GI SPECIAL 4E6: 6/5/06
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THIS IS HOW BUSH BRINGS THE TROOPS HOME:
“We Iraq Vets Need To Get Out There And Start Telling The Truth”
The republicans all drank the Kool aid a long time ago. Do any of them understand we are dying and getting maimed every single day. Will at least one of them visit the war zone strap on full battle rattle and go out on a patrol and see what the hell is going on.
Monday, April 17, 2006 posted by silvertone32, i-won.blogspot.com/
I have come to this painful conclusion after I have spent a little over 2 years in the party. I switched from the republican party after I got back from the war.
Dont get me wrong the republicans suck even more but one cant deny that the democrats lack the balls to do anything.
The issue is the war…period.
We must feed the machine and the machine chews up resources at an astounding rate.
Even more so because all of the Bush cronies are supplying the war effort and they are running amok, unchecked taking advantage of all the misery that comes with warfare.
Everything that is wrong with our country can be tied to the war.
Economy sucks…its the war. Division among the people …its the war. Fuel prices …its the war. Astounding debt…its the war.
The nieghbor down the street with the flag at half mast and 2 children left…its the war.
All of this and the democrats seem to parrot the current administrations view and agenda on the war. Will someone tell me the difference because I can not see it.
For all the lies Bush has been caught in and all of the downright crooked shit the man and his cronies do the Dems simply just sit there.
The republicans all drank the Kool aid a long time ago. Do any of them understand we are dying and getting maimed every single day. Will at least one of them visit the war zone strap on full battle rattle and go out on a patrol and see what the hell is going on.
I have yet to see any serious backlash from the American public.
Yeah there are peace rallys and Cindy Sheehan has done wonders to call attention to how fucked up this war really is but for the most part..the war goes on unchecked and unabbatted.
Most of the protesters are the same people who protest everything.
We Iraq vets need to get out there and start telling the truth.
I honestly have no answer to what its gonna take to get Americans off their lazy asses and out of their SUV’s to stop this war.
One thing I know for sure..the war will end only when enough of us get together and demand it to stop.
Until then it will continue to be a war dominated by special interests who’s sole purpose is to make as much money as possible.
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
Virginia Marine Killed
3 U.S. Soldiers Killed In Babil
5/5/2006 The Associated Press.
A roadside bomb killed three U.S. soldiers in Iraq on Friday, the military said.
The explosion hit their vehicle in a U.S. convoy at about 11:45 a.m. in Babil province south of Baghdad, the U.S. command said.
Babil Police Capt. Muthana Khalid said a roadside bomb heavily damaged a Humvee in a U.S. military convoy at about 11:30 a.m. near Mahaweel city, 35 miles south of Baghdad. He said two American soldiers were immediately killed by the blast and one was seriously wounded and evacuated for medical treatment.
Two Soldiers Based At Fort Leonard Wood Were Killed Thursday
May 5, 2006 Springfield News-Leader
Two soldiers based at Fort Leonard Wood were killed Thursday by a roadside bomb in Iraq.
The soldiers were Staff Sgt. Gavin B. Reinke, 32, of Pueblo, Colo., and Spec. Bryan L. Quinton, 24, of Sand Springs, Okla.
The men were part of the 5th Engineer Brigade and were working in Babil province south of Baghdad when the explosion occurred.
Fort Leonard Wood officials also said three 5th Engineers Brigade soldiers were injured in the blast.
The soldiers were riding in a RG-31 Mine Protected Armored Personnel Carrier in a U.S. military convoy when the improvised explosive device detonated.
Soldier Dies At Taji
May 5, 2006 U.S. Department of Defense News Release No. 403-06
Pfc. Christopher M. Eckhardt, 19, of Phoenix, Ariz., died in Taji, Iraq on May 3, from a non-combat related cause. Eckhardt was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 42nd Field Artillery, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.
