GI SPECIAL 3A68:
REAL BAD PLACE TO
GETTING WORSE EVERY
BRING THEM ALL HOME
An US soldier is seen patrolling
through a field looking for ordinance and other weaponry during
Operation Casablanca, in the Dora district of southern Baghdad.
“Can This Possibly
Get Any Worse?”
March 04, 2005 1:10 AM
Cpl. Christopher Zimny, 1st Bat. 2nd Marine Reg Killed 1-31-05
Thanks for all of your help. I've
received several helpful emails, and I truly appreciate them.
I just wanted to let you know that the
young man that I've referenced above [Cpl. Chris Zimny] was not
someone that I knew personally, but I know that he was a special
My next door neighbor here in XXXX is
just like my little sister and she will be getting married in 9 days
(March 12). Mike, her fiancÚ, is just like my Stan's little
Chris was in Mike's
regiment and Mike had to pull him out of a burning vehicle. Chris
was to have been a groomsman in their wedding next week. Mike told
Jen that he was able to save his name tag from his uniform and his
hat and both will be placed at the head table at the wedding. Can
this possibly get any worse?
Stupid question I
guess. Anyway, while I didn't know this young man personally, I do
know that Mike (whom I love) thought the world of him. He was his
best friend in the regiment. I haven't seen Mike since he's been
stateside, he'll be home this Sunday, but I just know that he will
be a changed man now. How can he not be?
Usually, when Mike
comes home, my son Andy and he have huge water gun fights or just
horse around, and now, Jen and I are trying to get across to Andy
that he needs to tread lightly with Mike. We just don't know how to
make this ok for him. We can't.
Thanks T for listening. I don't know
how you do it. This just hit so close to home for me, you know?
Mike Hastie, U.S. Army Medic, Vietnam 1970-71
March 07, 2005 12:34 AM
So many people in this family system
will need help.
It's available, but so few people seek
it out. Most people wait until they have a crisis.
Mike is going to need a lot of help.
I will repeat that, Mike is going to need a lot of help.
When your best
friend is killed right in front of you, life as you know it, changes
forever. Very few men have had this kind of experience.
Most young men do
not start processing their feelings until much later in life. Mike
will have to do that much earlier.
As you know, most men that age do not
have the tools to do that. So, he will need a mentor. The military
will help a little bit. The Vet Centers can help a lot.
Getting Matt into a Vet Center is not
going to be easy. Most young men will try to solo through it, most
of the time with alcohol. (Alcohol gave me wings to fly, and then
it took away my sky.)
I could write a book on this alone.
Why does every
generation have to re-invent the wheel? But, when the history of
the Vietnam War has been removed from them, people have to start
We know so much more about PTSD, but
so few people take advantage of it. Why?
Because it always involves feelings. Most men will do
anything to cover that up--anything! I guess it is our nature.
And that in a sense still scares me.
I will keep it simple here; there are three things you have to do to
get well: 1. Let it out. 2. Let it bleed. 3. Let it heal.
But, the most important thing to
remember is that you cannot do this alone. I will repeat this. The
most important thing to remember is that you cannot do this alone.
Cemeteries are full of veterans who
attempt to do this.
The human mind will do everything it
can to conceal its woundedness.
Example:" How are you doing? I'm
I did that for so many years, I wound
up in a padded cell of a psychiatric hospital.
There are no tough
guys in recovery. Cemeteries are full of people like that. I could
name quite a few. Every male in my family who served in a war had
PTSD is really a
fifty dollar phrase for Emotional Silence. Plain and simple. The
body physiology changes so much, that you think you have become
another person. If you do not understand these changes, which are
normal, you will think you are going crazy.
Knowledge is power.
What you do not know, will kill you.
I will repeat that. What you do not know, will kill you.
In order to get well from this
illness, you have to go to the phone and call for help. If you want
to really help someone, buy a phone and dangle it from the ceiling.
People who have
experienced severe trauma will take acting lessons to keep you from
I could write a second book on just
I don't care if you
can bench press 500 pounds, or walk into a bar and kick the shit out
of a dozen people; the bottom line is that we are afraid to feel.
Marines don't cry,
and graveyards across America are packed full with men who never
did, and they died long before their time.
warrior who desperately wants to be a man, is a boy who wants to cry
his heart out.
When this is done,
men are healed.
U.S. Army Medic
do you think? Comments from service men and women, and veterans,
are especially welcome. Send to email@example.com.
Name, I.D., withheld on request. Replies confidential.
IRAQ WAR REPORTS
Elk Grove Village
Army Specialist Killed
March 8, 2005 The Associated Press &
CLEAR CHANNEL COMMUNICATIONS
KENOSHA — Wisconsin relatives said
Monday they are mourning the death of a 17-year Army veteran in Iraq
Diane Eacho, who lives in Racine, said
she was informed Friday that her son, Staff Sgt. Donald Eacho, 38,
died that day when the vehicle he was in hit a roadside bomb near
Her son, who grew up in Kenosha before
attending high school in Seymour, lived in Watertown, N.Y., with his
wife and two sons, she said.
She said he was stationed in Iraq
since August, and she last saw him in the fall when he was home at
Before going to
Iraq, Eacho was awarded the Soldier’s Medal, one of the Army’s
highest honors for heroism outside of combat, for his 2003 rescue of
a 4-year-old girl and her grandfather who were trapped in an
overturned car on a Pennsylvania road.
Sgt. Eacho's mother told NewsWatch50
that her son met his wife while assigned to Fort Drum.
She said he had been scheduled to be
reassigned to Fort Drum when he returned from Iraq.
Car Bomb Hits U.S.
Checkpoint In Ramadi;
3/8/2005 AFP and Turkish Press
A car bomb was
detonated near a US-Iraqi security checkpoint Monday in eastern
Ramadi, said another statement without giving further details or
saying if there were any casualties.
