|24/02/04||GI Special #2.32: Some Home Truth|
GI SPECIAL 2#32
Constant War: A Typical Night At FOB St. Mere Eglise
February 23, 2004 By Robert Hodierne, Army Times staff writer
FORWARD OPERATING BASE ST. MERE EGLISE, Iraq — For two nights in a row, the enemy — whoever that might be — varied his pattern and mortared and rocketed U.S. Army bases here in the Sunni Triangle west of Baghdad shortly after the sun went down, about 6:30 p.m.
The enemy’s habit had been to wait until 8 p.m. or so. But despite the change in pattern, on both nights, artillery rounds from two of the six tubes of M119A2 105mm howitzers based here answered, in both cases, getting rounds off in less than five minutes.
When it happens, it happens fast. The night before, nine rounds of mortar fire hit the base. Especially since some of these [enemy] have the capability of shooting rockets at a range that way outdoes your maneuver mortars.…
Outside the fire-direction center, a golden harvest moon, almost full, had risen. And then arcing across the sky streaked one, two, three glowing orange balls. Baker was on the radio in a heartbeat, shouting, “I am observing a rocket launch, a multiple rocket launch at an azimuth of zero four hundred, distance unknown. … Over.”
“Roger, copy, possible rocket launch,” came back the voice on the other end. People exchange looks in the fire-direction center. “Possible?”
Baker shouted at people outside: “They still going or died down?”
“No, they’re still going. … Five more just went,” was the answer.
On the radio, Baker said, “It’s still going, over.” Off the radio he muttered, “Shit.” Back on the radio: “The direction they were traveling in was southeast.”
It was 7:30 p.m. And now the men waited. A few minutes later, a radio call told them a ground element would engage the target. It didn’t look as if they’d get a chance to fire. And then the speakers screeched their warning.
“Counter fire!” Villanueva shouted.
“Counter fire!” everyone repeated.
Villanueva read out the map coordinates of the target: “Zero six three three, zero three nine four, Mike Charlie … Azimuth zero five hundred, range 19,800.” That meant the rockets were launched from a spot 19 kilometers from the artillery base. They were fired at Baghdad International Airport, to the east of the artillery base.
And then the best part: “Charge eight RAP!”
In the two gun pits on alert this night, the crews swiveled the guns to the right direction, elevated the tubes and prepared — but did not load into the guns — the rounds and their powder charges.
Five minutes after the rockets first were seen blazing across the skies, the men in the first direction center report the guns are laid.
And then they waited and waited. Villanueva’s feet tapped nervously. Baker predicted, “I don’t think we’ll shoot it.”
Soldiers’ Mother Tells Powell “You Deserve This Award Like My Son Deserves To Be Dead”
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Sue Niederer of Hopewell shouts at Secretary of State Colin Powell's motorcade as he exits a conference Friday at Princeton University. Niederer's son, Seth Dvorin of East Brunswick, was killed early this month serving in Iraq.
February 21, 2004 By AMY KUPERINSKY, NJ.com & By MARY ANN BOURBEAU
STAFF WRITER, Home News Tribune
PRINCETON BOROUGH – Secretary of State Colin Powell accepted an award at Princeton University yesterday, but across the street in Tiger Park, demonstrators condemned him for his role in making the case for war in Iraq.
Mildred McHugh of Massena, N.Y., shed tears as she embraced Sue Niederer of Hopewell Township, whose son, 1st Lt. Seth Dvorin, 24, died Feb. 3 while attempting to defuse a bomb in Iraq. Niederer and peace advocates spoke to the crowd of about 40 supporters.
"Mr. Powell, you deserve nothing," countered Niederer. "You deserve this award like my son deserves to be dead."
"You killed my son," Niederer shouted as the limousine passed by the crowd of people holding signs that labeled Powell a liar, murderer and war criminal.
"My son was killed trying to defuse or find a bomb," she said. "I'm not sure. There are multiple stories and his records are sealed. I want to know what my son was doing playing with bombs. If he got any training, it was hands-on training and guess what? It killed him."
