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GI SPECIAL 4D8: 8/4/06

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“ In The End The GI Anti-War Movement Paralyzed The Biggest Death Machine Of Modern Times”

Pvt. David Samas, one of the Fort Hood Three, who refused to serve in Vietnam, said in one impassioned speech: “We have not been scared. We have not been in the least shaken from our paths. Even if physical violence is used against us, we will fight back…the GI should be reached somehow. He doesn’t want to fight. He has no reason to risk his life. And the peace movement is dedicated to his safety.”

April 3, 2006 by Paul Rockwell, Motion Magazine. [Thanks to Mike Woloshin, Veterans For Peace, who recommended this article.]

“General, your tank is a mighty vehicle.
It shatters the forest and crushes a hundred men.
But it has one defect:
It needs drivers.

General, a man is quite expendable.
He can fly and he can kill.
But he has one defect:
He can think.”

— Bertolt Brecht

*******************************************

When award-winning actors Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland organized an anti-war review, touring U.S. military bases and towns around the world, the GI rebellion against the war in Vietnam was already in full force.

In one theatrical episode, evoking laughter and applause from thousands of soldiers and Marines, Fonda played the part of an aide to President Richard Nixon.

“Richard,” she exclaims. “There’s a terrible demonstration going on outside.”

Nixon replies: “Oh, there’s always a demonstration going on outside.”

Fonda: “But Richard. This one is completely out of control. They’re storming the White House.”

“Oh, I think I better call out the 3rd Marines.” Nixon exclaims.

“You, can’t, Richard,” says Fonda.

“Why not?” says Nixon.

She answers: “Because they ARE the 3rd Marines!”

Archival footage of the Fonda tour appears in David Zeiger’s exciting new film, “Sir, No Sir,” which opens in select theatres throughout the U.S. this month. (See www.sirnosir.com for schedule.)

“Sir, No Sir,” the untold story of the GI movement to end the war in Vietnam, is a documentary. It’s not a work of nostalgia. It’s an activist film, and it comes at a time when GI resistance to the current war is spreading throughout the United States.

There are more than 100 films — fiction and nonfiction — about the war in Vietnam. Not one deals seriously with the most pivotal events of the time — the anti-war actions of GIs within the military.

The three-decade blackout of GI resistance is not due to any lack of evidence. Information about the resistance has always been available. According to the Pentagon, over 500,000 incidents of desertion took place between 1966 and 1977. Officers were fragged. Entire units refused to enter battle.

Large social movements create their own “committees of correspondence” — communication systems beyond the control of power-holders and police authority. Despite prison sentences, police spies, agent provocateurs, vigilante bombing of their offices, coffeehouses and underground papers sprung up in the dusty, often remote towns that surrounded U.S. military bases throughout the world.

“Just about every base in the world had an underground paper,” Director Zeiger tells us in Mother Jones.

When the first coffeehouse opened in Columbia, South Carolina, near Fort Jackson, an average of six hundred GIs visited each week. Moved by the courage and audacity of soldiers for peace, civilians raised funds to help operate the coffeehouses and to provide legal defense.

When local proprietors, like Tyrell Jewelers near Fort Hood, fleeced GIs, GI boycotts were common.

At one point, the Department of Defense tripled its purchase of non-union produce in order to break the United Farm Workers boycott. American GIs, many from the fields and barrios of California, immediately joined the Farm Worker pickets.

Mocking signs appeared on military bases saying “Officers Buy Lettuce.” The GI movement was a profoundly class-conscious movement.

A counter-culture blossomed inside the military. Affinity groups, like “The Buddies” and “The Freaks” were formed. Afros, rock and soul music, bracelets and beads, the use of peace signs and clenched fists — a culture antithetical to the totalitarian culture of military life — proliferated. Prison riots in the stockades, from Fort Dix to the Marine brig in Da Nang, were common by 1970.

In response to a detested recruitment slogan — “Fun, Travel, Adventure” — GIs named one periodical “FTA,” which meant “Fuck The Army.” When GIs ceased to cooperate with superiors, the military lost control of culture and communication.

Military attacks on GI rights — the right to hold meetings, to read papers, to think for themselves, to resist illegal orders — did not subdue the growing anti-military movement. Repression actually widened the resistance.

Like Pablo Paredes, Kevin Benderman, Kelly Dougherty, Camilo Mejia — to name a few war resisters of our time — the GI resisters of the 60s and 70s showed incredible courage.

Pvt. David Samas, one of the Fort Hood Three, who refused to serve in Vietnam, said in one impassioned speech: “We have not been scared. We have not been in the least shaken from our paths. Even if physical violence is used against us, we will fight back…the GI should be reached somehow. He doesn’t want to fight. He has no reason to risk his life. And the peace movement is dedicated to his safety.”

In July 1970 forty combat officers sent a letter to the commander-in-chief. If the war continues, they wrote, “young Americans in the military will simply refuse en masse to cooperate.”

That’s exactly what happened. Nothing is so fearful to power-holders as non-cooperation. In 1971, even the Armed Forces Journal published an article by a former Marine Colonel, entitled, “The collapse of the Armed Forces.”

A point was reached where the resistance became infectious, almost unstoppable. It spread from barracks to aircraft carriers, from army stockades and navy brigs into the conservative military towns where GIs were stationed. Even elite colleges like West Point were affected by revolt. Thousands of defiant soldiers went to prison. Thousands went into exile in Canada and Sweden.

