Tuesday, February 15, 2005

War News for Tuesday, February 15, 2005 Part Four

The Human Cost

Curtis Greene: Curtis Greene was angry about the war and frustrated with Lisset for not understanding what it had been like there. They argued, so fiercely that twice the police had to break it up.

One night he disappeared from their home outside Fort Riley, Kan. Lisset and the kids went to stay at her father's house in Hernando County. When he called her to apologize for running out, he promised he would come home to Fort Riley. But he wasn't about to return to Iraq.

"Over my dead body are they going to make me go back."

"I knew he was having dreams, nightmares," Lisset said. "He would wake up at night really sweaty."

On Dec. 6, he showed up for work, his uniform pressed, his boots polished. He sang cadence.

That night, he was found hanging in his barracks. Sgt. Curtis Greene, 331st Signal Company, was 25.

Abu Shaiba: The account of the death and life of Abu Shaiba is based in part on a lengthy interview with his brother, who had remained in Fallujah and was present when his brother was killed. Written answers to questions delivered by an intermediary were provided by his wife, who has since moved to the city of Ramadi, and two other insurgents who said they fought with Abu Shaiba in his last battle. The U.S. military said it had no record of an event that matched their description, although it added that "naturally, events occurred over those two days and that night."

The recollections of Abu Shaiba's last days paint a portrait far more complicated than the usual black-and-white renderings of the insurgency that has beset the U.S. occupation for nearly two years and cost the lives of more than 1,000 U.S. soldiers and Marines and thousands of Iraqis. His odyssey from Fallujah to the capital and back, across a landscape roiled by religion, tradition and militancy, illustrates the insurgent campaign's stubborn resilience and what may be its growing weakness.

American Moral Leadership

Don’t expect any big changes: The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross is meeting with President Bush and senior members of the U.S. administration on Monday and Tuesday, the humanitarian organization said Sunday. ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger will hold talks with Bush in Washington, as well as with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and National Security Adviser Steven Hadley, the Swiss-based organization said. The confidential talks are set to focus "on a range of humanitarian issues," the ICRC said, without elaborating. But it appeared likely Kellenberger would raise the organization's concerns over handling of terror suspects detained at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

No big deal, just ignore the law: Military lawyers at the Guantanamo Bay terrorist prison tried to stop inhumane interrogations, but were ignored by senior Pentagon officials, The New York Daily News has learned.

Judge advocates - uniformed legal advisers known as JAGs who were assigned to a secret war crimes task force - repeatedly objected to aggressive interrogations by a separate intelligence unit at Camp Delta, where Taliban and al-Qaida suspects have been jailed since January 2002.

But Pentagon officials "didn't think this was a big deal, so they just ignored the JAGs," a senior military source said.

The military lawyers' actions had never been disclosed and are the first known cases of lower-level officers resisting interrogations at the Cuban camp that might constitute torture. Some officials called them "unsung heroes" for risking their careers by crossing senior officials who approved the techniques.


Your tax dollars at work, redux: By even the most charitable standard, the effort to rebuild Iraq has been an unmitigated disaster. A cornucopia of waste, fraud, ineptitude, cronyism, secret no-bid contracts, and profiteering cloaked in patriotism. There is the $9 billion the U.S.-led occupation government can't account for; the over 70 investigations into potential criminal cases involving U.S.-funded projects; the ongoing billing disputes with Halliburton, which despite having repeatedly ripped off taxpayers, continues to receive billion-dollar contracts; the $20 billion in Iraqi oil money kept track of by a single accountant; the study showing that up to 30 percent of reconstruction funds are being lost to fraud and corporate malfeasance. Whether you are passionately in favor of the war or passionately against it, don't you want to know exactly where our money is going and how we can stop the corruption?

Read this and try to guess who wrote it: Here is Rumsfeld excusing himself for his dismal failures in Iraq: "Partly it's [the insurgency] a function of what the Syrians and the Iranians are doing."