"No one should die like my son did," she said. "If he died for a cause, at least I could say there was a reason. That's what hurts the most — this isn't even a declared war."
"He died a hero, but my feeling is, my son died in vain," Niederer said. "I have to come out in memory of my son to protect other parents from what I have to go through," she said.
"Mr. Colin Powell, the administration, they're benefiting from this war," said Melanie Matrejek, member of the Central New Jersey Coalition for Peace and Justice. "We are dying so they have money and can run fancy campaigns so they can tell us we made a mistake," she said.
"He was the one that lied the most," Matt White of Washington Township, a senior at Rutgers-Camden and member of the Progressive Student Alliance, said of Powell. "I want people to understand that we're getting into a guerilla war."
His brother has been serving as a pilot in Iraq for five months.
"It's basically unwinnable. We shouldn't be there anyway," White said.
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 in Iraq, and information about other social protest movements here in the USA. Send requests to address up top. For copies on web site see: www.notinourname.net/gi-special/
Rally to Bring Our Troops Home; End The Occupations
Saturday February 28th Vallejo, CA
11AM – 2PM: 200 Block of Georgia Street, Downtown Vallejo
Adjacent to the Downtown Farmers Market
Join the 2nd annual Peace Rally to "End the Occupations and Bring Our Troops Home" with the Solano Peace and Justice Coalition
GI Rights Hotline Flooded: 3,500 A Month Want Out Of Armed Forces
Jonathan Franklin, February 21, 2004, The Guardian
Volunteers at the GI Rights Hotline, a legal aid centre for soldiers, are receiving about 3,500 calls a month from military personnel looking to leave the armed forces.
"Can the US president with the signature of a pen indenture tens of thousands of US citizens? That is the question we are now investigating," said Luke Hiken, a lawyer in San Francisco. "This is a tremendous militarisation of civilian families. Soldiers are now being asked to stay for two more years. This takes civilian families and turns them into military families."
First Wounded Hungarians and Filipinos Included Among Injured In Base Attack
By SAMEER N. YACOUB, Associated Press Writer 2.18.04
Coalition and military officials said at least 106 people were hurt in the blasts, which happened in the Hayy Babil neighborhood of Hillah near Camp Charlie. The wounded included 32 Iraqis and 26 Poles, as well as Hungarians, Bulgarians, Filipinos and an American.
Military Air Crash Deaths No Accident; Pentagon Won’t Speed Up Safety Equipment
February 23, 2004 By Rick Maze, Army Times staff writer
Christopher Bolkcom, a defense analyst for the Congressional Research Service, agreed with the military safety experts that a high operating tempo and aging aircraft, often cited as possible causes for aviation accidents, do not seem to be major factors in the military mishap rate.
Bolkcom said the military is perceived in aviation circles as being slow to employ new safety equipment compared to the private sector. For example, he said, it took decades for the Defense Department to use ground proximity warning systems and collision- avoidance systems that were mandated in commercial aircraft.
Hess said half of Air Force troop and passenger aircraft now carry terrain-awareness warning systems and the rest will be equipped by 2005. In addition, 70 percent of cargo and troop aircraft have traffic collision-avoidance systems that Hess said “should virtually eliminate high fatality midair mishaps,” with 2005 as the target date for full compliance.
Governors Panic Over Guard Retention; Cost In Civilian Jobs Hurting
Feb 22, By ROBERT TANNER
WASHINGTON (AP) – Governors worried about increasing demands on National Guard units want to hear from the Bush administration about its long-term strategy in the fight against terrorism.
"We've got a real retention issue," said Republican Mark Sanford of South Carolina, a member of the Air Force Reserve.
"You're going to see just an emptying, when people's tickets are up……of Guardsmen not step up to the plate," he said.
Some states now have 40 percent or more of their Guard troops overseas. The extended deployments overseas takes its tolls on families, on local businesses, and on state economies, governors said.
