Prev | List | Random | Next
The St. Petersburg Times updates the story of a neighborhood battle:
TAMPA - Stacey Kelley isn't sure what to do anymore about the "Support Our Troops" sign that has brought an endless flow of news cameras to her door.Original story here.
That's because the sign is gone.
"I guess someone didn't like it," Kelley said.
The sign was apparently stolen out of Kelley's yard in northwest Hillsborough's Westchase subdivision. The ribbon-shaped sign violated the community's deed restrictions. In February, Westchase officials told Kelley to take it down, but she refused.
Kelley said the sign was up on April 21, when she and her husband, David, an Army private who is home on leave from Iraq, left to spend the day at Busch Gardens. When they came home that night, it was gone.
Via reader email - unbelievable - but true:
Mayor Won't Give Dead Marine's Money BackI guess he figured dead Marines don't fight back.
FORT LUPTON, Colo. -- The mother of a U.S. Marine was grieving for her dead son when she found that his savings account had been claimed by the director of the funeral home.
It was money that he had no right to and despite a court ruling, the funeral director refused to pay. What's even more puzzling is that he's not just any debtor, he's the mayor of the small town and a member of a City Council that has financial responsibility for the city's budget.
7NEWS also found that he has other debts as well, something his constituents may want to know.
Jason Sepulveda, a Marine, was training at Camp Lejune in North Carolina, preparing to go to Iraq, when in an evening off-base, he was killed in a car accident.
"My son died instantly and the other Marine died approximately two weeks after," said Elis Sepulveda, Jason's mother.
His parents, who spoke with him weekly, knew he had been saving his money for a long weekend when they would all be together.
"We were going on vacation for the Fourth of July to visit him," Sepulveda said. "I know he had been sacrificing because they don't get paid very much."
Jason's body was returned to Colorado for burial. Records show that the funeral was paid, in full, by the Marines. But after closing out her son's accounts, Jason's mother realized that the probate court had sent the proceeds of Jason's savings account to the funeral home, which is run by Jim Bostick.
"I called Mr. Bostick and I said, 'Well, the courts sent you my son's savings account.' He just kind of really blew me off a lot," Sepulveda said.
She said he didn't give her any receipts or bills and just kept the money.
In addition to his duties as mayor and member of the Ft. Lupton City Council, Bostick also owns two funeral homes. In his role with the city, he is heavily involved in overseeing the finances of the town.
Sepulveda took Bostick to court over the money he wouldn't return to her family. The judge's order in the case was final.
"She gave damages, interests, court fines, everything, and I assumed that if you go to court that you pay it," Sepulveda said.
But despite the judgment of more than $7,500, Bostick has refused to pay.
More details at the link. He won't have to worry if the town kicks him out as mayor - the Hilton would probably hire him the next day.
...please turn out the lights. The Washington Post on the final Friday at Fran's:
A fiercely beloved military tradition came to a close in downtown Washington last night when Fran O'Brien's Stadium Steakhouse reluctantly served its last thick steak with a side of laughter and dignity to soldiers recovering from war injuries in the area.In the same article, hotel general manager Brian Kelleher tells the Hilton's side of the story
But the veterans -- many of whom made their first, cautious forays in public with prosthetics, scars and skin grafts during the Friday night dinner tradition -- did not go down without a fight.
Hundreds of soldiers began online campaigns to preserve the weekly dinners, save the steakhouse and shame the Capitol Hilton, at 16th and L streets NW, which houses the restaurant and declined this month to renew its lease.
The restaurant, a staple among the power-dining set, is losing its lease Monday. That might be sad for steak lovers everywhere, but the real tragedy, many supporters said, is the end of the 2 1/2 years of Friday night veterans' dinners.
Hotel general manager Brian Kelleher said it was simply a business deal, a lease negotiation that broke down after restaurant owners were asked to spiff up the "dated" look and didn't comply and then were late on their rent.Other reputable sources suggest that once overdue room service bills are subtracted from rent due, the Hilton actually owes Fran's over eight thousand dollars.
The hotel asked the owners to update worn upholstery, install new carpeting, replace an aging canopy and polish the brass outside, but the owners refused, Kelleher said.
"This has had absolutely nothing to do with the veterans," Kelleher said.
The Hilton has offered to help take over the Friday night dinner tradition, which had been funded by the restaurant's owners and then by corporate donors. Management has suggested the dinners could move to a ballroom or to the hotel's other restaurant, Twigs.
"We can use the back of my other restaurant," he said, or he can screen off part of a ballroom.
But even without that considerable amount, Fran's was hardly without funds:
At a ceremony hosted by Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England, Pier Francesco Guarguaglini, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Finmeccanica SpA, presented a check for $75,000 to the Fran O'Brien's Stadium Steakhouse in support of a program for wounded American soldiers. The Friday "steak night" has become a valued part of the soldiers' recovery from injuries sustained in Iraq and Afghanistan.Other supporters have contributed too. In fact, the Aleethia Foundation was established just for the purpose of supporting the dinners. And although they may no longer be held at Fran's, I'm assured those dinners will continue elsewhere with full involvement of the guys who started it all. But with that kind of money rolling in it's no wonder that the Hilton was eager to move the dinners to their own restaurant.
Likewise, it's no surprise the Hilton is furiously practicing damage control:
I also met Ramona Joyce, an Army veteran and volunteer who is intimately familiar with the goings on at Fran O'Brien's. She and I had a long chat and I enjoyed talking to her. On this evening, she was more than perturbed with Brian Kelleher. According to Ramona, while the cameras were rolling, Brian Kelleher greeted the troops. So what? Well, she says that it was the first time that he's ever done that.It ain't over, as they say. And if someone with some responsibility at the Hilton doesn't act fast it never will be.
Our previous coverage is compiled here. The Washington Post is right about "hundreds of soldiers" involved in this issue, but they represent just a fraction of a very large group comprised of people from all walks of life and otherwise divergent political views. (Hilton officials have shut down their email as a result of the volume of complaints.) And with coverage in the Times of London, the exposure is now international.
Probably. For now I'll just offer this picture for all the Hilton management folks who believe it will all be soon forgotten.
Update: And you most definitely want to read this account of last Friday at Fran's
The young man introduced himself as a Staff Sergeant, saying he’d been wounded in Iraq and had been attending Friday Nights at Fran’s for about two years. With a voice like a sergeant addressing his unit, then later choked with emotion, he told us about Hal Koster and Marty O’Brien and how the soldiers felt about them. His words were punctuated with Hoo-ahs and Ooh-rahs, and boos when appropriate. I remember some of his speech word-for-word, but some of the following is paraphrased a bit:Read on.
“Hal and Marty are the two greatest men I’ve ever known,” he began. He then explained about the dinners, for those who might not know. “Not only have they given us food and a place to kick back, but they care about us, they ask us how we’re doing, they listen to us talk. And most importantly… most importantly, they give us the strength to recover, the motivation to keep going. This place is a part of our therapy.” He never stopped pacing the interior of the square bar as if addressing his troops, taking time to make eye contact with the crowd on all sides and waving his beer for effect. He admonished us to continue to support Hal and Marty. People cheered.
Then he paused and after a moment said, “Now to the f***ers upstairs,” with a look to the ceiling. The crowd murmured and muttered, boos and growls erupted. The next few minutes he spoke with anger and even more animation.
More, via email:
Dear Sirs:Previous entries compiled here.
I recently read an article on line about the Hilton in Washington D.C. stating that the Hilton hotel refused to have reasonable access for disabled vets. Several years ago my husband suffered a stroke during a simple surgery. The stroke left him paralyzed. I must admit that before his stroke, I never paid much attention to curb cuts, handicap access, support bars in bathrooms, etc. However, since my husband’s stroke, these issues have become a major part of my life.
At the age of 58 my husband wasn’t ready to retire in a rest home for the rest of his life. Outside of not being able to walk, he is quite able to travel, go to town on his own, eat in restaurants, and do all the other things a person without disabilities can do. However, in the real world, that is not the case. It has not been easy to function in a world that is indifferent to disability issues. We have to fight for every inch of mobility. A simple curb might as well as be a ten foot wall if you are in a wheelchair.
How many times do you use a public bathroom during a week’s time or even in a day’s time? Something you might take for granted, but to my husband and others with disabilities, it can be a major problem. Not too long ago, we were at a luxury hotel and because we could not find the bathroom that was accessible and because the restaurant staff wasn’t aware of its location, (it was located four floors up from the restaurant), we, subsequently, had to leave the family function and go home without finishing our meal. My husband has sat outside a glass doors for 20 minutes in the rain waiting for someone to open the door because it was too heavy for him to pull open from his chair. We have entered rooms through allies and back doors; we’ve waited with embarrassment while the staff, in restaurants, fumbled around trying to figure out where the portable ramp was or until guests were disturbed and furniture moved as they realized there was not enough space for a wheelchairs to maneuver through the space; and we even have been turned away from restaurants not because of race or ethnicity but because there was no access. At one special event function, they carried my husband up the steps, but had to leave his motorized chair on the first floor, so he was confined to one area of the room all evening. We have taken train rides where they packed my husband away with the luggage.
Consequently, every time we plan to leave the house, we have to figure out where we can go that will accommodate a wheelchair down to the last detail and even that doesn’t always work. Sometimes it is just a matter of a door sill that is too high for his chair to cross over. For instance, in the case of your D.C. Hotel, I am sure your staff is trained to say that you have access. Going through back doors, kitchens, etc. is not access! It is time for big corporations to realize that the disabled are tired of being treated as third class citizens. We are tired of the sighs, raised eyebrows, and secret thoughts of you are making so much more work for us. We are also tired of phrases as “we didn’t know”, or “we are grandfathered in and don’t have to comply”.
After years of humiliating experiences, my husband and I decided, we were not going to stand for it any longer. We have become proactive and major advocates for the disabled. Before my husband’s stroke, we were involved in the Meeting Planning Business for 20 years in the Anaheim area. We have many contacts still with people in the industry. We have made it our task to make meeting planners take notice that accessibility is a major concern when planning any event. We have been urging party planners not to hold functions at facilities that do not meet ADA requirements. We have also organized an Orange County Chapter of the Californians, for Disability Rights that actively fights for the rights of the disabled. We have also pursued legal matters against those establishments that choose not to make changes. The disabled person is no longer content to “go away”. We have gone before city council meetings and we even have gone as far as to file lawsuits. It is sad that it comes down to cash…..however…. that is all that most businesses nowadays seem to understand.
I was alarmed when I read this article. This is our country’s capital, and instead of having our best foot forward as an example for the rest of the nation, we have a major corporation playing games with the ADA Laws. Is the Hilton Hotel chain that insensitive to the needs of our own disabled soldiers? This article reported that not only did the hotel not have public areas accessible, but that the hotel went out of its way to circumvent remedying the problem by not renewing leases. Then there were the statements that you plan to carry on some one else’s tradition after you kicked him out in the cold. If all of this wasn’t bad enough, the real question remains, “What is being done to make that area accessible?” Moving one event to another area does not remedy the accessibility problem. So in my eyes you are batting 100%.
I am hoping that this was not a “true” story and I am waiting to hear from you your side of the Hilton in D.C. restaurant incident before our organization plans a course of action against the Hilton chain here in Anaheim.
Secretary of the Orange County Chapter of Californian for Disability Rights
...is an interesting concept. Once achieved, the US goal of handing control over to a stable Iraqi government with security provided by indigenous forces will allow many sides to claim "victory" - and every side will certainly declare the enemy defeated.
That point is still a bit further down the road, but this news from Iraq might have brought it a bit closer
BAGHDAD — Iraq's senior Shiite Muslim religious figure Thursday called on the country's controversial militias to disarm, marking one of the most overt forays into matters of politics and policy by the influential cleric.The LA Times story goes to great lengths to explain that some Sunnis are concerned that Sistani has too much influence, and that his call for disbanding militias and unification of Iraqis could be perceived as a threat. In spite of the Times efforts, it's difficult to see this as anything other than a positive development (though it's impact is obviously yet to be determined).
Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, regarded as the moral voice of Iraq's Shiite majority, called for a government of technocrats rather than political loyalists or sectarian interests and said that only government forces should be permitted to carry weapons on the streets.
"Weapons must be in the hands of government security forces that should not be tied to political parties but to the nation," said the Iranian-born Sistani in a statement released by his office in Najaf after he met with the newly designated prime minister. "The first task for the government is fighting insecurity and putting an end to the terrorist acts that threaten innocents with death and kidnapping."
Meanwhile the Wall Street Journal (unavailable to non-subscribers) quotes a named Iraqi government source:
Iraqi Official Expects Start Of U.S. Exit, With A Big Pullout This YearProgress in Iraq this spring threatens to derail several budding political campaigns - those who've built their strategy on US failure will have a hard time finding other issues. But they may choose not to. Any US withdrawal will be done "under fire". As long as US troops are in country there will always be someone willing to launch a rocket into a FOB or park a car bomb along a convoy route. Like Saddam Hussein in 1991 the enemy will declare victory, and while most of us will have to live with that, others will celebrate, and it's very likely that those who follow John Murtha's strategy (ensure no US withdrawal can be called a US victory - in his own words "I worry about a slow withdrawal which makes it look like there's a victory") will still get substantial credibility from the media, a small junta of retired generals, and those politicians who've bet the farm on an insurgent victory over US troops.
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- A senior Iraqi official said there would be a substantial withdrawal of U.S. troops this year, with the rest leaving within the next two years.
Speaking to senior U.S., Iraqi and British security officials, Iraqi National Security Adviser Mowaffak Rubaie said the Iraqi government was working to formalize a "conditions-based transition agreement" with the U.S. that would govern the pace and scope of a U.S. military withdrawal from the country. Such an agreement would detail a timeline for turning U.S. military facilities over to the Iraqis and leaving Iraqi forces with primary security responsibility for growing portions of the country.
"Certainly at the end of the year there is going to be a sizable gross reduction in U.S. troops," Mr. Rubaie said as he stood beside Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. "At the end of next year, we will hope, or the next couple of years, we will hope that most of the coalition forces will go back home safely."
Mr. Rumsfeld declined to comment on the timing of a drawdown of the 132,000 U.S. troops, as did his aides. During his visit to Iraq, Mr. Rumsfeld has declined to address the possibility of a withdrawal, but other U.S. commanders have confirmed that one is likely to begin this year.
Yeah, you'll definitely want to wear boots for that.
But for now we're back. Our back-up site is always here, should the lights go out again. Might want to bookmark it.
The "anti-war grannies" story has gotten more than it's share of coverage; the lure of promoting a group of blue-haired protestors taking time out from baking cookies to speak truth to power is obviously irresistible to certain elements in the media. Cracking angry voices make great sound bites, but this page-one NY Times coverage contains a telling paragraph:
The trial was extraordinary, if only because it gave 18 impassioned women — some of whom dated their political activism to the execution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg — a chance to testify at length about their antiwar sentiments and their commitment to free speech and dissent, in a courtroom that attracted reporters from France and Germany.Google Ethel and Julius if you need to, fellow travelers - I'm not giving that part of the history lesson today. But small wonder the supporters of the team that helped hand the A-bomb to the Russians are against America today. Many, if not all of the "grannies" are simply remnants of a bygone era, revitalized by new threats against a nation they can't bring themselves to support. If any of them actually have children who also have children it's less a validation of their wisdom and more a reminder that four or more decades of supporting a failed ideology does not of itself grant credibility to the cause.
I celebrate their "victory"...
The women — from 59 to 91, many gray-haired, some carrying canes, one legally blind, one with a walker — listened gravely and in obvious suspense as Judge Neil E. Ross delivered a carefully worded 15-minute speech in which he said his verdict was not a referendum on the Police Department, the defendants' antiwar message or, indeed, their very grandmotherhood....as I celebrate the right to non-violent free speech anywhere in the few countries that allow it today. But I cheer loudest for those who used that space they left available to enter the recruiting office and join to actually defend free speech too. In a way I truly pity those who wasted a life lived in freedom leading cheers for those who would end both life and freedom were they ever to be successful in their cause.
But, he said, there was credible evidence that the grandmothers had left room for people to enter the recruitment center, and that therefore they had been wrongly arrested.
Expect more from these intrepid grannies, they aren't likely to be content to go back to making brownies. These age of Aquarian septuagenarians have achieved a first - the first generation to protest their parents and their kids.
Back in the "good old days" they popularized a slogan: "never trust anybody over 30". They were wrong then, and they're wrong today.
Many of you are already familiar with the work of soldier/songwriters JR Schultz and Nick Brown (if not, click here - you don't want to miss this story.) We got an email update from JR this week:
Hey, just wanted to drop a line to say hello and thanks for leaving our link on your site. The Dallas Songwriters Association held a contest for military songwriters and 3 of our songs won prizes. They will be re-recorded professionally and put onto a compilation CD and then performed live in concert at Ft. Hood on June 10. Anyway, thanks again,If you've never heard the Iraq Unplugged CD - recorded with a laptop and microphone in Baghdad - here's your chance. There are samples of the songs on the site, and I'll bet you can't get past "I am a Patriot" without ordering the disc. (The top link in the left column on their page is the order button.)
Busy day. Many unanswered emails that will remain so til tomorrow (but aren't being ignored) if you've sent one, rest assured I'm on it.
Sounds like science fiction, but it's reality (or very close to it):
In their quest to create the super warrior of the future, some military researchers aren't focusing on organs like muscles or hearts. They're looking at tongues.I foresee "information overload" becoming a significant battlefield problem.
By routing signals from helmet-mounted cameras, sonar and other equipment through the tongue to the brain, they hope to give elite soldiers superhuman senses similar to owls, snakes and fish.
Researchers at the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition envision their work giving Army Rangers 360-degree unobstructed vision at night and allowing Navy SEALs to sense sonar in their heads while maintaining normal vision underwater turning sci-fi into reality.
But the "Brain Port" technology, pioneered over three decades ago by a University of Wisconsin neuroscientist, has already been used for other purposes:
In testing, blind people found doorways, noticed people walking in front of them and caught balls. A version of the device, expected to be commercially marketed soon, has restored balance to those whose vestibular systems in the inner ear were destroyed by antibiotics.Military developments often find their way into civilian applications. Although advances in medical science are perhaps most comon (from advancements in treatment of traumatic injury to ultrasounds) other technologies have found their way to civilian use too (GPS is a recent example). Hopefully the "Brain Port" technology will soon be improving quality of life for a significant number of people.
They noticed this story over at Ariana Huffington's "Huffington Post" blog too. Here are some representative comments from their readers:
And cloning is an unacceptable idea to the Christo-Fascists? I guess as long as you don't mess with the soldiers genes, it's ok to morph them into just about anything. We are spending a fortune in military research and almost nothing in the green sciences that we will desperatley need to save the earth. We will win the war and loose the world.
By: SPEAKINGTRUTH2POWER on April 24, 2006 at 11:03pm
...they hope to give elite soldiers superhuman senses similar to owls, snakes and fish.
They're also working on a strap-on HORSECOCK to better interrogate the prisoners at Abu Ghraib.
By: Darksnake on April 25, 2006 at 04:01am
It deserves repeating, over and over again, each time one of these treasonnous and without honor nazi trooper criminal croaks.....
I DON'T SUPPORT THE TROOPS
KILL THEM ALL
IF THAT DON'T KILL THEM LET THEM ROT WHEN THEY COME HOME WITHOUT HEALTH OR MENTAL CARE.
And for those who met their rightful fate as war criminals, I encourage you to join me and go spit, shit and piss on their graves or any combination thereof...
You engage in illegal wars of conquest, follow illegal orders, commit crimes against humanity, against civilians, women and children... You pay.
And even those assholes who make it back will pay. Desease (depleted Urianium anyone?), lack of medical or psych coverage... you're fucked.
If you are in the army, you will be fucked, one way or the other, be it even in a couple years when you travel overseas and are arrested for your war crimes.
Now, just because you're too dumb to find another way to get some college cash... that doesn't excuse your joining the dark side. Even if poor,don't you know the difference between right and wrong?
Would I feel any sympathy for the Waffen SS or the Wermacht (actually, there were a few men of honor in the Wermarcht)?
Why should I feel any different about US military?
Now you watch'em spin this, telling me they're fighting for my First Amendment Rights, all the while dismembering the US Constitution. Telling us that the US military is different... It ain't, it a force of fascist empire.
I love America, I love my country and its Constitution, but I'd even rather be a registered communist (a dire prospect) before I pedge allegiance to the nazi hubristic affront to decency which bush's ameriKKKa has become.
BTW: I don't believe in the 911 bin bogeyman fairytale, and neither does anyone except brainwashed ameriKKKans. bush has done nothing BUT lie and murder... why is it so inconceivable that 9/11 was an inside job, especially when all the evidence point to it being so?
"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
-- John F. Kennedy (1917 - 1963)
"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
-- Thomas Jefferson
"To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the SUPREME INTERNATIONAL CRIME differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."
-- US Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, presiding over the Nuremburg Trials in 1946.
FUCK THE TROOPS
MURDEROUS LOSERS WITH NO PROSPECTS WHO FINALLY HAVE POWER... THE POWER OF LIFE OR DEATH OVER INNOCENT CIVILIANS, WOW, FINALLY! THEY'RE SOMEBODY "IMPORTANT". I MEAN THE POWER OF LIFE AND DEATH, THAT'S PRETTY IMPORTANT AIN'T IT?.
THE SAME LOWLIFE VERMIN WITH THE MURDER AND TORTURE GENES TURNED ON , JUST AS YOU FIND IN NAZI CAMPS AND ELSEWHERE. WHY DO YOU MORONS GLORIFY THIS SUBHUMAN SCUM? THEY'RE NOT ameriKKKa's finest, THEY ARE OUR SHAME, THE INTRUMENT OF OUR UTTER HYPOCRISY AND OUR GREATEST CRIMES. DON'T TELL ME THAT BATCH DOESN'T GET AN ORGASM OVER KILLING AND TORTURING. WE ALL KNOW THEY DO. ALL OF THEM, NOT ONE INDIVIDUAL EVER ABLE TO REDEEM THE COLLECTIVE CRIMINAL DEEDS.
AND YOU "SUPPORT" THAT VERMIN?
YOU LIVE BY THE SWORD, YOU DIE BY THE SWORD.
ALL THE SCUM THAT CROAKS HAD IT COMING... AS FOR THE OTHERS, DON'T SWEAT IT, YOUR TURN IS COMING, ONE WAY OR THE OTHER.
I'll party when there's about 150,000 of that crumb de la crumb exterminated in Iraq...
shit, add to that a couple millions vaporized on both uSSa coasts for good measure, maybe then ameriKKKa will learn to mind its own business and not sow death and despair worldwide...
Don't like that? Too fucking bad, you know it's coming. Imagine (hey NSA... this is hypothetical) I'm an Iraqi whose wife, children and others were murdered by those US pigs you so proudly "support".
Assume further that I have at least half a brain and I'm still healthy.
Will I find a way to vaporize as many of you as possible?
What do you think?
YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW...
YOU HAD IT COMING!
YOU WANT TO PREVENT IT?