Fighting In Ramadi
March 8, 2005 By Todd Pittman, AP
between US troops and insurgents today in the troubled city of
Ramadi, leaving at least two people dead, officials said.
The clashes in Ramadi, 115 kilometers
west of Baghdad, lasted for more than an hour. City shops were
closed and streets were deserted as US troops took up sniper
positions on rooftops. At least one dead body could be seen in the
street, witnesses said.
Minister Says U.S. Command Lying About
Mar. 08, 2005 PATRICK QUINN,
Associated Press & AFP
Minister Gianfranco Fini told parliament Tuesday that U.S. troops
killed Calipari by accident, but disputed Washington's version of
Fini said the car
carrying Calipari and Sgrena was not speeding and U.S. troops did
not order it to stop, contrary to what U.S. officials say.
The U.S. 3rd
Infantry Division, which controls Baghdad, said the vehicle was
"traveling at high speeds" and "refused to stop at a checkpoint."
However, Fini said
the car was "traveling at a speed that couldn't have been more than
40 kilometers (25 miles) per hour." A light, he said, was flashed
at the car after a curve and gunfire started immediately afterward.
It lasted 15 to 20 seconds, he said.
The shooting Friday that killed
intelligence officer Nicola Calipari and wounded Giuliana Sgrena, a
56-year-old journalist for the left-wing Il Manifesto newspaper,
angered Italians and rekindled questions about the country's
involvement in Iraq.
"We ask for truth
and justice," Fini said. [Don’t hold your breath.]
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.
And join with Iraq War
vets in the call to end the occupation and bring our troops home
Flames burn after a large explosion
hit central Baghdad at dawn Wednesday, shaking buildings and
covering the area in a large plume of black smoke March 9, 2005. The
explosion rocked buildings for several blocks around from Firdous
Square. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
U.S. May Close Abu
Too Many Resistance
March 08, 2005 By Rawya Rageh,
BAGHDAD, Iraq —
Incessant attacks against Baghdad’s notorious Abu Ghraib prison may
force the U.S. military to return the facility to Iraq’s government
and take their own high-security inmates to a safer place, a U.S.
military official said.
“The reason we
would like to move our operations from Abu Ghraib is that it has
been regularly targeted with attacks from insurgents.
The new facility would be within the larger Baghdad
International Airport complex, making it less susceptible to
attacks,” Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a spokesman for Iraq Detention
Operations, told The Associated Press.
“The Price You Pay
For It Is Pretty Costly"
March 08, 2005 By Erin Emery, The
Fort Carson - Pvt. Aaron Meier
remembers that the Humvee pulled into the westbound lane, the
dangerous side, to make sure it was safe for a convoy.
Mercifully, he can't recall what
happened next on Dec. 5 - not the blast, the bloodshed or the death
of an Army brother on the highway near Khaldyia, Iraq.
When Meier regained consciousness, he
said, he heard a medic pleading with him to stay awake.
"I couldn't feel my arms and legs, and
I told him I couldn't move, and I blacked out again," Meier said.
On Monday, Meier and 45 other soldiers
from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division received the
Purple Heart - the military medal for injuries received in combat -
at a ceremony before about 150 onlookers at Fort Carson's Special
One soldier lost an eye, another two
fingers. Most were injured by suicide bombs, small-arms fire and
"It's an impressive
award to receive, but the price you pay for it is pretty costly,"
said Meier, 19, of Newburgh, N.Y.
"I have holes all
over my legs. I looked like Swiss cheese. ... I felt pain all over.
My chest hurt too because the blast hit my vest," Meier said.
He learned to walk again at Evans Army
Community Hospital at Fort Carson but still wears a brace on his
"I think he looks beautiful," said his
sister, Alyssa Meier, 17.
The 2nd Brigade
Combat Team officially relocates to Fort Carson in the fall. More
than 3,700 soldiers are expected when they complete their tours in
Iraq. So far, 44 soldiers from the brigade have died in Operation
Sgt. Francis Garren, 31, of New Haven,
Mo., hobbled to Monday's ceremony on crutches. On Nov. 28, also
near Khaldyia, he drove over an improvised bomb.
"A quarter of the
vehicle was destroyed. A lot of smoke, a lot of dust, confusion
momentarily," Garren said.
through his foot and ankle, and during the pain, Garren said, he
thought only of his wife and three children.
"Just glad I
survived," Garren said.
He spent three weeks in the hospital
and still has nerve damage in his foot and hearing loss. He needs
reconstructive knee surgery. In between his medical appointments,
his wife said she plans to buy a shadowbox so she can prominently
display her husband's Purple Heart.
US Officer: “Why I
Disagree With Bush’s War For Oil” ---
“The British Did
Not Really Like George Washington’s Upstart Colonial Militiamen
But one really
needs look only as far as Moqtada al Sadr’s uniformed “Mahdi Army”
militia to see that the Shiites are just as capable of
organisation. We may not particularly like how they are
organised, but I’m sure the British did not really like George
Washington’s upstart colonial militiamen either. Suffice to say,
the nascent United States did fine once left to its own devices,
and so too would the Iraqi people.
Green Left Weekly #618, March 9, 2005
Brayden joined the
US army not thinking he’d ever be sent to war.
He certainly hadn’t entertained the
idea that he would turn against a war.
He served as a
commissioned officer, rising to the rank of captain, from June 2000
to November 2004. Originally part of an Air Defence Artillery
combat unit based in Germany, Brayden was sent to Iraq in May 2003
and spent 14 months there.
His company of 125 soldiers, one of six that made up the 1st Armored
Division’s Main Support Battalion, led re-supply convoy missions all
over the city from its base at the Baghdad International Airport.
Brayden was in
charge of planning and supervising the supply needs, which included
water, food, packaged petroleum products, uniforms, weapons and
medical equipment to more than 30,000 soldiers.
But soon after
arriving in Iraq, Brayden began to have his doubts about the reasons
for being there. Below, he talks to Green Left Weekly’s Pip Hinman
about his time in Iraq.
