www.albasrah.net

 

GI Special:

thomasfbarton@earthlink.net

2.2.05

Print it out (color best).  Pass it on.

 

GI SPECIAL 3A33:

 

Dead: 1,438  Wounded: 10,770

 

Photo and caption from the I-R-A-Q  ( I  Remember  Another  Quagmire ) portfolio of Mike Hastie, U.S. Army Medic, Vietnam 1970-71.  (Please contact at: (hastiemike@earthlink.net) for examples of his outstanding work.  T)

 

 

“It’s A War About Money -- To Keep Money In Rich People’s Pockets.”

Wounded Kentucky Soldier Flees To Canada

 

2.1.05 Associated Press & 02/01/05 WorldNow

 

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Rather than face another tour of duty in Iraq, a Lexington First Armored Division soldier who won a Purple Heart after he was wounded by a roadside bomb in April  has deserted to Canada.

 

Darrell Anderson, 22, wounded in Iraq last April, was deeply disillusioned about the war, according to his mother, Anita Anderson.  The possibility of another tour in Iraq this summer was something he couldn’t face, she told the Lexington Herald-Leader.

 

When Anderson’s holiday leave in Lexington ended three weeks ago, he didn’t return to his Army unit in Germany.  Instead, he fled to Canada, where he is hoping the Canadian government will provide refuge for him and a small number of U.S. military deserters who want to avoid the war.

 

“I started to think ... what’s it really for? I was willing to die for my country.  I thought I was going over there to defend my country.  But that’s not what I was doing,” Anderson said by telephone from Toronto on Monday.

 

When he came home from Iraq last July, Anita Anderson said her son seemed fine, but was deeply changed when he returned home on leave again at Christmas.

 

“He paced the floor constantly, never once slept through the night,” Anita Anderson said of her son.  “He would get up in the middle of the night and go out walking. He was having nightmares; he was depressed; he couldn’t even watch a movie.”

 

Anderson might be allowed to stay in Canada, but never be able to return home again to see his parents or his 4-year-old daughter without risking arrest.  His daughter now lives with her mother.

 

Anderson joined the Army in January 2003 to get money for college and to serve his country.

 

He went to Iraq a year later with the Army’s 1st Armored Division.  Over the next seven months, he was in the thick of the fight against insurgents, mostly in Baghdad.

 

An incident last April changed his views concerning the fighting.

 

Anderson was with a group of soldiers helping to defend an Iraqi police station that was under fire.  Suddenly, a car swerved into the area, refusing to stop.  Soldiers are expected to open fire when that happens because any stranger is a potential enemy and any vehicle might contain a bomb.  But Anderson never pulled the trigger of his M-16.

 

“This car kept coming, and the other guys were yelling, ‘Why don’t you shoot, why don’t you shoot?’  But I felt the car posed no threat.  Then, the window of the car rolled down, and it was just an Iraqi family,” Anderson said.  “I said, ‘Look it’s just innocent people.’  But they kept telling me, ‘The next time, you open fire. We don’t care.”’

 

A few days later, Anderson was wounded by a roadside bomb.  He received the Purple Heart.  But he says the incident at the police station, not his wounds, convinced him that the war was wrong.  He said he felt he was being forced to possibly gun down innocent Iraqis.

 

“There are no weapons of mass destruction. Innocent people are being killed every day. It’s a war about money -- to keep money in rich people’s pockets.  There is no way I can believe in that.  I still believe in my country, but I can no longer be a part of the Army or that war,” Anderson said.

 

The Pentagon has reported about 5,500 U.S. deserters since the war began.  Anderson is one of about a dozen or so who have fled to Canada and sought the assistance of Toronto attorney Jeffry House, who is representing them. House, a Vietnam draft dodger, is hoping to persuade Canadian officials to let them stay.

 

NEED SOME TRUTH?  CHECK OUT THE NEW TRAVELING SOLDIER

Telling the truth - about the occupation or the criminals running the government in Washington - is the first reason for Traveling Soldier.  But we want to do more than tell the truth; we want to report on the resistance - whether it's in the streets of Baghdad, New York, or inside the armed forces.  Our goal is for Traveling Soldier to become the thread that ties working-class people inside the armed services together. We want this newsletter to be a weapon to help you organize resistance within the armed forces.  If you like what you've read, we hope that you'll join with us in building a network of active duty organizers.  http://www.traveling-soldier.org/  And join with Iraq War vets in the call to end the occupation and bring our troops home now! (www.ivaw.net)

 

 

IRAQ WAR REPORTS:

 

 

U.S. Troop Deaths Hit 100 For Month

 

[Thanks to Alan S. who sent this in.]

 

February 1, 2005 WASHINGTON (AP)

 

January was the third month since the U.S. invasion of Iraq that U.S. troop deaths reached or exceeded 100, and it was one of the deadliest months for the National Guard and Reserve.

 

According to the Pentagon's latest count, at least 100 died in January. An Associated Press tally put the figure at 102.

 

The Pentagon also said Tuesday, in its weekly update on the number wounded in action in Iraq, that the total now stands at 10,770, up 152 from a week earlier and up about 500 over the last four weeks.

 

The only months deadlier than January for U.S. troops in Iraq were last November, when 138 died, and last April, with 135.

 

January's total included at least 28 members of the National Guard and Reserve, including 11 from the Louisiana Army National Guard.  The total of 28 is the highest for any month, matching the 28 lost in November 2004. The Marine Corps Reserve also had a bad month, with seven killed in January.

 

 

Five Wounded In Mosul Grenade Attack

 

Feb. 01, 2005 By GARY HOLLAND, THE SUN HERALD

 

Army Pfc. Brandon J. Miller suffered shrapnel wounds to his knees and upper legs early Sunday in an explosion in Mosul as Miller's unit stood guard for the election.  Five soldiers were injured.

 

"We are just thankful that he is going to be OK," said his mother, Carol Miller, who works at Wal-Mart. "He has been flown to a hospital in Germany and will be coming home to Fort Bragg, N.C., this weekend. We'll be there to welcome him.

