Saturday, September 22, 2007

George W. Bush Tries to Avoid the Death Penalty

Hat Tip to UnCommontator at Worldwide Sawdust for this one:

From The Existentialist Cowboy

Bush is trying to pardon himself of horrible war crimes --a desperate attempt to escape the death penalty for which he is subject under US Criminal Codes.

Bush is trying to ram through Congress legislation that will pardon him and his criminal gang of thugs for the felonies that they have already committed ---torture and murder! His action to pardon himself is proof of his guilt.

§ 2441. War crimes

(a) Offense.- Whoever, whether inside or outside the United States, commits a war crime, in any of the circumstances described in subsection (b), shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both, and if death results to the victim, shall also be subject to the penalty of death.

Read More at The Existentialist Cowboy
[Cross-posted at Edgeing]

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In Search Of A Reality

Good opinion piece from the NYT yesterday... for the most part.

They start off so well it's tempting to go with them all the way...

In Search of a Congress
NYT, Friday 21 September 2007

If you were one of the Americans waiting for Congress, under Democratic control, to show leadership on the war in Iraq, the message from the Senate is clear: "Nevermind." The same goes for those waiting for lawmakers to fix the damage done to civil liberties by six years of President Bush and a rubber-stamp Republican Congress.
The NYT editors have missed the boat in two places, however. They've nailed the problem with the GOP, but make the I think badly mistaken assumption that the Democratic Leadership is not complicit with Bush's goals, with:
The Democrats don't have, or can't summon, the political strength to make sure Congress does what it is supposed to do: debate profound issues like these and take a stand. The Republicans are simply not interested in a serious discussion and certainly not a vote on anything beyond Mr. Bush's increasingly narrow agenda.
And they do it again in my opinion, with:
Democrats and Republicans who oppose the war have a duty to outline alternatives. Those who call for staying in Iraq have a duty to explain what victory means and how they plan to achieve it. Both sides are shirking an obligation to deal with issues that must be resolved right now, like the crisis involving asylum for Iraqis who helped the American occupation.
They're right that both parties need to be articulating clear alternatives, but they're still stuck in the quicksand of assuming that Iraqis are incompetent children incapable of finding their own path and managing their own affairs to their own satisfaction in their own ways, regardless of what the rest of the world, or the "Washington Consensus", wants Iraqis to do.

If Iraqis want help they'll ask for it. It cannot be forced on them, and any attempt to force "help" on them has, is, and will continue to backfire.

If Iraqis have sectarian differences and kill each other in a civil war, it is their civil war, and neither The U.S. nor any other country has any more right to intervene for U.S. benefit than any other more powerful country had the right to intervene in the American Civil War for their benefit.

All that Washington's "help" has ever done for Iraq is make the situation worse. Continually. Never better. Only worse.

Since Bush started a fire that is burning the Iraqi house down the first thing to do is stop throwing fuel into the fire. And since Bush's invasion destroyed the infrastructure of the house before he started the fire and he made no effort to rebuild it, once we stop throwing fuel in and get out of the way before we are thrown out of the way, someone else will rebuild it.

It probably won't look anything like what the "Washington Consensus" would like it to look like when they're done, but too bad.

The vast majority of Iraqis DO NOT want U.S. troops occupying their country.

It is time to recognize that reality, and face up to it.

The Washington Consensus Of Iraq Reality Is Delusion, and the NYT, even in their criticism of both parties, is still buying the delusion. And still selling the delusion.

What will help to begin fixing Iraq is not "doing" something.

What will help to begin fixing Iraq is "not doing" something.

Not funding the occupation any longer and complete and total withdrawal of all U.S. military from the country is what will begin fixing Iraq.

Iraq will be fixed. Eventually. But it will not be republicans or democrats, or even the U.S. that fixes it. It will be, and can only be, Iraqis that fix Iraq.

The U.S. presence in Iraq, and the refusal to leave, is the problem.

It is time to leave Iraq. Long past time.

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Senate and Prez ‘Over the Top’ with Slaps at MoveOn

Cross-posted at The Paragraph.

Republican leaders and news outlets whipped up a little furor over’s ad headlined “General Petreaus or General Betray Us?—Cooking the books for the White House.”x01 A common comment was that the ad was “over the top.”x02. The ad came out in the New York Times September 10th, the day of Petreaus’s testimony to Congress on the progress of President Bush’s Iraq “surge” operation. Two days ago, the Senate passed a resolution finding that “ impugns the honor and integrity of General Petraeus and all the members of the United States Armed Forces.”x03 The resolution states the sense of the Senate to “repudiate the unwarranted personal attack on General Petraeus by the liberal activist group” Bush called the ad “disgusting”, and said: “I felt like the ad was an attack, not only on General Petraeus but on the U.S. military.”x04 So we can see by the reaction that the ad’s headline was catchy—but what about its content? It was a factual refutal of claims Petreaus had made or was likely to make in the very near future:

  • In 2004, just before the election, [Petreaus] said there was “tangible progress“ in Iraq and that “Iraqi leaders are stepping forward.” (The ad did not bother to refute this one.)

  • And last week Petreaus … said “We say we have achieved progress …” [But] every independent report on the ground situation in Iraq shows that the surge strategy has failed.

  • ... the General claims a reduction in violence. That’s because … the Pentagon has adopted a bizarre formula for keeping tabs on violence. For example, deaths by car bombs don’t count. ... assassinations only count if you’re shot in the back of the head—not the front. ... there have been more civilian deaths and more American soldier deaths in the past three months than in any other summer we’ve been there.

  • We’ll hear of neighborhoods where violence has decreased. But we won’t hear that those neighborhoods have been ethnically cleansed.

  • Most importantly, General Petraeus will not admit what everyone knows; Iraq is mired in an unwinnable religious civil war.

  • We may hear of a plan to withdraw a few thousand American troops. But we won’t hear … a timetable for withdrawing all our troops. General Petraeus has actually said American troops will need to stay in Iraq for as long as ten years.

So we can see that this ad was not an attack on the U.S. military. And it is not a personal attack to dispute someone’s claims with facts.x05 Are the Senate (all the Republicans and half the Democrats) and the President saying that someone wearing four stars should not get criticism for public comments? And why is a general making public comments in support of the President’s war policy anyway? We have a Defense Secretary for that.x06 So to me, the Senate’s resolution and the President’s comments were “over the top”.


