GI SPECIAL 3A35:
BEEN ON THE
JOB TOO LONG.
ALL HOME NOW!
The scene of a car bomb attack, Baghdad, 2 3. 2005.
A NEW ERA?
“Tom Joad” [pen name] Soldier, Iraq.
February 02, 2005
felt that something should be said.
make a very distinct sound when thrashing the air around
you notice a whizzing sound, more like a high pitched howl,
then after your instincts process the sound of the passing
bullet you feel a delayed reaction of panic and awareness as
you feel a rush of air brush against your head. As bullets
hit the ground and the armored truck from which I was firing
my crew served machine gun, the impact made a "ping"-like
ring, as if in an action packed war movie.
I scanned the palm groves and
tall wetland reeds across the rubbish littered field in
front of me.
in the two-hundred meters to my front an insurgent sniper
was taking pop-shots at us from his well concealed position.
My team leader was taking position from
behind the far side of his humvee's hood. His gunner was
also scanning for the sniper, occasionally ducking inside of
the truck to avoid the hostile fire. Myself and my driver
positioned our truck at the team leader's three o'clock
position in order to assist in locating the unknown gunman.
The insurgent sniper, or perhaps two of them, were taking
turns firing at our gun trucks, obviously aiming to kill one
of the gunners in our crew.
With each shot, we would all
return a volley of machine gun and rifle fire into the vast
shadows of the palm grove from which we knew the gunman was
hiding. We were not firing to kill the man, at least not
yet. We needed to pin point his position, in order to send
a flanking team out for him, or perhaps call in for mortar
fire. However, first we needed to egg him on. We continued
to fire five-round bursts in his general area, trying to
piss him off as much as we already were.
As I scanned through my
machine gun's magnified scope I began to realize that the
sniper was too well concealed for us to ever find him, and
with each passing bullet flying closer to my face, I finally
decided that enough was enough. I called out to my team
leader on the ground that we needed to lay down suppressive
fire, before one of us ends up dead. This tough guy-pissing
match was growing old.
The team leader yelled back
inquisitively, "Suppressive fire? You think so?"
The situation was starting to
get tediously nerve-racking, "Hell yeah I think so", I
yelled back, "That bastard's coming way too close!"
"Okay, SUPPRESSIVE FIRE,
And with that, our two trucks
opened fire on the sniper in the palm groves.
A constant barrage of machine
gun fire then smashed into the palm groves and tall grasses
infringing the sniper's position. In the distance I could
see bark from the palm trees flying into the air. Some
trees were being cut in half and falling on the spot. Dirt
in front of the palm grove peppered up and began to make
small dust clouds. Our suppressive fire only lasted for
maybe a minute and a half. However, during this chaotic
madness of roaring machine gun fire, the final assault
seemed to have lasted for hours.
Finally my team leader yelled
over and over, "CEASE FIRE, CEASE FIRE, CEASE FIRE!"
So we stopped firing. We
watched the palm grove, and waited.
I began to think that we had
finally killed the insurgent sniper by simply firing massive
amounts of lead into vast forest of palm trees. For what
seemed like forever, nothing moved, and the only audible
sound was the running engines of our trucks and the tweeting
of a couple of birds on a telephone wire. Suddenly, an
armored humvee scanning an alleyway to my right began to
open fire. Instantly my attention perked and my nerves
began to jump. What was going on here? Are there more than
we had thought?
After a series of blasts from
the truck to my right, the gunner shooting down the alleyway
began shouting, "Got him, got him! I Got that
Our suppressive fire had done
the trick. By doing so, we had managed to flush the lone
sniper from his concealed position in the palm groves and
attempt an escape by crossing the end of the long alley in
which a US gunner was carefully monitoring.
The sniper barely stepped foot
into the alleyway before he was mowed down by a blast of
bullets. I could only imagine that the insurgent was scared
out of his wits and was desperately fleeing for escape,
regardless to the fact that he was surrounded. As the lone
gunman ran across the dusty alley road his life was taken
with an instant flash of fury. I would be willing to bet
that in his last fleeting second, he never saw it coming.
This was just one of many fire
fights and guerrilla attacks happening all at the same time
on this 30th day of January 2005.
unlike any other day in the (X) Province. Today was Iraq's
election day. For those who have been here for almost a
year, January 30th could be viewed as Judgment Day. This
first Iraqi Election could be considered the culmination of
a new era, or perhaps the climax of a harrowing tale of
bloodshed and violence.
say that the elections are a remarkable feat in this once
tyrannical despotism, a promising event for a free country
and a huge feat for an infant democracy.
could consider this country-in-shambles a society still
oppressed by outside military influence and internal
struggles, with the elections offering no true hope for a
means in the long run, for both sides on the battlefield,
this election day would prove to be the battle of the
The insurgency's enormous
opportunity to disrupt any kind of democratic progress and
the coalition forces' jaded duty to prevent them from doing
so. With our division's year-long mission in Iraq almost
complete, this day of democratic progress was more like our
last dance with the Jihadists.
The mission in Iraq has boiled
down to this very special event. It has been a long two
years of harsh conflict and brutal urban warfare, of vast
amounts of unnecessary deaths and political haggling since
the US military took root in this torn and tattered middle
Every step that the Bush
administration has taken to justify its occupancy of Iraq
has been met at the hilt by a fierce Iraqi insurgency.
elections have been processed over time to develop a
schematic of America's true and just intentions to instill
democracy in a country that appears to be opposed to such.
