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The next time Romney says Obama did nothing to create jobs, introduce him to Mitch McConnell…

 

Thanks To Connecticut Against Linda McMahon

The President’s Veterans Job Corps Act of 2012 would have spent $1 billion over five years to put veterans to work tending to federal lands, and in the nation’s police and fire departments. Created by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), it was based on FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Republicans say they opposed the bill because there is no proof that it would work. Forty Republican members of the United States Senate betrayed veterans when they decided that denying President Obama a victory was more important than spending $1 billion to create jobs for vets.

It doesn’t matter to most Senate Republicans that the CCC put 2.5 million people to work. When confronted with an actual jobs program for America’s vets, including the 220,000 who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, the majority of Republicans claimed the plan, which was already offset, was too expensive.

This is all part of Mitch McConnell’s stated goal to let Obama accomplish nothing. In so doing, he has made America worse. Here’s hoping vets in Kentucky make sure he loses the election.

 

188 Fact Checked Promises Kept By Barack Obama

 

The next time a Romney/Ryan follower tells you Obama didn’t do anything during his first term, hit them with this list… and ask them what the Republican candidates have done! Here are 188 promises made and kept by Obama:

Add another Space Shuttle flight
Allocate Homeland Security funding according to risk
Appoint a special adviser to the president on violence against women
Appoint a White House Coordinator for Nuclear Security
Appoint an American Indian policy adviser
Appoint an assistant to the president for science and technology policy
Appoint at least one Republican to the cabinet
Appoint the nation’s first Chief Technology Officer
Ask people and businesses to conserve electricity
Assure that the Veterans Administration budget is prepared as ‘must-pass’ legislation
Attract more students to science and math
Ban lobbyist gifts to executive employees
Begin removing combat brigades from Iraq
Bolster the military’s ability to speak different languages
Centralize ethics and lobbying information for voters
Champion the importance of arts education
Change standards for determining broadband access
Close the “doughnut hole” in Medicare prescription drug plan
Conduct robust research and development on future space missions
Consider “smart growth” in transportation funding
Create a best practices list for private businesses in accommodating workers with disabilities
Create a community college partnership program
Create a consumer-friendly credit card rating system
Create a ‘Green Vet Initiative’ to promote environmental jobs for veterans
Create a Homeowner Obligation Made Explicit (HOME) score for mortgage comparisons
Create a military families advisory board
Create a national declassification center
Create a rapid response fund for emerging democracies
Create a real National Infrastructure Protection Plan
Create a Social Investment Fund Network
Create a White House Office on Urban Policy
Create an Advanced Manufacturing Fund to invest in peer-reviewed manufacturing processes
Create an artist corps for schools
Create an international tax haven watch list
Create job training programs for clean technologies
Create new criminal penalties for mortgage fraud
Create new financial regulations
Create White House performance team and chief performance officer
Create youth service corps
Direct military leaders to end war in Iraq
Double federal spending for research on clean fuels
Eliminate the higher subsidies to Medicare Advantage plans
Enact tax credit for consumers for plug-in hybrid cars
Encourage farmers to use more renewable energy and be more energy efficient
Encourage water-conservation efforts in the West
End the “Stop-loss” program of forcing troops to stay in service beyond their expected commitments
End the abuse of supplemental budgets for war
End the use of torture
Enhance earth mapping
Equalize tax breaks for driving and public transit
Establish a credit card bill of rights
Establish an Energy Partnership for the Americas
Establish an independent health institute to provide accurate and objective information
Establish program to convert manufacturing centers into clean technology leaders
Establish ‘Promise Neighborhoods’ for areas of concentrated poverty
Establish school programs to highlight space and science achievements
Establish special crime programs for the New Orleans area
Expand access to places to hunt and fish
Expand eligibility for Medicaid
Expand eligibility for State Children’s Health Insurance Fund (SCHIP)
Expand federal bioforensics program for tracking biological weapons
Expand funding to train primary care providers and public health practitioners
Expand housing vouchers program for homeless veterans
Expand loan programs for small businesses
Expand Pell grants for low-income students
Expand public/private partnerships between schools and arts organizations
Expand teacher mentoring programs and provide incentives for more planning time
Expand the Nurse-Family Partnership to all low-income, first-time mothers
Expand the Senior Corps volunteer program
Expand the Veterans Administration’s number of “centers of excellence” in specialty care
Expand Veterans Centers in rural areas
Explore whether International Space Station can operate after 2016
Extend and index the 2007 Alternative Minimum Tax patch
Extend child tax credits and marriage-penalty fixes
Extend monitoring and verification provisions of the START I Treaty
Extend the Bush tax cuts for lower incomes
Extend the Bush tax cuts for those making less than $250,000 (couples) or $200,000 (single)
Extend unemployment insurance benefits and temporarily suspend taxes on these benefits
Fully fund federal contribution to the preservation of the Everglades
Fully fund the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)
Fully fund the Veterans Administration
Fully fund the Violence Against Women Act
Fund a major expansion of AmeriCorps
Get his daughters a puppy
Give a speech at a major Islamic forum in the first 100 days of his administration
Give tax credits to those who need help to pay health premiums
