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The casket of Christopher W. Dill is brought into St. Edmund's Church in Tonawanda, New York April 15, 2005.  Dill, 32, a Buffalo firefighter with Engine 21 and a staff sergeant with the 98th Division of the United States Army Reserve, died in battle in Iraq April 4. REUTERS/Gary Wiepert



Criminals At Work:

How Pentagon Dereliction Slaughters U.S. Troops;

How Pentagon Liars Tried To Hide The Truth:

"It Just Seems Like It Is Too Little, Too Late For These Boys"


[Thanks to PB, who sent this in.]


When roadside bombs began killing American soldiers in Iraq, the Pentagon promised to run factories around the clock until they had enough armored vehicles.  But that didn't happen. 


Though the Army says all of its 35,000 vehicles on the roads of Iraq now have some sort of armor, 11,700 of them are protected with nothing more than crudely cut sheets of steel - inadequate by the Army's own standards, according to figures released April 8.




When roadside bombs began killing American soldiers in Iraq, the Pentagon promised to run factories around the clock until they had enough armored vehicles.


But that didn't happen.  And nearly two years and hundreds of dead and maimed soldiers later, many troops are still riding dangerous roads in Iraq without adequate armor on their vehicles.


Though the Army says all of its 35,000 vehicles on the roads of Iraq now have some sort of armor, 11,700 of them are protected with nothing more than crudely cut sheets of steel - inadequate by the Army's own standards, according to figures released April 8.


The Army intends to replace that armor, but the Pentagon says that job won't be done for five months.  And the Army said April 8 that combat commanders have now requested 4,000 more armored humvees and trucks.


"It just seems like it is too little, too late for these boys," said Lee Woodliff of Punta Gorda, Fla., whose son Michael, 22, was killed by a bomb a year ago in an unarmored humvee.


Just last week, a Kentucky National Guard soldier died when shrapnel came through the window of his truck.  A comrade says James A. Sherrill, 27, could have been saved if antiballistic glass had been installed.


Staff Sgt. Brad Rogers e-mailed home: "Our command is saying that they are working on this issue, but I don't think they are working fast enough."


Since May 1, 2003, when the United States declared an end to major combat operations, attacks on vehicles have accounted for as many as 40 percent of the 1,037 deaths of soldiers attributed to hostile action, an analysis of Pentagon information shows.


Production and delivery of more armor, faster, might have saved lives. That conclusion is shared by soldiers, Pentagon analysts, even generals.



Why didn't it happen?


Military leaders have blamed everything from steel shortages to America's industrial decline.


But the shortage had more to do with Pentagon missteps than any lack of industrial capacity, according to a Philadelphia Inquirer review of documents and interviews with officers, soldiers, analysts and industry officials.


Today, its former procurement chief says the Army could have moved faster.  "I would call it a success story, but it took too long to materialize," said retired Gen. Paul Kern, who headed Army Materiel Command until November. 


"In retrospect, if I had it to do all over, I would have just started building up-armored humvees," he said. "The most efficient way would have been to build a single production line and feed everything into it."


Instead, Kern says, the Army went "piecemeal."


In a study completed in February, the Defense Department faulted itself: "Clearly, in some cases, such as ballistic armor for tactical vehicles, the department did not recognize the problem early enough to ensure adequate supply."


Armor did arrive - eventually. An alarmed Congress earmarked a total of $4 billion, and in 18 months, a military that had long resisted the notion of armoring noncombat vehicles put at least some armor on 35,000 humvees and trucks in Iraq. The military managed this in a procurement system in which four years is seen as quick turnaround.


Even so, the Inquirer found a record of missed chances to protect soldiers, and of unlearned lessons from previous conflicts:


For more than a year, as the toll in Iraq mounted, officials said armor production was running flat out.  Owners say they could have built more - if the Army had ordered more.


ISG says it rarely got enough armor orders to run at full capacity. "Over the course of the last year we could have made a lot more," said Gary P. Sarpen, the plant manager.


The Army's own depots took a similar stop-and-start approach, making armor kits full tilt at times but then stopping as they waited weeks or months for new orders. "I don't think any of them was ever producing at their maximum capacity consistently," Kern said.


The military did not expect a fight after Baghdad fell, and, even as the sneak attacks grew in frequency and ferocity, the Army expected the insurgency to fizzle and the troops to start coming home.  That meant the Army was slower to put in orders for more armored vehicles, and industry, in turn, was slower to add capacity.


The Army still hasn't fully shielded its cargo trucks.  Its analysts had warned of risks to these targets, and designed add-on armor kits before the war - but the Army didn't start making truck armor until last year.  It won't be done until fall, officials say.


"It could mean the fact that we can save a soldier's life," Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sorenson said at a news briefing in December, "if we can get some of these vehicles sooner there to theater, whether it's a day, a week or two weeks."


The pace of providing armor has mystified and angered soldiers' families as well as many in Congress, who pushed for more than a year to get faster action.


Rep. Robert Simmons, R-Conn., says the military has called armor a "top priority" since November 2003.


"Our troops in the field continue not to have the very basic steel plate that they need on every vehicle to be safe," said Simmons, a Vietnam veteran.  "Why is that?  What went wrong?"



The answers begin more than a decade ago.


For Army commanders, the "up-armored" humvee has always been a kind of unwanted stepchild.  The humvee - HMMWV, or High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle - was first designed as a kind of bigger, tougher jeep for rear areas.  It can carry a half-dozen troops and a heavy machine gun or grenade-launcher.


The factory-armored humvee, known as the M1114, was first built by O'Gara-Hess & Eisenhardt, a small plant just north of Cincinnati.


Prototypes were built in 1992 and flown to Mogadishu, Somalia - but too late for troops who rode unarmored humvees in the "Black Hawk Down" ambush that left 18 of them dead.  "In essence, it was built because those soldiers died," said Jim Mills, a former Army program manager who worked on up-armoring the humvees.


But they got short shrift amid lean budget years and high-tech combat systems, even after Mogadishu.  "I call them lessons unlearned," Mills said.