While some Iraqis find the elections to be proof of better
times to come, most of Iraq's inhabitants see a forced Iraqi
democracy as signs of a surrogate child to US corporate
Our involvement here has never
been welcomed and has proved time and again to be part of
the problem. In hindsight of a two year struggle, one would
have to admit that this has been a bumpy ride for democratic
progress and a long road traveled indeed.
what most mainstream media outlets suggest, these Iraqi
elections never went off without a hitch.
Problems were met at every
corner despite careful military strategic planning to fend
off any disruptive attacks.
The night before the elections
were to take place in the (X) Province, many polling sites
were being attacked by aggressive bands of guerrilla
fighters. Mortar and rocket strikes on polling sites
terrorized the local communities from taking part in the
elections the following day.
these sites were scantily guarded by Iraqi army or Iraqi
police. These sites were soon abandoned by the ill prepared
Iraqi forces and shut down. What started out as 250
election sites for the province dwindled down to 90 secured
locations to cast a vote. After many of the sites were
closed, an approximated five thousand civilian election
workers failed to report to their designated polling sites.
They later claimed that they were too frightened to work at
the polls, and many of them quit their assignment on the
The insurgents' tactics seemed
to be effective, and their battle cry into the morning
continued as they repeated their tormenting rhetoric to the
public: "You vote tomorrow, you die!"
Our US military went through
great lengths to secure the province before the elections.
National Guard units were brought in to provide force
protection for the forward operating bases, while our
division committed most of its forces to patrolling the area
and establish the utmost security.
these provisions seemed self defeating. As I rode behind
the barrel of a truck mounted machine gun through the
streets of A-town, I noticed how dreary and pathetic this
city had become overnight. We call this a free sovereign
country, but how ironic that on this day of democratic
progress the Iraqi people are kept under the strict scrutiny
of a bull-faced police state.
The vastly populated city
resembled a dusty ghost town out of an old western movie.
On any other day, the streets
would be filled with market place activity. Street side
vendors would be selling bread and farming tools. Young
women in scarves and head dresses would be waiting patiently
for a bus to take them to their college classes. Children
would be flying kites or playing soccer. Elderly men would
normally be squatting in the shade of a mud brick building,
smoking cigars and chatting openly back and forth.
However, on this free election
day, most of the streets were blocked with massive concrete
barriers shrouded in rolls of razor sharp barbed wire.
Every major intersection was blocked by an Iraqi army
checkpoint. Young men in uniform sat attentively behind
loaded Soviet-era machine guns, surrounded by walls of
sandbags and camouflage netting.
On the smooth concrete walls
of the checkpoints one would notice pro-coalition propaganda
urging the Iraqi populace to vote for democracy. All
civilian motor traffic had been restricted on the major
highways and roads during this day of democracy. The threat
of car bombs was far too great to allow one automobile
packed with explosives to intermingle with other civilian
The only traffic on the roads
were that of Iraqi army and police forces, and of course the
armored gun trucks of the US military. US tanks roamed
through the streets, swiftly crawling back and forth on
patrol, shaking the earth with its massive beastly roar.
Also creeping along the ground
were the ominous shadow silhouettes of Apache and Kiowa
attack helicopters, who's presence in the air assured
instant termination of any hostile saboteur aimed at the
important democratic process.
Far above and beyond the
circling helicopters a pair of F-14 fighter planes slice
through the stratospheric heavens; these malicious birds of
prey harboring warheads of arbitrary slaughter.
All this military muscle
flexed and geared to provide a safe and secure environment
for the people of Iraq to come out of hiding and vote for
their chosen leaders.
However, barely a soul was
seen wandering the streets that day. The only civilian
activity was that of curious children, peeking their heads
outside of the gates of their front yards, while frightened
and concerned parents grabbed them by the scruff of their
necks and forced them back inside.
One could say that with an
infant democracy, a Big Brother of sorts would have to take
that indecisive nation by the hand and guide it into
The platoon I was with on that
particular day was tasked to gather the election workers who
had quit their assignments and load them onto buses. Once
they were gathered, we were then instructed to escort them
to their polls and deter any violent disturbances.
Other tasks included
infiltrating insurgent-held territory to reach polling sites
and gather boxes of unmarked ballots before the enemy could
obtain them. In some neighborhoods Coalition forces had to
cordon off whole city blocks and check each pedestrian's
voting registration in order to screen out unwanted menaces.
Collected ballots were also escorted to safe locations in
our sector by US forces, despite that the responsibility of
collecting ballots and transferring them rested in the hands
of Iraqi army and police forces.
these tactics were against all protocol concerning Coalition
involvement in the elections.
assure a safe overall environment for honest voters some
rules had to be broken. In the end, some of these tactics
proved to be successful, as throughout the day more and more
Iraqi's took their chances and found their way to a ballot
box. On the other hand, many Iraqis took heed to the
threats on their lives and stayed in the safety of their
homes. In one particular sector, the polls only accumulated
around sixty votes out of the thousands of registered voters
who did not show.
mainstream media trumped and touted the success of Iraq's
first free elections to the point of a fantasized complete
were reported as better than expected, as the voice of the
Iraqi people had chosen freedom in their new democracy.
