Prev | List | Random | Next
Our Valour-IT team leaders are dressing up for holloween this year. We're representing our teams branch of service in costume.
To start off with, we have little Holly Aho our team leader for the Marines. Looks as though she's been workin out. Semper Fi!
Blackfive is team leader for the Army and boy does he reprezent. Hooah!
He's calling in the Air Force for cover.
Navy Team leader, Chaotic Synaptic Activity is styling with his anchors. Don't let that shy grin fool ya, he's ready to kiss all the dames awaitin at the docks.
Now, I'm sporting the sexiest of all uniforms of course, The Air Force uniform.
Trick or Treat boys who wants to fly with me, come on, just touch me. I won't bite...much.
I have no shame.
The Force behind the Force, One over All. Go Team Air Force!
This would be a good time to call in and thank Patti for all she does for our troops. The Call-in Number: (347) 996-5948
Beth at Fuzzylicious Thinking and I will be on two different radio shows, First one TONITE on The Andrea Shea-King BlogTalkRadio show, at 9 p.m. ET and again this Sunday on AM 580 WDBO Radio, Orlando, Florida, 9:30 PM ET on Nov. 4th.
We'll also be promoting Project Valour-IT and discussing other interesting things. Call-in Number: (646) 478-4604 so please join us.
And I want to thank Andre Shea-King and Dave Logan the Producer for giving us the opportunity to promote one of my favorite military causes.
Our goal for Valour-IT this year is $60,000. This sounds ambitious, but each year we're surprised at how we meet and surpassed our goal. It is the generosity of you out there, tapping the paypal buttons, donating items to auction, that has made it possible to give many adaptive laptops to our wounded service members.
So the time is NOW DONATE TO PROJECT VALOUR-IT, no change is too small!!!
What explains the New York Times’ ten-day delay in reporting that U.S. Navy SEAL Lt. Michael P. Murphy would be posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor? The short answer is some people never change. Thirty-five years ago, when the Times’ Arthur “Pinch” Sulzberger Jr. was asked by his father about his preference should an American soldier run into a North Vietnamese soldier, antiwar activist “Pinch” responded, I would want to see the American get shot. It’s the other guy’s country.”
Today’s Times has its heroes: the mere names of the dead — their deeds left unsaid — with their words parsed, the anguish of their families, and the predisposed antiwar rhetoric of a very few. Before October 11, 2007, the day the White House announced Lieutenant Murphy’s award, the Times had already written all of what it wanted to say about him. They have “fixed” the news about the War on Terror’s fallen heroes and misrepresented them in their commentaries to further the long-held political agenda of the newspaper’s chairman and publisher. This dates back to the early days of the fights in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
In a May 25, 2002, article entitled U.S. Review of a Deadly Afghanistan Battle Finds Lapses Eric Schmitt slipped in the fact that John Chapman and Jason Dean Cunningham “died” yet they were not the story; the story was “lapses” had resulted in the deaths of seven Americans. Yet nothing in that report supported such an allegation. Here is how one senior officer put it:
It’s very difficult, sitting in an air-conditioned environment with good lighting, to fully appreciate all that happens on the battlefield,'’ said Gen. Peter Pace, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who commanded a marine platoon in Vietnam. ‘’It is an enormously complex, chaotic environment — people shooting at you, things going ‘bang,’ vision obscured, and there’s a lot of things that you don’t even know about.
Those who get their “news” about the War of Terror from the Times will likely never learn that several months later Technical Sergeant John Chapman and Senior Airman Jason Dean Cunningham were both posthumously awarded the Air Force Cross for their actions that day.
While there are literally thousands of untold stories, the Times has named (or alluded to) one fallen soldier many times without ever mentioning his support for the war in Iraq and sacrifice in the service of others. An advanced search of their archives using the keywords ‘Cindy+Sheehan’ reveals 155 entries. Read them and you will discover that her son “died in Iraq,” “was killed in Iraq,” or “was killed in an ambush in Iraq.” What you will not read there about Specialist Casey Sheehan is he volunteered to rescue fellow soldiers who were pinned down by enemy fire, replied, “Where my Chief goes, I go,” when told he did not have to volunteer, and was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star for his valor.
Since 9/11, on all battlefields, more than 4,000 American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines have earned and been awarded the top six medals for valor, the Bronze Star with ‘V’ device and higher. Conversely, the Times has written and published but four straight stories about the battlefield heroics of the War on Terror’s most highly decorated troops — and not one time has even their heroism made the Times’ front page.
Posted at 1540Z
Or: "How many media reports on the failure of the media to report the horrors of Iraq will we need to see before realizing the magnitude of their failure?"
Stray thought. A quote from a recent WaPo piece:
"This is a dangerous place," said Capt. Lee Showman, 28, a senior officer in the battalion. "People are killed here every day, and you don't hear about it. People are kidnapped here every day, and you don't hear about it."I've discussed the broader implications of the piece elsewhere, but wanted to point out something specific (and specifically annoying to me) here. Whenever the media takes a break from broadcasting the horror/quagmire/failure/mistake/death toll that is Iraq and instead publishes a quote from a GI that they will insist supports their view of Iraq as horror/quagmire/failure/etc., the story will invariably include a quote from said GI to the effect that the media doesn't ever report what a horror/quagmire/failure Iraq is. This may even be in the stylebook. If not, it's an unwritten but inviolable rule*. And apparently there's no limit to the number of times some people can hear/read that without catching on.
The American people don't fully realize what's going on, said Staff Sgt. Richard McClary, 27, a section leader from Buffalo.
"They just know back there what the higher-ups here tell them."
While reasonable people can argue the degree to which Iraq is any of those things, it's absurd to argue Americans are ignorant of the issue due to some failure of the media - an absurdity compounded when included in the latest in a long line of stories arguing an extreme view. One is entitled to his or her opinion, but not to his or her own facts.
*Greyhawk's rule of media reports from Iraq: Whenever using a GI quote to support the view that Iraq is every bit the disaster we say it is, always include a quote implying that said GI resents the media failure to report it as such.
On Saturday, Iraq was page one news, with a headline quote from a sergeant in Baghdad: 'I Don't Think This Place Is Worth Another Soldier's Life'.
On Sunday, the Iraq news returned to page 17:
Sunni Violence In Baghdad Called Disrupted
Petraeus Says Al-Qaeda in Iraq Strongholds Are Cleared, but Insurgents Remain 'Lethal'
BAGHDAD, Oct. 27 -- The top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David H. Petraeus, said Saturday that the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq has been disrupted and no longer operates in large numbers in any neighborhood of the capital.
"In general, we think that there are no al-Qaeda strongholds at this point," Petraeus said. He added: "They remain very lethal, very dangerous, capable at any point in time, if you will, of coming back off the canvas and landing a big punch, and we have to be aware of that."
Ok folks time to get down and dirty, the blogosphere is uniting today to kick off the 3rd annual Valour-IT Fundraiser.
If you're unfamiliar with Valour-IT, them let me introduce you to one of the military's most worthy causes. Project Valour-IT, in memory of SFC William V. Ziegenfuss, helps provide voice-controlled and adaptive laptop computers to wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines recovering from hand wounds and other severe injuries at major military medical centers. Operating laptops by speaking into a microphone or using other adaptive technologies, our wounded heroes are able to send and receive messages from friends and loved ones, surf the 'Net, and communicate with buddies still in the field. The experience of MAJ Charles “Chuck” Ziegenfuss, a partner in the project who suffered serious hand wounds while serving in Iraq, illustrates how important these laptops can be to a wounded service member's recovery.
Every cent raised for Project Valour-IT goes directly to the purchase and shipment of laptops for severely wounded service members. As of October 2007, Valour-IT has distributed over 1500 laptops to severely wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines across the country. You can find more about it here.
Now that's a pretty damn fine worthy cause I'd say, so you'd like to help? Here's how.
Valour-IT is an IRS-certified non-profit (donations are tax-deductible) and is non-political.
Regardless of ideas about how/why war is being waged, the fact is that people are wounded and need our help. Valour-IT is about supplying that help, not about endorsing or opposing the reasons why it's needed. Need evidence? I hear Moveon.org is signed up under Navy in supporting the fund drive.
Let's face it we want to be the winning team this time around. Let's show those jar heads, squids and grunts what the Zoomies can do. So let's get some birds in the air! Go Team Air Force!
Mike Yon reviews six months in Iraq, in the New York Post.
October has been a fine month in Iraq. The heat of summer has gone and the rains and mud of November are still a ways away. Oddly enough, while that's good weather for combat there's been very little of it thus far. Hot spots have gone "warm", and warm spots have grown cold - I suppose it's that time of year...
Cheers erupt on the Left side of the Blogosphere*, as after months of no notice the Washington Post finds an Iraq story worthy of their front page. 'I Don't Think This Place Is Worth Another Soldier's Life' - it's a quote from an actual sergeant on the ground in Iraq. And he's talking about one of the shittiest little corners of Baghdad.
Though like everywhere else in Iraq, before the invasion it was a place of butterflies and rainbows...
Before the war, Sadiyah was a bustling middle-class district, popular with Sunni officers in Saddam Hussein's military.But those halcyon days of sunshine ended forever the moment an elected government replaced Saddam's dictatorship.
Under a headline declaring it a "district torn by mounting sectarian violence" the WaPo reporter actually acknowledges that violence is down and decreasing, but that "...the soldiers' experience in Sadiyah shows that numbers alone do not describe the sense of aborted normalcy -- the fear, the disrupted lives -- that still hangs over the city."
Honestly, I'm not a fan of violence metrics either. But if the numbers were actually going up I'm not sure the WaPo reporter would have been quite so eloquently dismissive of their significance.
But after 14 months in hell there are good reasons for the troops to be tired, and bitter, and skeptical. Find any unit that's been here a while and you'll find guys who will give you great quotes to fit any headline you want - from page one to page 18. But this Brigade's been particularly rocked. At home they've been depicted as thugs and criminals (yes, this is Scott Beauchamp's Brigade) and in Iraq - when not investigating issues of alleged animal rights abuse - they're playing death match for keeps in a Mad Max neighborhood uniquely situated between Sunnis, Shiites, and hell.
It has become strategically important because it represents a fault line between militia power bases in al-Amil to the west and the Sunni insurgent stronghold of Dora to the east. U.S. commanders say the militias have made a strong push for the neighborhood in part because it lies along the main road that Shiite pilgrims travel to the southern holy cities of Najaf and Karbala.Last year they had partnered with an Iraqi police unit known as "the Wolf Brigade", an effort that proved to be a failure - in fact, an unmitigated disaster.