Grant Americans unrestricted rights to visit family and send money to Cuba
Help states and localities address sprawl
If you don’t have insurance, or don’t like the insurance you have, you’ll be able to choose a new plan on a health insurance exchange
Implement “Women Owned Business” contracting program
Implement and fund proven health intervention programs
Improve climate change data records
Improve relations with Turkey, and its relations with Iraqi Kurds
Improve water quality
In non-competitive markets, force insurers to pay out a reasonable share of their premiums for patient care
Increase efforts to reduce unintended pregnancy
Increase funding for land-grant colleges
Increase funding for local emergency planning
Increase funding for national parks and forests
Increase funding for progams that conserve lands and habitat for select species such as the Osceola turkey
Increase funding for the Environmental Protection Agency
Increase funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund
Increase funding to expand community based prevention programs
Increase minority access to capital
Increase non-military aid to Afghanistan by $1 billion
Increase special operations forces and civil affairs
Increase spending to prepare for longer space missions
Increase the size of the Army and Marine Corps
Increase the Veterans Administration budget to recruit and retain more mental health professionals
Initiate a grant and training program for law enforcement to deter cyber crime
Invest in all types of alternative energy
Invest in public transportation
Launch a supportive services-housing program for veterans to prevent homelessness
Launch an international Add Value to Agriculture Initiative (AVTA)
Launch educational initiative for employers on tax benefits of hiring employees with disabilities
Make greater investment in advanced military air technology
Make military deployments predictable for troops and families
Make National Guard leader a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Make U.S. military aid to Pakistan conditional on anti-terror efforts
More controlled burns to reduce wildfires
No permanent bases in Iraq
Open “America Houses” in Islamic cities around the globe
Open new consulates “in the tough and hopeless corners of the world”
Organize successful Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in 2010
Partner to enhance the potential of the International Space Station
Promote cultural diplomacy
Promote innovative ways to reward good teachers
Promote more pre-school education
Protect American intellectual property abroad
Provide $30 billion over 10 years to Israel
Provide affordable, high-quality child care
Provide grants to early-career researchers
Provide grants to encourage energy-efficient building codes
Pursue a wildfire management plan
Push for a college football playoff system
Push for enactment of Matthew Shepard Act, which expands hate crime law to include sexual orientation and other factors
Raise fuel economy standards
Raise the small business investment expensing limit to $250,000 through the end of 2009
Rebuild schools in New Orleans
Recruit math and science degree graduates to the teaching profession
Reduce subsidies to private student lenders and protect student borrowers
Reform mandatory minimum sentences
Reform No Child Left Behind
Reform the patent system
Reinstate executive order to hire an additional 100,000 federal employees with disabilities within five years.
Release oil from Strategic Petroleum Reserve
Release presidential records
Remove more brush, small trees and vegetation that fuel wildfires
Repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy
Reproductive health care will be “at the heart” of health care reform.
Require 10 percent renewable energy by 2012
Require Cabinet officials to host Internet town hall meetings
Require children to have health insurance coverage
Require economic justification for tax changes
Require health plans to disclose how much of the premium goes to patient care
Require insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions
Require large employers to contribute to a national health plan
Require more energy-efficient appliances
Require new hires to sign a form affirming their hiring was not due to political affiliation or contributions.
Require states to provide incentives for utilities to reduce energy consumption
Restore funding for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne/JAG) program
Restore funding to the EEOC and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs
Reverse restrictions on stem cell research
Seek verifiable reductions in nuclear stockpiles
Send two additional brigades to Afghanistan
Set goals and timetables for implementing Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act
Share enviromental technology with other countries
Sign a “universal” health care bill
Stand down nuclear forces to be reduced under the Moscow Treaty
Stop the development of new nuclear weapons
Strengthen and expand military exchange programs with other countries
Strengthen antitrust enforcement
Strengthen the levees in New Orleans
Support airline service in small towns
Support commercial access to space
Support funding and reform for Amtrak
Support high-speed rail
Support increased funding for the NEA
Support network neutrality on the Internet
Support regional innovation clusters
Use the International Space Station for fundamental biological and physical research
Use the private sector to improve spaceflight
Vigorously pursue hate crimes and civil rights abuses
We will kill bin Laden
Will seek more accommodations of bicycles and pedestrians
Work to build natural gas pipeline from Alaska
Work to overturn Ledbetter vs. Goodyear
Work toward deploying a global climate change research and monitoring system

 

I have not talked much about Syria, but this seems to be a positive statement:

Nawaf al-Fares is one of the highest-profile defectors from the Syrian regime. Formerly he was Bashar al-Assad‘s ambassador in Baghdad, Iraq.

He has been a very prominent figure in Syria for years and has held senior Baath party posts since the time of the late president Hafez al-Assad.

Fares is a Sunni who is said to have close ties to Syrian security.  Heis the second senior diplomat to quit the embattled government since the beginning of the Syrian uprising. The first was Bassam Imadi, the Syrian ambassador to Sweden.