Immediately remove bush (and all associates and enablers: inc, MSM, AIPAC, christofascists, lieberman clones, all still GOP after all this, etc..) by any and all means ....
put'em where they belong... on the end of a rope... in public square... a la mussolini...
Maybe then there'll be some redemption...
By: PaulRevere on April 25, 2006 at 05:00am
A couple goodies for starters:
Grim expands on a discussion he started here - media, information operations, military public affairs, milbloggers, etc. Grim's thoughtful analysis of any topic tends to cut through the crap and offer new insight - this one's no exception.
And don't miss this story from Chicago's own Blackfive.
Does each general get 15 minutes of fame, or do they have to share it between them?
Either way, Hilllary Clinton says it's not enough.
The Senate Armed Services Committee will vote on a request by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) to take testimony from six retired generals who have called for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's removal, the panel's chairman said.Those committee meetings generally don't get much press, so most likely no one would notice any way. (/sarcasm)
Clinton, a member of the panel, is not among those Democrats who have called for Rumsfeld's resignation.
"That's for the president to decide," she said at a news conference in New York last week. "As far as I can tell, Secretary Rumsfeld is doing what the president wants him to do."
Speaking of generals (and isn't everybody?) this week on Face the Nation Major General John Batiste explained he doesn't like Rumsfeld because his contemptuous attitudes, dismissive behavior and arrogance led to Abu Ghraib
MR. SCHIEFFER: What did Secretary Rumsfeld do wrong in your view that causes you to say he must be replaced?Which military? The Iraqi military
GEN. BATISTE: Bob, I think it's all a matter of treating the military with contemptuous attitudes, dismissive behavior and arrogance. We made a series of strategic decisions that were flawed with respect to the size of the force that we took into Iraq, the war plan that we executed, setting the conditions for Abu Ghraib -- that should have been no surprise to any of us. And we stood down the military at a point in time when that was the last thing that we wanted or should have done.
MR. SCHIEFFER: The Iraqi military.More:
GEN. BATISTE: The Iraqi military.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Why did you say in 2004 that Secretary Rumsfeld was a man of courage and conviction who was determined to win the war against terrorism? Were you as disillusioned then as you are now? Do you regret saying that?Short answer: No.
GEN. BATISTE: Bob, I was a loyal subordinate introducing the secretary of defense to my soldiers.
I said what I had to say. Was I disillusioned at that point? You bet, because for months I had been dealing with the effects of the decisions to go to war with the wrong plan, to set the conditions for Abu Ghraib and to stand down the Iraqi military when I needed them desperately to set the conditions for Iraqi self-reliance, to build the peace in Iraq.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Did you tell him at the time when you had introduced him that I've given you a good intro here, Mr. Secretary, but I got a few things I need to talk to you about?
Any generals interested in learning about what really happened at Abu Ghraib are encouraged to click here. If you're interested in the meeting the General responsible for Abu Ghraib, click here. And here.
My first thoughts on the conference: It was too short.
My immediate response to the coverage thus far of the milblogs conference: No report can cover the entirety of the event. I was online watching and chatting, and would have to go back now and re-read the chat logs slowly several times to catch it all, and then watch the video at least twice more. I'd go so far as to guess that the information exchange in that brief conference exceeded any similar event ever - not bad for something that was too short. That's the power of technology in the hands of people who can use it.
I find I simply can not summarize the event, and I think all those who were there, those who attempted to live blog - or post-blog - about it know exactly what I mean. No one person could make sense of it all, but that's not necessary. We've got an Army.
This AP story from Afghanistan has elements of an urban legend - which doesn't mean it isn't true. A plane landing at Lashkar Gah airfield in southern Afghanistan was forced to abort to avoid a truck that had wandered onto the runway. A Canadian military source quoted in the story says "The pilot pulled up to avoid hitting the truck but was unable to gain sufficient speed to remain airborne."
The Russian-made, twin-engine An-32 aircraft plowed into a nomad settlement of tents and mud brick houses, killing two Ukrainian crew members and three people on the ground.
A U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, said the two dead on the plane were Ukrainian flight crew members. The U.S. Embassy said several of the 11 Americans aboard were injured. The nationality of the other passenger was unclear.On the ground,
The plane was leased by the U.S. State Department and carried a team from the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, Innis said.
The bureau has been helping Afghan authorities conduct opium eradication campaigns across southern Afghanistan.
Two Afghan nomad girls, aged 2 and 3, were crushed to death in their mud brick homes as they slept, their mothers saidInsha' Allah.
''We were sitting eating our lunch when I heard a loud noise, and then turned to see a big plane sliding along the ground from the airstrip before it smashed into our homes,'' said Lal Bibi, 40, whose 2-year-old daughter, Palwasha, was killed.
The casualty count could have been higher if the settlement's men had not left earlier to work at a farm picking opium poppies, Bibi said.
It focuses on the Milblogging Family Style:
Carla Lois started an online diary - a weblog - just before the army sent her son Noah to Iraq in January 2005.
Carla Lois: Having a son at war is like a constant asthma attack
Eight months later, it paid off in a way she must always have prayed it would not, when she posted a terse item headlined: "My Son Has Been Injured."
Noah had a serious spinal injury, she told her readers, and she asked them to pray for him.
Within hours, 200 emails had flooded in offering prayers, comfort, support - and news.
And highlights the discusion Blogging from Theater:
Over the course of a day of discussions taking place both in person and online - and, naturally, among a panel of official conference bloggers - participants wrestled with questions about how to blog without violating military security, how much leeway the military should give to bloggers, and how milbloggers could help influence - or force - the mainstream media to cover the war in Iraq better.
Retired Col Austin Bay delivered a keynote address in which he argued that milblogging was already having a impact.
"Milbloggers have made a difference - at least to their families and to the military community.
"This conference is about the military community, the families that comprise it and the people it serves."
Update: Greyhawk here. I realize the conference was too big to cover in a brief news story, but couldn't they have found some place to squeeze in a mention of the conference organizer?
Via an email to Patti
Hello, I am responding to your print out we got handed out to us here at our base camp in Iraq. We have some soldiers in need of a few things. We are a construction battalion (Seabees Battalion 25) and we could use some real good tape measures. We are building a trauma hospital for the marine core trauma unit.
Also could use a laptop computer. The one we have was dug out of the trash its real crapy. We also would enjoy beef jerky snacks, dried fruits etc. Dvd movies, cd's ipods for music and magazines.
My address is BU2 Reed Kathy NMCB25 DET 1 FPO AP 96601-5114 .
Thanks BU2 Reed, Kathy
The Seabees Battalion 25 is part of the U.S. Naval Construction Force. They are Naval Mobile Unit based out of Ft. McCoy, Wisconsin. More on them here. They are vital to our efforts in Iraq. This trauma unit will help save lives.
I'm sure their request is for better tape measurers than the Navy supplies, and I'm sure that even a few would get them to a great start.
I know the value of having the right tools for the job. A good tape measure is at the top of that list.
I'm familiar with tape measures because one, I worked at a hardware store for several years and two (even though a woman) have dabbled in carpentry and construction. Here's some helpful hints:
A Tape measurer with a wide non-buckling steel tape, at least a 11 ft standout, very important. Should be at least 25 ft. Inches and metric could very useful. Also should have a locking method where the tape is loose until you lock it, or preferring a tape that is locked by default and has to be pressed to retract. It needs to be a bright color to spot because it's always the first thing you cannot find (where's that #&@$% tape measure), and it must be sturdy because tape measures get dropped and tossed and take more hits next to a hammer. Most importantly the housing should not be metal. Those buggers get very hot in 130 degrees heat. Which would render them unusable. You can find these types of tape measures for about $15.00 each.
There are some real fancy tape measures out there with levels, lasers, digital and even voice recording capabilities but they're expensive, I would keep those kind to a minimum and stick with durablity and accuracy.
A couple of the 100ft open reels would also be helpful in the construction of a hospital. Open reels would be better for a sandy environment than closed reels. Sand gets in the housing and makes retraction difficult. They also run about $15.00 each.
So if anyone wants to send them a tape measure please keep these recommendations in mind. Also don't be afraid to ask your local hardware store for a donation. I used to ask them for donations when I was a Cub Scout leader, they were happy to oblige. And don't be a afraid to ask for 10 or more. You'll find they're willing to donate for a good cause. It's a Tax write off for them.
As far as DVD's check out the different video rental places and see if they have used movies for 5 bucks each, preferably recent releases. If the franchise is big enough they may also be willing to donate.
Best place to get the Beef Jerky is here
And if you just want to donate money then go to Soldiers Angels and they'll make sure they're request is granted.
The help in building a trauma hospital is probably one the best things to donate for. This will help save lives and help our troops in doing so all the more faster.
Here’s the thing about real heroes: they never think they’ve done anything heroic.
AL KISIK, Iraq — The camp was still on edge from a suicide bomb attack that morning.
The bomber had targeted an Iraqi army recruiting drive at the combined Iraqi and American forces base here in northwest Iraq. Although no U.S. soldiers were injured, soldiers from the 2nd, or “Gunners,” Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, out of Giessen, Germany, dealt with the aftermath.
So it was with no small amount of suspicion that Staff Sgt. Martin Richburg observed an Iraqi civilian pacing nervously near the camp’s crowded Internet cafe that same evening.
It was around 9 p.m. on March 27, and Richburg was sitting behind the wheel of his “bongo” flatbed truck in the parking lot, talking to his wife on a cell phone.
“I saw this guy duckin’ and peepin’ outside the Internet [cafe],” said the 44-year-old Baltimore, native. “I said, ‘Let me keep an eye on this guy.’ ”
Unknown to Richburg at the time, the man was an insurgent who had managed to get a job at the camp’s Iraqi army noncommissioned officer academy. Part of a cell that had planned a series of attacks, the insurgent had constructed a bomb within the camp after smuggling components in piece by piece.
Richburg, a heavy-vehicle mechanic assigned to the 142nd Maintenance Company, grew increasingly suspicious as the man peered into the cafe window, walked away, and then returned with a plastic chair and a package.
The package looked like something bulky wrapped in a blue plastic shopping bag. Richburg’s suspicion grew to alarm when the man stepped onto the chair, placed the bag on top of the window’s air conditioning unit and then took off running.
Throwing down his cell phone — his wife was still on the line — Richburg dashed after the man and brought him down with a swift kick to the back of his legs. By this time, Richburg had drawn his 9 mm pistol and, holding the man down, called for another Iraqi he knew to translate.
“I asked him if he knew who this guy was and he said, ‘No,’” Richburg said. “I told him I saw him put a package on the air conditioner and asked him to find out what was in it. Then I charged my weapon to scare him.”
The man answered back quickly. He said he had placed a bomb on the air conditioner. Richburg asked how much time they had before it exploded.
Technical difficulties of unknown origin today. Hopefully that's all passed...
Some interesting intel from Andi, who spent last Friday night at Fran's:
I also met Ramona Joyce, an Army veteran and volunteer who is intimately familiar with the goings on at Fran O'Brien's. She and I had a long chat and I enjoyed talking to her. On this evening, she was more than perturbed with Brian Kelleher. According to Ramona, while the cameras were rolling, Brian Kelleher greeted the troops. So what? Well, she says that it was the first time that he's ever done that. She's not the only one with that complaint. Larry Gill, a wounded OIF veteran and friend of Hal and Marty, tells us to stay tuned to CBS tonight for more. This should be interesting.More to come here, and much more at Andi's - read it all.
Update: The comment she was referencing came from Larry Gill
Well, To let you all know: I had an email from Hal saying he and Marty were scheduled to have another meeting with their lawyers and with the Hilton. I also know everyone who has come to bear attention to this matter has done some good. About 10 minutes ago, on the CBS evening news, they showed a news clip of my fellow wounded soldiers while at one of the Friday night dinners. The CBS clip said, " These are not your everyday customers, But the participants may be losing this....." "Tune in Monday and we'll tell you why." I am anxious to see this. Please pass the word to everyone, and if anyone reading this has connections with CBS, tell them thanks for helping.There's some background on Larry Gill in an earlier post here..
CBS could do a hell of a story if they wanted.
Among the many groups supporting Fran's is the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. Buzz Patterson sent the link to their latest:
Thank you for the literally thousands of e-mails generated to the management of the Hilton Hotels Corporation on behalf of Fran O’Brien’s Stadium Steakhouse and the troops. You were so effective that they closed the e-mail addresses we published. You can still reach them through the Hilton Honors website - email@example.comMeanwhile, I keep getting cc'd on emails like this one:
In the meantime, Hilton has been hitting the “Reply” button. Some of you received a note that comes partially from a message posted on the Hilton website - “For strictly business reasons related solely to the inability to reach a new lease agreement, the Capital Hilton has elected to terminate the lease with the operator of Fran O’Brien’s restaurant at the hotel. This decision was not at all related to the Friday night dinners for disabled veterans but rather a result of lease negotiations that failed.”
This requires illumination. As we pointed out, the restaurant is not ADA compliant. JINSA talked to (for now anonymous) management at the Capital Hilton (not the corporate people in Los Angeles, but in the actual building). The manager said, “The (wheelchair) lift is in the 2007 budget. We’ve taken three bids for the elevator.” Since Fran O’Brien’s lease was up in 2005, any agreement they could have reached would have required the restaurant to agree that the elevator not be installed for a minimum of 12 months.
The lawyers among us please enlighten us, but our understanding is that since ADA was passed during the span of the previous lease it didn’t require immediate repairs, but a new lease would have kicked in the upgrade. A “negotiation” predicated on the owners agreeing to maintain a dangerous, and perhaps illegal, situation is a) not serious and b) bound to fail. “We compromised on just about everything else, but we said, ‘You have to do the lift,” owner Hal Koster told a journalist. It seems, then, that Hilton decided to terminate the lease, leave the building empty until 2007 and then find another tenant.
The Hilton’s missive also said, “The hotel offered to host and sponsor the May 5, 2006 dinner and expressed interest in working closely with the veterans to continue the Friday night tradition.” Illumination: The original message on the Hilton’s website said, “sponsor,” and they had talked about letting the soldiers use an upstairs room for a price. Only after we pointed out that there are already “sponsors” that pay for the dinners - including a great many of you - did Hilton add the word “host” as in “pay for.” And only once. And “working closely with the veterans” doesn’t mean much; the veterans are guests of the restaurant, not the organizers of the event.
Fran O’Brien’s isn’t about food and Hilton doesn’t get it. Italian Ambassador Giovanni Castellaneta gets it. As many of you know, the Finmeccanica companies of Italy and North America have been among Fran O’Brien’s most important sponsors. The Ambassador has offered his Embassy and his personal chef. Talk about good allies and good friends!
Hal and Marty have ensured that the soldier dinners will continue even if the venue changes - but there is still (limited) time for the Hilton to do the right thing.
Dear Fort Hood area Hilton Family managers,Tip of the proverbial ice berg. There's a big round up of the many groups who've weighed in on this issue (including the American Legion offering to raise money for an elevator) here.
Fran O'Brien's is a steak restaraunt that has hosted steak dinners for wounded veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for years, at the owners' expense. It is losing its lease from the Capitol Hilton in Washington, D.C. The Hilton Corporation's spokesperson, Lisa Cole, explains that it is purely for business reasons, as upgrading the restaraunt's ADA compliance would be too expensive.
Fran O'Brien's is famous throughout the military community for its impact on the recovery of our wounded service members. Further details are available at:
Please review any or all of these sources. The Hilton Corporation's business decision is receiving national attention, with national consequences. Fran O'Brien's has thrived for over ten years at its current location, and performs an invaluable and unique service for our veterans who have paid a high price for their service to our country.
I will be working with other veterans in our area to publicize the Hilton Corporation's decision and their lip service to community support. I hope that you will agree that this will be a problem for you in the Fort Hood community, and you are welcome to bring it to the attention of your corporate headquarters. Military members, contractors and veterans visiting the Fort Hood area have a choice about where to spend their lodging dollars.
Gulf War Veteran, U.S. Army
This was all dreamed up by Jim Mayer, Vietnam vet, Department of Veterans Affairs employee, and Walter Reed volunteer. In fact, Mayer is Milkshake Man. He asked fellow Vietnam vet Hal Koster and Marty O'Brien, co-owners of O'Brien's, to offer the dinners. No problem.At least, until they disconnect the phone.
Koster and O'Brien originally picked up the tab, but then others - the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Wal-Mart, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, the Italian company Finmeccanica Inc. among them - wanted to contribute. Donations are now handled by the Aleethia Foundation (www.aleethia.org), which pays for more than meals - say, if a family member needs airfare to D.C.
All this is related matter-of- factly by Koster, though frequently punctuated by the word wonderful. He uses it mostly for the troops, but also for the volunteers, the doctors, the rehab specialists. Even the Defense Department VIPs who regularly show up on Friday and run interference on transition and bureaucracy issues.
In the same steady tones, Koster says this Friday will be last call for O'Brien's. The owners and the Hilton couldn't come to terms on a new lease. Koster was insisting on an elevator. "The troops never complain about it," Koster said. "But I'm embarrassed to run them through the coatroom to the service elevator. They deserve better."
Hilton is getting an earful from O'Brien's supporters who see the closing as a slap at the troops. Hilton (http:go.philly.com/hilton) says this is a business decision unrelated to the Friday-night dinners. It's a dumb decision. (You can tell them so at 310-205-4656.)
A lot of news on the milblog conference - and some requests for those who attended. Click and scroll.
IBRAHIM AL MARKHUR, Iraq — One misplaced cell phone and one savvy interpreter equaled one dead insurgent, several pieces of intelligence and a whole lot of captured weapons.Read the rest. He kept calling back for updates as the troops acted on his "tips".
On a routine patrol, U.S. troops with 1st Battalion, 68th Armor came upon a house in the midst of dense greenery and at the end of a dusty country road.
Staff Sgt. Matthew Nicodemus, 33, said he immediately noticed that no Iraqi men were around.
Suddenly, a cell phone inside the home rang, said Nicodemus, of Altoona, Pa.
“The interpreter went in and answered the phone, and on the other end of the phone the person said, in Arabic, ‘Hey, coalition forces are here, go ahead and run away,’ and he specifically said, ‘Go and run into the palm groves all around here,’ ” Nicodemus said.
Speaking of tips, thanks to MaryAnn for this one. (And Cheech and Chong for the title! :) )
The War Tapes blog offers this observation from the milblog conference:
...there's young woman wearing new army uniform, haunting the small meetings, filming everything.Anyone know anything about that?
"In uniform" implies on duty and acting in an official capacity, just to make that clear. An official DoD tape of the event? Or just a fan?
Obviously, anyone wanting to preserve their pseudonymity would probably find such gatherings a difficult place to do so.
The address provided by the Washington Post (and quoted here) for the Aleethia Foundation, the organization established to help raise funds to support the dinners for the wounded troops, was incorrect.
Thanks for spreading the word on Fran O'Brien's Steak House dilemma. I work at Fran O'Brien's and assist with the donations for the Friday Night Dinners for our wounded heroes. We would like to list the correct address for "The Aleethia Foundation" where charitable donations can be sent.The address originally given in the Post report was actually the address for Fran O'Brien's. (If you sent anything there I'm sure it will reach it's intended destination.) You can verify the correct address for the Aleethia Foundation on their web site here.
The Aleethia Foundation
1718 M Street NW
Washington DC 20036
..for a great conference. And if you haven't thanked her yet yourself, now is the time.
What the hell are you doing here still reading this? Go go go...
Update: You aren't allowed to read the rest until you've accomplished your mission above.
Information on the "Hidden Heroes" song and video (the conference opener) here.
Best weird statement yet of milblogging conferenceLots more here (Click the "blog" link near top of page.)
Fire & Ice talking about a filmmaker he likes, his work is "like Hunter S. Thompson meets Heart of Darkness with a positive twist."
As Hunt says, we should all have whatever he's taking.
And I just knew something like this would happen. Since I can verify the salsa part, the rest must also be true. Hopefully First Sergeant Dadmanly was able to convince the authorities to release the culprits to his custody.
With an author bio like this:
Spook 86 is the pseudonym for a former member of the U.S. intelligence community. During a 20-year career in military intelligence, he served as an analyst, operations planner, flight commander, briefer, nuclear targeteer and aircrew member among other positions. Now retired, he maintains extensive contacts within the U.S. intelligence community.you might think the blog In From the Cold would offer a considerable amount of unique insight on the CIA leak case.
You'd be right.
This story from last Thursday's New York Times has been somewhat obscured by the subsequent revelation of the identity of the CIA leaker:
No Proof Of Secret C.I.A. Prisons, European Antiterror Chief SaysByron York recalls some of the earlier fallout from the original leaked accusations here:
BRUSSELS, April 20 — The European Union's antiterrorism chief told a hearing on Thursday that he had not been able to prove that secret C.I.A. prisons existed in Europe.
"We've heard all kinds of allegations," the official, Gijs de Vries, said before a committee of the European Parliament. "It does not appear to be proven beyond reasonable doubt."
But Mr. de Vries came under criticism from some legislators who called the hearing a whitewash. Kathalijne Buitenweg, a Dutch member of Parliament from the Green Party, said that even without definitive proof, "the circumstantial evidence is stunning."
"I'm appalled that we keep calling to uphold human rights while pretending that these rendition centers don't exist and doing nothing about it," she said.
Many European nations were outraged after an article in The Washington Post in November cited unidentified intelligence officials as saying that the C.I.A. had maintained detention centers for terrorism suspects in eight countries, including some in Eastern Europe. A later report by the advocacy group Human Rights Watch cited Poland and Romania as two of the countries.
Both countries, as well as others in Europe, have denied the allegations. But the issue has inflamed trans-Atlantic tensions.
Mr. de Vries said the European Parliament investigation had not uncovered rights abuses despite more than 50 hours of testimony by rights advocates and people who say they were abducted by C.I.A. agents. A similar investigation by the Council of Europe, the European human rights agency, came to the same conclusion in January — though the leader of that inquiry, Dick Marty, a Swiss senator, said then that there were enough "indications" to justify continuing the investigation.
In Europe, the reaction [to the Post story] was immediate and intense. The EU said it would launch a probe of both Poland, which is an EU member, and Romania, which hopes to become one. Both countries might be punished if the story were true, EU officials said. Romania denied the whole thing, sort of; in a statement that perhaps sounded more definitive than it was, Romania's premier said, "I repeat: We do not have CIA bases in Romania." In Poland, the new government -- it had been in office for just a few weeks and had played no role in whatever had happened before -- also issued a denial.Leaks can certainly create quite a mess.
But, at least in Poland, the story caused enormous anger and unhappiness behind the scenes. In an interview with National Review, one source with knowledge of the Polish government's dilemma would not address the facts of the story, but called the damage "horrific." The source cited two reasons. First, the Polish government believes that it is now, as a result of the Post story, on al-Qaeda's hit list, setting off fears that Warsaw or Krakow could follow Madrid and London as European terrorist targets. And second, the leak shook the pro-American Polish government's faith in the United States. Poland has been a loyal ally of the U.S., sending troops to Iraq and keeping them there when others withdrew. That decision has been costly not only in lives -- 17 Poles have died in Iraq -- but also in terms of Poland's relations with largely anti-U.S. European governments. And now Poland worries about whether it can trust its most powerful ally. "The next time we are asked to do an operation in common, we will always think twice about your intelligence community's ability to keep a secret," the source said.