 

"Brandon said that his unit had been told to take down its equipment and leave the roof in 20 minutes as the election was ending.  That's when the grenade exploded," his mother said Monday.

 

Miller and his wife, Stephine, graduated from Pascagoula High School in 2003, and he enlisted in the Army.  The family lives at Fort Bragg.  They have a 1-year-old son, Aiden. He was serving in Iraq when his son was born and again when the family celebrated his first birthday Jan. 16.

 

Miller got his training for duty in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Benning, Ga.  He returned in December for his second tour in Iraq.

 

"We were so glad when he called me this morning and said he would be OK," said his grandmother, Maurice Ellis.

 

His father, Wayne Miller, served in the Navy, so the family has lived on many bases, according to Ellis.

 

 

25th ID Soldier Dead In “Non-Combat” Injury

 

February 1, 2005 U.S. Department of Defense News Release No. 111-05

 

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier.

 

Pfc. Stephen A. Castellano, 21, of Long Beach, Calif., died Jan. 28 in Mosul, Iraq, from a non-combat related injury.  Castellano was assigned to 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division (Light) from Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

 

 

Number Of Resistance Attacks On Election Day Set Record

 

(Washington Post, February 1, 2005, 2004, Pg. 11)

Insurgents made good on their repeated threats to attack Iraq's polling stations on election day, unleashing car and suicide bombs, mortars, rockets, small-arms fire and grenades in 109 separate attacks, according to U.S. officials.  In all, there were more attacks than on any other day in Iraq since the U.S. invasion almost two years ago.

 

 

 

TROOP NEWS

 

 

E4 Slaps Down Slimy Asshole Lt. Col.

 

It's pretty disgusting for you to pose the invasion of Iraq to me as having something to do with September 11th.

 

My aunt and uncle were killed that day in the World Trade Center --- E4 Resta

 

Lefthook.org

 

Left Hook co-editor Derek Seidman recently interviewed Patrick Resta, an antiwar Army medic who returned from Iraq in November, 2004 and began speaking out against the war and occupation.

 

Resta's words were published far and wide, and he received a huge response from readers.

 

Almost all the feedback was positive; some of it was negative.

 

He received one email from a Lieutenant Colonel Lusk criticizing the interview (the subject of the email was "Disgraceful Interview"). Patrick Resta responded. We thought readers would be interested in reading this exchange, printed below. The original email sent by the Lieutenant Colonel is first, followed by Patrick Resta's response.

 

 

"Disgraceful Interview"

 

SPC Resta;

 

Having just returned from Iraq with the 30th BCT (Brigade Combat Team) at the end of 2004, I want to thank you for your service, commitment, and willingness to defend our country.  I congratulate you and your embarkation into this forum so that you may solicit personal praise and notoriety from the public.

 

I must admit that I was simply amazed by how two people, with the same experiences can have such opposite views.

 

Where you see disaster, I see opportunity for a long suppressed people.  Where you see corporate corruption as the basis for this war, I see the United States taking a proactive stance to defend herself, its citizens, and OUR future generations.  Where you see a people that didn't want us occupying their country, I see a people that are tasting freedom and independence for the first time ever.

 

I think that our different viewpoints can best be explained by our individual focal points. Where you apparently spent most of your time gazing into a mirror and seeing only yourself, I looked around the FOB and saw many selfless soldiers proud to carry out their duty and return home having contributed to a cause bigger than themselves.

 

I challenge you to seek this Army Value of selfless service as I think it will add more pride and positive outlook to your personal life.   If you should try and fail, then please continue to express yourself, however, don't do so at the expense of every National Guardsman and family who see hope and promise resulting from their actions.

 

LTC Greg Lusk

 

 

REPLY:

 

What's Really "Disgraceful"?

 

LTC Lusk,

 

I want to thank you for your service to our great country as well.  It's senior officers like you that have made the military what it is today.

 

You can save your time, I'm not in the 30th anymore and will be out of the military all together fairly soon.

 

Your attempt to threaten or intimidate me won't work anyway sir.

 

It only motivates me to speak out that much more.  Perhaps you can tell me what unit you are in so I may contact them.  Where and when were you in Iraq?  What type of unit were you in?

 

As for your premise that I'll receive personal praise and notoriety from the public I can only surmise that you refer to emails like your own.

 

I read your email several times trying to make sense of it.  I think the thing that intrigued me the most was that you didn't even attempt to refute anything I said.

 

But, how could you?  I didn't really talk about anything that hasn't been widely reported in the media already.

 

You call my interview disgraceful, why?

 

Because you don't like what I have to say?

 

It's "disgraceful" to me that you would try to use your rank to quiet someone in a public forum with a viewpoint that you don't agree with.

 

Is that freedom?

 

I think that your real problem is that I criticize this administration and/or make things public that the military would rather keep secret.  Freedom means changing the channel, station, or URL when you don't like what's on.  (Just out of curiosity why were you reading an online magazine like Left Hook anyway?)

 

Isn't the foundation of freedom voting?  Why didn't my vote count in Iraq?  Isn't that "disgraceful"?  I submit that maybe you're putting your politics before principle.  A wise man once said that when someone can't dispute your premise (either they're not intelligent enough or the facts aren't there) they resort to anger and personal attacks.  As I read your email I caught a distinct hint of both.  Maybe it's just a coincidence.

 

I think that your main problem with my interview is that I spoke out at all.  You would like to see the current situation in Iraq continue indefinitely.  Was it "disgraceful" when that TN [Tennessee] Guardsman questioned why over two years after the buildup for war began he still didn't have armor for his vehicle?

 

I would think that those that are really concerned for the lives of the service members wouldn't let a situation like that go on and on.

 

Have you used your rank to address this issue?

 

Isn't it "disgraceful" that an E4 had to stand up and risk punishment before someone would even address the issue?  Isn't it "disgraceful" to send soldiers into combat with half inch thick sheets of plywood as armor?  Isn't it "disgraceful" to try to send soldiers on a several hundred mile journey through Iraq with only 100 rounds per person?

 

Isn't it "disgraceful" to send soldiers into combat with weapons that aren't zeroed, gas masks that were never tested, and gas masks that don't even fit?

