Friday, March 28, 2008
"As Chomsky bluntly states, aggressors have no rights. Our occupation is criminal. What Americans want for Iraq is irrelevant."
Monday, March 24, 2008
Juan Cole reports on the Deaths in southern Baghdad that pushed the American death toll over 4000 in Iraq on Easter Sunday night.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Here is Cole's report from McClatchy on violence in Iraq. He posts this daily on his blog. You can see from the listings below that the Surge is working:
- Around 6 a.m. four mortars hit the Green Zone, Iraqi police said.
- Around 8 a.m. A roadside bomb targeted Iraqi police patrol near the Shaab stadium, injuring three policemen.
- Around 11 a.m. Iraqi police said 6 rockets targeted the Green Zone, two of them hit the Green Zone and four others hit different areas of Baghdad. One hit a residential building in Kamaliyah killing five civilians and injuring 8, one hit cars parking yard near the Qadiri shrine in central Baghdad injuring 5 civilians. The other two hit different areas in Karrada causing no casualties.
- Around noon gunmen in three civilian cars opened their machineguns fire towards civilians near a cooking gas factory in Zafaraniyah, killing 7 civilians and injuring 16 others.
- Around 3 p.m. a suicide bomber driving a car bomb targeted civilians near a gas station in Shoala neighborhood, killing 5 civilians and injuring 7.
- Around noon a roadside bomb targeted civilians on Uqba bin Nafia square, injuring two civilians.
- Around 5 p.m. two rockets or mortar shells hit the Green Zone, a third missed its target and hit in Sadoun street, injuring one civilian, Iraqi police said.
- Around 8 p.m. a mortar shell hit residential buildings (called the Palestinians' buildings) injuring four civilians.
- At 8:26 p.m. several mortar shells or rockets targeted the Green Zone fell short and hit different areas 3 in Karrada and 1 in Arasat killing 2 and injuring 7 civilians. Another hit a house in Sadoun Street, killing 5 civilians from one family.
- Police found 6 dead bodies throughout Baghdad . . .
- Around 7 a.m. a suicide bomber drove his truck bomb into an Iraqi army headquarter in the industrial area west Mosul, killing 13 soldiers and injuring 30 soldiers and 12 civilians.
- A suicide bomber driving a car bomb targeted an Iraqi army convoy in Al Nour neighborhood in Mosul, killing one officer and injuring 3 soldiers and 7 civilians.
- A roadside bomb targeted an Iraqi army vehicle in Al Hadbaa neighborhood in Mosul, injuring 7 civilians.
- Iraqi police found one dead body in Mosul.
- Iraqi police said U.S. troops killed 14 men and injured five people including a woman then used aerial fire to hit four homes in Al Dahalga village (about 28 miles east of Baquba). The U.S. military said they killed 12 men that were a part of a suicide bombing network. . .
- Gunmen killed citizen Ali Hassan in front of his house in central Baquba, Hassan was returning home yesterday after he was displaced.
- Gunmen killed Brigadier General Akram Awad Radhi and his driver as he was heading back to Baquba from Abu Saida area (about 12 miles east of Baquba).
- Gunmen attacked policemen in central Baquba killing a police lieutenant and injuring two other policemen.
- A mortar shell slammed into Al Gatoun area west Baquba, killing two civilians and injuring one.
- A mortar shell slammed into Kanaan town (about 9 miles east of Baquba) injured an infant girl and a woman.
- Gunmen using two cars attacked an Iraqi army fixed check point to monitor a main road south of Kirkuk (about 16 miles) killing four Iraqi army soldiers and burning their Humvee.
- A suicide bomber driving a car bomb targeted the house of Al Muatasim town (about 12 miles south of Samarra) mayor yesterday, killing 3 policemen and injuring two civilians. '
"IVAW issued an impassioned statement that condemned not only US military tactics but the occupation itself. 'The military is being asked to win an occupation,' the statement read. 'The troops on the ground know this is an impossible task.... We have a political problem that cannot be solved with a military solution. This is not a war that can be won. It is an occupation that can only be ended."
" While the Winter Soldiers offered a searing critique of the military's treatment of civilians, which they described as alternately inhumane and sadistic, they also empathized with fellow soldiers thrust into a chaotic urban theater where the lines between combatants and civilians are blurred. "It's criminal to put such patriotic Americans...in a situation where their morals are at odds with their survival instincts," said Adam Kokesh, who served as a Marine sergeant in the raid on Fallujah in 2004."
Sunday, March 23, 2008
"We were professional, non-partisan diplomats bound by our oath of loyalty to the US Constitution. Our job was to build effective relationships with key figures outside the United States. We used our language skills, respectful curiosity, and understanding of local politics to promote US national interests as our president and secretary of state directed.
We did not know each other. Ann, who was also a reserve colonel in the US Army, had helped reopen US Embassy Kabul after the fall of the Taliban. Brady was a 20-year political officer who had learned something about tribal politics and the limits of US power. John was a practitioner of public diplomacy with over twenty years’ experience, mostly in Eastern Europe. We shared one key professional judgment, that this war we were ordered to promote would be a disastrous mistake."
Saturday, March 22, 2008
"I would like to share with you how one goes about becoming a concentration camp guard without having made many decisions," 24-year-old former Guantanamo prison guard Christopher Arent told a crowd of hundreds at last weekend's Winter Soldier gathering outside Washington, DC. "I was 17 years old when I joined the Army National Guard," he said. "My family had just been displaced and I was living with friends. My family was poor, I was poor and I wanted to go to school. They promised me a significant amount of money toward that goal -- funds I have yet to receive."
'The occupation of Iraq is a horribly complicated problem that we're faced with,' said Zollie Goodman, 24, who served with the U.S. Navy.
Goodman, and most of the other panelists, agreed that even though they voluntarily signed up for the military, they didn't realize they would be fighting a war that in their view seemingly had no cause.
'We waged a war of aggression on a sovereign, foreign nation that posed us no threat,' Goodman said."
Thanks to the Alligator for their coverage of our event.