In the end the GI anti-war movement — enlisted youth, draftees, poor kids from ghettos, farms and barrios—paralyzed the biggest death machine of modern times.

In short, people power altered the course of history. (The book “Soldiers In Revolt,” by David Cortright, makes an excellent companion to “Sir, No Sir.”)

“Sir, No Sir” is organized around the testimony of prominent war resisters. Yes, there are a lot of talking heads in “Sir, No Sir.” But their revelations, backed with images and footage of rebellion, are unforgettable. We meet Donald Duncan, the decorated member of the Green Berets, who resigned in defiance in 1963 after 15 months of service in Vietnam. His article in Ramparts, “I Quit,” generated great excitement in the student movement.

We also meet Howard Levy, the Green Beret medic who refused to use medical practices as a political tactic in war. His court martial caused a huge impact on GI and civilian consciousness. The troops supported him.

“When the court martial began on base,” he tells us on film, “it was the most remarkable thing when hundreds and hundreds would hang out of the windows of the barracks and give me the V-sign, or give me the clenched fist. Something had changed here, something very important was happening.”

That something was GI revolt.

Thousands of separate, individual acts of moral defiance eventually merged into a collective movement with a specific goal: end the war.

“Sir, No Sir” is not a preachy film.

Zeiger does not lecture us; he tells a story.

Yet we cannot afford to miss the built-in lesson from the eventual triumph of the GI resistance, a lesson that goes against media ideology and conventional wisdom.

In the words of George Lakey, “People power is simply more powerful than military power. Nothing is more important for today’s activists to know than this: the foundation of political rule is the compliance of the people, not violence. People power is more powerful than violence. The sooner we act on that knowledge, the sooner the U.S. Empire can be brought down.”

Of course times have changed. The ’60s are over. And while every generation determines its own destiny in its own way, while history itself is but “a light on the stern” — it is still true that “The spirit of the people is greater than man’s technology.”
“Sir, No Sir” is a work of hope.

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.

IRAQ WAR REPORTS

Soldier In Collaborator Army Kills U.S. Marine Near Al Qaim

4/7/2006 HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES CENTRAL COMMAND NEWS RELEASE Number: 06-04-07CJ

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq: An Iraqi Army Soldier allegedly shot and killed a U.S. Marine on a Coalition base near al Qaim April 6.

The Iraqi Soldier was also wounded in the incident. He was evacuated to Balad and was listed in very serious condition.

MND-B Servicemember Dies Of Baghdad Wounds

April 07, 2006 MULTI-NATIONAL DIVISION BAGHDAD, 4th Infantry Division

BAGHDAD, Iraq A Multi-National Division Baghdad service member died at 12:45 p.m. April 7, from wounds sustained while on patrol in western Baghdad following an attack by small-arms fire.

U.S. Soldier Killed Near Baiji

April 7 (Reuters)

A U.S. soldier was killed when his patrol was hit by a roadside bomb on Thursday near town of Baiji, the U.S. military said Friday.

U.S. Soldier Killed In Baghdad

4/7/2006 AFP

One soldier was killed in Baghdad Friday following a small arms fire attack, the US military said in a statement.

Marine Killed In Anbar

4/7/2006 AFP

A marine, was killed in the western Al-Anbar province Thursday in enemy action, the military added.

Maine Soldier Killed in Iraq

April 07, 2006 (WABI)

Another Maine soldier has been killed while serving overseas.

21-year old Dustin Harris from Patten died earlier this week. Harris joined the Army after graduating from Katahdin High School in 2001.

Washington Marine Dies In Iraq


Marine Staff Sgt. Abraham G. Twitchell, 28, of Yelm, Wash., died April 2, 2006, in Iraq. Twitchell was one of six Marines killed in Iraq when the 7-ton truck he was in rolled over during a flash flood near Al Asad. (AP Photo/Family photo via King County Journal)

Memorial Service Held For Marine

March 23, 2006 Linda Coble, KHON2

Since the war in Iraq began, 55 marines and three sailors with ties to Hawaii have been killed.

A memorial service was held on Thursday at Marine Corps Base Hawaii for a 20-year-old homegrown Marine who had been stationed in California before volunteering for his second tour in Iraq.

He was raised Kristen Keola Figueroa, a quiet skinny kid and youngest of four. He tried McKinley High School for awhile, but ended up graduating from the Hawaii National Guard Youth Challenge Academy. He always wanted to get the bad guys.

His pastor remembered how he loved to eat fried rice and spam, how hard he tried to fulfill his lifelong dreams.

“All he wanted was to make a better life for his mom, his dad, and for his family,” says Francis Kamahele, pastor. “He wanted to make himself better, also — a better man, and a brave soldier.”

He was a rifleman assigned to the Third Battalion, Seventh Marine Regiment based at 29 Palms, California.

A fiercely loyal Marine, he volunteered for his second — and what would be his last — mission in Iraq.

Keola grew up a Figaroa, but he died a Marino.

Two months before the explosion in Al Anbar Province that took his life March 12, Keola took his beloved stepfather’s name.

“I am very proud because he always wanted to be a Marino, and I love my son. His goal was to take care of his mother, and you know what? We are proud to have him as a Marino today,” says Alfred Marino, step-father.

The name on the certificate that came with his Purple Heart — Lance Corporal Kristen K. Marino.