 

Isn't it "disgraceful" to try to send a medic on a several hundred mile journey through Iraq without basic medical supplies such as bandages and IV fluid?

 

Where is your outrage at these things?  I can tell you plenty of things that are disgraceful.  Obviously, you don't want to hear about them or address the issues.

 

It's pretty disgusting for you to pose the invasion of Iraq to me as having something to do with September 11th.

 

My aunt and uncle were killed that day in the World Trade Center.

 

Obviously you fail to see the big picture and history behind and in front of that event. Where are all these Iraqis that love us and want us in their country?  Why aren't they being interviewed by the media?  Why haven't we seen an opinion poll to see what the Iraqi's really think and want?  After all, this is all about them right?

 

I don't know how often you left your FOB, but I saw plenty of devastation through out Iraq.  The hospitals, sanitation, pollution, lack of jobs, infrastructure and on and on.

 

As for your contention that I spent most my time looking in the mirror, it's really not that funny.

 

We didn't have KBR at my FOB so mirrors were hard to come by.

 

You're right though, having one would have been nice.

 

I stayed pretty busy in our BAS, going on convoys, and going on missions.

 

Have you ever asked your fellow soldiers (especially the enlisted) for a straight up and off the record opinion about Iraq?  I know I did.  I looked around my FOB also, but I saw something different.  I saw 650 lives.  I saw 650 families.  Those lives and families are worth more to me than what is going on in Iraq.

 

Obviously, we have a fundamental difference of opinion on this issue.  Is it "disgraceful" to you that I put a human face on the people dying and getting maimed?  Why?  As a medic it is my job to look out for the welfare, safety, and health of the members of my unit.  It would seem that senior officers have a problem or are hesitant in doing this.

 

As I've said, why aren't people like yourself addressing these problems so I don't have to speak out?  Isn't that your job also?  It is my hope that the selfless soldiers in Iraq that you talk about are equipped properly and not another one of them is killed or injured senselessly.

 

In your last paragraph you talk about selfless service.  You don't know me do you?  I don't believe we've met, but I guess I could be mistaken.  You don't know the sacrifices I made during the two years that I was put on active duty.  I know the sacrifices that are made by those that are in Iraq, especially Guardsmen and Reservists.  That's why I'm speaking out.

 

The Army value that is the most important to me is integrity.

 

To me it means doing the right thing even when it's not easy or popular.

 

I could not sit here with a clear conscience knowing that soldiers in Iraq are still getting killed or maimed because of clearly avoidable circumstances.  But more importantly, how could you?  Why isn't it "disgraceful" to you that soldiers are still dying and getting maimed because of plywood armor?

 

I'm one person, but there are many like me.

 

I never claimed to speak for everyone in the military.  I did an interview that I answered bluntly and honestly.  I never took an oath to lie for the military and I never will.

 

What Army value is that?

 

Perhaps your time and your rank would be better spent comforting the widows and wounded of this war that are struggling to receive the care that they are owed.

 

Thanks for writing, and I hope I have given you some ideas of things that need to be worked on. GOD BLESS AMERICA.

 

PS - - I noticed in your email that your AKO email link doesn't work.  Why is that?  It kind of makes me think.  Any future contact by you is unwanted and uninvited.  Just so I'm perfectly clear - - - DON'T CONTACT ME AGAIN.  You're not in my chain of command and I'm not active duty.

 

Patrick Resta

 

(Resta can be reached at Eosonifilic@aol.com.  He is involved with Iraq Veterans Against the War, www.ivaw.net)

 

Do you have a friend or relative in the service?  Forward this E-MAIL along, or send us the address if you wish and we’ll send it regularly.  Whether in Iraq or stuck on a base in the USA, this is extra important for your service friend, too often cut off from access to encouraging news of growing resistance to the war, at home and inside the armed services.  Send requests to address up top.

 

 

BETRAYED:

Old Soldiers Don't Fade Away;

“They Hate Those Who Sent Them

 

January 31, 2005 by Fred Reed, The American Conservative

 

The observant will have noticed that we hear little from the troops in Iraq and see almost nothing of the wounded.

 

Why, one might wonder, does not CNN put an enlisted Marine before a camera and, for 15 minutes without editing, let him say what he thinks?  Is he not an adult and a citizen? Is he not engaged in important events on our behalf?

 

Sound political reasons exist.

 

Soldiers are a risk PR-wise, the wounded a liability.  No one can tell what they might say, and conspicuous dismemberment is bad for recruiting.

 

An enlisted man in front of a camera is dangerous.

 

He could wreck the governmental spin apparatus in five minutes.

 

It is better to keep soldiers discreetly out of sight.  So we do not see much of the casualties, ours or theirs.

 

Yet they are there, somewhere, with missing legs, blind, becoming accustomed to groping at things in their new darkness, learning to use the wheelchairs that will be theirs for 50 years.  Some face worse fates than others.  Quadriplegics will be warehoused in VA hospitals where nurses will turn them at intervals, like hamburgers, to prevent bedsores.  Friends and relatives will soon forget them.  Suicide will be a frequent thought.  The less damaged will get around.

 

For a brief moment perhaps the casualties will believe, then try desperately to keep believing, that they did something brave and worthy and terribly important for that abstraction, country.  Some will expect thanks.

 

But there will be no thanks, or few, and those quickly forgotten.

 

It will be worse.  People will ask how they lost the leg.  In Iraq, they will say, hoping for sympathy, or respect, or understanding.  The response, often unvoiced but unmistakable, will be, "What did you do that for?"  The wounded will realize that they are not only crippled, but freaks.

 

The years will go by. Iraq will fade into the mist.  Wars always do.  A generation will rise for whom it will be just history. 

 

The dismembered veterans will find first that almost nobody appreciates what they did, then that few even remember it.

 

If--when, many would say--the United States is driven out of Iraq, the soldiers will look back and realize that the whole affair was a fraud.  Wars are just wars.  They seem important at the time.  At any rate, we are told that they are important.