One cannot deny the brave acts of the Iraqi people to take
the initiative in shaping their own democratic future.
However, one must suspect the Bush administration's
declaration of a successful democracy forced at gun point.
We may never know the true
outcome of the elections, as many contingencies in the
election results have to date been ignored.
Every result and tacit of this
election have only been described as "estimated", and has
been since the start.
No strictly detailed records
were ever kept on the exact number of registered voters, nor
the exact number of votes cast.
In the (X) Province, for
example, there was and "estimated" 1.3 million registered
polls closed, US forces began to announce that seventy-five
percent of that 1.3 million registered had turned out voted
on election day. It was chalked up as a complete success
and a job well done for our division. However, the
following day, that overly-exceeding percentage didn't seem
to add up to the actual numbers. Now the number stands at
about 250 thousand votes for the entire province, less than
half of what the original figures indicated.
Currently, our division refuses to believe this, and the
top brass demands to obtain a more pleasing number from
any alternative source, if possible.
all the statistical discrepancies in our province alone,
it makes one wonder who is counting these votes and
where the results are being channeled to in the end.
fact to consider is that many of the marked ballots were
never in safe hands either before or after the polls closed
on the evening of January 30th.
For instance, at one
particular polling station, the marked ballots for an entire
sector were abandoned on the streets by an Iraqi police
unit. Details have not yet surfaced on why that specific
police unit abandoned the ballots, but it is quite clear
that whoever was responsible did not favor the democratic
process and wished to sabotage it somehow.
areas of the province, Iraqi army forces were engaged in
fierce fire-fights with Iraqi police units over disputes on
who was responsible for transporting marked ballots.
true that this new sovereign country will no doubt face
growing pains in its first years of infancy. However,
one has to wonder about the security of this region when
the insurgency commonly mixes into the ranks of the
Iraqi military and the low standard of discipline in
security forces allows not only petty squabbles but
fierce battles waged between police and army units.
Despite the fact that our
division faced more attacks on Election Day than on any
other day in this past year, the free Iraqi elections did
progress with little trouble for the people of the (X)
province. Much can be said for the brave Iraqi citizens
who risked life and limb to cast their vote for a new
I can only
hope that their efforts to make a democratic change were not
made in vain. It would be a shame if their future is
plagued with even more violence and police state oppression
than they have already seen in the last four decades.
in the world deserves a peaceful and prosperous future it is
the people of Iraq who have suffered enough bloodshed for
It would be
a grave misfortune to witness an Iraqi election for a
democratic tomorrow only to see them succumb to the intense
pressures of a US economic hegemony that is already
beginning to take root in this new sovereign nation.
some of the bureaucratic flaws that occurred during this
first step in democratic progress, it is a milestone for a
people who have only known brutal oppression. The only hope
left is that the people of Iraq take the bull by the horns
and use this experience to forge their own desired future
for generations to come.
FIGHT TO SURVIVE!
TRUTH? CHECK OUT THE NEW TRAVELING SOLDIER
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.
with Iraq War vets in the call to end the occupation and
bring our troops home now! (www.ivaw.net)
KIA, Wounded In Al-Qaim Resistance Attack;
2.3.05 Aljazeera & By Jason
Keyser, The Associated Press
has learned that an unknown number of US soldiers were
killed and wounded when a house used as a US military
headquarters was destroyed in al-Qaim city in western
Baghdad by a car bomb. The house was used by U.S. military
Witnesses reported other US
troops firing back, hitting several civilian bystanders.
Killed In Anbar
marines were killed in action in Iraq’s western province of
Anbar, the US military said.
“A marine assigned to 1st
Marine Expeditionary Force was killed in action yesterday
[Wednesday], bringing to two the number of marines who died
in the Anbar province,” the military said in a statement on
Anbar is a huge, predominantly
Sunni area which stretches westwards from the outskirts of
Baghdad to the Saudi, Jordanian and Syrian borders, and
includes the towns of Falluja and Ramadi.
Road Car Bomber Strikes Foreign Convoy;
Feb. 03, 2005 Associated Press
bomber struck a foreign convoy on Baghdad's dangerous
airport road Thursday, destroying several vehicles,
Iraqi police said. No casualties were immediately reported.
utility vehicles in the three vehicle convoy were
destroyed. SUVs are commonly used by
foreign contractors working in Iraq.
were seen evacuating some casualties, witnesses said.
The U.S. military had no immediate
Car Bomb; Two U.S. Soldiers Wounded
A U.S. Army 1st
Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment soldier
examines the wreckage after a car bomb targeting his Army
convoy exploded, wounded
two soldiers in Mosul,
Iraq Feb. 3, 2005 . Insurgents attacked U.S. and
Iraqi troops throughout the day, also using small arms,
mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and roadside bombs.
(AP Photo/Jim MacMillan)
Marine Killed Two Days Before Leaving For Home
February 3, 2005 (Grayslake,
Ill.) ABC Inc., WLS
February 3, 2005 (Grayslake,
Ill.) — A 19-year-old Marine from the northern Illinois
community of Grayslake is dead after a small arms attack in
Lance Corporal Sean Maher was
driving a Humvee when his unit was ambushed near Fallujah.
His aunt, Peggy O'Keefe, says friends have been flocking to
the family's home since this morning when the Marine's
parents learned of his death.