"They're coming from the community. It may be a police officer, it may be a milk carrier, it may be a teacher," said Republican Dirk Kempthorne of Idaho.
Huckabee, who has seen more than 40 percent of Arkansas' Guard deployed, said, "It's like having a sudden job reduction of over 4,300 people. These are people we need, people we can't do without."
10 Percent At Army Hospital Had Mental Problems
(UPI.com, February 18, 2004)
As many as 10 percent of the soldiers evacuated from Iraq and Afghanistan have needed treatment for mental problems, the commander of the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany Army said. That rate translates into about 1,000 soldiers.
Poisoned Marine Corps Base Wells 60 Times More Deadly Than Thought
By JOHN J. FIALKA, Wall St. Journal, 2.23.04
Washington—Regulators are convening a panel of scientists here this week to examine new evidence that a widely used industrial solvent might be as much as 60 times more toxic than thought, a possibility that could add billions of dollars to cleanup efforts. The U.S. Marine Corps has shut wells at its largest base in the US., Camp Lejeune, N.C., and launched an investigation of possible TCE contamination there. Overall, about half of the contaminated military facilities are former U.S. Air Force sites.
(The reporter forgot to mention that the poison had been found years ago in the Lejune wells people were drinking out of. Command knew it was there and knew it was poison and kept it secret.)
GET SOME TRUTH: CHECK OUT TRAVELING SOLDIER
Vets Get Home-Loan Shaft
February 23, 2004, Army Times editorial
Service members enduring nickel-and-dime treatment from the Bush administration on pay-and-benefits issues can take some small solace in the fact that they’re not being singled out.
Veterans are getting the same short shrift.
President Bush’s 2005 budget request includes a proposal to prevent any veteran from using the VA home-loan program more than once. Active-duty troops would be able to use the loan program multiple times, but once a service member left active duty, the benefit would be limited to a single use.
No rationale was given for this idea. But congressional aides say the mortgage industry long has griped about lost business when veterans make repeated use of VA-backed loans, because the loans don’t require borrowers to buy private mortgage insurance. Closing the VA program to these buyers would push them into the commercial loan market, where they’d have to spend thousands of dollars per year on PMI.
Ironically, the VA program’s self-supporting design means limiting loans would cost the government money, something VA Secretary Anthony Principi acknowledged in testimony before the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee on Feb. 4.
Veterans pay “origination” fees of up to 2 percent of the value of a VA loan to get financing; fees go into a trust fund from which the government repays lenders for loans that go into default.
First-time home buyers — about 60 percent of VA home-loan applicants — often have little or no equity in their homes, making them more likely to default than veterans who already have traded up once or twice and have built equity. By giving up good loans from second-time veteran home-buyers, the VA would have less money to pay for loans in default, and more of its loans would be to risky first-time borrowers. That would drive default rates up and eat into the trust fund. Eventually, it might threaten the entire program.
This proposal seems like a case of putting special interests ahead of veterans’ interests. It’s tough to see how it helps anyone but the mortgage insurance industry
IRAQ RESISTANCE ROUNDUP
Iraqis Not Fooled By Bush Bullshit; Reject “Baath Loyalists” Lie About Resistance; 36% In Baghdad For Armed Resistance
A four-city poll by Zogby International conducted in August 2003 found that 49 percent of Iraqis described the attacks on US troops as "resistance operations," while only 29 percent saw them as attacks by "Baath loyalists." (1)
A poll of Baghdad residents conducted by the Gallup Organization in September and October 2003 found that 36 percent of the city's inhabitants thought the attacks on the United States were either completely, somewhat, or sometimes justified. (2)
1. James Zogby, "Bend it like Cheney – Polling evidence shows most Iraqis have a negative view of the US-led occupation," The Guardian, 29 October 2003, available at: www.zogby.com/search/ReadClips.dbm?ID=6168; and, Guy Dinmore, "Opinion poll underlines Iraqi distrust of America," Financial Times, 11 September 2003.
2. Richard Burkholder, "Baghdad Views US Troops: Protectors or Justifiable Targets?", press briefing, Gallup Organization, 14 October 2003.