Friday, March 21, 2008
"While on tank patrol through the narrow streets of Abu Ghraib, just west of Baghdad, Pfc. Clifton Hicks was given an order. Abu Ghraib had become a "free-fire zone," Hicks was told, and no "friendlies" or civilians remained in the area. "Game on. All weapons free," his captain said. Upon that command, Hicks's unit opened a furious fusillade, firing wildly into cars, at people scurrying for cover, at anything that moved. Sent in to survey the damage, Hicks found the area littered with human and animal corpses, including women and children, but he saw no military gear or weapons of any kind near the bodies. In the aftermath of the massacre, Hicks was told that his unit had killed 700-800 "enemy combatants." But he knew the dead were not terrorists or insurgents; they were innocent Iraqis. "I will agree to swear to that till the day I die," he said. "I didn't see one enemy on that operation."
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Monday, March 17, 2008
Joshua Holland does a marvelous job in bringing the experience of Winter Soldier to you.
His summary runs true with one of the principle aims of IVAW ( Bold print below):
"I've never been in combat, and I have no idea how much bravery is required to shoot at someone you feel is threatening. But I do know that coming forward to talk about these things was the most profound act of courage I've ever witnessed.
They told story after heartbreaking story to the rapt audience, and at the end of the day an almost palpable sense of exhaustion permeated the space.
As I listened, two things jumped out at me. First, I was struck by what idiots people are for believing that we can't end this occupation -- or I should say how credulous they are. Anyone who believes that such a thing as a benevolent foreign military occupation exists is seriously deluded. Soldier after soldier agreed: it's not about "mistakes" or poorly defined missions or a "failure of command," although all of those things are endemic in Iraq. The problem is the occupation, and there was a consensus among these soldiers and Marines that ending the occupation is a prerequisite for the Iraqis to try to put their wrecked country back together."
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Sunday March 16th 1:30 - 3:15
You may see more typographical
*Please bear with us as we get the news out to you*
Executive director of Winter Soldier
A stronger civilan movement means a stronger GI movement. A strong civilian movement will inspire
Unity on withdrawal of all US military and contractors form Iraq
Unity on reparations for the damage done in Iraq
Unity for full benefits and support for our soldiers and veterans
Jeff Englehart - served in Iraq to fulfill obligation to his contract.
through reading he came to recognize the pattern of American occupation through history, most recently in Vietnam.
He established and War Blog: http://www.ftssoldier.blogspot.com/
Garret Reppenhagen - first active duty member of IVAW - served as a sniper in Iraq (Falluja) - established his own war blog which led eventually to his discharge
It would be a shame if the exercise of first amendment's rights bu GIs became "unpatriotic"
75% of this wars vets are still in the military
Garret talks about hope that the Peace community could provide support for Veterans that oppose the war - to make the peace movement a peace army that fights for the cause of stopping the occupation.
Announced that the website is presently overwhelmed with membership applications
Ronn Cantu - Served two tours in Iraq the last ending in 2008 - still active duty at Ft Hood
For the record nothing I say should be construed to be in behalf of the defense department
He started out with great feelings of patriotism which eventually became feelings of frustration as the war in Iraq became an occupation. Please don't let us be the first generation of veterans forgotten while the war wasgoing on.
He just announced his 30th birthday - the audience promptly sang him Happy Birthday - He replied that he was part of IVAW to make sure all his fellow soldiers could celebrate their 30th birthday too.
Camilo Mejia - refused to deploy to his second tour and served jail time.
Today marks the birth of a new generation of Winter Soldiers.
IVAW has become a source of stress to the military command and the government
Members are being investigated by the FBI and incarcerated for pushing back
IVAW has dared to: ananlyze and be critical, to go beyond patriotism to embrace humanity, to challenge the policies of a failed war,
We refuse nation building in Iraq when our own levees are failing and bridges are falling down.
To treat other people with humanity we must treat our own people with humanity - eliminate racism and sexism and homophobia
We are the new winter soldiers
Sunday 10:00am - 1:00pm
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Describes himself as intact from the neck down - suffered from depression after first deployment and was chewed out by NCOs to "get over it"
Discharge - was treated like a common criminal
Lost his education benefits because of his general under honorable conditions discharge and had to fight for VA benefits which are still not adequate
By the end of his tour in Iraq Lars, who had experienced hazing by his unit, became more afraid of the incompetence of his fellow soldiers than of the enemy in Iraq.
11:35: Steve Mortillo - US Marine Corp
Experienced hazing - beaten during boot camp and injured - was expelled from his unit for being beaten. Speaks of a friend who smoked marijuana to try to get out and somehow his drug tests
As they came over the border Steve began giving Iraqi children the Humanitarian MREs and was immediately reprimanded. He got to Baghdad and back to Kuwait with those rations because a general said that "we don't want to give the Iraqis the wrong impression". The rations were ultimately buried in a garbage dump in KuwaitS.
Supply was ordered to destroy new parts so they could order more.
They were extensively briefed on how to talk to embedded reporters and some marines were kept away from the press altogether.
Why were the marines a day outside Baghdad in the 2003 invasion told to take off their chemical suits while reports continued of a very real danger of chemical attack on our troops.
"Any time you organize human beings to come together to use violence for conflict resolution you will have a break down."
12:00: Captain Luis Montalvan - 17 veteran of the US Army - Iraq veteran
his Blog contains many of the articles and sources her refers to in his testimony
Capt Montalvan starts by suggested that the testimony here should be done under oath to congress (standing ovation)
He describes the search and destroy tactics used in Iraq as the same that had failed under Westmoreland in Vietnam.
He described the Marine corps "Kinetic tactics" in Falluja in 2004 and the actions in Abu ghraib which focused on destroying insurgents with no emphasis on protection of civilians
He describes the "exodus of the captains" from the US Army which began in the mid 1990s which stemed from dissatisfaction of junior officers of junior officers with the false sense of success, the lack of ability to give feedback on failures and the failings of the senior command.
Finally someone talks about Petraeus and the surge. Petraeus resisted accountability for equipment to the Iraq army even though it had been done successfully in Kosovo.
National Guard problems: Only 50% equipped for domestic disasters. General Blum's positive testimony on the National Guard readinessis contradicted by GAO reports.