Family members described Maher
as kind, generous and athletic. They say he enlisted
because he thought he could make a difference in Iraq.
death last night came just two days before he was scheduled
to come home.
Investigates Non-Combat Death Of Oregon Guard Soldier
February 3, 2005 By The
PORTLAND — Army
officials are investigating the non-combat death of an
Oregon National Guard soldier serving in Iraq with his son,
according to family members.
Sgt. Mark Warren, 44, of La
Grande, was a member of the Third Battalion, 116th Armored
Cavalry. The unit, headquartered in La Grande, was
mobilized last summer and shipped off to Iraq in November.
found dead Monday in Kirkuk, Iraq, said Mike Cummings, a
representative of the family. Cummings said he couldn't
disclose further details.
serving alongside his son, Lt. Chris Warren, in the same
unit, Cummings said.
in the Marine Corps in 1981 and joined the National Guard in
1990. In 2002, he was
assigned as the noncommissioned officer in charge of officer
training at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande.
KIA Tormented By Bureaucratic Bullshit:
Assistance Is Increasingly Failing Miserably And
February 03, 2005 By Rick
Maze, Army Times staff writer
The Thursday congressional
testimony of two military widows about problems with
casualty assistance officers assigned to help them after the
deaths of their husbands could lead to changes in the
Tiffany Petty, whose husband,
Army Pfc. Jerrick Petty, was killed in a firefight in Iraq
in December 2003, and Jennifer McCollum, whose husband,
Marine Capt. Dan McCollum, was killed in a January 2002
plane crash in Pakistan, related similar complaints about
she had problems from the moment her husband was killed.
First, the Army notified her husband’s parents but not her;
she learned about the death in a phone call from a
sister-in-law who “called me to see if I was doing OK,” she
said the information provided about how her husband died
ended up being incorrect, although the casualty officer may
have been trying to shield her from details.
The officers also were unable to help her with some issues.
“When I had questions about
benefits, or simple things like moving my furniture from the
base in Kentucky, they were not able to help me,” she said.
after her husband’s burial, Petty also learned that the Army
never paid any of the funeral expenses.
She learned this at a Veterans’ Day event when she was
introduced to the Army man who had personally paid the
“The Army should have been on
top of this, even if the survivor has items they are
responsible for,” she said.
McCollum, who has moved from
California to Florida since her husband’s death in a KC-130
crash, said her difficulties came when the first casualty
assistance officer assigned to her, a family friend and also
a pilot at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar where her
husband was assigned, was deployed to Afghanistan. A new
officer was assigned who knew less and who was less
interested in helping her, she said.
“My situation is not unique,
and as a matter of fact, I am discovering that casualty
assistance is increasingly failing miserably and
disgracefully,” McCollum said.
McCollum related problems dealing with the military
medical system for herself and her son, born about five
months after her husband’s death.
said she ended up battling to keep the benefits she was
told would be available for up to three years after her
husband’s death and now faces a temporary cutoff of
coverage while she transfers between the active and
retired health insurance programs.
have to change doctors because she will no longer be
allowed to use the military treatment facility in
Jacksonville, Fla., which sees active-duty patients.
Injured Soldier Improves ---
Now Pentagon Won’t Pay For Family’s Plane Tickets
To See Him
February 03, 2005 By Rayanne
Schmid, The Daily Times
Becky and Kelly Crunk gladly
accepted the news Wednesday that their son, Spc. Ryan Lamarr
Crunk’s condition had been upgraded from serious to just
Ryan, 22, who is with the
Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, sustained injuries to his
right leg, hand and forearm in a Sunday grenade blast in
Mosul, Iraq. He was transferred to Kuwait and currently is
in a base hospital in Germany.
However, with the blessing, and word that he could be
transferred stateside to Walter Reed Medical Center in
Virginia as early as Sunday, came a new obstacle for the
parents of the 2001 Tivy graduate injured in Iraq. The
improvement in Ryan’s condition meant that the military
would no longer fly the parents, free of charge, to see
their son, nor would it pay for their accomodations.
Becky, director of the
Children’s Ark child care center, seemed to take the news of
the pending expense in stride while continuing to focus on
her son’s condition.
“We are going to have to do
it on our own,” she said.
The family won’t be alone,
though, in gathering money for the trip.
The First United Methodist
Church — Kerrville, began a fund to allow the Crunk’s
daughter, Jordan, to travel with them when the military
still was offering to fly the parents for free.
According to their minister,
Pastor Warren Hornung, “So far, we’ve collected $2,942.30.”
As for Ryan, he underwent his
third surgery on Wednesday, with at least a fourth possible
in the very near future. This time, Becky said, doctors
removed shrapnel and cleaned out the wound.
The next surgery, possibly
after he arrives in Virginia, could involve putting plates
in Ryan’s leg and performing tissue and muscle
“Both major bones in the leg
were broken in several places is what we understand,” Becky
As for the injured hand and
forearm, “(Ryan) said something about, ‘When I come back
they will address my hand.’ I guess that is really not a top
priority right now,” Becky said.
That information came in the
second phone call from Ryan to his parents since the
incident occured. “He sounded better,” Becky said. “The two
other guys (of the four others injured in the same attack)
that were still in Germany were in his room and were hanging
out with him. I am glad he has people he knows there.”
