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Evan Coyne Maloney's a bit young to remember Abbie Hoffman, but here's his trip down memory lane:
Whoever authored this AP analysis of the unprecedented violent rage coursing through the racist homophobic tea partiers must be younger still. (Even though they do use big words.)
Though incivility in our political discourse may be partially a cyclical phenomenon, dependent on major political or social change, one analyst also sees a general coarsening of our political culture, as well as a much more ideological bent.
"I was on my way to work this morning and I saw an amazing bumper sticker," says Bruce Schulman, a historian at Boston University. It directed a vulgar curse word at Obama.
"It's hard for me to believe that we would have seen that a few decades ago," says Schulman. "Even with Richard Nixon, who was so hated by many."
They blame the internet.
He's dead now (swallowing 150 Phenobarbital tablets can have that effect on a guy), so we can only wonder what Abbie Hoffman might have to say about all that.
Jackie O, too.
Glad you're here. But I would like to add one additional line to the new instructions for use of teh innernets:
RULE #1 IS DON'T USE ALL CAPS.
Address to the Nation, March 29, 1973 -- [President Richard Nixon]
"Tonight, the day we have all worked and prayed for has finally come.
"For the first time in 12 years, no American military forces are in Vietnam. All of our American POW's are on their way home. The 17 million people of South Vietnam have the right to choose their own government without outside interference, and because of our program of Vietnamization, they have the strength to defend that right. We have prevented the imposition of a Communist government by force on South Vietnam.
"There are still some problem areas..."
U.S. Forces Out of Vietnam; Hanoi Frees the Last P.O.W. -- [NY Times/March 1973]
Saigon, South Vietnam, March 29 -- The last American troops left South Vietnam today, leaving behind an unfinished war that has deeply scarred this country and the United States.
There was little emotion or joy as they brought to a close almost a decade of American military intervention.
This afternoon at Tan Son Nhut, while waiting for his plane to take off, Col. Einar Himma, a naturalized American from Estonia, talked of his two tours in Vietnam. He had grown fond of the Vietnamese, he said, and he felt sad about their future.
"There's going to be a full blown war starting up after we leave," he said. "The fighting has never stopped anyway."
March 29, 1973
March 29, 1973-- [Procopius]
It is an anniversary that passes almost unnoticed every year... Still, I think it is an anniversary worth remembering. On March 29, 1973, the last American combat troops left Vietnam.
Like most Americans, I rarely think about this anniversary. The only reason I remember it this year is because my Vietnam veteran brother pointed it out on his Facebook page. March 29 bears little similarity to the main end-of-war anniversaries of the 20th century...
"On this day," President Nixon stated, "let us honor those who made this achievement possible: those who sacrificed their lives, those who were disabled, those who made every one of us proud to be an American as they returned from years of Communist imprisonment, and every one of the 2 1/2 million Americans who served honorably in our Nation's longest war."
To all the Vietnam veterans out there, welcome home.
The father of a Marine killed in Iraq and whose funeral was picketed by anti-gay protesters was ordered to pay the protesters' appeal costs, his lawyers said Monday.
On Friday, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ordered Snyder to pay $16,510 to Fred Phelps. Phelps is the leader of the Westboro Baptist Church, which conducted protests at Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder's funeral in 2006.
Snyder's family originally won a judgment in the case, however:
Fred W. Phelps Sr., Westboro's founder, vowed to appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, in Richmond, Va.
"It's going to be reversed in five minutes," he said.
The Supreme Court will hear the case
The Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals overturned the ruling concluded that the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech protects the protestors. Even though the court found the signs "distasteful and repugnant" it concluded that "no reasonable reader could interpret any of these signs as asserting actual and objectively verifiable facts about Snyder or his son."
In their appeal to the high court, lawyers for Snyder argue the "the Fourth Circuit necessarily determined that the freedom of religion and peaceful assembly is subordinate to freedom of speech. The Fourth Circuit chose one individual's First Amendment rights over those of another."
The Family of Lance Corporal Snyder has a web page here.
They've also set up a Facebook page here.
Update: The American Legion joins the battle, with fundraising and an Amicus brief.