In the 1990s, a few up-armored humvees were built for scouts and military police.


In Bosnia, Douglas Callicotte and two other MPs were riding in one in 1997 when a mine blast lifted the five-ton vehicle off the ground and shredded its motor. Everyone thought the blast was fatal - until three bruised MPs climbed out.


"I wouldn't be alive if I was riding in a regular humvee," said Callicotte, who is now a car rental manager in Phoenix. "I don't know why the Army didn't invest more in them."


Generals saw them as too slow.  To this day, they cite Serbian troops' 1999 capture of three U.S. soldiers in an armored humvee.  "The M1114 has not really been ... loved nor desired by the Army," Sorenson said in an interview.  "Because (A) the incident in Bosnia. And (B) it was not determined there was a need for it."


But one of the former captives disputes that bit of Army lore.


Christopher Stone, now a Michigan National Guard lieutenant, says the armored humvee was somewhat slow, but that's not why it was captured. Stone says it lost power after Serb soldiers raked it with gunfire.


He thinks the armor saved him: "If it had been the other type of humvee, it seems to me the rounds would have gone through."



The Army first had just 235 armored humvees in Iraq.  Planners did not expect a long, bloody occupation.


Loren Thompson, a defense analyst, recalls an upbeat briefing on Iraq reconstruction with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the joint chiefs of staff: "The one thing missing was the enemy."


As the invasion ended and the occupation began, humvees - smaller, more nimble than tanks or armored personnel carriers - got more use.


Three weeks after President Bush's May 1, 2003, "Mission Accomplished" speech on an aircraft carrier, a bomb exploded on a road near Baghdad, hitting an unarmored humvee as it escorted a convoy.  The blast wounded three troops and killed Pfc. Jeremiah Smith, 25, of Odessa, Mo., a father of two girls.


It was one of the first of many attacks using crude, remotely detonated bombs - in military parlance, improvised explosive devices, or IEDs. Sorenson says, "No one, no one, predicted in the insurgency a potential" to use this tactic so widely.


From the supply side, officials said, the problem was that the armor "requirement" - what combat commanders asked for - went up in small jumps, over months, forcing them to chase a moving target.


By the time Brownlee decided that the Army needed a total of 8,105 factory-armored humvees in Iraq, the insurgency was 15 months old.  And on April 8, the Army said it needed more, pushing the total past 10,000.


"I'm going to get my ass in trouble, (but) the real challenge is, there had always been an assumption, quite frankly, that the requirements would continue to tail off," said Gary J. Motsek, director of support operations for the Army Materiel Command in Fort Belvoir, Va.


By August 2003, commanders wanted more armored humvees.  The goal went to 1,200, then 1,400.  Because those requests were relatively modest, the Army chose to simply gather in armored humvees from bases around the world.


The IED deaths mounted.


Pfc. John D. Hart, 20, of Bedford, Mass., called his father on Oct. 11, 2003.  "He was whispering into the phone, the insurgency was moving his way," said Brian Hart.  "He thought he was going to be hit, and he was totally exposed in his vehicle."


A week later, Hart's thin-skinned humvee was hit by gunfire and grenades. He was killed, as was his lieutenant, David Bernstein, 1997 valedictorian at Phoenixville High School in Chester County, Pa.


Brian Hart couldn't believe that armored humvees couldn't be built any faster. He quit his drug-company job and started digging into the issue full time.


His advocacy helped propel Congress into action.


Though the Army told "congressmen and the troops that the plants were running 24/7," he said, "at not one time were those plants running full out."


When it came time to mass-produce armored humvees, the Army had one place to turn: the O'Gara plant in Ohio, owned by Armor Holdings of Florida.


The humvee's maker, AM General in Indiana, builds the chassis and sends it to O'Gara, where workers replace canvas and thin metal with hard steel and antiballistic glass.


The contract was "sole source."  The Army, with little interest in this work before Iraq, did not shop for other suppliers - even after O'Gara paid a $1 million fine in 2000 to settle a "whistle-blower" lawsuit over defective welds.



Brownlee Lies


"Every day, our soldiers are killed or wounded in Iraq - by IEDs, RPGs, small-arms fire. Too many of these attacks are on HMMWV's that are not up-armored," the Army's Brownlee wrote on Oct. 20, 2003.  "While we may already be expediting up-armored HMMWVs ... we are directing that all measures to provide protection to our soldiers be placed on a top priority, most highly urgent 24/7 basis."


The memo went out to humvee suppliers.  On April 8, a copy was still on the bulletin board at the ISG steel plant in Conshohocken.


But 24/7 didn't quite happen.  Until January, the ISG plant had capacity that the Army never consistently used, says Sarpen, the plant's general manager.


In November 2003, Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., grilled Brownlee about armor delays, noting that three Massachusetts troops had died in unarmored humvees: "Are they running their plant 24 hours?"


Brownlee said the O'Gara plant in Ohio was running at "maximum capacity."


But it wasn't. Army documents show that monthly armor production at O'Gara fell after that - from about 55 to 45 humvees, in December.


By early 2004, O'Gara officials were telling members of Congress that they could armor vehicles much faster - if they had a commitment to buy them.


Rep. Simmons says he toured the plant a year ago and found their antiballistic-glass operation working just one shift, "so they obviously weren't at capacity."


O'Gara spokesman Michael Fox declined to discuss details, but said, "There's no doubt if you knew on day one you would need 8,000 (armored humvees), you would have done things differently."


Fox says the plant "would have ordered all the steel it needed at one time.  It would have hired all employees it needed at once."


The Army's Brownlee visited the O'Gara plant in February 2004, and struck a deal:  If the plant ramped up to 450 armored humvees a month, he would find money to buy them.


But there was still reluctance to have O'Gara go flat out.


Former Army Comptroller Dov Zakheim says the worry was that O'Gara, in stepping up production, would get sloppy: "People would have said, `Look at the Department of Defense, wasting all this money.'"


When O'Gara couldn't armor humvees fast enough, the Army decided to try to quickly get a kit - steel doors and antiballistic glass - made at its own depots, a nationwide system of factories left over from World War II.


