate force" to thwart further terrorism.

Passaro's lawyers contend in court filings that in passing the legislation under which their client is charged, Congress "cannot have contemplated" the use of the law to "provide grounds for criminal prosecution of a battlefield interrogation of a suspected terrorist linked to constant rocket attacks."

Thomas McNamara, Passaro's lead defense lawyer, has officially notified the government that he will pursue a "public authority defense." Such a defense involves a claim that the defendant believed, even if incorrectly, that he was acting with the authority and approval of the government.

Passaro, a former U.S. Army Special Forces soldier from North Carolina, was hired by the CIA in 2003 to capture fighters from the Taliban and Al Qaeda and question them at a base at Asadabad, in northeast Afghanistan.

He was charged in June with four counts of assault, accused of using his hands and feet and a large flashlight to beat a prisoner, Abdul Wali, over two days. Wali, who had turned himself in to the U.S. military after learning he was under suspicion of firing rockets at the base, died in his cell on June 21, 2003. Passaro is not charged in his death.

Interrogator's defenders cite Bush: printer friendly version
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Marine faces death penalty

What comment could I make? It's a combat zone, troops follow the leader and aren't permitted much discernment opportunities in carrying out the mission. Do I agree with the killings, decidedly not. I don't however, like to see the field troops take the heat that belongs further up the chain of command, say to the administration. It's their war, they initiated it and continue to remain in power, absolved of responsibility, accountability. As the leaders set the tone.................

Marine faces death penalty


February 12, 2005

MIAMI: A US Marine could be executed for shooting two Iraqis during a vehicle search near a weapons cache in Iraq.

Second Lieutenant Ilario G. Pantano has been charged with murdering two local men on April 15, 2004 in Baghdad.

Lt Pantano's civilian lawyer, Charles Gittens, said the 33-year-old Marine has "made it pretty clear he is not guilty".

The Marine Corps are yet to say if they will pursue the death penalty, Mr Gittens said.

Lt Pantano was commander of a platoon sent to search a suspected insurgent hide-out in an area south of Baghdad.

The Marines found weapons, ammunition and bomb-making material in the building, and saw two men fleeing in a sport utility vehicle.

Marines shot out the vehicle's tyres to force it to a halt, took the men into custody and ordered them to rip out the interior of the vehicle during a search for booby traps and secret compartments.

One of the men turned toward Pantano "as if to attack," and Pantano ordered them to stop immediately.

"He [Pantano] thought he was in danger and he fired and he killed them and that's what we do to terrorists who don't listen to orders. It's a combat situation – kill or be killed," Mr Gittens said.

Lt Pantano, a former New York commodities trader, feared the men may have been trying to detonate explosives remotely.

"What's he supposed to do, wait until he's standing in the inferno?" Mr Gittens said.

The Daily Telegraph | Marine faces death penalty
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Thursday, February 10, 2005

Iraqi journalist and son, 3, shot dead in Basra

Rory McCarthy in Baghdad
Thursday February 10, 2005
The Guardian

Gunmen in the southern Iraqi city of Basra shot dead a correspondent working for a US-funded Arabic satellite television station yesterday, as more violence spread across the country.


The fighting came as officials announced that the results of the January 30 elections, which were due to be announced today, would be delayed.

Since polling day, the security crisis has returned to the streets of Iraq with a number of killings and suicide bombings.

In yesterday's attack, gunmen shot dead the journalist Abdul Hussein Khazal at his home in Basra and killed his three-year-old son, Muhammad.

Guardian Unlimited|Special reports|
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Rock Island woman. Sgt Jessica Housbey, killed in Iraq, roadside bomb

A Rock Island woman was killed in Iraq Wednesday when a roadside bomb exploded near the truck she was driving in the Baghdad area.

Sgt. Jessica M. Housby, 23, of the 1644 Transportation Unit of the Illinois National Guard based in Rock Falls, was part of a convoy hauling cargo from forward operating base Scania to forward operating base Stryker at the Baghdad Airport, according to the Illinois National Guard.

Scania is a convey support center about 90 miles southwest of Baghdad near the village of Nippur along the main supply route to Kuwait.

First news of her death was released by her family, through Wheelan-Pressly Funeral Home, Milan.

The 1644 was mobilized for its second deployment in Iraq in August. It is a medium truck company with about 170 members.

In 1999, Ms. Housby was named top cadet of 187 cadets from eight Explorer Posts taking part in a training exercise at Fort McCoy, Wisc.

Lt. Archie Rose of the Illinois National Guard said at the time that her "hard work, enthusiasm and the responsibility" resulted in the award.

She graduated from Rock Island High School in 2000.