You see, the facts that the US invaded Iraq on false pretenses, killed and maimed tens of thousands of Iraqis, shot down women and children in the streets, blew up Iraqis' homes, hospitals and mosques, cut Iraqis off from vital services such as water and electricity, destroyed the institutions of civil society, left half the population without means of livelihood, filled up prisons with people picked up off the streets and then tortured and humiliated them for fun and games are not facts that explain why there is an insurgency. These facts are just descriptions of collateral damage associated with America "bringing democracy to Iraq."

Iran: The Bush administration is making the same mistakes with Iran that it made with Iraq. It makes allegations unsupported by facts, refuses to negotiate and threatens sanctions or military action, neither of which is feasible.

In short, it has no rational Iran policy.

The Bush administration seems to be under the impression that the Iranians are pursuing the development of a nuclear weapon. Sound familiar? The Iranians deny it. The administration says, in effect, that they are lying. If the administration has any proof, let's see it. It was so all-fired certain that Iraq was not only pursuing nuclear weapons but had stockpiles of other weapons, all of which has been proven untrue. That was a mistake that has cost us 1,400 lives and 10,000 wounded. Make that mistake with Iran, and you'll see a heck of a lot more body bags coming back to the United States.

A parent’s view: Someone recently informed me that they didn't know that my son was being deployed to Iraq and asked why I hadn't told them. I really didn't have an answer.

That is when I began to be annoyed by those ever-present, good-intentioned but mindless ribbons stuck on the back of cars and SUVs exhorting, "Support Our Troops."

I find those magnetic messages to be offensive when I think of parents and friends of National Guard soldiers who purchased expensive Kevlar armor for their soldiers while Donald Rumsfeld said they didn't have any in stock.

Those marketing messages seem so empty when soldiers are told to "up-armor" their Humvees because the Department of Defense had not asked the manufacturers if more could be done.

I am saddened when veterans wait over a year for appointments at veterans' hospitals and soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan and places like Walter Reed Hospital are required to pay for phone calls and emails home. I bet Rumsfeld doesn't have to pay for calls and e-mails back home, and I find it unbelievable and unacceptable that Rumsfeld has not been fired while the troops have been treated so poorly. Support our troops?

The Poor Man Nails Doughboy

Keyboard Commandos: “It’s like this,” said Goldberg said, grabbing a fistful of Cheetos from his pack. “I believed in this fight, and my country needed me. They needed able-bodied men – doughy, able to handle the rigors of sitting in a swivel chair for seven, eight hours at a time, and not afraid to put on a little TV make-up when the shit gets heavy. So I signed up.” He spit Cheetos-orange on the carpet. “Any man who won’t opinionate for his country and what he believes … well, I don’t call that a man at all.” At that he pulled up the sleeve on his regulation-issue Tommy Hilfiger powder-blue dress shirt to show me the tattoo on his meaty, girlish bicep. 'Born to Bloviate', it read, emblazoned on the bulging tummy of the Pillsbury Doughboy - the symbol of the feared 101st Fighting Keyboarders. The enemy had brought in a few independent studies to fortify their position. Goldberg called for reinforcements, and emails supporting his stand began pouring in. As quickly as they arrived, Goldberg posted them to his weblog on the front. The action was getting furious, and, without looking, Goldberg opened an email from an unknown address. On the monitor was the image of a single white feather. Goldberg fell back in his office chair, and hit the ground and began moaning, softly and piteously. “Medic!” shouted Derbyshire. K-Lo rushed over and crouched over him. “It’s bad,” she muttered. “Oh, man, it’s bad.” “What is it?” yelled Derbyshire, panicked. “Where’d they get him?” “Oh, it’s bad. Those bastards. Those fucking heartless bastards. They got him in the feelings. Oh God, oh God, no. Those motherfuckers hurt his feelings! God I hate this damned war!”

Casualty Reports

Local story: Las Vegas, NV, Marine killed in vehicle accident in Iraq.

Local story: Neptune, NJ, soldier killed in Mosul.

Local story: Lynchburg, VA, soldier killed in Iraq.

Local story: Choctaw, OK, soldier dies of non-combat-related injuries in Iraq.

Welcome Home

Local story: Elko, NV, Marine returns home with wounds.


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