The Army has three levels of armor. Level 1 is a brand-new, factory-made humvee.  The factory-made kits are known as Level 2, with thick steel doors and antiballistic windows, shipped to the combat zone and added to trucks or humvees.  Some of these have floor armor, some not - an important difference because nearly three dozen troops in vehicles have been killed by blasts from below, records show.


Level 3 is a temporary fix and offers the slimmest protection: steel cut from sheets and hung or bolted on.


At the Army's own depots, Motsek says, managers bent procurement rules to make kits faster.


"Normally, in acquisitions programs, you do it in six and eight years, that is considered a success story," he says. "This was done in a matter of months." He calls criticism of the pace of production "a cheap shot."


But even at the depots, the effort was bedeviled by funding gaps and cautious, incremental orders.  One issue: While Congress was throwing money at the armor problem, the Army didn't always spend it quickly.  The Army says it had to get budget approvals - creating, at times, weeks of delay.


It wasn't until December 2003 that the Army came up with money for a large order of humvee armor kits.


When the orders arrived, crews sweated to crank them out.  At Letterkenny Army Depot in Chambersburg, Pa., an armor crew worked around the clock from Jan. 4, 2004, to April 27 with one day off - Easter, said Col. Bill Guinn, Letterkenny commander.


But in spring of 2004, Letterkenny and the other depots significantly slowed their armoring kits lines.  Why?  Orders tailed off.  The depots had built what the Army had requested, about 8,900 kits.  An additional 1,000 were built over the summer.


In August, the Army decided it needed almost 4,000 more kits - but again, two months passed as the Army scrounged for the money.


The armoring lines at Letterkenny didn't start moving again until December. Now, they are making armored cabs for five-ton Army trucks - but are not slated to be done until August.


The armor issue entered a new age on Dec. 8 when a Tennessee soldier, Thomas Wilson, stood up and asked Rumsfeld why his unit had to scrounge for scrap armor.


Rumsfeld said the military was addressing this problem.  But part of his answer - "you go to war with the army you have" - created a firestorm.


Things changed in a hurry, starting at O'Gara.  The company had reached its goal of 450 armored humvees a month by September, and announced that it could add capacity.



More Liars Caught


When Rumsfeld said armored humvees couldn't be built any faster, O'Gara officials told reporters they actually could build 100 more a month.


That was news to the Army, said Sorenson and others.  But records and interviews show that O'Gara had been saying months earlier that it could push production faster.


The next day, the Army agreed to fund a faster production rate, to 550 armored humvees a month.  That is what O'Gara is producing now.


The ISG plant in Conshohocken got the message, too. "That was the most intense part of armor production that we saw in the past year and a half," ISG's Sarpen said. "It got very heavy, very fast."


The calls came from contractors, not from the Pentagon, he said.  Suppliers feared being labeled "the next company that `couldn't produce the armor quicker,'" Sarpen said.


Meanwhile, the Pentagon formed a task force to get Navy and Air Force machinists and welders working on armor in Iraq.  It is headed by an Air Force general who reports to Rumsfeld twice a week.


Bryan Whitman, a Rumsfeld spokesman, said last week:  "The Secretary of Defense does not decide how much or when the Army buys its equipment."


Snags persisted.  Two days after the Rumsfeld episode, Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., said he visited the Rock Island, Ill., arsenal and found just three people working on armor - two cutting steel, one welding.


On Feb. 17, Rumsfeld told Congress that "with very few exceptions" no unarmored vehicle would enter Iraqi danger zones.


But many vehicles labeled "armored" by Rumsfeld are at Level 3, with a few steel plates, cut in the field and bolted or latched on. Many still don't have antiballistic glass. Upgrading all of them will take months.


By September, the Pentagon aims to have all vehicles in Iraq sheathed in better armor.


Rogers, the Kentucky National Guard sergeant who wrote the e-mail from Iraq about Sgt. Sherrill's death, said his men would be riding the same roads with only "hillbilly armor" - steel panels on two sides of their trucks.


"I think this is something the public needs to know," he wrote in recent days. "Most of all, please continue to pray for us."


(Knight Ridder Newspapers correspondents Alletta Emeno, Denise Boal and Frank Donahue contributed to this report.)



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






Three U.S. Soldiers Killed, Two Wounded In Baghdad


April 15 By Mohammed Al-Ghazzi, (KUNA) & By Michael Georgy, (Reuters)


Iraqi police said three US soldiers where killed and two others were wounded in a car bomb blast in the Iraqi capital.


The explosion that took place Friday morning at Al-Ameerat crossroad in Al-Mansour district, was executed by a bomber driving a booby-trapped Opel and targeted a US convoy that was passing by, police said.


The police added that the explosion knocked out a US Humvee vehicle.  They confirmed the injury of five Iraqis, who received treatment in Al-Yarmouk hospital. US forces cordoned off the blood-drenched scene of the blast.


Bodies lay in the street and several cars were burned. A witness said smoke and flames rose near a restaurant following the blast.







CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq – A Marine assigned to the 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), was killed April 14 by enemy small-arms fire while conducting combat operations in Ramadi, Iraq.





April 15, 2005 U.S. Department of Defense News Release No. 365-05 & AP


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


Cpl. Michael B. Lindemuth, 27, of Petoskey, Mich., died April 13 as a result of wounds received from enemy mortar fire at Camp Hit, Al Anbar Province, Iraq.


He was assigned to Inspector/Instructor Staff, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Akron, Ohio.  During Operation Iraq Freedom, Lindemuth was attached to Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).


The Marine was killed when a mortar round landed inside a military base.



IED Gets Humvee At Abu Ghraib


15 April 2005 Aljazeera.Net & (AP)


In the Khan Dhari area near the Abu Ghraib neighbourhood, a roadside bomb destroyed a US Humvee and wounded several US soldiers in it, Aljazeera learned. 