"We were so committed to them as a partner we couldn't see it for what it was. In retrospect, I've got to think it was a coordinated effort," Timmerman said. "To this day, I don't think we truly understand how infiltrated or complicit the national police are" with the militias.Really, you can follow the link to see just how big that failure was. It can't be overstated. But then came the change in strategy commonly called "the surge". And now,
In September, after Glaze led an eight-month campaign to kick out the Wolf Brigade, soldiers from the Iraqi army's Muthanna Brigade, which has clashed with Sunni volunteers in the Abu Ghraib area, arrived in Sadiyah.And late in the summer, another element of that strategy was added - building on the success experienced by other units elsewhere in country in spite of opposition from elements in the national government:
Over the past two months, the U.S. soldiers have recruited more than 300 local residents, most of them Sunnis, into a neighborhood defense force.And that "bottom up" approach is proving successful everywhere, including one of the darkest corners of Baghdad:
The Iraqi army's arrival and the emergence of the Sunni volunteers have coincided with some positive signs, the soldiers said. Some of the shops along the once-busy commercial district of Tijari Street now open for a few hours a day. The number of violent incidents has dropped, although it rose again over the past two weeks, officers said.In fact, that could have been the focus of the piece, and a different quote could have been used for the headline.
But then it wouldn't have been on page one, would it?
The narrative on Iraq - the one you see in the media, that is - is changing. Claims that "we've lost" and that American soldiers have been beaten by opponents who are righteous heroes or nine-foot tall and bullet proof are being quite subtly shifted to arguments that no potential victory (if even grudgingly acknowledged) could be worth the price. This argument may prove irresistible to those who've invested heavily in defeat.
But the men profiled in this brief and focused story will soon head home (ironically, to Germany - where we've been for over 60 years now) and others will take their place here in Iraq. The war will continue to wind down. That next unit will write the story of what Sadiyah becomes, but only these few men of the Big Red One will own the story of what it took to make it so.
*Cheers: they've scored amazing debate points against imaginary opponents who claim that Iraq is now a land of butterflies and rainbows.
Next: de rigeur
...to our friend, fellow MilBlogger and Iraq vet Buck Sargent and wife - proud parents of a brand new baby boy.
Bobby Calvan's web page is back on line. I hope he continues to update frequently. Honestly I think it will be a worthwhile read.
But Bobby Calvan wasn't the first reporter to try and "throw his weight around" in Iraq, and probably won't be the last. So I offer some post-Calvan advice for reporters in Iraq.
Once upon a time, on my last visit to Iraq, an unauthorized vehicle accessed and attempted to cross the airfield that is the center of a very large military installation here. This caused some degree of concern among folks whose job it is to kill people who do things like that. However, instead of killing them from a nice safe distance, they elected to intercept this non-descript vehicle and force it to stop.
I suppose I should explain the key word "airfield" in the above paragraph. This doesn't mean a "field full of air" that Republicans have designated for their own private use, it's actually a "field" where airplanes land and takeoff. It may not seem fair, but we generally don't let cars share this pavement even though it's quicker to drive straight across than to go around and this hurts women and children the most.
Anyhow, there were two passengers within, who claimed to be in the employ of a very famous television news organization which I will not identify beyond saying it's named after a small furry animal. One (henceforth "the talent") was, in addition to being exceptionally qualified, a fabulous babe - what we used to call a "Fox". But I honestly can not recall her name. (If anyone can tell me the identity of a fabulous babe reporter for a news network named after a small furry animal who was in Iraq during the late fall/early winter 2004-2005 that would prob'ly be her.) She sat quietly and behaved herself during the ensuing adventure. (I mention the fabulous babe part because although I can't confirm it I suspect that her sitting there quietly being a fabulous babe might have saved her companion from eating sand. Life is funny like that.)
The other (henceforth "shotgun" though he was actually driving and unarmed) who worked for the same organization as the
fox talent chose to play the role of designated jerk (that might even be his job - or perhaps he thought this would help him score with the talent) in this story. He informed the ignorant, uneducated but uppity sunsabeyatches who had the audacity to halt his progress that by God they had a deadline to be on the other side of the compound for A VERY IMPORTANT EVENT FILLED WITH VERY IMPORTANT PEOPLE and that driving around the airfield rather than straight across it would make them late and by the way do you have any idea who I am and who I know because the answers are "somebody" and "everybody" and now get the hell out of my way.
It would be fun to say he woke up a few seconds later face down in the sands of ancient Mesopotamia, but that didn't happen. He was allowed to strut and mutter and explain to some of the lowest ranking enlisted GIs in Iraq how he was going to make their lives miserable as they verified via radio contact whether he should be shot or arrested. For some reason, the process took an extraordinary long time to complete. But ultimately they were identified as relatively harmless twits, then they were politely escorted off the flightline and pointed in the right direction for the long trip around the perimeter.
Anyhow, moral of the story: Do not attempt to convince a low ranking GI in Iraq that you have life or death power over him. In addition to the fact that the reverse is true, there are at least two other reasons to avoid this approach:
1. Somewhere behind him is a guy with one more stripe than he has who actually has that power, and that guy loves nothing more than clobbering people who eff with his troop. This is true up the chain of command. He knows this. He is laughing at you.
2. Even if there was some weak link in that chain where your influence is that great, the low ranking guy is in Iraq. In fact, there's a saying here: "What are they gonna do? Send me to Iraq?"
Still, I suspect that as they drove away, dipstick was probably bragging to the talent (and making a mental draft of a letter to the suits) about how he had delivered them from the morons.
And by the way, don't even think about threatening me to get me to reveal the name of the news network involved in my story. It ain't gonna happen.
Next: Change in the Weather
Love to spread good news on a Friday afternoon.
In the wake of this week's Medal of Honor ceremony, the story of a warrior has actually made the top seller list at Amazon:Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10
Believe me, authentic works on the war do not burn up the best seller lists.
This one is a rare exception.
Robert Redford, on the war on terror:
The problem is not with the people that started this. The problem's with us.We've discussed this Fall's spate of Hollywood anti-war movies here - and are heartened by their failure to attract a significant number of viewers. Still, in years to come, those movies will be seen as "defining" the conflict in Iraq.
There are counters to this message. While lacking Hollywood money or perspective, others have taken it upon themselves to actually travel to Iraq and document the real story of the war.
Bobby Calvan has "disappeared" his entire web site. And the post about harrassing a guard in the green zone might not have been the reason why.
Since the site has gone, I can't comment on the accuracy of what this commenter at LGF says - but apparently Calvan had confessed to shaping stories to fit his own version of events:
...the story that was already being composed in my mind. I was after vivid descriptions that could, if warranted, paint a scene of chaos, anger and grief.More evidence of Calvan's arrogance here.
Jenan, a Shiite member of our staff of local reporters, went to work to track down witnesses. She spoke to at least two by telephone. But I pressured her for more. I wanted an interview with a doctor. I wanted quotes from some of the injured, maybe even words that captured the anger and grief of the family of the dead.
Update: I agree with Charles:
...even though he’s now pulled the entire thing offline, what it revealed about mainstream media reeporting from Iraq is actually quite important.The fact that he's deleted the whole thing now that he's been "discovered" is the most telling bit of evidence of all.
As a GI in Baghdad, please let me extend a warm welcome to Iraq.
As a blogger, please let me say welcome to the blogosphere.
U.S. troop fatalities in Iraq, from the Brookings Institute's Iraq Index:
Can you see the steady upward trend of the past four years?
If so, you're seeing an optical illusion.
The deadliest year for U.S. troops in Iraq (thus far) was 2004, and the numbers actually decreased slightly in each of the following two years.
Actual numbers as reported by Brookings:
If you squint at the graph, you'll also see that December, 2006, was (at the time) the third highest monthly total of the war. So even as 2006 closed out as the second consecutive year with fewer deaths than the previous the media could ignore it and instead write headlines about that monthly total.
I'll repeat something I said about monthly totals at that time:
The variability of the numbers are chaotic, graphed they resemble nothing more than a saw's edge. Anyone who touts the peaks or valleys as representative is a fool. The media looks only at the peaks and declares them "trends". When the death toll plunged (predictably) after this year's Ramadan surge the media ignored it. When it rose again in the past month the death toll became headline worthy again. When the annual totals turned out to be lower this year it was reported under a headline about the monthly total being almost as high as it was back during my first tour.Notice I said "peaks or valleys". All around the blogosphere - or at least half of the blogosphere - folks are celebrating the fact that American military deaths in Iraq for October have fallen nearly to pre-Mary Mapes levels. (That last bit was hardly fair in that the majority of the celebrants probably have no clue what the Bloody Mary reference means.)
That's certainly something to celebrate, but if recent history is any indication, next month will probably see an upturn (a bus crash would do it). And even if numbers continue to fall, this year will eclipse 2004 as the deadliest of the war. At that point, an amazing thing will probably happen - the headline writers will ignore the monthly totals* and discover the annual. Increases are newsworthy, decreases are not.
*And likely ignore the increase in combat troops, too.
...with the WaPo's David Ignatious.
July 20, 2007 - Iraq is an inferno that will spread through the region:
The Bush administration is groping toward a diplomatic firewall strategy that might help keep the inferno in Iraq from spreading in the Middle East.July 27, 2007 - too bad we don't have a government like Englands, then we could dump that idiot Bush and get out of Iraq!
This approach has two basic components: pushing harder for negotiations to establish a Palestinian state and creating a standing "Iraq neighbors' conference" to prevent states in the region from taking advantage of Iraq's chaos or being infected by it.
To make real progress on either front -- Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations or a concert of Iraq's neighbors -- will require an intensity and deftness in diplomacy the administration hasn't yet shown.
Rice and Gates seem to agree that this diplomatic push is an essential response to the continuing violence in Iraq. In an administration often marked by intense disagreement between State and Defense, their alliance will help focus thinking about how to stabilize a region that is dangerously out of control.
This is a moment when America would be better served by a parliamentary system. The Bush administration would have lost a vote of "no confidence" after November's congressional elections, and the Democrats would now have responsibility for overseeing the tricky process of extracting American forces from Iraq without doing even more damage.August 24: Progress? Hah - it's all in Anbar where the Sunnis are playing us for stooges to get arms to fight the Shiites after we leave, and you'll never see al Qaeda in this discussion, brother.