01 MoveOn ‘Betray Us’ Ad – copy with source links

02 “Over the top”:

Some Democrats (including John Kerry and Jack Reed) have publicly distanced themselves from the ad, saying it was over the top. (Both Kerry and Reed voted against the resolution. – hungeski) – MSNBC

‘Do you want to distance yourself from that ad?’ asked anchorman John Roberts (of Sen. Clinton). ‘Was that ad over the top?’ – report on CNN interview

‘The personal attacks on General Petraeus were way over the top,’ said Michael Noonan, a defense scholar at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and an Army Reserve officer who served in Iraq. – The Seattle Times

“There’s room for reasonable people to disagree over Gen. David Petraeus’ take on Iraq. But’s personal attacks on him go way over the top.” – Kansas City Star

Sen. Bob Corker and Rep. Zach Wamp on Monday denounced an ad taken out in the New York Times by ad attacking Commanding General David Petraeus. ... Rep. Wamp said, ”... That they would do this the day before the sixth anniversary of 9/11, to me is outrageous. It is over the top and I think the American people should reject it.” – The Chatanoogan

03 H.R.1585: Senate Amendment on Petreaus [¶]

04 Bush: ad on Petraeus ‘disgusting’ – CNN, September 18, 2007

05 ‘Our ad on General Petraeus’ –

As long as General Petraeus is “untouchable” the President can continue to hide behind him. That’s why the public needs to know that Petraeus is neither objective nor trustworthy when it comes to assessing progress in Iraq.


Moreover, every word of the ad was entirely accurate—the General has in fact cooked the books, and in doing so, he betrayed the public trust.

06 ‘Corrupting the Military: Petraeus as Bush’s Political Spear-Carrier’ – Steven C. Clemons, The Washington Note, September 05, 2007

Quoted from article by By Bruce Ackerman in the Financial Times: President George W. Bush’s campaign to stay the course in Iraq is taking a new and constitutionally dangerous turn. When Senator John Warner recently called for a troop withdrawal by Christmas, the White House did not mount its usual counterattack. It allowed a surprising champion to take its place. Major General Rick Lynch, a field commander in Iraq, summoned reporters to condemn Mr Warner’s proposal as “a giant step backwards”.

It was Maj Gen Lynch who was making the giant step into forbidden territory. He had no business engaging in a public debate with a US senator. His remarks represent an assault on the principle of civilian control—the most blatant so far during the Iraq war.

* * *

By Quinn Hungeski – Posted at G.N.N. &

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Does the current state of most Democrats demand less idealism, or MORE?

Here’s my take on my willingness to vote third-party in 2004, and again in 2008, or in future midterm elections, even should I live in a swing state like Ohio:

Is it a “test of ideological purity” to say that I won’t vote for candidates that support remaining in Iraq, or a political party, too?

Sorry, but that fact (especially my mentioning Greens “too often”) was one of the two reasons I got banned from Daily Kos — proudly banned, I’ll ad.

BG makes my point exactly, but with a different conclusion: the older I get, the more I see there’s too much at stake for half measures on a number of issues. I voted against Kerry, and for David Cobb, not only over the Iraq War itself, but, the imperialism-lite of too many Democrats. (It's too bad Kevin Drum didn't tackle this issue at Political Animal in his otherwise excellent post about the “foreign policy establishment.”

To me, the “we gotta support the Democrats in the end” exemplifies not just what’s wrong with current Democrats/Democratic Party, but what’s wrong with the deep structure of U.S. politics.

First, to look at the Democrats.

Where’s a bill for federal public financing of Congressional campaigns, including reasonable provisions for financing third-party campaigns? Before the midterm elections, a federal Congressional campaign finance bill, but one that would squeeze out third parties, was rumored to be in the mix. I found it appalling that such a thing would even be considered under the guise of campaign reform.

Where, at state or federal levels, are Democratic supports for things like Instant Runoff Voting? Nonexistent, that’s where.

At an even deeper level, and even more idealistic one, though, I’m convinced our Constitution itself needs reform. Not at the edges, though, right at the center.

The only real way for third parties to have a chance in the American process, AND the only way to adapt the speed of the American government to the nuclear/computer age, is to move in the direction of parliamentary democracy.

I heartily recommend David Lazare’s “Frozen Republic” as the best writing I’ve seen on this subject. (Reviewed by me on Amazon.)

Short of that, though, I won’t hold my breath on either Democrats or Republicans doing anything at all at the federal level, and precious little at the state level, to make it easier for third parties to get more of a purchase on the political process.

Beyond that, I hope that as I get older, I become less apologetic for being idealistic.

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Iraq Moratorium Day #1: Check in, please, OOIBC!

While organized activities are still underway here and there, the first Iraq Moratorium Day is drawing to a close. I have one more favor to ask of folks here, you who have done so much to publicize the Moratorium as it grew from vaporware to an actual event with people doing things coast to coast.

Did you do something today to observe the Moratorium? Wear a button or a black armband? Go to a rally? Call a recalcitrant Congresscritter and give some staffer what for? Put up a blog post or email some folks?

Please stop by the Iraq Moratorium website and (after admiring our new, more open and user-friendly design) click on the link and type in a few lines--or more, if you want--to let the world (or at least the blogosphere) know what we did!

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Political Porn, American-style

Aha! Gotcha! Now that I have your attention…

Perhaps it’s merely because I’ve been spoiled by the interactive world wide web but I could never understand the appeal of most television. Take the Food and Travel Channels, where our taste buds and other senses get tantalized by electronically beamed and pixilated images of food being eaten and exotic locales visited by other people months or years ago.

Pornography is another mystery to me. How illogical is it to be coaxed into libidinous feelings by watching other people generally better-looking than you having sex in positions that you haven’t been able to assume since the Carter administration?

The same goes for those C-SPAN 1, 2 and 3 junkies, God love ’em, those who willingly winnow through endless hours of middle aged and elderly pre-pensioners loitering and aimlessly milling around the floors of Congress in their hideous outfits, hoping against hope of catching that infrequent but ultimately rewarding full blown nutty that bloggers talk about for years.

Just as their poor soulmates at Newshounds, who voluntarily watch Fox so we don’t have to, vicariously thrill to the legendary room-spanning money shots of Ron Jeremy and Peter North and other ejaculatory mutants, many of us can’t help but watch in real time our lumbering legislative process as if we the people are actually involved in our democracy, as if we still control things after our votes are cast. It’s political porn at its most elemental level.

John Cornyn leading the charge yesterday to condemn the now-infamous Moveon ad on David Petraeus is just such an example of the non-interactive political porn that leaves the logical, thinking bystander out in the cold and yearning for a hot shower and a vigorous tooth-brushing with a street sweeper.

Let's just deny ourselves for a moment the consolation that the Senate's actions, and Bush's monkey-cymbal clapping of it at his pathetic clown show of a press conference soon thereafter, succeeded in only, 1) Making the ad even more infamous than it already is, even more deeply embedding a valid point to a wider audience than originally intended and, 2) refilling Moveon's coffers literally overnight to the tune of a half a million dollars. Because bigger issues ought to be addressed here:

Now, I trust that ole JP need not remind you what Cornyn’s home state is and where the initiative for this condemnatory vote very likely originated. The movement to condemn the Moveon ad went far beyond merely condemning It was a gigantic, Dick Cheney-class “Fuck you!” to 3.2 million liberals, the first amendment and by extension all 300,000,000 plus Americans who, until September 11, 2001, were protected by it.