Anyone recognize these guys?
Read on, you'll see why I ask...
This sign sums up everything many people fear about the Tea Party movement:
If you're having a hard time reading it, here's a clearer version of it, along with a "sister sign."
Those pictures were posted online on March 20, the day of the Tea Party protests against the health care bill (now law) in Washington, D.C., and made their way from blogs, message boards, and virtually every other type of web page to the mainstream media. Here's the New York Times' coverage from March 26:
Lawmakers Head Warily for Home
Members of Congress are heading into recess with no guarantee that the hateful rancor and violent incidents that marred passage of health care reform will not haunt them anew in their home districts. Democrats subjected to death threats and vandalized offices will have discreet police protection.
"Remain vigilant" was the e-mailed caution from the Senate sergeant-at-arms as members and employees headed out from the Capitol.
A critical issue for Republicans is how far they will go in sidling up to the Tea Party and its more extremist protestors. In a regrettable moment last weekend, Republican lawmakers proudly took to a House balcony to fan the anger of a throng, some of whom spit on Democratic members and shouted racist and homophobic jeers. "If Brown can't stop it, a Browning can!" was one of the crowd's more ominous signs, referring to Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts.
Unfortunately for New York Times readers, the editors didn't provide the full story on the "racist and homophobic taunts and jeers" - many such accounts of the day had already been proven to be incorrect, or based on half truths and exaggerations well before the Times editors hit the publish button. (They could benefit from the old military adage that first reports are always wrong.) As yet unclaimed rewards have subsequently been offered for proof of other allegations - I mention this by way of acknowledging awareness of related facts before moving along.
So that aside, the signs are very real, and they promise very real violence. Theirs is not a simple statement that Americans have a right to keep and bear arms. Given location and context there's no other reasonable interpretation of their message than this: if Senator Scott Brown can't stop the House of Representatives from passing the health care bill, we're going to start shooting. Yes, reasonable people will see the message is absurd, but combined with the second sign depicting a donkey "giving birth" to a Hitler-mustached (and presumably socialist) Obama, it's not unreasonable to be concerned that the promised shooting could be aimed at the President of the United States.
And there's good reason to take that threat seriously. While a true "gun nut" might speculate why a weapon other than a Browning (or at least a clearly identifiable model Browning) was chosen to illustrate the point, the finished product displays a dedication and commitment beyond that of the average Tea Party protestor (whose typically crude, hastily hand written posters are cited alternately as proof of "grass roots" activism or shadowy "astroturfing").
But whether you're a Tea Party sympathizer or not, whether you support the health care bill, Scott Brown, your political representatives, or your neighbor's right to a different opinion or not, you should want to know (as should the Secret Service) who made those posters, and who proudly displayed them at a raucous and emotional public demonstration. Whatever their political views may be, the vast majority of Americans should (at the least) not only denounce any call for political violence but demand that the identities of those who would make such a threat be exposed. Subsequent reports of increasing hostility in American political discourse have demonstrated that concerns for escalation are not unfounded, and shouldn't be dismissed.
In short: who are these people? Set aside your own political views and read on - perhaps you can help provide the answer.
The first picture above offers no clue - all we see is a sign against the backdrop of the US Capitol building. It first appeared on the Think Progress blog ("ThinkProgress attended today's rally and spotted a sign threatening violence...") at 4PM (Eastern) the day of the protest, and quickly "went viral" on internet sites frequented by those predisposed to disagree with the protesters. The lack of any protestors (or anything else, for that matter) in the image might lead those who require a bit more context/evidence before drawing conclusions to raise questions - but fortunately Think Progress was able to add another image - "Update, Cameron Brenchley caught another shot of the signs: "
And there we get our first glimpse of our potential shooters - along with a link to Cameron's flickr page, where (unfortunately) there are no additional images of our "heroes" to be found.