Western diplomats have hailed recent defections as a sign that the Bashar-al-Assad government is slowly beginning to crumble from within.

He stated this in an interview:

“The regime and Bashar al-Assad himself gave us illusions about reforms. We are now convinced that this regime will never do anything for the sake of the people. Lies are going on, the head of the regime is lying, it’s mirage, it’s illusion, killings everywhere, destruction everywhere and oppression everywhere …. He [Bashar-al-Assad] carries the genes of a dictator. His father killed people 30 years ago. Those who deal with him know that he is a liar …

The Russian support, the Iranian support and the hesitation or the inability of the international community to protect the Syrian people are the main reasons why the regime is buying time and why the regime is staying for a longer period of time. But from inside, the regime is dead. Economically, socially, in all domains …

Reforms could have given some fruits if applied at the very beginning of the revolution. But after waves of blood it’s impossible for the Syrians to trust Bashar al-Assad again, to accept his existence in Syria even …. This regime is dead, it’s just a matter of time.”

– Nawaf Fares, the former Syrian ambassador to Iraq

It Takes One To Know One…

“He has been an unmitigated disaster to the country.”

— Former Vice President Dick Cheney, quoted by the Washington Post, about President Obama.

How in hell does someone who is a proven “unmitigated disaster,” after thousands of Iraq deaths and tens of thousands of military injuries and more in his quiver of anti-American arrows, get away with public denunciation of a positive President.

Give me a break.

Today starts the removal of troops from Iraq…

… and over the next couple of weeks they will be out, with a few thousand (more?) advisors remaining… doing what, I don’t know. There is, I guess, a certain amount of relief being felt, but the government is not making this a huge event. It’s pretty quiet actually.

While looking at comments from warriors and people who made their billions off of war, I found this in the NY Times from 2009 when the forthcoming (2012) pullout was announced:

“Now that the war’s over, we’re going to get to go back to developing exciting new weapon systems, instead of just trotting out the ones that are proven to work,” said a visibly excited Robert Stevens, Lockheed C.E.O., before a reporter informed him of the Senate moratorium on new weapons systems development.

“Oh,” said Stevens, looking flushed, and quickly excused himself.

As for me, the most exciting weapon systems are the ones you dismantle.

Thoughts on Pearl Harbor Day

Seventy years ago the United States was attacked by the Japanese and we were plunged into what became World War II…and we stayed in some form of military activity for decades thereafter. Korea, Cuba, Viet Nam, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan… even times of peace have been warlike.

However, Pearl Harbor Day makes us realize that we were vulnerable to someone else’s plans (as did 9/11) and we became a defensive nation as a result.

I’d like to think that here in the 21st Century it was going to get better, but I don’t really think it will. Just think of the fun we’ll get into if Gingrich becomes President.

War Profiteers Kill Jobs!

Now go HERE to see what you can do about it,

Colin Powell “manipulated” into making the case for the Iraq War…

…said his former Chief of Staff last night on MSNBC.

Take a look:

clipped from www.huffingtonpost.com
Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, appeared on “MSNBC Live” tonight and discussed Powell’s role as Secretary of State during the lead-up to the Iraq War. Wilkerson said he believes that Former Vice President Dick Cheney‘s office “manipulated” Powell into justifying the case for war and that “the Secretary of State was not told the complete truth.” He went on to state his belief that the Bush Administration was “using” Powell due to his respected reputation.
A key moment in the interview comes when host Cenk Uygur asks Wilkerson about Powell’s speech to the United Nations in which Powell made the case for war:

Uygur: Do you think the Vice President’s office manipulated you and Secretary Powell into giving a speech?

Wilkerson: Absolutely. Absolutely.

blog it

Of course, this is something most of us have assumed for years.

Curveball says he lied to get rid of Saddam…

..and, of course, led us into a long stupid war with dead and wounded Americans and thousands of dead Iraqi citizens.

This snippet by an article from Empty Wheel:

clipped from emptywheel.firedoglake.com
Almost eight years after he helped start a war, the Iraqi behind the US claim that Iraq had mobile weapons labs admitted in an interview with the Guardian that he lied. (h/t Hissypit)

Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, codenamed Curveball by German and American intelligence officials who dealt with his claims, has told the Guardian that he fabricated tales of mobile bioweapons trucks and clandestine factories in an attempt to bring down the Saddam Hussein regime, from which he had fled in 1995.

The article as a whole provides fascinating details of how the German intelligence, BND, service basically fed Curveball the details he’d need to fabricate his lies.
But I’m particularly interested in two new details he reveals. First, BND and British intelligence met with Curveball’s boss in mid-2000; the boss debunked Curveball’s claims.
But it sure adds to the picture of the US dialing up the intelligence it needed — however flimsy — to start a war.
blog it

Wrong thing to say on TV – This Week’s Award Winner

” I say why isn’t Iraq paying us back with oil, and paying every American family and their soldiers that lost loved ones or have injured soldiers — and why didn’t they pay for their own liberation? For the Kuwait oil minister — how short his memory is. You know, we have every right to go in there and frankly take all their oil and make them pay for the liberation.”