BHS Graduate Wounded In Combat Mission

4/6/2006 By Doug Skinner, Editor, Times Community Newspapers

A 2003 Beavercreek High School graduate, Ethan Biggers, was seriously wounded March 5 on a combat mission in Yusifayah, Iraq.

“Thanks to the fast action on the ground, Ethan made it to the Baghdad hospital,” his sister, Liza Biggers, said. “It was there that they performed surgery on Ethan before flying him to Landstuhl, Germany. His twin Matt (who is also in the armed forces) was then pulled out of a field training exercise in Hohenfels to join his brother in Landstuhl. Matt made the 10-and-a-half-hour plane flight with Ethan from Landstuhl to Bethesda, Md. on March 7 … Ethan is still in very critical, but stable, condition.”

He has been moved to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., his sister said.

After graduating from Beavercreek High School, the Biggers twins followed family tradition and joined the armed forces, according to their sister.

Approximately a month after finishing basic training, Ethan was deployed to Iraq in 2003, according to his sister. “He was stationed in Mosul for two months before the 101st switched out with another division,” she said.

Two months after Ethan returned to Fort Campbell, Ky., Matt, who was stationed in Schweinfurt, Germany, was deployed in Iraq in February 2004, his sister said. “He was in Tikrit for the first four months, then moved to Samara,” she said. “Right before Christmas, Matt drove his Bradley over an IED or double-stacked mines, which punctured the hull and blew off the left track, but spared the men inside.”

At the same time, Ethan was training in Fort Campbell. He would return to Beavercreek on weekends, according to his sister. He began dating a high school friend, Britni Fuller.

Matt finished his first tour in Iraq in February 2005, his sister said. “The Biggers family then enjoyed a peaceful period of seven months in which neither brother was stationed in a combat zone,” she said.

“In August 2005, Ethan and Britni had taken a trip to Gatlinburg, Tenn.,” his sister said. “There, they almost married, but decided to wait until Ethan returned from his second tour in Iraq so that they could have a wedding. In September 2005, Ethan received orders to deploy. Only two days after arriving in Yusifayah (a small city south of Baghdad), Ethan found out Britni was pregnant. Both parties were very excited, and a couple months later, they discovered it was a boy.”

Ethan’s company had been taking heavy hits, according to his sister. “One of Ethan’s favorite lieutenants, First Lt. Benjamin Britt, was killed in action in December,” she said “Afterwards, Ethan expressed to Britni his desire to name his son Ben after him.”

Ethan’s family, which includes Matthew; his father, Rand Biggers and his wife Cheryl Alspaugh-Biggers; his mother, Millie Biggers; his sisters and brothers-in-law, Amanda and Chris Watkins and Liza and Charles, are with him.

Ceres Soldier Injured In Iraq

April 07, 2006, By JEFF BENZIGER / Managing editor of the Ceres (Calif.) Courier

A Ceres couple received word last week that their son, Jose M. Pacheco Jr., has been injured in an explosion in Baghdad, Iraq.

An Army colonel called Jose Pacheco Sr. on Monday, March 27 to explain that his son’s humvee was blown up by an improvised explosive device (IED). The explosion occurred while he and two other soldiers were patrolling a road in Baghdad sometime on Sunday, March 26 or early the next day.

Pacheco, a 2002 Ceres High School graduate, was airlifted to a medical camp north of Baghdad where temporary surgery was performed on him. The blast shattered one leg and shot shrapnel into his other leg.

He was later flown to an Army medical facility in Landstuhl, Germany where doctors repaired and wired his right knee and removed shrapnel from his left leg.

Pacheco also suffered burns to his chest and to the right side of the thorax.

Plans were to send him home for therapy after an evaluation of his injuries.

The other two soldiers were less extensive. One suffered shrapnel to the leg and an eye injury, while the third had minor injuries to his hand but is staying on patrol.

Jose and Ernestine Pacheco were able to speak to their son through a toll-free number supplied by the Defense Department.

“He seemed depressed,” said Pacheco, “because he may be discharged. He loves the military. It’s going to be months and months of therapy. He hasn’t been able to walk since the accident.”

The soldier had plans to finish out his commitment to the Army, then use government money to become a civilian registered nurse. He is also engaged to a woman in Germany, said his father.

The news met Jose Sr. who was in Arizona watching the A’s and Giants in spring training.

“We returned and it was so stressful the whole time coming back.”

Pacheco was on his second tour in Iraq. His first tour lasted 18 months but he returned in November for a second tour.

THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO COMPREHENSIBLE REASON TO BE IN THIS EXTREMELY HIGH RISK LOCATION AT THIS TIME, EXCEPT THAT A CROOKED POLITICIAN WHO LIVES IN THE WHITE HOUSE WANTS YOU THERE, SO HE WILL LOOK GOOD.
That is not a good enough reason.


A US soldier passes the bloody wreckage of a car bomb explosion in Baghdad April 4, 2006. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

Notes From A Lost War:
As IED Attacks Increase, EOD Hasn’t Kept Up:
“We Had To Wait 24 Hours At One IED Site For EOD To Show Up”

4.7.06 By CHARLES J. HANLEY, AP Special Correspondent

Attacks by Iraqi insurgents using improvised explosive devices, IEDs, almost doubled last year, to 29 a day, leading President Bush last month to describe the remotely detonated bombs “buried on roadsides, disguised as rocks, hidden in debris “ as “the principal threat to our troops.”

But as the threat has escalated, the number of specialists dealing with it hasn’t kept up.