After about a 10-minute
conversation, Becky said that Ryan “indicated he was in
Can't Extend Reservists' Deployment
(Los Angeles Times, February
political pressure from members of Congress [meaning pissed
off people back home yelling at the Congressional scum] the
Pentagon has dropped consideration of a plan to increase the
time reservists can spend on active duty.
Straining to meet upcoming
troop needs in Iraq and Afghanistan, top Army generals had
indicated recently that they would press the Defense
Department's civilian leadership to lift a two-year limit on
active duty deployments for reservists.
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Whether in Iraq or stuck on a base in the USA, this is
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off from access to encouraging news of growing
resistance to the war, at home and inside the armed
Send requests to address up top.
The Criminals In Command;
Vaccinations Were Given Despite Judge's Order
(Washington Post, February 3,
2005, 2004, Pg. 4)
900 soldiers were given anthrax vaccinations during the past
three months despite a federal judge's order in October to
stop the program because the vaccine had not been properly
tested and approved. Col.
Steven P. Jones, director of the military vaccine agency,
said in a statement to the judge that the shots were given
even though Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld sent out a
directive in late October ordering that the vaccinations be
stopped until further notice.
Reserves Left For Iraq;
Rotation, If Any, In Deep Trouble;
January Recruiting Collapsed
February 3, 2005, 2004 By Liz
Sidoti, Associated Press
enough troops for another rotation in Iraq will be
"painful." a senior Army leader told Congress. "Right now
we have 650,000 soldiers on active duty executing missions
worldwide, and many of them have met their 24-month
cumulative time, so we'll have to address this,"
Gen. Richard A. Cody testified before the House Armed
Lt. Gen. Roger C. Schultz,
chief of the Army National Guard, said that while retention
goals are being met, “our recruiting is the area where we
are falling short.”
Army National Guard is 15,000 soldiers below its normal
strength and is trying to make up the difference by
autumn. But Schultz said his outfit met only 56 percent
of its January recruiting goal.
Miss January Goal For Recruits
(New York Times, February 3,
first time in nearly a decade, the Marine Corps in January
missed its monthly recruiting goal, in what military
officials said was the latest troubling indicator of the
Iraq war's impact on the armed services.
acknowledge that the drop in January, and close calls in
November and December, could be linked to the widely
publicized risks in Iraq.
Kohn, a military historian at the University of North
Carolina, said, "It's most troubling because the Marines
tend to attract people who are the most macho, seek the most
danger and are attracted by the service most likely to put
them into combat."
Senior officers acknowledge
that the drop in January -- and close calls in November and
December -- could be linked to the widely publicized risks
reflection of the difficult market for Marine recruiters,
the service is offering bonuses of up to $30,000 to retain
combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan rather than relying
on replenishing its ranks with troops fresh from boot camp.
Guard Falls Short In Hitting Troop Level Goals
(Los Angeles Times, January
Strained by ongoing military
action in Iraq and Afghanistan, the National Guard has
fallen nearly 15,000 troops short of its authorized level of
350,000, Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, chief of the guard, said.
The guard, which had met
its authorized numbers annually since 1989, has suffered
shortfalls in recruitment since last fall,
Investigates Military Family TRICARE Complaints
CongressDailyAM, January 25, 2005)
Armed Services Committee is investigating complaints from
military families who claim the Pentagon's revamped TRICARE
healthcare system is failing to adequately cover families
with special-needs children. Early this
month, several committee members visited troops at Camp
Lejeune, N.C., where one family told the lawmakers that
recent changes in TRICARE contractors "has made it difficult
for large numbers of special needs children to get through."
Suicide Rate Plummets After Deadly Lariam Discontinued
Jan. 28 (UPI)
The number of suicides by
soldiers serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom dropped last
year by at least half -- a decline that helped lower
significantly the Army's overall suicide rate.
Asked why the suicide rate
fell so much, spokeswoman Martha Rudd said: "It's really not
possible to tell. We think some of the efforts we've made
over there are paying off, but also that the news coverage
of the issue last year really elevated the level of
attention paid to this."
point to a different possibility. Last year the Army largely
quit using an anti-malaria drug called Lariam in Iraq that
has been linked to depression, hallucinations, psychosis and
rare reports of suicide. It was widely prescribed in Iraq in
group, Lariam Action USA, said the suicide statistics
obvious external factor was the administration of Lariam in
2003 and the withdrawal of the drug in 2004," said Susan G.
Rose, the group's legal adviser. "Lariam clearly played a
role in the increased rate of suicides in 2003.
Unfortunately, due to the Department of Defense policy
of not recording anti-malarial medication in troops'
medical records, the extent of Lariam's role cannot be
The number of soldiers who
have taken Lariam in Iraq is unclear, but the U.S. military
dispensed about 45,000 prescriptions worldwide in the year
that ended in October 2003.
The Pentagon said its policy
is to record all prescribed drugs on a soldier's record, but
UPI found widespread instances where that did not happen
Since 2002 the
Food and Drug Administration
has strengthened the drug's official product label to warn
about suicide reports and added a statement that mental
problems have been reported to last "long after" someone
stops taking it.
Soldiers Go Crazy
26.01.2005 [Maria Engqvist,
December night in Bogota, an officer of the special unit
assigned to protect President Uribe threw an acid liquid
over the faces of two sleeping soldiers under his command.