Sapulpa Soldier Dies
05/05/06 Associated Press
SAPULPA, Okla. A U-S Army soldier from Sapulpa has died in a roadside explosion near Baghdad according to a family spokesman.
A spokesman for the family of Private First Class Bryan Quinton says Quinton’s parents were told yesterday of their son’s death.
Dana Hudgins says Quinton believed in what he was doing in the military and spoke to fellow members of the Open Door Fellowship Church in Sapulpa on Sunday.
Funeral arrangements are pending and information about the explosion was not immediately available.
Camden Marine Dies
May 05. 2006 Observer-Dispatch
CAMDEN: Eli Parker, a 2002 Camden High School graduate and a Marine fighting in Iraq, has been killed, Camden residents said Thursday.
Though official confirmation and details of the death could not be obtained Thursday night, friends and neighbors of the Parker family said the parents were notified by the Marines during the day.
Carl Goodwill, who said he is a family friend, said Parker, son of Renny and Donna Parker, was a sergeant and combat engineer.
“He was very much an admired person and an excellent citizen,” Goodwill said.
Parker was a senior in the fall of 2001, when the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks occurred, said Goodwill, who also is a school guidance counselor. “It inspired him to serve his country,” he said.
Local Soldier Injured
May 05, 2006 WEEK-TV
A local soldier was seriously injured in Baghdad today when the vehicle he was riding in struck a roadside bomb.
Army Private 1st Class Caleb Lufkin suffered shrapnel wounds and broke several bones according to family members in Knoxville.
Lufkin is a 2000 graduate of Knoxville High School in Knox County. He has been serving in Iraq since October.
The soldier’s grandparents say the Army expects to fly him to Germany for treatment once his condition stabilizes.
Lufkin and another soldier were injured in the attack and two others were reportedly killed.
“It’s Just Another Day In Iraq, Hitting The Floor Or Running For A Bunker Because Of Incoming Mortars”
5/5/2006 Randy Beamer News 4 [Excerpt]
You hear the siren first, then the voice over the booming loudspeakers: “Incoming! Incoming! Incoming!”
While shooting pictures of a San Antonio nurse, I hear that warning, then another from someone on the other side of the ward.
“Everybody down! Everybody down!
It’s just another day in Iraq, hitting the floor or running for a bunker because of incoming mortars.
“It’s definitely dangerous. We get mortared relatively frequently,” Air Force critical care nurse Steven Lehr tells me.
But they tell me the “good” news is that those mortars are usually fired from crude launchers far off the 15 square miles of Balad Air Base. So they don’t usually hit anything.
But they have. And there have been casualties.
So nursing or even playing spades in body armor is routine in what they call “Mortaritaville.”
“They Would Melt A Hummer Completely To The Ground”
May. 6, 2006 Katie Nelson, The Arizona Republic
Jared Martin is back in Tempe, back to the place where he spent his days as a high school athlete, lifting weights, or working electrical and warehouse jobs.
But the Jared Martin who returned is a different man. He is a decorated former Marine sergeant still dealing with the pain and struggles of adjusting to life after four years of duty in Iraq.
“There was no fair fighting over there,” Martin said. “It can be peaceful and quiet and the next thing you know, mortars coming down on you from every different direction.”
Martin, 29, has been honorably discharged now for almost five months, but the memories and the challenges are still there. His is a story of trying to slowly build a new life in Tempe.
He coaches a baseball team of 8-year-olds on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
He bowls on Wednesdays at the Tempe Village Lanes Bowling Center.
He works out twice a day and tends to his 18 plants. He has a girlfriend, 21-year-old Sarah Hanau. He depends on her, especially when the nightmares come. Together, they’ve made a home out of a one-bedroom apartment near Arizona State University, where Hanau is a full-time student studying criminal justice.
“It’s all about finding stress relief,” Martin said of efforts to build a new life.
Even more helpful is the Carl T. Hayden Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Phoenix. Even though the shrapnel wounds all over the right side of Martin’s body have healed, he’s still receiving treatment for post traumatic stress disorder.