The Army doesn’t publicize such numbers, citing security concerns, but soldiers everywhere tell stories of “waiting for EOD,” sitting exposed on Iraqi roads while overstretched teams scramble from place to place to disarm unexploded devices, either at a distance with robots, or by hand, dangerously close up, in more difficult cases.

“We had to wait 24 hours at one IED site for EOD to show up,” Sgt. Robert Lewis of the Georgia National Guard’s 48th Infantry Brigade told a reporter visiting his base in insurgent-filled western Iraq.

The Army last year made bomb disposal its No. 1 recruiting priority, doubling the bonus, to $40,000, paid to a recruit signing up for “blaster” training.

But basic bomb disposal training takes at least six months, and the need is immediate, particularly for more experienced, higher-skilled specialists.

To help fill the gap, Air Force and Navy disposal teams are being flown in to back up Army ground operations.

From Balad Air Base, a huge installation the Army calls Anaconda, Air Force Capt. Peter Weld’s 34-member bomb disposal unit covers a large chunk of central Iraq, including five outlying bases where 20 of his airmen are assigned. Most arrived for four-month tours in late January, from Air Force bases across the United States.

Weld estimates about 100 Air Force “blasters” are in Iraq. “We do have more to offer, and I think we’re sending more,” he said.

“But it’s a contentious thing. People don’t want to leave their families.”

At least 14 bomb disposal specialists have died in Iraq, the latest on March 29, when Tech. Sgt. Walter M. Moss, 37, of Houston was killed in an explosion while working to disarm an explosive in the Baghdad area.

He was the first Air Force bomb disposal fatality in this new kind of conflict in Iraq, the roadside war.

TROOP NEWS

THIS IS HOW BUSH BRINGS THE TROOPS HOME:
BRING THEM ALL HOME NOW, ALIVE


U.S. Marines carry the casket of Lance Corporal Brian Montgomery at the Western Reserve Memorial Gardens in Chesterland, Ohio August 10, 2005. Montgomery was killed in Iraq on August 1. REUTERS/Ron Schwane

“My Son Was Good Enough To Go Over There To Fight, But He Is Not Important Enough To Get His Stuff Back To His Family”

April 7, 2006 By LIZETTE ALVAREZ, The New York Times

After Neil Santorello heard the news that his son, a tank commander, had been killed in Iraq, from the officer in his living room, he walked out his front door and removed the American flag from its pole. Then, in tears, he tore down the yellow ribbons from his tree.

Rather than see it as the act of a man unmoored by the death of his 24-year-old son, the officer, an Army major, confronted Mr. Santorello, saying, “Don’t be disrespectful,” Mr. Santorello recalled.

Then, the officer, whose job it is to inform families of their loss, quickly disappeared without offering any comfort.

Later, the Santorellos heard a piece of crushing but inaccurate news: They would not be allowed to look inside their son’s coffin. First Lt. Neil Santorello, of Verona, Pa., had been killed by an improvised bomb. His body, the family was told, was unviewable.

The Santorellos eventually learned that families have the right to see a loved one’s body.

“I asked them to open the casket a few inches so I could reach in and touch his hand,” recalled Mr. Santorello, who is still struggling with his son’s death, in large part because he was not allowed to see him.

“The government doesn’t want you to see servicemen in a casket, but this is my son. He is not a serviceman. You have to let his mother and I say goodbye to him.”

Scores of families whose loved ones have died fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan have gone head-to-head with a casualty system that, in their experience, has failed to compassionately and competently guide them through the harrowing process that begins after a soldier’s death.

They have complained about coffins placed in cargo bays alongside crates, personal belongings that disappear, questions about how their loved ones died that go unanswered for months or even years, and casualty assistants who are too poorly trained to walk them through the labyrinth of their anguish.

Families have said that items like cameras and computers containing treasured e-mail messages and photographs have been lost or damaged.

Gay and Fred Eisenhauer, of Pinckneyville, Ill., whose son, Wyatt, an Army scout, was killed last May in Iraq by an improvised bomb, are still hoping to receive their son’s watch, eyeglasses and cellphone. The phone is precious because it holds a recording of their son’s voice. A combat patch they were promised has never arrived.

“I know these are little things,” Mrs. Eisenhauer said. “What makes it important to me is that my son was good enough to go over there to fight, but he is not important enough to get his stuff back to his family.”

The Santorellos were told by the Army that their son had died instantly. A few weeks later, they received a letter saying he had lived for four hours.

Mrs. Santorello learned the time of death by reading the autopsy report. “I don’t think anyone should be forced to read an autopsy report to find out when their son died,” she said.

Ms. Neal’s casualty officer told her that her son had been killed in action by a gunshot wound to the chest. After her son’s funeral, Ms. Neal learned that he might have been killed by his own forces.

She had been told that she would be notified in 30 days. Seven months later, when she still had not received further news, she took a plane to Hawaii, where her son had been stationed, to talk with his superiors, who greeted her warmly.

“They did confirm he was killed by American bullets,” she said. “The autopsy was done within a week of his death. They knew that when they did the autopsy.”

Karen Meredith’s son Lt. Ken Ballard, 26, a fourth-generation Army officer and a tank commander, was killed in Iraq in May 2004.

Her experience went so awry that she received a personal letter of apology last September from the secretary of the Army, Francis J. Harvey.

The problems began when her casualty officer abandoned her after 10 days, just as the process was beginning. It also took five months to receive Lieutenant Ballard’s personal belongings. His clothes were returned washed, which might have made some families thankful, but devastated her. But there was worse to come.