 

Yet the wounds will remain.  Arms do not grow back.  For the paralyzed there will never be girlfriends, dancing, rolling in the grass with children.  The blind will adapt as best they can.  Those with merely a missing leg will count themselves lucky.  They will hobble about, managing to lead semi-normal lives, and people will say, "How well he handles it."  An admirable freak.  For others it will be less good.  A colostomy bag is a sorry companion on a wedding night.

 

These men will come to hate.  It will not be the Iraqis they hate.  This we do not talk about.

 

It is hard to admit that one has been used.

 

Some of the crippled will forever insist that the war was needed, that they were protecting their sisters from an Islamic invasion, or Vietnamese, or Chinese.

 

Others will keep quiet and drink too much.

 

Still others will read, grow older and wiser--and bitter.

 

They will remember that their vice president, a man named Cheney, said that during his war, the one in Asia, he "had other  priorities."  The veterans will remember this when everyone else has long since forgotten Cheney.

 

I once watched the first meeting between a young Marine from the South, blind, much of his face shot away, and his high-school sweetheart, who had come from Tennessee to Bethesda Naval Hospital to see him.

 

Hatred comes easily.

 

There are wounds and there are wounds.

 

A friend of mine spent two tours in Asia in that war now little remembered.

 

He killed many people, not all of them soldiers.  It is what happens in wars.  The memory haunts him.  Jack is a hard man from a tough neighborhood, quick with his fists, intelligent but uneducated--not a liberal flower vain over his sensitivity. 

 

He lives in Mexican bars few would enter and has no politics beyond an anger toward government. He was not a joyous killer.  He remembers what he did, knows now that he was had.  It gnaws at him.  One is wise to stay away from him when he is drinking.

 

People say that this war isn’t like Vietnam.  They are correct.  Washington fights its war in Iraq with no better understanding of Iraq than it had of Vietnam, but with much better understanding of the United States.

 

The Pentagon learned from Asia.  This time around it has controlled the press well. Here is the great lesson of Southeast Asia: the press is dangerous, not because it is inaccurate, which it often is, but because it often isn't.

 

So we don't much see the caskets --for reasons of privacy, you understand.

 

The war in Iraq is fought by volunteers, which means people that no one in power cares about.  No one in the mysteriously named "elite" gives a damn about some kid from a town in Tennessee that has one gas station and a beer hall with a stuffed buck's head.

 

Such a kid is a redneck at best, pretty much from another planet, and certainly not someone you would let your daughter date.  If conscription came back, and college students with rich parents learned to live in fear of The Envelope, riots would blossom as before.  Now Yale can rest easy.  Thank God for throwaway people.

 

The nearly perfect separation between the military and the rest of the country, or at least the influential in the country, is wonderful for the war effort.  It prevents concern.  How many people with a college degree even know a soldier?  Yes, some, and I will get e-mail from them, but they are a minority.  How many Americans have been on a military base?  Or, to be truly absurd, how many men in combat arms went to, say, Harvard?  Ah, but they have other priorities.

 

In 15 years in Washington, I knew many, many reporters and intellectuals and educated people.  Almost none had worn boots. 

 

So it is.

 

Those who count do not have to go, and do not know anyone who has gone, and don't interest themselves.

 

There is a price for this, though not one Washington cares about.

 

Across America, in places where you might not expect it--in Legion halls and VFW posts, among those who carry membership cards from the Disabled American Veterans--there are men who hate.

 

They don't hate America.

 

They hate those who sent them.

 

Talk to the wounded from Iraq in five years.

 

What do you think?  Comments from service men and women, and veterans, are especially welcome.  Send to contact@militaryproject.org.  Name, I.D., withheld on request.  Replies confidential.

 

 

Woman Loses Dad And Husband In War

 

Feb 01, 2005 By BOBBY ROSS JR., Associated Press Writer

 

Army Capt. Orlando A. Bonilla, 27, of Killeen, Texas, was killed Friday in a helicopter accident in Baghdad.  Her father, Army Sgt. 1st Class Henry A. Bacon, 45, died last February in a vehicle accident.

 

The latest bad news came just days after Tabitha Bonilla and Army Capt. Orlando A. Bonilla had talked about his anticipated return home in early March.

 

"He told me he was going to fly a couple more missions before he came home," Tabitha Bonilla, 23, said Monday night from her mother's home in North Carolina. "I was going to welcome him home, since I didn't get to welcome my dad home."

 

Through tears and long pauses, Orlando Bonilla's wife — and Henry Bacon's daughter — tried to "do justice," as she put it, to the two most important men in her life.

 

"I stand behind my daddy and my husband, and I stand behind the job they had to do, and that's my take on it," she said.  "I just support them, regardless of who sent them over there and why they sent them over there, no matter whether it's for right or wrong reasons."

 

Orlando Bonilla was attending the University of Texas at Austin and waiting to get his Army commission when he took a part-time job at a Target store in fall 1999.

 

That's where he met his future wife, a fellow Target employee whose father was stationed at Fort Hood.

 

She described her 27-year-old husband, a pilot from Killeen, as "just a wonderful, kindhearted, caring, gentle person."

 

Bonilla's "easygoing, sweet, gentlemanly" personality attracted Tabitha Bacon to him, she said.  He told her he had decided in high school that he wanted to be an Army pilot. "He liked flying," she said.

 

Tabitha Bonilla's mechanic father died when he was hit by one vehicle while making repairs on another in Dujayl, Iraq.  Bacon, who joined the Army in 1982, had delayed his retirement to serve in the war, relatives said.

 

Bacon's death delayed his son-in-law's deployment to Iraq, but only for a few months.

 

The Bonillas, who married at Fort Hood, would have celebrated their third wedding anniversary March 16.  He would have turned 28 on March 18.  But instead of parties, his widow must now plan a funeral.

 

"I wanted to show him that I could be strong," said Tabitha Bonilla, 23, explaining why she did not pressure her husband to stay home.  "I told him that my biggest regret would be that if he left too and wouldn't come back."   "But I also knew that was his stupid job.

 

"It's not stupid," she added, through her tears, "but ... I'm just very hurt."

 

 

After One Son Killed, Father Wants Other Son Out Of Iraq Now

 

February 1, 2005 ABC Inc.,

 

A grief-stricken father in Vineland, New Jersey, wants his younger son taken out of an Iraqi combat zone – because his older son was killed there.