When interrogated about the reason for the attack, the
officer of the Presidential Guard was unable to explain, but
said it was all a mistake.
week a soldier of the Boyaca Batallion based in the city of
Pasto took an assault rifle and gunned down a group of his
fellow soldiers, killing five and wounding five more.
magazine Semana asks if these acts are part of an “epidemia”
of mental sickness among the government troops who have
suffered significant losses against guerilla forces since
the Army last year in a campaign led by US military advisors
launched a campaign to take the war to the guerillas’ turf.
The campaign known as the
“Patriot Plan” consists of deploying tens of thousands of
troops in traditionally rebel held territory, mainly in the
southern and eastern departments of Meta, Caqueta and
Guaviare. Operating with the US and regular government
troops are large number of death squads, targeting civilians
in the area.
The latest set-back for the
government troops came on January 12 and 13, when a
guerrilla force consisting of 12 companies of fighters from
the FARC’s Eastern Bloc attacked units of the government’s
paramilitaries based in and around the villages of Puerto
Lleras and Puerto Rico in Caqueta department. 70
paramilitaries were killed and 42 were wounded, rebel
sources say. Five guerrillas were also killed during the
Ambush 50-Strong Iraqi Police Convoy
Feb 3 By Gideon Long, BAGHDAD
insurgents staged a major ambush on a road near Baghdad
Thursday, killing two policemen, wounding 14 and leaving at
least 16 missing on the worst day of violence since last
Police said insurgents
attacked a police convoy Thursday while they were on their
way to Baghdad from southern Iraq between Diwaniya, 180 km
(112 miles) south of Baghdad, and the capital. Police
initially feared 36 were missing but reduced the number as
some began returning to Diwaniya.
sealed off the site of the ambush, near the Abu Ghraib area
on Baghdad's western fringes. Police said some of the
wounded were treated in hospital in Diwaniya.
the policemen had been traveling from Diwaniya, 180 km (112
miles) south of Baghdad, to the capital to collect new
vehicles when they were ambushed.
Occupation Cops Killed Near Kirkuk
Feb 3 By Gideon Long, BAGHDAD
(Reuters) & Robert H. Reid, AP & By Jason Keyser, The
Militants pulled 14 police
officers off their bus and killed 12 of them with a bullet
to the head. The rebels
allowed two of the soldiers to go free and ordered them to
warn others against joining Iraq’s U.S.-backed security
They were killed as they
returned to northern city of Kirkuk, where they guard oil
The assailants identified
themselves as members of Takfir wa Hijra, an Islamic group
that emerged in the 1960s in Egypt, rejecting society as
corrupt and seeking to establish a utopian Islamic
Wednesday's bus attack near
the northern oil city of Kirkuk suggests the country's
22-month-long insurgency is far from over.
Bomb Kills Three Allawi Troops, 3 Wounded
soldiers were killed and three wounded in a bomb attack on
Thursday morning in Yathrib, 75km north of Baghdad.
“A man was
arrested at the scene of the attack but was freed due to
lack of evidence,” Captain Amjad Saad said.
Collaborators Killed, 4 Wounded Near Baquba
02 February 2005
employees of a US military base were shot dead and four of
his colleagues wounded while on their way to work in Baquba,
northeast of Baghdad, a medical source said.
One of the wounded men, Raid
Rizuqi, said he and his friends were driving to work when
fighters opened fire from another car. Baquba's general
hospital confirmed they received one corpse riddled with
Cop Killed, Another Injured In Samawah
BASRA, Feb 3
(KUNA) & By Jason Keyser, The Associated Press
south, anti-U.S. forces overran a police station in the city
of Samawah, killing one Iraqi policeman and injuring two
others Wednesday night, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported.
Japanese troops are based outside Samawah.
Other sources told KUNA that
unidentified armed men opened fire on one of the check
points set by the police earlier today.
The attackers escaped the
scene, the sources said.
2.3.05 Aljazeera & By Gideon
Long, BAGHDAD (Reuters) & AP
Iraqi soldier was killed as assailants opened fire as he was
leaving his home in Baghdad,
truck driver was killed on a road between the northern
cities of Baiji and Mosul.
Baghdad, near the largely Shi'ite town of Hilla, militants
drew up alongside the car of a local government official and
shot him dead before escaping.
incident west of the capital, residents of the insurgent
stronghold of Ramadi discovered the bodies of two men
who appear to have died of gunshot wounds and who
were dressed in blood-soaked civilian clothes. The bodies
were dumped on a commercial street in Ramadi's city center,
handwritten note tucked into the shirt of one of the men
claimed the two were Iraqi National Guardsmen.
Occupation Cops & Allawi Officer Killed On Airport Road
2.3.05 By Jason Keyser, The
Baghdad’s dangerous airport road Thursday Insurgents
ambushed another convoy in the area, killing five Iraqi
policemen and an Iraqi National Guard major, police said.
Donkey Captured Near Green Zone
[Thanks to Des for sending in
February 02, 2005 The Angry
Arab News Service
Guess who is behind the Iraqi insurgency this week?