The week her son died, Ms. Meredith was told that he had been killed by enemy fire.

Fifteen months later, there was a knock on the door. Ms. Meredith was told by an Army casualty official that her son’s death had been accidental. Her son had been killed when his tank backed into a tree branch, setting off an unmanned machine gun.

“It was not a secret,” said Ms. Meredith, now an outspoken critic of the war. “It was incompetence.”

“The subliminal assumption is that they take care of everything,” added Ms. Meredith, who credits the Army for responding to her complaints and working to fix the system. “They don’t. I was tenacious.”

British Defense Minister Says Rumsfeld “Loves A Vacuum”

4/7/2006 AFP

“Terrorists love a vacuum,” British Defence Minister John Reid said in Washington after talks with his US counterpart Donald Rumsfeld.

Military Uniform Companies Pay Shit Wages:
“Viciously Anti-Union”

[Thanks to PB, who sent this in.]

March 15, 2006 By William Glanz, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Companies that make uniforms for the U.S. military pay poverty-level wages, often fail to provide health care and have unsafe working conditions for employees, according to a union report released yesterday.

“It is unconscionable that taxpayer dollars are funding sweatshops,” said Edgar Romney, executive vice president of Unite Here.

About 20,000 workers at U.S. apparel companies make military uniforms.

Unite Here interviewed 88 workers at eight companies in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee that have been given contracts worth $455 million since fiscal 2003 to make uniforms. The union also reviewed Labor Department records to learn employees at the companies earn an average hourly wage of $6.55 and average annual wages of $13,624.

“It’s very hard for a lot of us,” said Lois McMillan, who earns $6 an hour at American Power Source, a company in Fayette, Ala., that has $8.2 million in contracts to make uniforms for the Defense Department.

Stephen Wishart, a senior research analyst for Unite Here, said about 59 percent of American Power Source workers interviewed by the union are without health care, and 86 percent of workers interviewed at J.H. Rutter Rex Inc., in Columbia, Miss., don’t have health coverage.

Government contractors should be forced to pay higher wages, provide health care coverage and improve working conditions for employees, Unite Here President Bruce Raynor said.

Mr. Raynor said he attempted to discuss findings in the report weeks ago with Kenneth Krieg, Defense Department undersecretary for acquisitions, technology and procurement, but the two sides haven’t spoken.

Companies employing union workers are at a disadvantage because they pay higher wages and can’t submit bids as low as nonunion firms, said Mark Fogelman, president of Tama Manufacturing, an Allentown, Pa., firm that makes clothing and has one government contract to make physical training uniforms for the Air Force.

Mr. Fogelman, who employs 200 union workers, said he thinks he lost a contract for the Army’s new combat uniform because his labor costs were too high. He said he pays up to $10.50 an hour.

Unite Here represents about 5,000 people who work at companies making uniforms, and the union has tried to organize workers at some of the eight companies scrutinized in the new report.

American Power Source closed a plant in Macon, Miss., after workers chose to form a union, Mr. Raynor said.

“The sector is dominated by companies that are viciously anti-union,” he said.

Wounded Truckers Sue KKR:
Used As Decoys For Fuel Run:
“If They Had Told Me I Was Going Into Something Like That, I Would Have Given The Keys Back”

April 3, 2006 Louie Gilot, El Paso Times

The fiery ambush of a fuel convoy in Iraq two years ago in which two area truckers were wounded, six private contractors were killed and American hostage Thomas Hamill was captured could have been prevented, a lawsuit alleges.

Truckers Raymond Stannard of El Paso and Eddie Sanchez of Silver City are among the 11 survivors of the convoy who, with the families of the six deceased truckers, are suing Halliburton and its subsidiary KBR for an unspecified amount in federal court in Houston.

Both truckers said new evidence unearthed by their lawyers, Lopez Hodes of Newport Beach, Calif., has changed their view of the incident.

“I thought it was a freak accident,” said Sanchez, who is now a heavy duty mechanic at Phelps Dodge. “I kind of felt they wouldn’t let us go out if it wasn’t safe. It’s a Fortune 500 company. I kind of feel betrayed.”

Court documents filed in the lawsuit allege that officials with the military contracting giant knowingly sent the civilian truckers to Baghdad International Airport on a road where three convoys had been attacked the same morning and at least five had been attacked the day before.

The truckers’ lawyers also contend that the convoy, highly visible in U.S. military camouflage vehicles, was a decoy for another fuel convoy that was sent in civilian vehicles through a safer route.

“We believe the evidence shows that Halliburton attempted to send two convoys at or near the same time, hoping one would draw fire and the other would make it to (the airport) with the fuel,” said Scott Allen, a lawyer with the Houston firm Cruse, Scott, Henderson and Allen that is helping Lopez Hodes. “What has happened has great importance, not just to the truck drivers, but all the men and women who are civilian workers in Iraq now.”

An Army report investigating the April 9, 2004, ambush found that radio communication had failed during the attack and that truckers should have been given a detailed map of the route instead of the drawing someone made with a boot in the sand before the convoy left.

The report described the hellish ambush as follows: “The enemy was engaging the convoy with various armament such as IEDs, RPGs, mortars and large caliber machine guns. … As rounds struck the tankers the vehicle required counter steering to maintain control to not result in overturning.”