Now, if there was a God and if He hadn’t died of apoplexy about six years ago, a politically rabid assclown like Cornyn would be straitjacketed and shitting in the same corner of his rubber room at Bellevue like a huge human ferret. We’ve come to expect this from Republican pricks like Cornyn, a guy who had no problem a couple of years ago coming this short of calling for the murder of “activist judges” when the Supreme Court decided in a 5-4 vote that we couldn’t execute kids just over the age of 14.

We all know how contemptuous Republicans, especially neocons, are regarding the Constitution, particularly the first and fourth amendments (provided it’s still there for them when they need them). I can easily see all the Republicans getting on the same page to slam our rights to free speech, freedom of the press, the right to peacefully assemble and to petition.

What hurts is that so many Democrats had signed on for this sick, silly shit, 22 to be exact plus Holy Joe Lieberman, because they were too afraid of being slapped with the “liberal terrorist-sympathizer” brush, even though the ad had nothing to do with terrorism any more than did the invasion of Iraq itself. This august list includes the names of at least five freshman senators that we’d voted in just last year with high hopes that they’d actually help end the war, plus the chairman of our Senate Judiciary Committee. And the vote, incredibly, got through the Senate Majority Leader.

So, essentially, this was a strongly bipartisan message to the American people that they don’t want to hear what we have to say and will officially condemn our words and opinions if it doesn’t jibe with Bushian dogma. And just in time for the latest Zogby poll that shows Congress’s approval rating is down to 11%, or nearly one third of George Bush’s, an opportunistic, predatory asswipe who thinks nothing about using generals and retired generals with some credibility left to use as human countermeasures in his propaganda campaigns and has even less of a problem in tearing through reputations that take decades to earn as quickly as porn stars go through cum wipes.

As I said, we’ve come to expect this kind of puerile behavior on the part of Republicans who simply don’t have the sense to open their nostrils and recognize a war when it goes bad. We oldsters had seen this in both parties during Vietnam and we’re seeing it now. But it hurts when the Democrats, well, betray us.

And while I wouldn’t go as far as to call John Kerry hypocritical in voting against the condemnation, it is audacious when you compare this to my senator passively standing on a stage in Florida just days ago and watching with his mouth open like a dead codfish a student get tasered simply for exercising his right to free speech, especially when his intercession almost surely could’ve helped broker a better outcome. His after-the-fact condemnation did nothing to help that student and only put in my mind the “tsk tsk’s” we heard from George Allen last year after Mike Stark was manhandled by Allen’s goons.

Plus, one if left to wonder why, over three years ago, Kerry didn’t publicly deplore at the Democratic convention in Boston the abominable “freedom cages” that essentially mass-tasered the first amendment by keeping protestors out of Kerry’s and the delegates’ line of sight and even out of earshot.

Let's just say, when one remembers these two isolated yet relevant incidents. that it kind of subtracts from the intended nobility of the equine Kerry's "Nay."

It’s this kind of comfort with and even dependence on insularity that will forever brand Kerry and those like him with the cold, distant elitist tag that has so far been successfully avoided by the much more accessible and human John Edwards and, surprisingly, Al Gore.

In all honesty, I expect better of a veteran who’d earned three Purple Hearts in being commissioned to defend our constitutional rights, rights for which he wasn’t tasered or shunted behind chain link and barbed wire for using when he’d protested the war before Congress in 1971.

Thanks to reader Cherie, these are the names, phone numbers and snail mail addresses of the 22 Democrats and Lieberman who’d voted to taser the first amendment, plus the three cowards who didn't want to commit themselves during a presidential election. Send them some love and if you happen to live in the states with the freshman senators, remind them of that old saying they have in Texas (they may have it in Tennessee but they have it in Texas, too) of “Fool me once…”

Baucus, Max- (D - MT)

Bayh, Evan- (D - IN)

Cardin, Benjamin L.- (D - MD)

Carper, Thomas R.- (D - DE)

Casey, Robert P., Jr.- (D - PA)

Conrad, Kent - (D - ND)

Dorgan, Byron L.- (D - ND)

Feinstein, Dianne - (D - CA)

Johnson, Tim - (D - SD)

Klobuchar, Amy - (D - MN)

Kohl, Herb - (D - WI)

Landrieu, Mary L. - (D - LA)

Leahy, Patrick J.- (D - VT)

Lieberman, Joseph I.- (ID - CT)

Lincoln, Blanche L.- (D - AR)

McCaskill, Claire- (D - MO)

Mikulski, Barbara A.- (D - MD)

Nelson, Bill - (D - FL)

Nelson, E. Benjamin - (D - NE)

Pryor, Mark L.- (D - AR)

Salazar, Ken - (D - CO)

Tester, Jon - (D - MT)

Webb, Jim - (D - VA)

Biden, Joseph R., Jr.- (D - DE)

Cantwell, Maria - (D - WA)

Obama, Barack - (D - IL)

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Do Not Adjust Your Television Set

It has been a week since our triumphant return to the states, to America, the first world. And as it wasn't quite like I imagined in June, it was every bit as wonderful and surreal as I thought it would be. Every moment leading up to the march to the gym was met with cheers and hysterical laughter. Getting off the plane, turning in our guns, getting on a every step we got closer to seeing loved ones. You could feel it in your face and hear it in the voice of anyone you talked to.

We took a bus to the base gym, where our friends and family waited for us. We stopped short to get lined up nice and neat so we could march in with our backpacks and laptop cases around our necks. Near the entrance there were people already holding signs and clapping. Someone yelled, "hey, Horton!" but luckily I wasn't met with a barrage of cabbage and apple cores. A few more steps and we entered the gym. By the crowd's reaction, it's as if we won the Superbowl. We stopped in the center and it was still so loud no one heard the shortest speech of all time given by a general. "Good job etc, proud of you all yadda yadda, be safe and so forth." On that note, it became a mad house as people rushed from the bleachers and into the scattered formation. Foregoing all military discipline, I looked around the room while at attention to locate my family. As the gym started to clear out I found Bryan, also family-less, and we agreed to look together. Suddenly I caught a glimpse of my dad running up, with my mom not far behind and with her, Lauren.

One of the first things I said to my dad after a big hug was, man, that was a long twelve months.

Seeing my mom get teary-eyed almost made me let loose, but I held my composure by making a point to. Lauren told me she wasn't going to be there, as to make it a family event. But she decided to come and we're both glad she did. A beautiful moment with a beautiful woman. Yes, this is what I've been missing.

Now that things have settled down a little (ha!), I keep getting the same question: what does it feel like to be back? Well, imagine a kid tweaking on Ritalin and Mountain Dew IVs and trying to sit still in church.

In Iraq it feels like the rest of the world is another isolated planet. News came in bits and pieces and often by word of mouth. Our only connection to our own culture was from magazines a few months old and bootleg movies taped with a camcorder in some dank Indonesian movie theater. As much as we didn't want it to, the world kept on turning without us. Anniversaries, births, deaths, all kept happening despite our situation.