What modest progress the United States has recently made in Iraq has largely been in Sunni areas, such as Anbar province. It's an alliance of convenience: The Sunnis increasingly see U.S. troops as their best ally for containing the power of Iran and its proxies in Iraq.September 12 (Petraeus goes to Congress: Okay, there's been a little more progress than I thought, but Petraeus better hurry up cause he doesn't have time to fix this huge mess:
But Petraeus's ad hoc, ground-up security framework is not the same thing as stabilizing the country. In the time remaining, he has to pull things together as best he can -- connect local successes to provincial and national institutions; extend the Sunni rebellion against extremists into the Shiite regions; break the control that Shiite militias exert over the Interior Ministry and the police.October 19 (Insert your own interpretation here*):
We do know how this is going to end: with U.S. troops returning home. The question is what they will leave behind. It's likely to be a ragged, patchwork quilt, and there isn't much time left to stitch it together.
Let's assume that the numbers from Iraq are right and that there has been a significant reduction in violence there. Let's even agree that the Bush administration's strategy is finally showing some success. Isn't that an argument for accelerating the transfer of security to the Iraqis -- and speeding up the withdrawal of some U.S. support troops?After that much hard work, I think the man deserves a vacation.
*My interpretation: The coalition** has won the war in Iraq.
** "We" being the wrong pronoun in this instance.
First micro-grants distributed in JamiaThis is the story that matters today.
Multi-National Division – Baghdad
BAGHDAD – Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers distributed micro-grants to small business owners in Jamia, a western neighborhood of the Iraqi capital Oct. 17.
The Khadra Neighborhood Advisory Council, along with Company B, 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, distributed micro-grants to 42 business owners of up to $2,500 to start-up, improve or re-open their businesses. The total amount of money distributed was $100,000.
The promise of micro-grant assistance from Coalition Forces and the improved security in Jamia provided by Company B and their Iraqi counterparts, 3rd Battalion, 5th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army, has allowed the shopping area of Shar Ar Rabee to re-open and to begin rebuilding.
Shar Ar Rabee was once a famous shopping area, but violence from the war destroyed the area and prevented local citizens from conducting business.
In the past six weeks, more than 100 businesses have re-opened in Shar Ar Rabee, 50 of those in just in the last two weeks.
I've heard the first part of this sentiment expressed before, but never with this particular conclusion...
In Fallujah, enlisted marines have complained to an officer of my acquaintance: "There's nobody to shoot here, sir. If it's just going to be building schools and hospitals, that's what the Army is for, isn't it?"I'm not sure if Mr Ledeen realizes such a comment could easily reignite war in Iraq.
It would be a war between the US Army and US Marines - the two most
powerful fighting forces in the history of the world.
It would be fun. And ugly.
It would be fugly.
In our last episode...
IT IS VERY FREAKING NOISY IN A HELICOPTER AND I HAVE EAR PLUGS STUCK IN ALMOST TO MY TONSILS, but I figure if he wants to chat I can pop one out. I do. He's been in radio contact with the pilots, of course, and they are prepared to make me an offer.
"If you can spare 30 minutes, we can show you some of Baghdad."
Knowing me, you predict I would reply...
a. "Oh no. I promised my wife and mom and kids I would never take any unnecessary risks. Take me somewhere safe and drop me off henceforth, and waste not one more moment of my time!"
b. "Let's do it." with a freaking ear to ear grin as minor back pain suddenly disappears in an obvious message from God.
Answer in part three.
Welcome to part 3.
Hah - it was a trick question. Actually I didn't say anything. It was too loud, as I said above. I just gave a thumbs up, the bird launched, and within seconds we were over the wire and 100 feet above the rooftops of Baghdad.
Katie Couric recently flew over town, too:
We arrived at the airport this morning on a private plane. I was surprised to hear that there are now three Royal Jordanian flights into Baghdad every day. It was difficult to see much from the air ... though I did see the Tigris River. The scope of the destruction can better be taken in at ground level. I had heard a great deal about the corkscrew landing into Baghdad airport, ostensibly to avoid being a clear target for SAMs, or surface-to-air missiles.... But the airport has gotten much more secure; we banked slightly, but it wasn't nearly as jarring as I had anticipated.
Three flights a day, a lack of destruction - obviously the smooth landing wasn't the only surprise.
Before actually seeing Baghdad she may have had images like these in mind...
If so, fair enough. That's what war looks like. And recovery can take years...
War is hell.
Nothing can compare to a helo ride over a major city in a war zone. It's a roller coaster off the rails, with an added element of people below who probably would enjoy killing you. If you can get over that, the view is amazing. The bird tilts to turn, and the windows are huge, and when you're barely a hundred feet up it's spectacular.
From higher up the haze and smog blur and obscure...
But drop in low, below the smog layer, and the picture clears...
And what causes that smog?
Partly the wind-blown dust, partly the exhaust of vehicles in a city of millions, and less and less often the fires of war...
But primarily the industry of Iraq...
Just loverly, isn't it?
There's little large-scale destruction visible in Baghdad. Like Katie Couric, I saw none. There is damage, to claim otherwise would be ignorant and arrogant. And here and there empty space where buildings may once have stood. But the real infrastructure problems with Baghdad - and they are significant - are a lack of continuously flowing electricity and water. Much of that is due to Saddam's years of neglect, some to decades of war, and more to a few years of terrorist attacks - all of which is made worse by people simply stealing bits and pieces for their own use, profit, or survival. None of this is seen at 200 feet, what you do see is a city of people going about their business, driving and walking through the streets, probably hoping they won't be blown up by a suicidal maniac before sundown, but otherwise just going about their lives.
There are many damaged people, too - and likewise that damage isn't visible from above. Much of it is internal; and only time and God can repair a damaged spirit or fix a shattered soul.
Though perhaps some hurts will never heal.
Something else you don't see in this ancient city: anything ancient.
But you will see the modern. In the distance, the Mother of all Mosques, rising still unfinished far above it's surroundings...
That Mother of all Mosques moniker is bogus of course. Prior to 2003 it was known as the Grand Saddam Mosque - where Saddam spent billions as his people starved. It's since been renamed the al Rahman Mosque.
That edifice should not be confused with the Mother of all Battles Mosque (and that's it's actual name!)...
Four of its minarets resemble the barrels of Kalashnikov rifles. Another four look like Scud missiles, and the similarities are not a mistake.
It's called the mosque of the "Mother of all Battles." Saddam Hussein watched it rise from the day the ground was broken on his birthday.
He spared no expense. The reflecting pool rings the dome in the shape of the Arab world. In the middle there is a monument of Saddam's thumbprint with his initials set in gold.
But it is what is beneath one towering minaret that speaks the most of Saddam's passion for immortalizing himself.
Behind an ornate door in an inner sanctum are 650 pages of the Holy Koran, said to be penned in Saddam's own blood.
The Iraqi leader commissioned the work three years ago on his 60th birthday.
Press and TV reports gave no indication of how much blood he had provided for the team of calligraphers who produced the work.
But a senior Iraqi official suggested the amount was considerable, given that the Muslim holy book comprises over 6,000 verses and some 336,000 words.
And even farther off - too far for a photo - the skeletal frame of what would have been the worlds largest mosque towers above its surroundings.
A few days ago I posted this entry at MilBlogs:
We've won the war.
I wanted to say that with a very short and to the point post, with none of the ifs, ors or buts that a more reticent observer may have tossed in. I recognize now I should have extended my entry to six words: "We've won the war in Iraq".
I expect that the statement will unnerve the war's supporters who fear that the next act of violence in Iraq will offer the war's opponents yet another opportunity to insist we're defeated - or at least in a "quagmire" - but it's still a fact (as is that next act of violence). And I realize the degree of rage this will invoke in those opposed to our efforts - at least those who are politically opposed - but given the magnitude of their investment in defeat it should surprise no one if twenty years from now they're still insisting we lost. As for those engaged in actual armed combat against us, I addressed them in my first followup to that original post:
Lt. Gen. Odierno is absolutely right to note: "it only takes three people" to construct and detonate a suicide car bomb that can "kill thousands". And John Kerry was wrong when claiming (in an effort to undermine homefront morale in another war) that no one wants to be the last man to die for a mistake. In fact, al Qaeda will always have someone eager to prove him wrong.
Yes, they could pull off a "Tet". Hell, they could manage something like their own version of the battle of the bulge, but the reality is they're whipped.
Being in Iraq I can assure you that along with the al Qaeda exclusion there's a corollary to that Kerry quote that must also be acknowledged: No one wants to be the last man to die for a victory, either. But either way, someone will be "that guy".
And I write this in full recognition that I could be that guy. I've been writing about Iraq here for four years now - in and out of country. I've been here during many of the most violent months of the war; from the second battle for Fallujah through the January, 2005 elections, and from the launch of the surge to the present - and I'm not homebound yet. In all that time progress has been achingly slow, and back steps have been mixed with forward - but never the majority. Throughout it all - until now - I've never declared victory, seen "light at the end of the tunnel", or even claimed to have "turned a corner" - you can take your bumper sticker slogans and shove 'em. Over here a tenacious and bloodthirsty enemy has fought a well-designed and multi-faceted campaign against us, perhaps secure in the knowledge that blame for every child they killed or each holy place they defiled would be shifted to us even as they washed the blood from their hands. Their efforts gained support from many quarters (not all of which were anticipated in preparation for or included in response to their actions) and condemnation from few. But the ranks of their opponents - at least here in Iraq - are large and still growing, and theirs are neither. The battles are diminishing but ongoing, losses will be suffered, and blood will still be shed. Still more of their supporters may redouble their efforts. But in short, while I recognize this will provoke immeasurable rage from those who feel we've lost, and consternation among those who know we've won but lack the fortitude to make the declaration at this point in time, I'll say it again: we've won the war in Iraq.
We overflew the Monument to the Unknown Soldier, built during Saddam's eight year war with Iran.
Reliable casualty figures for that war do not exist.
The people of Iraq have known nothing but war for almost 30 years. Soon they may know peace.
Saddam's victory declarations - in the forms of new Mosques, monuments, and palaces, were invariably premature. On the ironically American-named Victory Base Complex one can see the still incomplete Victory Palace, built to commemorate Saddam's victory over the coalition in the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
Among all the monuments and above the clamor of victory parades one should always hear the words of Robert E. Lee: "It is well that war is so terrible -- otherwise we should grow too fond of it."