He’s trying to deal with the memory of days like March 23, 2003.
Six hours of combat that day in “Ambush Alley” are still regarded as one of the war’s fiercest battles, and the alley has been described in two recently released books. Ambush Alley: The Most Extraordinary Battle of the Iraq War by Tim Pritchard is one.
Martin said its portrayal is incredibly accurate. “It is just like coming out of their own mouths,” he said of his fellow soldiers.
His company lost 18 men in “Ambush Alley,” and Martin watched many of them die, including his best buddy.
Even so, his second tour of duty was much more dangerous, he said. Insurgents got smarter and more effective at using roadside bombs and other weapons.
The improvised explosive devices “got bigger and bigger and bigger and more dangerous,” Martin said. “They would melt a Hummer completely to the ground. There is nothing left afterward.
“Any time you went out on patrol. You didn’t know if it was your last patrol – you know – if you made your last phone call or ate your last meal.” And he went on an average of four patrols a day.
“I’m just trying to adjust and become healthy again,” he said. “I’m no longer that war hero I was right when I got back. I’m just an average guy living in an apartment.”
But Martin said he is grateful to be here.
“I thank God for me being able to be alive and that I’ve got all my limbs,” he said. “I’m really fortunate. I was in the worst of the battle and I made it through. I watch guys go down, but I’m still here.”
AFGHANISTAN WAR REPORTS
A Big Fat Fuck You To The Occupation:
5.5.06 USA Today
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a former Afghan prime minister who controls a wide area of eastern Afghanistan, declared support for Osama bin Laden and said his group of militants would shelter al-Qaeda leaders. [And he’s not hiding either.]
“Such Rebellion Within The Ranks Stunned Military Brass”
May 3, 2006 Reviewed by Chuck Wilson, L.A. Weekly Film Critics
SIR! NO SIR! Director David Zeiger’s superb documentary about the Vietnam War era’s GI protest movement is jammed with incident and anecdote and moves with nearly as much breathless momentum as the movement itself, which was spurred along by mimeographed fliers and newspapers written by soldiers and secretly distributed on bases and battlefields.
Such rebellion within the ranks stunned military brass and got more than one GI court-martialed and sentenced to years in prison.
Several of those men appear here, in interviews juxtaposed against remarkable archival footage of their respective protests and arrests.
Elsewhere, Zeiger’s film, which probably doesn’t have a Fox News Channel airing in its future, offers glimpses of the anti-war stage shows organized (by Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland, among others) as counterpoint to Bob Hope’s boost-the-troops extravaganzas, plus wrenching testimony from the 1971 “Winter Soldier” hearings in Detroit, at which more than 100 combat vets spoke publicly about what they’d seen and done in Vietnam.
Although it reverberates with resonance to our current misadventure, Sir! No Sir! should stand the test of time, not just for its captivating history lesson, but for its dispelling of many a myth, from the one about returning vets being spat on at the San Francisco airport, to the one that says an individual acting from conscience can’t manage to change the world. (One Colorado; Monica 4-Plex) (Chuck Wilson)
Sir! No Sir!:
Advance tickets on sale NOW through the IFC box office
Check out the trailer at www.sirnosir.com
[Thanks to Soldier X, for sending this in.]
May 04, 2006 By TONY SWINDELL, Counterpunch [Excerpt]
‘’I served with the 11th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division, and My Lai was not an isolated incident. We came to be known as the Butcher’s Brigade, and we also were the birthplace of the Phoenix Program. The brigade commander and a battalion commander were charged with murdering civilians (shooting them from helicopters, recorded in some of my photos), although both skated.
If you recall from his autobiography, Colin Powell served briefly with the 11th in Duc Pho before going to division HQ in Chu Lai.
By February 1969, morale in the brigade had hit rock bottom because of horrific casualties caused primarily from booby traps, and an entire battalion had been stood down as non-functional.