– Sean Hannity, Fox News

… and let’s get into another war. Why not use the 5% of House salaries and expenses that Boehner got in?

Another Quote for the Day – thinking about Iraq

“Certainly, Iraq is on the road to being an independent nation, though how much American neo-imperialism is imposed on Baghdad remains to be seen. Now if only Iraq had a government.”

– Juan Cole commenting on the President’s speech last night (and a great essay which you should read.)

If you get Tweets from John McCain…

… then you probably got this tiny piece of bullshit.

Last American combat troops leave Iraq. I think President George W. Bush deserves some credit for victory.

about 12 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone Retweeted by 100+ people

John McCain
Let’s give Bush credit for giving us an unnecessary war to fight for a decade, credit for the deaths of over 4,000 soldiers (and major wounding of more than 40,0000)… and let’s let Bush share the credit with John McCain and his buddies.

Last “Full Combat” Brigade out of Iraq

I watched on Olbermann as the last “full combat” brigade (440 soldiers)  pulled out of Iraq and rode their Strykers into Kuwait last night (I have no idea how long it takes them to actually get out of the country) leaving 50,000 “non-combat” troops who are to serve as trainers and are not to get into any combat incidents… not to break up fights between Sh’ias and Sunnis, or anything like that.

The American Ambassador to Iraq, Christopher Hill, was interviewed and said that this was the keeping of Obama’s promise to get combatants out. The Iraq war is, therefore, ending… but we still have a commitment there. We’ve gone from 140,000 troops to 50,000 and it appears to be a positive mood. The Ambassador’s biggest worry is that there is still not an effective coalition government in Iraq and they are going to have to do it pretty much by themselves.

It is now up to the Iraqis… at least that’s what we’re saying.

I’m also wondering if these troops are going to end up in Pakistan or Afghanistan.

A Quote for Today (and for the past several years)

“Is there a man or woman in America today who is willing to stand at noon in the public square and claim that demands to bomb, invade, and occupy other people’s countries have anything to do with human liberation?

If such people can be found, let them answer a few simple questions about the US invasion and occupation of Iraq.

How many Iraqis did we “liberate” from the companionship of their loved ones?

How many Iraqis did we “liberate” from dwelling in the houses and towns and the country of their birth?

How many Iraqis did we “liberate” from life on Earth?”

– Robert Naiman in Truthout

This article from Truthout is one of the most disturbing pieces on the Iraq War that I have read…

Recognizing the Creative Commons Attribute on this article from Truthout, I am reproducing it in full.

I dare anyone to read it and not be ready to pull all troops out of the Middle East now.

This is disgusting.

– Bill T.

___________________________________________________________

Iraq War Vet: “We Were Told to Just Shoot People, and the Officers Would Take Care of Us”

Wednesday 07 April 2010

by: Dahr Jamail, t r u t h o u t | Report

photo
(Image: Lance Page / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: The U.S. Army, K. OS, whiteblot)

On Monday, April 5, Wikileaks.org posted video footage from Iraq, taken from a US military Apache helicopter in July 2007 as soldiers aboard it killed 12 people and wounded two children. The dead included two employees of the Reuters news agency: photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen and driver Saeed Chmagh.

The US military confirmed the authenticity of the video.

The footage clearly shows an unprovoked slaughter, and is shocking to watch whilst listening to the casual conversation of the soldiers in the background.

As disturbing as the video is, this type of behavior by US soldiers in Iraq is not uncommon.

Truthout has spoken with several soldiers who shared equally horrific stories of the slaughtering of innocent Iraqis by US occupation forces.

“I remember one woman walking by,” said Jason Washburn, a corporal in the US Marines who served three tours in Iraq. He told the audience at the Winter Soldier hearings that took place March 13-16, 2008, in Silver Spring, Maryland, “She was carrying a huge bag, and she looked like she was heading toward us, so we lit her up with the Mark 19, which is an automatic grenade launcher, and when the dust settled, we realized that the bag was full of groceries. She had been trying to bring us food and we blew her to pieces.”

The hearings provided a platform for veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan to share the reality of their occupation experiences with the media in the US.

Washburn testified on a panel that discussed the rules of engagement (ROE) in Iraq, and how lax they were, to the point of being virtually nonexistent.

“During the course of my three tours, the rules of engagement changed a lot,” Washburn’s testimony continued, “The higher the threat the more viciously we were permitted and expected to respond. Something else we were encouraged to do, almost with a wink and nudge, was to carry ‘drop weapons’, or by my third tour, ‘drop shovels’. We would carry these weapons or shovels with us because if we accidentally shot a civilian, we could just toss the weapon on the body, and make them look like an insurgent.”

Hart Viges, a member of the 82nd Airborne Division of the Army who served one year in Iraq, told of taking orders over the radio.