What was your
impression of how ordinary Iraqis viewed the US military?
The only Iraqis I was able to talk to
were those who worked for the US-led coalition, who are admittedly
not a representative sample. However, after the fall of Saddam’s
government I witnessed hundreds, if not thousands, of locals lined
up for work with the US army and coalition forces. These men and
women came looking for work as interpreters and manual laborers for
tasks such as cooking, waste disposal and laundry services. My own
battalion employed a few dozen Iraqis to work sorting parts and
goods in our warehouses, and we contracted through a local sheik for
a “platoon” of 25 Iraqi truck drivers to drive 40-foot trailers to
augment our transportation capabilities.
All of the Iraqis I met rejoiced in
the fall of Saddam and his regime; they each had a personal story
about how Saddam’s government had murdered, tortured or abused
someone close to them.
Was there a
specific episode which made you doubt your participation in this
The specific moment
came in April 2004, with the start of the Shiite uprising led by
Moqtada al Sadr. Lieutenant Paul Bremer, the
American viceroy and director of the Coalition Provisional Authority
in Iraq, ordered the closure of al Sadr’s printing press. This
provided a rallying point and battle cry for al Sadr’s forces, and
began the Shiite uprising that the US forces had been fearing since
we arrived in Iraq.
Moqtada al Sadr had been calling for
Iraqis to expel the infidels since the fall of Saddam; his newspaper
had published polemics calling for death to US and coalition forces
until we had left his country. It was because of these repeated
messages that Bremer ordered a one-month shut-down of al Sadr’s
The irony of a US
administration, which ostensibly came to Iraq to spread free speech
and democracy, shutting down a printing press because we did not
like what it was saying caused me a great deal of reflection.
Suddenly, we were facing an entirely
new war; al Sadr’s “Mahdi Army” seemed to materialize out of thin
air, wearing black uniforms with yellow armbands.
Rather than battling the underground
remnants of Saddam’s regime and some foreign insurgents that had
crossed over the border, we were now facing a group that represented
the overwhelming majority of Iraqis.
My division, the 1st Armored Division,
had in that first week of April already completed the Transfer of
Authority to our replacements from the 1st Cavalry Division. My own
unit was scheduled to leave Baghdad on April 15. Some of our
division’s battalions had already made their way to the port in
Kuwait to return to Germany. Those units were told to come back,
and our Main Support Battalion was told to stay put.
The 1st Armored
Division received orders extending us in Baghdad for an additional
three months, breaking a promise that we would only be deployed
for 365 days.
then went into full attack mode; the intelligence briefings we
received every morning started referring to the Mahdi Army, along
with the rest of the insurgents struggling against us, as
bit of Pentagon propaganda made me laugh, since these forces were,
clearly, homegrown Iraqis.
I asked how could
they be “anti-Iraqi” if they were, in fact, Iraqis themselves? Of
course, what the Coalition meant is that these forces were arrayed
against us, and since we know what is best for Iraqis everyone
against us is, therefore, anti-Iraqi.
We also received
new “rules of engagement”, which stated that we could fire on an
entire crowd of civilians if we could identify them harboring a
member of al Sadr’s Mahdi Army.
These rules were later amended, but
the damage to our cause was done.
We came to Iraq to
take out Saddam and, we were told, to free the Iraqi people from
tyranny. Now, we were fighting the same people that we had come to
help, and my feelings only intensified as I soon saw US troops
fighting in the holy Shiite city of Najaf.
But my opposition to the war had been
building as early as May 2003 when we hit the ground.
What were the
triggers to this?
From a purely
military standpoint, the piss-poor planning. For instance, the
entire 1st Armored Division was deployed to Iraq with green
woodland-camouflaged vehicles, rather than the desert-camouflaged
tanks and HMMWVs used by other units.
My own battalion
did not receive the complete bullet-proof body amour set used by
the Infantry until late August 2003. None of our wheeled vehicles
had any sort of “up-armor” protection plates either, and would not
until we were well past half-way into our deployment. I wondered
why, if we were going to start a war with a country, we did not
wait until our own forces were better prepared for the
convoys all over the Baghdad city grid, I was initially shocked at
the dearth of US and coalition troops guarding the roads. I
expected that under an occupation, I would see a tank on every
corner, and an US patrol walking every city block. Instead I was
greeted by mostly empty highways, meaning that our 16-truck-long
supply convoys were mostly unsecured from the moment we left our
base to our arrival at another base 30 to 45 minutes later.
This lack of troops directly
contributed to the strength of the insurgency that continues to this
day. The Bush administration cavalierly disregarded the advice of
some like former Army chief of staff Eric Shinseki, who testified
before Congress in 2002 that an Iraq occupation would require
several hundred thousand troops, and yet we invaded with a force of
just 120,000 soldiers.
Another sad decision came in May 2003
when US viceroy Paul Bremer famously dissolved the Iraqi Army.
Under the plan of Bremer’s predecessor, a retired American
Lieutenant General named Jay Garner, the Coalition of the Willing
would employ the 400,000-strong Iraqi Army in helping secure the
Indeed, many US generals in Iraq —
most famously the commander of the 101st Airborne Division Major
General David Petraeus — had begun to work closely with their Iraqi
counterparts. The coalition had also continued to pay the salaries
of the Iraqi officers and troops, until Bremer’s decision to
dissolve the army and start from scratch. This decision sent
hundreds of thousands of angry Iraqi men with guns home and forced
them to find other means of providing for their families.
The Iraqi people I met want the same
thing for their children and themselves as we do: safe streets, good
schools, clean drinking water, and a healthy economy. I learnt from
my time in Iraq that while the locals initially rejoiced in Saddam’s
fall, eventually they came to blame us for bringing the foreign
terrorists into Iraq.
Did you talk about
your growing concerns with your friends?
By and large the attitude was that we
all have a job to do, and we should just focus on doing it.