There is work to be done.
At one point in our flight over Baghdad I glanced down to see we were flying directly over Saddam's crossed swords, seen here from the opposite perspective.
These modern victory arches may be the most recognizable features of one of the world's most ancient cities.
We should have demolished them in 2003.
If American troops come home in Victory from Iraq it will be only the second time we've ever returned victorious from a war on foreign soil. The first was World War One.
We left Baghdad, returned "home". The pilot flew in hot then quickly tilted the bird up to use the rotors to slow the ship before leveling out and hitting the ground. We'd picked up a few more passengers along our way, and delivered them to places they needed to be. Now the mission was over. The sun was dropping low in the sky. I grabbed my gear and hit the ground, having been delivered damn near to my front door.
After a few steps one of the gunners caught up with me.
"What did you think?" He asked.
"That was awesome. I would have paid you for that."
"Baghdad always surprises me," he said. "We fly over real nice houses, with swimming pools and nice lawns, and then we also fly over shacks made out of sticks. It's like... like..."
"It's like Los Angeles." I concluded for him.
Next: Fox on the Airfield
Fairly good news on the marriage front:
WASHINGTON - The strain of war on marriage has led to a gradual increase in divorce among couples separated by military duty, a study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Defense suggests.War does ruin some marriages, and definitely strains most.
The findings are surprising only because researchers expected to find a more significant spike in divorces, considering that military deployments have become longer, more frequent and more dangerous in the years since Sept 11, 2001.
"We see a slight increase, not the drastic increase that some would have expected," said UCLA social psychology professor Benjamin Karney, who spearheaded the study on behalf of The Rand Corporation.
The study, made public Monday during a briefing on Capitol Hill, was conducted because of concerns over media reports and other anecdotal evidence pointing to a link between divorce and war. The findings will be forwarded to David S. Chu, Defense Department undersecretary for personnel and readiness.
On the other hand the Mrs and I just marked our 23rd Anniversary. (Love you, baby!) I spent our 20th in Iraq, too.
From rumors I've heard, there are also people who get married immediately before deploying to get the extra pay and benefits, then divorce on end of tour. I'm sure those rumors aren't true, and even if they were they would probably only account for a small percentage of the rise.
ALERT this is a tear jerker you may need a Kleenex
We have a Specialist 4 John who was stationed at Ft. Bliss, Tx. in El Paso, Tx. and he was deployed to Iraq,injured and send to BAMC in San Antonio,Tx. he was in Med Hold and was going to be released soon back to his duty station and his wife Monalisa was driving up from Ft. Bliss where there three Children 9 year boy named Tyler, 5 year old girl named Ashley and 2 year old son named Logan.
Right outside Ozona, Tx. a truck hit them and from the nearest hospital they were life-flighted to Dallas, Tx. I am very sorry to say that the two year old Logan and the five year old Ashley were killed in the crash. Tyler is in Children's Hospital at Dallas, Tx.
Monalisa is in Parkland hospital next door to Children's Hospital.
Monalisa has a head wound, they thought she has 2 broken vertebrae in her neck or back and a broken arm. Turns out she looks worse than she is. No broken vertebra just some compressed disks and the head wound wasn't as bad as they thought.
She just has a lot of bruises.
John was brought to the hospital in Dallas and he is with the family along with a 1st. Sgt. who is taking on the problems they are facing . This accident occurred Sat. 10/13/2007 and as of right now Tyler is still in a coma no better but no worse.
The funeral arrangement have been made by 1st. Sgt. S. the funeral home took 40% off the cost of both funerals, they will be in Benton. AR. on Tuesday 10/23/2007 the cost of the funerals is $5,769.80.
Soldiers Angels is helping with money while in the hospital and the hotel where the two Grandmothers are staying. The father John and 1 Sgt. S. are staying at the Ronald McDonald House.
Angels can you help with Logan and Ashley's Funeral expenses, someone has already donated the grave sites and any money you can send we would appreciate it and I know the parents will also.
Send me an email and I will send you where to donate at.
We've won the war, and there's work to be done. Iraq is a mess - that's undeniable. In fact, it looks like a war zone.
The pink response to that should surprise no one.
The only inescable conclusion you can draw from this is that 7 NCOs and an E4 can write a better op-ed than 12 Captains.
(This story began here.)
We threw our gear in. We climbed aboard. As the roar of engines increased and the rotors spun faster and blurred we sat down, strapped in, and arranged our gear at our feet. The gunners took their positions, checked their weapons. The pitch of the engines changed again and we lurched upwards and forward in a swirl of dust that was quickly blown away by the ever-gusting wind.
The ground dropped away and with a final rooftop view of nowhere we were over the wire and on our way home.
Ulysses S Grant on seeing the white flags of surrender over Vicksburg:
It was a glorious sight to officers and soldiers on the line where these white flags were visible, and the news soon spread to all parts of the command. The troops felt that their long and weary marches, hard fighting, ceaseless watching by night and day, in a hot climate, exposure to all sorts of weather, to diseases and, worst of all, to the gibes of many Northern papers that came to them saying all their suffering was in vain, that Vicksburg would never be taken, were at last at an end and the Union sure to be saved.
The sun was shining, the wind was blowing, and we were thunder moving through clear skies.
Howard Kurtz plugs his new book, and praises the American media for their role in swaying public opinion of the war in Iraq:
"They still have the biggest media megaphone. 25 million combined viewers a night. And that becomes very important on the outside game, as you refer to, when you talk about, for example, the coverage of the war in Iraq. I believe that these newscasts in 2005 and 2006 played the biggest single role in helping to turn public opinion against the war."
Cuomo: "And I think you really have a unique brand of intelligence in this book about this. It's easy to say, 'Oh, well. The war was unpopular. People were looking for the unpopularity of it. At some point, the networks gave that to them.' But you have a more penetrating look at it. You take a look at it in terms of the role of the nightly newscasts in shaping the ideas about the news, even though we had the internet, even though we had the cables upon us at that time. Why do you believe that?"
Kurtz: "Well, we're drowning in information but somebody has to sort it out. So, when it came to the war, despite enormous pressure from the administration that said to the media, 'You folks in the media are being too negative. You're distorting the picture.' We had brave correspondents bringing us the carnage night after night, into our living rooms, what was going none Iraq. And you had the anchors framing the story in such a way that it really punched through.
I had the front row center seat. This allows a great view forward and out the windows to each side where the door gunners scan the ground as we fly.
But remember that wind I mentioned previously? Consider this: If it's blowing about 30 -40 miles an hour at the surface, this usually means it's blowing 40-50 mph (or more) at 200-2000 feet up. And if you are flying at a very fast speed into the wind it means you are experiencing your speed plus the wind speed on the nose of the aircraft. It slows your progress, and does other interesting things - such as making the helicopter fishtail like a weather vane (in fact, ever noticed the similarity in general shape between a helo and a wind bird? I have...) or abruptly drop a few feet without warning. We professionals call this 'turbulence', and you've probably experienced it in airplanes, but it's a different experience in a helo...
Last week was the one-year anniversary of our discovery and release of al Qaeda's "Working Paper for a Media Invasion of America"
You probably haven't heard much about the efforts of the Global Islamic Media Front - al Qaeda's "public relations" team. The group is well known to those who monitor terrorist web sites, but rarely reported on by the mainstream media.
But another recent effort from the group won't likely be reported anywhere in the western media - at least not directly. Titled "Working Paper for a Media Invasion of America", the recently translated document was originally posted on a known jihaddist web site, but has received scant public attention from its target audience. No full translations of the treatise are currently available, but a brief description of some of the content can be seen here.
Najd al-Rawi, the document's author, begins by noting that although they've been successful in many ways, the jihaddists haven't fully exploited the opportunities presented by the US media. Inspired by a video from bin Laden addressing the American people with subtitles in English, the author notes that "It seemed the Shayk wanted to send a clear message to his brother mujahadeen to pay more attention to this part of the mission." He points out that videos from the "Shayks of jihad" are in great demand in the western media.
Suggested projects include English translations of the declarations of the Shayks of Jihad "to throw fear into the American people's hearts".
Lastly, the paper points out what the author considers the best locations for providing this material, and suggests dissemination via the world wide web, following efforts to ensure the origin can't be traced.
Targets listed included US discussion forums and chat rooms, well known newspapers and magazines, American TV channels with web sites, and US authors.
One particular author al Qaeda thought would be sympathetic to their efforts was New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, who obtained a copy shortly after our report:
The jihadists follow our politics much more closely than people realize. A friend at the Pentagon just sent me a post by the "Global Islamic Media Front" carried by the jihadist Web site Ana al-Muslim on Aug. 11.
...the Web site suggests that jihadists flood e-mail and video of their operations to "chat rooms," "television channels," and to "famous U.S. authors who have public e-mail addresses ... such as Friedman, Chomsky, Fukuyama, Huntington and others." This is the first time I've ever been on the same mailing list with Noam Chomsky.
But if a group of bloodthirsty religious zealots slaughtering women and children in a campaign to undo five hundred years of world progress thought they would be aided by a New York Times columnist eager to be their bestest little bitch, well...
They were right:
As I said even before his enthusiastic response,
It would be depressing to see the jihadists influence our politics with a Tet-like media/war frenzy. But there are only two reasons now for the U.S. to remain in Iraq: because it thinks that staying will make things better or that leaving will make things drastically worse. Alas, it is increasingly hard to see how our presence is making things better. Iraq, under our nose, is breaking apart into so many little pieces that no political solution seems to be in the offing, because no Iraqi leader can deliver his faction anymore -- and there does not seem to be an Iraqi center capable of coming together. While leaving would no doubt exacerbate the civil war, staying in Iraq indefinitely to prevent even more Shiites and Sunnis from killing one another is not going to fly with the U.S. public much longer.
Bob Woodward quoted Bush as saying that he will not leave Iraq, even if the only ones still supporting him are his wife, Laura, and his dog Barney. If the jihadist Tet offensive continues gaining momentum, Bush may be left with just Barney.
And in that we see both the political savvy and naiveté of the Global Islamic Media Front. They recognize the advantage - and relative ease - of turning as many Americans against their President as they can (dividing the enemy into opposing camps to be eliminated in turn being a primary goal of effective propaganda) but fail to grasp the idea that this requires no effort on their part whatsoever. Still - you can't blame them for being willing to accelerate the process, or contribute to the cause.