The North Vietnamese were endlessly blasting our firebases with 122 mm rocket artillery, and LZ Bronco was soon to be hit more than 200 times during a famous assault that came to be called “Duc Pho Burning”.
Mutinies, insubordination and fragging of officers became commonplace. Soldiers cracked and a few committed suicide.
One grunt over the edge opened fire into the POW compound, killing a number of captured enemy. Col. Donaldson and a battalion commander, two of the highest-ranking officers in the brigade, were charged with murdering civilians from helicopters while the My Lai investigation was still underway.
FYI, my unit was given an entire chapter in the Time Life Vietnam War collection about combat photos and correspondents. In a nutshell, we went everywhere ? with grunts, recon, Special Forces, combat engineers, artillery, wherever combat was anticipated. We pretty much served as the army’s eyes, kept track of action and casualty info and passed it along, etc.
As a result, we had a good handle on things. Our unit was almost totally made up of experienced combat soldiers who joined the unit after service in the bush. It takes a little sand to be able to concentrate on your camera while people are shooting at you with automatic weapons or high explosive rounds.
I got shot down once on a combat assault against the North Vietnamese in the 1st Huey into a landing zone so I could take pictures of the grunts coming in. In all, I participated in more than 30 full-scale combat missions, and several more aboard Medevac flights.
My buddies in the unit had equally harrowing experiences, with one taking an AK round through the lens of his camera. I think all of us each earned four battle stars in 11 months, which gave a 4-week early release from Vietnam. We all had nicknames, and mine was Torch.
Tony Swindell can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lockheed’s Incredible $361 Million Flying Disaster:
May 2, 2006 By ROBERT BRYCE, CounterPunch
Last week, Lockheed Martin announced that its profits were up a hefty 60 percent in the first quarter. The company earned $591 million in profit on revenues of $9.2 billion.
Now, if the company could just figure out how to put a door handle on its new $361 million F-22 fighter, its prospects would really soar.
On April 10, at Langley Air Force Base, an F-22 pilot, Capt. Brad Spears, was locked inside the cockpit of his aircraft for five hours. No one in the U.S. Air Force or from Lockheed Martin could figure out how to open the aircraft’s canopy.
At about 1:15 pm, chainsaw-wielding firefighters from the 1st Fighter Wing finally extracted Spears after they cut through the F-22's three-quarter inch-thick polycarbonate canopy.
Total damage to the airplane, according to sources inside the Pentagon: $1.28 million. Not only did the firefighters ruin the canopy, which cost $286,000, they also scuffed the coating on the airplane’s skin which will cost about $1 million to replace.
The Pentagon currently plans to buy 181 copies of the F-22 from Lockheed Martin, the world’s biggest weapons vendor. The total price tag: $65.4 billion.
The incident at Langley has many Pentagon watchers shaking their heads. Tom Christie, the former director of testing and evaluation for the DOD, calls the F-22 incident at Langley “incredible.”
“God knows what’ll happen next,” said Christie, who points out that the F-22 has about two million lines of code in its software system. “This thing is so software intensive. You can’t check out every line of code.”
Now, just for the sake of comparison, Windows XP, one of the most common computer operating systems, contains about 45 million lines of code.
But if any of that code fails, then the computer that’s running it simply stops working. It won’t cause that computer to fall out of the sky. If any of the F-22's two million lines of computer code go bad, then the pilot can die, or, perhaps, just get trapped in the cockpit.
One analyst inside the Pentagon who has followed the F-22 for years said that “Everyone’s incredulous. They’re asking can this really have happened?” As for Lockheed Martin, the source said, “Whatever the problem was, the people who built it should know how to open the canopy.”
Given that the U.S. military is Lockheed Martin’s biggest client, perhaps the company could provide the Air Force with a supply of slim jims or coat hangars, just in case another F-22 pilot gets stuck at the controls.