Back in the states, everything moves fast. Really fast. Traffic never exceeded about 45 miles an hour in combat, but on the highway it feels like your blood is going to boil at seventy. Every minute, tiny thing seems huge and at once, hilarious. Driving down the interstate I saw a piece of trash caught in the grass by the shoulder. Look at that! I said with a giggle. It's stuck!

Though I've related some pretty gruesome stories in earlier editions of this blog, I never provided much insight to how I felt about my own safety and mortality. I didn't want my family and friends to know that aspect while I was still in danger so their fears and anxiety weren't compounded any further. There is said to be three stages of clarity about one's life in a war. I didn't come up with the theory, but I sure have felt it. At the beginning, you feel like you're invincible and if anything bad happens, it's going to happen to some other guy. Then when people start to get hurt and killed, you think to yourself, I better look out or I'll be next. The final stage comes after the second one wears on you after awhile. Your thought is, I'm going to die next unless I make it out of here as soon as possible.

I entered the final stage on March 14, and there it remained until August 25.

There were times when many of us weren't killed due to good ol' fashioned luck, a soldier's best friend. Bullets missing heads by quite literally an inch or less (and even a couple dudes got grazed on the dome). The IED that killed Chevy was blown at the very front of the Stryker. If the guy set it off just a half second later, it would have blown under the troop carrying compartment. I don't believe in miracles, but I saw a lot of them.

From boots to Pumas, to sweat soaked and shit smelling trousers to Guess jeans, we're trying to rejoin society the best we can. But not everyone who left in June of 2006 was able to make that transition. These are the names of the fallen of Task Force 5/20:

Cpl. Casey Mellen - Headquarters
Huachua City, AZ
KIA Mosul, September 25, 2006

Cpl. Billy Farris - Headquarters
Bapchule, AZ
KIA Anbar, December 3, 2006

Cpl. Brian Chevalier - Bravo
Athens, GA
KIA Baqubah, March 14, 2007

SSG. Jesse Williams - Bravo
Santa Rosa, CA
KIA Baqubah, April 8, 2007

SSG. Vincenzo Romeo - Alpha
Lodi, NJ
KIA Baqubah, May 6, 2007

Sgt. Jason Harkins - Alpha
Clarkesville, GA
KIA Baqubah, May 6, 2007

Sgt. Joel Lewis - Alpha
Sandia Park, NM
KIA Baqubah, May 6, 2007

Cpl. Matthew Alexander - Alpha
Gretna, NE
KIA Baqubah, May 6, 2007

Cpl. Anthony Bradshaw - Alpha
San Antonio, TX
KIA Baqubah, May 6, 2007

Cpl. Michael Pursel - Alpha
Clinton, UT
KIA Baqubah, May 6, 2007

Sgt. Daniel Nguyen - B 1/12 (Cav)
Sugarland, TX
KIA Baqubah, May 8, 2007

Sgt. Jason Vaughn - Alpha
Iuica, MS
KIA Baqubah, May 9, 2007

Sgt. Anselmo Martinez - B 1/12 (Cav)
Robstown, TX
KIA Baqubah, May 18, 2007

Spc. Joshua Romero - B 1/12 (Cav)
Crowley, TX
KIA Baqubah, May 18, 2007

Spc. Casey Nash - B 1/12 (Cav)
Baltimore, MD
KIA Baqubah, May 18, 2007

Sgt. Iosiwo Uruo - B 1/14
Agana Heights, Guam
KIA Baqubah, May 24, 2007

Spc. Francis Tressel - B 1/12 (Cav)
KIA Baqubah, May 26, 2007

Sgt. Andrew Higgins - Alpha
Hayward, CA
KIA Baqubah, June 5, 2007

PV2 Scott Miller - Headquarters
Casper, WY
KIA Baqubah, June 9, 2007

Cpl. Darryll Linder - A 1/12 (Cav)
Hickory, NC
KIA Baqubah, June 19, 2007

Cpt. Drew Jensen - Headquarters
Clackamas, OR
Died in Seattle on September 7, 2007 from wounds suffered May 7, 2007

So. What does it feel like to be back? It feels great, but it hurts, too.


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Get Out Your Checkbooks

...cause this is gonna cost, and there is no way tax cuts are gonna cover the tab.

Once again, the projected date for Iraqi security forces to take over from the American forces has been pushed further into the future, to at least July of 2007.

And doesn’t that just dovetail beautifully with the recent CBO report on the cost of occupying Iraq, as requested by Senator Kent Conrad?

I read the report.

Make no mistake about it…The cabal in charge right now is setting up the board for an occupation without end in Iraq. To their way of thinking, the only undecided is – will 55,000+ Americans be embroiled in the current combat role? Or will 55,000 be stationed at hardened bases, i.e. the Korea model?

The CBO reports that the former will cost $4-8 Billion up front, and $25 Billion per year thereafter; the latter $8 Billion up front, and about $8 Billion per year thereafter.

(Keep reading...)

In both scenarios, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) bases their projections on the long-term presence of

  • A division headquarters
  • Four Heavy Brigade Combat Teams (HBCT’s)
  • Six Tactical Fighter Squadrons
  • 10,000 training personnel

The stage is being set for a Permanent Security Arrangement.

George Bush – who deserted his unit in a time of war – has already decided that we are there forever (or until the oil runs out – whichever comes first) on his whim.

Meantime, the spineless cowards in Congress mewl most pathetically; then fall in line.

If you disagree with the policy of occupying that country for decades; if you disagree with the plan for children not yet born to patrol the same streets that our young men and women are dying on right now, make your voice heard today.

The time is now – this is election season – nail your candidates down – and if they fall in line with perpetual occupation, nail their political careers to a proverbial cross.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Senate blocks bill on Soldiers deployment time limits

This is so screwed up. I mean, really..the Asshat-in-chief said he would veto it, so why the hell didn't everyone who wants our soldiers home VOTE for the damn thing? They had nothing to friggin lose..From WaPo:

The Senate today turned back a measure to require that U.S. troops be given at least as much time at home as they spend on combat tours, shelving an amendment that supporters said was aimed at easing the strain of prolonged military deployments but that opponents argued was intended to undercut the Bush administration's Iraq war policy.

The amendment to a defense programs bill, sponsored by Sen. James Webb (D-Va.) and Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), went down when it failed to receive the 60 votes needed for passage. The vote was 56 to 44. A similar measure offered by Webb in July also fell four votes short of the 60-vote threshold

My heart breaks when I see this kind of bs..and my blood pressure goes through the roof. FOUR FUCKING VOTES SHORT. This is a travesty. Keep sending him the same damn bill..keep putting it up there, every month if need as stubborn as the Asshat-in-Chief you nimrods.

Crossposted at Leftwing Nutjob

Tags: Jim Webb, Troop Deployment Bill

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The U.S. military performing "religious re-education" in Iraq on children

The Washington Post reports that with the population growing in Iraqi detention centers, the U.S. military has now began engaging in "religious re-education" programs. The detention centers in Iraq are under the command of Marine Maj. Gen. Douglas M. Stone.