Moreover, we are trained not to bring political opinions into
However, one of my
close officer friends was completely against the war, and felt that
it was purely driven by economics and a desire to control Iraq’s
Another officer friend, hailing from
“red-state America”, completely supported the US president and the
Iraq war. He was a typical “true-believer”. In May 2004, when sarin
gas was found in the unexploded shell of one of the road-side bombs,
this friend said it was evidence of Iraq’s weapons of mass
destruction, and justification for our presence in the country.
Do you think
there’s a growing sentiment inside the army in Iraq that it should
Yes, though not for
the reasons you might expect. There is a strong sentiment among the
rank and file that the Iraqi people are just not worth the blood of
US boys and girls, that the Iraqis are lazy and corrupt. This is
not my opinion. I don’t think we should be there.
What is your
assessment of the recent Iraqi elections?
(belief) that the Iraqis cannot govern themselves without US and
coalition forces is a fallacy. The Kurds in the
north, of course, have enjoyed a de facto independence and have had
self-government for over a decade. That Kurdish independence was
hard-earned, and their pershmega would defend it to the death
against any designs from Sunni or Shiite.
But one really
needs look only as far as Moqtada al Sadr’s uniformed “Mahdi Army”
militia to see that the Shiites are just as capable of
organisation. We may not particularly like how they are
organised, but I’m sure the British did not really like George
Washington’s upstart colonial militiamen either. Suffice to say,
the nascent United States did fine once left to its own devices,
and so too would the Iraqi people.
What the Coalition wants, however, is
a democracy that looks like our own, and they are terrified that the
majority Shiites will set-up an Iran-style theocracy in Iraq. This
fear is unfounded; the conditions in Iraq are very different to
those which produced the Iranian revolution of 1979.
And in the final analysis, if that is the government the Iraqis
desire, it is not our place to tell them no.
What do you think
should happen to those responsible for the torture at Abu Ghraib and
What offends me
about the Abu Ghraib torture is that the US army and Bush
administration have made scapegoats of the lower enlisted soldiers,
all of whom have testified that they were following orders. No
officer or person of any consequence has been held accountable for
what went on in that dark prison.
Since the Nuremberg trials, the world
has rejected the “just following orders” defence, and rightfully
so. Yet in the military, the lower enlisted are ingrained not to
ever question authority until they have a position from which to do
so. It is the officers and
non-commissioned officers who are responsible for what happens under
To my knowledge, the army has tried
and convicted only two non-commissioned officers, a sergeant and
staff sergeant, for their roles in the prison scandal. The other
five that the army is holding accountable are all of the rank of
specialist or below; four pled guilty, and two are awaiting trial.
Beyond that, the army has relieved
some officers and senior non-commissioned officers from their
commands, most famously the female Brigadier General that was in
charge of the 800th Military Police Brigade that ran Abu Ghraib.
But none have been tried in a court of law and held accountable, and
as far as I know the army has no plans to do so.
As a former
officer, I find this disgraceful. The officers at the top only have
the job of supervision — you have to “inspect what you expect”, as
one of my old first sergeants used to say. If officers are doing
their jobs, talking to the troops, walking the grounds, seeing
things with their own eyes, keeping their ears open, there is no way
the tortures that occurred at Abu Ghraib could have happened without
their knowledge, and they are guilty, at the very least, of
The US Army is not like the British
Army, with its separate messes for officers and enlisted. Ours is a
much more egalitarian system, where the officer is expected to
associate with his soldiers.
The abuses at Abu
Ghraib were so horrendous I find it beyond belief that soldiers
would not talk about it over dinner at the mess hall or while
working on their vehicles. “Hey man, I shoved a nightstick up a
haji’s ass while forcing him to masturbate in front of a barking
dog!” Any officer worth his salt should have heard those things,
and gone to check them out. If these officers were truly unaware of
what went on, then they are incompetent and should be tried for
dereliction of duty.
What do you make
of the so-called “war on terror”?
The current “war on
terror” has started its descent into a war on civil liberties and
thrown good sense out the window. The US seems to have forgotten
the lessons of the 1960s when the administration and FBI shamefully
obtained wiretaps on Martin Luther King, Jr. by labeling him a
communist and an enemy of the state.
We should never forget that what
separates Western democracies from other forms of government. In
our system, the individual does not exist to serve the state; rather
the state exists to serve its citizens, and derives its power from
the consent of the governed. But when the current US administration
argues that it can lock people up and hold them without trial just
because it says so, then we have fallen a long way from the ideals
of our founders.
Halliburton And The
businessman, but something tells me somebody is getting rich off
of the US occupation of Iraq, and it’s not the Iraqi people.
Green Left Weekly,
March 9, 2005.
In an email home on September 29, Brayden described how the US
multinational Halliburton took over the lucrative laundry facilities
at the Baghdad airport.
Stationed here at BIAP (Baghdad
International Airport) for the past year, we saw the local Iraqis
open up a laundry facility on post last summer. It was quite a
relief to know that we wouldn’t have to wash our own clothes by hand
(nothing worse than endeavoring to get Iraqi sand out of your
The BIAP Laundry Service, at the
southern end of the airport, a half-way point between BIAP-West and
BIAP-East, opened up at the southern end of the airport, and quickly
grew in size.
Pretty soon it was handling the
drudgery of washing soldiers’ dirty T-shirts, underwear and
uniforms, for everyone stationed here — more than 30,000 soldiers
Of course, they had some hiccups
running such a large operation ... (however) overall they did a good
job with a one-day turnaround on most bags. It was entirely Iraqi
run — managed by an English-speaking Iraqi woman of about 45 — which
many soldiers liked, also because they could drive over to check out
the young Iraqi girls who also worked there.
A couple of months
ago, Kellog, Brown & Root (KBR), the Halliburton subsidiary that has
so many lucrative military contracts with the US government decided
that it, too, wanted to get in on the laundry business.