Note well: No imperial army has succeeded in defeating a nationalist rebellion since the end of World War II (1). And 36% support for armed resistance is way over the number needed to defeat every such occupation in modern history. Ask any military historian.
Furthermore, if every single resistance fighter were a Saddam Hussein clone, beard and all, as silly Bush apologists once tried to pretend, facts on the ground are clear as a bell:
1. Without the armed resistance, Bush would be triumphant, his war and the American Empire wholly successful, and his particular regime assured of continued political power.
2. Without the armed resistance, Bush would be free to send 150,000 American soldiers on to their deaths in Syria, Iran, North Korea, or anywhere else he so pleased. The slaughter would be immense.
3. Compared to the death and destruction wrought in the world by the American Empire in the last 50 years, the crimes of the Baath Party and Hussein are a pale shadow. To treat them as justifying abstention from taking the side of the Iraqi resistance is obscene. This empire has killed by the scores of millions directly, in war, and untold millions more by inflicting unparallel misery on those who do not experience the blessings of its direct attacks, though starvation, disease, and all the other consequences of imperial capitalism.
4. As for the Iraqi working class, our brothers and sisters, no working class has succeeded in freeing itself from local despots while occupied by a foreign army. One oppressor is easier to overthrow than two. On the contrary, foreign occupation feeds and strengthens the most backward political formations, who can wrap themselves in nationalism, the better to take control when the occupier is forced out. The sooner the resistance, in all its forms, forces out the occupation, the sooner there is hope for our class to advance.
5. Those active in politics who live in the Imperial power but refuse to give political support to the armed resistance serve the Empire. They must take responsibility for the deaths it inflicts everywhere in the world, including the deaths of the soldiers used by the Empire.
A defeat, as in Vietnam, weakens the Empire and strengthens movements from below against it, at home and abroad. The resistance in Iraq, far short of victorious, is having exactly that effect now, in front of our eyes.
There is no contradiction between exposing the politics of the formations within the resistance movement that intend to become the new capitalist ruling class of Iraq, and being for the defeat of the U.S. Imperial invasion and occupation. We can walk and chew gum and the same time.
Agree or disagree with his other views, a rather astute political figure summed it up neatly: “In their fear of playing into the hands of the bourgeois nationalism of oppressed nations, people play into the hands not merely of the bourgeois but of the reactionary nationalism of the oppressor nation.” Lenin, 1913
(1) From Max Watts, a lifelong supporter of soldiers resisting their own nation’s Imperial wars.
What do you think? Comments from service men and women, and veterans, are especially welcome. Send to the E-mail address up top. Name, I.D., withheld on request. Replies confidential.
Key Democrat Makes Stunning Iraq Discovery!
February 23, 2004 By Vince Crawley, Army Times staff writer
In a separate letter to Bush, sent Feb. 10, Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., wrote that a recent trip to Iraq showed him “there is substantial animus” toward U.S. forces by “elements within the Iraqi populace.”
REAL BAD PLACE TO BE
Police Station Bombing Kills 10 Collaborators
2.23.04 AP: KIRKUK, Iraq
A vehicle bomb detonated Monday outside an Iraqi police station in a Kurdish neighborhood of this ethnically divided northern city, killing at least 10 police and wounding 45 others, police and hospital officials said.
About 20 policemen had gathered in front of the Rahimawa police station to get their day's orders when the car exploded at 8:45 a.m., said the station's chief, Col. Adel Ibrahim. The explosion heavily damaged nearby buildings and destroyed cars. A U.S. military rapid reaction team came to the scene, as ambulances ferried out casualties and police closed off the area. At least 10 people were killed, all of them believed to be policemen, and 45 people wounded, said officials at two Kirkuk hospitals.
Lt. Abdul Salaam Zangana, a security officer at al-Jumhuriya hospital, said 10 of the wounded were in critical condition.