Trying To Sweep Back An Ocean Of Resistance With A Broken Broom

Soldiers walk past graffiti, which reads, “Warning to all policemen: You will be killed.” in Mosul, Iraq, on April 5. Edward Harris / AP photo


April 14, 2005 By Edward Harris, Associated Press


MOSUL, Iraq — It’s just spray-painted graffiti, but the writing on the wall gets the attention of U.S. troops: “Warning to all policemen: You will be killed.”  Soldiers then storm into the compound, demanding the owners erase the death threat against the Americans’ Iraqi allies.


“If I come back tomorrow and it’s still there, I’ll fix it myself, and you won’t like it,” Capt. Blake Lackey says sternly. “I’ll tear the wall down.”


It’s all part of a war of words in Iraq, where U.S. troops patrolling the northern city of Mosul constantly inspect handbills and graffiti on sun-scorched walls, searching for insurgent messages that they counter with their own psychological operations — or “psy-ops.”


Both sides are wielding the pen alongside the sword in hopes of winning converts among Mosul’s more than 2 million, ethnically varied people — a goal American commanders say is key in an unconventional battle where every street is a front line and public spaces double as militants’ mission-planning centers.


“In an insurgency, (the fighters) rely on anonymity.  They swim in the population, which only needs to be neutral,” says Col. Robert B. Brown, of the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, whose troops operate in Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad.


Graffiti extols the virtues of noted militant leaders, like the Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaida’s man in Iraq. “Zarqawi is the prince!” reads one.


The propaganda also is spread by word-of-mouth.  Militants started rumors that the candy American soldiers toss to children from their vehicles was poisoned, or that a tip-line set up by the Americans wasn’t confidential and people calling it would be punished by insurgents.


In a small building on an American forward-operating base in Mosul, the Americans’ offerings whir out of a copying machine.  Officers insist it isn’t a propaganda mill.


“It’s a fine line, but propaganda is more based on untruth,” says Capt. Corbin England, 34, of Puyallup, Wash., who helps coordinate the U.S. military’s coercive efforts in Mosul. 


“Psy-ops is a multiplier.  We multiply the effectiveness of the troops on the ground, which saves lives.  We’re just one of the many cogs in a system that works.”


England’s office has stacks of cubbyholes filled with leaflets of all shapes and colors bearing various messages, all with a single goal: to bring Mosul around to the side of the Americans and the Iraqi security forces.


“In an insurgency, the key is the local population.  If you win them over, the other guy loses,” England says.


The Americans drop leaflets from helicopters and hand them out on the streets, encouraging Iraqis to pass the material around.


They also produce slick posters of Iraqi policemen in heroic poses in front of golden mosques — an attempt to boost the nascent force’s profile and prompt cooperation.


Matchbooks announce a $25 million reward for information leading to the capture of al-Zarqawi, whose face is shown on both sides of the packet.


“This malicious vermin is the obstacle that stands between the Iraqi people and security,” reads a message on the matchbook.


In Mosul, soldiers say the insurgent graffiti and handbills are, effectively, the militants’ own force multiplier.


“It sends a message that the terrorists are harbored or supported in the area,” says Lackey, 30, of Manassas, Va.  He adds that he doesn’t actually knock down walls, but will efface insurgent scrawlings if owners don’t.


“I personally think they’re responsible for their neighborhood. The outside of their wall is still their wall.  You can infer that what’s on the outside of the wall is what’s believed inside the house.”


Inside, the civilian population is often stuck. Mutsam Ubade, 35, tells Lackey he will erase the graffiti, but he worries about the response from insurgents.


“The fighters will think I’m with the coalition forces and I’ll probably be killed,” he states flatly. “But I have my orders, so I have to do it.”







Killer Parasite Infecting U.S. Troops In Iraq


[The way this is written you have to read between the lines to figure it out.  So let’s sum up:  this parasite causes a skin infection.  This parasite, if it isn’t cleaned out of the body, can infest the internal organs and kill you, years later.  Treating the skin infection doesn’t do anything to remove parasites that have located in other parts of the body --- the ones that can kill you later on by eating out your internal organs.


[That’s why the Pentagon doesn’t allow service people who have been infected to  give blood again, ever.  They know that.


[If you aren’t tested after getting rid of the skin infection, you don’t know if the parasite is gone or not.  And the Army isn’t telling you about that.  Hey, after you’re discharged, it’s not their problem.


[Demand the test and demand the treatment, and if anybody fucks with you, raise hell and tell world about it.  The alternative can be a very ugly death.  And if you trust them for one second, remember how many Gulf War vets died, and how many years passed, before the Pentagon was forced to admit they had been poisoned on the battlefield.] 


Apr. 15, 2005 BY CARY LEIDER VOGRIN, The Gazette


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - (KRT) - Troops in Iraq call it the "Baghdad boil," and Dr. Peter Weina predicted an outbreak among soldiers even before the first case appeared.


Weina was sent to Iraq with the first wave of soldiers in 2003 to assess endemic disease threats.  When he started noticing sand flies, he bet there would be a problem.


He was right.


In the past two years, hundreds of soldiers have been afflicted with a nasty infection known in the scientific community as cutaneous [skin] leishmaniasis.


Its trademark symptoms are ugly, slow-healing sores caused when sand flies bite and inject a parasite into the skin.  If untreated, the lesions have the potential to leave disfiguring scars.  [And kill you later on, but why mention that little fact?]


The U.S. military has brought many - but not all - of the afflicted troops home for treatment.  [Why not?  Easy.  Hard up for troops.]


The official case tally since March 2003 is 830, according to the Army Surgeon General's Office, but Weina, a leishmaniasis expert with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, believes the number is closer to 1,500.


"I'm concerned that we don't have a full understanding or appreciation of how many cases there are out there," he said.


Cases have been documented among Fort Carson troops, for example, but neither Weina nor another doctor from Walter Reed Army Medical Center had figures broken down by military installation.


Fort Carson reports sending one soldier from the post to Walter Reed, which, for the first half of the war, was the military's only leishmaniasis treatment center.  It's possible other Fort Carson soldiers were sent directly from Iraq to Walter Reed for care.