They opened up two
laundry facilities; one on BIAP-West, right down the street from my
battalion’s encampment, and one on BIAP-East, a couple of blocks
down from the Iraqi-run operation.
It didn’t matter to me, because I kept
taking my laundry to the Iraqi-run BIAP laundry. I liked the people;
they were there first, and I thought it made good sense to support a
I found out
yesterday, however, that KBR had out-bid the BIAP Laundry Service
and my little Iraqi-run operation is closing down. Now, we’ll have
no choice but to use the KBR laundry facilities.
This makes me a
little disheartened, because KBR chooses not to employ local Iraqis
in any of its operations.
Not only did a good
local Iraqi business get shut out by a big American competitor, good
local Iraqi people that want and need work are being shut out every
day by an American corporation that is importing cheap laborers
instead of using the locals.
I’m no businessman,
but something tells me somebody is getting rich off of the US
occupation of Iraq, and it’s not the Iraqi people.
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.
How Bad Is It?
Louisiana Unit Asks For Volunteers
[Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Little
Rock, March 7, 2005]
from Arkansas' Bowie Brigade have volunteered to stay in Iraq and
bolster the ranks of the Louisiana National Guard's 256th Infantry
Brigade, which has taken heavy losses in its first six months in
To Rush-Order Protection Against Roadside Bombs:
More Dead And Maimed Troops)
[CQ Today, March 7, 2005]
Congress and the Army are arguing over
the lack of electronic jammers troops need for protection from
roadside bombs in Iraq.
dumbfounded that the jammers haven't been put on rush order and sent
to Iraq. Army officials say it's hard to say how many systems---and
what kind---are needed in the field, because the threat constantly
changes. [Send those fucks to Q and let then see if they can figure
it out, up close and personal.]
Burlington Votes To
Bring The Troops Home Now!
Fought To Make It Happen
To: GI Special
By James Marc
Leas, Colleen McLaughlin, and Ashley Smith. James Marc Leas is a
member of the Burlington Anti-War Coalition and was the 2004 Green
Party Candidate for Vermont Attorney General; Colleen McLaughlin is
a member of the Vermont Chapter of Military Families Speak Out; and
Ashley Smith is a founding member of the Burlington Anti-War
Coalition. They can be reached at
“A town meeting revolt over the Iraq
war” is what The Christian Science Monitor called Vermont’s historic
votes for anti-war resolutions in 49 of 57 cities and towns. The
resolutions passed not only in traditional liberal strong holds, but
also in rural areas usually dismissed as conservative. The votes
demonstrated overwhelming anti-war sentiment.
In the state’s
largest city, the Burlington Anti-War Coalition (BAWC) proposed a
resolution (full text below) that called for bringing the troops
It passed with
65.2% of the vote. It won in all the city’s wards, including the
two most conservative. In the towns of Marshfield and Hinesburg
(one of the more conservative towns in Vermont) voters also
considered and passed “Out Now” resolutions by overwhelming
However, only a
handful of the anti-war resolutions put forth in Vermont towns
included the word “now.”
Ben Scotch, former executive director
of the Vermont ACLU, sparked the statewide campaign and drafted the
resolution used outside Burlington, Marshfield and Hinesburg. That
resolution calls for the Vermont Governor to have more control over
the state’s National Guard, demands an investigation into the impact
on the state of the guard’s large deployment, and advocates the
return of the troops in accordance with international humanitarian
were universally recognized as victories for the anti-war movement.
Nevertheless, the two resolutions flow from different perspectives
within the state’s anti-war leadership on public opinion about the
war, what demands we should put forward, and what actions we should
On one side several
leaders thought that calling for an immediate end to the occupation
was too radical.
They feared the
resolution would be defeated in Burlington and elsewhere if it
included the word “now.” [And from the evidence in Burlington, they
clearly didn’t know what the fuck they were babbling about.]
This position was
widely shared among anti-war activists who concluded that in the
wake of Bush’s victory in the presidential election, public
sentiment had shifted to the right and our task was to reach out to
those who disagree with us with more palatable language.
[They’re talking about their own
“sentiment,” not the publics’ sentiment.]
They argued for
presenting demands that would be acceptable to the Democratic Party
which, in their view, was the only viable vehicle for opposing
disagreed. In discussions leading up to its internal vote, members
argued that an “Out Now” referendum question would attract more
popular support, especially among military families who had much to
lose from any delay. [Got that right. Politicians opposed to out
now are for more dead
troops and more dead Iraqis. That’s not rocket science either.]
As the March 3rd poll in the New York
(http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/03/politics/03poll.html), the US is
sharply polarized, with half of the population opposed to Bush on
everything he stands for, including the occupation of Iraq.
Instead of rallying this fifty percent
to oppose Bush, the Democrats offer only the mildest criticism,
ratify his nominees, support his saber rattling against Syria and
Iran, and refuse to call for an immediate end to the occupation of
The votes in
Burlington, Marshfield and Hinesburg show we do not have to moderate
our demands and adapt to the pro-occupation Democrats.
They demonstrated that “Out Now”
is a demand that can galvanize our side, win majority support, and
form the basis of a popular movement to end the occupation and
oppose Bush’s future wars. [YES!]
Winning this vote
was surprisingly easy. First, activists
participated in a democratic debate inside BAWC, which voted to try
to get the “Out Now” referendum question on the ballot for a vote.
We then pursued a dual-track strategy of petitioning in the streets
and in the City Council.
During the coldest and snowiest days
of January, we collected over 1,000 signatures on petitions, and
found an overwhelmingly positive response from Burlington voters.
While petitioning, we distributed a flier that made the case for
At the same time, we found allies on
the City Council, one of whom, Jane Knodell, agreed to sponsor a
motion in the Council to put the resolution on the ballot.