But on we went. A fair wind to our backs would have been preferable, but a headwind was our lot. And as far as turbulence goes, it really wasn't that bad - but it was on the edge of where I would be concerned (for instance, if the pilots had donned parachutes...). But as we pushed ever onwards the pilots kept checking maps - which is a good thing, I suppose, but I couldn't help but wonder how much our course had altered due to the shifting winds.
The trip was mostly over open desert, with a few houses here and there. But once we got a bit closer to Baghdad and away from that open desert the winds began to die down, and the ride became a bit smoother. Later, however, I would learn that someone shot at another helo (no one hurt) near a spot we overflew shortly after we passed. Generally this means door gunners get to do their thing, but such instances are rare, and no opportunity presented itself to us this day.
And onward we flew...
Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez (US Army, Ret):
This is the worst display of journalism imaginable by those of us that are bound by a strict value system of selfless service, honor and integrity. Almost invariably, my perception is that the sensationalistic value of these assessments is what provided the edge that you seek for self aggrandizement or to advance your individual quest for getting on the front page with your stories! as I understand it, your measure of worth is how many front page stories you have written and unfortunately some of you will compromise your integrity and display questionable ethics as you seek to keep America informed... For some, it seems that as long as you get a front page story there is little or no regard for the "collateral damage" you will cause.
Given the near instantaneous ability to report actions on the ground, the responsibility to accurately and truthfully report takes on an unprecedented importance. The speculative and often uninformed initial reporting that characterizes our media appears to be rapidly becoming the standard of the industry. An Arab proverb states - "Four things come not back: the spoken word, the spent arrow, the past, the neglected opportunity." Once reported, your assessments become conventional wisdom and nearly impossible to change. Other major challenges are your willingness to be manipulated by "high level officials" who leak stories and by lawyers who use hyperbole to strengthen their arguments. Your unwillingness to accurately and prominently correct your mistakes and your agenda driven biases contribute to this corrosive environment. All of these challenges combined create a media environment that does a tremendous disservice to America. Over the course of this war tactically insignificant events have become strategic defeats for America because of the tremendous power and impact of the media and by extension you the journalist. In many cases the media has unjustly destroyed the individual reputations and careers of those involved. We realize that because of the near real time reporting environment that you face it is difficult to report accurately. In my business one of our fundamental truths is that "the first report is always wrong." Unfortunately, in your business "the first report" gives Americans who rely on the snippets of CNN, if you will, their "truths" and perspectives on an issue. As a corollary to this deadline driven need to publish "initial impressions or observations" versus objective facts there is an additional challenge for us who are the subject of your reporting. When you assume that you are correct and on the moral high ground on a story because we have not respond to questions you provided is the ultimate arrogance and distortion of ethics. One of your highly respected fellow journalists once told me that there are some amongst you who "feed from a pig's trough." If that is who I am dealing with then I will never respond otherwise we will both get dirty and the pig will love it. This does not mean that your story is accurate.
The basic ethics of a journalist that calls for:
1. seeking truth,
2. providing fair and comprehensive account of events and issues
3. thoroughness and honesty
All are victims of the massive agenda driven competition for economic or political supremacy. The death knell of your ethics has been enabled by your parent organizations who have chosen to align themselves with political agendas. What is clear to me is that you are perpetuating the corrosive partisan politics that is destroying our country and killing our servicemembers who are at war.
My assessment is that your profession, to some extent, has strayed from these ethical standards and allowed external agendas to manipulate what the American public sees on TV, what they read in our newspapers and what they see on the web. For some of you, just like some of our politicians, the truth is of little to no value if it does not fit your own preconceived notions, biases and agendas.
That story sure got some headlines. And here they are -
The New York Times:
The Washington Post:
Ex-Commander Says Iraq Effort Is 'a Nightmare'
In a sweeping indictment of the four-year effort in Iraq, the former top commander of American forces there called the Bush administration's handling of the war "incompetent" and said the result was "a nightmare with no end in sight."
The Associated Press:
Ex-Commander In Iraq Faults War Strategy
'No End in Sight,' Says Retired General Sanchez
Retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, who led U.S. forces in Iraq for a year after the March 2003 invasion, accused the Bush administration yesterday of going to war with a "catastrophically flawed" plan and said the United States is "living a nightmare with no end in sight."
Ex-general: Iraq `nightmare' for US
ARLINGTON, Va. - The U.S. mission in Iraq is a "nightmare with no end in sight" because of political misjudgments after the fall of Saddam Hussein that continue today, a former chief of U.S.-led forces said Friday.
The trip seemed endless, but the closer we came to Baghdad the smoother and faster the ride. Then we began to drop altitude as we approached our destination. And as our distance from the ground decreased the temperature increased. It's actually nice and comfortable (temperature wise) at altitude, even when decked out in helmets and armor. But drop towards the surface and sweat starts to flow.
And damned if hours of wearing armor - the last bit of which was spent strapped and immobilized and bouncing in a helo - wasn't starting to make my back ache just a bit...
Lt Gen Sanchez describes journalists:
My assessment is that your profession, to some extent, has strayed from these ethical standards and allowed external agendas to manipulate what the American public sees on TV, what they read in our newspapers and what they see on the web. For some of you, just like some of our politicians, the truth is of little to no value if it does not fit your own preconceived notions, biases and agendas.Journalists agree:
"I believe that these newscasts in 2005 and 2006 played the biggest single role in helping to turn public opinion against the war."And still more journalists agree:
"So, when it came to the war, despite enormous pressure from the administration that said to the media, 'You folks in the media are being too negative. You're distorting the picture.' We had brave correspondents bringing us the carnage night after night, into our living rooms, what was going none Iraq. And you had the anchors framing the story in such a way that it really punched through."
CHARLES GIBSON, ABC ANCHOR: The U.S. military reports the fourth straight month of decline in troop deaths, 66 American troops died in September, each a terrible tragedy for a family, but the number far less than those who died in August. And the Iraqi government says civilian deaths across Iraq fell by half last month.
KURTZ: Joining us now to put this into perspective, Robin Wright, who covers national security for The Washington Post. And CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.
Robin Wright, should that decline in Iraq casualties have gotten more media attention?
ROBIN WRIGHT, THE WASHINGTON POST: Not necessarily. The fact is we're at the beginning of a trend -- and it's not even sure that it is a trend yet. There is also an enormous dispute over how to count the numbers. There are different kinds of deaths in Iraq.
KURTZ: Barbara Starr, CNN did mostly quick reads by anchors of these numbers. There was a taped report on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT." Do you think this story deserved more attention? We don't know whether it is a trend or not but those are intriguing numbers.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: But that's the problem, we don't know whether it is a trend about specifically the decline in the number of U.S. troops being killed in Iraq. This is not enduring progress.
KURTZ: But let's say that the figures had shown that casualties were going up for U.S. soldiers and going up for Iraqi civilians. I think that would have made some front pages.
STARR: Oh, I think inevitably it would have. I mean, that's certainly -- that, by any definition, is news.
We first touched down at a stop before mine, but it was a short hop to the end of the line. Everyone else got out there though - and no one else boarded, so I had a helo to myself.
So I assume we're about to head for the next stop, where I'll hop out too, but the gunner turns to me and I notice his lips are moving - he's trying to communicate with me.
IT IS VERY FREAKING NOISY IN A HELICOPTER AND I HAVE EAR PLUGS STUCK IN ALMOST TO MY TONSILS, but I figure if he wants to chat I can pop one out. He's been in radio contact with the pilots, of course, and they are prepared to make me an offer...
Let's return to a simpler time, when America wasn't the divided nation we know today.
Once again, from the Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant:
Even during this march of Sherman's the newspapers in his front were proclaiming daily that his army was nothing better than a mob of men who were frightened out of their wits and hastening, panic-stricken, to try to get under the cover of our navy for protection against the Southern people.
The Southern papers in commenting upon Sherman's movements pictured him as in the most deplorable condition: stating that his men were starving, that they were demoralized and wandering about almost without object, aiming only to reach the sea coast and get under the protection of our navy. These papers got to the North and had more or less effect upon the minds of the people, causing much distress to all loyal persons particularly to those who had husbands, sons or brothers with Sherman.
Of course, he was referencing papers published by his enemy...
As was General Sherman, in his own memoirs:
At Milledgeville [Georgia] we found newspapers from all the South, and learned the consternation which had filled the Southern mind at our temerity; many charging that we were actually fleeing for our lives and seeking safety at the hands of our fleet on the sea-coast.Later, however,
Judging from the tone of the Southern press of that day, the outside world must have supposed us ruined and lost.
Thousands who had been deceived by their lying newspapers to believe that we were being whipped all the time now realize the truth...
Perhaps it will always be so.
General Sherman summarized his thoughts on reporters thusly:
Newspaper correspondents with an army, as a rule, are mischievous. They are the world's gossips, pick up and retail the camp scandal, and gradually drift to the headquarters of some general, who finds it easier to make reputation at home than with his own corps or division. They are also tempted to prophesy events and state facts which, to an enemy, reveal a purpose in time to guard against it. Moreover, they are always bound to see facts colored by the partisan or political character of their own patrons, and thus bring army officers into the political controversies of the day, which are always mischievous and wrong. Yet, so greedy are the people at large for war news, that it is doubtful whether any army commander can exclude all reporters, without bringing down on himself a clamor that may imperil his own safety. Time and moderation must bring a just solution to this modern difficulty.
How much time? The only certain answer is that 140 years has not been enough.
For Lt Gen Sanchez struggles with it, too:
There is no question in my mind that the strength our democracy and our freedoms remain linked to your ability to exercise freedom of the press - I adamantly support this basic foundation of our democracy and completely supported the embedding of media into our formations up until my last day in uniform. The issue is one of maintaining professional ethics and standards from within your institution.And while also frustrated by a seemingly adversarial relationship, General Grant would go out of his way to assist a reporter in need - as evidenced by this story from his memoirs:
A few days before my departure from Culpeper the Honorable E. B. Washburne visited me there, and remained with my headquarters for some distance south, through the battle in the Wilderness and, I think, to Spottsylvania. He was accompanied by a Mr. Swinton, whom he presented as a literary gentleman who wished to accompany the army with a view of writing a history of the war when it was over. He assured me--and I have no doubt Swinton gave him the assurance--that he was not present as a correspondent of the press. I expressed an entire willingness to have him (Swinton) accompany the army, and would have allowed him to do so as a correspondent, restricted, however, in the character of the information he could give. We received Richmond papers with about as much regularity as if there had been no war, and knew that our papers were received with equal regularity by the Confederates. It was desirable, therefore, that correspondents should not be privileged spies of the enemy within our lines.