 

A roadside bomb killed Marine Lance Corporal Harry Swain, IV Monday, just south of Baghdad.  Swain's father is Sergeant Harry Swain, III, of the Vineland police force.

 

An officer at the force says Sergeant Swain is calling on the Marines to get his other son, 19-year-old Jaymes, out of Iraq.

 

 

A Gold Start Mother Says:

“NOT ONE MORE DROP OF BLOOD SHOULD BE SPILLED FOR THIS PACK OF LIES”

 

Casey was told that he would be welcomed to Iraq as a liberator with chocolates and rose petals strewn in front of his unarmored Humvee.  He was in Iraq for two short weeks when the Shi’ite rebel “welcome wagon” welcomed him to Baghdad with bullets and RPG’s, which took his young and beautiful life.

 

I think my son’s helmet and Viet Nam era flak jacket would have protected him better from the chocolates and flower petals.

 

2.1.05 From: Cindy Sheehan, Mother of Hero: Spc Casey Austin Sheehan KIA 04/04/04 Iraq.  Co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace: www.GSFP.org

 

I was supposed to be on the Larry King Live show last night.

 

I was asked to be on the show to offer my opinion on the election in Iraq from the perspective of a mom whose son was killed in the war prior to the elections.

 

One of the questions I was going to be asked was: Do I think my son’s sacrifice was “worth it?”  Well, I didn’t get a chance to be on the show last night, because I was bumped for something that is really important:  The Michael Jackson Trial.

 

If I was allowed to go on Larry King Live last night and give my opinion about the elections and about my son’s sacrifice, this is what I would have told Mr. King and his viewers:

 

My son, Spc. Casey Austin Sheehan (KIA, Sadr City, 04/04/04) enlisted in the Army to protect America and give something back to our country.  He didn’t enlist to be used and misused by a reckless Commander-in-Chief who sent his troops to preemptively attack and occupy a country that was no imminent threat (or any threat) to our country.  Casey was sent to die in a war that was based on the imagination of some Neo-Cons who love to fill our lives with fear.

 

Casey didn’t agree with the “Mission” but being the courageous and honorable man that he was he knew he had to go to this mistake of a war to support his buddies.  Casey also wondered aloud many times why precious troops and resources were being diverted from the real war on terror.

 

Casey was told that he would be welcomed to Iraq as a liberator with chocolates and rose petals strewn in front of his unarmored Humvee.

 

He was in Iraq for two short weeks when the Shi’ite rebel “welcome wagon” welcomed him to Baghdad with bullets and RPG’s, which took his young and beautiful life.

 

I think my son’s helmet and Viet Nam era flak jacket would have protected him better from the chocolates and flower petals.

 

Casey was killed after George Bush proclaimed “Mission Accomplished” on May 1, 2003…he was also killed after Saddam was captured in December of that same year.

 

Casey was killed before the transfer of power in June of 2004 and before these elections. Four marines were tragically killed after the election, yesterday.

 

By my count about five dozen Iraqis and coalition troops were killed on Election Day…is that the definition of “Catastrophic Success?”

 

But is that a good day in Iraq?  Hundreds of our young people and thousands of Iraqis have been needlessly and senselessly murdered since George Bush triumphantly announced an end to “major combat” almost 2 years ago now.

 

All of the above events have been heralded by this administration as “turning points” in the “war on terror”…or as wonderful events in the “march of democracy.”  Really?  I don’t think, judging by very recent history, that the elections will stop the bloodshed and destruction.

 

I would have asked Mr. King if he would want to sacrifice one of his children for sham elections in Iraq.  Would he or George Bush send their children to be killed, or maimed for life, for a series of lies, mistakes and miscalculations?  Now that every lie has been exposed to the light for the invasion and occupation of Iraq….why are our sons and daughters still there?

 

This war was sold to the American people by a slimy leadership with a maniacal zeal and phony sincerity that would have impressed snake oil salesmen a century ago.  The average American needs to hear from people who have been devastated by the arrogance and ignorance of an administration that doesn’t even have the decency or compassion to sign our “death” letters.

 

In the interest of being “fair and balanced” (oops, wrong network), I would have been pitted against a parent who still agrees with the “Mission” and the President.

 

Although, I grieve for that parent’s loss and I respect that parent’s opinion, I would have defied Mr. King, or that parent to explain the “Mission” to me.  I don’t think anyone can do it with a straight face.  The President has also stated that we need to keep our troops in Iraq to honor our sacrifices by completing this elusive and ever changing “Mission.” My response to him is “Just because it is too late for Casey and the Sheehan family, why would we want another innocent life taken, in the name of this chameleon of a “Mission?”

 

Well, I was bumped from the show anyway.

 

Now that Scott Peterson has been convicted and sentenced for his crimes and Laci and Connor’s families have the justice they deserve, we have the new “trial of the century” to keep our minds off of the nasty and annoying fact that we are waging an immoral war in Iraq.

 

We can fill our TV screens and homes with the glorified images of the Michael Jackson molestation trial.  We can fill our lives with outrage over MJ’s victims and hope they get justice; not even questioning the fact that George Bush, his dishonest cabinet, and their misguided policies aren’t even brought to the court of public opinion.

 

We won’t have to confront ourselves with the fact that the leaders of our country and their lies are responsible for the deaths of 1438 brave Americans…tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis…and the loss of our Nation’s credibility throughout the world.  That might mean we would have to turn off our television sets and do something about it.

 

Oh yeah. In answer to the original question Larry: No it wasn’t worth it!!

 

 

Utah Marine Recovering After Rocket Attack;

Extension May Costs Him Leg

 

Jan 31, 2005 MMV, KUTV Holdings, Inc.

 

A Utah marine who helped provide security for the Iraqi elections is now in a hospital in Germany after he was hurt in an attack last week.

 

Lance Corporal Robin Griffiths was just packing up to go home when his tent was struck by rockets, killing one marine and injuring three others.

 

He was evacuated to Germany where he's been upgraded from critical condition to serious.

 

Doctors say he may lose a leg.