At two meetings Democratic and
Progressive councilors tried to amend the resolution, objecting
specifically to “Out Now” language. They argued that the resolution
should read, “Bring the troops home as soon as possible.” [Why not
“Bring The Troops Home Eventually”? Or “Bring The Troops Home One
Of These Days”? Or “Bring The Troops Home After Another Thousand
Are Dead”? What utterly lame bullshit.]
But BAWC and
Military Families Speak Out (MFSO) members spoke eloquently during
hearings, arguing that since the war was based on lies, not one
more American or Iraqi life should be sacrificed to maintain the
The City Council then voted twelve to
one to preserve our “Out Now” wording and to place it on the ballot.
As part of the campaign, we helped
publicize four public forums that made the case for immediate
withdrawal. These included: Colleen McLaughlin and Fernando Suarez
del Solar from MFSO; Jerry Colby, President of the National Writers
Union and steering committee member of United States Labor Against
the War; Anthony Arnove, co-editor with Howard Zinn of Voices of a
People’s History; Stephanie Seguino, Chair of the University of
Vermont Economics Department; and Elaine Hagopian, Middle East
expert and editor of Civil Rights in Peril.
One of the forums was organized by
Burlington Mayor Peter Clavelle and City Councilor Jane Knodell.
They invited representatives from the Vermont Congressional
Delegation and speakers on both side of the question to speak at
Burlington City Hall. The pro-war speakers declined the invitation,
but the Vermont Congressional delegation all sent representatives.
We were delighted to hear from Congressman Bernie Sander’s
representative that Sanders would vote in favor of the resolution.
But he and the representatives for Pat Leahy and Jim Jeffords all
made clear that they would not argue for that position in Congress.
politically educated the core of anti-war activists on the case for
immediate withdrawal and how little help we could expect from the
politicians. We tabled, leafleted, stuffed
mailers, and put up posters to help win the vote.
The issue now for
Vermont activists is how to transform the “Out Now” sentiment into a
revitalized mass movement. Referenda, public
forums, petitions, and demonstrations have all been vital means to
build campaigns among military families, soldiers, and the general
population, and to create a renewed mass movement. Such mass
movements scored the major victories of the 1960s, forcing
politicians to abolish Jim Crow segregation and end the Vietnam War.
Further campaigns are planned in
Burlington. Local campus activists in Students Against War at the
University of Vermont are organizing counter-recruitment to stop the
military preying on working class students for their war machine.
MFSO is organizing a statewide
speaking tour of anti-war military families to demand immediate
withdrawal. MFSO has also launched a campaign to secure
government services for returning soldiers. BAWC is planning a
citywide anti-occupation demonstration on March 20th.
Burlington activists hope that our
successful referenda will set an example.
Particularly needed is a national
demonstration that can mobilize hundreds of thousands of people
demanding an immediate end to the occupation.
showed that “Out Now” is the right demand and commands enormous
popular support. Now we need to make that sentiment visible on a
national and global level.
"Shall the voters of the City of
Burlington advise the President and Congress that Burlington and its
citizens strongly support the men and women serving in the United
States Armed Forces in Iraq and believe that the best way to support
them is to bring them home now?"
Vermonters Say War
March 3, 2005 by John Nichols, The
Nation & 02 March 2005 By Elizabeth Mehren, The Los Angeles Times
Ned Coffin, an
83-year-old retired poultry farmer in the town of Bethel agreed. "I
can't think of another forum in which people can express their views
on any subject, even ones of national importance," explained Coffin.
"The war was a mistake and this is a way for that message to be
In November, San
Francisco voters endorsed Proposition N, an antiwar statement that
ended with the declaration, "The Federal government should take
immediate steps to end the US occupation of Iraq and bring our
troops safely home now."
"It has touched us very deeply," said
state Sen. Mark MacDonald, a Democrat who spoke at the town meeting
in the central village of Strafford.
"When I campaigned last fall," he
said, "there was not a day that I stopped at a house where a son or
a daughter, or a brother or a sister, or a husband or a wife was not
8 March 2005 (AFP) & Khaleej Times &
BAGHDAD - A senior Iraqi official was
killed in Baghdad on Tuesday.
guerrillas killed the deputy chief of the Interior Ministry's
immigration office, Gen. Ghazi Mohammed Issa, in a drive-by shooting
in the western suburb of Ghazaliya, a top ministry
official said on condition of anonymity.
US-led assaults and the arrest of hundreds of suspects over the past
six months, including a massive onslaught on rebels in Fallujah last
year, the insurgency shows no signs of dying out.
Occupation Soldiers Blown Up By Exploding Coffin
March 8 (KUNA) & AP & AFP
Five soldiers were killed overnight in
Iskandariya when a coffin attached to a car's rooftop exploded near
their checkpoint, the Iraqi army said.
Other five Iraqi
soldiers were killed today when a car-bomb blew up near a checkpoint
on the road to Karbala city, according to Defense ministry sources.
Ministry official said guerrillas also attacked a convoy of trucks
carrying food for the Trade Ministry in Salman Pak,
southeast of the capital.
Three civilians were killed in the
assault and at least one of the trucks was set on fire.
IF YOU DON’T LIKE
March 8, SPA
Five employees of
the U.S. construction company Bechtel were captured Tuesday on the
highway near Tuz, 230 kilometers north of Baghdad, police said.
Police said gunmen intercepted a
vehicle belonging to Bechtel and abducted all five occupants. The
nationalities of the passengers were not immediately known.
Pipeline Blown Up
South Of Baghdad
3/8/2005 AFP and Turkish Press
HILLA, Iraq -
An oil pipeline feeding Al-Dura refinery south of Baghdad was blown
up Tuesday near Jorf al-Sakhr, 60 kilometres south of the
capital, an Iraqi oil official said.
"Unknown assailants placed explosives
on the 'strategic' pipeline," said Muayyed al-Shemmari, a local oil
The blast occurred at 1 pm (1000 GMT)
and firemen were called to the scene, Shemmari said.