Stone said such efforts, aimed mainly at Iraqis who have been held for more than a year, are intended to "bend them back to our will" and are part of waging war in what he called "the battlefield of the mind." Most of the younger detainees are held in a facility that the military calls the "House of Wisdom."

The number of Iraqi's now held in detention camps, according to the Washington Post article, has grown to around 25,000, of which over 820 are children as young as 11 years old. Not only does this program include children, but, Maj. Gen. Stone said that the program, in fact, has now shifted towards the children:

The 25,000 detainees now being held in U.S. facilities in Iraq include more than 820 juveniles, Stone said, most of whom are held in the House of Wisdom, which opened last month and is located at the Camp Victory military base near Baghdad's airport. He said that six additional young people had been sent to him just yesterday, and that "the trend is towards the youth," including 11-, 12- and 13-year-olds. He described older juveniles -- the 15-, 16- and 17-year-olds -- as "harder nuts" and said that 50 to 60 of them have been removed from U.S. detention facilities and turned over to Iraqi authorities for trial. (my emphasis added)

This is not the first time that a nation has tried to "educate" children in an ideology; Adolph Hitler had youth camps:

From 1940 to 1945, over 2.8 million German children were sent to these camps. There were separate KLV camps for boys and girls. About 5,000 camps were eventually in operation, varying greatly in sizes from the smallest which had 18 children to the largest which held 1,200. Each camp was run by a Nazi approved teacher and a Hitler Youth squad leader. The camps replaced big city grammar schools, most of which were closed due to the bombing. Reluctant parents were forced to send their children away to the camps.

Life inside the boys' camp was harsh, featuring a dreary routine of roll calls, para-military field exercises, hikes, marches, recitation of Nazi slogans and propaganda, along with endless singing of Hitler Youth songs and Nazi anthems. School work was neglected while supreme emphasis was placed on the boys learning to automatically snap-to attention at any time of the day or night and to obey all orders unconditionally "without any if or buts."

Isolated in these camp and without any counter-balancing influences from a home life, the boys descended into a primitive, survival of the fittest mentality. Weakness was despised. Civilized notions of generosity and sympathy for those in need faded. Rigid pecking orders arose in which the youngest and most vulnerable boys were bullied, humiliated, and otherwise made to suffer, including sexual abuse.

This is the difference between the "carrot" versus the "stick" mentality. In Iraq, we use soccer teams. In Germany, it was abuse. The goal, however, to condition minors to believe and act in a certain, pre-dispositioned manner, is the same. The method used is same; segregate children for conditioning.

Can our nation sink any lower than to sponsor the religious "re-education" of children in a country we invaded and occupy? For anyone to even attempt to justify this practice by claiming that it turns "extremist's" into "moderate Islamist's", means that the person has to totally disregard the facts; we are holding children in detention camps and trying to modify their religious beliefs. This would be no different than if an Evangelical parent had their child placed in a detention camp and their child was "re-educated" to be a more "moderate Protestant". The outcry that would ensue from such an action would be deafening and it underscores the utter hypocrisy that is occurring today in our political discourse and policies.

The religious foundation Operation Straight Up (OSU), tried to send our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan copies of a religious "video game" called "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" in care packages. When it was brought to light that the video game entailed "soldiers for Christ" trying to convert non-believers and killing them, the Pentagon put a halt to it. But, keep in mind, the Pentagon only put a halt to it after America learned about it; not when it was proposed. Yes, that is what our soldiers need to play while occupying an Islamic country; a video game where killing non-believers won you points!

This LA Times op/ed details just how hard the religious-right is pushing to indoctrinate our own military into not just being religious, but, being a certain religion. The "war on terror" is no longer a war against terrorist organization's; it has been turned into a religious war by our government and our military. The war in Iraq is no longer about fighting Al-Qaeda (who wasn't even in Iraq until after we invaded the Middle East); it is about indoctrinating children into a certain religious belief.

For one minute, just one, can we even begin to try and comprehend how an American family, after a foreign invasion of our country, would feel if they were thrown into prison, called "rotten egg's" as Maj. Gen. Stone called those detained in Iraq, and their CHILDREN were put into a detention camp to be "re-educated religiously" into a different ideology by the occupiers? Can we even begin to fathom the hatred that this would foster in American citizens as news spread?

And, if only to punctuate that the Iraqi government is but a puppet to the United States, Maj. Gen. Stone quotes Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi as saying; "America could win the war if they just applied the exact process that you're putting in detention to the rest of the entire nation," (Stone's words). Yes, if we merely put EVERYONE in Iraq into a detention center, if we were but able to lock up ALL of the CHILDREN and if we merely RE-EDUCATED everyone to OUR way of thinking, we could win the war! This mentality, that if only we turned Iraq today into Germany of the 1940's, we could win the war is the very definition of insanity.

This "program" needs as much attention brought to it as possible. It must be denounced. It must be stopped. America is not Germany and this is 2007 not the 1940's. A country, our country, cannot be allowed to detain the children of a nation we invaded and occupy, much less, be allowed to sponsor "re-education camps" for those children.

There's more: "The U.S. military performing "religious re-education" in Iraq on children" >>

Does “support the troops” include “support the troops’ mission”?

So argues Ted Rall, citing Alexander Coburn’s latest column in The Nation, among other things. He calls this the Achilles heel of the antiwar left, at least those who don’t face up to this logical conundrum, and I believe he had at least some degree of a point.

That’s why I have never favored the “I support the troops” me-too-ism of some antiwar people. Even if immediately qualified with a statement such as “I support getting them home,” it still seems a no-win proposition. It’s arguing on war supporters’ turf.

Antiwar people should simply insist, when conservatives try to go down that road, that it’s not a discussion about “supporting the troops” but rather one about “supporting the war.”

Beyond that, Rall says that if one believes the war is illegal, then one should support the right of Iraqis under international law to resist an illegal occupation. It’s easy to see how that collides head-on with “support the troops.”

Rall gets blunt:

Since war is a zero-sum game, it's our guys or theirs. “Support the troops by bringing them home” is an empty slogan that belies reality. With both political parties supporting the war, U.S. troops are not going to come home any time soon. As Gelderloos writes: “The approach of the U.S. antiwar movement in relation to the Iraqi resistance does not merely qualify as bad strategy; it reveals a total lack of strategy, and it is something we need to fix.” It also exposes an ugly truth about antiwar lefties. They don't believe in national self-determination any more than George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

He’s right, and don’t expect “antiwar” Democratic leadership like Nancy and Harry to step up to the plate of reality any time soon.

(Sidebar: Rall notes that, contrary to the later historical repainting, there wasn’t any such thing as the French Resistance with capital letter during WWII; rather various resistances, like in Iraq, who sometimes fought each other as well as the Germans.