Milblog conference is over - an awesome success. If you didn't join us online, you missed a hell of a show. Major kudos to Andi. Much more later - hopefully video of the sessions will be avilable online soon.
For now, don't miss the latest Glenn and Helen show Podcast, featuring Conference MC Austin Bay, and world traveler Michael Totten (just back from Iraq!). Must hear!
..online at the MilBlogs Conference. Audio and video feeds here. Just enter a screen name at the link and you're in.
As a result of our listing the email addresses of the Hilton officials below these email addresses have been turned off (these addresses previously worked). Please send any message you care to send with "attention to" the officials listed below to the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.orgNice.
It's worth taking a moment to email, if only to let the good folks at Hilton know they've got a growing problem. The decidedly left-of-center TPM Cafe takes up the cause:
There are a lot of people who say "I support the troops," put a yellow ribbon on their car, or hang a star in their window. The owners and staff of Fran O'Brien's Steak House have gone WAY beyond the call when it comes to showing their support.Meanwhile, the editorially right-of-center Washington Times offers a great re-cap of the situation - with some news in the final paragraphs:
Since October of 2003 Marty O'Brien and Hal Koster have been providing a free "Friday Night out on the Town" at Fran O'Briens Stadium Steak House for thousands of severely injured soldiers and marines who are recuperating at nearby Walter Reed Army Hospital and Bethesda Naval Medical Center. Hal, a Vietnam vet, and his partner Marty, have made it a policy that they will continue to do this ... UNTIL THE LAST SOLDIER WOUNDED IN THIS CONFLICT HAS GONE HOME FROM WALTER REED AND BETHESDA.
That is stunning. What is even more stunning is how their landlord, Hilton Hotel Corp., responded to this. Hilton served Fran O'Brien's with an eviction notice. Why? Hilton doesn't want to spend the money to provide equal access for disabled people.
When I first read about this, I wrote a letter to Thomas Keltner, Vice President of Branding Performance for Hilton Hotel Corp. and Jeff Diskin, Senior Vice President for Brand Management & Marketing. I received a polite, but unresponsive form letter in return. That is when I called Hal Koster to get the facts of the situation. What he told me is outrageous.
After September 11, many American businesses were asking what they could do to help. Among the best to act was Fran O'Brien's Stadium Steakhouse at 16th and L Streets Northwest, which for more than two years has served free steak dinners and beverages on Fridays to wounded Iraq and Afghanistan veterans from Walter Reed Medical Center in upper Northwest and elsewhere. The restaurant, a cozy nest of sports memorabilia tucked in the basement of the Capital Hilton Hotel, just lost its lease and is in danger of closing for good, for what appear to be very shabby reasons.Thanks to Fuzzy for the pointer!
According to co-proprietor Hal Koster, the trouble began earlier this year when lease negotiations with Hilton broke down over the installment of a lift for wheelchair-bound veterans to enter the premises, which are at basement level. "We compromised on just about everything else, but we said, 'You have to do the lift,' " Mr. Koster recounted in a phone interview with The Washington Times. But Hilton balked because the costs would be higher than anticipated.
About a month ago Mr. Koster and business partner Marty O'Brien, son of the late Redskins tackle and restaurant namesake, received an eviction notice. "They haven't said anything to us" beyond the official notice, Mr. Koster reports. But to his mind, it was clear enough that Hilton evicted him because it didn't want to pay for the lift.
This story shouldn't -- we'd go so far as to say couldn't -- end badly. More than once has Fran O'Brien's been the first place a wounded vet begins to feel normal again, and that shouldn't end over a lift.
Hilton couldn't possibly want to strangle the spirit and community that's arisen around these dinners. Perhaps it will reconsider. It has already offered to continue the dinners in a ballroom or at Twigs, its ground-level restaurant, a self-described "Tuscan journey" bordering on the exotic with things like truffles and bean puree. (We suspect the vets would prefer something a little homier. Can't a guy get a good steak dinner when he needs one?)
In the immediate future, a rival has stepped in to be the goodwill enterprise that Hilton apparently isn't. Mr. Koster reports that rival Crown Plaza Hotel has agreed to host the dinners temporarily.
The longer term, though, is cloudier: Mr. Koster hasn't found a suitable location downtown yet. He may have to relocate to Bethesda or Ballston, if he does at all.
It won't be easy or cheap to find another location for these dinners. According to Ramona Joyce, an American Legion spokeswoman currently helping them spread the word, the dinners cost $3,500-$4,000 each to serve anywhere from 30-60 people. At least the cost is covered partly by a charity, the Aleethia Foundation. But clearly Fran O'Brien's started this tradition at considerable cost to itself.
In a tough business like this, it takes a lot of gumption to do what Fran O'Brien's did. But then, the same and more can be said of the people it helped out. There must be a good solution to this somewhere in Washington, a restaurant or commercial landlord willing to give the country's wounded veterans a few seats at the table.
An absolutely non-partisan issue here (although I've been labelled both a right wingnut and a socialist for helping spread the word). We now have veteran's groups, an army of MilBloggers, (and you can bet the vetnet is just getting started) TPM Cafe, National Review, Michelle Malkin, Glenn Reynolds, Freepers, local news (don't miss the video report!), CBS, the AP, the Washington Times, and the Washington Post telling the story.
Many people sport yellow ribbons on their cars, and plenty of others "support the troops - not the war". We may soon discover if they all really mean it.
Update: While you may not be able to do as much as the American Legion:
“It’s truly a shame these Friday night outings for our wounded heroes will come to an end at Fran O’Brien’s,” said American Legion National Commander Thomas L. Bock who supports the dinners.You can make a difference via the Aleethia Foundation - helping Fran's help the troops.
“It’s not May 1st yet,” Bock said. “We’ll lend our support any way we can, even if it means having to help raise money for an elevator.”
The owners of Fran O'Brien's Stadium Steakhouse in Northwest Washington have created a charity to help fund the Friday night steak dinners they hold for wounded soldiers from Walter Reed Army Medical Center.Their web site is here.
(Update/bump from 2006-04-21 20:02:04.) Too late for the party at Fran's - I hear it was packed. But today's the day! Join us online - details below.)
If you're in the Washington DC area tonight, rumor has it you might find some well known milbloggers hoisting a few at Fran O'Brien's sometime around nine.
Regretfully I'll not be among them, though I'll be there in spirit.
And when the milblog conference kicks off
tomorrow today you can "be there" with me, via this link to the live audio/video feed. (It ain't live yet, of course, but tune in tomorrow today.)
The Mrs and I will be coordinating online chat participation by fellow milbloggers. If you're one of those who want to join - and if you haven't received an email from me with instructions how - please send me a note.
Ain't technology wonderful?
Update: Wow - this is dedication!
The agenda (all times eastern). Mrs G and I will be online throughout - as noted, milbloggers can join for two-way a/v, chat, and full participation. Send me an email for details. Others can watch and listen live via the link above.
8:00 a.m. Opening Remarks by Austin Bay
8:30 - 10:30 Panel #1 Milblogs: Past, Present and Future
Lieutenant Colonel, USAF (Ret)
CJ from A Soldier’s Perspective
Citizen Smash from The Indepundit
Matt from Blackfive
John from The Officers’ Club
Steve from ThreatsWatch
10:30 - 10:45 Break
10:45 - 12:30 Panel #2 Milblogging Family Style
Andi from Andi's World
Carla from Some Soldier's Mom
Carren From My Position
Chuck From My Position
Deb from Marine Corps Moms
12:30 - 2:00 Lunch
2:00 - 4:30 Panel #3 Blogging From Theater
Colonel David Hunt
Capt B from One Marine's View
Bill Roggio from The Fourth Rail
Fred from In Iraq For 365
Jeff from Dadmanly
Michael from Fire and Ice
4:30 Closing Remarks by Austin Bay
Moderators - On-Line Forum:
Greyhawk and Mrs. G from The Mudville Gazette
Official Conference Bloggers:
Kit and Heidi from Euphoric Reality
Lynn from GunnNutt
La Shawn from La Shawn Barber's Corner
Holly from Soldiers’ Angels – Holly Aho
Lisa and Chris from Two Babes and a Brain
If you're blogging from the conference, email me or comment or trackback here.
WASHINGTON, April 20 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The leader of the world's largest veterans organization expressed deep concern over the soon-to-be evicted restaurant that provides free steak dinners to severely wounded troops receiving care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Naval Medical Center every Friday night.
For more than two and a half years, the owners of Fran O'Brien's Stadium Steakhouse have been serving up steak dinners and libation to troops severely wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"It's truly a shame these Friday night outings for our wounded heroes will come to an end at Fran O'Brien's," said American Legion National Commander Thomas L. Bock who supports the dinners.
"I can tell you first-hand after talking with the troops that this weekly event is truly therapeutic in their healing and recovery process," Bock said.
The owners along with the legion of combat veterans and other volunteers who make these evenings possible are to be greatly commended," Bock said. "The American Legion takes great pride in recognizing Hal and Marty for their generosity and hospitality toward military personnel injured during service in the war on terror."
Last year, The American Legion presented the restaurant owners with a plaque in appreciation for their efforts on behalf of our nation's wounded heroes. The Legion has helped fund the endeavor and senior staff volunteers assist the wounded troops with veterans benefits and employment needs just to name a few.
The restaurant has also become a Friday night haven for veterans of previous wars, where the newly injured share their stories with fellow comrades from other generations.
"It's a healing process for many, especially my generation who didn't feel as welcomed home upon returning from service during Vietnam," Bock said, "and I will be saddened to have it end with the closing of Fran O'Brien's."
"The owners selflessly demonstrate week in and week out that feeding troops and their family members is far more important than any bottom line," he said.
"It is The American Legion's understanding the Capital Hilton management has made a 'business decision' not to renew a renewable lease," Bock said. "It is my sincere hope that not every 'business decision' is based on the bottom line or perception that the hotel doesn't want severely wounded troops on its premises each week," he added.
According the Koster, negotiations broke down after repeated requests by the owners for the hotel to install a wheel-chair lift or elevator so injured troops would have access to the restaurant which is not handicap accessible.
Bock said there's still time to reach an agreement between the Capital Hilton management team and Fran O'Brien's.
"It's not May 1st yet," Bock said. "We'll lend our support any way we can, even if it means having to help raise money for an elevator."
Founded in 1919, the 2.7 million-member American Legion is the nation's preeminent service organization for veterans of the U.S. armed forces, including active duty, National Guard and Reserves, and their families. A powerful voice for veterans in Washington, The American Legion drafted the original GI Bill and was instrumental in establishing the agency that today is the federal Department of Veterans Affairs.
Kevin Ray Underwood, the repressed Oklahoma cannibal, kept an Internet "blog" of his compulsions for years before kidnapping and killing a 10-year-old neighbor last week. On his blog, Kevin wrote a lot about Kevin: "The reason for my lackluster social life is a severe case of social anxiety and depression. I'm on medication now, which helps a lot. Well, in ways."So if you mention to a recent acquaintance that you are a blogger - or maybe just read blogs - don't be surprised if they suddenly remember urgent business 'cross town.
I don't think the blogosphere is breeding cannibals. But it looks to me as if the world of blogs may be filling up with people who for the previous 200 millennia of human existence kept their weird thoughts more or less to themselves. Now, they don't have to. They've got the Web. Now they can share.
In our time, it has generally been thought bad and unhealthy to "repress" inhibitions. Spend a few days inside the new world of personal blogs, however, and one might want to revisit the repression issue.
Disinhibited vocabulary is now the normal way people talk on cable TV, such as on "The Sopranos" or in stand-up comedy. On the Web and on the street, more people than not talk like this now. What once was isolated is covering everything. No wonder the major non-cable networks are suing to overturn the FCC's decency rulings; they, too, want the full benefits of normalized disinhibition. Hip-hop, currently our most popular music form, is a well-defined world of disinhibition.
Then there's politics. On the Huffington Post yesterday, there were more than 600 "comments" on Karl Rove and the White House staff shake-up. "Demoted my --- the snake is still in the grass." "He should be demoted to Leavenworth." "Rove is Bush's Brain, and without him, our Decider-in-Chief wouldn't know how to wipe his own ----."
From a primary post on the same subject on the Daily Kos, widely regarded as one of the most influential blogging sites in Democratic politics now: "I don't give a ----. Karl Rove belongs in shackles." "A group of village whores have taken a day off to do laundry."
Intense language like this used to be confined to construction sites and corner bars. Now it is normal discourse on Web sites, the most popular forums for political discussion. Much of this is new. Politics is a social endeavor. The Web is nothing if not "social." But the blogosphere is also the product not of people meeting, but venting alone at a keyboard with all the uninhibited, bat-out-of-hell hyperbole of thinking, suggestion and expression that this new technology seems to release.
At the risk of enabling, does the Internet mean that all the rest of us are being made unwitting participants in the personal and political life of, um, crazy people?
Henninger offers very little to counter his implied point that cannibals and left-wing screamers are typical of the blogosphere. Obviously he hopes his audience is still unfamiliar with the medium. Disregarding the hopefully small niche of cannibal blogging, I suspect the deranged left simply seems to be everywhere because they make themselves more unforgettable than the strength of their ideas would seemingly allow. (And I suspect that every real-world left wing screamer out there is responsible for probably several dozen online identities - but that's another issue for the psychiatric world to explore.)
By the way, if the Blogospheric far-Left responds as Henninger likely anticipates he'll have more than enough material for a follow up column. Let's see if they can remain symptom-free long enough to ignore him.
Update: It occurs to me that a single commenter using different names is quite obviously responsible for the bulk of the later comments on the Washington Post blog that we wrote about here. (Since I'm no Psychiatrist I'll refrain from attempting to diagnose his or her mental state.) And please note - the same Washington Post that devoted a front-page article to highlighting the unbalanced rants of the blogospheric far left also hosts a blog where you can read some of the worst examples of just that in the comments section.
It might be interesting if the Wall Street Journal offered a comment feature like the LA Times and Washington Post now do. They could discover who their readers are too.
By the way, with very few exceptions I've found the commenters here to be insightful, a welcome contribution to the discussion, and usually better informed about some aspect of a given situation than I am. Given their numerical advantage this last bit is no surprise, but each confirmation (pro or con my own position) of the first two points reaffirms my commitment to keep doing what I do.
The LA Times headline Generals' Criticism of Rumsfeld Gets Mixed Reaction Among Troops is a bit deceptive. If the report is representative of responses of the troops downrange, very few are impressed with the SecDef's detractors.
They better hope Ralph Peters doesn't hear about this. He'll rip 'em a new one.
Remember that Publisher's Weekly review of Home of the Brave : Honoring the Unsung Heroes in the War on Terror?
U.S. soldiers are fighting for our nation's survival, yet too many Americans couldn't care less, according to former secretary of defense Weinberger and Hall (coauthor with Richard Wirthlin of The Greatest Communicator: What Ronald Reagan Taught Me About Politics, Leadership, and Life). The fault lies with the liberal media, they add, which denigrates the military's valor and disparages America's war on terrorism. The authors aim to counter this misinformation with stories of 19 soldiers decorated for actions (rescuing endangered comrades or killing large numbers of the enemy) in Iraq and Afghanistan. Weinberger and Hall detail these accounts in breathless, overheated prose ("Rafael Peralta was not born in America, but he died defending her") and quote many fervent patriotic declarations plus expressions of love for democracy, commanders, wives, parents and God. These 19 soldiers—and the authors—believe absolutely that America's cause ("defending freedom") is just. Each chapter concludes with the official written citation that accompanied the soldier's medal. Readers searching for a deeper understanding of the war will end up no wiser.My response is here:
"The fault lies with the liberal media, they add..."But tomorrow you can make up your own mind - we'll present the full chapter on Rafael Peralta, courtesy of co-author Wynton Hall.
The New York Times has acknowledged the same shortfall in coverage. (And it's only fair to note that local papers do a wonderful job of covering the stories of heroes - and aren't afraid to call them heroes.)
But the review above brings an entirely different tone to the debate - sneering at the "breathless prose" used to describe those who "believe absolutely that America's cause ("defending freedom") is just".
"Readers searching for a deeper understanding of the war will end up no wiser" - true, if "deeper understanding" is code for validation of their own misconceptions. This is exactly the sort of book that people seeking a full understanding of the war should read - along with many others that deal with other specifics - and I'm curious as to why Publisher's Weekly seems so frightened by the prospect that they might. It's no surprise that the media will fixate on their own brief mention in this book, but those who actually read it will discover it's about heroes - not reporters.
The grieving family of a Manchester, N.H., cavalry scout killed in Iraq last week was dealt another blow when ghoulish robbers held his friend and younger brothers at gunpoint in the hopes of stealing cash left to his family by kind-hearted friends and strangers in the wake of the war hero’s death.The story that inspired the thieves is probably this one:
“I just think it was some slimeball who read the paper and saw people were giving money,” said Doreen Roehl, the aunt of the dead soldier, George Roehl Jr., 21.
Vezina said she and her four younger children have been overwhelmed by support from the community.Read both.
“People I don’t even know have been coming by and dropping off cards,” she said. “One man, I don’t even know who he is, gave me a card with $200 in it.”
Funeral services for Roehl have not been finalized, but Vezina said military personnel stop by frequently to offer help and give her information.
“I have two- and three-star generals calling me to make sure I’m OK. They’re carrying my family.”
Smash posts an email update from Buzz Patterson. This story is growing, and other players (including media) are gearing up for public and not-so-public action.
Update: Smash says the Army might want to find another location for this year's ball. I think that's appropriate.
As reported in The Washington Post:
The owners of Fran O'Brien's Stadium Steakhouse in Northwest Washington have created a charity to help fund the Friday night steak dinners they hold for wounded soldiers from Walter Reed Army Medical Center.Update: The address given in the Washington Post is wrong. The correct address is:
The restaurant's lease at the Capital Hilton, at 16th and L streets NW, expires May 1.
The dinners have become an institution among the soldiers recovering from severe injuries at the medical center. The gatherings act as a support group for the veterans, and many fear their end.
Organizers and veterans are trying to find a place to keep the dinners going while the restaurant's owners look for a place to reopen. Donations can be sent to:
Aleethia Foundation Inc., C/O Fran O'Brien's Steakhouse, 1001 16th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20036.(See update below.)
The Aleethia Foundation
1718 M Street NW Suite 1170
Washington DC 20036
As on their web site here.
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Separate groups of gunmen entered two primary schools in Baghdad on Wednesday and beheaded two teachers in front of their students, the Ministry of State for National Security said.Fortunately, the story is not true. (If you are a daily reader of the Dawn Patrol, you already knew that.)
"Two terrorist groups beheaded two teachers in front of their students in the Amna and Shaheed Hamdi primary schools in Shaab district in Baghdad," a ministry statement said.
A ministry official said he believed the attacks were aimed at: "intimidating pupils and disrupting learning."
But that didn't stop Reuters from running with the story - and thus far hasn't concerned them enough to post a correction along with the original report either. (Or "disappear" it altogether.)
Bad enough had this been the first time a major (allegedly credible) news organization had been so hoodwinked, but this is the second such story we've noted here this month. The previous example came from the NY Times, and also involved reports of headless corpses allegedly made by an unnamed official from a government agency.
Before any readers begin bashing the MSM en toto for these transgressions - please note that NBC News Producer Karl Bostic revealed this latest bit of "bad news" from Iraq on his blog - along with details of the efforts taken by his team to discover the truth (and the frank acknowledgement of the difficulty of doing so).
One wonders how many other such urban legends have been undetected.
Take your pick:
Today's headline, the Guardian: Rove gets frontline role in Bush team shake-up
Today's headline, the New York Times: Rove Loses a Post in White House Overhaul
Somehow it's all part of an evil plan.
A poem from Russ Vaughn.
Donny BoyMeanwhile, over at the New York Post, Ralph Peters says:
(With a tip a’ me hat to the gent who penned the original)
Oh Donny boy, the snipes, the snipes are bawling,
From spin to spin, some generals now decide,
The war’s all wrong and for your head they’re calling,
‘Tis you, ‘tis you must go, they want your hide.
But guard your back from those now in the meadow,
From starry pundits claim they told you so.
To hype their books, they snipe you from the shadow,
Oh Donny boy, oh Donny boy, they hate you so.
And if you run when all the media’s lying,
Then truth is dead as dead the truth may be.
They’ll howl and hound you ‘til you are a’ dying,
And spiel an evil epitaph for thee.
And they will sneer no matter what befalls thee,
At all your dreams of sweetest victory,
For if you win they’ll still not ever love thee,
You’ll see no peace until Bush cuts you free.
Oh Donny boy, the snipes, the snipes are bawling,
From spin to spin, they’re crying for your hide.
Your war is lost is what the media’s calling,
‘Tis you must go, they want ol’ Rummy fried.
Whatever one thinks of the SecDef, the professional identities of his critics and his supporters tell us a great deal. The retired generals calling for Rumsfeld's resignation are recent combat commanders, veterans of Iraq and Middle East experts. They're the men who led from the front and who signed the condolence letters to bereaved families (and they didn't use an autograph machine).Shorter version: everyone I agree with is a hero, everyone else should shut up. I'm not sure that's a defensible position.
Generals such as John Batiste, Gregory Newbold, Paul Eaton and Tony Zinni have something else in common, too: They're leaders respected by their peers for flawless integrity. Their reputations within their services - the Army and Marines - could not be higher. They are not and never have been political generals.
As for the generals who rush to defend the SecDef - using those OSD-disseminated talking points - they fall into three categories:
* Pathetic, aged retirees who desperately want to believe they're still Washington players and who will do anything for a scrap of official attention.
* Air Force generals - while the Army and Marines fought, Rumsfeld funded all of the Air Force's toys and can count on its support.
* And, most troublingly, serving officers selected by the SecDef for the military's highest offices.
Given the red-herring debate over whether or not military retirees have a right to speak out, we've overlooked a shameful and flagrant violation of the military's code of ethics: Active-duty officers are forbidden to make political statements.
Rumsfeld's critics played by the rules and retired before stating their cases. But what should we make of the Joint Chiefs chairman, Gen. Peter Pace, his predecessor and their colleagues who've offered Manchurian-Candidate praise of the defense secretary in public?
Those were political statements. By any definition.
If serving officers can't criticize public figures, neither should they offer endorsements. Secretary Rumsfeld notoriously cracks down on internal dissent, but he hasn't chided Gen. Pace for his on-camera flattery. If you're looking for the politicization of the officer corps, look no further.
In these years without a draft, when most citizens have no first-hand military experience, retired officers (and NCOs) have a duty to speak out. Those still in uniform must remain silent (this means you, too, Gen. Pace), but a man such as Maj.-Gen. John Batiste, who declined the offer of a third star rather than serve under Mr. Rumsfeld, has every right to be heard.
As the Washington machinery attempts to discredit honorable critics of Secretary Rumsfeld, this is truly a David-vs.-Goliath struggle. And the truth, as well as the valor, is on David's side.
You are being lied to. By elements in the media determined that Iraq must fail. Just give 'em the Bronx cheer.Pfffffft.