Stannard’s truck was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, flipped over and burst into flames. He pulled himself out of the flaming wreck. He had a broken leg, a broken wrist and a broken hand, he said.

Sanchez was shot in the buttocks by a bullet that pierced through his truck’s door. He picked up Stannard and another driver who had to abandon his rig.

“If they had told me I was going into something like that, I would have given the keys back,” said Sanchez, who said drivers had been assured when they were hired that they would not be placed in combat situations.

NEED SOME TRUTH? CHECK OUT 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. 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)

FORWARD OBSERVATIONS

“The Possibility Of A Revolutionary Alliance Between The Workers And The Soldiers”
“There Was No Defense Against That”

[Thanks to the brother who sends in these selections. He writes:

There was a symposium on proletarian cultural production at Berkeley yesterday. Apparently students are reading Kuroshima at University of Notre Dame, UC Irvine, UC Berkeley, etc.

As you know, Kuroshima was drafted and never got a chance to graduate from university.

Fitting somehow that his book can now be found at Harvard, Oxford, and many other university libraries…

Solidarity

*************************************************

MILITARIZED STREETS, a fact-based novel researched in China, was banned by the Japanese imperial government in 1930 and censored by the US occupation authorities in 1945.

According to a prominent literary historian, Donald Keene, “it may well be the most absorbing work to have been fostered by the proletarian literature movement.”

A full translation by Zeljko Cipris from the Japanese will be found in Denji Kuroshima, A Flock of Swirling Crows & Other Proletarian Writings, published by the University of Hawaii Press, 2005.

***********************************************

The scene: Tsinan (Jinan), China

Time: spring 1928, during a Japanese military intervention

Author: Denji Kuroshima (1898-1943), a soldier in Japan’s imperial army during the Siberian Intervention who became a lifelong antimilitarist and anti-imperialist

Chapter 31

Soldiers were falling in quick succession like puppets of straw.

Within the fort, Fang Chen-wu was doggedly holding his ground. He demonstrated a fighting spirit that would not rest without pushing north to storm Tientsin and Peking whatever the obstacles. The gates were sturdy and could not be broken through easily. The walls were thick. The Sun in the Blue Sky flag continued to fly vigorously within. The defenders were far from weak, and their weapons were new.

Chiang Kai-shek, willing to accede to any Japanese demand, merely proposed that he be allowed to pass through the area and attack Tientsin and Peking. This proposal was not accepted. The Japanese commanding officer knew that Manchuria would be threatened. Thereupon the Chinese soldiers grew stubborn.

As the other units stormed the various sectors of the fort, the officers of Kakimoto’s unit strove desperately to break through the segment assigned to them. The casualties were mounting.

The officers’ ambition and rivalry weighed heavily upon the soldiers. Kakimoto and his comrades could see that clearly. There was no time even to untie their leggings. They were dead tired. It was too much. They dozed unawares while aiming their rifles.

Within the confusion, men lost track of their comrades-in-arms. The city was as hot as under a rain of hot tongs. Torn off by the yellow wind, young acacia leaves mixed with dust flew blindingly through the streets.

That evening the gray uniforms ceased firing. The soldiers returned to the factory and stretched their legs.

Around two in the morning they were assailed by a fearsome nightmare. Some two hundred warriors simultaneously gasped for breath, groaned, and awoke. Hands clawed at the air in distress.

This same phenomenon had taken place in Japan on a night after a new conscript, roundly rebuked and beaten by an instructor for being unable to keep up with a double-time march, had hanged himself from a pine branch before an old castle. That time too the entire company had gasped for breath. They had groaned. And they had awoken simultaneously. It was inexplicable.

“Something sinister is happening.”

“I thought I was being strangled… It was awful, I just couldn’t breathe.”

“Someone’s actually being killed! Brutally killed for no reason!”

They were fully awake.

“Is Takatori here? Takatori? Is Takatori here? I have a feeling I saw Takatori with someone!” Kakimoto looked as though he were still staring at a phantom. He felt himself dragged into a deep icy pit.

The next morning they learned that Takatori, Nasu, Okamoto, Matsushita, and Tamada had not come back. Everyone wondered but no one said anything. They spoke to each other with their eyes.

Kitani and Kakimoto inquired at the hospital casualty wards and morgues: not there. Evening came. Still they did not return. The following morning came. Still they did not return. Relieved sentries, pale with lack of sleep and with dew, returned to quarters. There was no news.

Takatori’s commander, Lieutenant Shigefuji, came back from somewhere looking exceedingly odd. In a corner of the room, Kitani and Kakimoto caught sight of the lieutenant’s highly unnatural smile suggesting he was concealing something. Kitani’s intuition latched onto that smile. The lieutenant’s state of mind was so plain he felt he could touch it.

“How about it, today we’re attacking the Le-yuan gate…”

“Is that so.” Kitani’s response to the lieutenant’s shamefaced, ingratiating overture was cool and brusque.

“If you men give it your best shot today, it’s sure to fall.”

“Is that so… Lieutenant, sir! What happened to Takatori and the others? They’ve been gone since the day before yesterday. We can’t find them anywhere.”

“What do you mean by asking me that? Kitani! What do you have to do with Takatori?” Lieutenant Shigefuji, his eyes and voice furious, suddenly closed in on Kitani. His attitude evinced a readiness to shoot Kitani too.

“We have plenty to do with him. It’s only natural to worry about our comrades!”