 

Griffiths’ dad, Tom, said his son suffered third-degree burns covering 25% of his body. Burns on his lower body are the most serious.

 

Griffiths was supposed to leave Iraq about a month ago, but his unit’s service was extended to provide security for the elections.

 

 

Iraq Vet Gets Mangled Thumb, Loses Educational Benefits;

Army Sends Him A Bill For $3000:

“He Went And Served Time In Iraq, And They Want Him To Pay Them"

 

January 29, 2005 By Amy Hatten, The Daily Press

 

Tyler McWilliams thought he'd retire from the Army when he enlisted for a six-year commitment as a reservist during his junior year in high school.

 

He spent the summer break of that year sweating it out in basic training.  Four days after receiving his diploma, the 2000 Moffat County High School graduate officially was inducted.

 

He later served as a heavy equipment operator in the 244th Engineer Battalion under Hayden's Staff Sgt. Mark Lawton, who was killed when the convoy he and McWilliams were traveling in was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade north of As Suaydat, Iraq.

 

McWilliams can still point out the places on his arms and face where shrapnel from that attack is lodged.

 

McWilliams carries the scars of battle and three years of service in Iraq, but he came away from the experience with something more -- a bill from the Defense Department for more than $3,000 and 30 days to pay it.

 

"It's a bad deal," McWilliams said. "I got out of the Army, moved on, and six months later, I get this bill and they can't justify what it's for.  As far as I'm concerned, they owe me money."

 

McWilliams' six years of service should have been completed in February 2006.  But after smashing his right middle finger in a truck tailgate in Iraq, he was honorably discharged and released from duty June 10, 2004.

 

Today, McWilliams' finger is permanently knotted, contorted in such a way that he may never be unable to straighten it.

 

He finally decided to put his wallet in his left back pocket because his right finger always seemed to be getting stuck.  He finds he can't perform menial tasks such as swinging a hammer.  But, his one hope is that his damaged finger won't interfere with flying helicopters.  That was McWilliams' initial motivation for joining the Army.

 

These days, McWilliams is pursuing that dream without the Army's help.  He's enrolled in his third semester at the Rangely campus of Colorado Northwestern Community College, in the start of a two-year flying program.

 

McWilliams' and his high school sweetheart, Megan, married last August, two months after Tyler was discharged.

 

Although McWilliams never wanted to be released from the Army, he said the move disqualified him from educational assistance through the GI Bill that he was promised.

 

He also said he was underpaid for three years in the Army. McWilliams said he received pay for private status while in Iraq, though his rank was a specialist. It's a difference of about $500 a month, he said.

 

And, it's probably why the bill from the Army for $3,100 that the couple received in late December "for overpayment" came as such a shock.  Because McWilliams is a full-time student, the couple can defer payment until he graduates.

 

"It just enrages me that he went and served time in Iraq, and they want him to pay them," Megan said.  How can you ask that?  There's not even a good reason why."

 

McWilliams said that while in Iraq he complained about the pay discrepancy, though he said it was never cleared up.  McWilliams' superior, Lawton, also tried to help straighten out the issue, to no avail.

 

The McWilliams said they'd sit on their bill and wait until Tyler graduates to deal with it. They've filed a counter-claim with the Army for the three years of underpayment.

 

"Here he served in Iraq, lost the function of his finger, and they want him to pay money," Megan said. "That's ridiculous."

 

 

Wounded Marines Back Home

 

February 1, 2005 By ANDY KRAVETZ, of the Journal Star

 

PEORIA - Lance Cpl. Jeremy Janssen remembers the orange and white car seconds before the explosion.  Cpl. Pete Carey doesn't remember the car and says he saw something "black" before he was knocked down.

 

But both remember the smoke, fire and smells of the car bomb that destroyed their truck slightly more than a month ago.  The Dec. 22 car bomb also injured four others from the Peoria County-based Company C, 6th Engineer Support Battalion.

 

The Marines were on convoy duty, running supplies to another base two hours west of Baghdad. Janssen and Carey's "gun truck," a converted 7-ton truck which bristled with firepower, was in the middle.

 

Janssen, 22, stood on the passenger seat of the truck's cab, manning a .50-caliber machine gun. Carey, 24, of Washington was in the middle of the truck bed on the driver's side.  He was the radio man, and it was his job to keep in contact with the other 20 or so vehicles in the convoy.

 

About 4:30 p.m., the LaSalle County man noticed the orange and white car, which resembled a Ford Crown Victoria, parked along the road.

 

Until then, it had been an uneventful but cold day.  It's not unusual to see other cars, the men said.  Still, there was something about this car.

 

"I even remember seeing the guy.  He had a red headdress, white robe and sunglasses. He was playing with his mirror," Janssen said.  "We were less than 30 feet away from him, and at the last moment, he became really fidgety, so I began to swing the 50 around to take out his engine.

 

"That time, we were parallel, and he detonated.  I don't remember anything after that."

 

Carey doesn't remember the car or the explosion.  Things just got black, and the next thing he remembers was being on the bed floor.  The explosion caused the large truck to swerve off the road. Within seconds, it was engulfed in flames.

 

"I remember feeling the heat and the pressure.  Time went so slow. I guess my perception of time was way off," Carey said. "As soon as the blast went off, I knew what it was.  I knew it was an IED of some sort."

 

As engineers, the Peoria County-based Marines had often done recovery missions on other vehicles attacked in a similar fashion.  Never before, however, had it happened to them.

 

Janssen regained consciousness and looked around.  The cab was full of flames, forcing him to climb out the gunner's turret.  Carey was one of the last off the truck.  He and another Marine jumped out and walked 300 meters to where medics had begun treating the wounded.

 

"I looked back and the cab was completely engulfed.  At that point, I didn't see anyone other than us get off the truck.  I was pretty certain that if they were still in there, they were dead," Carey said.

 

The heat of the fire was so intense it melted Carey's goggles and burned through his flak jacket and through five layers of clothing.  Janssen already was on a stretcher. Carey, an emergency medical technician student at Illinois Central College, looked around, saw everyone was OK and immediately pitched in.