To: GI Special
Sent: February 03, 2005
Mike here from the land of
Lewis and Clark, the original imperialists who started the
would check in and let you know that I am alive and still
of a private joke between me and some of the people in my
I think some of them believe
I'm a bit of a loose cannon. I have a tendency to express
some of my feelings when ever I talk. A lot of good old
fashion therapy has allowed me that freedom. I'm simply not
afraid of my feelings anymore. For everything gained, there
is a price.
So, with that little
disclaimer, I'm ready to come out of the shoot.
That's why I like G.I.
Special, because it has an edge; most of the time, a razor's
I like that, because someone
HAS to yell " Iceberg."
If we don't yell insane
things, people will think everything is OK.
comes down to Catch 22. You Cannot Save Your Ass And Your
Face At The Same Time.
I see too
many people trying to do that. A lot of academics are very
good at it.
Eventually, we are all going to have to hit the streets.
After hearing King George's State of Decline Speech
last night, I'm convinced of that. These people are
serious about destruction. It's the bully on the block,
with an I.Q. of 22, and that is not a winning
leave you with a powerful quote.
survivor, then, is a disturber of the peace. He is a
runner of the blockade men erect against knowledge of
unspeakable things. About these he aims to speak, and
in so doing he undermines, without intending to, the
validity of existing norms. He is a genuine
transgressor, and here he is made to feel real guilt.
world to which he appeals does not admit him, and since
he has looked to this world as a source of moral order,
he begins to doubt himself.
that is not the end, for now his guilt is doubled by
betrayal--of himself, of his task, of his vow to the
final guilt is not to bear witness.
survivor's worst torment is not to be able to speak."
By Molly Ivins, AUSTIN, Texas
I really don't like
accentuating the negative, but I also don't like spin,
especially after what we've been through with this
administration and the truth about Iraq.
helpful to write off 175 terrorist attacks on the day of the
election as "relative calm."
helpful to claim there was a 72 percent turnout rate and
then have it fall overnight to 57 percent. It isn't helpful
to set low expectations, then boast about doing "better than
And we also
still don't know what we've got here.
AND ALL THOSE ASSHOLES IN CONGRESS IF YOU WANT IRAQ SO BAD.
YOUR OWN BAG TOO.
Election Doesn't Change That.”
By Arianna Huffington
forget that despite the hoopla, this was a legitimate
democratic election in name only.
Actually, not even in name
since most of the candidates on Sunday's ballot had less
name recognition than your average candidate for dogcatcher.
That's because they were too afraid to hold rallies or give
speeches. Too terrorized to engage in debates. In fact,
many were so anxious about being killed that they fought to
keep their names from being made public.
even know their names had been placed on the ballot. On top
of that, this vote was merely to elect a transitional
national assembly that will then draft a new constitution
that the people of Iraq will then vote to approve or reject,
followed by yet another vote -- this time to elect a
permanent national assembly.
And the election doesn't change that.
not forget that many Iraqi voters turned out to send a
defiant message not just to the insurgents but to
President Bush as well. Many of those purple fingers
were raised in our direction. According to a poll taken
by our own government, a jaw-dropping 92 percent of
Iraqis view the U.S.-led forces in Iraq as "occupiers"
while only 2 percent see them as "liberators."
Let's not forget the woeful
lack of progress we've made in the reconstruction of Iraq.
The people there still lack such basics as gas and kerosene.
Indeed, Iraqis often wait in miles-long lines just to buy
gas. The country is producing less electricity than before
the war -- roughly half of current demand.
There are food shortages, the
cost of staple items such as rice and bread is soaring, and
the number of Iraqi children suffering from malnutrition has
According to UNICEF, nearly 1 in 10 Iraqi children is
suffering the effects of chronic diarrhea caused by unsafe
water -- a situation responsible for 70 percent of
children's deaths in Iraq.
And the election doesn't change that.
Let's not forget the
blistering new report from the special inspector general for
Iraq reconstruction, which finds that the U.S. occupation
government that ruled Iraq before last June's transfer of
sovereignty has been unable to account for nearly $9
billion, overseeing a reconstruction process "open to fraud,
kickbacks and misappropriation of funds."
And the election doesn't change that.
forget that we still don't have an exit strategy for Iraq.
The closest the president has come is saying that we'll be
able to bring our troops home when, as he put it on Sunday,
"this rising democracy can eventually take responsibility
for its own security" -- "eventually" being the operative
Although the administration
claims over 120,000 Iraqi security forces have been trained,
other estimates put the number closer to 14,000, with less
than 5,000 of them ready for battle. And we keep losing
those we've already trained: some 10,000 Iraqi National
Guardsmen have quit or been dropped from the rolls in the
last six months. Last summer, the White House predicted
Iraqi forces would be fully trained by spring 2005; their
latest estimate has moved that timetable to summer 2006.
And the election doesn't change that.
never forget this administration's real goal in Iraq, as
laid out by Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and their fellow
neocon members of the Project for the New American Century
back in 1998 when they urged President Clinton and members
of Congress to take down Saddam "to protect our vital
interests in the Gulf."
These vital interests were
cloaked in mushroom clouds, WMD that turned into "weapons of
mass destruction-related program activities," and a
Saddam/al-Qaida link that turned into, well, nothing.
the Bushies landed on freedom and democracy as their 2005
buzzwords, they already had their eyes on the Iraqi prize:
the second-largest oil reserves in the world, and a
permanent home for U.S. bases in the Middle East.
still the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time.