Cross posted at SocraticGadfly and Watching Those We Choose.

There's more: "Does “support the troops” include “support the troops’ mission”?" >>

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

General Pace's Wonderland

(Originally posted at The Motley Patriot)

The Charlotte (NC) Examiner has an article authored by Rowan Scarborough about General Peter Pace. This statement by General Pace shows just how large of a betrayal the Iraq war has been for both American and Iraqi:

“One of the mistakes I made in my assumptions going in was that the Iraqi people and the Iraqi army would welcome liberation, that the Iraqi army, given the opportunity, would stand together for the Iraqi people and be available to them to help serve the new nation,” Pace said.

He said the Iraqi army more or less “disintegrated.” The Bush administration made a much-criticized decision in 2003 to disband the army rather than reorganize it, beginning the long process of building a new force from scratch.

Pace said if he could have foreseen the Iraqi army’s lack of cooperation, “I probably would have made a different recommendation about the total size force going in.”

Rowan correctly notes that the Iraqi Army did not merely "disintegrate", but, in fact, it was disbanded by the Bush Administration and Paul Bremer in May, 2003; two months after our invasion.

General Pace was the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. He would be one of the few who would have known the Iraqi Army was being disbanded by Paul Bremer prior to the decision being made. He would have had to be informed so that the commanders on the ground could plan for it militarily. General Pace claims in February, 2004, that that wasn't so:

The Joint Chiefs of Staff were not consulted on the US decision to disband the Iraqi army shortly after the end of major combat operations in Iraq last May, General Peter Pace, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said.

Pace said Paul Bremer, the head of the coalition provisional authority in Baghdad, ordered the army disbanded on his own authority.

"Those of us in Washington did not second guess those who were on point," he said at a question and answer session here at the Council on Foreign Relations. "We were not asked for a recommendation, or for advice."

Pace said he did not know what input Bremer received from military officials in the Iraq theater, but it was never specifically addressed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

So, according to General Pace in 2007, the Iraqi Army merely disintegrated in May, 2003, when Paul Bremer disbanded it despite the fact he placed the blame for disbanding the army on Bremer three years ago? So, according to General Pace in 2007, the Joint Chief's had zero input or even knowledge of the decision despite the fact that they would have had to coordinate our military response to such an action?

In the June 2003 statement to Congress given by General Pace, there was no mention of the disbanding of the Iraqi Army. In the July 2003 statement to Congress given by General Tommy Franks, there was no mention of the disbanding of the Iraqi Army, or, that there were adverse effects from that act. I bring this out to show that if our commanders had indeed been blindsided by the act of disbanding the Iraqi Army, if they indeed had been forced to rethink their entire plan at the last moment, there should have been some statement to this effect. There is not one that I can find.

It wasn't until February 2004 that suddenly, the disbanding of the Iraqi Army became an issue. Why would that be you ask? Days prior to General Pace blaming Bremer and disavowing all knowledge that the Iraqi Army would be disbanded, the center where new Iraqi officers were being trained was bombed killing 23 people and, suddenly, everyone magically realized there was no security in Iraq; something Iraqi's knew all to well.

So, not only do we know that the General has zero integrity, but, that he lives with Alice in Wonderland: he assumed that the Iraqi's would welcome liberation and that the Iraqi Army would cooperate prior to being disbanded!

In the September 2003 Congressional testimony given by Paul Bremer, he stated:

Most Iraqis welcomed us as liberators and we glowed with the pleasure of that welcome. Now the reality of foreign troops on the streets is starting to chafe. Some Iraqis are beginning to regard us as occupiers and not as liberators. Some of this is inevitable, but faster progress on reconstruction will help.

Of course, we know how well reconstruction went under Paul Bremer! But, Mr. Bremer did mention the disbanding of the Iraqi Army when he stated that the second key goal was Iraqi "National defense" and "—a new [Iraqi] army and civil defense system."

Now, if we put 2 and 2 together (Greenspan's statement on oil and Bremer's above statement) we see exactly why disbanding the Iraqi Army was a necessary goal for the Bush Administration; once Iraqi's realized we planned to occupy their country, the Iraqi Army would have been a major force used against us.

It is now September, 2007, and the Iraqi reconstruction effort abandoned. It is now almost five years after we invaded Iraq and the reconstitution of Iraqi security forces has been abandoned. The Iraqi people see exactly what our goal is, and was, when we invaded;

- destabilize their entire country
- disband their ability to defend themselves
- force Iraq to depend on the United States for security
- force Iraq to open the oil industry to private oil firms

The fact is that all of the the rats, like General Pace, are jumping ship and trying to blame everybody else for the Iraq war; meanwhile, our troops continue to die in Iraq for oil.

There's more: "General Pace's Wonderland" >>

Funding Cuts Could End Iraq Occupation

Jason Leopold, Senior Editor and Reporter for Truthout, sends me most of his articles for republishing on my own blog. This particular article, along with others he has written about funding of the Iraq Invasion and Occupation and other subjects such as the outing of former CIA Agent Valerie Plame-Wilson's identity, and his series of video interviews of former U.S. Attorneys in the Attorneygate Scandal, as with all of Jason's articles, is in my opinion very good and worth a close read.

[Cross-posted at Edgeing]

Funding Cuts Could End Iraq Occupation
By Jason Leopold, t r u t h o u t | Report, Monday 17 September 2007

Next week, Congress is expected to take up a $50 billion emergency supplemental bill to continue funding the so-called "surge" in Iraq and military operations in Afghanistan.

The bill, which is expected to soar through both Houses, would bring the cost of both wars to more than $600 billion. It would also mark at least the sixth time President Bush and the Pentagon have called on Congress to finance the occupation of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan through its emergency supplemental request. Emergency supplemental requests allow the Pentagon to use accounting sleight-of-hand to spend money on military operations that normally require Congressional oversight, according to the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

Since 2001, the Pentagon has grossly mismanaged the $510 billion spent thus far in Iraq and Afghanistan, has used money earmarked for equipment upgrades to finance fighting on the battlefield, and has refused to provide Congress with a transparent accounting of the money it has spent and intends to spend, according to a report issued in March by the CRS, the investigative arm of Congress.

Democrats in Congress are expected to introduce several competing pieces of legislation this week - they say - aimed at changing the direction of the occupation and at reducing the number of ground troops, bills Bush has already indicated he would swiftly veto if any of them crosses his desk.

In a separate CRS report also released earlier this year, the agency recommended Democrats use "the power of the purse," a politically unpopular route that would no doubt lead to a constitutional showdown with the White House, if they are serious about bringing an end to the occupation or forcing a change in military strategy.

Two months after Democrats defeated Republicans to sweep both Houses of Congress last November, due in large part to a public outcry over the direction of the US occupation of Iraq, the investigative arm of Congress highlighted instances in which Congress has used "funding cutoffs or significant restrictions," most notably during Vietnam, to either end a war or force a president to make significant changes to military operations.