Fort Carson's 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment entered Iraq just in time for prime transmission season, which starts in mid-April and lasts until mid-October.


The regiment's spokesman, Maj. Gary Dangerfield, said by telephone last week that sand flies haven't been a problem.  [Instead of telling the troops their lives are at risk, he babbles happy talk.  Fucking lying murderous bullshit.  This whole article is about how sand flies are a problem.]


A recent study done at Fort Campbell, Ky., found 181 cases of confirmed leishmaniasis among 20,000 soldiers who spent a year in Iraq.  Most had been assigned to northern Iraq. 


With a second round of yearlong deployments under way, the military has stepped up efforts to encourage troops to use bed netting and insect repellent.


Weina said although troops are living in better conditions than in 2003, when many slept unprotected outdoors, he's concerned about the potential for the more dangerous form of the disease, known as visceral leishmaniasis.


Unlike the cutaneous leish, which affects the skin, visceral leishmaniasis does not cause lesions.  Its primary symptom is a persistent, unexplained fever, and it's fatal if not treated.


[More confusion here.  The reporter makes it sound like if you get the skin form, you don’t have anything to worry about.  A letehal misunderstanding.  Once the parasite is in your body, and produces the skin lesion, there’s a very good chance it’s already spread to other parts of your body.    You can also have the parasite without any skin lesions at all, but if you got the skin lesions, you got the parasite.  Duh. 


"The threat is there," Weina said.  "There's a lot of visceral leish."  Last month, a 3-year-old Iraqi boy died from visceral leishmaniasis.


Four cases of visceral leish have been diagnosed among U.S. soldiers - two in Afghanistan and two in Iraq.  All have recovered, Weina said.  [Were soldiers with the skin lesions tested for internal parasites after the skin lesions healed?  Why does that seem so very very unlikely?]


Because leishmaniasis is rarely seen in the United States, the standard drug to treat it - Pentostam - has not been licensed here and is available to physicians only through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Dr. Barbara Herwaldt, a leishmaniasis expert with the CDC, said there's normally about 30 or 40 civilian cases a year, most among tourists or scientists who acquire it in one of the many countries where it is common.


Soldiers with the worst cases - those with facial sores that could result in permanent scarring or lesions over joints that could affect mobility - are brought back to U.S. military hospitals for treatment.


"Those kinds of patients are high on our priority to come back to get Pentostam," said Col. Naomi Aronson, director of the leishmaniasis treatment center at Walter Reed Army Hospital.


Treatment consists of 10 to 20 days of Pentostam given intravenously.  The drug kills the parasites but has many side effects: upset stomach, severe body aches and headaches among them.


"We feel we can use it safely, but it's a drug that has enough toxicities that we keep our patients close by," Aronson said.


Left untreated, leish lesions eventually will go away, but healing could take months - even up to a year.  The result could be horrible scarring.  [Not to mention death once the viscera are destroyed.]


An alternative to Pentostam is being used in combat clinics in Iraq.


Thermal treatment - using a probe to burn the tissue to kill the parasites - is showing decent results although it's not as effective as Pentostam, Aronson said.


Weina said it's not a treatment he prefers in the field because of concerns about secondary infections. 


[Leave it to command to treat the symptom in a way the doctor rejects as dangerous.  Flying troops home costs money and cuts troop strength.  You can bet your ass a general would get the best.]


A topical cream treatment is being tested, but Weina said it could be a couple of years before it's available.


Experts say leishmaniasis is not contagious, yet concede the possibility of transmitting the disease if two open sores come in contact or there's a genital lesion.


"The soldiers ask me a lot about sexual transmission," Aronson said.


And because it can take months after an infection for lesions to appear, it's been recommended by the American Association of Blood Banks that any soldier serving in Iraq not donate blood for a year after their return.


In addition, Department of Defense policy requires that soldiers diagnosed with leishmaniasis be permanently barred from blood donation.


No test is available to screen donated blood for leishmaniasis.


[So, if you don’t see it on your skin, they both agree, you can still have the parasite inside you.  Otherwise, why the rule prohibiting blood donation?  There it is.  2+2.]


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.



Ukrainian Troops Go Home


4.15.05 By TRACI CARL, Associated Press Writer


Friday, Ukraine began withdrawing some of its 1,462 soldiers from Iraq amid plans to have them all out by year's end, the U.S. military said. It said the Ukrainian force would be down to 900 soldiers by May 12.



Returning Iraq Vet?

Tough Shit.  Go Away.


Richmond Times-Dispatch, April 10, 2005


A growing number of National Guard and Reserve members have lost their civilian jobs while serving abroad---others are being discriminated against as they search for jobs.



Abu Ghraib Convict Says MI And Mercenaries OKd Prison Abuses


Washington Times, April 13, 2005


Pvt. Charles Graner, now serving a 10-year sentence for his role in the Abu Ghraib scandal, has given Army investigators a lengthy statement accusing others of misconduct at the Iraq prison.


Graner, a member of the 372nd Military Police Company, claims that he was told by a civilian contractor and military intelligence officers that it was okay to treat prisoners rough.



Tillman Cover-up Rolls On:

Family Denied Report From Investigation They Demanded;

Silly Lying Lt. Col. Bush Nailed By Soldiers’ Dad


Tillman’s family got a briefing on the inquiry “only a couple of weeks ago,” Bush said, adding that there was “a degree of satisfaction expressed by the family.”


Patrick Tillman Sr., when asked by The Arizona Republic whether it was true that the family was satisfied, responded:  “No. And I don’t want to talk about it.”


April 14, 2005 Associated Press, PHOENIX


The Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C., has completed an investigation into former NFL star Pat Tillman’s death in Afghanistan that aimed to address concerns raised about whether the military held back some information.


It’s findings aren’t being released, however.


“We are not going to release it,” said Lt. Col. Pamela Hart, an Army spokeswoman at the Pentagon.


Then-acting Army Secretary Les Brownlee ordered the new investigation in mid-November based on questions from Tillman’s family.