A Bit Of GI
March 08, 2005 By Max Watts
ONE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN "PHILOSOPHERS"
ONCE UPON A TIME.. LET US BE PRECISE:
JANUARY 1968: A GROUP OF AMERICAN GI'S IN EUROPE STARTED PUTTING OUT
A GI PAPER: Rita's ACT aka as "GI'S ACT"
(rita = Resist(ers) Inside The Army)
They v badly needed a POSTAL ADDRESS
to which the people, mostly American GI'S, reading their paper
(Circulation: from 10,000 to 25,000) could reply, write to, send
Any such published address could
expect visits from various polices, baddies. Have Problems.
No mouse wanted to
bell that cat, but then a Friend of RITA, (A frita, of course, or
ffrita, for french frita?) one Simon Regnier, since deceased, but
remembered fondly said: I shall ask my friend, Sartre, if.. he is
willing to stick his neck out?
So Simon asked and
Sartre immediately said: Sure
And took out a Postal Box for GI's ACT
Jean Paul Sartre
That PO BOX (BP in Paris) did
yeo/wo/man service ! for many a RITA GI, writing from VIETNAM,
USRAEUR AND CONUS, even OZ.
there were problems, like that sgt. wandering around Paris asking
puzzled Frenchies "who and where is that Sartre.? I can't find him
at the BP!")
MAX A FRITA
So Much For
March 7, 2005 By Haifa Zangana
(Haifa Zangana is an Iraqi-born
novelist and former prisoner of the Saddam regime)
Almost two years on from the beginning
of the occupation, eyes no longer shine in many Iraqi cities.
Thousands of civilians have been killed.
One of them was Hazim Ahmed al-Obaidi.
On January 16, Hazim, 57, left his house to go to work. He had a
cash-and-carry shop, for fruit, vegetables and dates, in Mosul.
Before leaving, his
wife reminded him to get some paraffin, if possible. He laughed
loudly, hugging his four-year-old daughter, Manar, who wanted to go
with him. He waved goodbye to his mother and his children: Dalal,
17, Shahad, 12, Maha, 9, and Zayed, 11.
Hazim never came
He was shot,
according to eyewitnesses, by a US patrol.
His car was burned and, because of the
curfew, his family had to wait until the next morning to start
looking for him. Two days later, his charred and barely recognisable
body was found. To the
bewilderment of his family, US troops stopped them after they had
collected the body, uncovered it and took photos.
Hazim was not a "terrorist” or a
He was a cheerful
family man who was wounded in the Iran-Iraq war, and survived the
harshness of the sanctions years by selling fruit and vegetables.
Who is going to
investigate his killing, compensate his family, and help his
children to make sense of their tragedy? Will it be the Iraqi
interim government, or the US-led occupation?
Judging by the
human rights records of both, the answer is that neither of them
will investigate Hazim's killing, or any other. Human rights under
occupation have proved to be a mirage similar to WMD.
In his message broadcast to Iraqis
last April, Tony Blair said: "Our aim is to help alleviate immediate
humanitarian suffering, and to move as soon as possible to an
interim authority run by Iraqis ... which represents human rights
and the rule of law and spends Iraq's wealth not on palaces and WMD,
but on you and the services you need."
So much for
Charred bodies, the
massacre of children in a wedding party, the killing of detainees,
shootings at demonstrations, kidnappings of civilians - these are
the features of that "better future".
Taking snaps of Hazim's charred body
has shaken his family's belief in the humanity of the Americans, as
well as the British and the Iraqis working with them.
Following the US
and British governments' line on human rights, members of the
interim Iraqi government have sought to play down the violations
committed by occupation troops - either by recalling that similar
abuses were committed under Saddam's regime or by labelling the
victims as terrorists.
Under Iyad Allawi's
regime, the newly trained Iraqi police are torturing detainees. Last
week, leaders of the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq
accused the police of torturing and killing three of their members
because of their political and religious affiliations, and demanded
an immediate investigation.
Facing these daily
atrocities, what do we expect an oppressed Iraqi to do?
BRING ALL THE
TROOPS HOME NOW!
“An Assortment Of
Snakes, Weasels And Hyenas.”
March 08, 2005 Baghdad Burning,
You want a rabbit?
We are relieved the Italian journalist
was set free. I, personally, was very happy. Iraqis are getting
abducted these days by the dozen, but it still says something else
about the country when foreigners are abducted.
Iraqis have a fierce sense of
hospitality that can border on the obnoxious sometimes. When people
come to our houses, we insist they have something to drink and then
we insist they stay for whatever meal is coming- even if its four
hours away. We cringe when journalists and aide workers are
abducted because it gives us the sense that we’re bad hosts.
People are always wondering why they
abduct journalists, and other innocents. I think its because the
lines are all blurred right now. It’s difficult to tell who is
who. Who is a journalist, for example, and who is foreign
intelligence? Who is a mercenary and who is an aide worker? People
are somewhat more reluctant to talk to foreigners than they were at
The irony of the
situation lay in the fact that Sgrena was probably safer with her
abductors than she was with American troops.
It didn’t come as a surprise to hear
her car was fired at.
Was it done on purpose? It’s hard to
I can’t think why
they would want to execute Giuliana Sgrena and her entourage, but
then on the other hand, I can’t think how it could have possibly
happened that they managed to fire that many rounds at a car
carrying Italian intelligence officers and a journalist (usually
they save those rounds for Iraqi families in cars).
I have a feeling
it will be the usual excuse, “The soldiers who almost killed the
journalist were really, really frightened. They’ve been under
lots of pressure.” But see, Iraqis are frightened and under
pressure too- we don’t go around accidentally killing people.
We’re expected to be very level-headed and sane in the face of
I wager that this
little incident will be shoved aside with one of those silly
Pentagon apologies that don’t really sound like apologies, you know:
“It was an unfortunate incident, but Sgrena shouldn’t have been in
Iraq in the first place. Journalists should stay safely in their
own countries and listen for our daily military statements telling
them democracy is flourishing and Iraqis are happy.”