Kakimoto, who had been watching the exchange from the side, abruptly grabbed his rifle and rose, resolution and anger etched between his eyebrows. The soldiers who up to now had been winding their leggings or smoking grew tense also. Some, taking up their rifles, rose from the opposite corner, breechblocks clicking as they chambered rounds of ammunition.

“Look here, Kakimoto, what do you mean by doing that?” demanded the lieutenant.

“No need to say what I mean, is there.”

Lieutenant Shigefuji found himself in a genuine confrontation. The lieutenant had been under the impression that he possessed the power to command the platoon. Yet now, before Private Kakimoto’s rifle, he was nothing but a single living creature — just as, the day before yesterday, the disarmed Takatori, Nasu, Okamoto and others had been nothing but frail living creatures.

And so all of a sudden, he cunningly played his best remaining card. Falling back from Kakimoto five or six steps, he shouted: “All right, fall in! Fall in! Everyone take your rifle and out!” and rushed out of the dormitory as if fleeing.

“Son of a bitch! Disgraceful shit of an officer!” The enraged soldiers cursed him in unison.

********************************************

Kakimoto was thinking about the slightly foolish, reckless Takatori. Where had that honest, genial fellow gone?

He seemed foolish but was in fact anything but a fool. It had been Takatori who had approached the workers before anyone else. He had made friends with them.

Soldiers had thrown away their lives in the Russo-Japanese and Sino-Japanese wars. Now they were risking their lives to protect the settlers and their property. But those were bloody lies. It was Takatori who had pointed this out before anyone else.

“In truth, all they’re making us do is kill the Chinese,” he had said. And then he had sympathetically asked Kakimoto about his aunt’s family.

At that time Kakimoto did not yet know that his aunt had barely managed to flee to the S Bank, nor that her five-year-old daughter had been killed. The silver hidden beneath the floorboards had vanished too. He did not know that either.

“The P’u-li-men neighborhood suffered the worst damage.”

“So it seems. I still can’t go to see it.”

“What did we come here for?… We’ve come all this way yet we can’t protect our own relatives or even see them… Let’s hope they’re all right.”

“Hmm, I’m awfully worried about them!”

“All the way here they send us,” resumed Takatori, “and we wouldn’t even be able to protect our own parents… This is the truth. This is the true picture of our present situation. Only those with a pile of money get protected. And it doesn’t matter in the least what kind of sacrifices we ourselves have to pay.

“While guarding the factories here, we torment the workers. We drive off the Southern Army. This way, they’re thinking, they’ll get their hands on the Manchurian interests. Because for them Manchuria is the grand prize.

“We get paid about seven yen a month. Our lives get thrown away for free. We get nothing out of it. When we go back, we get nothing unless we go out to work for it. We may be their Manchurian bulwark, but they won’t give us any time off or free food for it…

“If we’re truly here to protect the settlers, why do they put us in this dirty, uncomfortable, bedbug-infested factory dorm? There are plenty of cleaner, bigger buildings like the elementary school, the club, and the like. And they’re much more convenient. What’s the reason for putting us here other than to oppress the workers and guard the factory?”

Kakimoto felt deeply moved, quite out of keeping with Takatori’s bold speech.

“We’re being used to beat China down. And the more we hinder the workers’ and peasants’ movement here, the harder our own lives at home will get.”

That, too, Takatori had said.

“It is only the wealthy who smile while crushing China. The wealthy will get even wealthier from it… They’ll profit, and they’ll use those profits to keep us pinned in our place. In any case, we can never win alone. Unless the Chinese do their damnedest, our own task at home will be really tough!”

And now Takatori had vanished.

It was only his final words that Kakimoto did not yet understand clearly.

What worried the officers far more than any outlaws or Southern troops holding out in a fort were those ninja leaflets, and the likes of Takatori, and the possibility of a revolutionary alliance between the workers and the soldiers.

It was that they feared the most.

There was no defense against that.

“Workers Of All Countries, Unite!


Japanese anti-imperialist poster from late 1920s, by the Alliance Against Intervention in China. (Ohara Institute for Social Research, Hosei University)

“Just Two Cowboys, Roaming And Raging Around The World”

From: Richard Hastie
To: GI Special
Sent: April 05, 2006

Reagan Airport in Washington, D.C. September 2005.

It is fitting, that the Bush Scream T-Shirt has everything to do with Ronald Reagan. Just two cowboys, roaming and raging around the world.

Mike Hastie
Vietnam Veteran

Photo from the I-R-A-Q (I Remember Another Quagmire) portfolio of Mike Hastie, US Army Medic, Vietnam 1970-71. (For more of his outstanding work, contact at: (hastiemike@earthlink.net) T)

IRAQ RESISTANCE ROUNDUP

Assorted Resistance Action

04/07/06 DPA

In the town of al-Suwaira south of Baghdad, police discovered the bodies of three members of the security forces, including an Iraqi soldier and a lieutenant-colonel. The bodies were found with their hands cut off.

The decapitated body of man wearing a man in an military uniform was found in the town of al-Shahaimiya, 120 kilometres south of Baghdad.

IF YOU DON’T LIKE THE RESISTANCE
END THE OCCUPATION

Sadr Says Occupation “Killing Religious Shiite Clerics In Order To Start A Sectarian Strife”

4/7/2006 AFP

In his Friday sermon, Moqtada Sadr blamed the US forces for Thursday’s Najaf bombing.

“This is not the first time that the occupation forces and their death squads have resorted to killings,” the cleric said referring to the Najaf bombing.