“One time they said to fire on all taxicabs because the enemy was using them for transportation…. One of the snipers replied back, ‘Excuse me? Did I hear that right? Fire on all taxicabs?’ The lieutenant colonel responded, ‘You heard me, trooper, fire on all taxicabs.’ After that, the town lit up, with all the units firing on cars. This was my first experience with war, and that kind of set the tone for the rest of the deployment.”

Vincent Emanuele, a Marine rifleman who spent a year in the al-Qaim area of Iraq near the Syrian border, told of emptying magazines of bullets into the city without identifying targets, running over corpses with Humvees and stopping to take “trophy” photos of bodies.

“An act that took place quite often in Iraq was taking pot shots at cars that drove by,” he said, “This was not an isolated incident, and it took place for most of our eight-month deployment.”

Kelly Dougherty – then executive director of Iraq Veterans Against the War – blamed the behavior of soldiers in Iraq on policies of the US government.

“The abuses committed in the occupations, far from being the result of a ‘few bad apples’ misbehaving, are the result of our government’s Middle East policy, which is crafted in the highest spheres of US power,” she said.

Michael Leduc, a corporal in the Marines who was part of the US attack on Fallujah in November 2004, said orders he received from his battalion JAG officer before entering the city were as follows: “You see an individual with a white flag and he does anything but approach you slowly and obey commands, assume it’s a trick and kill him.”

Bryan Casler, a corporal in the Marines, spoke of witnessing the prevalent dehumanizing outlook soldiers took toward Iraqis during the invasion of Iraq.

“… on these convoys, I saw Marines defecate into MRE bags or urinate in bottles and throw them at children on the side of the road,” he stated.

Scott Ewing, who served in Iraq from 2005-2006, admitted on one panel that units intentionally gave candy to Iraqi children for reasons other than “winning hearts and minds.

“There was also another motive,” Ewing said. “If the kids were around our vehicles, the bad guys wouldn’t attack. We used the kids as human shields.”

In response to the WikiLeaks video, the Pentagon, while not officially commenting on the video, announced that two Pentagon investigations cleared the air crew of any wrongdoing.

A statement from the two probes said the air crew had acted appropriately and followed the ROE.

Adam Kokesh served in Fallujah beginning in February 2004 for roughly one year.

Speaking on a panel at the aforementioned hearings about the ROE, he held up the ROE card soldiers are issued in Iraq and said, “This card says, ‘Nothing on this card prevents you from using deadly force to defend yourself’.”

Kokesh pointed out that “reasonable certainty” was the condition for using deadly force under the ROE, and this led to rampant civilian deaths. He discussed taking part in the April 2004 siege of Fallujah. During that attack, doctors at Fallujah General Hospital told Truthout there were 736 deaths, over 60 percent of which were civilians.

“We changed the ROE more often than we changed our underwear,” Kokesh said, “At one point, we imposed a curfew on the city, and were told to fire at anything that moved in the dark.”

Kokesh also testified that during two cease-fires in the midst of the siege, the military decided to let out as many women and children from the embattled city as possible, but this did not include most men.

“For males, they had to be under 14 years of age,” he said, “So I had to go over there and turn men back, who had just been separated from their women and children. We thought we were being gracious.”

Steve Casey served in Iraq for over a year starting in mid-2003.

“We were scheduled to go home in April 2004, but due to rising violence we stayed in with Operation Blackjack,” Casey said, “I watched soldiers firing into the radiators and windows of oncoming vehicles. Those who didn’t turn around were unfortunately neutralized one way or another – well over 20 times I personally witnessed this. There was a lot of collateral damage.”

Jason Hurd served in central Baghdad from November 2004 until November 2005. He told of how, after his unit took “stray rounds” from a nearby firefight, a machine gunner responded by firing over 200 rounds into a nearby building.

“We fired indiscriminately at this building,” he said. “Things like that happened every day in Iraq. We reacted out of fear for our lives, and we reacted with total destruction.”

Hurd said the situation deteriorated rapidly while he was in Iraq. “Over time, as the absurdity of war set in, individuals from my unit indiscriminately opened fire at vehicles driving down the wrong side of the road. People in my unit would later brag about it. I remember thinking how appalled I was that we were laughing at this, but that was the reality.”

Other soldiers Truthout has interviewed have often laughed when asked about their ROE in Iraq.

Garret Reppenhagen served in Iraq from February 2004-2005 in the city of Baquba, 40 kilometers (about 25 miles) northeast of Baghdad. He said his first experience in Iraq was being on a patrol that killed two Iraqi farmers as they worked in their field at night.

“I was told they were out in the fields farming because their pumps only operated with electricity, which meant they had to go out in the dark when there was electricity,” he explained, “I asked the sergeant, if he knew this, why did he fire on the men. He told me because the men were out after curfew. I was never given another ROE during my time in Iraq.”

Emmanuel added: “We took fire while trying to blow up a bridge. Many of the attackers were part of the general population. This led to our squad shooting at everything and anything in order to push through the town. I remember myself emptying magazines into the town, never identifying a target.”