UN Says No To Iraq Elections Until 2005; Pissed Off “Senior Iraqi Cleric” Warns Of “A Time Bomb”
2.23.04 By NICK WADHAMS, Associated Press Writer
UNITED NATIONS – Elections for a new Iraqi government would be possible by January 2005 — but only if preparations begin immediately, the United Nations said in a report released Monday.
A senior Iraqi cleric warned earlier Monday that delaying national elections would be a "time bomb that could explode at any minute."
"Without elections, our national institutions will remain shaken, unrecognized and distrusted by the people," Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Taqi al-Modaresi told reporters in the Shiite holy city of Karbala in central Iraq.
The uncertainty "makes us fear for the future of Iraq" and the possibility of "civil war," he said.
OCCUPATION ISN’T LIBERATION
Members of Karbala's Puppet Provincial Council Forced Out By Senior Iraqi Cleric
Juan Cole Informed Comment
Juan Cole is Professor of History at the University of Michigan
al-Hayat: Four members of Karbala's American-appointed provincial council yielded to the demands that they resign issued by the representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. All four said they are "suspending" their membership in the body. Abdul Mahdi al- Karbala'i had warned them of dire consequences if they continued to serve.
Al-Karbala'i maintains that members appointed by fiat by the American provincial administrator last summer have no legitimacy, and that local notables and Sistani himself should have been consulted about the appointments. The members who resigned asked for a freely elected provincial council. A remaining member of the appointed council said he expected further resignations.
Demands for resignations of undemocratically appointed provincial councils have roiled the southern cities of Kut, Amara and Nasiriyah in recent weeks.
There have been demonstrations against provincial councils and governors in Nasiriyah, Kut and Amara in recent weeks. Although the CPA maintains that their members were not appointed by the Coalition, it was the Coalition or its agents that gathered together hand-picked notables to elect the councils. So they are appointees of appointees. Many Iraqis feel that the councils are often corrupt and nepotistic. This distrust is one reason for which Iraqis generally rejected the idea of having the councils select a national interim parliament.
Armed Militias of SCIRI, Da`wa Control Samawah
Juan Cole Informed Comment
Juan Cole is Professor of History at the University of Michigan
AFP via az-Zaman: Security is being provided to the southern Shiite city of Samawah, pop. 350,000, by the paramilitary forces of the Da`wah Party and the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. The Dutch and Japanese military contingents appear to be garrisoned outside the city.
Samawah has been largely quiet, though it was the site of a rocket propelled grenade attack last Thursday. The Badr Corps leader there, Abdul Hussein Muhammad, boasted that no place in Iraq had security as good as his forces provided in Samawah. The editor of the al-Da`wa Party magazine in the city, however, disagrees, saying that they have just been lucky and the quiet is unlikely to continue.
The Shiite militias of the religious parties have substituted for the collapsed Iraqi army and the inefficient police in a number of southern cities, including Basra.
Reuters, February 18, 2004
MADRID – The U.S. commander in Iraq, in an interview published on Wednesday, said he sees American troops staying for years, and helping Iraqis maintain order in Baghdad for at least the coming 12 months.
"I would say we're talking about years, not months," Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez told Spanish newspaper El Pais when asked how long the U.S. army would remain in Iraq.
"The Iraqis tell us they don't want us here, but nor do they want us to go. It's very complicated," he said.
This is the new line of bullshit. The U.S. propaganda machine is pushing this line hard, since it’s impossible to pretend that Iraqis want the U.S. occupation. So, now it’s “yes, they want us to get the hell out, but they really want us to stay.” The implicit racism is that these poor simple Iraqis are just confused savages who can’t make up their minds what they want.
As for staying “for years,” with 36% willing to say openly they support the armed resistance, the war is already lost. See the article in “Resistance Roundup” above for some ground truth.
DANGER: POLITICIANS AT WORK
18 Feb. 2004 The Onion
LANCASTER, PA—Democratic frontrunner Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) began a seven-day, eight-state whistle-stop tour Monday, addressing a group of Frigidaire factory workers from the all-teak deck of his 60-foot luxury motor cruiser.