The results of the original Army investigation were released on May 29.


It found that Tillman was shot to death on April 22 after a U.S. soldier mistakenly fired on a friendly Afghan soldier in Tillman’s unit, and other U.S. soldiers then fired in the same direction.


Initial reports by the Army had suggested that Tillman was killed by enemy gunfire when he led his team to help another group of ambushed soldiers.


Lt. Col. Hans Bush, chief of public affairs for the Army Special Operations Command, described the written report on the new findings as “huge in the level of detail” but declined to elaborate.


Tillman’s family got a briefing on the inquiry “only a couple of weeks ago,” Bush said, adding that there was “a degree of satisfaction expressed by the family.”


Patrick Tillman Sr., when asked by The Arizona Republic whether it was true that the family was satisfied, responded: “No. And I don’t want to talk about it.”



Horizontal Recruiting Condemned


April 15, 2005 By Kimberly Hefling, Associated Press


EVANSVILLE, Ind. — A provision in a sweeping education reform law that allowed military recruiters broad access to students is under fire, fueled in part by charges of sexual abuse by military recruiters.


Critics say the No Child Left Behind law is putting young people at risk by requiring high schools to give military recruiters the same access afforded universities and prospective employers. It also allows them access to the names, addresses and phone numbers of students unless a parent objects.


At least eight recruiters have been accused of assaulting potential or new recruits in Indiana, West Virginia, Washington, California, New York and Maryland since the law took effect in 2002.


Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif has proposed legislation that would require students to “opt in” if they want military recruiters to have access to their personal information and to contact them.



Venezuela Militias Prepare To Fight Off U.S.


Miami Herald, April 13, 2005


Venezuelan army reservists are training civilians to defend their country against a U.S. invasion.


Thousands of Venezuelans are joining militia groups created by the government to fight off any invaders---especially U.S. troops---who try to thwart Hugo Chavez’s socialist “Bolivarian revolution.”







Resistance Takes Madaen


4.16.05 By Mariam Karouny, (Reuters)


Insurgents with heavy weapons appear to have taken control of the town of Madaen, just south of Baghdad, and no police or government forces were in sight.


Guerrillas have taken control of cities such as Falluja before but seizing many hostages in a town so close to the capital will pile pressure on Iraq’s new leaders to deliver the improved security Iraqis have expected since the elections.



Shattered Corpse Puts Face To Bombers


April 15 By Ian Simpson, (Reuters)


The remains of the man who blew up four police officers in a quiet market square on Thursday evening drew a crowd of curious onlookers on Friday, overseen by police toting AK-47 assault rifles.


The man staggered up to a group of officers acting as if he were retarded, then triggered a vest laden with explosives, Hussein al-Ta'i, mayor of the small town of Mahawil, told Reuters Television.


The body was severed below the rib cage and the torso lay on its right side on top of a cloth, Reuters Television images showed.  The undamaged head was still attached, unusual among militants who use explosive vests.


His eyes were still staring across the square of the typical impoverished town.


Small groups of young men gathered around gawking and chatting.  Nobody knew why the corpse was left in public for so long.


The shirtless man had short dark hair and appeared to be in his 20s or early 30s. He had a few days of dark beard, heavier around the slightly open mouth.  The man's left hand hung down by his side.


"I was drinking juice nearby and the police were gathering here.  Then there was an explosion and the four policemen were dead," said an Iraqi man.


The Mahawil's bomber's legs and other body parts were heaped on a cross-striped blanket next to the trunk.





Assorted Resistance Attacks


15 April 2005 Aljazeera.Net & (AP) & Middle East Online & By Michael Georgy, (Reuters)


Roadside bombs kill three Iraqi soldiers in Balad, two policemen near Tuz, foreign truck driver in Al-Dujail.


Three Iraqi soldiers were killed at dawn on Friday when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb in Balad, north of the Iraqi capital, said army Captain Mohammed Nuri.


In a similar attack late on Thursday night, two Iraqi policemen were killed near Tuz in the northern Salaheddin province.


And in Al-Dujail, an unidentified foreign truck driver was also killed by a roadside bomb overnight, said the Iraqi army.


A Kurdish television journalist has been shot dead in the ethnically divided oil city of Kirkuk in northern Iraq.


Shamal Abd Allah Assad, who worked for the local station of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, was killed on Friday by armed men in a car park, said police Colonel Ad al-Zain al-Abidine Ibrahim.


Lebanon's Al-Hayat LBC channel aired a short videotape showing an Iraqi soldier it said was decapitated by members of al-Qaeda in Iraq.  The station didn't air audio of the tape, but said the man, wearing a military uniform, identified himself as Jassim Mohammed Hussein.  The tape could not be independently verified.


A roadside bomb near the northern city of Samarra killed two Iraqi soldiers, an army source said.



Iraqi demonstrators hold a protest calling for the release of detained men in the town of Karma April 15, 2005.  Hundreds of demonstrators marched through the town to demand the Iraqi government and U.S. forces to release Iraqi prisoners and mujahideen fighters from prison.  The banner reads ' the people of Karma demand the release of detainees from prison'. REUTERS/Mohanned Faisal






“The Driver Avoided Main Roads Where Bombers Might Lurk”


15 April 2005 By Patrick Cockburn in Mosul, The Independent


Anybody who believes Iraq has turned the corner and violence is diminishing should pay a visit to its northern capital, though they must be extremely careful when doing so.  A suicide bomber detonated explosives in his car outside an army post in Mosul yesterday, creating a cloud of smoke and dust that hovered over the city.


I was in a car a few hundred yards away when the bomb in Mosul went off.  I was being driven by a Kurdish soldier who had disguised himself as a civilian by sitting on his pistol and wearing a long brown Arab robe over his uniform.  Another soldier, concealing his machine gun, sat in the back, dressed in a tracksuit.


We were trying to reach the centre of Mosul to meet the deputy governor, Khasro Goran. We had driven from the Kurdish province of Arbil with four uniformed soldiers - all Kurds from the 1st Battalion of the Iraqi National Guard - to protect us. There was no trouble on the road between the two cities.