Probably Mr. Swinton expected to be an invited guest at my headquarters, and was disappointed that he was not asked to become so. At all events he was not invited, and soon I found that he was corresponding with some paper (I have now forgotten which one), thus violating his word either expressed or implied. He knew of the assurance Washburne had given as to the character of his mission. I never saw the man from the day of our introduction to the present that I recollect. He accompanied us, however, for a time at least.
The second night after crossing the Rapidan (the night of the 5th of May) Colonel W. R. Rowley, of my staff, was acting as night officer at my headquarters. A short time before midnight I gave him verbal instructions for the night. Three days later I read in a Richmond paper a verbatim report of these instructions.
A few nights still later (after the first, and possibly after the second, day's fighting in the Wilderness) General Meade came to my tent for consultation, bringing with him some of his staff officers. Both his staff and mine retired to the camp-fire some yards in front of the tent, thinking our conversation should be private. There was a stump a little to one side, and between the front of the tent and camp-fire. One of my staff, Colonel T. S. Bowers, saw what he took to be a man seated on the ground and leaning against the stump, listening to the conversation between Meade and myself. He called the attention of Colonel Rowley to it. The latter immediately took the man by the shoulder and asked him, in language more forcible than polite, what he was doing there. The man proved to be Swinton, the "historian," and his replies to the question were evasive and unsatisfactory, and he was warned against further eaves-dropping.
The next I heard of Mr. Swinton was at Cold Harbor. General Meade came to my headquarters saying that General Burnside had arrested Swinton, who at some previous time had given great offence, and had ordered him to be shot that afternoon. I promptly ordered the prisoner to be released, but that he must be expelled from the lines of the army not to return again on pain of punishment.
I expect there was a bit of inner turmoil involved - but if so, the General (like most) chose not to divulge the details.
In fact, most Generals are adept at careful phrasing and masters of nuanced communications. Perhaps that's why this quote attributed to Sherman tops them all:
"I hate newspapermen. They come into camp and pick up their camp rumors and print them as facts. I regard them as spies, which, in truth, they are. If I killed them all there would be news from Hell before breakfast."
IT IS VERY FREAKING NOISY IN A HELICOPTER AND I HAVE EAR PLUGS STUCK IN ALMOST TO MY TONSILS, but I figure if he wants to chat I can pop one out. I do. He's been in radio contact with the pilots, of course, and they are prepared to make me an offer.
"If you can spare 30 minutes, we can show you some of Baghdad."
Knowing me, you predict I would reply...
a. "Oh no. I promised my wife and mom and kids I would never take any unnecessary risks. Take me somewhere safe and drop me off henceforth, and waste not one more moment of my time!"
b. "Let's do it." with a freaking ear to ear grin as minor back pain suddenly disappears in an obvious message from God.
Answer in part three.
Let's roll into the weekend on a high note. And what could be higher than the NY Times?
BAGHDAD, Oct. 11 — In a number of Shiite neighborhoods across Baghdad, residents are beginning to turn away from the Mahdi Army, the Shiite militia they once saw as their only protector against Sunni militants. Now they resent it as a band of street thugs without ideology.By the way, the soldiers who wrote the now infamous NYT op/ed a few weeks back were from that same unit - the 82nd Airborne's Second Brigade Combat Team.
The hardening Shiite feeling in Baghdad opens an opportunity for the American military, which has long struggled against the Mahdi Army, as American commanders rely increasingly on tribes and local leaders in their prosecution of the war.
American commanders like Lt. Col. David Oclander, of the Second Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division, whose area includes Sadr City and other Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad, have seized on that cooperation. In the past month and a half, he said, Shiite leaders have begun to make contact with the Americans. The brigade is now working with 25 sheiks in the Shiite neighborhoods of Shaab and Ur and is interviewing up to 1,200 candidates for semiofficial neighborhood guard positions.
The lieutenant colonel compares the shift among the Shiites to the one in Sunni neighborhoods that began to turn against Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the homegrown Sunni extremist group that American intelligence agencies say is foreign led.
In some cases, residents seem more willing to stand up to the Mahdi Army. In Topchi, several businessmen refused to pay protection money to Mahdi Army members this month. The news spread through the neighborhood. Four months ago, a truck driver was killed in Lieutenant Colonel Oclander’s sector, after the driver’s boss refused to pay protection money. Such retribution is much rarer now, he said.
Ali, the Ur businessman, said he expected the Mahdi Army to be much smaller in the future. People simply do not believe its leaders anymore. “There is no ideology among them anymore,” he said.
As proof, he told a story from his neighborhood about a religious man and a car acquisition.
“He was a poor man, but now he has a Mercedes-Benz,” Ali said. “The Prophet Muhammad, he didn’t even have a horse.”
...is sort of a confusing concept - at least to me.
The Night of Power commemorates the night Allah revealed the Koran to Mohammed. No one knows the actual night during Ramadan this occurred. It's narrowed down to one of the odd-numbered nights in the last ten days of Ramadan.
But that ain't all. Various groups disagree on what day is the first of any given month - there is no universally accepted standard within Islam, and therefore one group's odd day can be another group's even. I'm not going to bother with all the permutations.
Anyhow, if this was al Qaeda (or associated) action, this is what they could do on their "best night":
Mortars hit US military HQ at Baghdad airportAnd if it wasn't al Qaeda, then it was the best some other group could do, and AQ couldn't even accomplish that much.
BAGHDAD, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Militants fired mortar rounds at Camp Victory, the U.S. military's sprawling headquarters near Baghdad airport, after dusk on Wednesday but there were no immediate reports of injuries, a U.S. military official said.
A Western security contractor at the base said he heard nine mortar rounds being fired and four explosions inside the perimeter. He was not aware of any casualties.
Such attacks on the base are relatively rare. Last month, an Iranian-made rocket killed one person in an attack blamed on militants loyal to anti-American Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
As it turns out, 2 were killed and 38 wounded. I don't want to dismiss the numbers as insignificant, but bear in mind the "wounded" figure means injured enough to see a doctor - not (as John-Jack Murtha and others would have you believe) maimed for life. For additional perspective - I was on Victory Base Complex when this attack occurred and didn't know about it until I read it in the news today.
By the way, did you notice this quote from the Reuters story...
Such attacks on the base are relatively rare....and this one from CNN:
Such attacks on the base are not unusual, officials have said in the past.I guess both could be accurate. The last one happened on September 11, when al Qaeda tried to kill Bill Roggio.*
*(Kidding, folks, just kidding...)
WASHINGTON — All branches of the Armed Forces met or exceeded their recruitment goals for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, and the Army expects to accelerate its expansion in the next two years, top brass at the Pentagon announced Wednesday.I'm sure this is going to be front-page, banner headline and TV news lead story stuff all day, along with the reduction in casualties in Iraq.
(3... 2... 1... )
Looks like the IVAW sh!tb@gs' last ditch effort to halt recruiting failed.
Countdown to brain-dead commenter claiming everyone who joins the Army these days is a lowered-standard dirtbag who wouldn't serve except for the pay and benefits begins now...
By way of explanation...
Given that the idea of former American troops becoming political party activists or expressing opposition to the war in Iraq really doesn't bother me (though I'll freely counter any false claims they might make in that capacity) I guess I should explain why I refer to the IVAW sh1tb@gs as IVAW sh!tb@gs.
Simple - while ostensibly "anti-war", the IVAW sh!tb@gs actually spend their time and energy accusing American soldiers of committing endless atrocities in Iraq and insisting that said atrocities are condoned and covered up by the US military. (See this link for details - and don't even bother arguing this point.) Regardless of what IVAW claims it is - that is what IVAW actually is. (To the point that Jesse MacBeth was a welcome and unquestioned addition - but that's another story...)
But (you might ask) given that abu Ghraib proves that American soldiers are capable of heinous treatment of the enemy in time of war, shouldn't such accusations be taken seriously?
In fact, that's what disgusts me the most about the IVAW sh!tb@gs. In the abu Ghraib case, one soldier in the unit involved was outraged by his fellow soldiers' actions - and he came forward through proper military channels to get it stopped, investigated, and prosecuted. Don't be confused by the myth CBS drummed up when one of the guilty parties sent Mary Mapes his photo collection - the Army, not CBS, put an end to the actions of the soldiers at abu Ghraib. But (ironically due in part to the success of CBS in propagated that mythical version of the abu Ghraib story) the IVAW crowd is able to get away with claiming they were unable to get their chains of command to act against the atrocities they claim were perpetrated by themselves and their fellow troops.
Of course, listen carefully to their atrocity tales today and you'll find they don't actually specify exactly who did what and when - just vague stories of "soldiers" or "officers" or "units" that rampaged through Iraq leaving nothing but dead babies in their wake. (Under "orders" or "policy".)
This leaves us with only two conclusions regarding the IVAW -
1. They are telling the truth but are covering up for the actual people who committed, ordered, or covered up those atrocities.
2. They are lying.
Whichever the case may be, I know the military will respond to any actual actions on the part of soldiers - see "abu Ghraib" for example.
There may be some IVAW sh!tb@gs who are in my category one above. They are cowards, at best, and criminals, too. They disgust me more than those in cat two. But they are all, at best, shitbags.
If you should ever meet one of these gutless freaks, make him name names.
We who've served honorably in Iraq shouldn’t have to live with their lies, or wait 40 years for the truth.
Lots of folks seem surprised to learn that a group of Minnesota Guard members who served 15 months in Iraq don't qualify for full education benefits under the GI Bill. But those troops are hardly unique - even many Active Duty members will never see a penny of GI Bill education benefits. While it seems like it should be simple - serve your country, get money for college - it is anything but. Among other complexities, you must buy the benefit - you don't get it free - and you must pay for it at the beginning of your career, when your pay is already at it's lowest. Those who can't afford it are then forced to sign a statement that they decline it and understand they will never have another opportunity to get it. In fact, while it's undeniably a great benefit, the system is designed to deny that benefit to as many people as possible.
There are numerous other complexities built into the system. Want to see if you qualify for education benefits under the GI Bill? Try and figure it out using this 51-page official pamphlet from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Good luck - and as you attempt to navigate it bear in mind the warning label it contains:
Caution: Don’t rely on this pamphlet to determine if you’re eligible for education benefits. To receive a formal decision from VA, you must file a claim for benefits.Oh by the way, that's for the Active Duty version that some Guard and Reserve troops qualify for - there's another version for Selected Reserves and another big pamphlet on that...