Quad Cities Online - Rock Island woman killed in Iraq
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Radiation antidote to be readily available ..a vitamin pill ???

Two things; 1) article acknowledges troops are more and more exposed to radiation and 2) an antidotal vitamin pill to counteract radiation! Right! Let's get out those goggles from the 1950s, used to protect against atomic explosions, and let's get under our school desks to protect us from atomic fallout.

How many casualties will we have when the radiated troops return home? And what of the radiated Iraqi people? Election and freedom and "democracy" don't serve too well against the fierce foe of radiation. My God, what has our country done!? What has this administration released on us all?

Radiation antidote to be readily available
by Jennifer Harper

A simple vitamin pill soon may be part of the American military arsenal.
The Defense Department has joined forces with Humanetics, a Minneapolis-based nutritional-supplement manufacturer, to refine an over-the-counter, anti-radiation pill that may be ready by year's end, one source said Tuesday.
Described as a "radioprotective drug," the mystery pill is meant to be a practical, cheap antidote for millions in the event of nuclear attack.
"The chances of military or civilian personnel being exposed to dirty bombs or improvised nuclear devices have risen dramatically," said Mark H. Whitnall, director of the Radiation Casualty Management Team at the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute in Bethesda.
The Washington Times:February 10, 2005
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Monday, February 7, 2005

Most Shootings Aren't Publicized

I provide this unreported news to illustrate what the troops will bring home in their hearts and have to live out the rest of their lives remembering. It should not be their burden alone to carry, folks, we, as a country, share in the duplicity and we, as a country share in every killing on both sides, our troops and the Iraqi people. Next time you are comfortably getting your hair done, shopping at a mall for really important stuff, watching tv, or working hard to ignore what is really going on by filling up your days with urgent matters, maybe you might take a moment to think about your own mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, grandmother, grandfather, child and wonder .... oh please, wonder as if it were your own. The people doing the killing and maiming or being killed and maimed are real people; it's the catchy slogans and labels that are not real. We cannot be absolved by wrapping it up in picturesque language of labels like terrorists, insurgents, freedom-haters or whatever other apt labels get used to define real people.

Most Shootings Aren't Publicized

Dionee Searcey

February 7, 2005

MOSUL, Iraq - The shootings rarely make news - outside the towns where they occur. The military does not make a practice of publicizing cases of "collateral damage" unless by chance reporters are embedded with units and write about the events they witness. And no one at the Pentagon nor at the U.S. Central Command keeps a comprehensive tally of the incidents, according to senior officials in both locations, who say that all operations in general are periodically reviewed. The examples that follow are a sampling.

From April to October a unit of Arkansas infantrymen was involved in at least eight shootings at roadblocks or in convoys that ended in civilian deaths, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. In one instance, the paper reported, a driver was killed and his pregnant wife wounded; in another a girl died after being struck by bits of metal from a shot intended to disable the car engine.

In mid-November, a family driving across battle-weary Fallujah encountered a company of Marines that opened fire, wounding a 23-year-old woman and killing her mother, media accounts reported.

In Baghdad the following month, a young man drove up to an Army base with his dead mother and two siblings, said Airborne Capt. James Shaw. Americans had shot up the car, the man said, and didn't even stop. Airborne officers from the 2nd Battalion, 325th Infantry, who were not responsible for this shooting, have been working to compensate the family.

And about three weeks ago, a nervous National Guard unit rolled into Mosul for the first time after patrolling calmer outlying areas. Soldiers came under mortar attack when they stepped out to investigate a body on the street. The onslaught had just ended when a car sped toward them with a 55-gallon drum in its opened trunk. It failed to slow despite warning shots, according to a soldier who was there.

Worried the vehicle was packed with explosives, troops peppered it with bullets, killing the driver. The drum, however, was empty and the driver was not armed.

Minutes later, another vehicle swung around the corner and headed toward the scene. Soldiers immediately shot it up, too. A mother got out of the car, her hand severed by bullets. In her arms was her dead 7-year-old girl. Her young son also was injured.

"She was sitting on the curb, holding her daughter, rocking, not crying, just in shock," the soldier said.

Troops told their superiors they fired warning shots at the second vehicle, but the soldier disputed that. "The shots were into the cab" of the car, he said. "They were well-placed." - My News
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Comedians Visit War Wounded at Walter Reed

We could sure use more of this kind of positive support for troop morale. The story is a "feel good" story, and while I normally look past these kinds of stories as part of the propaganda machine, this one is a real story about real humans connecting with other real humans and trying to do something humane. Notice please that Sandler encounters a young soldier missing both legs and an arm and that is only what is reported. Would mean a blast of some kind and the head injury impact and damage from a human being blasted is still unreported "news".