Montalvan further discussed the delayed implementation of the Pices system
that is involved in border security in Iraq.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
*Note – We are Live Blogging Winter Soldier Friday through Sunday. *
You may see more typographical
errers errors than usual as we type like @$#!*
*Please bear with us as we get the news out to you*
One of the biggest costs at home are to the Constitution
Why it matters where an American is in the world whether they are protected by the constitution" is hard to understand.
Our government is using these occupations to destroy constitutional rights of all Americans.
She apologizes for her service because she believes that it might have contributed to the trials of the veterans here this weekend. The Audience stands and applauds as it does with each revelation and appology and special truth spoken this weekend.
His son was killed in fighting in Najaf in 2004. He speaks of the heartbreak that so many families endure from losing their children to this war.
7:40pm:Fernando Suarez del Solar
Fernando reports his son who was killed in Iraq by stepping on an illegal cluster bomb and died after waiting 2 hours for medical help.
He says that his and Carlos families are one of 4000 families that have endured these losses and asks: How many more before we all stand up against the war.
7:45: Nancy Lessin - labor lawyer
Nancy is one of the founders of Military Families Speak Out and a labor lawyer who says that the contract the US military has with service members is not being honored by the US government.
Nancy ends by thanking the IVAW for telling the real "Ground Truth". Political leaders have never stopped a war - it takes a a social movement and it is here.
Charley Richardson - labor lawyer
The Iraq war is also a war on dissent within the military, a war on freedom and a war on truth.
Leaders children never serve today. Most of America is isolated from the war leaving the burden on the military and their families.
Cost of the war at home is a loss of democracy and a social outlook that cedes our freedom and decency as a people. The truth is that funding the war is killing our troops and the iraqi people.
Not one more lie, not one more dime
bring our troops home and take care of them when they get here!
8:05pm: Brooks Sunket:
Presents the cost of war interms of what we could have had - very much like our VFP chapter 78 Cost of War campaign ie how much health care, education, etc could we buy with the money spent on war; how much security and freedom have we lost. He then did a comparisons between Vietnam and Iraq and finds many differences.
Catherine Lutz - anthropologist
Analysis of how taxes for the military are redistributed - more goes to wealthy corporate owners and less to poor and middle class families.
A good example is Fort Bragg at Fayetteville which is an economically poor area because of Fort Bragg - working class minimum wage jobs and low pay for soldiers keeps the economy poor.
Racism and sexism pervades the culture of the military and is encouraged by war making.
Massive environmental damage has also been caused by the industrial process that is part of war making. Military installations are often exempted from environmental regulations.
Cultural arrogance is encouraged and indeed is encouraged by war and occupation. Being the largest arms dealer in the world, having hte largest nuclear stock pile in the world has to affect the culture of Americans.
Lutz says her University system is constantly being coerced by the military and the government to participate inthe military industrial complex.
She describes the changes in social support system which is being traded out for a support system for military corporations. And she describes the massive amounts of money- money - money that is poured into the advertising campaign that gives a "military definition of the situation".
We must constantly question that definition and continually count the costs that could make this society a better place.
AlterNet: War on Iraq: Cost of Iraq War Now Beyond Human Comprehension
War is Hell, But What the Hell Does it Cost?
One Week at War in Iraq and Afghanistan for $3.5 Billion
"If economists Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes are right in their recent calculations and this will turn out to be more than a $3 trillion war (or even a $5-7 trillion one)"
"Nothing, of course, has been cheap for American taxpayers who are financing the Bush administration's war policies. It's been like putting up money for an administration staffed by shopaholics let loose in Neiman Marcus or gambling addicts freed to roam Las Vegas with no betting limits."
Fernando Braga (Chair)
Announced a video archive for citizen testimony at Alive in Baghdad
The videos showing now at the conference of Iraqi civilians testimony are streaming
on the IVAW website
Un-embedded journalist in the Middle East
Dahr describes the raid on a school looking for students age 12 to 17 who had protested for Saddam Hussein. The children were terrified by this raid. Children through rocks at departing Bradley and a soldier in the Bradley fired over their heads with an M16. The studnets recognized who the terrorists were in this instance.
Jamail described Medical report on a Bath party member who was dropped off at a local hospital in a coma. The report claimed he suffered form the hear but did not mention broken thumb, whip marks on his body, trauma to his head and electrical burns on his feet and genitals.
April siege of Falluja - Jamal saw bullet holes in Ambulance windows reportedly from American snipers. He witnessed many examples of gun shot wounds being brought in. By hte end of this seige doctors reported 736 deaths, about 60% were civilians. A soccer field had to be used as a grave yard. Cluster bombs and white phosphorus were used at this time (against the Geneva Conventions)
Rahid (Raed) Jarrar (see his blog)- A native of Baghdad
Smart bombs obviously killed civilians - between 100,000 and 1 million (?)
Rahid participated in a door to door casualty survey that brought home to him all the uncounted suffering but Americans still see Iraqi deaths as numbers. He also saw evidence of illegal cluster bombs and depleted uranium in residential neighborhoods. He went with journalists with Geiger counters and disabled American tanks with Iraqi children playing in them were highly radioactive.
Imagine if 1 of every 5 people you know were killed, injured or displaced.
How can staying in Iraq be good for the Iraqi people
We must withdraw and cease intervention - as demanded by the majority of Iraqis
When you step on someones foot on the bus, first you remove your foot and then you apologize!"
Begins in Arabic - explains that this might be the problem.
His own experience taught him that any contact with US soldiers is really deadly.
He has had almost 40 friends die from these types of incidents
The Arabic we need to know is "Salam" which means peace. And we should never never go somewhere else and steal their peace
Joshua Casted - Chair
Army Intelligence interrogator at Abu Ghraib
"Moral slippery slopes have to go from top to bottom not bottom to top."
Joshua was briefed by Col Geoffery Miller about how all "Non-democratic" persons were considered the enemy, effectively separating the Iraqi populace from American forces.