He could have more photos than what he's uploaded to his flickr page, of course. But other than what's above Think Progress doesn't reveal who Cameron Brenchley is. Fortunately, Cameron isn't as mysterious as the subjects of his photos. A quick Google search reveals he's a New Media Specialist for the U.S. House of Representatives, meaning that - among other things - he conducts blog outreach on behalf of the good folks who were inside the Capitol debating that bill. That's excellent news - even though he declared via his Twitter Feed that a different sign was the "Best tea-bag sign of day," any employee of the House of Representatives (and former US Air Force Staff Sergeant) will certainly recognize their responsibility to expose (and neutralize) the threat conveyed in those signs beyond the blogosphere - so that's no doubt been taken care of.
But while we can all certainly agree that this is something that requires an official investigation, and that no one is calling for any sort of vigilante justice here, as the good folks at Jawa Report have recently demonstrated in another high-profile case, we in the blogosphere can help. There are hundreds of photos and videos of the March 20 protests on line. See here, here, here, here, and here for some "starter sets." I've been looking through them for additional photos of these particular "patriots" in the crowd, but so far with little luck. It's worth noting that most of the larger galleries of photos are on sites inclined to be sympathetic to - if not part of - the Tea Party movement, so they might not want to include pictures of that nature. (I found one exception - more on that shortly.)
First, it's also worth noting that even in Cameron's photo the guys with the sign are fenced off from the other protestors. Here's a close up, click it for a full version.
It's unfortunate that the Huffington Post version linked here by the Washington Post cropped so much out of the bottom of that photo - between the two internet giants their many readers could have helped ID these guys rather than leaving everyone at the protest as a suspect. But besides seeing the fence and the faces under those signs, on examining the full version one can also note the smirking big shots are standing behind the crowd, with their signs pointing away from their fellow protestors and towards the camera. That's suspicious but not conclusive - perhaps they're simply on their way in. Or they're on the inside and the rest of the crowd isn't - who knows? I point it out only by way of saying it's already noted, and while the significance is open to interpretation it doesn't answer the central question of who these guys are.
And now on to the other pictures I've been able to find. One might truly be suspicious if the only photos captured of these potential killers were provided by a House "new media guy," but these examples are from a second shooter - I found them on the flickr page of someone who blogs as the Pittsford Patriot, and who appears to be (and almost certainly is) a Tea Party supporter.
That blog has several more videos of the protests, by the way - any of which could contain additional images of our suspects. But even with dozens more photos in the flikr page, these are the only images I found of these guys. In fact, they're the only other images I've found anywhere of these guys, though once again they aren't in the crowd. (And note that two are also in Cameron's picture, with a third possible, while a fourth - guy in black hat - is perhaps just an innocent bystander, there are no images of him holding one of the signs.)
So what do we have so far? Three (or maybe four, or five) guys on the fringes of a crowd toting signs that clearly advocate violence as a means to a political end. (Please spare me any argument that they're merely exercising their Constitutional rights.)
Here they are again, the best images I could find, enhanced as best as I could.
Repeat: that guy in the lower right corner might not be part of the group, and was perhaps just caught in the background of their photo.
Not much to go on, to be sure. So, are they "Tea Partiers"? Let me answer that one up front: I don't care. (Disclaimer: I don't even know what makes someone a "Tea Partier.") I wouldn't be shocked or surprised if these guys could make that claim - though it's worth noting that these guys' signage - in message or quality - absolutely isn't "typical" of the hundreds of others I've seen online. Likewise if I wanted to discredit the Tea Partiers (or foment violence against them) I would have to invent these guys if they didn't exist. Since either possibility leads to violence - which I absolutely oppose - I can honestly state that's why I don't care if they're Tea Partiers or "plants". These guys advocate violence, and I've spent my adult life helping to ensure domestic tranquility.
The question is who are they? The internet is a big place, and somewhere out there in the wide, wide world someone knows the answer. Besides the Browning Boys themselves I can't think of anyone - regardless of political affiliation and whether they are in, out, for, opposed, or indifferent to the Tea Party - who wouldn't rather know exactly who these fellows are. That's especially obvious given that they've helped touch off an atmosphere of fear, intimidation, and insecurity throughout the country - if that New York Times editorial quoted above isn't example enough, (or the Washington Post coverage, or this AP report) do a web search for "If Brown can't stop it a Browning can" or "Tea Party signs gun violence" to see just how extensive their reach has been. But curiously enough, in spite of widespread attention (and "wariness" among House members) no one anywhere seems to be concerned over who exactly is calling for violence - even though their images have been captured. For many, "Tea Partiers" seems to be answer enough.