Like I said, it should be simple - serve your country, get money for college (ironically that's what so many people claim forces so many poor folks to join the military in the first place) - but it's anything but.
One thing should be made clear - it's not the Pentagon that runs this program, it's the VA. And like all other departments it's controlled by congressional budgets and rules. If this is ever going to be changed, it's going to be done by congress. Various actual non-partisan veterans groups have been lobbying for reform for years, to little avail.
Looks like one of the IVAW sh!tb@gs tried to fake a hate crime at George Washington University.
Even if (as he and his fellows claim) they were "misunderstood", their motives are clear.
Here's a copy of the poster
And here's how Kokesh's stunt is being covered in the Middle East:
CAIRO — University campuses across the United States are becoming the stage for an anti-Islam campaign that includes hate posters and a series of activities to rally students against the alleged threat Islam poses to the US and the world.
George Washington University administration, faculty and students came back from the weekend to find the campus painted with posters and fliers with the message: "HATE MUSLIMS? SO DO WE!!!"
The fliers, posted even on kiosks and mailboxes on standard letter-sized paper, featured a picture of a man next to a diagram describing a "typical Muslim."
Fifteen student organizations led by the GW Muslim Student Association, the Islamic Alliance for Justice and the Jewish Student Association issued a statement expressing that they were "appalled at this incidence of hate and Islamophobia."
Earlier Kokesh (who had a career-ending bust from Sergeant to Corporal for smuggling a pistol home from Iraq) was warned about wearing his uniform to protests...
I have been assigned as Investigating Officer to look into your possible violation(s) of DoDI 1334.01 "Wearing of the Uniform" and MCO P1020.34 "Marine Corps Uniform Regulations". Specifically, you may have violated the law while wearing all or part of your Marine Corps uniform while engaged in political demonstrations or activities.To which, at the end of a lenghty reply extolling his personal virtues Kokesh responded:
I know this matter pales in comparison with recent geopolitical events of which you have shown an interest but, nonetheless, I am obligated to investigate this matter and I have a desire to let a fellow Marine know about his obligations and duty. As a member of the Reserve Component, until 18 JUN 2007, the law restricts your wearing of the uniform at certain events.
Go fuck yourself.
There's a $10,000 scholarship available for bloggers who are in school full time. Matt at Blackfive so happens to be a full time student. Matt has helped memorialize those who gave the ultimate sacrifice and who are "Fallen but Never Forgotten", to help bring attention to "Someone You Should Know", not to mention his help with Soldier's Angels. I think he's quite deserving of it so let's help him out.
It's done by a voting system and he's a little behind. The voting goes until midnight PST on 28 OCT 2007 so let's make this happen for him. So, please, go here and vote for Matthew Burden
So let me toss out my annual wet blanket:
I've always been strongly opposed to "competitive milblogging." I'm never going to send a message to a troop in Iraq or Afghanistan that some guy blogging from his home office has a better blog than his, and I can't stomach the thought of folks at home voting for their favorite deployed blogger as if troops in Iraq are in some kind of effing beauty pageant.Which means that if anyone nominates me for any "milblog award" I will track them down and kick their ass. LEAVE ME THE HELL OUT OF IT.
Other folks can go at it all they want, It's just not how I roll.
This story stinks.
Let's start with this straight up: You can't give Iraq veterans enough compensation (full disclosure: I've done two tours, am still on the second...) but I hope the Minnesota Guard members - and all others - get as much as they can. I'd love to see Congressmen and Senators stop bickering about whether American soldiers are a) failures who've lost the war, or b) cold blooded killers, and instead fight among themselves over who can propose the largest compensation package.
But I think the coverage given thus far to this story is sorely lacking in key details, and the reporters are either in over their heads on military related issues or being intentionally misleading. Most of those key points and unanswered (or unasked) questions are obvious to anyone with military experience.
Let's clear one minor point of potential confusion immediately: the unit in question wasn't in Iraq for 22 months - they were here for 15. The remaining time was spent training and equipping stateside. Not sure how much of that was spent away from home, for most Guard units the answer would be "enough". Anyhow, that's not germane to the discussion - just a point of clarification. Fifteen months in Iraq is long enough (in my humble opinion) to qualify for any benefits - unfortunately policy isn't based on my opinion.
Now, let's look at this specific story bit closer, because it begs about 500 questions - none of which I have time to research, but a few of which I have time to ask.
Anderson's orders, and the orders of 1,161 other Minnesota guard members, were written for 729 days.So, fair or not, they didn't qualify for the benefit. And orders issued that establish that were issued prior to their deployment. But for some reason,
Had they been written for 730 days, just one day more, the soldiers would receive those benefits to pay for school.
The tour lasted 22 months.
Anderson said the soldiers he oversaw in his platoon expected that money to be here when they come home.Why? Did someone fail to inform them of their pay and benefits? Who, exactly, should have done so? (Heh – I actually know the answer to that one…) Or worse, did someone lie to them about their pay and benefits?
Now let's simplify the numbers. Instead of saying "730 days" when referencing the minimum, let's use the term "2 years" - because 730 days = 2 years. We can even convert that into months - two years = 24 months. Now that we've got everything converted to like terms, lets perform complex mathematics:
24 months - 22 months = 2 months. That's how far short their actual tour fell of qualifying for the benefits.
But is that the issue? Do you have to serve two years, or do you just have to have orders for two years to qualify? Again, according to the story, "Had they been written for 730 days, just one day more, the soldiers would receive those benefits to pay for school." Which leads one to believe the amount of actual service does not matter. I'm not in the Guard - I don't know the answer, but I'll provide a guess shortly.
Guard members are covered under the GI Bill - the Montgomery GI Bill for Selected Reserves (MGIB SR) but it's not as robust a benefit as the active duty component receives. But most States (and unless activated under federal orders the Guard is a State unit) offer other additional educational benefits to their Guard troops.
But according to this definition Guard members can qualify for the full benefit only if they serve two years active duty...
Beside the MGIB SR, activated reserve and Guard servicemembers have two other GI Bill options. The first gives those who serve continuously for 24 or more months on active duty, the option to pay into the GI Bill for active duty.And there's a second issue now apparent - the GI Bill is not a "free" benefit - to active duty or Guard troops. If you want it, you have to buy it, via a $100 a month pay reduction for one year. (While that's still a great bargain, many junior troops can't afford it. You only have one chance - and that comes at the start of your career - to buy in.)
So I suspect that this is what happened to the Minnesota Guard troops: because their orders were for a period less than what would qualify them for the GI Bill tuition benefit, they were not given the opportunity to "buy in". They may actually have been given the chance and some may have taken it (the only reason they could actually expect the benefit was waiting for them), but if so none of the news coverage includes that data point - and I can't believe they would neglect to mention that the troops were being denied a benefit they'd actually bought and paid for.
Anderson said the soldiers he oversaw in his platoon expected that money to be here when they come home.Why?
Again, whichever is the point that would have actually qualified them for the benefit, neither the orders they were issued nor the time they served on active duty meets the requirement. In short, while I think they should get it, and while every American might agree with me, they didn't qualify. And if someone lied or mislead them into believing otherwise, that doesn't change the fact that they don't qualify.
And that's an outrage.
Now I'll repeat: I hope Lt Anderson and any of his soldiers who want will get the benefits they deserve. And I think they deserve the GI Bill tuition benefits. But I extend that desire to everyone serving with me in Iraq - along with those in Afghanistan. I don't think the Minnesota Guard deserves special treatment. Here's what ought to happen:
Give the GI Bill to all active duty troops along with Guard/reserve forces activated for service in Iraq and Afghanistan. By "give" I mean ELIMINATE THE "BUY IN" - stop forcing junior troops to decide between feeding their families and tucking some money away for college. And while we're at it, increase the benefit to equal what the troops returning from WWII received. If it could be done for the largest Army in American history, it certainly could be done for the smallest.
Who has that power? Only one group of people can do it. It's not the military. It's not the President.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it's the most unpopular institution in the history of the United States: your Congress. (Who are working on another pork-leaden defense spending Bill even as we speak...)
A couple links by way of followup to what I said here.
First, Victor Davis Hanson:
Almost all the Marines and Army units I visited from Ramadi to Taji to various hot spots in Baghdad and Diyala believe there has been a sudden shift in the pulse of battlefield. Sometimes without much warning thousands of once disgruntled Sunni have turned on al Qaeda, ceased resistance, and are flocking to join government security forces and begging the Americans to stop both al Qaeda and Shiite militias.He offers some cautions that I would echo, too.
In a rather stunning development, the Iraqi Islamic militant faction known as Asaeb al-Iraq al-Jihadiya (a.k.a. "the Iraqi Jihad Union")
has issued a new statement dated October 5 suddenly accusing Al-Qaida's "Islamic State of Iraq" of deliberately killing its fighters in Diyala province and mutilating their bodies.
Though this is actually the second time this week that similar charges have been leveled at Al-Qaida in Iraq by fellow Sunni insurgents, the source of the latest set of allegations--Asaeb al-Iraq al-Jihadiya--is most unusual. Less than three months ago, the very same organization was openly working in operational partnership with Al-Qaida, and was even rumored to be considering merging its forces with Al-Qaida's
No - not yet.
But I believe this article is the most accurate, fact-based, and level headed assessment of the situation - both current and historical - in Iraq as I've ever read.
As far as predictions for the future, few sane people would make them without acknowledging a degree of fallibility. But given the current course of actions these seem reasonably optimistic - though chaos theory along with the sum total experience of human history indicate some surprises await. And while the author's depiction of Sadr is debatable* the remainder of the brief is cold hard fact.
Well worth the read.
*He spent 5 weeks embedded with Sadr forces in 2005 - whether this experience left him with an excessively favorable disposition towards the cleric is anyone's guess. His report on that trip is subscriber only.
(Hat tip: Instapundit)
Added thoughts: The conventional wisdom here on the ground is that Sadr's "ceasefire" is a reality - explanations for that vary. It should be remembered that a similar proclamation was issued by the cleric earlier this year - at the beginning of the surge. Arguments were made (and still can be advanced) that his tactic would simply be to wait out the surge and then unleash his troops. Others speculate that Sadr's control over said troops is limited at best - that assumption can be supported by the general lack of cease-fire over the intervening months.