I don’t understand
why Americans are so shocked with this incident.
Where is the
shock? That Sgrena’s car was under fire? That Americans killed
an Italian security agent? After everything that occurred in
Iraq- Abu Ghraib, beatings, torture, people detained for months
and months, the stealing, the rape… is this latest so very
shocking? Or is it shocking because the victims weren’t Iraqi?
I’m really glad she’s home safe but at
the same time, the whole situation is somewhat painful.
It hurts because thousands of Iraqis
have died at American checkpoints or face to face with a tank or
Apache and beyond the occasional subtitle on some obscure news
channel, no one knows about it and no one cares. It just hurts a
The event of the
week occurred last Wednesday and I was surprised it wasn’t covered
by Western press.
It’s not that big a
deal, but it enraged people in Baghdad and it can also give a better
picture of what has been going on with our “heroic” National Guard.
There was an explosion on Wednesday in
Baghdad and the wounded were all taken to Yarmuk Hospital, one of
the larger hospitals in Baghdad.
The number of wounded were around 30 -
most of them National Guard. In the hospital, it was chaos-
patients wounded in this latest explosion, patients from other
explosions and various patients from gunshot wounds, etc. The
doctors were running around everywhere, trying to be in four
different places at once.
Apparently, there weren’t enough
beds. Many of the wounded were in the hallways and outside of the
rooms. The stories vary. One doctor told me that some of the
National Guard began screaming at the doctors, telling them to
ignore the civilians and tend to the wounds of the Guard.
A nurse said that
the National Guard who weren’t wounded began pulling civilians out
of the beds and replacing them with wounded National Guard.
The gist of it is generally the same; the doctors
refused the idea of not treating civilians and preferring the
National Guard over them and suddenly a fight broke out.
The doctors threatened a strike if
the National Guard began pulling the civilians out of beds.
The National Guard
decided the solution to the crisis would be the following- they’d
gather up some of the doctors and nurses and beat them in front of
the patients. So several doctors were rounded up and attacked by
several National Guard (someone said there was liberal use of
electric batons and the butts of some Klashnikovs).
The doctors decided
to go on strike.
It’s difficult to
consider National Guardsmen as heroes with the image of them beating
doctors in white gowns in ones head. It’s difficult to see them as
anything other than expendable Iraqis with their main mission being
securing areas and cities for Americans.
It seems that Da’awa Party’s Jaffari
is going to be the Prime Minister and Talbani is going to get the
decorative position of president. It has been looking like this
since the elections. There is talk of giving our token Sunni Ghazi
Al Yawir some high-profile position like National Assembly
spokesperson. The gesture is meant to appease the Sunni masses but
it isn’t going to do that because it’s not about Sunnis and Shia.
occupation and Vichy governments. They all look the same to us.
What it seems
policy makers in America don’t get, and what I suspect many
Americans themselves “do” get, is that millions of Iraqis feel
completely detached from the current people in power.
If you don’t have an alliance with one
of the political parties (ie under their protection or on their
payroll) then it’s difficult to feel any affinity with people like
Jaffari, Allawi, Talbani, etc. We watch them on television,
tight-lipped and shifty-eyed after a meeting where they quarreled
about Kirkuk or Sharia in the constitution and it feels like what I
imagine an out-of-body experience should feel like.
In spite of
elections, they still feel like puppets.
But now, they are
high-tech puppets. They were upgraded from your ordinary string
puppets to those life-like, battery-powered, talking puppets.
it’s almost like we’re doing that
whole rotating president thing Bremer did in 2003 all over again.
The same faces are getting tedious.
The old Iraqi saying sums it up
nicely, “Tireed erneb- ukhuth erneb. Tireed ghazal- ukhuth erneb.”
The translation for this is,
“You want a rabbit? Take a rabbit. You want a deer? Take a rabbit.”
Except we didn’t
get any rabbits- we just got an assortment of snakes, weasels and
Commandos Raid Hospital
8 March 2005 (AFP) & Khaleej Times
In Ramadi, the
provincial capital of Anbar province, new Iraqi commandos conducted
a raid on a hospital Tuesday.
Lebanese Tell Bush To Get Fucked
[Thanks to PB who
sent this in. He writes: Where are Bush’s praises of the
Mar 08, 2005 By TANALEE SMITH,
Associated Press Writer
BEIRUT, Lebanon -
Nearly 500,000 pro-Syrian protesters waved flags and chanted
anti-American slogans in a central Beirut square Tuesday, answering
a nationwide call by the militant Shiite Muslim Hezbollah group for
a demonstration to counter weeks of massive rallies demanding Syrian
forces leave Lebanon. [For how “massive, see the number below.]
Demonstrators held up pictures of
Syrian President Bashar Assad and signs saying, "Syria & Lebanon
Lebanese protesters take part in a
demonstration organized by pro-Damascus movements led by Lebanon's
Shiite Muslim Hezbollah group in central Beirut. (AFP/Patrick Baz)
read: "America is the source of terrorism"; "All our disasters are
from America"; "No to American-Zionist intervention; Yes to
Tuesday's rally was
far bigger than the more than 70,000 anti-Syrian protesters who
filled the nearby Martyrs' Square on Monday. That was the biggest
rally yet of anti-Syrian furor, as demonstrators waved Lebanon's
cedar-tree flag and thundered, "Syria out!"
"We have come
here to affirm Lebanon's independence, sovereignty and unity ...
and say no to the flagrant foreign interference in our affairs,"
stressed that the foreign influence they referred to was from the
United States, France and other countries, not Syria, which they
"Syria should not
leave. We are one hand and one people," said 16-year-old Esraa
Awarki, who traveled by bus from Sharkiya in southern Lebanon. "Why
do they want us to split now?"
Gee, George, You
Just Got Outvoted.
We’ll See Now
Whether You Shut The Fuck Up About Syria.
GET THE MESSAGE?
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