Meanwhile, the NY Time offers a correction to an earlier story on the topic:
An article on Sunday about civilian control of the military referred incorrectly to the status of retired officers under Article 88 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which prohibits the use of "contemptuous words" against the president, the secretary of defense and other high-ranking civilians. Retirees — along with officers on active duty — are indeed covered by the rule.Expect Ralph's column tomorrow to offer a correction too.
Among the men who've infuriated Ralph Peters are retired Lt. Gen. John Crosby, former deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command; retired Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, former assistant vice chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force; retired Maj. Gen. Buron Moore, U.S. Air Force, who was director of Central Command during Operation Desert Storm; and retired Maj. Gen Paul Vallely, former deputy commander of the U.S.. Army, Pacific. Their Wall Strret Journal op/ed includes this passage:
Much of the acrimony expressed by Secretary Rumsfeld's military critics appears to stem from his efforts to "transform" the military by moving to a joint expeditionary force that is lighter and more mobile in nature to meet the nation's current and future threats. Many senior officers and bureaucrats did not support his transformation goals -- preferring conventional weapons of the past like the Crusader artillery piece and World War II war-fighting strategies, which prove practically useless against lawless and uncivilized enemies engaged in asymmetric warfare. It unfortunately appears that two of the retired generals (Messrs. Zinni and Newbold) do not understand the true nature of this radical ideology, Islamic extremism, and why we fight in Iraq. We suggest they listen to the tapes of United 93.That's as harsh criricism as you'll hopefully ever hear between flag officers.
More below, if you're interested.
In Defense Of Donald RumsfeldAll done!
By John Crosby, Thomas McInerney, Buron Moore and Paul Vallely
Foes of the Bush administration described the recent calls by six retired generals for Donald Rumsfeld to resign or be fired as "growing military pressure" for him to do so. These retired generals claim he should go for, among other things, ignoring the advice of senior military leaders and bungling the global war on terror in Iraq with poorly planned war-fighting strategies and post-Saddam planning efforts. We strongly disagree.
Like former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers, we do not believe that it is appropriate for active duty, or retired, senior military officers to publicly criticize U.S. civilian leadership during war. Calling for the secretary's resignation during wartime may undercut the U.S. mission and incites individual challenge to the good order and discipline of our military culture. At best, such comments may send a confusing message to our troops deployed on dangerous missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. At worst, they can also inspire and motivate the evil forces we seek to defeat.
Since our nation's founding, the principle of civilian control over the military has been a centerpiece of our system of government. Under our constitutional system, it places elected and appointed government leaders in charge. American soldiers are bound by this tradition to subordinate themselves to civilian authority. We give advice but it is ultimately up to civilian leaders to make key strategic and policy decisions. Unlike many other democracies, this is one important reason why we have never been ruled by the military, and have been the most successful country the world has ever seen.
Some critics suggest that the calls by the six retired generals signify widespread discontent in the military with Secretary Rumsfeld's leadership. It is preposterous for them to suggest that this small group represents the views of the 1.4 million men and women serving on active duty or the 7,000 retired generals and flag officers who respect, understand and appreciate the established American tradition of the military being subordinate to civilian control and direction.
Moreover, despite the frustration of the current situation in Iraq, military morale remains high, as evidenced by the high re-enlistment rate of active-duty forces. This fact belies the contention that there is rising military discontent.
The notion that Secretary Rumsfeld doesn't meet with, or ignores the advice of, senior military leaders is not founded in fact. During his tenure, senior military leaders have been involved to an unprecedented degree in every decision-making process. In addition to the Senior Level Review Group, Defense Senior Leadership Conference, and Quadrennial Defense Review, in 2005 Secretary Rumsfeld also participated in meetings involving service chiefs 110 times and combatant commanders 163 times. Gen. Myers correctly describes these meetings as "very collaborative" with a free flow of information and discussion. Gen. Tommy Franks, U.S. Central Command Commander during the liberation of Afghanistan and Iraq, echoes Gen. Myers's comments and supports Secretary Rumsfeld as collaborative in the decision-making process. Gen. Franks has stated recently that he is a tough collaborator and demands sound thinking and recommendations from the senior military leadership and staff.
Much of the acrimony expressed by Secretary Rumsfeld's military critics appears to stem from his efforts to "transform" the military by moving to a joint expeditionary force that is lighter and more mobile in nature to meet the nation's current and future threats. Many senior officers and bureaucrats did not support his transformation goals -- preferring conventional weapons of the past like the Crusader artillery piece and World War II war-fighting strategies, which prove practically useless against lawless and uncivilized enemies engaged in asymmetric warfare. It unfortunately appears that two of the retired generals (Messrs. Zinni and Newbold) do not understand the true nature of this radical ideology, Islamic extremism, and why we fight in Iraq. We suggest they listen to the tapes of United 93.
Despite criticisms, Mr. Rumsfeld is arguably one of the most effective secretaries of defense our nation has ever had. Under his watch, the U.S. military has been transforming; it brilliantly deposed Mullah Omar's barbaric Taliban regime (Osama bin Laden's sanctuary) and Saddam Hussein's ruthless Baathist regime, freeing 50 million people from oppression and placing the countries on democratic paths. With these actions, terrorists have been denied secure home bases. These are a few key factors why terrorists have been unable to attack the American homeland again. The policy and forward strategy implemented by Secretary Rumsfeld has taken the fight to the enemy as did the nation in World War II and the Cold War.
Some, like Generals Zinni, Newbold, Eaton, Batiste, Swannack, Riggs and others, may not like Secretary Rumsfeld's leadership style. They certainly have the right as private citizens now to speak their minds. Some may feel that he's been unfair, arrogant and autocratic to some senior officers. But those sentiments and feelings are irrelevant. In the end he's the man in charge and the buck stops with him. As long as he retains the confidence of the commander in chief he will make the important calls at the top of the department of defense. That's the way America works. So let's all breathe into a bag and get on with winning the global war against radical Islam. In time the electorate, and history, will grade their decisions.
Updates from our side and their side in the ongoing debacle.
GM Brian Kelleher has answered the questions he wanted to answer over at Andi's.
My questions, including this one: Can you imagine any segment of the American public that will support or applaud you for this? If so, who? were left unanswered. I suppose "stockholders" might have been a possibility, but given the fallout I doubt it. Anyhow, if he thought about the question my purpose was served. Do read his answers to other questions though - be fair and balanced. And huge kudos to Andi fo making it happen - even while making the final preparations for the MilBlog Conference.
As a wounded Iraqi Freedom soldier and recipient of the gracious hospitality provided at Fran O'Brien's, I would like to offer an inside perspective.You'll probably want to read that too. But first, here's some biographical info on the author:
Staff Sergeant Larry Gill was born and raised in Mobile, Alabama. He is a member of the 1165th Military Police Company, Alabama Army National Guard. Larry enlisted in the U.S. Marines in September, 1981. His tours of duty included California; Quantico, VA; Beirut, Lebanon; Caracas, Venezuela; Okinawa, Japan; South Korea; North Carolina; Persian Gulf; Larry was on duty at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon in 1983 when terrorist drove a car bomb into the building.And here's another brief excerpt from his comment:
He received his first Purple Heart Medal for injuries sustained in this bombing, and personally met then, Vice President George Bush (George 41), in Mobile after returning home from Lebanon.
Larry continued his service in the Marine Corps and ended his tenure with the Marine Corps following Desert Shield - Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf in May 1992. He then served three years in the Marine Corps Reserve.
Larry then began his civilian duties as a police officer, and continued his military service with the Alabama National Guard. Larry married his wife Leah, in 1995, and they now have three children; Matthew, Sean, and Ryan. Larry mobilized for Homeland Defense within the State of Alabama following the Terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on 9-11; and the entire unit, 1165th Military Police Company (combat support), was mobilized for Operation Iraqi Freedom in March, 2003.
Larry served as a squad leader and Non Commissioned Officer in Charge during direct support with the 1st 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Infantry, during ground combat operations in Baghdad and Fallujah. On October 7, 2003, while conducting security and crowd control operations in Baghdad, Larry was critically injured (again), when an insurgent threw hand grenades into his (Larry's) platoon. Subsequently, Larry lost over 9 inches from his left calf, and suffered nerve, muscle, and artery damage in both legs, and now wears a leg brace on his left leg to assist in walking and minimizing limping, and preventing foot drop.
I was closing manager on an evening when the new GM of the Capitol Hilton came down and walked through with Marty, discussing renovations as well as lease renewals. The renovations discussed included putting in an elevator directly to Fran's as well as repairing the Hilton's escalator that has been broken for years. There was also discussions at various times w/ Hilton management about Fran's expanding and taking over there failing restaraunt, "Twigs". Fran's wanted to take over a portion of the room service, but Hilton refused. Hilton did allow their patrons to charge their meals at Fran's to their rooms. A daily and nightly ritual of room charges was prosperous for both Fran's and the Hilton. I also had personal conversations w/ Hilton employees who after several years of hard, faithful employment, had begun to seek new employment because of the problems w/ this new GM.The rest is here (in the comments section).
Blackfive and I have been on the same page on this one from day one. I agree completely with his comments here.
And speaking of the milblog conference, if you're in the DC area you can meet Blackfive, Smash, Andi, Buzz, and the rest of the gang at Fran O'Brien's this Friday night.
And we're waiting for additional details onthis:
The owners of Fran O'Brien's Stadium Steakhouse in Northwest Washington have created a charity to help fund the Friday night steak dinners they hold for wounded soldiers from Walter Reed Army Medical Center.Background:
The restaurant's lease at the Capital Hilton, at 16th and L streets NW, expires May 1.
The dinners have become an institution among the soldiers recovering from severe injuries at the medical center. The gatherings act as a support group for the veterans, and many fear their end.
Organizers and veterans are trying to find a place to keep the dinners going while the restaurant's owners look for a place to reopen. Donations can be sent to: Aleethia Foundation Inc., C/O Fran O'Brien's Steakhouse, 1001 16th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20036.
A great look at the back story of the dinners (Do not miss this!)
The owners of Fran O'Brien's Stadium Steakhouse in Northwest Washington have created a charity to help fund the Friday night steak dinners they hold for wounded soldiers from Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
The restaurant's lease at the Capital Hilton, at 16th and L streets NW, expires May 1.
The dinners have become an institution among the soldiers recovering from severe injuries at the medical center. The gatherings act as a support group for the veterans, and many fear their end.
Organizers and veterans are trying to find a place to keep the dinners going while the restaurant's owners look for a place to reopen. Donations can be sent to: Aleethia Foundation Inc., C/O Fran O'Brien's Steakhouse, 1001 16th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20036.
Some of you may cheer this quote in Mike Yon's latest post:
More than a year ago, I wrote from the “Sunni Triangle” that Iraq was in the midst of a civil war,...Others may rejoice at this one:
But when an American administration was not careful with its words, when that administration flung around heavy words that would be remembered and would beg substantiation - and when that same administration ignored or punished its own military experts for offering dissenting views, that administration was leading the American people, and our allies, into peril.Still another large group will agree with this:
As I consider this whole manufactured controversy about my intentions in saying, then and now, that Iraq is in a civil war, and whether or not I used the right definition, and even, ridiculous as it seems, whether I have been hijacked by forces that oppose this war, what strikes me as most telling, and truly as most sad, is that, still, more than a year later, almost every soldier I’ve met in Iraq and most recently Afghanistan, still has to ask that same question: Do the people at home know about the progress we have made over here?But whichever group you're in, now that you've read those brief quotes you might want to read how thay all fit together.
Poor performance by the media—abetted by consumers who refuse to change the channel—was directly responsible for making the soldiers I had come to know and respect feel like they’d just got kicked in the head.
Scenario number one says Hilton is worried about a lawsuit. The hotel is in violation of Americans With Disabilities Act. Hilton has not made the basement restaurant ADA compliant — part of the lease negotiation was to have been for the replacement of a non-working escalator in the Hilton lobby with an ADA-compliant elevator. Since there were no negotiations, there is no elevator. The soldiers have been using a steep stairwell or the service elevator. Perhaps Hilton doesn't know that there have, in fact, been several accidents, but the soldiers, being soldiers, are more interested in dinner than lawsuits.And speaking of speaking of heroes at NRO, here's Wynton Hall doing just that.
ADA noncompliance is illegal, but more importantly, it is shameful when the chief victims are veterans who have been injured in service to our country. But the compliance issue is the better of the two possibilities.
Scenario number two is that Hilton is uncomfortable with so many wounded soldiers passing through its lobby on the way to the restaurant and worries about the impact it will have on the hotel guests.
Hilton's website proudly boasts of its corporate philanthropy and starts its paean to itself with, "We at Hilton recognize our responsibility to corporate citizenship wherever we do business." How better to be responsible corporate citizens than to continue to house Fran O'Brien's and the wounded soldiers it serves?
Much activity here too.
More news to counter recent attacks on the troops.
Last week military recruiters departed UC Santa Cruz "under fire".
This week the Christian Science Monitor reports on higher learning from the heartland:
Colleges Volunteer Financial Aid For Returning SoldiersActually, nearly three-fourths of activated reservists made more money while serving than in their their civilian jobs. But that in no way detracts from this outstanding program - such investments in America's future inevitably pay off.
When the University of Illinois announced last month it would offer 110 full MBA scholarships to military veterans, worth $74,000 each, the news flew across the state's National Guard e-mail network.
The university - which is partnering with the Illinois Veteran Grant Program to give the scholarships - has one of the more generous programs out there. But in ways large and small, a number of institutions are offering a host of opportunities for the largest combat force returning to the US since Vietnam War days.
Proponents of such programs say there's a pressing need not just to thank members of the military for the service they've given their country, but also to offer education, training, or jobs to a group whose transition to civilian life can be challenging.
"You've got a flood of people who have served the country coming back - that doesn't happen all that often," says Robert van der Hooning, assistant dean of the University of Illinois's College of Business. "There are a lot of military people who have had their careers interrupted from Tour 1, Tour 2, Tour 3. A lot view this opportunity as a way to put the burners onto their career, to focus on earning back some of income they lost all those years serving their country or the promotions they lost."
Today's Day by Day cartoon, in it's natural habitat.
USA Weekend profiles some folks who may have once eaten at Fran O'Brien's:
Staff Sergeant Ryan KellySince then, one of these people has completed a triathalon (and hopes to make the U.S. Paralympic team), another a marathon (and a run with President Bush), and the third completed a 60-mile bike tour to raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Project (and completed training to become a helicopter pilot with a goal to fly emergency medical services helicopters.)
Staff Sgt. Ryan Kelly was about to do so much good in Iraq. He was a civil affairs specialist, as well as a certified paramedic. His job was all about building up the country, making it better than ever. Take the water system in Ramadi, which dated back to the 1950s. It had deteriorated considerably over the decades. The Iraqis actually cut up old car tires to make rubber pipe seals to keep the crummy system running. Kelly and his fellow civil affairs team members would show up at the plants and provide the insight and resources to fix them. "The reaction from the local officials would be, 'Wow, somebody actually cares,' " Kelly recalls. "This was really rewarding for somebody in his 20s, coming up with ways to effectively rebuild a community."
On July 14, 2003, Kelly was on his way to a conference just outside Baghdad, when an improvised explosive device (IED) struck his Humvee. Kelly was blown from his seat, then tried to plant his right leg to get up. He felt nothing. "I thought the entire floor of the Humvee had been taken out," he says. "But it was still there. That's when I knew my leg was gone."
Sergeant First Class Michael McNaughton
McNaughton, 34, was in the Army and is now an operations specialist with the Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.
It was a routine job: Some incinerators needed to be installed in Bagram, Afghanistan, and McNaughton -- a platoon sergeant with the mine-clearing team -- had to make sure the area was clear. It wasn't. On Jan. 9, 2003, McNaughton stepped on a live one. "I knew it the moment I stepped on it," says the avid runner and married father of five. "You'd see an animal or child step on one. I knew what it would sound like. And I knew my leg would be gone."
First Lieutenant Melissa Stockwell
When she got the news about her leg, Melissa Stockwell was not angry. She was happy to be alive.
On April 13, 2004, she was running a routine supply convoy with water and meals to troops outside of Baghdad. Again, the culprit was an IED. Stockwell's Humvee did not have any doors; the vehicle swerved, and her leg was crushed along a guardrail. "After surgery, I just thought, 'Well, I'm still alive. Better this happen to me than to a colleague,' " she says.
Who's who? Read it all.
We've seen numerous examples of people turning against the troops this past week - today it's time to highlight the other side.
The San Diego Union-Tribune has always done a fine job of telling the story of the men and women who serve in the Global War on Terror, and today they continue the tradition:
On any given day, American soldiers and Marines fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan perform extraordinary feats of courage and sacrifice in the service of their country. Hundreds of these unsung heroes have been awarded this country's highest decorations for valor in combat, often given posthumously: Navy Crosses, Silver Stars, Bronze Stars, Distinguished Service Crosses and, in one case so far, the Medal of Honor.Don't stop now.
Yet, with rare exceptions – Army Sgt. First Class Paul R. Smith's Medal of Honor among them, fortunately – these acts of valor go mostly unreported and unknown outside the brotherhood of arms that is the United States military.
The Media Research Center, a conservative watchdog group that monitors television news, complained last fall, for example, that the major television networks (ABC, NBC and CBS) devoted only eight stories from Jan. 1 through Sept. 30, 2005, reporting on the heroism of American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. By contrast, the networks devoted 79 stories during this same period to instances of alleged mistakes or misconduct by U.S. military forces.
This imbalance – more precisely, bias – can only be called shameful. The bravery and devotion to duty demonstrated on a daily basis by tens of thousands of U.S. servicemen and women, volunteers all, who put their lives on the line get short shrift, eclipsed by a drumbeat of negative coverage.
No single column or commentary can right that grievous wrong, but consider this one a start.
(Updated/bumped from 2006-04-16 12:35:29)
A two-year tradition for wounded war vets is about to go by the wayside. A downtown DC steak house that’s catered to injured troops every Friday night is about to close, reports CBS affiliate WUSA-TV correspondent Doug Buchanan.There are many non-veterans outraged and contacting the Hilton too.
"We're not feeling very good about leaving and especially the Friday night dinner," O’Brien said.
For the past two and a-half years, the restaurant has served steaks and drinks to soldiers being treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Many of the soldiers have lost hands, feet or limbs.
Some say the sports-themed steakhouse is the first place where they've felt at home since they left the battlefield.
But restaurant managers said their lease won't be renewed when it expires at the end of the month. Hotel officials said the decision is purely financial, and has nothing to do with the dinners.
Outraged veterans are calling Hilton's New York headquarters and flooding its e-mail boxes with protests.
In a statement from Hilton hotels, a spokesperson wrote: "this is a business decision whereby Hilton Hotels is exploring several options to utilize this space."
This isn't just about the wounded Iraq and Afghanistan vets. If you haven't read the story of Vietnam veterans Jim Mayer, whose "Alive Day" celebrations were the basis for this new tradition, and Hal Koster, co-owner of Fran O'Brien's, please do so.
Now here he is at 58, gliding through the crowd at Fran O'Brien's on two below-the-knee prostheses, shaking hands, cracking jokes, collecting hugs. After nearly two hours of this, he steps behind a small lectern at the side of the room, then pretends to change his mind. "Go buy a drink and we'll start the program in 25 minutes," he says.At least for a week or two more.
But the 70 or so people gathered for Jim Mayer's 35th annual Alive Day will have none of it.
"Jim! Jim! Jim!" they chant.
From the tables along the back wall, a cluster of Mayer's newest friends -- much younger men who lost their limbs in Afghanistan and Iraq -- join in.
One of Mayer's friends is Hal Koster, co-owner of Fran O'Brien's Stadium Steakhouse. Koster, who served as a helicopter door-gunner (in the 174th Assault Helicopter Company) from 1967 to 1969 in Vietnam, told Mayer to spread the word at the ward that the recuperating soldiers were welcome at the restaurant as his guest.
Mayer started inviting wounded soldiers in the ward, but at first nobody showed up. Finally, in October, one soldier showed, then another. Then eight or 10 came. It became a regular Friday night gathering, with enough to fill one long table, then two. At the last dinner before Christmas, the group eating steaks and drinking beers filled up four tables and included nurses and therapists from Walter Reed.
"It got a life of its own," Mayer said. "It's like a weekly community."
Which is why the Hilton's response ("We don't have anything that we're definitely going to do with the space," ... Kelleher says that negotiations between the two "didn't gel"... the Hilton would like to continue to host the dinners... "the hotel is in discussions with one of the sponsors of the Friday night dinners to continue their support of the dinners") leaves much to be desired.
Seven AM Monday would be a very good time for Hilton to announce that this was all a big misunderstanding and offer a new lease. (And equip the room to make it more accessible to those with disabilities while they're at it.) Just a hunch.
Finmeccanica Contributes $75,000 to Soldiers Rehabilitation Project in Pentagon CeremonyPuts that bit about wanting to continue the dinners and "the hotel is in discussions with one of the sponsors of the Friday night dinners to continue their support" in a whole new light.
Monday March 20, 9:03 am ET
WASHINGTON, March 20 /PRNewswire/ -- At a ceremony hosted by Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England, Pier Francesco Guarguaglini, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Finmeccanica SpA, presented a check for $75,000 to the Fran O'Brien's Stadium Steakhouse in support of a program for wounded American soldiers. The Friday "steak night" has become a valued part of the soldiers' recovery from injuries sustained in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Wounded troops can eat a lot of steaks on $75,000, which is the amount the Italian company, Finmeccanica, Inc., gave Washington's Fran O'Brien's Stadium Steakhouse March 16 during a Pentagon ceremony hosted by the deputy secretary of defense.I've submitted two questions for the Hilton at Andi's:
The steaks, chops, seafood, chicken and other culinary delights $75,000 will buy is for a good cause -- wounded veterans of the global war on terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan being treated at Washington's Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Navy Medical Center, in Bethesda, Md.
Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England thanked Hal Koster and Marty O'Brien, co-owners of the famous steakhouse, for expressing their appreciation for U.S. servicemen and women by hosting the Friday Night Dinners Reunion Celebration for the past three years.
He also thanked Jim Mayer, a Department of Veterans Affairs employee and a volunteer at Walter Reed who helped start the steak night celebration for patients three years ago.
Stephen D. Bryen, president of Finmeccanica, Inc.'s USA affiliate, said Fran O'Brien's owners "demonstrated the initiative in insight when they decided to honor America's heroes by opening the restaurant to them."
"The gesture proved to be an invaluable part of the rehabilitation process for our soldiers and heroes, an important milestone on the road to recovery," he continued. "When it became clear that Hal and Marty couldn't do this on their own, others joined in."
Finmeccanica, a global aerospace and defense company, played an important role in contributing funds and raising money from colleagues in the air and space community.
"We're donating this for the troops, for the wounded soldiers," Bryen said. "I have a daughter in the Army serving in Iraq, so I know a little bit about what our soldiers are doing from her and the sacrifices they're making. We just wanted to do something to pay back a little bit of what we could to help them out and to get their lives moving again, which is what the purpose of these dinners really is."
His daughter, Maj. Gabrielle Bryen, is serving in Baqubah, Iraq, with the 4th Infantry Division.