Sadr also blamed the US-led coalition forces for Iraq’s recent wave of communal violence, charging that the United States was “killing religious Shiite clerics in order to start a sectarian strife”.

OCCUPATION REPORT

Good News For The Iraqi Resistance!!
U.S. Occupation Commands’ Stupid Terror Tactics Recruit Even More Fighters To Kill U.S. Troops


A US soldier kicks a door in Tal Afar, 02 April 2006. (AFP/File/Hassan Ammar)

[Fair is fair. Let’s bring 150,000 Iraqis over here to the USA. They can kill people at checkpoints, bust into their houses with force and violence, overthrow the government, put a new one in office they like better and call it “sovereign,” and “detain” anybody who doesn’t like it in some prison without any charges being filed against them, or any trial.]

[Those Iraqis are sure a bunch of backward primitives. They actually resent this help, have the absurd notion that it’s bad their country is occupied by a foreign military dictatorship, and consider it their patriotic duty to fight and kill the soldiers sent to grab their country. What a bunch of silly people. How fortunate they are to live under a military dictatorship run by George Bush. Why, how could anybody not love that? You’d want that in your home town, right?]

“In the States, if police burst into your house, kicking down doors and swearing at you, you would call your lawyer and file a lawsuit,” said Wood, 42, from Iowa, who did not accompany Halladay’s Charlie Company, from his battalion, on Thursday’s raid. “Here, there are no lawyers. Their resources are limited, so they plant IEDs (improvised explosive devices) instead.”

OCCUPATION ISN’T LIBERATION
BRING ALL THE TROOPS HOME NOW!

OCCUPATION PALESTINE

Palestine Resistance Attacks Military Vehicle

4/6/2006 International Middle East Media Center

The Abu Al Arish Brigades claimed responsibility for injuring an Israeli solder during the Israeli raid of Khaimit Al Amoud in the Nablus Governorate on Thursday morning.

In a statement, the Brigades said that its fighters exploded a bomb in an Israeli military vehicle, injuring the passenger. They confirmed they will continue the struggle in response to the assassination of the leader of the Nasser Salah Addin Brigades.

[To check out what life is like under a murderous military occupation by a foreign power, go to: www.rafahtoday.org The foreign army is Israeli; the occupied nation is Palestine.]

DANGER: POLITICIANS AT WORK

Cheney And Halliburton Hold Title;
Top Earners In Iraq

30 March, 2006 Evelyn Pringle, Uruknet.info?p=22111 [Excerpts]

There has never been an investigation into Cheney’s involvement in awarding Halliburton no-bid contracts making the company the number one war profiteerer in Iraq.

Apparently people have forgotten about the March 5, 2003 e-mail between the Army Corps of Engineers and a Pentagon employee that stated the contract “has been coordinated w VP’s office.”

People also seem to have forgotten that Cheney continues to own stock in Halliburton. Stock that has risen in leaps and bounds since its former CEO moved into the White House and developed the most prolific war profiteering scheme of all time.

A study released in June 2005, originating from the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA), revealed that overall, Halliburton had received roughly 52% of the $25.4 billion that has been paid out to private contractors since the war in Iraq began.

Halliburton was the top profiteer when it came to funds belonging to the citizens of Iraq as well.

An analysis of the data released in August 2004, showed the CPA had awarded 85% of the contracts to US and UK firms and that Iraqi companies received a mere 2% of the contracts paid for with Iraqi funds. Halliburton received 60% of all contracts paid for with Iraqi money.

People must have been picking on Halliburton long before Iraq because under Cheney’s watch, the company was caught ripping of the government time and time again. In 1997, the GAO caught the company charging $85.98 for a sheet of plywood that only cost $14.06.

In a 2000 follow-up investigation, Halliburton was caught billing tax payers for cleaning the exact same office space 4 times a day.

Stuart Bowen, auditor of the now-disbanded Coalition Provisional Authority, said that 6,975 of 20,531 items on Halliburton’s ledgers were unaccounted for.

“This occurred because KBR did not effectively manage government property,” his report said.

“As a result,” Bowen said, “we projected that KBR could not account for 6,975 property items from an inventory of 20,531 valued at $61.1 million.”

If Cheney is to be believed, the conspiracy to pick on Halliburton is a global effort because as of July 2004, the French, British, Nigerian and US governments were all investigating Halliburton’s activities while Cheney was CEO, for paying over $180 million in bribes to Nigerian officials in exchange for a $6 billion contract to build a natural gas plant in Nigeria.

In this investigation, former Halliburton employees are ratting out Cheney himself.

Ex-Halliburton consultant, Attorney Jeffrey Tesler, testified under oath in May, 2004 that he made bribery payments to Jack Stanley, while Stanley was president of Halliburton subsidiary KBR, and also made payments to Halliburton executive William Chaudran. His testimony was backed up by banking records and Tesler said CEO Cheney approved the payments.

Cheney had better not get too comfortable because his criminal empire may soon come crashing down around him.

Rabid Rat:
Must Be Approached With Caution And Fully Charged Taser


February 2005. (AFP/File/Leslie E. Kossoff)

What do you think? Comments from service men and women, and veterans, are especially welcome. Send to thomasfbarton@earthlink.net. Name, I.D., address withheld unless publication requested. Replies confidential.

OCCUPATION ISN’T LIBERATION
BRING ALL THE TROOPS HOME NOW!

NEED SOME TRUTH? CHECK OUT 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.  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

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