But when we reached an army post on the outskirts of Mosul the soldiers looked apprehensive. Lt-Col. Yassin, commander of the base, said: "If I send you further into the city in a convoy with three vehicles and men in uniform, you are likely to be a target for suicide bombers."


Two of his men, disguised as civilians, drove us in a nondescript car at speed through east Mosul, a city of 1.75 million people, about 30 per cent Kurdish and 70 per cent Sunni Arab.  Although we were in the mostly Kurdish and supposedly safer part of the city, the driver avoided main roads where bombers might lurk.


As we got close to the fortified office - once the headquarters of the local Baath party - of Mr Goran, the head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in Mosul, as well as deputy governor, we saw smoke rising from a suicide bomber's car.


Mr Goran assured us the city was "much more secure than a few months ago and soon it will be better still". The insurgents could no longer establish checkpoints or kidnap so easily.  [Meaning the insurgent can still establish checkpoints and capture collaborators.]


The 30 police stations in Mosul city have been largely abandoned.  He is trying to have the chief of police fired.


Mr Goran says that, while he disagreed with General Petraeus, a critical mistake was the US replacement of the 21,000 strong 101st Airborne by the much smaller Stryker Brigade.  He thinks there are now only 5,000 to 6,000 US troops in Nineveh.



The Iraqi Communist Party And George Bush Join Hands To Fuck Iraq


April 15, 2005 By Eric Ruder, Socialist Worker


Book Review: Ilario Salucci, A People’s History of Iraq: The Iraqi Communist Party, Workers’ Movements, and the Left 1924-2004. Haymarket Books, 2005, 190 pages, $12.


THE U.S. government has been a notorious enemy of Communist Parties around the world.  Washington has spent millions, sponsored coups and organized covert wars, all to keep CPs and their affiliated unions and organizations out of governments and away from power in Latin America and elsewhere.


But in U.S.-occupied Iraq, the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP) was part of the Iraqi Governing Council appointed by Washington’s overseer Paul Bremer.  And the council--as well as U.S. occupation authorities--gave the nod to the ICP-affiliated Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) as the sole legal representative of Iraqi workers.


This contradiction is something the antiwar movement has had to grapple with in building opposition to Washington’s war on the Iraqi people.  Last October, for example, IFTU international representative Abdullah Muhsin (who has lived outside of Iraq for 20 years) appeared before a conference of British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Labour Party--and gave a passionate speech in support of British occupation troops remaining in Iraq.


This year, U.S. Labor Against War (USLAW) plans to tour unionists from three Iraqi labor federations, including the IFTU.


ERIC RUDER reviews a new book that tells the history of the ICP--and examines the controversy over the role played by the ICP and IFTU today.



HISTORICALLY, IRAQ’S Communist Party has been one of the largest and most important forces on the country’s secular left.  Over the years, it has sometimes stood alone as an organization prepared to take up the demands of Iraq’s working class and peasantry.


Yet it also has a record of betraying Iraqi workers at crucial points--a consequence of its commitment to the Stalinism that came to dominate Communist Parties throughout the world following the defeat of the Russian Revolution and the rise to power of a new bureaucratic ruling class in the ex-USSR.


Ilario Salucci’s book--newly published in English by Haymarket Books as A People’s History of Iraq--is filled with examples of the party’s twists and turns.


Like other CPs around the world, the ICP took its political line from Moscow and subordinated its agenda to the foreign policy needs of the former USSR.  Thus, when Nazi Germany’s invasion of the USSR in 1941 put an abrupt end to the 1939 Hitler-Stalin pact, Moscow formed a military alliance with the U.S., Britain and France against Germany and Italy--and ordered CPs to praise these new allies as leaders in the “struggle against fascism.”


In Iraq, this political line put the ICP in the absurd position of supporting the British, Iraq’s former colonial overlords--whose military had been forced out some 10 years earlier, but who continued to dominate Iraq’s economy through their close relationship with the Hashemite monarchy that ran the country with an iron fist.


In 1947, when the USSR supported the partition of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel, the ICP again adopted this line as its own--in opposition to the feelings of most Iraqis.


In 1958, mass demonstrations in many Iraqi cities paved the way for the overthrow of the monarchy by a group of military officers, who appointed Brig. Gen. Abdul Karim Qasim as prime minister.


During the next year, the ICP reached the height of its powers.  It won mass support among ordinary Iraqis by pushing for agrarian reform to benefit peasants against the large landowners and economic development that would benefit the working class.


But its acceptance of the Stalinist redefinition of socialism to mean not workers’ power but national economic development--and its commitment to a “stagist” view that any revolution in Iraq would be limited to ushering in a period of capitalist development--meant that the ICP was continually thrown into alliances with forces whose interests were often opposed to those of workers.


Thus, when the ICP pushed Qasim to recognize its broad popularity by bringing ICP representatives into the government, Qasim instead turned on his ICP supporters.  This provoked a debate within the party about whether the time had come--given the widespread struggles of workers and peasants and the party’s own popularity--to organize for a seizure of power.


Ultimately, the ICP decided against this course--a victim of its own theoretical framework, which ruled out the possibility of accomplishing anything more than a revolution to bring about the full development of capitalism.  Since the Qasim government was already carrying out this objective, the ICP could come to no other conclusion than to continue supporting it.


Not only did this decision sap the fighting spirit of the ICP’s supporters among Iraqi workers and peasants, leading to a sharp decline in party membership, but it also handed the momentum to Qasim--who responded by outlawing the ICP, arresting its leaders and reversing agrarian reform.


AFTER THE Baath Party cemented its hold on power in Iraq with a 1968 coup, the ICP was again drawn into lending support to a nationalist government over the following few years--with catastrophic consequences for the left, the Iraqi labor movement and the struggle of Kurds in the North against their national oppression.


In the early 1970s, the Baath regime nationalized the Iraq Petroleum Company, granted workers the right to organize (though severely limiting the right to strike or join anything but state-sanctioned unions) and introduced land reform even more sweeping than the policy supported by the ICP.