"As long as the war keeps going and there are wounded veterans out there we're going to keep it going," O'Brien said of the Friday night dinners.
1. Though not quite in league with New Coke, this is likely to be one of the worst business decisions ever made by a major corporation. If you push through with your plan you'll certainly at least never live down the "Hanoi Hilton" nickname the vets are now starting to use. Can you imagine any segment of the American public that will support or applaud you for this? If so, who?
2. How much money does Hilton have budgeted for major media advertising this summer? By major I mean network television, USA Today, national magazines, etc. Will this be effective in stopping any negative press before it starts?
I really didn't think it could be true, but in answer to 1 there's at least one Hilton cheerleader in the comments below...
Submit your questions for Brian Kelleher, General Manager of the Capital Hilton, here.
Happy Easter to all.
Via email, Haider Ajina
The following is my translation of two headlines and news published by the Iraqi Arabic newspaper “Al-Meda” of April 15th.
Iraqi Sunni & Shiite Imams call for unity, urge the government to form & condemn Mubarak.
“Politics dominated after prayer speeches (or lectures) in Masques throughout Baghdad & the provinces. Most speeches clearly called on the politicians to set aside their differences and quickly form the long awaited for government.
“At a Sunni Mosque in Baghdad Sheik Alhamied (member of the Strong Sunni ‘Organization of Muslim Scholars’ said, aimed at Iraqi politicians; ‘Form a Government, we want from you nothing but an agreement based on justice and equality, for with out it you will not succeed in governing our country. He added; ‘our only rescue from this crisis, is to stand united shoulder to shoulder and hold the line. We must not distinguish between sects and faiths of the Iraqi nation. Iraq is a country for all of us.
“In Nejaf Mr Alqabanchi (Shiite lecturer) said in his Friday lecture in the Fatemiah Mosque; ‘We warn the Iraqi politicians of loosing the confidence of the religious references (this is what Shiites call their religious leaders who are approved references to the faith) if they do not hurry and form a government’. He added; ‘Speed up the formation of the government, months have gone by and negotiations have not been fruitful. Your nation is patient and waits hour by hour the formation of the government they elected’.
“In the Musa Alkaduhm mosque Mr. Alaaraji (Shiite) pleaded the politicians; ’Form a government as quick as possible’. He added; ‘we must stand united if we are to combat terrorism.
“In Karbala Mr. Alsafi (representative of the main Shiite reference Alsistani) in his Friday lecture he said; ‘The formation of the government has been delayed for to long. The groups responsible for this delay are the ones who won the election. The reason for the delay is a shortage of trust between these groups”. He added; ‘I join you in condemning the comments made by Mubarak and ask for a formal and personal apology from him to the people of Iraq.”
As is evident from the above news Iraqi religious leaders and the population is united in many ways:
1. They are united in asking the politicians they voted for to form a government soon and quickly.
2. They are united in wanting to fight terrorism.
3. They are united in fighting sectarianism and bigotry.
4. They are united in fighting expiationists.
5. They are united in condemning Mubarak slighting the Shiite’s of Iraq as being disloyal to their country.
Are these signs of a nation at civil war?
Or are these signs of a nation struggling for democracy and security?
Iraqis are fighting for their democracy & personal freedom against;
· Alqaida, Zarqawi & his group the expiationists (this is the name given to Muslims who use Islam to divide Muslims and entice violence in the name of Islam) Iraqis and non Iraqis.
· Former Baathis and Saddamist (mostly Iraqis).
· Non-Iraqis infiltrating the country to destabilize and fight democracy. (Syrians, Iranians, Egyptians, Sudanese, Saudis and Jordanians etc….)
· Criminal element. Mostly criminals released when Saddam emptied Iraqi jails and mental wards before we liberated Baghdad. Mostly Iraqis.
Iraqis are free to exert pressure on their political leaders, without fear of retaliation. They are free to demonstrate, free to assemble and ask more from their government. How many other Arabic or Muslim countries can boast the same rights?
There is no denying that Iraq is going through a tumultuous period, of weak government and challenged security. However, Iraq is also going through a period of finding a new identity, a new form of government and a major fight against democracy & personal freedom.
Our great country went through Thirteen years of turmoil from the declaration of independence until Washington took office as our first president. It also took six years from the resignation of Washington form the revolutionary army until he took office. During these six years the USA suffered rebellions, fighting against English fighting loyalists, depression, turmoil, political bickering, political jostling & finally political negotiations, change from initial article of confederation to our current constitution. Our early history could be describing current events in Iraq almost to a ‘T’. Iraq and Iraqis must be given time to form their democracy, they must also be given reliable patient support while they labor and forge the formation of their democracy and fight the elements that wish to stop it.
Check out the Publisher's Weekly review of Home of the Brave : Honoring the Unsung Heroes in the War on Terror:
U.S. soldiers are fighting for our nation's survival, yet too many Americans couldn't care less, according to former secretary of defense Weinberger and Hall (coauthor with Richard Wirthlin of The Greatest Communicator: What Ronald Reagan Taught Me About Politics, Leadership, and Life). The fault lies with the liberal media, they add, which denigrates the military's valor and disparages America's war on terrorism. The authors aim to counter this misinformation with stories of 19 soldiers decorated for actions (rescuing endangered comrades or killing large numbers of the enemy) in Iraq and Afghanistan. Weinberger and Hall detail these accounts in breathless, overheated prose ("Rafael Peralta was not born in America, but he died defending her") and quote many fervent patriotic declarations plus expressions of love for democracy, commanders, wives, parents and God. These 19 soldiers—and the authors—believe absolutely that America's cause ("defending freedom") is just. Each chapter concludes with the official written citation that accompanied the soldier's medal. Readers searching for a deeper understanding of the war will end up no wiser."The fault lies with the liberal media, they add..." The New York Times has acknowledged the same shortfall in coverage. (And it's only fair to note that local papers do a wonderful job of covering the stories of heroes - and aren't afraid to call them heroes.)
But the review above brings an entirely different tone to the debate - sneering at the "breathless prose" used to describe those who "believe absolutely that America's cause ("defending freedom") is just".
"Readers searching for a deeper understanding of the war will end up no wiser" - true, if "deeper understanding" is code for validation of their own misconceptions. This is exactly the sort of book that people seeking a full understanding of the war should read - along with many others that deal with other specifics - and I'm curious as to why Publisher's Weekly seems so frightened by the prospect that they might. It's no surprise that the media will fixate on their own brief mention in this book, but those who actually read it will discover it's about heroes - not reporters.
The Washington Post looks into the toilets along the Left-wing information sewer and finds... uh... exactly what you'd expect.
In the angry life of Maryscott O'Connor, the rage begins as soon as she opens her eyes and realizes that her president is still George W. Bush. The sun has yet to rise and her family is asleep, but no matter; as soon as the realization kicks in, O'Connor, 37, is out of bed and heading toward her computer.Tom Maguire speculates that the Post is responding to recent criticism from Lefty bloggers by trying to marginalize them:
Out there, awaiting her building fury: the Angry Left, where O'Connor's reputation is as one of the angriest of all. "One long, sustained scream" is how she describes the writing she does for various Web logs, as she wonders what she should scream about this day.
As for the keyboard, it is where O'Connor finished her evolution from lost soul to angry soul, beginning with that very first rant, which concluded with a wish that Bush, "after contracting incurable cancer and suffering for protracted periods of time without benefit of medication," go to hell.
She wrote it, sent it to Daily Kos, saw it appear online, watched as people responded to it -- and learned something about the effect of being both heartfelt and vicious. "It's impactful," she says. "It gets attention."
It also felt good, she says, transforming even, and soon she was posting regularly to Daily Kos, where she became one of the more widely read diarists with attention-getters such as "Go [expletive] Yourself, Mrs. Cheney" and "Bush Must Be HIV Positive By Now (you can't [expletive] 500 million people and not get infected)."
The front door opens and in comes her 6-year-old son, Terry, home from school, who starts batting around a blue balloon at the other end of the living room, batting it closer to her, closer, closer. She searches through her iTunes library until she finds one of her favorite downloads -- not music, but a speech by a character named Howard Beale in the movie "Network." She presses "play" and turns up the volume. "I want you to get mad!" Beale shouts at one point. "I want you to get mad!" she shouts along, startling Terry. "What?" he says, backing away with his balloon.
Meanwhile, over on Eschaton, Dave is writing, "As a matter of fact -- I do hate Bush!"
On Rude Pundit: "George W. Bush is the anti-Midas. Everything he touches turns to [expletive]."
On the Smirking Chimp: "I. Despise. These. [Expletive]!"
And on Daily Kos and My Left Wing, the responses keep rolling in.
"Thank you, Maryscott."
"Thank you for the kick in the [expletive]."
"I wrote to my [expletive] so-called representatives."
"I also wrote to my [expletive] congressman to get off his [expletive] [expletive] and do the right [expletive] thing."
"You know what?" O'Connor says. "I did a good thing today." And for a moment, anyway, she isn't angry at all.
If your critics are insane, why listen to them? The WaPo continues its tussle with left wing bloggers - I would cite the Abramoff debacle and the recent WaPo editorial on pre-war intel as examples, if I had time to put in any links.Which may be true, but doing so by presenting the facts is hardly unfair. The media has offered these people credibility far beyond what they deserve for quite some time.
The left has become disfigured because the excess that dominates the lefty blogs is absorbed by rank-and-file activists and encouraged by the Democratic Party leadership, which embraces, posts at and praises the blogs that are among the angriest and most vulgar/profane/hate-filled.In very much related vein, read The Euston Manifesto. Had Democrats in the US adopted such an attitude in 2004 they would control the White House and congress today.
Noted here yesterday: ...if the Hilton thinks the attention will fade over the holiday weekend, they're in for a rude surprise.
And today the Fran O'Brien's story has made the local papers - which in this case is the Washington Post
"It looks like they're kicking us out," sighed Marty O'Brien, son of the late Redskins offensive lineman Fran O'Brien, before closing the restaurant yesterday afternoon for the Easter weekend.The media loves stories like this on holiday weekends.
For the past 2 1/2 years, O'Brien and business partner Hal Koster have made their thick steak dinners and a night of bottomless drinks one of the rites of passage for the soldiers who are steeling themselves for their postwar lives in wheelchairs or with prosthetic limbs.
They come to the subterranean restaurant, at the corner of 16th and L streets NW in the basement of the Capital Hilton, in volunteer's vans and trucks. They're carefully wheeled down the stairs or slowly negotiate the steps on crutches. It has become a tradition so beloved among veterans that Garry Trudeau featured the dinners in his Doonesbury comic strip.
"We're going to try to relocate. And we'd like to stay in downtown D.C.," O'Brien said.
The Hilton has offered to help take over the Friday night dinner tradition. Management has suggested the dinners could move to a ballroom or the hotel's other restaurant, Twigs.
"Twigs? Nah, . . . they don't get it. It's not just about a place and some food," he said.
A great look at the back story of the dinners (Do not miss this!)
An opportunity for you to submit questions to Hilton management (Andi has been doing the hard work on this story even while finalizing the details of the milblog conference. She's awesome.)
Follow the links, trackbacks, and comments and you'll see a great example of an army of Davids at work. This isn't about the Hilton screwing the wounded troops - it's about the guys who were supporting the troops being kicked to the curb. At this point it seems nothing's going to stop that. So while the dinners at Fran O'Brien's have always been quiet affairs conducted by those not seeking a spotlight it's time to make sure the Hilton's actions occur in the bright light of day.
Update: Fran O'Brien's has a great web page.
And Michelle Malkin is on board. Awesome.
(Updated/bumped from 2006-04-14 19:45:00)
The Hilton says that after they kick Fran O'Brien's to the curb they hope the vets will still drop by:
"The Capitol Hilton elected to terminate the lease, but that had absolutely nothing to do with the Friday night dinners," Lisa Cole, regional director of communications for Hilton, told WND. "It was strictly a business decision."Just because they're evicting the people who made it happen doesn't mean they want to lose the good publicity, you see.
The restaurant's lease, which was extended for six months last year, is set to expire as of May 1.
Cole says the hotel's general manager, Brian Kellaher, has "reached out" to Walter Reed, hoping to work out a way to host the dinner at another location in the hotel.
"We're in discussion with the Walter Reed group … to see if we can't make this work for the future," the spokeswoman said.
Cole would not say specifically why the lease was terminated or what the hotel will do with the space after April.
"We don't have anything that we're definitely going to do with the space," she said.
Bastards. Paris might be the smartest member of the family.
I hope they're ready for the 170+ hungry people who will wander over from the MilBlogs Conference just up the road too.
Interesting comments and emails rolling in:
And don’t forget that it’s not just “Hilton” hotels. The Hilton “family of hotels” includes: Conrad Hotels, Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Hampton Hotels, Homewood Suites and Scandic Hotels.And if the Hilton thinks the attention will fade over the holiday weekend, they're in for a rude surprise.
Posted by Lisa at April 14, 2006 05:49 AM
Just thought I'd let you know that the Army Ball for the Washington metropolitan area this year will be held at one of the Hilton Hotels in DC.
Methinks the Army might want to change its venue--I certainly won't be attending with my hubby this year.
Posted by Lornkanaga at April 14, 2006 01:41 PM
Soldier's Dad: "Hanoi Hilton". Heh.
Update: Looks like Lisa Cole, the regional director of communications for Hilton quoted above, is a busy gal:
About a month after an emergency room visit found Nina Kennedy had Stage 4 colon and liver cancer, her supervisors from Hilton Grand Vacations called her with more bad news.
"They told her she was fired," West Palm Beach attorney Charles Thomas said Thursday.
Kennedy had been the manager of the Plantation Beach Club on Hutchinson Island for 2 1/2 years when she was terminated in December after working 13 years with the company.
Regional directors told her she had been fired because she violated company policy, she said. But in a lawsuit filed in Martin Circuit Court Thursday, Kennedy and Thomas said the company hid its reasons behind a much stronger motive.
"They knew that she had a potentially terminal illness, she would have been out for a while and they didn't want to deal with it," Thomas said.
Hilton spokeswoman Lisa Cole said she had not seen the lawsuit Thursday and that, as a practice, the company cannot comment on open cases.
Even More: Andi says:
Brian Kelleher, General Manager of the Capital Hilton, called me this afternoon. He and I had a good conversation and he answered all of my questions. In fact, he's going to answer your questions too.My question would require a bit of a setup:
Leave your questions for Hilton in the comment section. On Monday, I'll submit them to Brian Kelleher, and once he's answered them (hopefully without a PR filter being applied), I will post the answers. I will not submit questions that are obnoxious or have profanity in them, so keep the questions polite and on point. Direct and hard-hitting are fine, obnoxious won't fly.
Here's the story that's flying across the internet regarding Fran O'Brien's:
For over 5 months they were told not to worry they would have the renewal lease in a few weeks. About a month ago the Hilton folks stopped responding to their emails and voice messages for a status report and last week Hal and Marty received a one page eviction notice. No explanation was given.Here's your response:
Kelleher says that negotiations between the two "didn't gel".Here's O'Brien's comment:
Fran O’Brien’s landlord is forcing out the steakhouse of the same name.Your response:
“We're not feeling very good about leaving and especially the Friday night dinner,” O’Brien said.
According to Kelleher, the Hilton would like to continue to host the dinners.Sounds like a big win for you - kick out the Vietnam vet who was feeding the wounded and get the Hilton full credit for supporting the troops.
Hollywood couldn't ask for a better script for their next movie exposing corporate sleaze. Pretend you have just a few minutes to lay your cards on the table and prevent a PR catastrophe - what can you tell us that doesn't come off like more of that mealy-mouthed bullshit above?
My question probably won't meet the criteria established. Maybe later I'll be able to figure out a way to write it without using the word bullshit. (BTW, has anyone ever noticed how often I actually use the "rough language" I warn about in the masthead?)
Leave your questions in comments at Andi's. She's an awesome lady - don't follow my example.
Still more Via comments below, another part of the Hilton response:
Furthermore, the hotel is in discussions with one of the sponsors of the Friday night dinners to continue their support of the dinners.How nice, they are looking for someone else to pay for the food.
More developments - latest here. (Don't stop reading now...)
AN RAF doctor who refused to serve in Iraq was in Colchester military prison last night after being found guilty of five charges at a court martial. He was jailed for eight months.Contrary to the example set by certain retired US generals, arrogance is not an admired trait in a military officer.
Flight Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall-Smith, 37, the first British officer to be charged and convicted for disobeying an order to go to Iraq, will serve half the sentence and then be released on licence. The Ministry of Defence said that he would be transferred to a civilian jail in a few days, as his sentence included dismissal from the RAF.
Judge Advocate Jack Bayliss told the former officer that the offences were so serious that only a custodial sentence was appropriate. The judge advocate said: “Obedience of orders is at the heart of any disciplined force. Disobedience of orders means it is not a disciplined force, it is a disorganised rabble.” He added: “Those who wear the Queen’s uniform cannot pick and choose which orders they obey and those who do so must face the consequences.” He added that the sentence would send a message to other members of the Armed Forces on the importance of obeying orders.
He added: “You have, in this court’s view, sought to make a martyr of yourself. You have shown a degree of arrogance that is amazing.”
Here's some background on the members of the group from our intro last month.
Cassandra has a detailed post about Fran O'Brien's. She's a damn fine detailer.
Hope they're ready for the 170+ hungry people who will wander over from the MilBlogs Conference just up the road.
Last week, news sources outside the US were abuzz with this report:
Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the most feared commander in the Iraqi insurgency, may have been forced to surrender his leadership by rival groups, angered by his tactics and the interference of foreign fighters in the Iraqi conflict.But if you believe Washington Post staff writer Thomas Ricks' report earlier this week, al Qaeda's front man in Iraq was never really much of a threat:
According to Huthayfah Azzam, the son of Abdullah Azzam, al Zarqawi’s former mentor, the notorious commander of al Qaida in Iraq was stripped of his political duties at a meeting two weeks ago.
“The Iraqi resistance high command asked al Zarqawi to give up his political role and replaced him with an Iraqi because of several mistakes,” said Azzam in an interview with al-Arabiya, the Arabic news channel.
“Al Zarqawi’s role has been limited to military action,” he said.
Some senior intelligence officers believe Zarqawi's role may have been overemphasized by the propaganda campaign, which has included leaflets, radio and television broadcasts, Internet postings and at least one leak to an American journalist.The story includes background on Zarqawi:
There has been a running argument among specialists in Iraq about how much significance to assign to Zarqawi, who spent seven years in prison in Jordan for attempting to overthrow the government there. After his release he spent time in Pakistan and Afghanistan before moving his base of operations to Iraq. He has been sentenced to death in absentia for planning the 2002 assassination of U.S. diplomat Lawrence Foley in Jordan. U.S. authorities have said he is responsible for dozens of deaths in Iraq and have placed a $25 million bounty on his head.Ricks also tells the result of the alledged US propaganda campaign:
Recently there have been unconfirmed reports of a possible rift between Zarqawi and the parent al-Qaeda organization that may have resulted in his being demoted or cut loose. Last week, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said that it was unclear what was happening between Zarqawi and al-Qaeda. "It may be that he's not being fired at all, but that he is being focused on the military side of the al-Qaeda effort and he's being asked to leave more of a political side possibly to others, because of some disagreements within al-Qaeda," he said.
Officials said one indication that the campaign worked is that over the past several months, there have been reports that Iraqi tribal insurgents have attacked Zarqawi loyalists, especially in the culturally conservative province of Anbar. "What we're finding is indeed the people of al-Anbar -- Fallujah and Ramadi, specifically -- have decided to turn against terrorists and foreign fighters," Maj. Gen Rick Lynch, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, said in February.The Washington Post seems a bit outraged at this.
Today the New York Times reports an attempt to rally the faithful:
Osama bin Laden's top lieutenant has released an Internet video calling on Iraqi insurgents to remain strong in the fight against Americans and praising the leadership of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant who directs Al Qaeda's operations in Iraq.And the Washington Times has some interesting news:
An introductory title on the video indicates that the lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahiri, recorded the message last November, months after he is believed to have written a 6,000-word letter asking Mr. Zarqawi to refrain from slaughtering Shiites.
In recent months, perhaps in response to the letter, Mr. Zarqawi has not personally taken responsibility for any major attacks in Iraq.
"The Nation of Islam, I ask you to support your brothers, the mujahedeen in Iraq, and our brother, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, about whom I didn't see anything but good things the whole period I knew him," Mr. Zawahiri said in the video, as translated by the SITE Institute, an organization that tracks terrorists' messages. "I know him to be true, and how he is defending Islam with all his powers."
Zarqawi, Al Qaeda Are Heading Out, U.S. General SaysGeneral Vines also offers some intriguing coments about Iran's role in Iraq - visit the link.
Al Qaeda in Iraq and its presumed leader, Abu Musab Zarqawi, have conceded strategic defeat and are on their way out of the country, a top U.S. military official contended yesterday.
The group's failure to disrupt national elections and a constitutional referendum last year "was a tactical admission by Zarqawi that their strategy had failed," said Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, who commands the XVIII Airborne Corps.
"They no longer view Iraq as fertile ground to establish a caliphate and as a place to conduct international terrorism," he said in an address at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
That story also includes this:
Gen. Vines' statement came as news broke that coalition and Iraqi forces had killed an associate of Osama bin Laden's during an early morning raid near Abu Ghraib about two weeks ago.In other dead terrorist news,
Rafid Ibrahim Fattah aka Abu Umar al Kurdi served as a liaison between terrorist networks and was linked to Taliban members in Afghanistan, Pakistani-based extremists and other senior al Qaeda leaders, the military said yesterday.
In the past six months, al Kurdi had worked as a terrorist cell leader in Baqouba. Prior to that, he had traveled extensively Pakistan, Iran and Iraq and formed a relationship with al Qaeda senior leaders in 1999 while in Afghanistan.
He also had ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, formed while he was in Iran and Pakistan, and joined the jihad in Afghanistan in 1989, the military said. He was killed March 27.
PESHAWAR, Pakistan, April 13 — A senior figure in Al Qaeda who was accused of taking part in the bombings of the United States Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998 was killed late Wednesday night in a Pakistani airstrike on a compound in the region along the Afghanistan border, two senior security officials said Thursday.
The death could not be independently confirmed, and no body was found.
Pakistan's information minister, Sheik Rashid Ahmed, identified the man as Abdul Rahman, one of his aliases. He is known primarily to the F.B.I. as Muhsin Musa Matwalli Atwa, and he is sometimes known as Abdul Rahman al-Muhajir. He is on an F.B.I. list of "most wanted terrorists" with a $5 million reward on his head. According to the F.B.I. Web site, he was 41 and an Egyptian.
According to the Pakistani security officials, he was killed in the village of Anghar, about three and a half miles north of Miramshah, the capital of North Waziristan, the officials said, requesting anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the news media.
"He has been confirmed dead," one official said. "The confirmation is based on multiple intelligence sources."
Two American intelligence officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the rules of their agencies, said they had not yet confirmed the Pakistanis' report that Mr. Atwa has been killed. But they said his death would be significant.
Don't miss this.