Comedians Visit War Wounded at Walter Reed

By Michael E. Dukes

Army News Service

February 04, 2005

WASHINGTON - If laughter is the best medicine, then dozens of recovering troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center received an extra dose Feb. 3 as funny man Adam Sandler and fellow comedy actor Rob Schneider stopped by to say hello.

During the USO-sponsored visit, the actors met with Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen recovering from wounds inflicted while the troops were serving in Iraq or Afghanistan in support of the Global War on Terrorism.

Sandler seemed at a loss for words after patients asked him what happened to his foot, as they looked down at the brace on his right foot. After a short hesitation, he smiled and said, "It's me that's supposed to ask you guys what happened." But, he then told them that he hurt it while playing basketball and said it was nothing. "I've got flat feet."

Sandler and Schneider both said they were impressed to see how energetic and positive the patients were. They watched in amazement when one physical therapy patient stood up from his wheelchair and took a few steps to talk to them. They were amazed because the patient was standing on two prosthetic C-legs and was missing an arm — but his mended injuries didn't stop him from slowly walking his way to see the visitors.

Sandler broke the silence and said, "Man look at you! That walker you're using looks like something a grandma would use." He shook his head, winked an eye and laughed, "But you look pretty good for a grandma," he said while putting his hand on the patient's shoulder.

After the ice-breaking comment, the smiling patient seemed to open up to Sandler and Schneider. He told them that he really like their recent movie "50 First Dates." They thanked him and talked about how much fun it was to film in Hawaii. They also discussed the young man's hometown and family.

Once the word was out that the comedians were in the hospital's physical therapy clinic, patients from the wards and throughout the hospital began showing up asking to see the visitors.

The two celebrities posed for countless photos with patients and staff. They gave patients autographed promotional photos and copies of their DVD "50 First Dates." They also handed out autographed hats and T-shirts from their upcoming movie "The Longest Yard."
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Rumsfeld: Troop Recruiting To Increase

Translated: it means as in all abuse models, that there is not going to be a timeline for when the abuse will end. Indefinite works in abuse models, and it is usually the victims who become survivors who have to find their way out of the abuse model. Go Rumsfeld, you're on a roll, a real winning streak as Primo Abuser of the integrity of our valiant troops. And that continued slogan, "those who have already lost their lives, made the sacrifice" isn't justification for continued sacrifice. Duh, remember Vietnam, Rumsfeld..while you didn't go, you were aware from a safe place back home.

Rumsfeld: Troop Recruiting To Increase

Associated Press

February 7, 2005

WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Sunday there is no question the U.S. military is being stretched due to fighting a long, hard war in Iraq, but insisted that a heavy emphasis on recruiting and retention should eventually ease the problem.

"It's clearly stressed, but they're performing brilliantly, they're doing a fabulous job," he said on CNN's "Late Edition" - one of several talk shows he appeared on Sunday.

Concerns over stretching the Army National Guard, Army Reserve and Marine Corps Reserve are being addressed with full force, Rumsfeld said, adding that the military is adjusting the incentives and the number of recruiters.

The issue is that the regular Army isn't organized for the 21st century as well as it should be, he said on CBS' "Face the Nation." The problem is being dealt with swiftly, he said, by increasing the size of the Army, increasing the number of combat brigades from 33 to 43 and rebalancing the active force with the reserve components so that the military has the skill sets it needs on active duty.

Of the 150,000 U.S. troops in Iraq now, between 40 and 50 percent are from the Guard and Reserve. The figure is set to drop to 30 percent for the next rotation, beginning this summer, because combat-ready Guard units have been tapped out.

Rumsfeld said over and over again on the various talk shows, he didn't know when troops would start coming home.

"The president and I, and anyone would dearly love to be smart enough and wise enough to know precisely when our troops could leave," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "It would be such a relief for people to know that. It's not knowable."

When U.S. troops can pull out of Iraq is dependent upon the conditions on the ground and whether the Iraqis are capable of managing the security situation. "We're working very hard to see that they can," he said.

When asked why the United States doesn't give Iraqis benchmarks for when it will withdraw, Rumsfeld replied: "Because our country's invested a lot of lives, a lot of heartbreak. The courage of our troops and the sacrifice of those that have fallen and were wounded is important.

"And the idea that you should just arbitrarily say, this is going to happen on that date - think of it. The last administration did that in Bosnia. They said we'd be out by Christmas. Six, eight, 10 years later, not out.

"It is misleading people to think that you know something you don't know. And we know we don't know."
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