Emmanuel spoke of abusing prisoners he knew were innocent, adding, “We took it upon ourselves to harass them, and took them to the desert to throw them out of our Humvees, while kicking and punching them when we threw them out.”

Jason Wayne Lemue is a Marine who served three tours in Iraq.

“My commander told me, ‘Kill those who need to be killed, and save those who need to be saved’; that was our mission on our first tour,” he said of his first deployment during the invasion.

“After that the ROE changed, and carrying a shovel, or standing on a rooftop talking on a cell phone, or being out after curfew [meant those people] were to be killed. I can’t tell you how many people died because of this. By my third tour, we were told to just shoot people, and the officers would take care of us.”

When this Truthout reporter was in Baghdad in November 2004, my Iraqi interpreter was in the Abu Hanifa mosque that was raided by US and Iraqi soldiers during Friday prayers.

“Everyone was there for Friday prayers, when five Humvees and several trucks carrying [US soldiers and] Iraqi National Guards entered,” Abu Talat told Truthout on the phone from within the mosque while the raid was in progress. “Everyone starting yelling ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is the greatest) because they were frightened. Then the soldiers started shooting the people praying!”

“They have just shot and killed at least four of the people praying,” he said in a panicked voice, “At least 10 other people are wounded now. We are on our bellies and in a very bad situation.”

Iraqi Red Crescent later confirmed to Truthout that at least four people were killed, and nine wounded. Truthout later witnessed pieces of brain splattered on one of the walls inside the mosque while large blood stains covered carpets at several places.

This type of indiscriminate killing has been typical from the initial invasion of Iraq.

Truthout spoke with Iraq war veteran and former National Guard and Army Reserve member Jason Moon, who was there for the invasion.

“While on our initial convoy into Iraq in early June 2003, we were given a direct order that if any children or civilians got in front of the vehicles in our convoy, we were not to stop, we were not to slow down, we were to keep driving. In the event an insurgent attacked us from behind human shields, we were supposed to count. If there were thirty or less civilians we were allowed to fire into the area. If there were over thirty, we were supposed to take fire and send it up the chain of command. These were the rules of engagement. I don’t know about you, but if you are getting shot at from a crowd of people, how fast are you going to count, and how accurately?”

Moon brought back a video that shows his sergeant declaring, “The difference between an insurgent and an Iraqi civilian is whether they are dead or alive.”

Moon explains the thinking: “If you kill a civilian he becomes an insurgent because you retroactively make that person a threat.”

According to the Pentagon probes of the killings shown in the WikiLeaks video, the air crew had “reason to believe” the people seen in the video were fighters before opening fire.

Article 48 of the Geneva Conventions speaks to the “basic rule” regarding the protection of civilians:

“In order to ensure respect for and protection of the civilian population and civilian objects, the Parties to the conflict shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives and accordingly shall direct their operations only against military objectives.”

What is happening in Iraq seems to reflect what psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton calls “atrocity-producing situations.” He used this term first in his book “The Nazi Doctors.” In 2004, he wrote an article for The Nation, applying his insights to the Iraq War and occupation.

“Atrocity-producing situations,” Lifton wrote, occur when a power structure sets up an environment where “ordinary people, men or women no better or worse than you or I, can regularly commit atrocities…. This kind of atrocity-producing situation … surely occurs to some degrees in all wars, including World War II, our last ‘good war.’ But a counterinsurgency war in a hostile setting, especially when driven by profound ideological distortions, is particularly prone to sustained atrocity – all the more so when it becomes an occupation.”

Cliff Hicks served in Iraq from October 2003 to August 2004.

“There was a tall apartment complex, the only spot from where people could see over our perimeter,” Hicks told Truthout, “There would be laundry hanging off the balconies, and people hanging out on the roof for fresh air. The place was full of kids and families. On rare occasions, a fighter would get atop the building and shoot at our passing vehicles. They never really hit anybody. We just knew to be careful when we were over by that part of the wall, and nobody did shit about it until one day a lieutenant colonel was driving down and they shot at his vehicle and he got scared. So he jumped through a bunch of hoops and cut through some red tape and got a C-130 to come out the next night and all but leveled the place. Earlier that evening when I was returning from a patrol the apartment had been packed full of people.”

Creative Commons License
This work by Truthout is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

The Hurt Locker

Now that they’ve released the DVD, Elly and I got around to viewing THE HURT LOCKER last night. What a terrific and moving film. You get so caught up with this team of explosive experts in their last month before being sent home that you are on the edge of your chair during most of it.

Director Kathryn Bigelow has incredible visual and action sense… she, and the Photographer, have placed cameras all over the place in each scene… you can’t escape what is going on no matter where you look.

One issue she deals with that I haven’t seen done anywhere else is the notion of “combat addiction” – especially in the character of Sergeant James who, near the end of the movie, returns home to the utter boredom of family, grocery store, house maintenance… and then feels compelled to reenlist, ending the film with a new 365 day tour.

As Bigelow says:

War’s dirty little secret is that some men love it. I’m trying to unpack why, to look at what it means to be a hero in the context of 21st-century combat.