The Rolling Thunder bikers are there to obstruct and drown out the Phelps crowd. By the way, Phelps' real goal is to have someone physically attack him (or one of his family) and then sue them. Their behavior in this video bears this out. The bikers' response is perfect.
Background on Phelps here. (Frequently mis-identified in the media as a "conservative Christian", there's a lot you might not know about this particular Leftist Democrat.)
Operation ENDURING FREEDOM vet Major John presents his weekly update.
Several mainstream news sites - The Washington Post, the NY Times, Fox News - now feature military blogs, with bloggers deployed to Iraq. This is admirable.
The Post's MilBlog is called Reporting for Duty. It's author, CWO2 Bert Stover, is a Virginia Army National Guard member curently serving in Iraq.
...a 29-year-old, single male resident of the District of Columbia and the owner of a one bedroom condo. I work in the civilian sector as a computer programmer for Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive (WPNI), the publisher of washingtonpost.com. In the military, I am a member of the Virginia Army National Guard performing the duties of a Black Hawk helicopter pilot. I have no professional writing experience.His latest entry relates the story of a helicopter crash. Nothing deep, certainly nothing political, just an account of human events at the Tactical Operations Center as news of the accident spread.
The blog also has a comments section. Of course, having milbloggers on mainstream news sites means opening those comments sections to people whose worldviews are shaped by mainstream news:
The United States lost one more airplane. Imagine the feelings of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have lost family members as a result of the US takeover of their country.More:
Posted by: Uncle Sam | April 12, 2006 01:51 PM
That airplane could have been useful to the Iraqi people, or in devastated New Orleans, or elsewhere. Unfortunately, it was being used for war and also unfortunately, the antiwar majority will be forced to pay for its replacement.
Posted by: Bring them home alive | April 12, 2006 02:17 PM
I think you're a criminal. I know you didn't plan this invasion yourself, and that you are a small cog in a big machine. But the project of which you are apart is criminal.
You and your collegues went half way around the world to invade and occupy a country that posed you no threat. In doing so you broke the most important of international law (the UN charter) and set the example of 'might-is-right' for all the thugs of the world.
The Iraqis who oppose your presence are right to resist you. I would set IEDs for you if you invaded and occupied my country (Ireland) - and so would most people in most countries.
Many of us around the world had thought that the days of colonialism and imperialism were over. America has returned the world to this nightmare and people like yourself will kill and die until it returns to civility and the rule of law among nations. What a waste and what a crime.
Posted by: Anon | April 12, 2006 02:31 PM
There can be no discussion of any human experiences outside of their historical context. The historical context of Bert Stover's experiences is the violent invasion of Iraq by the United States in violation of the foundational principle of international law as expressed at Geneva and Nuremberg: the prohibition against unprovoked aggressive war and the affirmation that illegal orders have no legal standing.One interesting comment is signed "I hope you crash them all". Some eye opening stuff for anyone who thinks the Left's "support the troops" mantra is earnest or sustainable. Those wanting to add a few words of simple thanks for the author's efforts (and not further bog down the comments section already clogged by this type of sewage) are encouraged to do so here.
Posted by: Anon. | April 12, 2006 05:57 PM
Moreover those Nuremburg principles clearly state that uniformed soldiers should not be excused when they participate in illegal acts.
That's why we hanged hundreds of uniformed soldiers after WW2.
'War crimes will be prosecuted. War criminals will be punished. And it will be no defense to say, "I was just following orders." '
G.W. Bush, addressing Iraqi military, March 17 2003
Posted by: Not in my name | April 12, 2006 06:18 PM
..in my part of the world today. Busy busy busy, perhaps more time later. In the meantime, Andi's World is the name of her blog, but Andi's world is the DC area. Look to her for updates on the Hilton/Fran O'Brien's saga. (And unfortunately, some tragic news from the Patriot Guard.)
I'm getting CC'd on a number of emails sent to the folks at Hilton on this issue. Some examples (I've removed author's names):
Dear Mr. O'Boyle,Lex has a good idea:
Yourself and your organization enjoy liberties bought and paid for by our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines. Your tenant, Fran O'Brien's, has offered substantial help towards fuller recoveries for those who've paid a price in blood for your liberties. For some reason, some people in your organization seem to have lost sight of the debt they owe to our servicemen.
You've been mentioned as one of the people who can help right this oversight on Hilton's part. As the father of a boy serving in Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, deployed as the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) in Forward Operating Base Warrior outside of Kirkuk, Tamim Province, Iraq, I hope neither my son nor any else serving in Iraq or Afghanistan will ever need Friday Dinners at Fran O'Brien's to help restore his will to live after a devastating wound. However, should he or any of our other servicemembers ever need that morale boost and find it unavailable, I certainly hope that no one would ever be able to say that Hilton played a part in making it unavailable. I don't think I could hold any respect at all for Hilton if I were to hear that.
Please use whatever influence you have to help ensure that Hilton honors its debts and preserves its reputation.
While fully aware that I do not know all sides of the Fran O'Brien's story, I must say that my admiration for, and gratitude to, Hal Koster runs very deep indeed. I have spent much time outside the borders of our country; I know how great are the blessings of liberty; I know that only the men and women of our armed forces make it possible for my children to enjoy those blessings; and I know from having grown up in a military town with a wide circle of military acquaintances how real are the sacrifices those men and women make on our behalf and how cheerfully they make them. The contrast between Fran O'Brien's behavior and your own cannot help but reflect badly upon your own establishment and on the Hilton chain in general, even if your decision is defensible on business grounds: not every decision a man of character makes, is made on the basis of the bottom line alone, as Mr. Koster himself demonstrates every week.
As a consultant who has been platinum on multiple airlines simultaneously and who used to log over 250,000 air miles per year, I have stayed in my share of Hilton hotels in the past, but I must say that I expect that it will be a long time before the first phrase that pops into my head when I hear the word "Hilton" is anything other than, "Fran O'Brien's." Certainly the next time I pass through Heathrow I will not, as I did on my last pass through en route to Kazakhstan, choose your sister establishment as my place to dine and sleep.
Yours in regretful sincerity,
Dear Ms. Shepard,
As a travel industry professional with over 20 years in the business, I have long admired the Hilton brand as being one of the finest in the world, and have promoted Hilton to customers without hesitation.
However a matter has come to my attention which causes me great concern - if true - regarding Fran O'Brien's Steakhouse at the Capital Hilton. According to author Lt. Col. Robert Patterson (USAF, retired), the Hilton Hotels Corporation is not renewing Fran O'Brien's lease due to liability concerns resulting from the restaurant's laudable generosity - i.e., the owners provide free dinners on Friday evenings to severely wounded combat troops from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the Bethesda Naval Medical Center. Apparently Hilton believes the potential liability issues from having wheelchair-bound soldiers crowd the facility is not as important as the enormous morale boost that these Friday dinners bring to the wounded patients.
This is very troubling for me, both as a career travel professional and as an officer in a state volunteer military unit, the Georgia State Defense Force. I would sincerely hope that Hilton has more respect for our American heroes than this story indicates.
And if Hilton is indeed worried about legal exposure, your organization should consider the consequences - and bad publicity - that could result from a ADA-based class action suit being filed by disabled veterans groups in response to the closure of Fran O'Briens.
You might even call or write your Congressman, and ask his staff whether or not a decision like this in any way goes contrary to the spirit and letter of the American’s with Disabilities Act. If it doesn’t (and it probably doesn’t), you could ask him to look into whether it ought to, at least in the specific case of Hilton Corp and Fran O’Briens. There is an election coming up, after all. What Congressman wouldn’t relish the opportunity to stand in front of the mic, flanked by wounded soldiers, in front of the corporate facade?
I was about to call it a night, then I got an email from Buzz Patterson:
Hello all,The rest is below, including contact info.
This past Friday night I was privileged to visit Fran O'Brien's steakhouse in the Capitol Hilton, Washington, DC. Every Friday night, Hal Koster, the restaurant manager and Vietnam Vet, invites our wounded soldiers convalescing at nearby Walter Reed Army Center to a free steak dinner and drinks. It was supposedly a "slow" night for our heroes as many were on a ski trip in Colorado. But I walked into an absolutely packed room of wounded soldiers and their families enjoying a minor but well-deserved recognition for their service to our country.
I've also discovered since then that the Hilton Corporation will not be renewing the lease. Apparently, there are too many "liability issues" in accommodating American heroes in wheelchairs. In fact , the lease (and therefore the dinners) will expire in a few short weeks. If America had responded as we would in the past, this would be inconsequential really. Obviously we have not and it is a tragic commentary on today's PC-ness.
Please read the attached e-mail with more of the details.
Lieutenant Colonel, USAF (Retired)
MAYDAY! MAYDAY!! MAYDAY!!!
Flight, we need your help!
This is long but you need to read it all.
I'm Jim McDaniel, webmaster for the 174th Assault Helicopter Company's web site. I refer you to one of our web pages that I put together back in 2004. It is about Hal Koster, one of our 174th crew chiefs from Vietnam. Hal crewed the UH-1C SHARK gunships that I flew 1967-68. Hal and I flew together. Please see the page about his restaurant and his support of our veterans at http://www.174ahc.org/koster-iraq.htm.
Now, having read the page, Hal has continued to host our veteran amputees every Friday night. I have been to several of the dinners, and it is absolutely WONDERFUL what Hal has been doing at significant effort and personal expense (every dollar he spends on our veterans could be money he puts in his pocket). You really have to be one of these dinners to fully appreciate what this means to these soldiers.
Well I received this message (below) from Jack Cunningham, and I couldn't believe it. I was last in Hal's on St. Patrick's Day, and Hal didn't mention his difficulties to me then. I just called Hal and he confirmed for me this report is TRUE. Hilton has terminated his lease and the restaurant has been ordered closed on April 31 (just over TWO WEEKS from now). Apparently Hal's support of our wounded veterans is playing a MAJOR part in Hilton's decision to shut him down. Part of it is that Hilton has refused to put in wheelchair access to the restaurant and their concern over liability if one of the amputees should be injured in the restaurant.
I can't believe it! Just how callous can this company be?
It Hilton does this, I will NEVER set foot in a Hilton Hotel again. And I am going to tell them that. If you agree, it is IMPERATIVE you let Hilton know immediately of your feelings. In two weeks (April 31, 2006) it'll be too late. Below are names, e-mail addresses, and website addresses for Hilton.
Hal has NOT asked for any support on this from me or any of us, but he absolutely needs our support.
Call or write to Hilton NOW. Let them know how you feel.
Thank you, and please feel free to forward this to any people or organizations you believe could help.
174th AHC Webmaster
174th AHC Dolphin pilot 1967
174th AHC Shark pilot 1968
116th AHC Hornet pilot 1971
============ Jack Cunningham's note ===============
Fran O'Brien's Restaurant in Washington, DC should be given a special award for true American Patriotism, instead the restaurant is being closed by the Hilton Hotels. Please read the email and send the Hilton Family your comments...
*PLEASE PASS THIS INFORMATION FAR AND WIDE...*
----- Original Message -----
Don't know if you're familiar with Fran O'Brien's Restaurant in Washington, which has invited wounded troops from Walter Reed and Bethesda to free Friday night dinners for nearly three years. The dinners are the highlight of the lives of these troops, both for the evening out and for the camaraderie they find there. One of the owners of the restaurant, Hal Koster, is a Vietnam vet who is determined to brighten the lives of these kids.
Now, the restaurant is about to lose its lease, apparently because Hilton Hotels is worried about their liability, or some such concern. (The restaurant is in the basement of the Capitol Hilton.)
There is an effort underway to change the company's mind on this, and I thought your group might be interested in this battle. Below is a copy of my story on the dinners at Fran's, as well as the email from the folks who are fighting to save the restaurant. I plan to do a story next week on the battle.
Here's my story:
From Capitol Hill Blue
*America at War
Heaven for Wounded Vets
*By LISA HOFFMAN
Nov 4, 2005, 07:41
There are 20 steps from the street to the steak house, which might seem no small matter for young veterans who have lost their legs to war. But the stairs that lead down to Fran O'Brien's Stadium Steak House are not just another obstacle to the hundreds of GIs severely wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan who have labored up and down them over the past two years.
Instead, for those whose future plans exploded the moment they were maimed, the steps _ and the landmark restaurant they lead to _ are a welcome-mat back to normal life.
"My first dinner was the first time I felt like I was home," is the way Sgt. Steve Clark, who lost his arm to Iraq combat, describes the experience.
Virtually every Friday evening since 2003, the upscale restaurant three blocks from the White House has opened its doors to the young vets who are patients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.
In a restaurant where a T-bone goes for $30 a pop, each recuperating vet gets a full-course feast, plus whatever libations they choose, for free. While a thick steak is ambrosia to those who have lived on institutional food for months, it is the atmosphere as much as the food that feeds the 50 or so troops and family members who partake each week.
Fran's is a haven for those young men, in the prime of life, who are self-conscious about their missing limbs, disfigured faces and other battle scars. Here, in a private banquet room, the wounded gather with their bandages, casts, crutches and still-clumsy prosthetics.
There they find camaraderie, mutual support and, commonly, a lot of laughs. It's a night out like they enjoyed before they went to war. No one stares at them and no one will let them sink into self pity, said Staff Sgt. Joshua Olson, now 26, who lost his right leg up to the hip two years ago when an enemy rocket hit his truck in Tal Afar, Iraq. "You have to decide if you're going to lay in bed or get up and live," said Olson, who remains in the Army, where he's on the service's competitive shooting team. His goal now? The Summer Olympics. Olson says going to Fran's is a therapeutic exercise in resuming a normal life. Boarding the bus that takes the vets to the restaurant, negotiating the stairs and a crowded restaurant, using a regular restroom, and, for some, eating one-handed or with prosthetics _ all are part of the rehabilitation process, according to doctors and others who help guide these troops back to the real world.
And for those whose spirits are dulled by depression and pain, or the monotony of months of slow recovery, Steak Night is often the only thing they have to look forward to each week. Hal Koster, a co-owner of Fran's, says one patient with a traumatic brain injury would leave his Walter Reed room voluntarily only to go to the restaurant. Over time, Koster said, the vet came back to life.
A bear-like, big-hearted man who did three tours in Vietnam on a helicopter gunship, Koster, 59, wants no publicity for his efforts and shrugs off questions of how much it has cost him and co-owner Marty O'Brien, son of the famous Washington Redskin who opened the restaurant. But extrapolating from the menu, the bill for each Steak Night can be close to $3,000.
The two absorbed the full cost for the first several months, but now it is covered at least in part by donations drummed up by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, the Help Our Heroes Foundation, the American Legion and other veterans service organizations. The Disabled American Veterans provides the bus.
Koster credits fellow Vietnam vet and longtime Fran's patron Jim Mayer with conceiving the dinners. A double-amputee himself, Mayer is a "peer counselor" at Walter Reed, where he cajoles, teases and comforts those newly limbless who think life is over. A natural comedian, Mayer's been known to skip down the hospital halls on his prosthetic legs to make his point that it isn't.
Both Mayer and Koster said their purpose is a simple one: to ensure that these kids are treated better than they were when they came home from Vietnam. Ask any of the dozens of vet alums who gathered recently at Fran's for a two-year anniversary celebration and they'll tell you, emphatically, that it has been a godsend.
"It's the greatest thing. It lets you be normal," said Cpl. Bobby Isaacs, 24, who lost one entire leg and the other one below the knee after an ambush in Mosul, Iraq. After 39 surgeries, he's now an outpatient in North Carolina, but said he wouldn't have missed the reunion at Fran's for the world. With him he brought his fiancée, a prosthetics technician he met during his rehabilitation.
Attending as well were several Iraqi-Americans who came to thank the troops for their sacrifices. So did Debra Burlingame, sister of the pilot of the jetliner crashed by hijackers into the Pentagon on Sept. 11. With her was John Vigiano, a retired New York City firefighter whose two sons, one a firefighter and the other a police officer, died at the World Trade Center.
In return, the GIs thanked everyone who helped them during recuperation. Staff Sgt. Chris Bain, a father of three whose arms were left useless after a mortar attack, said he had particular appreciation for John Sommer, executive director of the American Legion and a Vietnam vet. Sommer and his wife had "adopted" Bain and other wounded vets, and brought them to his suburban Washington home for afternoons of brats, beer and football.
Former deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz drew the biggest applause and cheers from the troops that night. Now head of the World Bank, Wolfowitz showed up at Fran's Friday after Friday during his term, often spending three hours so he could talk to each vet individually and helping to cut through Pentagon and VA bureaucratic bogs the troops sometimes found themselves in.
Though Wolfowitz is reviled by those against the Iraq war for his role in precipitating it, he is a hero to these troops who _ to a man or woman _ not only continue to support the U.S. mission but say they would sign up to fight all over again if they could.
"In a heartbeat," Sgt. Olson said.
/(Contact Lisa Hoffman at HoffmanL(at)shns.com)/
© Copyright 2005 Capitol Hill Blue
Marty and Hal need our help. For over six months they have been asking the Hilton Management for the terms for renewal of their lease. For over 5 months they were told not to worry they would have the renewal lease in a few weeks. About a month ago the Hilton folks stopped responding to their emails and voice messages for a status report and last week Hal and Marty received a one page eviction notice. No explanation was given. We suspect that at least part of the reason is the Friday night dinner Hal and Marty have been hosting for the last two and a half years. It may be that the Hilton folks are concerned about the increased liability of having so many severely injured and disabled soldiers in their basement each Friday (several have taken falls on the steep stairs at the entrance to Fran's (but no law suits or problems have ensued). It may be that there is very limited and problematic wheelchair access to the restaurant (although no ADA complaints have been filed). The truth is that we don't know for sure but what we do know is that this is unfair. Unless we can change the minds of the folks at the Hilton Hotel Fran's will be out of business on May 1st and we will not have any place to hold our Friday night dinner for the injured soldiers and marines of Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval Hospitals. If you are so inclined I would like to ask you to call and/or email the following two officials at the Hilton and voice your support for Hal and Marty and express your concern for the reasoning behind this seemingly arbitrary decision. Please call them tomorrow or Friday and feel free to share this with anyone else who might be willing to call.
Here are the people to call:
*Dan Boyle (212) 838-1558
Brian Kellaher (202) 393-1000*
Update: The Hilton responds. Poorly.
Lieutenant General (RET.) Gregory Newbold's Time Magazine piece has caused quite a stir. The passage that caught my attention on first reading was this one:
I am driven to action now by the missteps and misjudgments of the White House and the Pentagon, and by my many painful visits to our military hospitals. In those places, I have been both inspired and shaken by the broken bodies but unbroken spirits of soldiers, Marines and corpsmen returning from this war.I really wish he'd explained better why their unbroken spirits were his motivation.
But I think I'm clear on this part:
...I offer a challenge to those still in uniform: a leader's responsibility is to give voice to those who can't--or don't have the opportunity to--speak. Enlisted members of the armed forces swear their oath to those appointed over them; an officer swears an oath not to a person but to the Constitution. The distinction is important.So I'll get things started:
General,Hey - exercise your free speech too. Open Post.
Thanks for the encouragement, your example has inspired me to speak out in public too. You've also inspired the enemy to keep killing us. So sit down, shut up, enjoy your pension and let us fight the war.
Washington Post story: "In March, the Army got 5,396 new recruits, topping its goal of 5,200, the 10th month in a row it has exceeded its monthly target."
Washington Post headline: Army recruiting below last year's levels
That means most of its recruiting must occur from June through September, when the monthly goals are all much higher than last year's.The Army exceeded it's goals every month last summer.
Meanwhile, the Christian Science Monitor reports more good news on Guard recruiting
HOUSTON -- Whenever potential recruits ask about their chances of being shipped off to Iraq if they enlist, National Guard recruiter Pierre Chatman doesn't sugarcoat it: 100 percent, he tells them.But that doesn't deter the determined:
"We are the military. That's our job," says Houston's top recruiter. "We used to stress protecting the home front - and it was easier to do. But all that has changed."
In fact, things began turning around last June. And by the end of February, which marked the first five months of the fiscal year, the Army National Guard had already achieved more than half of its recruiting goal.Meanwhile:
While other states are doing well, Texas is having an exceptional year. In the first five months of the fiscal year, it exceeded its annual goal by 648 new recruits.
Two of every three eligible soldiers continue to re-enlist, putting the Army, which has endured most of the fighting in Iraq, ahead of its annual goal.
The Army was 15% ahead of its re-enlistment goal of 34,668 for the first six months of fiscal year 2006, which ended March 31. More than 39,900 soldiers had re-enlisted, according to figures scheduled to be released today by the Army.
The Army has met or exceeded its goals for retention for the past five years, records show. It was 8% over its goal for 2005, and 7% ahead of its targets for 2004. The number of re-enlistments has exceeded the Army's goal by a larger margin each year since 2001.
Soldiers like the Army, "and the war is not causing people to leave," says Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty, an Army spokesman. Through March, 2,325 U.S. troops had been killed in Iraq; 1,593 were Army soldiers.
The Pentagon announced in March that each of the armed forces was on track to meet its retention goal for the year.
I've noted before: We're 3+ years into Iraq; most of the privates, specialists, and lieutenants (and equivalent ranks in other branches) joined post-invasion. Many current E5's and O3's joined post-9/11. And retention - those signing on for additional tours - is high. In fact, there are damn few enlisted troops serving in any branch of the military now that didn't either enlist or re-enlist post 9/11.
Which is why the leftist "support the troops - bring them home" claptrap is officially worn thin.
Update: But the NY Times reports the peacetime officer corps is beating feet as fast as it can:
Last year, more than a third of the West Point class of 2000 left active duty at the earliest possible moment, after completing their five-year obligation.Honorable service completed, farewell, Godspeed.
For sake of argument: I always thought a couple years of active duty enlisted time would make a fine prerequisite for a Service Academy (or a commission) - could help identify the serious candidates.
Since we're already talking about Hollywood today, meet Pat Dollard:
Last year, Pat Dollard took leave from his family and ditched a lucrative career as a Hollywood agent representing the likes of Syriana producer Steven Soderbergh. Then he hit the front lines in Iraq, armed only with a camcorder and the vision to direct and produce his documentary series “Young Americans” from an unpopular pro-military/pro-war viewpoint.We first heard of Dollard via Marine Warrant Officer Michael Fay's blog Fire and Ice. Fay talks about his time in Iraq with Dollard here and reintroduced us to him here.
On February 18, Dollard was wounded while on combat patrol with U.S. Marines in the city of Ramadi. He suffered a concussion, neck injuries, shrapnel wounds, possibly a broken leg, and severe muscle and ligament damage in the IED strike on his Humvee. Two of the young Marines with him on combat patrol were not so lucky. They were both killed in the attack.
You can read about his adventures at Hollywood, Interrupted. Scroll down and you'll find a couple articles with pictures he's sent from the front lines of gonzo documentary film making. I tell you again, Pat is the real thing.(So is Fay - if you haven't stopped by his place lately, don't neglect clicking here.)