"In cases of significant differences with the President over foreign policy, especially deployments of U.S. military forces abroad, Congress has generally found that use of its Constitutionally-based "power of the purse" to be the most effective way to compel a President to take actions regarding use of U.S. military force overseas that he otherwise might not agree to," says the January 2007 CRS report, "Congressional Use of Funding Cutoffs Since 970 Involving U.S. Military Forces and Overseas Deployments."

Earlier this year, Democrats hammered out legislation tied to a $94 billion emergency-spending bill for Iraq that placed specific benchmarks on withdrawing and redeploying troops. Bush vetoed the legislation. In July, Democrats surrendered to White House demands and criticism by Republicans who mocked Democrats for their "cut-and-run" strategy and issued the administration another blank check to fund the occupation without any restrictions resulting in a widespread backlash against Democrats.

The March CRS report, "The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11," said during previous wars Congress used the "power of the purse" to rein in the administration's out-of-control spending on military operations. The report said such lawmakers could implement such legislative maneuvers to change the dialogue surrounding the occupation of Iraq.

"Two well-known proposals - the McGovern-Hatfield amendment and the Cooper-Church amendments - were also part of this jockeying between the administration and Congress. The first prohibited expenditure of previously appropriated funds after a specified date "in or over Indochina," except for the purpose of withdrawing troops or for protection of US troops during the withdrawal, while the second prohibited the expenditure of any funds after July 1, 1970 to retain troops in Cambodia "unless specifically authorized by law hereafter. Overall, funding restrictions have generally proven more effective than the War Powers Act, which has been challenged by the executive branch on constitutional grounds," the report says.

Last week, following two days of testimony by General David Petraeus, the Pentagon's top commander on the ground in Baghdad, who claimed progress is being made in the region due in large part to the so-called "surge" in ground troops, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi vowed a change in strategy.

"It seems to me that Gen. Petraeus is presenting a plan for at least a 10-year, high-level U.S. presence in Iraq," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) during a news conference Monday following a meeting with President Bush. "No matter how successful our troops are, still the Iraqi government refuses to make the political changes necessary. This sounds to me, at least, like a 10-year open-ended presence in Iraq. The president added 30,000 troops, and now he's saying a year and a half later, nearly two years later, we'll be back to where we started. Please, that is an insult to the people."

"This war in Iraq is not the Petraeus war. It is the Bush war," added Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), who also attended the meeting with Bush. "What we find with what has been stated in recent days is that the surge is not going to last for 30 days, but now the testimony indicates that this surge is going to last for 18, 19 months, ending sometime next August. There is no change in mission - this is more of the same. In two weeks, we're going to get a request for another $200 billion for the war in Iraq - $200 billion," Reid said. "Is there anything logical about this picture, anybody? The answer is no."

But whether Democrats adhere to their own rhetoric will be determined in large part on how they vote in the weeks ahead on the emergency-spending bill to fund the occupation of Iraq.

So far, Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) has emerged as the only Democrat willing to go on the record to say he may vote against further funding the occupation. But he would not lobby his colleagues to follow his lead.

In a speech to the Center for National Policy a couple of weeks ago, Durbin said Congress now faces a "moral obligation" to stop funding the occupation.

"This Congress can't give President Bush another blank check for his war in Iraq," Durbin said. "The Constitution gives Congress a means to force the President to change course: the power of the purse. For the sake of our long-term national security interests, Congress needs to use that authority now."

Jason Leopold is senior editor and reporter for Truthout. He received a Project Censored award in 2007 for his story on Halliburton's work in Iran.

For more detail on funding/defunding the Iraq Occupation also see:

A Message For Congressional Democrats

The Washington Consensus Of Iraq Reality Is Delusion

Defunding Iraq: Misperceptions, Disinformation And Lies

Iraq Occupation Funding - Bush And Pentagon Cooking The Books?

War And Occupation Funding: More Cooking The Books By Bush And Pentagon?

There's more: "Funding Cuts Could End Iraq Occupation" >>

An Apology For Media Complicity Selling The Iraq Invasion - Better Late Than Never?

Hat tip to Kel at The Osterly Times for this.

We need to be seeing much more of this kind of thing from corporate mainstream media.

CNN's Jack Cafferty admits he was wrong about Iraq:

TIME's publishing reporter Andrea Sachs recently spoke with Cafferty:
TIME, September 15, 2007:

No one has ever accused CNN commentator Jack Cafferty of being a shrinking violet. He routinely sounds off in his own tart, curmudgeon-like way on CNN's popular news show The Situation Room. Now Cafferty has written his first book, It's Getting Ugly Out There: The Frauds, Bunglers, Liars and Losers Who Are Hurting America (Wiley).
[Sachs]: One new poll says that a majority of people favor impeachment for President Bush. Your reaction?

[Cafferty]: I'm not the least bit surprised. There's a case for taking a look at what the Administration may or may not have done that rises to level of high crimes and misdemeanors. Impeachment was put into the Constitution for a reason. I think it was perhaps one of the most arrogant things I've ever seen in my life for [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi, on the day after Democrats won control of the House, to make this announcement as though this was Moses coming down with the tablets, that impeachment's been taken off the table. Well who the hell is she to take it off the table? It's part of the Constitution. I think there is reason to suspect that things have been done that may not be kosher, and I think the government's responsibility is to determine that. That's part of why they're there. That's what Congress does. That's the checks and balances. So whether he deserves to be impeached or not, I guess we'll never know, because they're not going to bother to look at it.

[Sachs]: Has anything you've ever said on the air really gotten you in trouble?

[Cafferty]: Once. I called Donald Rumsfeld a war criminal the night before the midterm election. The president of the network and the executive producer of the Situation Room and two or three other management gerbils assaulted me en masse, immediately as I got off of the air, saying, "You can't say that." Apparently, what happened was our correspondent at the Pentagon started getting these phone calls from people in the Pentagon, saying, "Cafferty just called Rumsfeld a war criminal." I had to go on the air and say, "You know, I've stepped over the line." That being said, I will go to my grave as Jack Cafferty, Private Citizen, believing that these people committed war crimes.
[emphasis added]

Thanks, Jack...

Would that the "president of the network and the executive producer of the Situation Room and two or three other management gerbils" had the same guts and honesty and morality to be able to admit their complicity.

Perhaps the invasion of Iraq would never have happened, and we wouldn't have a million or more dead Iraqis and tens of thousands of dead or maimed American soldiers? And yes, that question is also an assignment of blame.

There's more: "An Apology For Media Complicity Selling The Iraq Invasion - Better Late Than Never?" >>

Sunday, September 16, 2007

We have been betrayed; again

(originally posted at The Motley Patriot and cross-posted at TalkLeft)

How does a man, or woman, betray their country? How does a person justify watching other people die for lies? What purpose can be called "noble" that it cannot be named outright, instead, lies are necessary in order to carry out that cause? America's involvement in Vietnam did not start with the "shock and awe" of invasion and it did not begin with the American public being fed lies by our President; that came later.