As if the latest canopy shenanigans weren’t bad enough, on May 1, Defense News reported that there are serious structural problems with the F-22. Seems the titanium hull of the aircraft isn’t meshing as well as it should. Naturally, taxpayers have to foot the bill for the mistake (improper heat-treating of the titanium) which is found on 90 aircraft.
The cost of repairing those wrinkles? Another $1 billion or so.
Lockheed Martin’s F-22 spokesman, Joe Quimby, did not return telephone calls.
Robert Bryce lives in Austin, Texas. He is the author of Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas, America’s Superstate. He can be reached at: email@example.com
Pentagon Conspires With War Profiteers To Hide Expenses For Flying Turkey F22
5.15.06 Business Week
Sen. John McCain smells something fishy with how the Air Force is trying to minimize the near-term expense of the F-22 Raptors by buying its next 20 planes piecemeal: sections of the fuselage in fiscal 2007, much of the innards in future years.
Marine General Orders Another Worthless Piece Of Shit To Iraq
5.5.06 Dallas Morning News
Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John G. Castellaw, deputy commander for aviation, said the V-22 Osprey will make its combat debut next year in Iraq, despite a recent mishap in which one of the tilt-rotor aircraft broke a wing.
Overstretch Turns Special Forces Into Special Farces
5.4.06 London Daily Telegraph
American Special Forces, the cutting edge of the global strategy for winning the war against terror, are so overstretched that many units are deploying to the world’s trouble spots unable to communicate with the locals.
West Point Brassholes Trying To Stomp On Grads’ Group Against The War
[Thanks to David Cline and Ben Chitty, Vietnam Veterans Against The War]
May 5, 2006 by Mike McAndrew, Syracuse Post-Standard & By WILLIAM KATES, Associated Press Writer
There’s a West Point Barber Shop, West Point Pizza and West Point Florist.
But the U.S. Military Academy at West Point is warning a Manlius man that his new organization West Point Graduates Against the War better stop using the words “West Point” in its name.
Bill Cross, a West Point graduate and Vietnam War veteran, said he’s become accustomed to some military officials criticizing him for protesting both U.S. wars on Iraq.
But Cross never expected the government to threaten to use trademark laws to stifle him, he said.
On April 12, just days after www.westpointgradsagainst thewar.org was launched on the Internet, a West Point lawyer mailed Cross’ organization a letter alleging it is violating the U.S. Army’s trademark.
Cross, a psychology professor at Onondaga Community College and family therapist, co-founded West Point Graduates with his 1962 classmates Jim Ryan, of New York City, and Joe Wojcik, of Claremont, Calif.
He said the organization has a Web site, but no assets, and it isn’t selling anything. The founders plan to incorporate it as a nonprofit business. West Point graduates, their spouses and their children can join for free.
Cross estimated that about 50 people have joined since the Web site was launched in mid-April. Through Tuesday afternoon, there had been more than 22,000 hits on the group’s Web site.
As for barbers and florists who use the name for their businesses, at least three interviewed Thursday said they’ve never been contacted by the Army, and were unaware the name was a trademark.
“I’m 73 years old, I’ve been here 50 years and they’ve never bothered me,” said Bill Carlton, owner of the West Point Barber Shop in West Point, Va. “As far as I know, anybody who wants to open (a business) can go ahead and grab (the name).”
An attorney hired by Cross and his colleagues said the warning raises questions of First Amendment speech protection and selective enforcement. Joseph Heath said he noted the concerns in a response sent to the Army on Monday; he has not yet received a reply, he said.
In a letter sent Monday to West Point, Heath questioned the academy’s stance given his client’s First Amendment rights and the widespread use of the words “West Point.”
“I would hope that the Army would be proud of these men and their willingness to promote democracy and freedom of speech,” wrote Heath, a Navy veteran who also opposes the war.
Heath also noted widespread commercial use of the words “West Point.”
IRAQ RESISTANCE ROUNDUP
Assorted Resistance Action
May 5 (KUNA) & (Reuters) & AFP
In northern city of Irbil, unidentified resistance fighters abducted today seven experts and engineers working at the North Oil Company southwest of the oil city of Kirkuk.