"George W. Bush put tax cuts for the wealthy and special favors for the special interests before our economic future," Kerry told the crowd gathered below the starboard side of The Real Deal II. "I will fight to restore the three million jobs that have been lost on the president's watch. It's time America got back to work."
Campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill said Kerry's whistle-stop tour is scheduled to take him through Pennsylvania, Ohio, and on to six Midwestern states at an average speed of 26 knots.
Apart from a brief detour into Lake Michigan between Milwaukee and Chicago, the yacht will travel exclusively on land, attached to a drydock-mounting slip atop a highway-legal flatbed trailer.
Kerry's stump speech, which he delivered through the yacht's PA system, ignored his Democratic rivals and focused instead on the current administration's economic record. "Bush has the worst jobs record of the last 11 presidents," said Kerry, his hand draped over the flagpole halyard. "Landing an aircraft carrier doesn't make up for failed economic policy. The American people need jobs to buy food for their families, to secure health insurance for their children, and to pay the mortgages on their houses." "Unlike the Republicans, I know it's you, the American worker, that keeps this country running," said Kerry, who then tipped his captain's hat to the crowd.
Federal Election Commission records show that Kerry purchased The Real Deal II in December 2003 for $2.5 million. The Kerry campaign's 2003 fourth-quarter filings show that the yacht required $200,000 of work to prepare it for the Midwest campaign voyage. Repairs included a tune-up of the vessel's twin diesel engine, the installation of a Navman color GPS-plotting navigation system, and the addition of red, white, and blue detailing to the yacht's leather interior.
"John Kerry wanted to get out there, connect with the people, and hear their stories," Cahill said in a press conference held in the main cabin. "Taking his yacht across the Midwest is the best way for Kerry to reach out to all the people who lost their jobs under George W. Bush."
"There's no better place to have a good conversation than on the deck of a fine sailing vessel, out there in the sunshine, with the gentle breeze playing in your hair," Cahill said. "It's beautiful up there."
Cahill said she hopes the yacht will appeal to independent voters, who may decide the election in November.
An additional benefit of campaigning in the craft is that it affords Kerry the opportunity to make unexpected stops along the campaign trail, simply by alerting the convoy with his International Maritime Signal Flags.
"What's John Kerry all about?" said Kerry, addressing a small group of supporters that he spotted at a rest stop on Interstate 76. "John Kerry believes in affordable health care, renewable energy, decisive foreign policy, and economic recovery. I'm putting that message on my yacht and taking it all the way across America."
Kerry continued: "We're going to sail The Real Deal II right up onto the White House lawn and tell them, 'The American people have arrived to take back their government.'" U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), a Kerry supporter who has been traveling on-and-off with the candidate since January, said that the whistle-stop tour demonstrates Kerry's commitment to the country.
"People tried to write this campaign off last year, but he kept going full steam ahead, because he cares about the proud men and women of this nation," Kennedy said. "He's going to go all the way in November, like the little yacht that could."
AFGHANISTAN WAR REPORTS
Wall St. Journal, 2.23.04
On Saturday an insurgent opened fire on a helicopter carrying workers from a U.S. construction company in the region, killing the Australian pilot and injuring one U.S. passenger Afghan and U.S. officials said, according to the Associated Press.
How To Defend That Defense Wall
Raja Chemayel, February 22
One last question, S'il vous plait! I would like to think that any smart lawyer can come up with an answer, any answer, anytime. But, how about this question, please! Sharon's Wall is serpenting about 700 Km. in a Area which is less than 150 Km long, why in Jehovah's name, why should this Wall go through any Palestinian Village, or through a town, cutting it into two half's?? Why such a dividing-Wall when the Palestinians would be on both sides of it???? I know why!! But, I cannot imaging what any "Wall-Defender" could say in its defense????
(To check out what life is like under a murderous military occupation by a foreign power, go to: www.rafah.vze.com The foreign army is Israeli; the occupied nation is Palestine.)
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