But over at Hollywood Interrupted, Dollard really unleashes the beast:
The American Media are primarily Democrats, liberals, leftists -- choose the term yourself. But we all know what we're talking about. Don't get cute and waste my time arguing the point. The American Media, by and large, are trying to sway the next two elections to their team. The best way to do this is to damage the administration and the Republican Congress. The best way to do this is to convince the American people that Iraq is a failure. The best way to do that is to declare defeat and force a retreat. Normally, any winning political strategy is fair enough. But to employ a winning domestic political strategy without regard for the consequences to the American people, whose children will be slaughtered at the hands of ascendant Jihadists (among a series of other consequences ) is not only wrong, but just plain evil.He names names.
The American Media are Democratic Party operatives who make W.R. Hearst look like E.R. Murrow. They are killing our young, they are killing my friends, wounding my friends. They have ripped my flesh, spilled my blood, physically impaired me for life, and are doing the same to the Iraqi people. And they are going to cause more terrorist attacks at home. That is the ultimate problem.
Americans must wake up and smell the coffee.
The journalists I've met here, have, to a man, all been Democrats, and all have railed against the Bush administration and have, with much hope in their eyes, predicted failure for America in Iraq.
Delta: The distance of an object from Earth
Delta: The nickname of the Army's elite Special Operations unit.
"It's always disturbing when a former member of the organization does something that lacks integrity," said retired Army Lt. Col. Lewis "Bucky" Burruss, who was assigned to Delta in November 1977 when the organization was formally activated.Some of the particulars:
Logan Fitch, Haney's former Delta squadron commander, said Haney's comments and conduct since he left the military more than a decade ago have earned him "persona non grata" status. He is banned from Delta facilities, reunions and commemorative events.
"I don't know of any [ex-Delta troops] who are sympathetic to Haney," said Fitch, who joined Delta shortly after Burruss did.
"I have no problem with him capitalizing on his experience, but he should be factual. I view him as a crass opportunist interested in personal gain," he said.
"The Unit," which premiered March 7 and has received solid Nielsen ratings, is based on Haney's autobiography, "Inside Delta Force." The show airs Tuesday evenings, and Haney is the program's supervising producer, technical adviser and co-writer.
To those unfamiliar with the Delta fraternity, Haney casting himself as one of Delta's founding members might seem a minor infraction, a question of semantics. To those present at the creation, however, the claim is blasphemy.Much more at the link, including a response from Haney's agent: "This is a newer version of Swift Boating".
"The only founder of the Delta Force was Charlie Beckwith," Burruss said. "There were no co-founders."
Dick Davis spent 15 years in Delta Force, succeeding Wick as the unit's command sergeant major in 1994. Davis said Haney has been trying to profit from his Delta experience since the mid-1990s, when he tried to claim copyright to the organization's emblem, a sword overlaid by a triangle-shaped thunderbolt.
Other individuals were responsible for the logo design, Davis said, and Haney's claim was rejected.
"I don't have a lot time for Eric Haney," Davis said. "What he has done is break faith with the troops."
Artists to Soldiers. Check it out.
In the mail: Prayers for the Assassin. Light blogging? Blame Ferrigno.
Is it real, or fantasy?
President Bush appears to be in no political danger from the failure to find chemical, biological and nuclear weapons in Iraq, with Democrats reluctant to challenge Bush on any aspect of the war and polls showing Americans unconcerned about weapons discoveries.The Washington Post, May 17, 2003.
Few Democrats are challenging Bush on the forbidden weapons, preferring to put the war behind them and focus attention on the economy, health care and other domestic issues.
Before the war, for example, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) accused the administration of exaggerating Iraq's nuclear capabilities, while other Democrats questioned whether Bush and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell were overstating Hussein's chemical and biological stockpiles.
This week, Pelosi said it is "difficult to understand" why the weapons can't be found. Yet she did not seem concerned about whether any are found. "I am sort of agnostic on it; that is to say, maybe they are there," Pelosi said. "I salute the president for the goal of removing weapons of mass destruction."
Similarly, Senate Democratic Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.), who on the eve of war accused Bush of failing "miserably" to win international backing, now talks of giving the president "great credit" for winning the war.
Why the reticence to remind Bush of the rationale for the war? Public opinion may be one reason.
According to a May 1 Gallup poll for CNN and USA Today, 79 percent of Americans said the war with Iraq was justified even without conclusive evidence of the illegal weapons, while 19 percent said discoveries of the weapons were needed to justify the war. An April Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 72 percent supported the war even without a finding of chemical or biological weapons. Similarly, a CBS News poll found that 60 percent said the war was worth the blood and other costs even if weapons are never found.
"If I were a Democratic candidate, I don't think I would be pushing this issue,' said Andrew Kohut, of the nonpartisan Pew Research Center for the People and the Press... "Inasmuch as we've already done the deed, the need for that as a rationale is less," he said.
"It's just very strange," said Kenneth Adelman, a member of a Pentagon advisory board who had predicted weapons would be found a month ago. "There will certainly not be the quantity and proximity that we thought of before." Adelman says Hussein may even have launched "a massive disinformation campaign to make the world think he was violating international norms, and he may not have been."
Gary Schmitt, of the pro-invasion Project for the New American Century, said investigators "may well not find stockpiles, because it may well be that Saddam figured out it was better to get rid of the stuff" and start over after inspectors left.
Neither Adelman nor Schmitt believes the absence of weapons will undermine the public's view that the war was a success. With mass graves being unearthed by the day, Americans will have plenty of humanitarian justification for the war.
Among the U.S. electorate, though, the concern about Hussein's weapons programs has been swiftly replaced by an increased sense of security that came with the successful military action. Even fiercely partisan Democrats say privately that they fear criticizing Bush for overstating Hussein's weapons capability could make Democrats appear to be defending Hussein's regime.
The top-tier presidential candidates are figuring it is better not to challenge the popular president on any aspect of the successful war. That's roughly the message former president Bill Clinton delivered at this week's meeting of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council. "The formula that will beat George Bush is to match him where he is perceived to be strong -- national security -- and beat him where he is weak -- on his failing economic policies and his divisive social and political agenda," the DLC's Al From told reporters this week.
The only candidate making a big issue of the failure to find weapons stockpiles is Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio), the fervently antiwar candidate. "The basis of the war in Iraq is fraudulent," Kucinich said in an interview. "They misrepresented Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction. They misrepresented the nature of the nuclear threat."
But even if the weapons are never found, it may be smart politics to let the subject drop.
Which is why we prefer these.
...has been a columnist for Newsday since 1993. Prior to that, he worked in the White House under presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, and also in the 1980, 1984, 1988, and 1992 Republican presidential campaigns.So perhaps all that adds some weight to his comments on the passing of Cap Winberger:
But Weinberger also made a lasting contribution to U.S. policy; unfortunately, it wasn't lasting enough. In a 1984 speech, he outlined what came to be known as the "Weinberger Doctrine," which declared that the United States must use force only as a "last resort." And if force were to be used, the war had to be fought "wholeheartedly, with the clear intention of winning."Winberger's DoD had a purpose - and if it wasn't a singular purpose, it was close enough that Lebanon could be seen as an unwanted distraction from that mission - the triumph of Democracy over the Soviet Empire. I recognize that, and it deadens the pain (a bit) I feel on reading words like The United States withdrew from Lebanon shortly thereafter...
What Weinberger was saying was that the United States would make no more half-hearted interventions, such as in Vietnam, or the U.S. peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, which occurred on Weinberger's own watch. That Lebanon mission, of course, culminated in the 1983 truck-bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, which killed 241 military personnel. The United States withdrew from Lebanon shortly thereafter, proving that Weinberger and his boss, President Ronald Reagan, weren't knee-jerk hawks; they were smart enough to cut their losses.
Yet in the years since Beirut, a curious intellectual revisionism has set in, in which "neoconservative" policy-makers have sought to trash Weinberger and Reagan for their "weakness" in the Middle East. These neo-critics cite the Lebanon withdrawal as a pathetic moment of "retreat"; their theory, apparently, is that the Marines should have stayed in Lebanon, somehow to bring law and order to combatants who were enthusiastically engaged in civil war.
So today we have Americans watching over civil war in Iraq, not Lebanon. Whatever one thinks of the Iraq mission, this much is obvious: The last six secretaries of Defense - including the incumbent, Donald Rumsfeld - did not take seriously, as did Weinberger, the "prepare for war" injunction contained in that old Roman adage.
Weinberger preached that a war plan had to be "wholehearted": Preparation often precludes the need to fight. So in Iraq, where was the overwhelming force needed to subdue a country of 25 million? Where was the training for counterinsurgency? The adequate armor? The effective anti-improvised explosive device technology?
In fact, there was a disgraceful lack of military preparation for Iraq, and the war hasn't been handled well since, either. Still, it was nice of Rumsfeld to show up and eulogize Weinberger on Tuesday - even if Rumsfeld's presence at the funeral highlighted the stark contrast between the performance of the two Defense secretaries.
Pinkerton is one of many who will deign to speak for a now-departed cold warrior. They may be very much disappointed upon discovering Weinberger's final bequest to America.
Ex-boy-bander Justin Timberlake is reportedly furthering his movie career by signing on for his first leading role in the war drama 'Stop-Loss.'Would I go see it? Hell no I won't go.
"Justin is thrilled about getting his first leading role," said a source. "It is a huge challenge for him and he's excited as well as nervous."
Timberlake will play an ex-army soldier from Texas who doesn't want to return to combat, but when his best friend is taken hostage he changes his mind.
'Stop-Loss' will be written, directed and produced by Kimberly Peirce, whose credits include 1999's 'Boys Don't Cry,' for which Hilary Swank received her first Oscar.
Timberlake's movie career began in earnest last year with the film 'Edison,' costarring fellow musician-turned-actor LL Cool J and Academy Award-winners Kevin Spacey and Morgan Freeman. The former N'Sync frontman has three more films being released this year, including 'Alpha Dog,' costarring Emile Hirsch and Bruce Willis, due out later this year.
More Iraq war movie news here. There's a veritable plethora of them coming at us (as Custer may have once said).
Not a bad piece published by the Toronto Star about the Canadian soldier killed along side one of our Guardsman. From what I know from our people, “Stoney” was working on the young Canadian Soldier when he was killed. I first met SFC Stone when I went thru the Army Mountain Warfare School just after resigning my RA commission and joined the Guard. He was one of the finest NCOs I have met and one of the great characters you come across in life. Stoney heard a different drummer and marched to that beat. He lived a very rich life in his 52 years. He looked and acted much younger.
God bless him. The same for that young Canadian troop. The link to the Toronto Star is below.
Sgt. 1st Class John Thomas Stone was happiest when he was moving, a kid who'd listen in awe and big-eyed wonderment to the tales told by his big brother Dana, a legendary photojournalist who carved a life of perilous journey.
Stone, who went by his middle name, was a junior in high school when Dana, on assignment for CBS News, disappeared in Cambodia along with Sean Flynn, the son of actor Errol Flynn.
On April 6, 1970, Dana and Flynn, who was working for Time magazine, rode into the Cambodian countryside on motorbikes and were captured by communist guerrillas. The two were never heard from again.
Dana became the first of the Stone boys to die in a war zone.
A year later, motivated in part by a desire to learn what had happened to his brother, Tom Stone joined the U.S. Army.
Pte. Rob Costall, meanwhile, was a scrappy hockey player, but still wrote poetry in Grade 9. He surprised many when he decided to enlist.
The Canadian military gave him a sense of direction, relatives say, providing him with a lifestyle he quickly embraced.
The 21-year-old Canadian with the year-old child and high-school sweetheart at home had been in Afghanistan for 52 days.
Stone, the 52-year-old American medic who found love much later in life — and who looked after children far from home, though he himself had none — had spent his life in and out of the military, and began his third tour of duty in Afghanistan last July with the Vermont National Guard.
But they did have something in common. Both believed they could make a difference in Afghanistan.
And they died, an American and a Canadian together, in a firefight last week in Helmand province, 110 kilometres from Kandahar city.
It's believed to be the first time such allies have died fighting side by side in more than half a century.
I never had the pleasure of meeting him but SFC Stone was of a rare breed. I've known (and admired) a few of his type over the years. I suspect he is among those who commit themselves to great causes not for greatness, and regardless of the larger issues, but because of some simple inner drive that says this is my calling, and that is my place.
A great loss; Tom Stone and Rob Costall embodied what Teddy Roosevelt described as "the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
They fell, but didn't fail.
ScrappleFace has been changing over the past several weeks; new look, added audio, and a compilation of news stories into a daily post.
Is it evolution or intelligent design?
I hold Jonathan Finer's reporting from Iraq in high regard, but this story:
Shiite Muslim militias pose the greatest threat to security in many parts of Iraq, having killed more people in recent months than the Sunni Arab-led insurgency, and will likely present the most daunting and critical challenge for Iraq's new government, U.S. military and diplomatic officials say....might be an example of bad timing, in light of this one from the NY Times:
Three suicide bombers, including at least one who appeared to be a woman, exploded in a sea of Friday worshipers at the main mosque of the most powerful Shiite political party in Iraq, killing at least 71 people and wounding at least 140.
Shiite and Sunni leaders called for restraint, fearful that the attack would unleash a wave of sectarian violence like the one that left hundreds dead following the bombing of a revered Shiite shrine in February.
Of course, exactly whodunnit will be a matter of speculation, accusations, and counter accusations, and those who want any sort of reasonable coverage of events (or at least in-text acknowledgement of factual and speculative elements in a story) will find the Times is not a generally reliable source. I have no idea whether this one contains such failures - and that's exactly the problem.
Periodic media "coverage flux" occurs from Iraq - "we are the targets of an insurgency" becomes "we are caught in a civil war", "the Sunni insurgency is the problem" becomes "the Shiite militias are the problem" (oddly enough in the wake of an attack on a Shiite shrine). Ultimately the media will arrive at a unified theory - and stick with it until they can no longer hammer every development into it's shape. I propose "chaos" as that theory - everything fits that one.
CAMP PENDLETON -- A top Marine general fired a battalion commander and two company commanders Friday amid an investigation into whether Marines from the battalion wantonly killed Iraqi civilians in a November firefight.
Maj. Gen. Richard Natonski, commanding general of the 1st Marine Division, relieved Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani, commander of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, and two of his company commanders, Capt. James Kimber and Capt. Luke McConnell, of their duties. The three have been reassigned.
Deadly Shootings, Airstrikes Strain Relations Between Iraqis, Americans
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Shakir Abdul-Hassan goes out of his way to avoid U.S. military convoys as he drives his minibus around town, fearing U.S. soldiers will mistake him for a suicide bomber and open fire if he accidentally gets too close.
Atheer Kamal is just as cautious: When U.S. soldiers set up a checkpoint near his computer shop in east Baghdad, he locks up and heads home, worried about stray gunfire if the Americans shoot at approaching cars.
Such fears show the dilemmas created - on both sides - as U.S. soldiers struggle to differentiate between friend and foe when conducting raids, patrolling roads and traveling in convoys.
WASHINGTON -- In a rare incident of fratricide between U.S. and allied Iraqi forces, a soldier in the new Iraqi Army allegedly shot and killed a U.S. Marine on a coalition base for joint operations in western Iraq, the U.S. military said yesterday.
The Iraqi soldier was shot by another Marine following the attack Thursday at the base near the Syrian border town of Al Qaim, according to a statement from the Marine base at Camp Fallujah, about 30 miles west of Baghdad. The Iraqi was taken to a hospital in Balad in "very serious" condition.
The statement did not disclose what may have led to the shooting but said it was under investigation. "Obviously, this just happened and it's going to take a bit to sort through it," said Navy Cmdr. Robert Mulac, a military spokesman in Baghdad.
There's a 'race to the finish' ongoing in Iraq, between coalition forces who want to hand security to fully trained and capable Iraqi forces under a stable elected government and an "insurgency" that desires all out war. (If their goal was US withdrawal they'd find it mutually acceptable and easily achieved - let's not pretend that's their desire.) With universal human frailties working in favor of the enemy*, the coalition (to include it's Iraqi component - the largest member) is in many ways an underdog in that particular struggle.
The odd thing is an all out war could be won by the "infidels" (who thus far have successfully avoided it) in short order, even if it engulfed a broader region. In addition to unleashing airpower not seen since the last century this would involve finally deploying the half million shooters (or more) that so many have claimed would have prevented any problems in the first place. (That treasured bit of speculative hindsight is true, by the way, if one assumes the enemy would have responded in exactly the same manner to those hypothetical conditions that they did to the reality. Chaos theory says that wouldn't be the case.)
But in the background, signs of hope:
Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the most feared commander in the Iraqi insurgency, may have been forced to surrender his leadership by rival groups, angered by his tactics and the interference of foreign fighters in the Iraqi conflict.
According to Huthayfah Azzam, the son of Abdullah Azzam, al Zarqawi's former mentor, the notorious commander of al Qaida in Iraq was stripped of his political duties at a meeting two weeks ago.
"The Iraqi resistance high command asked al Zarqawi to give up his political role and replaced him with an Iraqi because of several mistakes," said Azzam in an interview with al-Arabiya, the Arabic news channel.
"Al Zarqawi's role has been limited to military action," he said.
The fugitive al Qaida leader, who has a $25 million American bounty on his head, is credited with masterminding some of the bloodiest episodes in the Iraqi war, including suicide bombings against the UN, Shias and US forces and the videotaped execution of western and other hostages.
But his tactics have alienated many Iraqis, even those sympathetic to the insurgency. Azzam, whose father is known as the "prince of the Mujaheedin", said that he was accused of "creating an independent group" in Iraq, "making political mistakes" and hijacking the Iraqi insurgency for his own cause.
That cause is the aforementioned broader war, the long established al Qaeda jihad.
Chaos, of course, is exactly the goal of that jihad. A more refined "unified theory" for all the above stories requires acknowledgment that the forces of jihad have a considerable degree of both savagery and savvy - both claims can be defended. Each event described above must be acknowledged as a attempt at focused acts by a small group designed to maximize coverage and elicit a response in kind (savage) from the opposition. From IED attacks on Marine patrols to demolition of sacred shrines, the enemy achieves much with small numbers, and expects to successfully portray themselves as victims of that response. (And when no such response occurs, they claim it did anyway.) A media that fears accusations of bias above any other charge (and relies heavily on 'sources' from within that enemy camp) invariably lives up to those expectations. This breeds more 'success'; at a minimum, supporters of the coalition find their enthusiasm diminished, while others are converted to the terrorist cause.
And the cycle continues...
If all this causes you great despair, you are probably a human being. And Orwell knew your grandparents:
The quickest way of ending a war is to lose it, and if one finds the prospect of a long war intolerable, it is natural to disbelieve in the possibility of victory.
Note: * "With universal human frailties working in favor of the enemy..." "If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being, and who is willing to destroy his own heart?" -- Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago
One can acknowledge this without surrendering to that evil.
Newsbusters updates us on the story of unwilling internet icon Ghyslain Raza:
In any case, Ghyslain Raza, now 18, reached a settlement with three former schoolmates who put out the video which has since spawned scads of derivative works. The deal, whose terms are not known, averted a lawsuit that was supposed to go to trial Monday.There's a cautionary lesson here for anyone who knows what "FTP" is. (And an even stronger lesson for those who don't.)
James Burnham’s book, THE MANAGERIAL REVOLUTION, made a considerable stir both in the United States and in this country at the time when it was published, and its main thesis has been so much discussed that a detailed exposition of it is hardly necessary. As shortly as I can summarise it, the thesis is this:Obviously the world of 1984 - Orwell's later fiction.
Capitalism is disappearing, but Socialism is not replacing it. What is now arising is a new kind of planned, centralised society which will be neither capitalist nor, in any accepted sense of the word, democratic. The rulers of this new society will be the people who effectively control the means of production: that is, business executives, technicians, bureaucrats and soldiers, lumped together by Burnham, under the name of “managers”. These people will eliminate the old capitalist class, crush the working class, and so organise society that all power and economic privilege remain in their own hands. Private property rights will be abolished, but common ownership will not be established. The new “managerial” societies will not consist of a patchwork of small, independent states, but of great super-states grouped round the main industrial centres in Europe, Asia, and America. These super-states will fight among themselves for possession of the remaining uncaptured portions of the earth, but will probably be unable to conquer one another completely. Internally, each society will be hierarchical, with an aristocracy of talent at the top and a mass of semi-slaves at the bottom.
Today if you base a work of popular fiction off of existing theories you may find yourself in court. (While sales of the plaintiffs' work soar.)
But all's well that ends well is what I always say.
By the way, the Orwell essay is worth your time. Another excerpt:
Suppose in 1940 you had taken a Gallup poll, in England, on the question “Will Germany win the war?” You would have found, curiously enough, that the group answering “Yes” contained a far higher percentage of intelligent people—people with IQ of over 120, shall we say—than the group answering “No”. The same would have held good in the middle of 1942. In this case the figures would not have been so striking, but if you had made the question “Will the Germans capture Alexandria?” or “Will the Japanese be able to hold on to the territories they have captured ?”, then once again there would have been a very marked tendency for intelligence to concentrate in the “Yes” group. In every case the less-gifted person would have been likelier to give a right answer.
If one went simply by these instances, one might assume that high intelligence and bad military judgement always go together. However, it is not so simple as that. The English intelligentsia, on the whole, were more defeatist than the mass of the people—and some of them went on being defeatist at a time when the war was quite plainly won—partly because they were better able to visualise the dreary years of warfare that lay ahead. Their morale was worse because their imaginations were stronger. The quickest way of ending a war is to lose it, and if one finds the prospect of a long war intolerable, it is natural to disbelieve in the possibility of victory. But there was more to it than that. There was also the disaffection of large numbers of intellectuals, which made it difficult for them not to side with any country hostile to Britain. And deepest of all, there was admiration—though only in a very few cases conscious admiration—for the power, energy, and cruelty of the Nazi régime. It would be a useful though tedious labour to go through the left-wing press and enumerate all the hostile references to Nazism during the years 1935-45. One would find, I have little doubt, that they reached their high-water mark in 1937-8 and 1944-5, and dropped off noticeably in the years 1939-42—that is, during the period when Germany seemed to be winning. One would find, also, the same people advocating a compromise peace in 1940 and approving the dismemberment of Germany in 1945. And if one studied the reactions of the English intelligentsia towards the USSR, there, too, one would find genuinely progressive impulses mixed up with admiration for power and cruelty. It would be grossly unfair to suggest that power worship is the only motive for russophile feeling, but it is one motive, and among intellectuals it is probably the strongest one.
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - An Iraqi cameraman working for CBS News was acquitted Wednesday of insurgent activity, a year after being wounded and detained by the U.S. military in the wake of a car bombing.The CBS Public Eye blog has more here.
A three-judge panel ruled there was insufficient evidence against Abdul Ameer Younis Hussein, who was filming the bombing aftermath in the northern city of Mosul when he was apprehended.
But Hussein, 25, was returned to Abu Ghraib prison pending final U.S. military approval of his release. A U.S. military spokesman, Lt. Col. Kevin Curry, said he expected Hussein to be released by Thursday.
Our previous entry here.
The US unit involved in the original incident was the Deuce Four - they returned to the States last fall. Mike Yon mentioned the story here.
Note to NBC: By the way, if you really want a ratings boost, have a couple buxom bombshells stroll through a NASCAR infield in bikini tops. I know exactly where to hide the cameras too.