And the election, as heart-warming as it was, doesn't change
any of that.
OCCUPATION ISN’T LIBERATION
ALL THE TROOPS HOME NOW!
And Its Resistance Vs. The Moralists
Jan. 27, 2005 By Stephen
question of whether Iraqis have a right to resist the
occupation of their country by US-led forces is clear: they
do. The question of whether they have a right to resist
occupation by any
means is academic.
The fact of
the matter is that occupied people will, and always have,
resisted occupations. And since poor people do not have
access to helicopter gunships, tanks and bombers -- the
tools of the occupiers -- they resort to the means at their
are often gruesome. Some say they’re barbaric and
government calls them terrorist, as it does any violent or
armed challenge to exploitation by US corporations, the US
military and its proxies.
(Not surprisingly, Washington
has a far more relaxed attitude toward armed challenges to
exploitation by its rivals, evidenced recently in members of
the US foreign policy establishment importuning Russia to
hold talks with Chechen guerillas.)
methods of the occupiers are equally, if not more, barbaric,
is granted, including by those who deplore the methods of
the resistance, and wish a pox on both houses.
This is a
position regularly taken by moralists in the West, whose
purpose in washing their hands of both sides, other than to
make a show of their piety, is never clear.
Uncivilized and barbaric
things happen, in a regular, ineluctable, law-like, fashion,
and deploring them doesn’t change the conditions that give
rise to them or make them any less likely to happen
It is also ineluctable that
the Iraqi government formed after the elections on Sunday
will be an agent of US policy.
What do you think?
Comments from service men and women, and veterans, are
especially welcome. Send to
firstname.lastname@example.org. Name, I.D., withheld on
request. Replies confidential.
Squabble Over The Loot”
03 February 2005 Aljazeera
Ahmed Al-Habbabi to the Anti-Allawi group. He writes: When
thieves squabble over the loot.. Please bear in mind that
this Shahristani character is the patriot inviting the
invasion of his country with the lie on 60 Minutes of the
nonexistent WMD's hidden in the nonexistent tunnels of the
Baghdad subway system that wasn't built.]
A top Shia
leader tipped to become Iraq's next prime minister has
branded Iyad Allawi's interim government as the most corrupt
in the country's history.
A close confidant of Grand
Ayat Allah Ali al-Sistani, Husain Shahristani lashed out at
the Allawi government and singled out defence minister Hazim
Shaalan as the main offender.
"It is very
well known in the country that the corruption is very
widespread from the police to the judicial systems…as a
matter of fact Iraq has never known the level of corruption
prevailing now," Shahristani said.
"A lot of public funds have
gone missing under the Coalition Provisional Authority…and
even now," he said, of the disbanded US occupation
Shahristani took Shaalan to
task for the defence ministry's transfer of $300 million to
Lebanon as part of an arms deal last month.
that the minister of defence, on the day there were four
suicide bombings in the capital, spends all his day at the
airport trying to take a few hundred million dollars in cash
out of the country before the elections doesn’t speak very
well for the government's performance
Capitalism At Work:
Afghan Heroin Production;
“Liberation” Now World’s Top Market Supplier
Robert D. Novak (Washington
Post, February 3, 2005, 2004)
"Afghanistan, portrayed as a victory in the U.S. war against
terrorism, is a disaster in the war against drugs.
production of heroin has soared over the past year, with the
country becoming the world's top supplier. Faced
with this looming catastrophe, the Bush administration is
deeply divided." [What,
on whether to get into the business or not?]
Resistance Wounds 4 Occupation Troops
An injured Israeli soldier
arrives for treatment at the hospital in the occupied
southern Palestine town of Beersheva, Feb 3, 2005. Palestinian
militants shot and wounded four Israeli soldiers
guarding the Zionist settlement of Eshkolot in a drive-by
shooting near the southern West Bank city of Hebron,
according to the army. (AP Photo/Yehuda Lahiani)
out what life is like under a murderous military occupation
by a foreign power, to:
www.rafahtoday.org The foreign army is Israeli; the
occupied nation is Palestine.]
VOICES OF VETERANS On WBAI-NY 99.5FM
Wednesday, February 9, from 7
to 10PM EST, WBAI/Pacifica Radio will feature the voices of
veterans, service members and their families in a special
Veterans and their families
must be heard, as we raise our voices with the demand "bring
the troops home now!" We invite you to participate in this
CALL THE 'SOUND OFF'
COMMENT-LINE. (212) 252-2342.
Let your voice be heard!
about your experiences. Where have you served? What would
you like the American public to know?
your name and rank if you like, or leave an anonymous
from comment-line messages will be featured on "Vets'
Voices: Bring Them Home Now" -- a special broadcast
(February 9, 7-10PM) dedicated to veterans on
listener-sponsored radio WBAI-NY 99.5FM, and streaming live
The program will also feature
Stan Goff speaking at the historic December 2004 forum,
'Military Speak Out Against the War'. Stan Goff, a U.S.
military veteran and author of "Full Spectrum Disorder: The
Military in the New American Century", is currently active
in the 'Bring Them Home Now' campaign led by 'Military
Families Speak Out' and 'Veterans For Peace'.
For more information visit
www.wbai.org or write email@example.com
The comment-line will remain
open until 7PM, Monday, February 7.
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