2:05: Andrew Duffy - Served as medic in Iraq at Abu Ghraib
Request for insulin for a 23 year old diabetic detainee was denied twice. The detainee eventually died and the command denied that they had refused treatment and the commander who had denied treatment remained in charge of of the night shift medics at Abu ghraib.
Andrew described a sargent at Abugrhaib
2:17: Mike Prysner - Served in Iraq - here is his story on the ANSWER website
Use of racist words such as "Sand nigger", "Haji" started at the top of the command. The Haj is the pilgrimage to Mecca and a Haji is one who has made the pilgrimage.
Ordered to remove families from their houses with no alternatives offered.
Served as an interrogator - described a prisoner who kept collapsing - after a Sargent came along and slammed his head against the wall. Mike would then let the man sit until the sargent came back and he realized he was now protecting this man form his unit instead of protecting his unit from the man.
The wealth of our rulers depend upon their ability to convince the soldier to suffer and hate and die in an occupation that insures their ability to increase that wealth. "We have more in common with the Iraqi people than we do with our rulers that send us to war."
The enemy is the profit system that turns us out of our homes, ships our jobs over seas, send us to war, denies us health care. It is not 5000 miles away but right here at home.
Chris Arendt - Army National Guard form Michigan - his family was poor- joined for school - has yet to receive any help for school.
Was a 19 year old guard in Camp Delta - papers, numbers, shackles and keys had to be accounted for. He dispatched detainee movements. Chris described how some detainees were shackled to the floor in 10-20 degree temperatures with loud music playing for the length of his 12 - 13 shift. He discusses what is and is not touture and how the system works or does not work.
Geoff heard the use of the word Haji form General Casey, top commander in Iraq, while he was serving in Iraq and he heard it used by other generals as well. He states that the use of racist words to describe civilians comes formthe type down. Sargent Miller attended a briefing on the death of 4 Iraqis including a 4 year old boy and a 3 year old girl who were shot at a check point. He heard the colonel describe this ded family as "f#@ Hajis who needed to learn to drive"
2:45: Domingo Rosas - was stationed in El Anbar Province at Tiger Camp. He was put in charge of a detainee center. One Iraqi general who was in good health while in his custody, died during interrogation. His 14 year old son was also detained and was taken away to identify his father's body.
2:55: Christian Appy - Historian on Vietnam era
He said that the veterans testimony brings hope to him personally and to the anti-war movement as a whole.
Racism is an undeniable factor in this war but is rarely covered in the media. Although racism has deep roots it invariably comes from the top because it needs to have sanction from the top of the government.
The jeopardy our military is paced in is both physical and moral and psychological. We are all tainted by this war - not just the veterans. War brutalizes us all.
3:10pm: Dr Dahlia Wasifi M.D.
Dahlia is a child of an Arab father for Basra and a Jewish mother form New York City.
The participants here today hare heros not because they pick up a gun but because they put it down"
Racism - denial of humanity - do not respect them as human beings -
Vietnams- Names (gooks) - 3millin plus - Iraq - Names (Haji) - 1 million plus - they are disposable.
Illegal immigrants can have their citizenship processes speeded up?
"We have to stay and help"
300 years (USA) 7000 years of civilization (Iraq)
Agneda - US relationship with Israel - Occupation ofIraq - is an extension of the occupation of Palestine
"...do you know what Iraqis are saying? I don’t speak Arabic, but I can translate for you. They’re saying, “Get out!” They’re saying, “NO way - you’re staying for 60 years.” They’re saying, “Get your oil the old-fashioned way - pay for it!”
Here's some media attention for Winter Soldier!
Saturday March 15th, 11:00AM - 1:00Pm
Chair: Liam Madden a Vermont Marine
Liam introduced the Panel with this statement: "Making the the enemy into something less than human is fundamental to prosecuting a war."
He thanked the Panelists for "making us all human".
Scott Ewing: Deployed to Iraqin 2004 - 5 in an Army Calvary Unit in Talafar. His unit was held up as an example by President Bush of a model counterinsurgency.
Scott was a guard for a Bradley fighting vehicle. His unit was charged with protecting a hospital. A fire fight broke out as soon as they arrived. Iraqi troops were stationed in the hospital and on the roof. In 2005 as part of Operation Restoring Rights they performed a sweep of Tal Afar removing weapons and searched houses. About 8000 US and Iraqi troops were involved. The search was fairly respectful at that time. One section was known as a haven for insurgents. Residents were evacuated and the neighbor hood was bombs for several days. This was followed by a more aggressive search of that neighborhood. No weapons or insurgents were found except for rusty saws, rags and belts. The sweep was then expanded to an adjacent neighborhood where males were detained arbitrarily.
Ewing comments on the statements by General Barry McCaffrey about effective counterinsurgency techniques which were not followed in Tal Afar which he wrote to McCaffrey about.
Jeffery Smith: Stationed at Camp Anaconda on security detail at the front gate. processed civilian workers and searched trucks. Beating and abuse of the Iraqi workers was routine as they entered the base.
Smith describes a house raid in which they abused and zip tied an entire family including the children only to find they had the wrong address.
Jeffery's turning point was one evening when the "hard core" platoon form his unit was out on patrol and shot a farmer who was working in his field apparently trying to fix a pump. The man left 14 children and not restitution was paid for his death. On patrol his quad leader entertained himself by shooting people's animals such as dogs tied up in front yards.
Jeff ends by appologize to the Iraqi people for actions he helped to do and for actions of his unit while in Iraq.
11:40: Mike Totten
Deployed to Iraq and served in Karbala.
Mike addresses the arrogance and racist attitudes use in language such as the term "haji" which he describes as a device that allowed the unit to separate themselves from the Iraqi people so they could allow themselves to do harm to them. His unit accidentally struck and killed an iraqi child and after ascertaining h was dead the unit drove off leaving the dead child in the street.
Mike praises the leadership of his unit. His unit was assigned to run a jail in Karbala. The day after his unit lost a man six prisoners were brought in by Iraqi soldiers who showed signs of beating and Mike and his fellow soldiers (including Polish, Bulgarian and Iraqis) in the presence of his lieutenant of beatings. These prisoners
Mike closes with "General Petraeus you maynnot remember me but you onces led me. You are no longer a leader of men but have turned to fight for your own personal gain" And he tore up infornt of us an award given to him personally by Petraeus while in Iraq.
11:50 Camillo Mejia who was sentenced to prison for refusing to redeploy to Iraq.
Army Staff Sargent Mejia refused to beat and humiliate his own men and ran afoul of his commanders because of it. He states that the abuse that occurs in Iraq did not begin in Iraq. It begins here at home.
Camillo saw his fellow soldiers change from people he respected and was friends with to brutal occupiers. He describes the abuse of hooded zip tied prisoners by using guns, loud noises, sensory deprivation. Camillo states that is difficult to "act on your own humanity" when all the information your receive is about how they are going to kill you. He describes how he completely blanks out the memory of terrible things that happened to people such as the child who saw his father decapitated by a machine gun. He only knows this happened because others told him about it.
War is dehumanizing the people of this country and destroying the people and country of Iraq. He calls for a complete and unconditional withdrawl form Iraq.
12:10: Michael Leduc
As he patrolled in Iraq the rules of engagement allowed his unit to destroy property and kill anyone who appeared to pose a threat. Michel says he was very young and naive at the time he was in Iraq and describes himself as "breaking the rules by following them"
12:20: Bryan Casler, Rochester Chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War
Served as a Marine in kuwait and Iraq in 2003 invasion and his unit was given the mission of guarding General Tommy Franks. He participated in the initial invasion. He watched other Marines give Iraqi children food they had urinated and defecated into. He watched the destruction of ancient ruins with Humvees being driven up and down the walls. Marine training was used against other Marines and against civilians at the instigation.
Marine corp distinguish themselves and "better that other people" including other military. Dehumanizing language such as a morning greeting such a "Urrgh kill babies"
His unit was ordered to destroy records from the mayors office in Falluja. These records turned out to be all the birth certificates for the city of Falluja.
Bryan describes how he began to be aware that American deaths affected him much more than did Iraqi deaths.
Bryan sums up undefined mission and negative peer pressure as the main influences combined with Marine training produces a situation where "all you have is hammers and everything you find is nails".
12:35: Matthew Childers - Marine -
His unit was tasked with guarding prisoners for about a week and Matthew describes how they were taunted with food and water, showed them pornography which was offensive to them as muslims and beaten. He did not observe the prisoners being allowed to eat or sleep during that week. During both his tours he heard the term hadji's up and down the chain of command. Matthew participated in early morning raids of houses. Residences and family members were abused and very few weapons or insurgents were ever found. At one time on guard duty they were forced by their command to turn away an man with a terribly burned baby in his arms. In summary Childers said during his tour in Iraq he was taught to be ruthless and merciless with the civilan population.
12:45: Sam Lynch - a conscientious objector who stayed in as a medic and served in Iraq in that capacity (here is his diary). Served medical conditions for detainees in Balad. He developed an SOP for a medical call but the doctors refused to treat them, leaving medics to do all the treatment of detainees. The doctors refused to treat the because they were not Americans.
Lynch observed that at least 60% of the detainees were released for lack of evidence. The medical neglect extended to workers on the base including construction workers and interpreters who were refused medical help.
Describes a raid on his home when his mother was forced to choose between giving AMerican Soldiers all their money (about 13,000 dollars) or having theirr girls raped. They lost all their possessions including cloths and blankets and the family were abused for 13 hours.
Jeff Key starred in Semper Fi
is a queer man with outstanding service in the Marines who addressed "don't ask don't tell" and his opposition to the war in Iraq by going on CNN and came out in front of five million people and subsequently getting thrown out of the military. He acknowledged the love and support of members of his unit.
Jeff addressed the relationship between gender differences and the idea that showing your emotions and being able to shed a tear is somehow "feminine" or "Gay". The way we dehumanize men is to say they are like women. At the center of homophobia is misogyny and at the center of the abuses of war is hatred and contempt for women and the way they behave.
Patty McCann was an army small equipment operator. SHe finds it Hard to be a woman veteran because the emphasis on being a woman prevents you from experiencing it as a soldier.
The first victim of of a racist, sexist occupation in the occupying soldier.
McCann saw femininity used as a symbol of evil when describing the "dresses" or robes of Iraqis, the Burkas of women, etc. In her unit rank structure was used to coerce women into sexual relationships. The emphasis was protecting the officers and ncos careers rather than protecting the young women.
Patty read a policy describng how SAD (rape) kits are not covered by tricare. That is how the military takes care of rape victims. One in 200 front line recruiters have been accused of sexual assault.
Wendy Combat medic - when deployed - worked in the operating room and was harassed on a daily basis. It is extremely difficult to do your job proficiently when you are constantly being harassed. She never reported it because she did not believe that the command would do anything about it and hte difference in rank between her and her harasser (a doctor) was so great. She joined to serve her country and be patriotic and the last thing she expected was to be harassed by her own comrades n that way.
10:05: Nathan Peld - Nuclear technician who helped to build nuclear facilities on the JFK. He witnessed a man expose himself to her at work. She reported it and it went up the chain of command. The commander tried to cover it up to protect the officer who was nearing retirement. Although the sex offender was court martialed, the commander was only reprimanded becaue the Navy saw him as protecting the work place (for men).
Abby Hiser - http://stopmilitaryrape.org/about_us works with (correction here - the organization was started by another rape victim) an organization to address the issue of rape in the military. In 2006 they helped over 12,000 members of the military that have been raped. Her organization has started to work with Congress to change the way the military deals with rape. If, as often happens, no charges are filed the VA does not offer healthcare for those who are raped int he military.
Friday, March 14, 2008
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five basic points about the two occupations:
remember that the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were launched on false pretenses
Schwartz describes Afghanistan as the "forgotten occupation"The general punishment of a c - - -civilian population is illegal and against international law.
-The main "enemy" in both countries are insurgents defending their country from occupation
-As long as we remain in those countries we will be the main source of violence and instability
-The Us in not helping the civilian populations in either country
Since these are false claims what are the Geopolitical Aims that drive the US and its allies to occupy Iraq and Afghanistan
- the invasions serve as an example and warning to other countries
_ Increases the power and influence of the US in the Middle East
better control of trade routes inthe middle east
- Create client states as regional bases of power - regional hegemony increases global hegemony
- Imposes a neo-liberal model that gives US privileged access to Middle East resources
- to destroy the legacy of Vietnam which gives VVAW and VFP a position of power
The policy has back fired by making Iran more influential and isolated and marginalized US influence and prestige Globally
Obama - "Maintaining our influence in the Middle East"
McCain - "100 years in Iraq"
Why? - Its the oil stupid!
1980s -Centcom formed by jimmy Carter to provide rapid response to crises in the Middle East
1990s - The Unipolar Moment - Us becomes the preeminent military in the world - we spend more money on the military today than all other nations combined
noeconservative movement - US military power be used to expand US power -
1991 - temporary suspension of oil from Iraq and Iran - triggered recession which defeated Bush#1
1998 - US imports more than 50% of its oil - peak oil looms and supply will eventually fall behind demand
Late 1990s - US does not control its oil supply in the Middle East - Bush Administration enters the stage
US ace in the hole - Our Military - rejected long term policy changes to embrace alternative energy - instead they chose a war in Iraq
So Us energy policy and military policy are welded together over Iraq which is the lynchpin on American world hegemeny.
8:05: Amy Goodman
Why do the American people allow themselves to be led to commit wor crimes?
Media consolidation - Where the New is Clear Channeled
We need a larger spectrum of opinion in the media - one in which we can actually see the differences between two sides!
Private Corporations are using the public airways for private profit and power
Media needs to provide a forum for discussion of our most important issues - a large kitchen table that stretches across the country.
Martin Luther Kings last campaign
Important questions: Who should be in jail - the soldiers who refuse to fight an illegal war or those who take up into them?
What should be on television? the lies that take us into an illegal war or the death and torture that resulted from those lies?
Global War on Terror - SourceWatch
Global War on Terror, used repeatedly in the internal text of the October 16, 2003, memo written by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, entitled Global War on Terrorism, seems to be a new rhetorical device justifying expansion of the "war" and perhaps new agencies. Citing the memo:
- "Today, we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror. Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?"
In this view, which is relatively new even for the Bush administration, the goal is not to end the threat posed by terrorist groups of global reach, the previously stated objective, but the eradication of all militant Islamic groups that cross the line from militancy into attacks on the USA and its allies, wherever they are, whether they have a right to be there or not. It is the eradication of a mind-set that is the objective, not specific groups.
The dangers of this view will be obvious to those who recall the Vietnam War. In that war, there was a similar focus on metrics and eradicating the mind-set of Communist insurgents in former South Vietnam. This of course was impossible, because in at least some ways, there was a strong case to be made that Communists were quite right about the inequities in the client state which the USA set up in South Vietnam, and actively "managed" (by various means including, some say, the outright assassination of its President at one point). In this kind of environment, it is not possible to wipe out insurgency, because it continues to be motivated by the overt injustice of the US-backed regime of the client state(s).
But what is quite new about this Global war, is his proposal for "a 21st century information agency in the gov't to help wage a battle of the minds."
This can be taken a number of ways. The most innocent of which is the following: "Should we create a private foundation to entice radical madradssas to a more moderate course?"
SO the IVAW is right!
Friday March 14, 9:00AM – 10:45AM
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4:35: Jason Wayne Lemieux is a Marine who served 3 tours in Iraq described the rules of engagement as an effort to legitemize a particular war or action. However rules of engagement in Iraq were designed to protect American soldiers at the expense of lives of Iraqi civilians.
Rules of engagement changed as the occupation progressed. In Al Anbar in 2004 the rule finally became that any person on the street was to be considered an enemy combatant. Marines who had served multiple tours had suffered so much psychological trauma that their judgement of who was the enemy deteriorated to shooting obviously innocent civilians. Rules of Engagement had become a device to hid war crimes behind.
The audience is standing and applauding every speaker.
A young marine, Hart Vigas, contrasts the saying "Once a Marine always a Marine" to "Eat the apple; F#$@ the Core" and the audience stands and applauds again.
Hart served in Ramadi. Again his command told soldiers in private to take care of any threat you see and we will deal with it later. he is showing visuals which makes the description of these incidents much more visceral.
Viga's squad also carried drop weapons to cover up mistakes made. The photos show the dehumanization of the enemy.
HArt pointed out that everyone on the panel has these stories and over a million troops have rotated in and out of Iraq. He apologizes for the hate and destruction that He and others have inflicted on innocent people. As long as the war goes on, this will continue.
Logan Laituri - Joined IVAW as a cynic. Was very skeptical of the idea of pulling out our troops. He has changed his mind. Enlisted for college money and commitment to the military. Belonged to 82nd Air Bourne in Kirkuk and as a quick reaction force through out the country. Applied to be a Conscientious Objector. Requested to return to the battle field without a weapon. Released from active duty in 2006.
Sense of occupation is both violation of sovereignty and and attempt on the part of both military leaders and contractors to enrich themselves at others expense.
Tomgram: Michael Schwartz on Iraq as a Killing Ground: "The Real Rules of Engagement in Iraq
This article addresses the use of Air Power on civilians in Iraq
We can gain some perspective on this military strategy by imagining similar rules of engagement for an American police force in some large city. Imagine, for example, a team of criminals in that city fleeing into a nearby apartment building after gunning down a policeman. It would be almost unthinkable for the police to simply call in airships to demolish the structure, killing any people -- helpless hostages, neighbors, or even friends of the perpetrators -- who were with or near them"(though we should not forget the attack on MOVE by Philadelphia police in 1985). In fact, the rules of engagement for the police, even in such a situation of extreme provocation, call for them to "hold their fire" -- if necessary allowing the perpetrators to escape -- if there is a risk of injuring civilians. And this is a reasonable rule... because we value the lives of innocent American citizens over our determination to capture a criminal, even a cop killer.
But in Iraqi cities, our values and priorities are quite differently arranged. The contrast derives from three important principles under which the Iraq war is being fought: that the war should be conducted to absolutely minimize the risk to American troops; that guerrilla fighters should not be allowed to escape if there is any way to capture or kill them; and that Iraqi civilians should not be allowed to harbor or encourage the resistance fighters.
Cliff Hicks and fellow Soldier form Iraq Steven Casey testifying on Rules of Engagement
Panel on The Crisis in Veteran Health Care
And you can see that the press recognizes that History is being made today!
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Kelly served in the military police in Iraq and guarded KBR convoys. Many convoys broke down and conflicting orders would go out about how to protect di sabled vehicles which drew crowds hoping for fuel or other supplies. The vehicles could not be rescued were destroyed by burning the fuel and throwing grenades into engine blocks in front of Iraqis who had to stand in line for hours to get a can of gas. The tragedy of the situation had come home to Kelly in which lives on both sides were risked to protect the profits of a corporation: burning tankers full of fuel, burning an ambulance in front of Iraqis who transported their wounded in pick up trucks, burning a truck load of produce while holding a hungry crowd at gunpoint.
Dougherty points out for every US soldier in Iraq there is at least one contractor which Dougherty describe as US corporations. In reality these corporations are multinationals with no real allegiance to the US. She described living in tents provided by the contractors that were riddled with mold and made the soldiers staying in them sick
2:35 - Luis Montalvan describes himself as having been a warrior for more than half his life. He trained and went to Iraq in 2005 where he commanded 30 - 40 soldiers to man a major check point, patrol many km of border and secure several thousand km of Al Anbar province desert.
He describes the incompetence of the commanders and administrators in Iraq who knew little about the conditions outside of Baghdad.
Luis became known as an expert about some aspects of security in Iraq. American Enterprise Inst invited him to brief them on security in Iraq and he described the corruption in Iraq as out of control. He makes a connection between corruption and the civil war in Iraq.
Montalvan explained that if you follow Iraqi corruption the crumb trial leads to American contractors and if you follow that trail further it leads to high American military commanders, some of them still serving. He describes the forces in Iraq as 160,000 US military, a proxy army of about an equal number of contractors and finally a highly inflated number of Iraqi security forces. Thirty to fifty percent of these last forces do not exist and the salaries of these non existent troops go to fuel the civil war.
Essentially Montelvan is saying that they have lied to us again and again about where our American taxpayer monies have actually gone.
Montalvan holds evidence in the form of memos and SOPs for the contracts for supplies to Mosul and adjacents areas the Petrayus set up no procedures for keeping accounts on these funds. So my question is did Petrayus betray us?
3:05pm Antonia Juhasz is a policy-analyst, author and activist living in San Francisco. She is a Fellow at Oil Change International and Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies .
See her blog at http://www.thebushagenda.net/
She calls the war in Iraq and illegal occupation aimed on gaining control of iraqi oil for strategic and economic reasons. Consequently in perpetrating this war crime, American rulers have fired 120,000 oil and resource(ie electric and water works)bureaucrats and 500,000 soldiers were fired followed by a failure to complete 50% or more of the infrastructure projects needed to make Iraq a safe place to live. Consequently the UN has recommended that the 2,000,000 Iraqi refuges not return because it is too dangerous to live there plus there is not fuel, water or electricity.
Today there are moves to finally bring US companies and associated multinationals on board to control and exploit Iraqi Oil. In order to do this these companies will need long term protection from the US Military. What Juhasz recommends is that the military and the contractors and oil companies leave Iraq to the Iraqis who are more than capable of reconstructing their own country using their own oil resources.
3:20 - Jeremy Scahill - Blackwater: The story of the shooting in Baghdad of 17 civilians by Blackwater illustrates only too well the colonial status of the Iraqi government in its relationship with the US military and the Bush Administration. The individuals criminally responsible for those 17 deaths are still walking around free and may never be prosecuted even though the FBI and the military agree that they are guilty of murdering innocent civilians.
170 companies work as contractors in Iraq today protected by the US military. none of their employees have ever been prosecuted for killing Iraqi civilians.
Corruption is about looting the Iraqis of their resources, their lives and their sovereignty but it is also about looting the US treasury to pay these contractors to do the dirty work that has to be done if you are an empire.
Contractor Fraud Unchecked In Iraq , CBS News Takes A Closer Look At Allegations Of Contractor Waste And Fraud In Iraq - CBS News: December 2006
"(CBS) The U.S. has currently spent at least $437 billion on the Iraq war, according to the Congressional Research Service. An estimated $100 billion will be spent in 2007. Much of that money is going to 60,000 civilian contractors involved in reconstruction and providing services to the troops.
But recently, the Pentagon admitted it has a hard time accounting for how billions of your tax dollars are being spent — and the billions that may be lost to contractor waste, fraud and abuse,"
A document — part of a whistleblower lawsuit obtained by CBS News — alleges a blueprint of contractor abuse in Iraq, detailing how the government was billed 10 times more than it should have been when U.S. troops used a recreation facility in Iraq.
That's because they were not billed once per visit, but rather billed repeatedly, every time a soldier used:
The contractor in question, Kellogg Brown and Root, denies any wrong
Alternet white paper:
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11:30AM Tod Ensign reports suffering a back injury while serving in Iraq and being asked to not report this until he returned to the States. He then came home to California where he received immediate and excellent care. At the time of discharge he was assured that the VA system would continue to take care of this injury sustained in combat. He became a student and came into contact with "the realities of the VA health care system". He experienced delays, endless paper work and talk and counseling but no treatment or diagnosis of his problems. He also experienced adjustment issues and needed psychiatric care. It took 2 months to get an appointment and he realized that 2 years of medical care promised by the VA would not be sufficient at the time. His savings and and financial situation and was unable to work due to his injuries. He became another homeless Iraq War and the realization of this led to depression and suicidal thoughts. He finally was helped by a member of IVAW and that is where he found help while the VA system still would not help him.
Eli Wright was treated at Walter Reed for injuries in Iraq. He was finally treated for a shoulder injury two years after the injury occurred and the surgery was not successful, probably due to the lack of immediate care. He also recognized symptoms of traumatic brain injury that also was not treated. Kevin sees the problems he experienced as systemic inthe military. He only began to get care for his injuries after going to the press. He then immediately got treatment after 6 months of waiting.