An Iraqi police source told KUNA that the guerrillas attacked the vehicle of the experts after it broke down on the Kirkuk-Tikrit road. He added that the experts were taken to an unidentified location.
An Iraqi soldier was wounded on Friday when an explosive device blew up as the patrol was passing by in the city of Mosel, northern Iraq, said an Iraqi police source.
A police major was killed by guerrillas near his house in Diwaniya, 180 km (110 miles) south of Baghdad, on Thursday.
Two Iraqi soldiers were killed by gunpersons near Balad, 80 km (50 miles) north of Baghdad, on Thursday.
Two policemen were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near their patrol in eastern Baghdad, police said.
Elsewhere, a British headquarters in Basra was hit late last night with missiles. Resistance partisans launched three missiles at Shat Al-Arab hotel in central Basra, which homes British and Multi-National Forces.
In Kadimiyah, north Baghdad, gunmen killed an Iraqi army major.
North of the capital, two policemen were killed when their vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb in the town of Mugdadiyah, police said.
Get The Message?
IF YOU DON’T LIKE THE RESISTANCE
Lest We Forget
4 May 2006
Unarmed Kent State University student Alan Canfora faces the Ohio National Guard on the Kent State campus on May 4, 1970. Moments later they opened fire into the crowd of students, firing 67 shots in 13 seconds. Four students were killed, nine were injured. Alan dove behind a tree but was still shot in the hand.
How Bad Is It?
3 May (IRIN)
About six million households have suffered regular power shortages since 30 April when insurgents attacked a major power plant supplying the capital, causing serious problems for families without access to private generators.
For three consecutive days, residents of the capital, Baghdad, have received less than one hour of electricity per day. On Tuesday, the Ministry of Electricity said it could take a week or more to restore the power supply to previous levels of about six hours daily.
With summer beginning and temperatures rising, residents are expressing frustration. “I’ve lost all the meat I had in my refrigerator because my generator’s broken,” said Baghdad shopkeeper Ahmed el-Zein. “Insurgents attack the plants to hurt the government, but it’s the innocent population that suffers.”
Even the so-called “Green Zone”, in which the national government is headquartered, has been subject to frequent power outages.
Some aggravated residents place the blame squarely on the US military, which has occupied the country since early 2003, and the slow pace of US-led reconstruction efforts.
“US reconstruction companies haven’t been unable to restore the power levels maintained under the Saddam Hussein regime,” said Mahmoud Hassan, a professor of electrical engineering at Baghdad University. “This has shown up their incompetence ever since they invaded our country.”
In March 2004, one year into the occupation, residents of Baghdad could expect around 16 hours of electricity a day. Two years later, however, this dropped to a mere six hours daily.
“The We’re-So-Preponderant-You’ll-Never-Be-Able-To-Get-Rid-Of-Us Fantasy”
Recall our giant bases at places like Danang and Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam or our embassy in Saigon. They, too, were meant for permanency until, of course, we didn’t turn out to be quite as preponderant as we dreamed.
04 May 2006 By Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch.com
In this context, the President welcomed back his secretaries of state and defense last week.
On his orders, they had just flown to Baghdad in what appeared to be an unseemly rush to stamp “American preponderance” on the forehead of the new Prime-Minister Designate Nuri al-Maliki and so brand him an American “puppet.” (I didn’t use that word, I swear. A reporter questioning the two secretaries at a Baghdad news conference did.)
From the Rose Garden, the President made a statement in which he referred to Maliki’s prospective new government (that, for all we know, may never come into being), using a politer p-word – “partner.”
He claimed that (gasp!) we had finally reached the “turning point” for which all Americans have been waiting so breathlessly. (In the Vietnam era, of course, this was the infamous “light at the end of the tunnel,” the military version of which was the “crossover point.”)