 

"I got a lot of respect for him," Janssen said of Carey. "He was hurt and he still took the time to work on us."

 

Within minutes, the Marines were flown by helicopter to a nearby Army hospital.  After emergency surgery, those with more immediate needs went to Baghdad.  Others, like Carey, returned to base before going to Baghdad.  Ultimately, all went to Germany and then back to the United States.

 

Janssen suffered third-degree burns on his right hand, which still is bandaged.  His right arm sports a scar from his thumb to his elbow where doctors had to operate immediately after the attack.

 

"I took a bunch of shrapnel in my right arm.  The doctors had to tie off the arteries in my arm because it was swelling up so bad that it was cutting off the circulation," he said. "They cut open my arm from base of my thumb up to my elbow to relieve some of that pressure and let some of the blood out."

 

He's now undergoing the first of 11 months of therapy.  Carey's injuries were largely limited to burns on his face and hands.  The burns on his face have largely healed but his hand, like Janssen, remains bandaged.

 

 

Running On Empty:

Guard Units Undeployed Yet Not Trained Or Equipped For War

 

January 25, 2005 By Bradley Graham, washingtonpost.com

 

With the Pentagon having relied heavily on reservists to fill out deployments to Iraq, military officers have warned recently that the pool of available part-time soldiers is dwindling.  By later this year, when the Army is scheduled to begin its fourth rotation of troops since the invasion in March 2003, all 15 of the National Guard's most readily deployable brigades will have been mobilized.

 

Although other Guard troops remain and could be tapped for Iraq duty, they belong to units that historically have not received the same priority in equipping and training as the brigades chosen to go in the rotations so far.

 

As the Army reaches farther down in the reserve force, Lovelace said, the amount of "pre-mobilization" time necessary to get the troops ready to send to Iraq is likely to increase.

 

"We're not going to send anybody into combat who is not trained and ready," the three-star general said.  But he noted that already in each rotation, the amount of pre-mobilization time required has increased.

 

 

A Gigantic Waste Of Money

 

1.31.05

Letters To The Editor

Army Times

 

I recently read the article on the Army’s new marksmanship training program “Going the distance,” Dec. 20].

 

It is a gigantic waste of money.

 

I do not know why the Army is fixated on 300-yard ranges.  Perhaps it simply has failed to update its training since the M1 Garand.

 

The M16A2 service rifle is an exemplary weapon. It is one of perhaps three assault weapons in the world that have been field-tested effectively against point targets to 550 yards.

 

All Marines qualify annually on a 500-yard course, and they do not require retooled rifles, scopes and special ammunition to do it.  They take the time to learn about the weapon — how to use the sights, how to use the sling (much more effective than sandbags and easier to carry on patrol), the elements of a good firing position and so on.

 

A lot of people say the Army has sabotaged the A2 since day one.  Since we are finally acknowledging the need to engage enemies past 300-yards, would it really kill us to learn how to use the weapon the way it was designed to be used?

 

Spc. Jason C. Diederich

Fort Story, Va.

 

 

 

IRAQ RESISTANCE ROUNDUP

 

 

U.S. Command Admits Only Kurdish Province Secure;

Resistance Has Strategic, Tactical Initiative

 

31 January 2005 William Pfaff, The International Herald Tribune

 

ROME - The Iraq insurgency is many things, but above all it is anti-American and nationalist.  The U.S. command in Baghdad still does not reliably know the composition of the insurrection.  It variously describes it as "regime-remnants," ex-Baathists, foreign jihadists, criminals, "dead-enders," or members of Al Qaeda led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

 

All these are self-serving formulations for U.S. domestic political use.  The important issue is what would happen to the insurgency in an Iraq that had regained its independence.

 

The political process the United States started with Sunday's election is to conclude with the Iraqis governing themselves.  There is an unacknowledged factor in this promise: The United States is already unable to govern Iraq.

 

The United States and its allies have become the victims of the chaos they provoked. It is the insurgency that now holds the strategic and tactical military initiative in that unhappy country.

 

U.S. military commanders acknowledge that no Iraqi province is secure outside the Kurdish north - and that things are not entirely secure even there.

 

 

Occupation Cops, Guards Killed In Nablus, Irbil

 

February 1, 2005 MARIAM FAM, Associated Press Writer

 

In the latest violence, clashes broke out early Tuesday in the eastern Mosul neighborhood of Nablus between insurgents and Iraqi National Guards, officials said. One person was killed and another injured.  A roadside bomb killed four Iraqi National Guardsmen in the northwest of the city, Lt. Khalil Rashid said.

 

Two policemen were killed when a bomb they were trying to defuse exploded on a street in the Kurdish-run city of Irbil.

 

 

 

FORWARD OBSERVATIONS

 

 

Train Wreck Of An Election

 

Thus, Bush is like the man who caused the wreck, and like the man who was protected from it.  Deranged.  Detached.  Alive and well in the bubble he calls "freedom," receiving applause.

 

February 1, 2005 James Carroll. Boston Globe

 

IN THINKING about the election in Iraq, my mind keeps jumping back to last week's train wreck in California.  A deranged man, intending suicide, drove his Jeep Cherokee onto the railroad tracks, where it got stuck.

 

The onrushing train drew near. The man suddenly left his vehicle and leapt out of the way.  He watched as the train crashed into his SUV, derailed, jackknifed, and hit another train.  Railroad cars crumbled.  Eleven people were killed and nearly 200 were injured, some gravely.  The deranged man was arrested.  Whatever troubles had made him suicidal in the first place paled in comparison to the trouble he had now.

 

Iraq is a train wreck.  The man who caused it is not in trouble.  

 

Tomorrow night he will give his State of the Union speech, and the Washington establishment will applaud him.

 

Tens of thousands of Iraqis are dead. More than 1,400 Americans are dead. An Arab nation is humiliated.  Islamic hatred of the West is ignited.  The American military is emasculated. Lies define the foreign policy of the United States. On all sides of Operation Iraqi Freedom, there is wreckage. In the center, there are the dead, the maimed, the displaced -- those who will be the ghosts of this war for the rest of their days.  All for what?

 

Something else about that California train wreck strikes me.