Cease-fire or no, we are continuing to pursue members of the Jaish al Mahdi (Sadr's Mahdi Army, commonly referred to as JAM, pronounced just like the stuff you spread on bread) and the battle against whatever is left of al Qaeda in Iraq goes on - we are very much still at war. But indirect fire attacks (mortars and rockets fired over the walls by small teams that vanish before impact - the preferred method to "confront" US troops) have dropped, and beyond that American casualties are down even as more soldiers spend more time in the streets. (Coincidence?)
It's likely that an increasing percentage of the "opposition" brought in (or buried) as we increase neighborhood patrols and operations will be the local trouble makers referenced in the linked report above. Barring our withdrawal, at some inevitable point they will get the majority of our combat focus in Iraq. (The day that majority becomes sufficiently overwhelming might also be called VI Day - you figure it out...) Alignment of groups and individuals throughout Iraq is ambiguous, shifting, and exceptionally difficult to determine by Iraqis, let alone US forces. So the possibility exists that that point at which local thugs with no larger alignment - ideological or otherwise - become the predominant "foe" in Iraq may pass without our immediate knowledge. But as al Qaeda crumbles, other local and regional Sunni and Shia groups join the "concerned citizens" effort, and the Sadr faction takes long overdue consideration of a political future the possibility of passing that point grows with each day.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not declaring victory. I am saying that the race to a tipping point - something we've discussed here throughout this year - may have been won. (Caveat: runners can always be tripped up near the finish line...)
I'll close, however, with a repeat of what I said yesterday: ...Lailat ul-Qadr - the "Night of Power" - the key point in Ramadan commemorating Allah's revelation of the Koran to Mohammed, is still to come. If we pass that point without anything "newsworthy" happening - then we can talk.
Former Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Ivan L. "Chip" Frederick Jr. served about three years of an eight-year sentence for actions that included placing wires in a detainee's hands and telling him he would be electrocuted if he fell off a box.No soldier has ever done more to damage his nation's effort in time of war.
By the way, probably few people are aware that Frederick was cropped out of what many people will identify as the single most enduring image of the war in Iraq.
Here's the original:
But Chip had mysteriously vanished from the version his uncle Bill gave to CBS.
Senate Plurality Leader Harry Reid voted against denouncing the Betray Us ad, in which a general that Reid voted to put into battle was smeared by MoveOn.Since we pretty much started the whole discussion here some time ago, I must say I'd enjoy seeing the Senate debate the entire story of Jesse MacBeth and his claims:
Today, Reid denounced Rush Limbaugh for calling the phony “soldier” Jesse MacBeth a phony soldier.
...according to Macbeth, his squad of Rangers gunned down Iraqis praying inside a mosque on a holy day, then hung some of the bodies from rafters, and defaced the mosque with graffiti. Macbeth's hand held the smoking gun, and his testimony in this interview shows clearly that the Marines who are now in trouble for very similar actions are not the exception to US tactics in Iraq, but represent only one in many incidents of war crimes[*].Those stories made MacBeth a welcome addition to team IVAW:
What was the assault on Fallujah like?
Fallujah is where we slaughtered people in mosques. We provoked the people there. Some people escaped from the mosques and saw us. We would dig holes and leave mass graves of children, women, and old men. We were ordered to let people die on the street. We were told that the Geneva Convention means nothing to us in combat.
We were ordered to fire on peaceful protesters in Fallujah. Somebody threw a rock at us, and an officer said that he thought it was a grenade. Then we were ordered to fire. When it's daylight in Iraq, it's daylight! Nobody really thought it was a grenade.
What did your division do?
I was in the Third Ranger Battalion. Our job was to strike fear in the hearts of the Iraqi people.
We would go into people's houses and plow down entire families. We would interrogate people. If we didn't like the answers that they gave, then we would kill the youngest child. If they gave more answers that we didn't like, then we'd move on to the rest of the family. They could've been innocent people.
We would leave the bodies in the streets and blame it on the Shi'ites or the Sunnis. [In Fallujah] we were ordered to go into mosques and slaughter people while they were praying. I won't go into full detail because I'm still haunted by the memories.
Of course, the reality is that MacBeth washed out of basic training, then pepetrated fraud in an attempt to gain VA benefits, moved on to launch his brief "I'm a war criminal" career, and found a welcome reception from the Iraq Veterans Against the War. That organization did find the courage to "issue a statement" after we exposed the poser. As I mentioned at the time,
Note the gutless weasels don't refute MacBeth, just say that "questions have been raised". Nor do they actually expel him from their ranks - they just don't "in any way endorse" him.Anyhow, fast forward one year:
No veteran could fail to spot MacBeth as a phony - it took about 3 seconds. But IVAW couldn't do it until after he was outed by milbloggers.
Draw your own conclusions.
A man who tried to position himself as a leader of the anti-war movement by claiming to have participated in war crimes while serving in Iraq is facing federal charges of falsifying his record.And last month...
A complaint unsealed Friday in U.S. District Court in Seattle charged 23-year-old Jesse Adam Macbeth with one count of using or possessing a forged or altered military discharge certificate, and one count of making false statements in seeking benefits from the Veterans Administration.
Macbeth garnered much attention on blogs and in some alternative media after he began claiming in 2005 to have been awarded a Purple Heart for his service, which he said included slaughtering innocent civilians in a Fallujah mosque.
His story was contradicted by his true discharge form, showing that he was kicked out of the Army after six weeks at Fort Benning, Ga., in 2003 because of his "entry level performance and conduct."
A Tacoma man who falsely claimed he was a decorated war hero when he took the stage at demonstrations held in opposition to the U.S.'s role in Iraq was sentenced this morning to five months in prison in U.S. District Court in Seattle.That's from the Seattle Times. The Eastern Arizona Courier adds that...
Jesse MacBeth, 23, was also sentenced to three months in a halfway house after his release and three years of probation.
MacBeth claimed that he was an Army ranger who killed more than 200 people, many at close range, including some as they prayed in a mosque. He spoke at an anti-war rally in Tacoma and appeared in a 20-minute anti-war video that circulated widely on the Internet.
In reality, MacBeth made it through only six weeks of Army basic training and never set foot in Iraq.
Conservative bloggers exposed MacBeth in May 2006, destroying his credibility and embarrassing the Seattle company that produced the video about his exploits.
On June 7, MacBeth pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. MacBeth admitted that he filed a bogus claim for VA benefits in 2005, which included a fraudulent military-discharge form.
In November 2003, while living in Pima, Macbeth interviewed with a Courier reporter and fabricated stories of combat injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder and watching fellow soldiers die.If I were Rush Limbaugh, I'd join in Reid's call for intense Senatorial debate on this issue. I'd love to read in the Senate record exactly why Reid - who couldn't summon the outrage (or simple decency) to condemn MoveOn for attacking General Petraeus, is so outraged that Rush Limbaugh called MacBeth a "phony".
Subsequent to his interview with the Courier, Macbeth’s stories included tales of war crimes and a variety of atrocities.
HARKIN: I’ll just close, Mr. President, by noting that in August, seven soldiers published an op-ed in the New York Times criticizing the current strategy in Iraq. Tragically, two of those soldiers were subsequently killed in action, making the ultimate sacrifice for their country.I can understand why Harkin feels compelled to rush to the defense of a fellow fraudulent combat veteran (it's a "Band of Brothers" thing), but I'm not sure why he can only assume Limbaugh's condemnation of a phony soldier must also be applied to real ones. I wouldn't in a million years have equated MacBeth with real soldiers, but Harkin has.
I can only assume by Mr. Limbaugh’s definition that they too were “phony soldiers.” Now what’s most despicable is that Mr. Limbaugh says these provocative things to make more money. So he castigates our soldiers, this makes more news, more people tune in, he makes more money.
Well, I don’t know. Maybe he was just high on his drugs again. I don’t know whether he was or not. If so, he ought to let us know. But that shouldn’t be an excuse.
For the record, here's what I wrote in response to the NYT 7 (see "View from the Tunnel" at link), whose opinions I respect, and who are the real deal, and anything but phony. They did an excellent job in re-stating what virtually everyone here recognizes as the challenges we are confronting, though they fell a bit short in clarifying exactly how they feel we should resolve them (lack of clear consensus being a common product of group efforts). So I'd love to hear - for the record - various U.S. Senators announce whether they concur with the actual solutions somewhat vaguely implied in their editorial. Specifically, that although we could win this thing if Americans would stand back and let us unleash the required amount of carnage (in other words, if we could actually do what Jesse MacBeth and his IVAW pals accuse us of doing anyway)...
While we have the will and the resources to fight in this context, we are effectively hamstrung because realities on the ground require measures we will always refuse — namely, the widespread use of lethal and brutal force....our reluctance to do so dictates that
...it would be prudent for us to increasingly let Iraqis take center stage in all matters, to come up with a nuanced policy in which we assist them from the margins but let them resolve their differences as they see fit.Which is pretty much what we're doing - the only difference I can discern from current policy being if they are advocating extension of "as they see fit" to slaughter of weaker elements in Iraqi society - but the authors are unclear on this point.
Now that would be a worthy discussion among the members of the world's most prestigious elected body. Or the US Senate can pretend radio personality Rush Limbaugh attacked the messengers, express their complete and total outrage at that most egregious and imaginary affront, and avoid the issue altogether.
Back to you, Tom and Harry.
* …the Marines who are now in trouble for very similar actions are not the exception to US tactics in Iraq, but represent only one in many incidents of war crimes. - It's worth remembering that the original intended purpose of the MacBeth video was to lend additional weight to congressman Jack Murtha's then-current claims that Marines in Iraq were "cold blooded killers" who were slaughtering women and children...
There is a current story in the US press about a squad of Marines that are being investigated for "war crimes" after they murdered a whole Iraqi family one night a few months back. US officials are approaching this story as if this wasn't standard procedure, and are focusing on holding the individual Marines accountable. Jessie Macbeth blows the lid off that story.Ironically, even as MacBeth was being sentenced for his fraud those Marines were being cleared of the charges brought against them. (One is now suing Jack Murtha - see here for the latest). Likewise, while ostensibly "anti-war" the real function of Iraq Veterans Against the War is to publicize similar claims that US troops in Iraq routinely commit atrocities as part of US policy - see their recent thinly disguised press release in The Nation magazine for example. (Actually investigated here with some responses from other military members serving in Iraq here).
And here's our complete Jesse MacBeth coverage from May, 2006: