Friday, April 29, 2005

National Security Archives photos of recently released Pentagon photos of the fallen soldiers

(out-take from article at National Security Archives website)
Begleiter said, "Hiding these images from the public - or, worse, failing even to record these respectful moments - deprives all Americans of the opportunity to recognize their contribution to our democracy, and hinders policymakers and historians in the future from making informed judgments about public opinion and war." He called on the Pentagon to resume fully documenting the return of American casualties. Posted by Hello
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Thomas Blanton, Director of the National Security Archive, which actively uses the Freedom of Information Act to force release of government documents, said, "The government now admits it was wrong to keep these images secret. Hiding the cost of war doesn't make that cost any less. Banning the photos keeps flag-draped coffins off the evening news, but it fundamentally disrespects those who have made the ultimate sacrifice."
(out-take from National Security Archives website) Posted by Hello
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The Pentagon's decision preempted a court ruling in the lawsuit by U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan. "We are gratified that these important public records were released without the need for further court action," said Daniel Mach of Jenner & Block. The Pentagon ban on media coverage of returning war casualties was initiated in January 1991 by then Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney during the administration of President George H. W. Bush, just weeks before the start of the Gulf War against Iraq.
(out-take from National Security Archives website ) Posted by Hello
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Begleiter's lawsuit is supported by the National Security Archive and the Washington, D.C. office of the law firm Jenner & Block. "This is an important victory for the American people, for the families of troops killed in the line of duty during wartime, and for the honor of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country," said Begleiter, a former CNN Washington correspondent who teaches journalism and political science at the University of Delaware. "This significant decision by the Pentagon should make it difficult, if not impossible, for any U.S. government in the future to hide the human cost of war from the American people."
(out-take from National Security Archives website) Posted by Hello
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One year after the start of a series of Freedom of Information Act requests filed by University of Delaware Professor Ralph Begleiter with the assistance of the National Security Archive, and six months after a lawsuit charging the Pentagon with failing to comply with the Act, the Pentagon made public more than 700 images of the return of American casualties to Dover Air Force Base and other U.S. military facilities, where the fallen troops received honor guard ceremonies. The Pentagon officially refers to the photos as "images of the memorial and arrival ceremonies for deceased military personnel arriving from overseas." Many of the images show evidence of censorship, which the Pentagon says is intended to conceal identifiable personal information of military personnel involved in the homecoming ceremonies.
(out-take from National Security Archives website) Posted by Hello
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Washington, D.C., April 28, 2005 - In response to Freedom of Information Act requests and a lawsuit, the Pentagon this week released hundreds of previously secret images of casualties returning to honor guard ceremonies from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars and other conflicts, confirming that images of their flag-draped coffins are rightfully part of the public record, despite its earlier insistence that such images should be kept secret. Posted by Hello
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newly released photo, fallen soldier with attending honor guard.  Posted by Hello
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website url for the newly released photos of the fallen. Per lawsuit filed for FOIA, Pentagon releases previously unseen photos of fallen soldiers. The casket bearing the body of US Navy Machinist's Mate Third Class Nathan Taylor goes over the edge of the USS Enterprise during a Burial at Sea ceremony. Posted by Hello
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link to website, National Security Archives carrying the Pentagon newly released photos, Posted by Hello
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Pentagon releases hundred more photos

PENTAGON RELEASES HUNDREDS MORE WAR CASUALTY HOMECOMING IMAGES. Defense Department redactions obscure the faces and insignia of honor guard members in many of the war casualty images. Posted by Hello
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Sunday, April 24, 2005

Marines From Iraq Sound Off About Want of Armor and Men

This article from NY Times, is copyrighted so I am not putting the text on this blog, but HIghly Recommending it as a must read article. It is a compelling piece. When the troops speak out and break with the traditional code of silence, there is truth there that we need to hear.

Read the article at The New York Times > International > Middle East > Marines From Iraq Sound Off About Want of Armor and Men
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Thursday, April 21, 2005

Guard Leaders Discuss Budget Requests

By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 20, 2005 – Funding for recruiting, retention and equipment were among the items National Guard leaders today brought before a Senate subcommittee examining budget requests today.

The administration is seeking approval for its $419.3 billion fiscal 2006 budget request and $81.9 billion fiscal 2005 supplemental budget request.

Army Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, told the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee that recruiting has been a “special challenge” for the National Guard, which, he added, “is not resourced for high levels of readiness that today’s environment demands.”

“We are a recruited force, so we’ve been scrambling to make sure we had the authorities and the resources to actually compete head to head in an environment where we’ve had to be an operational force,” he explained.

Blum noted that over half the Army’s combat power in Iraq today is comprised of Army National Guard units. He pointed out that eight of the Guard’s brigade combat teams are on the ground there, including the 42nd Infantry Division, the storied “Rainbow Division,” stationed in Baghdad.

He told the committee that Guard units in Iraq are “shouldering over half of the load and they are doing exceedingly well.”

read more at DefenseLINK News: Guard Leaders Discuss Budget Requests
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Wounded Iraq Veterans Generate New 'Traumatic Injury' Legislation

By Terri Lukach

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 20, 2005 – Three soldiers wounded in Iraq sparked new legislation to provide low-cost “traumatic injury” insurance for members of America’s armed forces.

The legislation was announced April 19 at a Capitol Hill press conference by its sponsor, Idaho Sen. Larry Craig.

The three soldiers, Staff Sgts. Heath Calhoun and Ryan Kelly and Sgt. Jeremy Feldbusch, were all seriously wounded in Iraq. They each underwent extensive medical treatments and periods of recuperation that resulted in severe financial hardships for their families. All wanted to do something to help alleviate similar hardships for those wounded in the future.

Craig said the soldiers visited his Senate office last week to discuss the need for this type of benefit. “It was their idea,” he said.

The legislation will be offered as both an amendment to Emergency Supplemental legislation currently being debated in the Senate and a stand-alone bill. It would add a low-cost traumatic injury insurance benefit to the Servicemembers Group Life Insurance now provided to military members. In the event of traumatic injury, the benefit would provide an “immediate” lump-sum payment of $25,000 to $100,000 for certain catastrophic injuries incurred on active duty.

Traumatic injuries covered will include blindness; loss of limbs, speech or hearing; paralysis; burns greater than second degree covering 30 percent of the body or face; and certain traumatic brain injuries, according to a press release from the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

The cost of the benefit would be covered by an insurance premium of about $1 per month for each servicemember. The coverage would also be available to members of the National Guard and Reserve. Family members would not be included in the benefit.

During the press conference, David S. C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, expressed the Defense Department’s support for the legislation and praised the soldiers for their efforts to make the legislation a reality.

“These young men and their families have already nobly served their country in the theater of operations in the global war on terror,” Chu said. “And they serve us again by bringing forward an important effort to help ensure that the transition back to civilian life will be as smooth as it can be.”

Chu said the department recognizes there is no way to anticipate every expense, every challenge severely wounded veterans will face as they recuperate. “That is why we support this legislation and hope it will go on to a successful conclusion and become the law of the land,” he said.

The three soldiers responsible for the legislation were also present at the press conference to lend their support for the bill. Feldbusch, an Army Ranger, was severely wounded when a piece of shrapnel entered his brain during an intense Iraqi artillery barrage, leaving him blind in both eyes. Calhoun lost both legs in a rocket-propelled-grenade attack, and Kelly lost his right leg to a roadside bomb.

“It was during my recovery process that I noticed there were some gaps in the financial coverage,” Kelly said. “It wasn’t a lack of support by DoD or the (Department of Veterans Affairs), but just a gap in the system.

“I can’t stress enough the effect this will have on our brothers and sisters in the services,” he said. “The difference it will make on the family unit during covalence is tremendous. The financial stress far outweighs the physical stress.”

He said a soldier learning to walk on a prosthetic leg shouldn’t be “wondering how long they can continue to make a payment on their home or how long their family can continue to visit.”

Kelly urged the Senate to pass the legislation quickly. “Every day we wait,” he said, “is a day another soldier and his family will have to deal with the recovery process without this insurance.”

DefenseLINK News: Wounded Iraq Veterans Generate New 'Traumatic Injury' Legislation
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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Iraq mission ‘stupid’ ... LTE from Pfc, Bradley Robb, Camp Striker, Iraq at European and Pacific Stars & Stripes

Well, I have some reluctance to put this on the blog because there is always the fear of repercussions to a soldier who speaks out, but Daily Kos already published it. Wonder if there is a way to adopt this soldier and follow his progression to bring visibility so he doesn't suffer those 'unspoken' repercussions?

Iraq mission ‘stupid’

In response to “‘Because we gave our word’” (letter, April 6), about people who are dodging military service and refuse to serve overseas: Yes, I did give the oath, I did swear to uphold the Constitution against foreign and domestic enemies. I swore to preserve freedom, but what they left out was to preserve freedom of other countries. Iraq had nothing to do with Sept. 11. I understand fighting for freedom when it’s necessary, and Afghanistan was necessary, but not Iraq.

How many troops are left in the United States? If there were an attack on U.S. soil right now, God forbid, they’d get all the way to Iowa before we could attempt to stop them. By the time we could get all our troops back home, the entire country would be lost.

The letter writer said people are refusing to fight. That’s easy to say from Arifjan, Kuwait. Come to Iraq for a year. In fact, come here for two years. This is my second tour here.

I also made a promise to my country, and I stand by that promise. Don’t bash others because they think this mission is complete crap, because it is. It’s stupid and we’re risking other soldiers’ lives. For what? Iraqi liberation? Weapons of mass destruction? Neither one of those has been even close to being found.

Bring soldiers home to protect what we’ve come to love so dearly — the United States, to protect those freedoms we take for granted, to protect our people, our children, wives, sons, daughters and husbands.

Pfc. Bradley Robb
Camp Striker, Iraq

European and Pacific Stars & Stripes
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Monday, April 18, 2005

Army helicopter lands at Port Angeles, Sequim high schools in bid to interest recruits

Local news in area where I live, Pacific Northwest. Military Recruitment efforts at work in the high schools.



``We need people.''

That's how 2nd Lt. Ray Leonard, pilot of an Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, summed up the state of his Fort Lewis-based unit as he landed the copter on two North Olympic Peninsula high school campuses.

Leonard and several other soldiers and recruiters touched down at Sequim and Port Angeles high schools, showing off the Black Hawk helicopter to students and staff.

While a steady stream of people gawked at the 1979-model utility tactical transport helicopter, many onlookers unloaded a series of questions about the 65-foot-long aircraft to the Army visitors.

A few students picked up Army National Guard recruiting materials -- including a keychain in the shape of a Army Humvee bearing the National Guard's telephone number -- from a box near the helicopter.

Need for more enlisteds

The pilot for this special mission was Leonard, who explained how his 66th Aviation Brigade at Fort Lewis is in dire need of more personnel.

``We were asked by Army recruiters to come out and show them [the helicopter],'' Leonard said.

``In my unit, we need people. We're short 17 pilots and basically a support crew at every level of the support process.''

While he hasn't been ordered to either Iraq or Afghanistan, Leonard said he understands that it could happen at any moment.

Not only for him, but for anyone who signs up in the Army National Guard.

``Maybe we will stay here longer, or it could be that we will have to go,'' said Leonard, who says his unit mostly carries out missions for the ROTC and to assist in operations around Mount Rainier.

``If you join the military, the odds are you very well might have to go [to Iraq or Afghanistan].''

That observation was not lost on one student, Ted Haeg, who talked at length with Leonard about the helicopter at Port Angeles High School.

``Personally, it's really interesting,'' said Haeg, who said he's considering joining the Army after graduating from high school.

``I've always wanted to be a Ranger, but because of the war, I don't know.

``The whole war aspect is really scary -- getting killed, you know.'' - Army helicopter lands at Port Angeles, Sequim high schools in bid to interest recruits
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24 % of Troops Votes in Election 2004 Not Counted, Study Says

By Leo Shane III, Stars and Stripes

European edition, Tuesday, April 5, 2005

WASHINGTON — A national study suggests at least 24 percent of overseas military who voted in the 2004 presidential election did not have their ballots counted.

The National Defense Committee’s Military Voting Rights Project, which conducted the survey of local elections offices, called those results “unacceptable.”

It blamed the transient nature of troops in a battle zone, problems with the Military Postal Service Agency, missed mailing deadlines by state elections officials and litigation by Ralph Nader, which delayed printing of ballots in some states as major reason for the lost votes.

A Defense Department spokeswoman said the DOD is waiting for the results of official surveys before officials decide whether to make any changes.

Nader campaign manager Theresa Amato called blaming the third-party candidate for overseas voting problems “ridiculous.”

“That’s misplaced and misdirected blame,” she said. “They are blaming one of the symptoms of an unworkable process. We have a system where it’s not easy to register as a national candidate.”

The National Defense Committee is a pro-military organization that advocates the election of more veterans to Congress, according to its Web site.

Surveyors received statistics from 761 local election offices — about 10 percent of the total nationwide — which processed 131,772 requests for ballots from troops serving overseas.

Of those, about 4 percent were rejected outright because of lateness or errors in absentee ballot requests, and another 25 percent of those ballots weren’t returned, arrived too late to be counted or contained errors than invalidated the vote.

The new federal write-in absentee ballots provided a measure of relief, recapturing about 5,300 troops whose votes otherwise would not have been counted. But the report said that in the end, more than 32,000 servicemembers were still disenfranchised.

After the 2000 presidential election, the Government Accountability Office estimated that more than 29 percent of overseas military did not have a chance to cast their votes. The Federal Voting Assistance Project is scheduled to release a more comprehensive study of the 2004 election by the end of the year.

Joan Hills, co-chair of Republicans Abroad, which mobilizes GOP voters overseas, said she believes military officials did a better job than in 2000 and the best they could do in places like Iraq.

“We know of one battalion that kept moving and couldn’t receive some ballots, and we know of one major incident where a truck with ballots for a whole battalion was overturned in an ambush,” she said. “Those are war incidents.

“I think this time there was a bigger effort to get the word out about [support programs], and I think generally they did a good job.”

Their political counterparts, Democrats Abroad, offered a more critical assessment, saying in a statement they are “gravely concerned” about the balloting problems.

European and Pacific Stars & Stripes
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Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Making of the Twenty-First-Century Soldier Esquire:Feature Story:

This was an interesting read, and a bit too long to place it all as blog entry. Using just a couple of paragraphs from the article below. I recommend this article as it chronicles a mid-twenties man's path into the recruiting office and from there off to Iraq. The writing and language seems to be that of a mid-twenties aged man and it is a captivating read.

The Making of the Twenty-First-Century Soldier

In which a dope-smoking, valet-parking skateboarder living at home makes his way into the infantry, and into Iraq

By Colby Buzzell
March 2005, Volume 143, Issue 3

.....snipped all of article except last 2 paragraphs

AT FORT BENNING, Georgia, I had a drill sergeant who would yell the words "He lied!" every time a private would start a sentence off with, "But drill sergeant, my recruiter told me..."

When I signed the dotted line on my contract it said something about how I was obligated to spend eight years in the inactive reserve after I got out. When I asked my recruiter about this, he was like, "Hey, don't worry, every contract says that." He explained that this would kick in only if World War Three broke out and the North Koreans were lobbing nukes at us.

He lied.

read at Esquire:Feature Story:The Making of the Twenty-First-Century Soldier (Part1)
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Saturday, April 16, 2005

Watering the Dead, War, and Mute Schism (or "Rachel's Song")

A young person's perspective; 23 yr old Rachel Murphy, has put to words an unopinionated reflection of the status for how many of our young might be ill-prepared to use critical discerning to form an opinion about Iraq war. Noticing how she puts forth what my own now grown children of Vietnam-era veteran have said to me; we didn't learn about Vietnam in school, it's not taught. My own grown children are slightly older than 23 yr old Rachel, and if the below reflections don't show an 'absence', then isn't it encumbent on us as older generation to give them more substantiative information?

Peace, Human Rights & Democracy | Young Adults

Watering the Dead, War, and Mute Schism (or "Rachel's Song")

By Rachel Murphy

Friday, April 8, 2005

My father was fond of summertime road trips. I came to welcome the break from the monotony of day camps, though hours in the car, baloney and orange soda lunches, and the eternal power struggle for radio control remain low on my list of preferred leisure activities.

We went to Michigan by way of Canada (not actually a short-cut, no matter what your Rand McNally may tell you); Mystic, Conn., to a Pink Floyd light show that cemented my abnormal discomfort amid bricks and British singers; and one summer, to Washington, D.C. There, we rested in the shade of the Capitol building, toured the Supreme Court room (empty, as most of Washington in August), were told we could not bathe in the scummy-edged reflecting pool, and finally, visited the low wall of black marble memorializing the astronomical number of young men who couldn't fulfill their promises to their mothers and fathers and younger siblings and sweethearts to come home safe and sound.

My father did not go to Vietnam to fight for the spread of democracy. I don't know exactly why. I theorize it had something to do with the pig farm he ran in western New York. And his seven-year college career. But many of his classmates, his neighbors, his friends, and their brothers did.

I've never asked him about it, perhaps because that August day in the thought-slowing, sweat-slick heat, amid wilting, groomed border gardens and parched cherry trees, was the first time I remember seeing my father shed tears. He gave water to the dead, his freckled hand against that impossibly cool black marble, shoulders rolled forward, head hung, unashamed, bowed and weighted by unreconciled history and the tart luck of survivors.

I've never asked him about [Vietnam], perhaps because that August day in the thought-slowing, sweat-slick heat, amid wilting, groomed border gardens and parched cherry trees, was the first time I remember seeing my father shed tears.

I didn't know anything about the Cold War or Red China or dirty commies, or nightly death tolls. My third-grade class baked cookies for soldiers in Desert Storm, and my mother tried to explain to me the difference between supporting such a military operation (which she, and thus I, did not) and "supporting the troops." Kids brought their enlisted uncles and cousins (never fathers) to school for show and tell, but military actions past and present and the associated philosophies were conspicuously absent from current events assignments.

In fact, I went to one of the best public high schools in the country, and I can't recall a teacher ever impressing on me the awesome scope of the tragedy of 'Nam. I suppose a government can't be expected to educate the upcoming generations about its recently past and still reverberating FUBAR (F***ed Up Beyond All Recognition) situations.

I have not since been back to Washington, D.C., to revisit all the iconic buildings that grace the covers of American History textbooks, not even in my brief career as a protest kid in college. I consider it a pilgrimage I'm not yet prepared to make.

Since 9/11/2001, I've reconciled my younger brother's recruitment to the Marine Corps Reserve Force, and harder than that, my father's pride in it, and the resulting (mute) schism in my family. My brother will undoubtedly go to Iraq, to fight this war against terror that can only be the first faltering step in my beloved country's downfall. Or its triumphant achievement, and acknowledgement as the first post-modern, truly global empire.

I stand here, and I am not fully possessed of the facts, given limited access to news outlets and rent to pay, and I am not convinced of the line continually drawn in so much Middle Eastern sand separating good and evil, and I watch men and women of my generation stand beside me. None of us know what to do. We were raised on romantic stories of Vietnam protests and summers of love and acid and mellow marijuana, but we've found that those tactics don't work without the element of surprise our parents had.

. . .I watch men and women of my generation stand beside me. None of us know what to do. We were raised on romantic stories of Vietnam protests and summers of love and acid and mellow marijuana, but we've found that those tactics don't work without the element of surprise our parents had.

We don't vote, not as a block, not with direction; thus we bringing no pressure to bear on a government we, of all demographics, should be best prepared to reform and redirect. We are overeducated for our jobs, disenfranchised by our suburban bubble-wrapped childhoods, medicated against the human social condition of frustration and righteous angst. We can't recall the taste of freedom of open spaces to run towards our dreams. We have trouble thinking, and even more trouble acting. We have an exquisite sense of self-preservation, self-promotion, self-obsession, and self-loathing.

Or perhaps I speak only for myself when I sing my song, "Freedom."

My name is freedom. And i am nine years old today.

My daddy was freedom. And he's gone from this world.

They call my mama jewel. She shines though it's night.

My name is freedom and this is my dusty road.

I never seen the city, but i been to town.

There's a man there, he likes to put me down.

He said, "What kind of name is freedom?

For a boy, for a son?"

I told him, "be that as it may,

my name is freedom" watch me run.

Gotta dream in my head about lion and lamb

Open pilgrim's hands and woman and man

Gotta dream in my head about blindness and sound

and blood, the color of blood, the color of blood.

[Ed. Note: This reflection was submitted in response to a Witness article by Daniel Webster, "The Names We Will Not Read".]

Rachel Murphy, 23, a New York City singer/songwriter, is known in the Manhattan music scene as "Rooster." She can be reached at

The Witness: Watering the Dead, War, and Mute Schism (or "Rachel's Song")
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Stryker Brigade News: Officials split over support for post Ft Lewis

A bit of local news. Ft Lewis, in Tacoma, WA is a permanent fixture of the local landscape. I would be more than surprised if it was slated for closure under Rumsfeld's realignment of military bases. I also rather doubt that local city council recommendations will much influence Rumsfeld's decisions about which military bases to keep open or close. But adding this blog entry for a little local flavor. (Hey you two..and you know who you are...are you reading this one?)

April 16, 2005

Officials split over support for post

Lacey votes to oppose potential Ft. Lewis closure; Olympia Council undecided

Olympia's City Council is split over whether to urge federal officials to keep the Fort Lewis Army post and McChord Air Force Base open.

Mayor Mark Foutch, a retired airman, drafted a letter of support and is waiting to see how many council members sign on.

Council members in nearby Lacey, however, had no debate before unanimously approving a resolution opposing any closure or realignment of the two military installments.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld must submit a list of recommendations to the federal Base Realignment and Closure Commission by May 16. Up to one-quarter of the nation's military installations could be on the list, and states and communities are lobbying to protect what they deem as a substantial benefit to their local economies.

Olympia Councilman Doug Mah favors the letter of support. [...]

Fort Lewis is home to two Stryker Brigade Combat Teams and another 3,900-member cavalry regiment that is converting to a Stryker brigade. The Stryker brigades are a first step toward the Army's goal of fielding a future fighting force.

McChord is one of two Air Force bases that fly active missions using the C-17 Globemaster III transport jet, which is being relied upon to deliver troops and equipment to the Middle East.

Nearly 2,400 active-duty personnel lived in Thurston County last year, according to the state Office of Financial Management. That's a 16 percent increase from five years ago.

County businesses handle more than a half-million dollars in contracts assigned by the Department of Defense, according to the agency. Military shipments to and from the Port of Olympia generated more than $800,000 in gross revenue in 2004.

Stryker Brigade News: Officials split over support for post
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More Terrorist Attacks in 2004 Than in Any Year since 1985. Bush Admin. Eliminating Report now.

Posted on Fri, Apr. 15, 2005

Bush administration eliminating 19-year-old international terrorism report

By Jonathan S. Landay

Knight Ridder Newspapers

WASHINGTON - The State Department decided to stop publishing an annual report on international terrorism after the government's top terrorism center concluded that there were more terrorist attacks in 2004 than in any year since 1985, the first year the publication covered.

Several U.S. officials defended the abrupt decision, saying the methodology the National Counterterrorism Center used to generate statistics for the report may have been faulty, such as the inclusion of incidents that may not have been terrorism.

Last year, the number of incidents in 2003 was undercounted, forcing a revision of the report, "Patterns of Global Terrorism."

But other current and former officials charged that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's office ordered "Patterns of Global Terrorism" eliminated several weeks ago because the 2004 statistics raised disturbing questions about the Bush's administration's frequent claims of progress in the war against terrorism.

"Instead of dealing with the facts and dealing with them in an intelligent fashion, they try to hide their facts from the American public," charged Larry C. Johnson, a former CIA analyst and State Department terrorism expert who first disclosed the decision to eliminate the report in The Counterterrorism Blog, an online journal.

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., who was among the leading critics of last year's mix-up, reacted angrily to the decision.

"This is the definitive report on the incidence of terrorism around the world. It should be unthinkable that there would be an effort to withhold it - or any of the key data - from the public. The Bush administration should stop playing politics with this critical report."

A senior State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, confirmed that the publication was being eliminated, but said the allegation that it was being done for political reasons was "categorically untrue."

According to Johnson and U.S. intelligence officials familiar with the issue, statistics that the National Counterterrorism Center provided to the State Department reported 625 "significant" terrorist attacks in 2004.

That compared with 175 such incidents in 2003, the highest number in two decades.

The statistics didn't include attacks on American troops in Iraq, which President Bush as recently as Tuesday called "a central front in the war on terror."

The intelligence officials requested anonymity because the information is classified and because, they said, they feared White House retribution. Johnson declined to say how he obtained the figures.

Another U.S. official, who also requested anonymity, said analysts from the counterterrorism center were especially careful in amassing and reviewing the data because of the political turmoil created by last year's errors.

Last June, the administration was forced to issue a revised version of the report for 2003 that showed a higher number of significant terrorist attacks and more than twice the number of fatalities than had been presented in the original report two months earlier.

The snafu was embarrassing for the White House, which had used the original version to bolster President Bush's election-campaign claim that the war in Iraq had advanced the fight against terrorism.

read more at KR Washington Bureau | 04/15/2005 | Bush administration eliminating 19-year-old international terrorism report
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Friday, April 15, 2005

mission impossible. Posted by Hello
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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Are our Military Forces Broken Enough Yet?

Some statistics taken from Salon article; ‘How many have Gone to War?’

By Mark Benjamin, published April 12, 2005

-- Well over 1 million U.S. troops have fought in the wars since Sept. 11, 2001, according to Pentagon data released to Salon.

-- As of Jan. 31, 2005, the exact figure was 1,048,884, approximately one-third the number of troops ever stationed in or around Vietnam during 15 years of that conflict.

-- During the 15 years of the Vietnam conflict, around 2.4 million troops served there, according to a study of Pentagon data by the Heritage Center for Data Analysis.

-- Of all the troops ever sent to Iraq or Afghanistan, one-third have gone more than once, according to the Pentagon.

-- In the regular Army, 63 percent of the soldiers have been to war at least one time, and almost 40 percent of those soldiers have gone back. The highest rate of first-time deployments belongs to the Marine Corps Reserve: Almost 90 percent have fought.

-- Among veterans who served in Iraq and are now seeking healthcare from the Department of Veterans Affairs, one in four is now being diagnosed with a mental problem, according to a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine

-- There are no front lines in Iraq: Transportation companies, military police and civil affairs soldiers face the same risk of random ambush or death by roadside bombs. The stress goes on 24 hours a day for an entire tour..

-- In addition to troops getting treatment in military hospitals, nearly 50,000 veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, including those discharged for wounds or injuries, are now out of the military and getting medical treatment from the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to V.A. data.

-- Around 25,000 troops have been medically evacuated from Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the Pentagon's transportation command.

-- Further, calls to the GI Rights Hotline, an 800 number set up by nonprofit groups for soldiers to get information on military discharges, have nearly tripled since the year 2000. The hot line got 32,200 calls last year from soldiers who don't want to go to Iraq -- or don't want to go back. "The majority of the calls are people who are trying to get out," said the hot line's manager, Steve Morse......

-- A February Harper's article said 5,500 troops have gone AWOL since the invasion of Iraq.

-- If you want to ask how to destroy the all-volunteer Army, the Bush administration has provided a textbook case," Lawrence J. Korb told an audience at a Center for American Progress debate on the draft this month. Korb, an assistant secretary of defense under Reagan, said the strain may soon become overwhelming -- and Bush is not doing enough about it. "It may be that at some point we have cracked the all-volunteer force so much, we will have to do something else." Korb said that he thinks that three combat tours is the breaking point. Some combat units, such as the Army's famed Third Infantry Division, are in Iraq for the second time now.

-- The Pentagon has moved to stop the bleeding, enacting "stop loss" policies that prevent some soldiers from leaving the military. They have tapped the Individual Ready Reserve, soldiers who thought they had severed ties with the military years ago. Critics have said these policies are part of a "back door draft." The Bush administration has agreed only to the temporary increase in the size of the Army until 2008 and is reconfiguring combat units to get more foot-soldier bang for its buck.

-- But recruitment is also falling, particularly for Army Reserve units. The Pentagon said last month that both the active-duty and reserve forces are behind on recruiting goals for this year. The National Guard is down 25 percent. The Pentagon is adding new recruiters to try to fill the gaps: The Army National Guard has said it will add another 1,400 alone. "This will be a very challenging year for recruiting for the reserve components," Charles S. Abell, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, told Congress last month. That trend continues even as the military increases signing bonuses and lowers its standards for signing up. (Most recently, the government decided that a new recruit into the reserves could be 39 instead of 34.)

-- Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., and Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I. -- a Vietnam veteran and an Army Ranger, respectively -- want to permanently increase the Army by 30,000 soldiers and add 3,000 Marines. The Bush administration has balked at such efforts, citing the $3 billion price tag. The most pressing issue may be the reserves. Fearing a political backlash if he deployed weekend warriors to Vietnam, President Lyndon Johnson bypassed the reserves and used the draft instead. Indeed, slots in the National Guard were particularly coveted during that era, as the 2004 presidential election and the revisiting of George W. Bush's Guard record made so clear.

-- After Vietnam, the Pentagon reorganized the military so that it can't fight a big ground war without mobilizing the reserves. The idea was to block the president from waging a war without the full support of the American heartland. Active-duty Army units now rely on reserve units to perform vital functions in a major mobilization.

-- But the reserves are lagging the farthest behind in meeting their recruitment goals. The long deployments may have been particularly shocking for the troops, many of whom simply did not think they were signing up for this. The grind is wearing the reserves down, and fewer people are willing to sign up for it now. The Army Reserve's chief, Lt. Gen. James Helmly, wrote in a memo to Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker late last year that the stress meant the Army Reserve was "degenerating into a 'broken' force."

-- Pike, from, said the situation for the reserves is dire. "The guard is broken and cannot be fixed," Pike said. "I don't think anybody would voluntarily, of their own volition, join the National Guard. I think they will have to come up with a new mission statement for the thing." News | How many have gone to war?
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Part-Time Soldiers Face Homefront Enemy ? Job Loss:

Published: Apr 10, 2005

WASHINGTON - National Guardsmen Charles Goodreau, Benito Colon and Michael McLaughlin are fighting not Iraqi insurgents but their employers.

They join the growing ranks of part-time warriors who lost jobs or say they were discriminated against when they returned from military service.

During the past three years, more than 4,400 service members have filed complaints with the Labor Department charging employers have fired, demoted or discriminated against them - possible violations of the 11-year-old Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act.

Such complaints have risen 62 percent since the Sept 11 attacks, as the Pentagon mobilized 483,000 part-time troops - some more than once - to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan or guard the homeland. It has been the largest call-up since World War II.

read more at Part-Time Soldiers Face Homefront Enemy ? Job Loss: From The Tampa Tribune
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Monday, April 11, 2005

Honesty and Stop Loss

Sent the following out to every Washington State Representative and Senator whose address I could find as well as the governor and others in authority.

Then sent it to every U.S. Senator and Representative whose address I could find as well as the Pentagon, Rumsfeld, and the Bush administration.

Dear Senator/Representative

I want to write and encourage you to explore legislation at the state or national level that requires a formal presentation of the Stop-Loss Pentagon policy as it is applied to enlistment contracts into the Guard, Reserves and active-duty of all military organizations.

When one buys a house or car the signing includes an assortment of paperwork that involves among other things a paper trail of full faith and disclosure. The idea is that the buyer or borrower is required to formally declare and acknowledge that he/she has had all the implications of the contract explained and understands them.

The issues brought up in the recent Santiago vs. Rumsfeld case magnify that - among other things - those who sign on the bottom line are generally in or just out of high school with limited experience in the world of employment, self-sustenance and dealing with the consequences of decisions which may or not be decisions of the moment driven by impulse.

As it is, our high schools have become something you and I never had to deal with in our lives - mandatory attendance and presence in what is literally shark-infested waters where military recruiters enjoy open-season with unrelenting aggressiveness towards our children at school.

I am employed as a social worker for the state of Washington. Last month I had occasion to interview a young man a year out of high school - a young man still considering college, trade school or immediate employment. I asked him how often recruiters contact him.

He did not hesitate. "2-3 times a day every day."

Recruiters hiding behind the No Child Left Behind and preying on families who are very poorly informed about opting out of recruitment efforts are more and more becoming the public face of a desperate and cynical Pentagon that appears more and more to be the senior hucksters trying to maintain unreasonable quotas at the expense of truth.

A "read-this-before-you-sign" requirement with its implied session of "truth-in-lending" would give greater credence to those who defend Stop-Loss with the disingenuous "They knew what they were getting into."

Further, it would remove some of the sense of victimhood presented by these young soldiers as well as the sense among their families that the soldier AND the family have been HAD.

Such legislation is very much in harmony with current tenets of American capitalism that facilitate aggressive marketing and public disclosure. It would also, I believe, help to inculcate among those who do understand Stop-Loss and go ahead and sign the enlistment contract a sense of genuine sincerity and appreciation of what they are laying on the line.

It would help the signing to become almost the commencement moment of an act of patriotism genuine in its purpose.

Again, I encourage you to work within your legislative houses to draw up and pass something that goes way beyond the simple and shallow "Support the Troops" bumper stickers and that involves recruits and their families more fully in such an important participative moment at a time of national emergency.

Otherwise, Stop-Loss as currently administered and justified is a simple and fraudulent deception with deadly consequences.

I'd be happy to discuss this with you at your convenience.

Arthur Ruger
Bay Center, WA
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Sunday, April 10, 2005

Overview: The Great Energy WarUS & Allies Neutralized, World War III Ends

Is this the direction we are headed?


Overview: The Great Energy War: US & Allies Neutralized, World War III Ends
By John StantonOnline Journal Contributing Writer

Download a .pdf file for printing.Adobe Acrobat Reader required.Click here to download a free copy.

"She [the United States] well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence; she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force. . . . She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit. . . ."
—John Quincy Adams, 1821

April 5, 2005
—The Treaty of Jakarta, signed in 2045, brought an end to the global conflagration that was World War III.

That conflict saw the US, Pakistan, Israel, Japan, Taiwan, England and Australia in bloody conflict against China, India, Russia, France, Germany, Iran, Venezuela and Brazil. Other nations joined the fray and formed uneasy alliances with one side or the other. For example, Vietnam lent its considerable knowledge of combat against US forces to China. Mexico took sides with the US and put its population surplus at the disposal of the US military apparatus. The war killed billions, put to waste and made uninhabitable sizeable areas of the globe, and led to a global pandemic that killed millions more.

WWIII was initiated by the US, a nation with 4.5 percent of the world's population that, until war's end, was consuming over 50 percent of the world's resources. At issue was the US attempt to dominate oil and gas supply, demand and transit. That had been an ambition since at least 1948, when George Kennan recognized that post WWII US prosperity depended on oil and gas. Between 1956 and 1958, the Eisenhower Doctrine was adopted to ensure US access to oil and gas.

According to William Blum writing in Rogue State, "In keeping with that policy, the United States twice attempted to overthrow the Syrian government, staged several shows-of-force in the Mediterranean to intimidate movements opposed to US-supported governments in Jordan and Lebanon, landed 14,000 troops in Lebanon, and conspired to overthrow or assassinate Nasser of Egypt and his troublesome Middle-East nationalism."

By the 1990s, securing energy resources and limiting the growth of the economies of China, India, Russia, Brazil and Venezuela became paramount. Even with the US colonization of Iraq in 2005, there was not enough oil and gas to satisfy both US needs and those of the high growth nations. The historical record shows that the resource domination was the real goal of the disingenuous US War on Terror. And with the US removing itself from international diplomacy and treaty, and refusing to share the wealth, world war was just a step away.

With this backdrop, the US reserved the right to invade oil producing and transit nations, threaten countries for forward basing rights, and demonize and destabilize irregular nations like China, India and Russia (the term "irregular warfare" appeared during this time). The US deftly employed the cosmetics of religion, freedom and democracy, and glorified, even deified, all matters military in preparing its people for the real struggle that was ahead (also allowing US gas prices to rise). So, without much fanfare, four years into the 21st Century, the US made it official: "We are a Nation at War." And with that, US President George W. Bush's National Defense Strategy of March 2005, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers' National Military Strategy of the USA (released in 2004) set the global conflict into motion.

Those two documents served as the catalyst for the rapid build-up of international alliances designed to neutralize the US attempt to dominate world energy markets. Who could say what "national prosperity and the freedom to buy and sell" really was? How does a nation threaten those nebulous concepts? What exactly was US national security? What was clear is that in the drive to satisfy its energy needs, the US etched in stone the global superiority of its gods, its people, its government, its way of life, and its economic system. It demeaned world institutions born of the madness of war and long established, such as the United Nations, and it threatened punitive military attacks and occupation on any of the 200-plus nations on the planet.
What's a nation to do? Arm and move quickly. And the world did.

Buyer Beware
Many historians blamed Bush and Myers, and later President's Ralph Reed and Joe Biden for WWIII: that is incorrect. They were merely acting out what for hundreds of years had been a grand ambition: to sit astride the world's plenty. The historical record shows that the US was built on a toxic mix of religion, self-righteousness and violence dating straight back to 1630 when John Winthrop, the first governor of Massachusetts, asserted, ""We shall find that the God of Israel shall be among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies; when He shall make us a praise and glory that men shall say of succeeding plantations, 'the Lord make it like that of New England.'" In 1839, John O'Sullivan would repeat that thinking in the Nation of Futurity. The US' manifest destiny was "to establish on earth the moral dignity and salvation of man—the immutable truth and beneficence of God. For this blessed mission to the nations of the world, which are shut out from the life-giving light of truth, has America been chosen."

Winthrop and O'Sullivan certainly did not include Native Americans or African Americans in their worldview. Yet their rhetoric—and their not so subtle ethnic and cultural racism—remained stubbornly ingrained in the American psyche 'til the end. The notorious Immigration Act of 1924 (based in part on Madison Grant's racial/eugenics theories) and the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 speak to the peculiar attributes of American racism, remnants of which existed well into the 21st Century.

Moreover, Americans simply refused to take care of one another believing in some extra-galactic divinity that would support their ambitions. Their focus was a fairytale heaven and not the demanding here, now and tomorrow. Morning in America came to mean that Americans awoke daily with no recollection of their own history or the world's. As they slept, the for sale sign went up on the "people's" government, infrastructure, schools, health systems, and social security networks—the critical supply lines for a robust and healthy society.

Who could feel pity for such an irresponsible set of people? One thing was certain, such a people could not be allowed to rule other nations.

The world finally figured out that the inherent sickness of the US posed as great a danger to the world as its desire for oil and gas. What nation wanted Mr. and Mrs. Uncle Sam as rulers? As late as 1981, US cities like Detroit, Michigan, were still desegregating public schools. Well into the 21st Century, Native Americans remained among the world's poorest people. In 2004, at a cost of $50 billion a year, the US prison system housed 2 million or more inmates with another 6 million out on parole and probation. In 2005, UNICOR (the US federal prison labor force) was able to make the following boast:

. . . during the 1990-91 Persian Gulf conflict. UNICOR provided Kevlar helmets, camouflage battle uniforms, lighting systems, sandbags, blankets, and night vision eyewear for the military to use during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. It even manufactured cables for chemical gas detection devices and for the Patriot missile systems that played a key role in defending Allied troops during the Persian Gulf War. Brigadier General John Cusick, commanding officer of the Defense Personnel Support Center, praised UNICOR for the "superb support [it] Provided to America's Fighting Forces" and for helping ensure that "we received the supplies the troops needed to win the war." War was, after all, criminal.

In 2005, the National Victims Center reported that there were 11.4 million violent crimes committed in the US in 2003. Of those, there were 223,390 rapes and sexual assaults and 4.6 million physical assaults. In 2003, 16,503 Americans were murdered. Children and teenagers are increasingly the subject of violent crime: 12 percent of the homicides in the US were in the 13-19 age groups. Highway fatalities alone would cost 42,643 their lives in 2003.

The US was not a nation that cared about its own people, unless they happened to die in military service. Then again, in 2005 the National Coalition of Homeless Vets reported that the US Veteran's Administration estimates that more than 299,321 veterans are homeless on any given night, with an increasing amount of those coming from the Iraq War of 2003.
No nation wanted such a society but that's what the US was selling. The world started to read the warning labels.

Hubris Kills
Overly infatuated with and dangerously reliant on advanced computing technology, US military planners banked on technologies underpinning stealth, precision bombing and network centric warfare to maintain a military edge. New Age Pentagon leaders and strategists talked confidently of ballistic missile shields, fourth and fifth generational warfare, irregular warfare, and full spectrum dominance from outer space to the ocean floor. They prematurely announced the death of large scale conventional warfare time and again, based on self-proclaimed victories against the mock armies and air corps of Afghanistan, Iraq, Panama and Grenada.
Whether on foreign battlefields, embassy compounds or right in the heart of the US, the reality was that the US civilian/military/police government—whether Republican or Democrat ruled—could not protect and defend the Constitution of the United States from foreign or internal threat. There is a lot of evidence on that score.

For example, in September 1920, in New York City, a horse drawn carriage loaded with explosives by unknown assailants exploded on Wall Street killing 35 people. In April 1983, the US Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, was destroyed by an Islamic Jihad truck bomb and 63 people were killed. In the same country, in October 1983, over 240 US Marines were killed in their barracks by a Shia truck bomb at Beirut Airport (the French lost 58 in a bombing on that day in West Beirut). In April 1996, a decorated US military veteran destroyed a $14.5 million federal government building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, killing 168 children, women and men, and damaging 220 other buildings. On September 11, 2001, the successful hijacking of four commercial airliners led to the symbolic destruction of US economic power (World Trade Centers were first attacked by Islamic truck bomb in 1993) and military power (Pentagon). In October 2002, a teenage sniper roamed the roads of the Washington, DC, metro area killing 10 and convulsing schools and businesses and confounding law enforcement for close to 30 days.

The once substantial resources of the US were siphoned off by the US National Security apparatus. The US deficit rose, the dollar fell and large numbers of foreign investors moved their investments and jobs out of the US. Unemployment, inflation and energy costs, coupled with health care costs, was more than many Americans could take. Opting for the streets to protest the economic situation, the US government would have to take the fight to its own people in the streets just as it did in 1968, and had done repeatedly against the US labor movement in the early 1900s.

As it turned out, large conventional military forces clashed throughout Asia, North Africa, North America, and Central and South America. Fighting against two nations with 33 percent of the world's population capable of equipping and fielding 200 million soldiers, the US would initiate the nuclear conflict that flowed from the conventional fighting. The US was to find that its opponents had learned many lessons about taking the fight to US forces. The lessons of Iraq I and II were not just for the US military planners. US logistics/supply lines, global in nature, were extraordinarily vulnerable to sabotage and conventional attack. The precision bombing was never that accurate, the weapons platforms were constantly in need of repair, and the civilian/military leadership lacking.

Supply Lines & the HNO Option
Most had scoffed at the notion of the defeat of the US by "inferior" militaries and their other-than-American worldview. How could US air power be defeated? What about control of the seas? In a conflict that pitted the US against minor adversaries like Iraq and Afghanistan, anything was possible. But that was not the case in WWIII. Large and disciplined militaries with their mobile units showed up at the plate and took aim right at the US Achilles Heel: logistics and communications.

Writing in 1999, then USAF Captain Peter Garretson articulated just how this could be done. "I would covertly design single launch platforms, multiple attack satellites that rather than destroy, would move through orbit covering my opponent's satellites with a blanket that would disable them but not destroy in a very short time. I would have a ICBM/MRV capability that would employ an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) device, and I would target early warning, command and control, airlift and sealift assets that would effectively cut off the arms of the American Logistical Giant . . . I would hijack communications satellites and Internet nodes, and give false broadcasts of my troops occupying American military bases and capitals, of key leaders surrendering, or making deals. I would invest in a particle beam weapon that could target military aircraft or sea assets in route and destroy them from orbit . . ."

All the above would be implemented by US opponents. Additionally, novel EMP weapons were developed and deployed that blinded US communications platforms. Nanotechnology infiltrators stymied US computer networks inhibiting the ability of the US to wage its vaunted network centric warfare. US aircraft carriers were shown to be vulnerable from hypersonic weapons launched from mobile platforms. US airpower was neutralized by cutting edge shoulder launched anti-aircraft missiles that could be mass produced.

The US invaded portions of China and Russia through the "Stans," and attacked Iran from Iraq and Afghanistan. It convinced Pakistan to invade India, and Israel to secure Saudi Arabia, Syria and Kuwait. England was left to deal with the continental European powers France and Germany. From its bases in Costa Rica, Colombia and Honduras, the US moved swiftly to take the oilfields of Venezuela. The plan called for shock and awe and submission. But the world had not sat idly by as the US schemed. US and allied forces were sucked in, encircled and forced, in many cases, to surrender. They were trapped in the seas of indigenous populations who gave them no quarter. Buoyed by initial successes, the US and its allies never saw the coming conventional counterattack that followed. It was unlike any the world had seen.

Suffering defeat and stalemate on the conventional battlefield, the US and its allies resorted to the HNO solution (Hiroshima-Nagasaki Option) on the pretext that millions of lives—mostly American—would be spared. They fired nuclear weapons on forces overrunning the US and its allies on the Asian continent and in North America, specifically Alaska. The response was swift: a nuclear counterattack eliminated the remaining US Carrier Groups, US refining capacity and Taiwan as an independent entity. Pakistan, being overrun by India, opted to switch sides. Japan and Australia did the same moving to assist the anti-US coalition.

As the nuclear portion of the conflict cooled, the US realized that it had literally run out of gas. The domestic front was itself a war zone with well-armed American guerilla groups openly fighting the forces of the US Northern Command, Homeland Security and local police. Everywhere around the world the US was in retreat. England was in talks with France and Germany for terms of surrender. Israel was in retreat and had one foot in the ocean.
The world's water and air supply were contaminated and billions of carcasses—human and otherwise—lay rotting. Disease and malnutrition would take hundreds of millions more. All this for oil and gas that, for the most part, has been depleted.

John Stanton is a Virginia based writer specializing in political and security matters. He is the author (with Wayne Madsen) of America's Nightmare: The Presidency of George Bush II. He can be reached at
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Saturday, April 9, 2005

Two years later, military is depleted; National Guard is most strained branch

A gritty report of reality here; for all the 'creative' efforts on part of the military to meet the demands of this Administration, it would seem implosion has been reached.


The Washington Post

March 20. 2005 11:12PM

WASHINGTON - Two years after the United States launched a war in Iraq with a crushing display of power, a guerrilla conflict is grinding away at the resources of the U.S. military and casting uncertainty over the fitness of the all-volunteer force, according to senior military leaders, lawmakers and defense experts.

The unexpectedly heavy demands of sustained ground combat are depleting military manpower and gear faster than they can be fully replenished. Shortfalls in recruiting and backlogs in needed equipment are taking a toll, and growing numbers of units have been broken apart or taxed by repeated deployments, particularly in the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve.

"What keeps me awake at night is, what will this all-volunteer force look like in 2007?" Gen. Richard Cody, Army vice chief of staff, said at a Senate hearing last week.

The Iraq war has also led to a drop in the overall readiness of U.S. ground forces to handle threats at home and abroad, forcing the Pentagon to accept new risks - even as military planners prepare for a global anti-terrorism campaign that administration officials say could last for a generation.

Stretched by Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States lacks a sufficiently robust ability to put large numbers of "boots on the ground" in case of a major emergency elsewhere, such as the Korean Peninsula, in the view of some Republican and Democratic lawmakers and some military leaders.


Moreover, military leaders are taking steps to ease stress on the troops by temporarily boosting ranks; rebalancing forces to add badly needed infantry, military police and civil affairs troops; and employing civilians where possible. Friday, defense officials worried about recruiting announced that they will raise the age limit, from 34 to 40, for enlistment in the Army Guard and Reserve. The Pentagon is spending billions to repair and replace battle-worn equipment and buy extra armor, radios, weapons and other gear.

Yet such remedies take time, and no one, including senior officials, can predict how long the all-volunteer force can sustain this accelerated wartime pace. Recruiting troubles, especially, threaten the force at its core. But with a return to the draft widely viewed as economically and politically untenable, senior military leaders say the nation's security depends on drumming up broader public support for service.

"If we don't get this thing right, the risk is off the scale," said Lt. Gen. Roger Schultz, director of the Army National Guard, the military's most stressed branch.


Growing demands

As the military struggles to find fresh recruits, there is unprecedented strain on service members and their families.

Since 2001, the U.S. military has deployed more than 1 million troops for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with 341,000, or nearly a third, serving two or more overseas tours.

Today, an entrenched insurgency in Iraq ties down 150,000 U.S. troops, inflicting upwards of 1,500 deaths so far - more than 10 times the number killed in the major combat operations that President Bush declared ended on May 1, 2003.

Because of the spreading violence from the insurgency, coupled with a smaller foreign coalition than was hoped for, the U.S. Army and Marines in particular have scrambled to keep a force of roughly 17 brigades in Iraq until now, rather than draw down to eight brigades or even be out altogether, according to previous military projections.


As it rounds up troops for deployments, the Army has had to allocate limited equipment. It has shuffled thousands of items from radios to rifles between units, geared up new industrial production, and depleted the Army's pre-positioned stocks of tanks, Humvees and other assets to outfit units for combat.

Army stocks in Southwest Asia are exhausted, and those in Europe have also been "picked over," one U.S. official said. Roughly half of the Army and Marine equipment stored afloat on ships has been used up, the official said. Refilling the stocks must wait until the Iraq war winds down, Army officials say.

Meanwhile, a sizable portion of Marine and Army gear is in Iraq, wearing out at up to six times the normal rate. Battle losses are mounting; the Army has lost 79 aircraft and scores of tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles. "We are equip-stretched, let there be no doubt about it. . . . This Army started this war not fully equipped," Cody said in recent congressional testimony.

The priority on allocating scarce resources to deployed units means that forces rotating back home -especially reserve units - are dropping in readiness. In many cases, they are being rated at the lowest level, C4, because of a lack of functioning equipment, required training or manpower.

"The Army in the aggregate is reporting readiness levels that are less today than they have been in the past," said Paul Mayberry, deputy to the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.


Feeling the strain

Of all the military branches, the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve are suffering the most, as they provide between a third and half of the troops in Iraq, despite a legacy of chronic shortages in their manning and equipment.

"The real stress on the system was the fact that no one envisioned that we would have this level of commitment for the National Guard," which shipped seven combat brigades to Iraq and Afghanistan for the most recent rotation, Cody said.

Because the Army traditionally undersupplies Guard and reserve units, few had the troops or gear needed when mobilized. As a result, large numbers of soldiers and equipment were shifted from one unit to another, or "cross-leveled," to cobble together a force to deploy.

"We were woefully underequipped before the war started. That situation hasn't gotten any better. As a matter of fact, it gets a little bit worse every day, because we continue to cross-level," Lt. Gen. Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, told Congress this month.

The widespread fracturing of units is making it increasingly difficult for the Army to assemble viable forces from the remaining hodgepodge - most of which have low readiness ratings, Army figures show. "It's a little bit like Swiss cheese. We've taken out holes in the units," Lovelace said. "Those holes are a lot of times leaders, and they are hard to grow."

Already, the Guard and Reserve have deployed the vast majority of their forces most needed for fighting counterinsurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan - such as military intelligence, civil affairs, infantry and military police - bringing into question whether the Pentagon's two-year limit on reserve mobilizations is sustainable.

"Can we do this forever? No. We can't do this forever at current levels," the Army National Guard's Schultz said in an interview.

In a sign of deeper problems, career citizen-soldiers frustrated by broken units and long, grueling war-zone duties are increasingly leaving the Guard. Attrition among career guardsmen is running at nearly 20 percent, said Schultz, who expects that as many as a third of the members of some units rotating back from Iraq will quit.

Recruitment is sluggish, reaching just 75 percent of the target for the first quarter of fiscal 2005 - meaning that the Guard is unlikely to reach its desired strength of 350,000 soldiers this year.

The viability of the Army Guard and Reserve will prove decisive, senior Army leaders say, as they consider in 2006 whether to permanently increase the size of the active-duty Army, and if so by how much. It also marks a critical test of the military's ability to appeal to the civilian population, not only with bonuses and education benefits, but also with an ethos of self-sacrifice that it considers the bedrock of the all-volunteer force.

"For the all-volunteer force to work, it has to work all the time, not just in peacetime," Schultz said. "It's now time to answer the call to serve, to assemble on the village green."

read entire article at Concord Monitor Online
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Baghdad Burning -- American Media...

from riverbend's blog; Baghdad Burning

American Media...

You wake up in the morning. Brush your teeth. Splash the sleep out of your eyes and head for the kitchen for a cup of coffee or tea and whatever is available for breakfast.

You wander to the living room and search for the remote control. It is in its usual place- stuck inexplicably between the sofa cushions. You turn on the television and stand there flipping from one channel to the other, looking for a news brief or something that will sum up what happened during those six hours you slept


Furthermore, I don’t understand the worlds fascination with reality shows. Survivor, The Bachelor, Murder in Small Town X, Faking It, The Contender… it’s endless. Is life so boring that people need to watch the conjured up lives of others?

I have a suggestion of my own for a reality show. Take 15 Bush supporters and throw them in a house in the suburbs of, say, Falloojeh for at least 14 days. We could watch them cope with the water problems, the lack of electricity, the check points, the raids, the Iraqi National Guard, the bombings, and- oh yeah- the ‘insurgents’. We could watch their house bombed to the ground and their few belongings crushed under the weight of cement and brick or simply burned or riddled with bullets. We could see them try to rebuild their life with their bare hands (and the equivalent of $150)…

I’d not only watch *that* reality show, I’d tape every episode.

- posted by river @ 1:08 AM

read entire blog entry at Baghdad Burning
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Friday, April 8, 2005

And still, months later; Where Are The Up-armored humvees; A soldier questions

Article speaks for itself; in December, Rumsfeld is questioned by soldier on lack of up-armored humvees. Now in April, months later, another known death (how many more we don't know about) that could have been prevented with up-armored humvee.

Soldier questions vehicle armor

E-mail mentions death of Kentucky Guardsman

Sen. Mitch McConnell, who received an e-mail from Staff Sgt. Brad Rogers, has asked for an investigation into the claim.

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Kentucky Army National Guard soldiers in Iraq are being put at risk because their trucks are unreliable, poorly armored and lack protective glass, according to a guardsman stationed in Iraq.

Staff Sgt. Brad Rogers said in e-mails yesterday that Kentucky National Guardsman Sgt. James A. Sherrill might have survived a bomb attack Sunday if his truck had protective glass, known as ballistic windows.

"We have great people and great leadership. I just want answers on why we can't get better equipment with full armor including ballistic windows," Rogers said in an e-mail to The Courier-Journal.

"They need to stop these missions until we get these things."

Kentucky National Guard spokesman David Altom confirmed that Rogers, who belongs to the Paducah-based 2113th Transportation Company, had sent e-mails about the unit's equipment.

Rogers also sent e-mails to friends and coworkers.

The Kentucky National Guard said in a statement that Rogers' claims are being reviewed.

"We have heard about the concerns expressed by a member of the 2113th Transportation Company regarding vehicle safety. The leadership in the Kentucky Guard is conducting an inquiry into the matter, as we still do not have all the details," the statement reads.

"From the time this war began we have continually evaluated and revised our force protection methods. We have done and will continue to do everything in our power to ensure that our soldiers have the very best equipment they can, and that any deficiencies will be corrected as soon as possible," the statement reads.

Adjutant General Donald Storm, commander of the Kentucky Guard, declined to elaborate on the statement until he had investigated the matter further, Altom said.

But at a Tuesday press conference, Storm said vehicles involved in three recent deaths of Kentucky Guardsmen had been armored.

"All of our latest three deaths were either in up-armored Humvees or -- in the case of Sgt. Sherrill -- an add-on armor 915 tractor, which is the equivalent of an up-armored Humvee. It had the latest added-on armor. It had the complete kit."

Regular Army trucks better

Rogers' concerns come after previous complaints from troops in other units.

Some members of a South Carolina-based Army Reserve unit refused in October to go on a convoy mission because they said the trucks lacked armor and were in poor condition.

And Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld fielded questions from a Tennessee National Guard soldier in December about why soldiers did not have enough vehicle armor.

Rogers' wife, Sandra Rogers, said he has told her in recent phone calls and e-mails that his unit's trucks are inferior to those used by regular active-duty military units.

"He's not a rookie. He knows the difference between what regular active gets and what they're getting. He's a very reputable man," Sandra Rogers said.

Rogers, 33, of Hebron, called the M915 tractor-trailer truck used by his unit "a dinosaur."

"Most of our vehicles are 22 to 26 years old. Every time we go out on a convoy about 25 percent of the vehicles are breaking down," he said.

Altom said the 2113th is using trucks shipped from Kentucky, and their age "is in their 20s."

Regarding the armor on the trucks, Rogers said it is makeshift.

"The only thing we have is what they call 'hillbilly armor,' which consists of one armor panel on the passenger side and one armor panel on the driver's side."

He said about half the company's trucks are equipped that way while the other half also have an armored floor and back.

"Most everyone, if not everyone, has the ballistic or bulletproof windows that are running our missions to the places we are going. We don't have a single M915 with ballistic windows. I feel in my heart that Sgt. Sherrill would still be with us if he had had ballistic windows."

Death avoidable?

In an e-mail to friends, Rogers said Sherrill's death prompted him to issue his warning, hoping to alert the media and lawmakers.

"I know these things that happen in war. I was in Desert Storm. This didn't have to happen, and this shouldn't have happened," Rogers said of Sherrill's death.

Rogers said the medic who tried to treat Sherrill told him Sherrill was killed by a piece of metal that struck around his left temple.

He added he was not absolutely certain that protective glass could have saved Sherrill.

"I spoke to the medic, the passenger in the vehicle with Sgt. Sherrill, and a couple of others on the convoy, and they tend to believe so. Nothing is certain, but I guarantee it would have slowed it (the shrapnel) down if not stopped it."

Sherrill's father, William Sherrill, said yesterday his 27-year-old son had not complained to him about the trucks.

The elder Sherrill declined to comment on Rogers' warnings. "I realize what you all are trying to do and what he is trying to do -- save more lives. But this is something I just don't want to deal with. There's nothing I can do to bring James back," William Sherrill said.

Lawmakers react

Rogers' e-mails reached the offices of Sens. Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning and 4th District Rep. Geoff Davis.

Davis spokeswoman Jessica Towhey said Davis voted for a recent supplemental appropriation of $82 billion to fund the war, including upgrades in body armor and vehicle armor.

"We are not in a position to comment (on) what one particular vehicle has versus another vehicle. We are going to defer to the Kentucky adjutant general," she said.

McConnell spokesman Robert Steurer said in a statement the senator has asked the Department of Defense to look into the matter.

Bunning's spokesman, Mike Reynard, said Bunning's office would not comment on the matter until its review of Rogers' claims was complete.

Veteran soldier

Rogers said he began his military career in 1989 on active duty with the Army. He said he served in Korea and later from mid-January to early May of 1991 in Operation Desert Storm.

After leaving active duty he said he joined the Ohio National Guard from late 1991 until late 1996 when he joined the Kentucky Guard.

He said he was transferred within the Kentucky Guard to the 2113th Transportation Company last year.

Sandra Rogers said her husband had told her he had informed his superiors about the e-mails. But she said he emphasized he will continue to always follow orders of his commanders.

The couple have an 8-year-old daughter and a 5-year-old son, Sandra Rogers said.

"I'm not trying to put him on a pedestal, but the community here knows him to be a good man and that when he speaks he's saying the right things."

Soldier questions vehicle armor
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Thursday, April 7, 2005

photo from  Posted by Hello
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US Taxpayers Give Lion's Share To Military

When Tax Day comes on April 15th, taxpayers should know that 30 cents of each federal income tax dollar they paid supported military and defense, while four cents went to education, according to the National Priorities Project, a non-partisan, nonprofit research group.

Where Do Your Tax Dollars Go?, NPP's just released publication, provides a detailed breakdown of how the federal government allocated the average household's 2004 tax dollars in each state and 193 towns, cities and counties on their Web site.

US Taxpayers Give Lion's Share To Military :: PNNOnline :: the nonprofit news and information resource
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What happened in Fallujah?

IRAQ: Compensation for Fallujah residents slow - locals

04 Apr 2005 16:36:14 GMT

Source: IRIN

FALLUJAH, 4 April (IRIN) - Compensation for residents of Fallujah city, some 60 km from the Iraqi capital, is happening at a slow pace, local people say.

Government studies suggest that 70 percent of buildings were destroyed in the city during the last conflict between US troops and insurgents.

This left thousands of families still encamped on the outskirts of the city, waiting for a government solution to their problem.

Two-thirds of the city's population is said to have fled when the fighting started between November 2004 and January 2005. Based on studies, each family will receive a sum of money, depending on the damage and size of their property.

"I cannot return to my home because it has been totally devastated and the government told me that I have to be patient and wait for my name to come up on the list for compensation. But it is going very slowly and my family need a roof over their heads," Kareem Aydan, a resident from Fallujah, camped on the outskirts of the city, told IRIN.

Muhammad Abdul al-A'ani, deputy minister for industry, told IRIN that of the total number of houses damaged in the city, only 90 families had received compensation of around US $1,500 each so far.

He added that $100 million from the Iraqi Relief and Reconstruction Funds (IRRF) had been set aside by the government to compensate and help families to return to their homes.

"We have found that $500 million is required for total compensation in the city but the US [-led] Coalition has just offered us $100 million so far, but they have promised that soon the rest will come into our hands," al-A'ani added.

Doctor Hafid al-Dulaimi, director of the Commission for the Compensation of Fallujah Citizens (CCFC), established by the government, told IRIN that a study had been carried to assess the scale of destruction. He reported 36,000 destroyed homes in all districts of Fallujah, along with 8,400 shops.

Al-Dulaimi pointed out that 60 children's nurseries, primary and secondary schools and colleges were destroyed and 65 mosques and religious sanctuaries were almost demolished by the attack, with 13 government buildings requiring new infrastructure.

read more at Reuters AlertNet - IRAQ: Compensation for Fallujah residents slow - locals
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US ponders status of 2 troops missing in Iraq

Reuters Washington April 6:

The military will consider reclassifying as dead the only United States soldier listed as captured in the Iraq War and review its designation of a pilot shot down in the 1991 Gulf War as captured, officials said.

A three-officer board of inquiry will convene today to review evidence in the case of Army Reserve Sergeant Keith Matthew Maupin, missing in Iraq since April 9, 2004, when his military fuel convoy was ambushed near Baghdad, the army said yesterday.

The army has classified Maupin of Batavia, Ohio, as ‘captured’. Ms Shari Lawrence, a spokeswoman for the Army human resources command, said among the range of options available to the board was to recommend Sgt Maupin be reclassified as ‘deceased/body not recovered’.

The Navy Secretary, Mr Gordon England separately directed another board to reassess the status of Navy Capt Michael Scott Speicher, whose F/A-18C Hornet went down in Iraq on January 17, 1991, navy officials said.

Capt Speicher of Jacksonville, Florida, initially was listed as killed in combat. The navy later changed his status to ‘missing in action’ and in 2002 deemed him ‘missing/captured’, reflecting a belief that the Iraqis may have taken him alive.

Sgt Maupin was promoted to sergeant last week, his second promotion since disappearing, said the army spokeswoman, Major Elizabeth Robbins.

Sgt Maupin’s captors sent a videotape to Arabic satellite television channel Al Jazeera a week after he was seized. The tape showed Sgt Maupin dressed in military fatigues sitting on a floor, held captive by masked and heavily-armed guerrillas.

A second videotape shown by Al Jazeera on June 28, 2004, showed what militants said was the execution of a US soldier. The army said the identification of Sgt Maupin was ‘not conclusive’ from the poor-quality video in which a gunman could be seen firing one shot at the soldier, seen only from the back, in a dark setting. The body fell into a hole.

England ordered the action in the Speicher case after receiving a report from the Defence Intelligence Agency summarising findings regarding the missing pilot from November 2002 to the beginning of last month, said a defence official, who asked not to be named.

The official said the report stated ‘no new valid information’ had been discovered in a two-year search of Iraq that Capt Speicher had ever been held captive. Senator, Mr Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat who has sought answers in the case, said the Pentagon called off its Speicher search a year ago, adding he would not be surprised if the navy changes the pilot’s status from ‘missing/captured’ to merely ‘missing in action’.

“I’m very disappointed that the Pentagon has abandoned the search,” Mr Nelson said in an interview. “What we need to do is to bring closure for the family that has been through this tragedy by finding the evidence.”

The defence official said that “everybody would like to have proof positive” on Capt Speicher’s fate but “we’re not there yet.”

Defence officials said last July a general who once headed the US team responsible for the search had concluded Capt Speicher was not alive. The officials also said information from an Iraqi defector that Capt Speicher survived and was held captive had been discredited.

Investigators in 2003 found writing that looked like the letters ‘MSS’ on a prison cell wall in Iraq, which some took as Capt Speicher’s initials, but officials said last summer this writing had not been definitively linked to him.

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