 

As news reports suggested, so many passengers were killed and injured because the locomotive was pushing the train from behind, which put the lightweight passenger coaches vulnerably in front. If, instead, the heavy, track-clearing locomotive had been leading and had hit the Jeep, it could have pushed the vehicle aside.

 

The jack-knifing and derailment would not have occurred.

 

The American war machine is like a train running in "push-mode," with the engineer safely back away from danger. In the train wreck of Iraq, it is passengers who have borne the brunt.

 

The man with his hand on the throttle couldn't be more securely removed from the terrible consequences of his locomotion.

 

Thus, Bush is like the man who caused the wreck, and like the man who was protected from it.  Deranged.  Detached.  Alive and well in the bubble he calls "freedom," receiving applause.

 

 

 

OCCUPATION REPORT

 

 

A Really Secret Ballot!

Candidates Listed, But Not Told About It

 

Late in the election season, several politicians discovered that they had been listed without their permission and angrily demanded that the lists withdraw their names.  

 

So not only were the candidates mostly anonymous, but some persons were running without knowing it.  01 February 2005 Juan Cole, Salon.com

 

OCCUPATION ISN’T LIBERATION

BRING ALL THE TROOPS HOME NOW!

 

 

MOSSAD SPILLS THE BEANS

 

MOSSAD D/B/A DEBKAFILE 31 Jan 2005 04:33 GMT [Mossad: Israeli Intelligence Service]

 

Four hours after the polls closed, a clearly relieved President George W. Bush spoke at the White House in praise of the bravery of Iraqis who turned out to vote and “firmly rejected the antidemocratic ideology” of terrorists.

 

But the US president seemed to edge away from his usual encomiums on a “victory for democracy.”   Nor did he actually commend the Iraqis for the big step they took towards establishing a free and democratic government.

 

The truth is that there was not much of either in this remarkable election.

 

Long queues and 80% percentage of eligible voters appeared only in the two shrine cities of Najef and Karbala.

 

Further south in the densely populated Diwanya, Mussana, Qadasiya and Amara, the proportion did not go beyond 40%.  In Basra, Iraq’s second largest town, the turnout was 32-35%, although Iraqi election officials claimed 90%.

 

Our experts characterize Shiite voting activity as “lots of hustle and bustle, but not too many ballots.”

 

The Sunni districts predictably obeyed their leaders boycott directive.

 

In internal memos, American military officials reported that 150 voting centers never opened at all in some Sunni strongholds.  Polling booths were not installed in the Sunni, Turkomen and Assyrian neighborhoods of the northern town of Mosul.  Assyrian Christians staged large demonstrations to protest their loss of voting right and representation in the national assembly, but were given no alternative means of balloting; nor did they rate media attention.

 

A sprinkle of votes was marked in the predominantly Sunni Anbar province of western Iraq and the Saladin district – even in Fallujah and Baqouba.  In Diyala, south of Baghdad, voting reached 30 percent under heavy US and Iraqi military security.

 

In parts of Baghdad, particularly the Sunni districts, many polling stations did not open and citizens lost their chance to vote.

 

The most striking vote-rigging incident was reported in the northern oil town of Kirkuk. There, Kurdish troops and intelligence are alleged to have trucked in tens of thousands of armed Kurds from across the province to commandeer the polling stations. Cautious estimates put the figure of imported voters at 50,000. In the absence of a proper voters’ register and computers, there was no way of establishing which voters were intruders from other districts. When the non-Kurdish politicians saw the invasion, they backed off.

 

By artificially inflating Unified Kurdish List numbers in Kirkuk, the Kurdish community substantially stepped up its representation in the national assembly.

 

Ballot-counting had barely begun Sunday night when the Shiites declared themselves the big winners over their Euphrates River TV station.

 

The results cannot possibly be known before the week or ten days needed to tally the ballots by hand because computers are not available to Iraq’s election authorities.

 

During Sunday night, the boxes are to be transported from tens of thousands of polling stations across the country to Baghdad.  Some may not make it, either because of terrorist attacks or because they might “disappear” off the backs of trucks en route.  But even without a precise count, Shiite and Kurdish victories can be safely predicted.

 

No one can tell yet how well the lists run by interim president Ghazi Yawar and interim prime minister Iyad Allawi have fared.  Yawar is not running for election, but Allawi, to stay in office, will need at least 40-50 national assembly seats.

 

 

 

DANGER: POLITICIANS AT WORK

 

 

China To Hold Free And Fair Elections In Tibet

 

[Thanks to Phil G who sent this in.]

 

January 31, 2005 Beau Grosscup

 

The Government of the Peoples Republic of China has announced that now that it knows the standards of a free and fair election, it will be holding free and fair elections in Tibet immediately.

 

The free and fair elections will be held under the following conditions:

 

1. The rules of Chinese Occupation will remain

2. The estimated 300,000 Chinese troops will provide election security

3. Martial Law will be enforced

4. Candidates for office will not reveal their names

5. Voters will not know whom they are voting for.

6. The borders and airports will be closed and the country in security 'lockdown.'

7. The elections will be paid for by the Chinese taxpayers

8. The International election observers will monitor the election from the monitoring center set up by the Chinese military in Nepal.

 

The Chinese Government wishes to thank the United States government and Fox News for clarifying the meaning and criteria of free and fair elections and how to bring freedom and democracy to a long suffering people.

 

 

 

 

Received:

 

“Weapons Of Mass Deception” Film:

Portland, NYC Feb. 4

 

From: Paul O'Hanlon

To: GI Special

Sent: February 01, 2005

Subject: Review of `WMD weapons of mass deception`

 

I read, enjoy and pass on GI special.

 

I thought you might like to know about Danny Schechter's new film `WMD weapons of mass deception` which is currently showing in the US.  It will be showing in New York and Portland, Oregon on Friday 4th February.

 

For details of the film and its showing schedule please see www.wmdthefilm.com

 

I wrote a review with photos of the film and put it on Indymedia, here is the link for the Portland Indymedia report: http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2005/01/308340.shtml

 

All the Best from Edinburgh, Scotland,

Paul O'Hanlon

 

 

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