The three central characters show three radically different sides of the US soldier in Iraq and their dependency on and conflict with each other is pretty much the whole movie. We see other soldiers come and go… and when they go, they go in explosive sequences…literally.

I liked Bigelow’s earlier film, The Weight Of Water, which combined history and research of an Ax Murder in the 19th Century with the frustration and career end of a writer played by Sean Penn… and again, Bigelow stressed the visual imperative. Perhaps her earlier background as a Whitney Museum supported visual artist comes into pay here.

Anyway… The Hurt Locker is up for a bunch of Oscars and is a truly deserving film. Writer Mark Boal, Cinemetographer Barry Ackroyd, and actors like Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, and Brian Geraghty are all excellent. Minor appearances by Guy Pearce, Ralph Fiennes, David Morse, Evangeline Lilly and Christian Camargo add a tremendous depth to the piece.

We waited for the credits to see where it was filmed… it felt so much like we were in 2004’s Iraq. The locations were shot in Jordan, and some of he interiors were done in Vancouver. Surprise surprise!

Get out and see this if you haven’t… the DVD is now available and is turning up at rental places.

Do we learn from History?

…even RECENT History? I’m beginning to wonder what we can possibly do to change the way we interact with the world.

This long article on Washington’s Blog is worth the read. Here’s a clip:

clipped from www.georgewashington2.blogspot.com

What Empires Have Said Throughout History: “One More Surge”

A leading advisor to the U.S. military, the Rand Corporation, released a study in 2008 called “How Terrorist Groups End: Lessons for Countering al Qa’ida“. The report confirms what experts have been saying for years: the war on terror is actually weakening national security.

As a press release about the study states:

“Terrorists should be perceived and described as criminals, not holy warriors, and our analysis suggests that there is no battlefield solution to terrorism.”

In fact, starting right after 9/11 — at the latest — the goal has always been to create “regime change” and instability in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Lebanon and other countries.
The goal was never focused on destroying Al Qaeda. As just one example, the U.S. let Bin Laden escape in 2001 and again in 2007.
Indeed, the goal seems to have more to do with being a superpower (i.e. an empire) than stopping terrorism.
blog it

Rising military suicides outpaces combat deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan…

This article from Congress.org caught my attention. I find it especially interesting since we are about to increase troops in Afghanistan.

 

Here’s a clip… but go to the site and read the whole thing:

clipped from www.congress.org
More U.S. military personnel have taken their own lives so far in 2009 than have been killed in either the Afghanistan or Iraq wars this year, according to a Congressional Quarterly compilation of the latest statistics from the armed services.
As of Tuesday, at least 334 members of the military services have committed suicide in 2009, compared with 297 killed in Afghanistan and 144 who died in Iraq, the figures show.
Lawmakers in recent years have been increasingly concerned about the growing problem of military suicides, especially in the Army.
But even those who have been most intensely focused on the issue said they found the new numbers alarming. So far in 2009, the Army has had 211 of the 334 suicides, while the Navy had 47, the Air Force had 34 and the Marine Corps (active duty only) had 42.
The rising number of suicides has coincided with U.S. military forces redeploying frequently to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Army leaders say they are unable to conclude that the deployments are the main cause of the suicide increase — one-third of the active-duty soldiers who killed themselves in 2009 have no deployment history, according to Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli.

But many senior members of Congress say they believe there is a connection.

blog it

Why didn’t Obama consider Diplomacy in Afghanistan?

This Tuesday Obama is supposed to announce his decision on troops and Afghanistan (the last guess I heard was 30,000 as opposed to the 40,000 the General asked for) and we will once again see our middle-east  battle commitment increase.

But is there a reason why the President didn’t turn the problem over to the State Department for a negotiated solution? Sherwood Ross in OpEdNews writes an extended article on why diplomacy wasn’t even considered. here’s a clip:

Afghanistan is valued today for the oil and gas pipelines the U.S. wants built there, no matter what other reasons Obama gives.

“In the late 1990s,” writes Washington reporter Bill Blum in his “Anti-Empire Report,” “the American oil company, Unocal, met with Taliban officials in Texas to discuss the pipelines” Unocal’s talks with the Taliban, conducted with the full knowledge of the Clinton administration”continued as late as 2000 or 2001.” Adds Paul Craig Roberts writing in the December Rock Creek Free Press of Washington, D.C., the U.S./U.K. military aggression in Afghanistan “had to do with the natural gas deposits in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.” Roberts explains:

“The Americans wanted a pipeline that bypassed Russia and Iran and went through Afghanistan. To insure this, an invasion was necessary. The idiot American public could be told that the invasion was necessary because of 9/11 and to save them from ‘terrorism,’ and the utter fools would believe the lie.” The war, Roberts continued, is to guard the pipeline route. “It’s about money, it’s about energy, it’s not about democracy.”

So, if this is indeed WHY we are there, how long can it last?