Call me. Let's talk.
Since I'm handing out free advice: Ms McKinney, please step away from the shovel.
Even as McKinney appeared to be trying to put the issue to rest, a bodyguard she hired--reportedly a former Georgia state trooper--was raising another furor when he threatened a television reporter trying to interview McKinney outside the Capitol just minutes before she appeared on the House floor.
When the reporter from Cox Broadcasting tried to ask McKinney about the grand jury, the bodyguard told him, "I'm going to put your ass in jail. I'm a police officer," a videotape of the incident shows.
Asked if he worked for Capitol police, the man said, "I work for Miss McKinney."
Next week is spring break for DoD schools in Europe. That means it's time for the travel advisories. The latest batch includes France (youth riots) Italy (election-related demonstrations anticipated) and Turkey:
Protests have erupted into violence between Kurdish KGK sympathizers and Turkish police forces. The clashes have been predominantly in the Diyarbakir area and surrounding cities.If the Kurds had their own nation, it might look something like this:
That's the home region of the ethnic Kurds - northern Iraq, a slice of Syria, a swath of Iran, and a large chunk of Turkey. Politics in the region are complex - Byzantine even. There are competing political factions in Iraqi Kurdistan. In the past, one faction was aided militarily by Iran but both groups have thus far united in building the post-Saddam Kurdish northern Iraq.
Meanwhile, Kurdish separatist groups are active to varying degrees in Iran, Syria and Turkey. And the dream of a united Kurdistan is not at all dead, though currently the Iraqi Kurds appear to be willing to be part of a federated Iraq.
Needless to say, Syria, Turkey, and Iran have concerns with developments. And the United States is an obvious factor - use your imagination and you'll probably grasp the possibilities, good and bad. Bear in mind we are allied with Turkey (have military installations there) and have less cordial relations with Syria and Iran.
That's a simplified overview. The future possibilities are endless.
For now the US State Department offers this caution:
This Public Announcement is issued to alert Americans to ongoing security concerns in Turkey. Violent clashes involving security forces and sympathizers of the PKK terrorist organization are ongoing in the town of Diyarbakir in southeastern Turkey and in surrounding areas including Batman, Sirnak, and Sanliurfa. The main tourist areas of Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir, and the coastal regions currently are not affected by these clashes, but the unrest has the potential to spread to these regions as well. This Public Announcement expires on April 30, 2006.Furthermore:
Recent violent clashes leading to several deaths, many injuries, and the destruction of property have occurred in Diyarbakir, an area frequented by travelers to and from the Turkey/Iraq border. Roads to the airport have been closed periodically in the last several days and many businesses and schools are closed. Police and military forces have responded to large crowds of people by using tear gas, high-pressure water, and firearms. Tanks and other heavily armored vehicles have been brought into the area in response to the violence.
Travelers who normally use the airport in Diyarbakir on their way into or out of Iraq should instead consider using Mardin airport near Turkey’s border with Syria.So if that was in your kids' spring break plans you may want to have them adjust accordingly.
John Kerry's latest proposal on withdrawal from Iraq landed in DC with a resounding thud:
Kerry found minimal support from Democratic colleagues for his latest proposal. Among those who endorsed the plan were Feingold and former senator Gary Hart (Colo.). Sen. Jack Reed (R.I.), who has been a leading Democratic voice on Iraq policy, said in a statement that Kerry's views were consistent with the Democrats' belief that 2006 should be a year of significant transition in Iraq; Reed did not endorse the deadline schedule.It's all about the timing - and this is not a good week for congressmen and women whose states don't border Mexico.
Kerry's proposals drew no reaction from the White House or the Republican National Committee, which one GOP official called a sign that they do not regard Kerry as someone likely to influence others in his party on the central foreign policy issue of the day.
The Air Force has 21,000 airmen and women in the Central Command zone, which includes Iraq, Afghanistan and also places like Kuwait and Qatar where the U.S. has bases, Schaefer said.You probably didn't catch the reference to "airmen and women" - but I spotted that slap at female airmen right away. Some folks have always had problems with the Air Force's generic term for it's troops.
The reporters attribute the quote to "Air Force spokeswoman Jean Schaefer at the Pentagon". I'll bet that's not what she said.
And wouldn't "spokesperson" be the appropriate term?
I don't think anyone here will forget that it's not about the numbers...
FORT HOOD -- Exactly 168 names are carved into the black granite panels that rise out of the 1st Cavalry Division's parade ground.Read it all.
Sgt. 1st Class Gregory B. Hicks is the first. Spc. Adam N. Brewer is the last.
Spc. Casey Sheehan's name is on there, and so is Staff Sgt. Joseph E. Rodriguez, date of death, 28 January 2005.
"I thought because I survived two tours in Vietnam that he would survive Iraq," his father, Robert M. Rodriguez, said, his hands wrapped around a rubbing he'd just made of his son's name.
Close to 300 family members, representing about 70 soldiers on the wall, gathered to watch the dedication of the 1st Cav's Operation Iraqi Freedom Memorial on Tuesday, a day chosen for its bloody significance to the division.
It was on April 4, 2004, that the 1st Cav got broadsided in the now-infamous Sadr City uprising by Shiite militia members. No one expected it. Exactly one soldier had died there the previous year.
But in a matter of minutes, seven soldiers from the 1st Cav were dead, and 22 more would die in the next four weeks.
"I see their faces in my mind every day of my life," said Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, then the 1st Cav commander, now deputy commander of U.S. forces in Iraq. "That will never change. Forever, when we run our fingers down the names and see our reflections in the granite, we will remember them and honor them."
It's not about the numbers - and it's more than just names. Never forget.
Another look at coalition deaths in Iraq here. Mouse over the monthly bars for explanatory notes.
(A similar chart with only direct combat deaths would be informative too.)
We have received a request for help for the wife of an Airman and mother of a deployed Marine in Iraq. She has been diagnosed with 4th stage cancer that has metastasized throughout her body
The Airman has recently returned from Iraq to assist with his wife and her 8 year old daughter who has undiagnosed heart problems. They have a total of 6 children in their family.
Via Gateway Pundit:
Many of our heroes serving in Iraq came home to celebrations and warm embraces.
MSG Rhys Wilson from northwest Missouri came home from Iraq to find his wife Theresa diagnosed with 4th stage neuro-endocrine cancer, unusual for a woman her age. The cancer has metastasized throughout her body.
MSG Rhys Wilson is pictured here with his wife Theresa and family.
At left, with the short hair is his Marine son who is currently serving in Iraq.
The Airman was brought back from Iraq to assist with his wife and her 8 year old who has undiagnosed heart problems. (They have a total of 6 children in their blended family, five are pictured here.)
The maintenance treatments (3 shots per day) cost $6000.00 per month and they have to advance those costs and then get them reimbursed by insurance. The actual treatment is close to $20,000.00 and is only available in Basil, Switzerland. She is under the care of an oncologist from the University of Iowa and from Columbia, Missouri. This treatment is not covered by insurance, nor will airfare, lodging or food so the family is looking for frequent flyer miles as well.
Operation "On Spirit’s Wings."
State Representative Colonel Jack Jackson (USMC-Ret.) Chairman of the House Veteran’s Committee in Missouri and strong veteran supporter tipped me off to this story last week. Since then, I have had several discussions with Pat Rowe Kerr, Ombudsman for the Missouri Veteran’s Commission, who does an outstanding job with helping Missouri veterans in need of assistance, a job she loves and puts her whole heart into.
Pat spoke with Carole Farnham who runs the site Operation Undergarment which is a grass roots clothing drive to provide injured and sick soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen that are deployed in combat zones with clothing items to make their hospital stays more comfortable. Carole agreed to set up her PayPal account to accept donations to help with this emergency.
The PayPal account at Operation Undergarment HERE is now accepting emergency donations for this family. It is the "Operation Undergarment" account but all donations are currently being forwarded to the Wilson family.
To clarify, The PayPal account has the "Undergarments" name. All of the donations collected at this account will go to "On Spirit's Wings".
** The Paypal account is taking donations until April 10th. After that date, please send donations to the address listed below. **
Since the drive is for the wife of Airman Wilson, it is called
"Operation On Spirit's Wings"
96% of all contributions go to the family (3.9% to PayPal).
Pat Rowe Kerr told me that through some fundraisers, the local community was able to raise $16,000 for Airman Wilson.
I am hoping and praying that the blogosphere can match that total of $16,000 this weekend!
I know that is a very high goal, but I still believe in prayer no matter what others may say!
Please help me share this request with your blogger friends and e-mail contacts you have.
Regardless of your donation, the Wilson family from northwest Missouri will really need your prayers. Please remember them in their time of need.
Contributions may also be sent to the state agency:
The Missouri Veterans Commission
"Operation on Spirit’s Wings"
Attn: Pat Kerr, Veterans Ombudsman
205 Jefferson Street, 12th Floor
Jefferson City, MO 65101
Please help if you can. Paypal link is only available for 4 more days, so hurry!. You can go directly to Operation Undergarment and check out the Operation "On Spirit's Wings" section on the right side for the PayPal link. As stated above Contributions may also be sent to the state agency.
Read the comments there too.
Update 6 Apr: Another look at coalition deaths in Iraq here. (A similar chart with only direct combat deaths would be informative too.)
Yeah, gitchee some.
(Update/bump from 2006-04-01 17:13:53)
NY Times headline, March 27: 30 Beheaded Bodies Found; Iraqi Death Squads Blamed
BAGHDAD, Iraq, March 26 — The bodies of 30 beheaded men were found on a main highway near Baquba this evening, providing more evidence that the death squads in Iraq are becoming out of control.But Blazing headlines notwithstanding, the odd thing about those headless bodies that provided more evidence that death squads in Iraq were out of control is that nobody ever claims to have actually seen them:
Interior Ministry officials said a driver discovered the bodies heaped in a pile next to a highway that links Baghdad to Baquba, a volatile city northeast of the capital that has been wracked by sectarian and insurgent violence.In short, some guy said he knew a guy that saw them. Which is how the story should have been reported - as a rumor. But it wasn't.
Iraqi army troops were waiting tonight for American support before venturing into the insurgent-infested area to retrieve them.
"It's too dangerous for us to go in there alone," an Iraqi Army commander, Tassin Tawfik, said.
Yesterday's press briefing from Iraq:
Q: About, on the news that we heard this week of a number of headless bodies being found along a road in Baghdad. I was wondering what more you could tell us about that, what you know about the victims, and who the perpetrators were?But apparently within the standards of acceptable journalism for the New York Times.
GEN. THURMAN: Okay. I did understand that question, and what I would tell you -- we have not confirmed that report. We went to multiple sites to look for the 32 headless bodies that was reported to our headquarters, and we did not find anything; nor did any of the local citizens that were in these areas could verify that anybody had ever been in there. So I look at that report as completely false right now.
Update: Times readers eager to find a correction will discover it featured prominently in paragraph 17 of this story
The police in western Baghdad discovered 14 bodies on Tuesday, all killed execution-style with gunshots to the head, apparently the latest victims of sectarian bloodletting. On Monday, Iraqi forces found 18 bodies near Baquba with similar wounds. Earlier reports of 30 beheaded bodies found in that area were wrong, the Interior Ministry official said.Update 3 Apr:
U.S., Iraqi Troops Nab Insurgents Suspected In Mass SlayingThat's from Stars and Stripes. No doubt the NY Times has the story too.
More than a dozen rebels either caught or killed in Baqouba
BAQOUBA, Iraq — More than a dozen insurgents suspected in the mass killing of 18 Shiites last week were arrested or killed Friday after U.S. and Iraqi army soldiers spent several hours chasing them through the rural farmland north of Baghdad.
The insurgents were spotted Friday in the flat and lawless area known to U.S. soldiers as “Road Warrior land,” which runs along a historic dividing line between the mostly Shiite areas of northwestern Baghdad and the Sunni villages of Diyala province.
Iraqi soldiers began chasing the team of insurgents after finding them loaded into seven cars roaming a main road and trying to hijack a cement truck early Friday afternoon.
More: This report also confirms an earlier one on the topic:
BAQOUBA, Iraq — A mass execution in a rural village north of Baghdad on Sunday night was the latest example of insurgents staging fake sectarian killings in order to fuel tensions between the Sunnis and Shiites, U.S. soldiers investigating the incident said.That's also from Stars and Stripes. There are thousands of actual and compelling stories to be found in Iraq, and the mainstream media misses them all in favor or urban legends.
An estimated 18 bodies were carted away from a small strip of stores that was strewn with bullets and covered with blood.
The killings occurred in a predominantly Sunni area about 40 miles north of Baghdad where several insurgent groups operate, U.S. soldiers said.
Local villagers told U.S. troops Sunday night that the killers wore Iraqi Army uniforms and claimed to be part of the Mahdi militia, a Shiite group loyal to the radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
But Mahdi militia activity in this mostly Sunni area is almost unheard of and U.S. troops here speculate that the attackers were actually a team of Sunni insurgents trying to heighten the sectarian tensions that many believe have sparked hundreds of killings in recent weeks.
“We think that an AIF (Anti-Iraqi Forces) cell working to create the perception of more sectarian violence moved to a predominantly Sunni area and executed people and said they were the Mahdi Army in order to foment more sectarian unrest,” said Maj. John Digiambattista, the operations officer for the 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 4th Infantry Division.
These real stories have plenty of blood, death, human misery and suffering too, so "if it doesn't bleed it doesn't lead" can't be the reason.
(More in comments. Don't skip 'em!)
(Updated/bumped from 2006-03-31 21:11:55)
It's pretty much a media monoculture (Look at the results of this survey of reporters' political donations: "President George Bush didn't receive a single donation from any outlet or reporter in my search."). Sometimes Bush-hatred leads them to actually wish for American defeat in Iraq. Other times it just produces a one-sided fear of manipulation, in which the media is careful to resist spin from the U.S. military, but not so careful to resist the spin of the other sides.There's an important point that should be made here - much American media coverage from Iraq is designed to discredit George Bush. And this is why reporters can publish claims that US Soldiers tied up and shot a helpless 75-year old woman and a baby in a farmhouse or slaughtered unarmed worshippers in a mosque and then be aghast at claims they are "against the troops". In the minds of most reporters if the soldiers really did butcher babies it's not their fault anyway - it's because of Bush. And gosh, we don't really know who's telling the truth - but we know that the soldiers wouldn't have been there at all if it weren't for Bush.
But GIs don't buy into the whole "we support the troops" claims made by the same folks who want to blame any failure of those troops on their leaders in Washington (whether said troops personally support those leaders or not). GIs tend to take responsibility for their actions (there are notable exceptions, but this statement is true for the large majority) and don't have very high opinions of those who attempt to shift blame. Such attempts are often looked upon with more disgust than the original transgression. It's a sign of cowardice, and that's an unforgivable character flaw in our world, and we don't appreciate those who would deign to take cowardly actions on our behalf.
More from Glenn Reynolds:
Honest and open bias would be better than a uniformly left-leaning media pretending to be above politics -- though, of course, honesty, competence, and fairness would be better still -- but the pretense of neutrality has worn a bit thin nowadays.Indeed.
Cynthia Tucker is the editorial page editor for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In a way her column last week almost achieves that "honest and open bias" description - but that might be accidental. She certainly reveals much bias, and shares a wealth of bad information. Beginning with the obligatory "I support the troops - not the war" disclaimer (a phrase I first heard just before Desert Storm) she moves to her main theme: the poor were over-represented in the military services in 1999.
Guess last year's data weren't available to her:
Many of today's recruits are financially strapped, with nearly half coming from lower-middle-class to poor households, according to new Pentagon data based on Zip codes and census estimates of mean household income.A fast read of that Washington Post story on the topic might make you think Tucker is correct. But read carefully and you'll see it confirms my point. If "nearly half" of recruits come from one group, then over half come from another - in this case, that group would be people with higher incomes. ( It also confirms the media bias – the wording used by the Post was a bold attempt to frame the discussion in a manner more accommodating to their beliefs.)
More from Cynthia Tucker:
Ah, but they volunteered, you say. Yes, they did. All the more reason to honor their commitment by making sure they aren't cannon fodder in a dubious cause. They took to heart the shopworn platitudes and easy slogans about duty and honor and service while many who are wealthier did not. Soldiers shouldn't be ill-used simply because they believed in their country and its leaders.Yes, they did volunteer. Most of the lower ranking troops did so after the invasion of Iraq.
And they have been ill-used. They were sent to war on a pretext -- that Saddam was linked to Sept. 11 -- by civilian leaders who refused to plan for anything but quick and certain victory.
It's nice - in a way - to see a merely thinly disguised "workers of the world unite!" speech in opposition to the war, but a well-founded argument that the war was based on thin pretext should probably avoid arguments built on even thinner foundations. And if you're going to claim you're enemy uses "shopworn plattitudes and easy slogans" you'd be well advised to steer well clear of them yourself.
But in a way it's refreshing to find a journalist admitting that her superior intellect and prospects compel her to protect the lower life forms - a written confession that yes, she is the living embodiment of that cliché. The attitude is repulsive - but the candor is appreciated.
Still more to follow...
(Bump from 2006-04-01 13:04:09)
The release of reporter Jill Carroll is good news from Iraq.
Taped comments she made while still held hostage are causing something of a stir among the chattering crowds. Two camps in particular I'd like to address here. 1) Those who agree with her comments (or applaud her for making them), and 2) Those who are willing to condemn or vilify her (or any hostage) for making them. For the record, I'm not sure which group I hold in more contempt - it may be equal.
She's homebound, and her parents say her comments were made under duress. The truth in that should be obvious even to those not genetically linked to the victim. I hope this family is left in peace for a while.
There are plenty of Americans (reporters among them) who make those same comments without guns pointed at their heads. Save your outrage for them.
Update 2 April:
Carroll voices anger at captorsFrom her statement, delivered here at Ramstein Air Base Germany:
Contends anti-US statements were given under threat
Reporter Jill Carroll yesterday renounced many of the statements she had made while in captivity in Iraq and called the people who kidnapped her ''criminals at best."
During my last night in captivity, my captors forced me to participate in a propaganda video. They told me they would let me go if I cooperated. I was living in a threatening environment, under their control, and wanted to go home alive. I agreed.Previous post - examining this in it's broader context - here.
Things that I was forced to say while captive are now being taken by some as an accurate reflection of my personal views. They are not. The people who kidnapped me and murdered Allan Enwiya are criminals, at best. They robbed Allan of his life and devastated his family. They put me, my family and my friends--and all those around the world, who have prayed so fervently for my release--through a horrific experience. I was, and remain, deeply angry with the people who did this.
I also gave a TV interview to the Iraqi Islamic Party shortly after my release. The party had promised me the interview would never be aired on television, and broke their word. At any rate, fearing retribution from my captors, I did not speak freely. Out of fear I said I wasn't threatened. In fact, I was threatened many times.
Also, at least two false statements about me have been widely aired: That I refused to travel and cooperate with the US military and that I refused to discuss my captivity with US officials. Again, neither is true.
I want to be judged as a journalist, not as a hostage. I remain as committed as ever to fairness and accuracy--to discovering the truth--and so I will not engage in polemics. But let me be clear: I abhor all who kidnap and murder civilians, and my captors are clearly guilty of both crimes.
Now, I ask for the time to heal. This has been a taxing 12 weeks for me and my family. Please allow us some quiet time alone, together.
We're 3+ years into Iraq; most of the privates, specialists, and lieutenants (and equivalent ranks in other branches) joined post-invasion. Many current E5's and O3's joined post-9/11. And retention - those signing on for additional tours - is high. In fact, there are damn few enlisted troops serving in any branch of the military now that didn't either enlist or re-enlist post 9/11.
Of course, these annoying facts won't stop some folks from insisting morale is low, the Army is broken, etc etc etc...
2 April Update: Some folks read an awful lot into that brief post above:
Officers such as Greyhawk are dangerous. They are dangerous because they are cunning in their deceit and they hold high rank in our military. More reason why we need to CRUSH the American Military. At least at the leadership levels, it is an absolute mess and it is starting to become dangerous to our way of life. I am not sure if I am more afraid of Osama or our officer corps in the Army.Obviously this post has ruffled some feathers. I thought my point was fairly simple - most low ranking military members currently serving joined after the invasion of Iraq, virtually all people serving at this time have either enlisted or re-enlisted in a military at war. One obvious conclusion from this that I didn't put in writing is that this eliminates the "anti-war" crowd's treasured canard that the troops are victims who thought they were signing up for a college financial aid program and were shocked to be handed a weapon and taught how to shoot.
The death of this claim necessitates a new attack - a predictable evolution of the old. To put it in simplest and honest terms it goes like this: the folks that are joining now are lowlifes unfit for military service. For the record, I disagree with that. In fact, I admire those who are joining today when the sound of the guns is hard to ignore. And I find it hard to disparage them for whatever pay, bonuses, or benefits they may accrue. Such perks will never be adequate compensation for their efforts. I actually work with these young people - and in increasing cases actually know their parents. And I know exactly when I'm scheduled to accompany many of them back to Iraq.
From what I gather, my failure to point out that the low-ranking people in the Army today are unworthy dirtbags makes me a dangerous liar in the minds of those who hold that point of view, and this is proof that the leadership above those dirtbags are an "absolute mess" and "dangerous to our way of life". So be it, nothing I write here will convince anyone that far gone that they should reconsider their position. They have their opinions, I have mine.
Beyond opinions, they support their "unfit for service" argument with the claim of "falling standards for recruitment" - I've addressed those issues frequently, most recently here and in comments here. Those posts include links to previous entries on the same subject.
Several of last year's posts on recruitng (along with other topics) are compiled here.
The Iraqi Special Forces commander who led a weekend raid on a kidnapping cell in Baghdad spoke with Time magazine March 29. Local media had made an assertion earlier in the week identifying the location of the operation as a mosque. However, according to Iraqi and U.S. official reports, the targeted complex was six blocks away from the closest mosque, the Mustafa Mosque. “The target was a Baghdad office complex used by an armed militia and not a mosque,” the unidentified commander said.Yes, that was a rather dumb question to ask.
U.S. military officials have insisted no mosque was entered nor damaged in the raid, and that those describing the raid as a massacre faked evidence by moving bodies of gunmen killed fighting the Iraqi troops.
A hostage freed in the operation confirmed the U.S. and Iraqi Special Operations Forces account, contradicting claims that U.S. and Iraqi troops targeted a Shiite mosque and killed unarmed worshipers.
“The scene … was altered for propaganda reasons,” said Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, commander of Multi-National Force - Iraq. "After the fact, someone went in and made the scene look different than it was."
In his weekly press conference from Baghdad March 30, Multi-National Force - Iraq spokesman Maj. General Rick Lynch detailed the Iraqi-led operation that freed one Iraqi hostage, killed 16 fighters and captured 18 more. He praised Iraqi Special Operation Forces, calling their planning and execution of the weekend raid “flawless.”
A reporter asked if the operation had been a mistake, considering the building contained a possible hussinaya, or prayer room. “Not at all,” said Lynch, adding, “Ask the hostage if it was a mistake.”
Previous post - examining this in it's broader context - here.