Not that such a turning point hasn’t already been announced a million times by just about every American civil and military official in sight, but his exact words were: “This new government is going to represent a new start for the Iraqi people… we believe this is a turning point for the Iraqi citizens, and it’s a new chapter in our partnership.”
A new chapter? Maybe the President was reading Stephen King’s Carrie for the first time over the weekend. Who knows? Can anyone but him believe this any more?
Not, evidently, his secretary of state, who is reputedly slightly more reality-based than the Man Upstairs.
Her people seem to have chosen another image, according to a New York Times report on her trip to Baghdad: “At least in Ms. Rice’s entourage, there was an atmosphere that the joint visit might offer a last chance to reverse some of the mistakes of the past three years in providing security for Iraq, getting the oil and power systems back and curbing sectarian hatreds and corruption.”
A last chance.
The President aside, the images used by this administration have, like its polling figures, been on a distinct downward slide for some time.
Only months ago, its officials reached the Iraqi “precipice” and finally looked down into “the abyss” of civil war, before everyone (supposedly) took “a step back.” Evidently, one step back from the precipice offers you that “last chance.” For what you might ask? The answer’s obvious: For American preponderance to finally get it right.
The War Can Be Won from Las Vegas (Last Chance, Take Three):
Call in the (air) cavalry. This is the more general version of the above, the belief that air power – we have it, they don’t – can do what ground troops couldn’t. The insurgents may control their neighborhoods, towns, and villages, but at least we can spot and destroy them whenever and wherever they gather via our “flock” of Predator drones over Baghdad and elsewhere (but operated from a base outside Las Vegas), as Michael Hirsh reports in Newsweek.
Does no one remember the Vietnam equivalent of this: Robert McNamara’s sure-fire “electronic battlefield” and the hubris that went with it? Or the massive use of air power over rural (and sometimes urban) South Vietnam and its results? Ever since World War II, air power has been the American form of war-fighting and its promise has always dazzled strategists.
Yet it is essentially guaranteed to be no more decisive in the urban jungles of Iraq than it was in the actual jungles of Vietnam.
We’ll Never Leave (and You Can’t Make Us):
This might be thought of as the we’re-so-preponderant-you’ll-never-be-able-to-get-rid-of-us fantasy. The Bush administration continues to build-up our major bases in Iraq massively.
When you look under the headlines, U.S. officials tend to let leak that we’re digging in at our major “consolidated” bases for at least a decade – and you now find quotes from officials on those bases like this: “It’s safe to say Balad will be here for a long time.”
The 15 square-mile American air base at Balad – in air-traffic terms second only to London’s Heathrow Airport – is indeed a massive American town with at least some of the amenities of home. Dubbed “Mortaritaville” by its residents, it is, according to Hirsh, “shaping up to resemble a warrior’s country club.”
Or, if you’re talking “permanent,” consider the embassy we’re building inside Baghdad’s Green Zone. It’s the size of Vatican city, will have its own apartment buildings (six of them) for its staff of perhaps 5,500 (all that diplomatic heavy-lifting), its own electricity, well-water, and waste-treatment facilities to guarantee “100 percent independence from city utilities,” not to speak of the “swimming pool, gym, commissary, food court and American Club, all housed in a recreation building.” And unlike just about every other reconstruction project in the country, it’s going up efficiently and on schedule.
In fact, reports the London Times’ Daniel McGrory, it drives Baghdad residents wild to watch what they call, in mock-honor of Saddam Hussein’s famously self-glorifying building projects, “George W’s palace,” as it rises on the banks of the Tigris River, while their lives crumble around them.
It will be bermed, “hardened,” and have its own defense force (just like the Vatican!).
A citadel inside a citadel, this one is clearly meant for the ages. Talk about preponderant! Talk about signaling who we think is in command in Iraq!
How sensible to establish our diplomatic position in relation to our Iraqi “partner” by erecting the ziggurat of ziggurats. Imagine, as Iraq disintegrates, our soldiers (and their attendant KBR workers) living in blissful, Pizza-Hut isolation on our little, well-fortified American islands.