In 2005, Melvin Laird, former Secretary of Defense from 1969 to 1973 under President Nixon, wrote an article entitled, `Iraq: Learning the lessons of Vietnam`. In the article, he wrote:

They join their voices with those who claim that the current war is "all about oil," as though the loss of that oil were not enough of a global security threat to merit any U.S. military intervention and especially not "another Vietnam."
The problem with this assertion by Mr. Laird isn't that oil is a security issue to the world, but, that the United States could lose something that it clearly never owned; the oil in the Middle East.

In 1953, the CIA deposed a democratically elected leader in Iran. In 1979, the Iranian people took back their government. What "loss" did the United States suffer when the Shah of Iran was deposed? Did America lose access to the Iranian oil, or, did we merely lose the ability to control something that wasn't ours?

Mr. Laird states that when he took over as Secretary of Defense in 1969, America started a four-year withdrawal from Vietnam:
The memo had remained in limbo in the defense secretary's desk, neither approved nor rejected. As my symbolic first act in office, it gave me great satisfaction to turn down that request formally. It was the beginning of a four-year withdrawal from Vietnam that, in retrospect, became the textbook description of how the U.S. military should decamp.
The memo to which Mr. Laird refers is the memo authored by General Westmoreland requesting that U.S. troop levels be increased from 500,000 to 700,000. By 1968, the United States had 538,000 troops in Vietnam. 16,592 troops died in Vietnam in 1968 alone. From 1960 thru 1968, a total of 36,152 troops had died in Vietnam. During the four-year "withdrawal" from Vietnam that Mr. Laird cites, 20,863 additional troops were killed or declared dead. Mr. Laird wrote:
I cannot speak for the dead or the angry. My voice is that of a policymaker, one who once decided which causes were worth fighting for, how long the fight should last, and when it was time to go home. The president, as our commander-in-chief, has the overall responsibility for making these life-or-death decisions, in consultation with Congress. The secretary of defense must be supportive of those decisions, or else he must leave.
Mr. Laird is correct; he cannot speak for the dead. But then, who does? Who spoke up in 1969 for those who were going to die that year? Who spoke up in 1970 for those who were going to die the following the year? Who is speaking for the dead from Iraq? Who is speaking for the troops that will die tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year?

The most important lesson learned from Vietnam was that the American media had to be controlled, manipulated, and the true cost of war hidden. Today, our soldiers who are dying for a cause so "noble" that the public couldn't even be told the truth of it. Our soldiers are being flown back in coffins, not like heroes fighting for a "noble" cause; but in secrecy.

The American public knew why our forces were fighting in Vietnam; it was the reason to escalate that fight that was a lie. The Gulf of Tonkin incident, whether real or not (and there are still many contradicting accounts of it), was at best a gross mis-characterization of an incident to justify the escalation in Vietnam. It was that "incident" in 1964 that justified the escalation, that justified the continued fight, that justified the war that raged for another 5 years before we even began to withdraw from it. For Iraq, the lies to invade and occupy Iraq started from the beginning.

The lies were repeated for months by the administration and media with almost no fact checking at all. The justifications were changed over the years, until finally, the reason for the very war itself was lost.

Like Vietnam, we've had our "surge" and we've seen it fail. We have watched General after General enter and leave this fight in Iraq that has no clear mission, nor, a clear end to it. Like Vietnam, the American public is now tired of the war, tired of the rhetoric, tired of the dead piling up, and wants out. But, it is not 1969 and the withdrawal is not even beginning. It is, in relative terms, 1965, and the American public wants out only to know that more years of war, more years of dead, await us before a withdrawal begins in earnest.

After Vietnam, the American public, rightfully, was distrustful of our military leaders. After Vietnam, the American public, rightfully, was incensed by the fact that our government abandoned American soldiers. Once again, we are fed lies by our military leaders. Like Kent State, protesters are attacked, only this time with wooden dowels instead of real bullets. Yes, we have been betrayed, as a nation, as citizens, and as soldiers, once again, for the true lesson that was learned; that if you manipulate the media you can wage any war, at any time, for any pretext; that you can attack and smear anyone in the media without consequence; that you can torture and kill; and that nothing can stop you if you just refuse to listen. Mr. Laird wrote:
I didn't miss the fact that it was an ugly, mismanaged, tragic episode in U.S. history, with devastating loss of life for all sides. But there are those in our nation who would prefer to pick at that scab rather than let it heal.
And yet, even as he acknowledges that the Vietnam war was ugly, mismanaged, tragic and held devastating loss of life for everyone involved (except those who dodged the draft or got their daddy to get them cushy flying jobs in the Guard), he states:
The truth about Vietnam that revisionist historians conveniently forget is that the United States had not lost when we withdrew in 1973. In fact, we grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory two years later when Congress cut off the funding for South Vietnam that had allowed it to continue to fight on its own.
This is revisionist history at its finest. We had not lost in Vietnam when we started to withdraw our forces in 1969? We had four years of withdrawal, by his own account, and four years of soldiers continually dying as we withdrew; but we hadn't already been defeated? By his own words, President Nixon was elected, not because the Vietnam war was being won and needed another President to continue the war, but because the war was being lost and America said it was time to leave. This statement by Mr. Laird should sound familiar:
Over the four years of Nixon's first term, I had cautiously engineered the withdrawal of the majority of our forces while building up South Vietnam's ability to defend itself.
Yes, we were merely standing down as the South Vietnamese "stood up". Yes, and they stood up so well during that "cautious four year withdrawal" that, two years after the withdrawal, Saigon fell. But, it was those nasty people in Congress that "lost Vietnam"? If only we had not withdrawn our forces for 4 years, if only the South Vietnamese had 8 years instead of 6 years, they could have "stood up" enough?

This is the same rhetoric we hear today. We have heard since 2003 how we've progressed in Iraq despite all evidence to the contrary. We have heard how the insurgency was in its "last throes" as it only grew larger and more determined. We have heard how they will "stand up as we stand down" only to be told they cannot stand up in the time already allotted to them. We have already heard how we need our forces to remain in Iraq to protect Iraq because they, supposedly, cannot protect their own country. We continue to hear the same lies and rhetoric we heard during, and after, Vietnam.

What type of person does it take to betray their country, their military, and their own citizens? What type of person does it take to lie, over and over, about why our soldiers are dying while they sneak the coffins back into the country? What type of people use our military as backdrops and props, just to smear any veteran, any active duty person, who dares speak out against them?

No, it is not wrong to call it a betrayal, or, to call those who have betrayed us out for it. We do not own the Middle East or the oil in it. We could have invested in alternative energy sources for decades; but our government didn't. We could have found ways to avoid becoming so dependent on oil that it becomes a national security issue; but we didn't. No, it is not wrong to place the blame on our government for leading us into a war based on lies, or, to hold those in the military leadership accountable for supporting it.

There's more: "We have been betrayed; again" >>