According to Salucci, this began “a new period...during which the ICP depicted Saddam Hussein as the Iraqi Fidel Castro...as the Baath Party’s man of the Left closest to the ICP’s own political line.  In February 1974, the ICP closed all its independent (necessarily illegal) workplace organizations.  It supported the actions of the Baathists, including the bloody war perpetrated against the Kurdish people in 1974-75.”


Then, Hussein began his attack on his Communist allies.  By 1976, Salucci writes, “the Baathists had fully exploited the acquiescence of the Communists in order to gain almost total control of the trade unions, the peasant unions, and other mass organizations.” Even so, between 1972 and 1976, the ICP and IFTU worked tirelessly--within Iraq and internationally--to persuade anyone who would listen that Hussein’s regime had “reformed” itself and was now pursuing “progressive and patriotic” measures.


After this point, the ICP was reduced to a bit player in Iraq’s political system--and it failed to take up significant opportunities to rebuild its influence.


After the 1991 U.S. invasion of Iraq, for example, massive uprisings against Hussein’s regime took control of huge areas in both the northern Kurdish region and the Shiite-dominated South.  Dozens of workplace and neighborhood councils sprang up, especially in the north, and a large section of Iraq’s military broke ranks to join the struggle.  Yet neither the ICP nor any other opposition organization in Baghdad supported the rebellion.


With the blessings of the U.S.--which preferred Saddam’s authoritarianism to a government that gave _expression to Iraqi workers and oppressed minorities--the central government regained the initiative, launched a counteroffensive and crushed the uprising.


THIS HISTORY is crucial background for understanding the role of the ICP today--in particular, the party’s pattern of issuing radical-sounding statements that are belied by its alliances and actions.


“We are against occupation now and were against the war in the past,” Hamid Majid Moussa, a leader of the present-day ICP, told the Egyptian Al-Ahram Weekly in mid-March.  But this seemingly uncompromising statement masks the ICP’s collaboration with the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council two summers ago, and its participation in the puppet regime led by Iyad Allawi leading up to the January election.


At every turn, the IFTU has followed the ICP’s lead--and collaborated with the U.S. effort to legitimize its handpicked political leaders and to demonize those Iraqis who decided to actively oppose the U.S./British occupation.  “On the other hand,” writes Iraqi exile and antiwar activist Sami Ramadani, “the IFTU and the ICP are yet to launch a campaign against the massacres committed by the occupation forces.”


As Hani Lazim, a member of Iraqi Democrats Against Occupation, summarized: “If you are part of a government that allows the U.S. to bomb towns like Falluja and the al-Sadr area of Baghdad, don’t tell me you oppose the occupation.”


Ramadani has urged unions in the West to reject collaboration with the IFTU.


“It’s time to call a spade a spade,” he wrote in an open letter to a British unionist.  “The leaders of the IFTU and the ICP are part of a left-wing sounding, trade-union ‘friendly’ campaign to oppose the immediate withdrawal of the occupation forces from Iraq.”



Let Them Eat Bombs;

The Doubling Of Child Malnutrition In Iraq Is Baffling


[Thanks to JM, who sent this in.]


12 April 2005 By Terry Jones, of Monty Python, The Guardian


A report to the UN human rights commission in Geneva has concluded that Iraqi children were actually better off under Saddam Hussein than they are now.


This, of course, comes as a bitter blow for all those of us who, like George Bush and Tony Blair, honestly believe that children thrive best when we drop bombs on them from a great height, destroy their cities and blow up hospitals, schools and power stations.


It now appears that, far from improving the quality of life for Iraqi youngsters, the US-led military assault on Iraq has inexplicably doubled the number of children under five suffering from malnutrition.  Under Saddam, about 4% of children under five were going hungry, whereas by the end of last year almost 8% were suffering.


These results are even more disheartening for those of us in the Department of Making Things Better for Children in the Middle East By Military Force, since the previous attempts by Britain and America to improve the lot of Iraqi children also proved disappointing.


For example, the policy of applying the most draconian sanctions in living memory totally failed to improve conditions.  After they were imposed in 1990, the number of children under five who died increased by a factor of six.  By 1995 something like half a million Iraqi children were dead as a result of our efforts to help them.


A year later, Madeleine Albright, then the US ambassador to the United Nations, tried to put a brave face on it.  When a TV interviewer remarked that more children had died in Iraq through sanctions than were killed in Hiroshima, Mrs Albright famously replied: "We think the price is worth it."


But clearly George Bush didn't.  So he hit on the idea of bombing them instead.  And not just bombing, but capturing and torturing their fathers, humiliating their mothers, shooting at them from road blocks - but none of it seems to do any good.  Iraqi children simply refuse to be better nourished, healthier and less inclined to die.  It is truly baffling.


And this is why we at the department are appealing to you - the general public - for ideas.  If you can think of any other military techniques that we have so far failed to apply to the children of Iraq, please let us know as a matter of urgency.  We assure you that, under our present leadership, there is no limit to the amount of money we are prepared to invest in a military solution to the problems of Iraqi children.


In the UK there may now be 3.6 million children living below the poverty line, and 12.9 million in the US, with no prospect of either government finding any cash to change that.


But surely this is a price worth paying, if it means that George Bush and Tony Blair can make any amount of money available for bombs, shells and bullets to improve the lives of Iraqi kids.  You know it makes sense.


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






April 15th: You're Getting Screwed


[Thanks to PB, who sent this in.]


Fifty years ago, corporations paid 60 percent of all federal taxes.  But by 2003, that was down to 16 percent.  So individual taxpayers have to make up the difference, as corporate profits soar and wages fall.  April 14, 2005 Molly Ivins, AlterNet







China Sends More Riot Cops To Help Prop Up U.S. Backed Thugs Running Haiti

China's second batch of riot police board a plane at Capital International Airport in Beijing April 15. The Chinese riot police team flew to Haiti Friday to replace the first batch of Chinese 125-member contingent for the U.N. occupation mission in the country. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Yuan Man)



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