Do you really think that’s likely to last long?
Recall our giant bases at places like Danang and Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam or our embassy in Saigon. They, too, were meant for permanency until, of course, we didn’t turn out to be quite as preponderant as we dreamed. On the bright side, a hardened fortress of an embassy will be a perfect spot from which to organize an evacuation of the country someday.
What do you think? Comments from service men and women, and veterans, are especially welcome. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org. Name, I.D., withheld on request. Replies confidential.
DANGER: POLITICIANS AT WORK
FBI TARGETED JOURNALIST COVERING FTAA IN MIAMI:
May 4, Florida ACLU by way of Tom Condit
MIAMI: The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Greater Miami Chapter, filed a lawsuit today on behalf of freelance journalist David Lippman. Documents obtained by the ACLU indicate that Lippman was under Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) surveillance for being a “known protestor w/history” as he traveled from his home in North Carolina to Miami to cover the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) protests.
On November 19, 2003, Lippman’s vehicle was searched, seized and damaged by officers from several law enforcement agencies, without probable cause. FBI agents recruited the local officers to break into his vehicle and then, after damaging the vehicle and disturbing the personal possessions he kept within it, to haul away the vehicle and his possessions.
The ACLU lawsuit cites violations of Lippman’s rights to free press, speech, and assembly, and his right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. The case also alleges that Lippman suffered damage to his physical property as well as emotional and other compensable injuries.
“Spying on Americans who are simply exercising their First Amendment rights is an unconstitutional action by the FBI, and in this case, led to violations of the constitutional rights of an innocent man,” said Rosalind Matos, South Florida Staff Counsel for the ACLU of Florida. According to the “after-action” report issued by the Miami Police Department (MPD), the damage to Lippman’s vehicle was caused by officers from Broward Sheriffs Office, an FBI Operational Support Team (OST) and MPD.
Not only was his vehicle damaged, but as a result of the loss of his vehicle and belongings, Lippman was unable to report on the protests and file a story as a freelance journalist.
CLASS WAR REPORTS
May 3, 2006 by Jeff Cohen, CommonDreams [Excerpt]
In our wealthy country, it took a hurricane and the racist neglect afterward to rediscover America’s poor.
Since the 1980s, government policy has done more to criminalize the poor than to lift them out of poverty. Money for prisons has been plentiful; money for proven anti-poverty programs has been scarce.
Due largely to a racially-biased “drug war,” our country’s prison population grew during the Clinton years from 1.4 million to over 2 million, many of whom were nonviolent drug offenders, poor and minority. The Florida recount fiasco of 2000 exposed the appalling reality that felony convictions had stripped three of ten black men in that state of their right to vote.
“If People Value Broken Windows Over Innocent Blood, They Are The Enemy”
I held off sending this to you until the last big show of numbers was over. Now that it’s over, it’s time to put large protests into their proper perspective.
What we need now is quickly mobilized protests all over the place. Having around 5,000 people is optimal size, but I personally think that the 300 University of Minnesota students did more for our cause last week, than the last large demonstration did; and definitely got more local media attention.
Everybody knows we have the numbers. That hasn’t been the issue for quite a while.
I saw the interview with Garrett Reppenhagen on BBC, and he said all that needs to be said.
I encourage everyone to keep spreading the truth wherever they can but, if organizers don’t let people speak the unadulterated truth, it’s their problem.
Protests should be organized very quickly now, by grassroots supporters. If protesters get abused, reinforcements need to be rushed in. That’s how all effective civil rights protests in this country have worked.
The truth, as you know, is that there are actually people in the anti-war movement who don’t give a damn about stopping the war at all. They are simply there to fake it; so they can play on public opinion. Wherever there’s money in the movement, this is likely to be the case. It is time to separate the wheat from the chaff.
It’s now time for hard-core militancy. If people value broken windows over innocent blood, they are the enemy.
OCCUPATION ISN’T LIBERATION
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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