In January, a Defense Department report stated “building a fully competent and independent Afghan government will be a lengthy process that will last, at a minimum, decades,” The Nation magazine’s Jonathan Schell reports (Nov. 30). So far from defeating the Taliban are Allied forces that US military contractors “are forced to pay suspected insurgents to protect American supply routes,” Aram Roston writes in the same issue. “It is an accepted fact of the military logistics operation in Afghanistan that the US government funds the very forces American troops are fighting.” In fact, an American executive there told Roston, “The Army is basically paying the Taliban not to shoot at them. It is Department of Defense money.”

It is Corporate concern which controls the decision making here…xnd, of course, we travel farther into deficit spending by pouring money into Afghanistan (and Iraq, which we are NOT remotely out of, yet.)

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs has stated that it costs about a million dollars per year for each deployed US soldier, beyond the expense of training and maintaining a security force. You can do the math: there are 180,000 troops in Afghanistan and Iraq right now… add another 30,000 and we are spending $210,000,000,000.00 per year (that’s just on those troops active in the mid-east… we are also paying for the pentagon, all our worldwide bases, all the equipment we use worldwide, health recovery by the veteran’s Administration for soldiers who come back wounded… not to mention the costs for those who come back dead.) The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost 768.8 billion dollars so far and by the end of this fiscal year, the price tag will approach one trillion dollars.

It’s not even a number that most people can even conceive of!

Ross goes on to say that…

“…in all the recent debate in Washington, who has heard a word of concern for the impact of escalation on the suffering civilian populations of Afghanistan and Pakistan?

“ ‘Our military demands ever more troops,’ Veterans Speaker Alliance’s founder Paul Cox said at an Oakland, Calif., rally, last week with Barbara Lee, the only member of Congress to vote against the initial Afghan aggression. ‘Meanwhile, our economy is in the toilet, health care costs are out of control, and we can’t afford to educate our children. But somehow, there’s always money for war.’ Rep. Lee called for putting ‘this stage of American history—a stage characterized by open-ended war—to a close.’ “

Barbara Lee, Dennis Kucinich, Bernie Sanders and a few others represent a very tiny segment of The Congress, both Representatives and Senators, who would push to get us out of the middle east as warriors.

Unless America rises up to support such a massive withdrawal, this will never even be a remote possibility. Ongoing warfare is our Heritage and our Curse.

Veterans Day

I’d like to give a nod to all the Vets who read Under The LobsterScope and salute them for the service they have given to this country…

And I hope we can bring our service folks in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places home.

Today is an Anniversary… let’s not celebrate.

It is the eighth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan today. As of yesterday, when a contingent from Congress met with the President, it looks like we’re staying. Will troops increase and, if so, how many? Will Obama start being seen the way we saw Bush?

Look at the mask!

I find this disturbing, especially since we’re still in the useless war in Iraq and we hear people talk about going after Iran… and we still have to protect Israel.

When I drive my car today, I’ll think about the oil it uses and, if it were not for oil, would we be in the mideast at all?

HuffPo ran pictures of the eighth anniversary of Afghanistan yesterday. See them HERE.

Juan Cole asks a question that we should have known the answer to years ago…

This from the best blog on the Middle East that’s on the Internet, Informed Comment by Juan Cole:

Missing Pilot found in Iraq;


In the End, will there be anything Left of Bush’s UN Speech that is not a sheer Falsehood?

“Speech by George W. Bush, President of the United States at the United Nations General Assembly, 12 September 2002″, making the case for going to war with Iraq:


… In 1991, the Iraqi regime agreed to destroy and stop developing all weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles, and to prove to the world it has done so by complying with rigorous inspections. Iraq has broken every aspect of this fundamental pledge. . .

In 1991, the U.N. Security Council, through Resolutions 686 and 687, demanded that Iraq return all prisoners from Kuwait and other lands. Iraq’s regime agreed. It broke its promise. Last year the Secretary General’s high-level coordinator for this issue reported that Kuwait, Saudi, Indian, Syrian, Lebanese, Iranian, Egyptian, Bahraini, and Omani nationals remain unaccounted for – more than 600 people. One American pilot is among them. “

Voice of America, August 2, 2009:

The U.S. military says it has positively identified the remains of Navy Captain Michael Scott Speicher, whose jet was shot down over west-central Iraq on January 17, 1991. A U.S. Department of Defense statement Sunday says Iraqi citizens led U.S. Marines to the burial site in the desert. One Iraqi said he was present when Speicher crashed, adding that the fighter pilot did not survive and was buried by Bedouins.

Bush used the lies about Iraq to let so many Americans (and Iraqis) die, and we have never called him on it as a country. People like Juan Cole have kept the questions raised and maybe someday we will see that people who were little more than political murderers get legally called on their actions.

I hope I live that long.

Happy Birthday Bud! Happy Sovereignty Day Iraq!

Today is the date for two important occurances:

1.) The birthday of my son, known to many as Will but to his Mother and me as Buddy, who is now in DC working at the Hyatt and getting ready for Graduate School…

–and–

2.) it has been declared National Sovereignty Day in Iraq, celebrating the plan of the American army to withdraw from the streets and to start leaving the country.

Two good things on the same day!