Eli said "After serving our country that proper health care should be a bare minimum ofwhat we should receive in return.
Adrienne Kinne reported on the plan to prioritize care for wounded vets. She pointed out that prioritizing health care for vets means that some would have to go without so others could get care and that is unacceptable. It is unacceptable for veterans and for all Americans to go without health care. She ended with these statements: that hiding behind the red tape at the VA is the fact that there are not enough resources to do the job and that our soldiers should not be sent to fight an illegal immoral war in the first place. (Applause!)
12:05 am: Joyce and Kevin Lucy spoke of their son Jeffrey who returned to from Kuwait in 1993 changed forever. Jeffery was having nightmares, throwing up daily, suffering from hallucinations and panic attacks. He was drinking and was on medication for anxiety and depression. He feared that the stigma of mental illness would get back to his Marine unit and follow him through his life.
He was hospitalized at the VA after a break down and only saw a psychiatrist there once in six months. After discharge he continued to struggle and the family finally took him back to the VA and begged for help but none was forthcoming.
No Family should have to beg for help for their combat veteran sons.
His family tried to protect Jeffrey and others by taking away weapons and his car. Jeffry told stories of death and destruction that he participated in in Kuwait and Iraq and now could not forget. Jeffrey did not make it. His health deteriorated further until his father came home and to take him in his arms one last time as he took him down from the tree in the back yard where he had hung himself.
Critics say U.S. shorts care of veterans -- baltimoresun.com
The number of wounded soldiers has become a hallmark of the nearly 5-year-old Iraq war, pointing to both the use of roadside bombs as the extremists' weapon of choice and advances in battlefield medicine to save lives. About 15 soldiers are wounded for every fatality, compared with 2.6 per death in Vietnam and 2.8 in Korea.
But with those saved soldiers comes a financial price - one that veterans groups and others say the government is unwilling to pay. Those critics also say that the tens of thousands of soldiers wounded in Iraq are part of a political numbers game, one they say undermines the medical system meant to care for them.
The most frequently cited figure is the 29,320 soldiers wounded in action in Iraq as of yesterday. But there have been 31,325 others treated for non-combat injuries and illness as of March 1.
"The Pentagon keeps two sets of books," said Linda Bilmes, a professor at Harvard and an expert on budgeting and public finance whose newly published book, The Three Trillion Dollar War, was co-authored with Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz.
Sunday, March 9, 2008
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Cliffton Hicks who is from our own Gainesville IVAW chapter spoke with Steven Casey who served as a scout in the same unit in Iraq that Cliff drove tank in. CLif spoke of his love for his fellow soldiers which in his mind and heat puts them beyond his judgement. The jugemet he makes is against war itself. It is the nature of war to witness civilian deaths "Bodies of humans and animals strewn in the streets". Steven and Cliff both spoke of hte results for civlians trying to get out of the wayin the area they patroled that had been declared a "free fire zone" in Operation Blackjack in 2004. Steven reported 20 plus vehicles disabled by soldiers firing into the windshields and radiators. These vihicles were drivig the righ way on a street that their unit was gong the wrog way down. Civilians just trying to get out of the way.
Cliff reports that the orders for the unit they relieved who served in 2003 were the same ie a free fire zone was established. He summarized this as "You had to put themin the dirt before they put you in the dirt."
Just before we arrived they threw an imposter out of the proceedings apparently just one person form the group of about 25 protestors at the entrance of the college had managed to get into the hall and was speedily thrown out when they disruted the proceedings.
Served in a civil affairs unit in Iraq. Their slogan was "We care so you don't have to" That includes everybody all hte way up and so the American people don't have to. So all the pressure is on the shoulders of the soldiers in the field. A few small projects succeeded but overall the situation is a disaster. The problem he observed in the press and other propaganda machines at the time was that the appearance of success was more important than the reality of what was actually happening on the ground.
Jason Hurd came from a military family. His father was military and showed the symptoms of PTSD, nightmares, uncontrolled rage and flashbacks. Served in Iraq as a medic from 04 to 05. Lived in the Green Zone. He did patrols in Bagdad and witnessed and heard stories of families being searched and their children were taken away arbitrarily. Jason called for "all guns to be melted down and turned into jewelry". Reported a car bomb exploding at a check point that his unit had just taken over that killed many Iraqi civilians. He had a young iraqi boy about 17 yars old placed at his feet with missing arms and a buttock blown off and Jason says he lives with that image everyday. He asked what Americans would do in an occupation. His answer is that every man with a shotgun with come out of the hills to fight for their own self determination". Jason ende with this statement which was met with prolonged applause: The suffering in Iraq in tearing that country apart and the only way to end that suffering is an immediate withdrawal of all combat troops form that country."
In Summary we heard again and again about civilians dying, having their children taken away to prison, how deaths and mistaken detainments entailed o apology and often no report was done. The trauma was suffered by both the soldiers who carry imaged burned into their consciousness and by the civilians who have suffered loss ofter loss.
Col Dan Smith: Rules of Engagement in Iraq:
Rules to Live...and Die...By
Counterpunch, December 8, 2004
"the Bush 'preventive war' doctrine could be considered a more permissive ROE national security policy statement than any in the past (e.g., no first use of nuclear weapons). It is also a policy that runs counter to the Charter of the United Nations, which the U.S. has signed, that recognizes only the right of 'national self-defense' against an imminent threat of attack, not some possible threat that might or might not materialize in the indeterminate future."
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Sunday, March 2, 2008
Winter Soldier is described by IVAW as follows: "Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan will feature testimony from U.S. veterans who served in those occupations, giving an accurate account of what is really happening day in and day out, on the ground. The four-day event will bring together veterans from across the country to testify about their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan - and present video and photographic evidence. In addition, there will be panels of scholars, veterans, journalists, and other specialists to give context to the testimony. These panels will cover everything from the history of the GI resistance movement to the fight for veterans' health benefits and support."
Saturday, March 1, 2008
"After Helmets Were Found Faulty - DoD Awards Co Another $74 Million Contract"