So, you know what I know. I now call for an assist. Does anyone know who these guys are? Say so - expose them. Got a link to more photos of these guys? Want to send me more photos of our suspects? Please do. Leave a comment below (refresh the page immediately before commenting so the damn captcha isn't timed out - sorry) or email me at greyhawk at mudvillegazette dot com. (Speaking of comments, don't bother turning this thread into a discussion of the rightness or wrongness of health care, the President, Congress, or the Tea Party - that's OFF TOPIC and I'll delete as soon as I can, as I will any posted addresses or phone numbers of "suspects".) If you can't contribute more intel, do what you can to spread the word - maybe you'll reach someone who can. Click the share button below, spread the word via Twitter Facebook, email, or whatever. Write your own blog post, I'll link it. Steal mine and re-post it.
Who knows, maybe together we can solve a great mystery here. Can't hurt to try, right?
And... update: here's one better photo (via email from Marooned in Marin) already:
Marooned in Marin attended the protest (more photos/video here), and has been following the multiple reports of threats and violence since.
And good information coming in via email from folks who were there. Many thanks!.
But the SECOND you start committing acts of violence and vandalism, then you've usurped that Constitution. You in a way have assaulted it. And then you and I (I being every servicemember who has sworn to defend said Constitution) will have a MAJOR PROBLEM.
For those of you calling for a civil war, I implore you to stop and think about what you're saying. Look around your neighborhood and your city. Now imagine using that terrain to survive. Imagine dodging semi-automatic rifle fire as you scramble from cover to cover, dragging your wounded child behind you. Imagine the deafening report of a mortar as it strikes the ground a 150 feet in front of you, the overpressure enough to shatter your teeth and perforate an ear drum. Try and envision a Stryker rolling through neighbor's front lawn or a F/A-18 making lazy loops over your head in Close Air Support for the troops in the distance...
That's why they don't let Marines on teh innernets.
Marine in question tries to re-explain himself here. Rare to see a guy get two things to go quite so viral, though. I expect his quota was all used up with the first.
Fortunately, our courageous, well trained, extremely fit, highly motivated, and entirely lethal junior troops are led by senior troops, who, blessed with all the above honed by years of experience can reduce a large amount of complex information to simple phrases - like "don't get stuck on stupid."
Helluva band there, Hamid:
"High on symbolism", says the BBC:
The BBC's Martin Patience in Kabul says that for security reasons the visit - expected to last only a few hours - was not announced beforehand and Mr Karzai was given just an hour's notice.
But while the trip is expected to be brief, it will be high on symbolism, our correspondent says.
The US president remains unhappy with direction of the Karzai government and Washington wants to make its frustration known, our correspondent adds.
US national security adviser Gen James Jones told reporters on Air Force One that Mr Obama hoped to help Mr Karzai understand that "in this second term that there are certain things he has to do as the president of his country to battle the things that have not been paid attention to almost since day one".
"The talks with Mr. Karzai will probably touch on several issues that have concerned administration officials about the Afghan government," says the New York Times, "...even reintegration with certain reconcilable members of the Taliban insurgency."
A touchy subject, that.
Update: more videos, with the troops.
Need a great triumph of the underdog story?
The only thing the fifth-seeded Butler University (student body a tad bit over 4000) Bulldogs had to do this weekend to win their Regional was defeat top seed (and Big East champions) Syracuse (video highlights here), then turn around and beat second-seeded (Big 12 runner-up) Kansas State. (Video highlights here.)
Mission accomplished. The prize? A trip to Indianapolis for the Final Four and a shot at the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship.
Home-grown Gordon Hayward, who led Brownsburg High School to a state title, has taken his act to a larger stage.
In running its winning streak to 24 and going farther in the NCAA Tournament than ever before, Butler became the smallest school (enrollment: 4,200) in the Final Four since seeding was introduced in 1979. Butler will be the first team to play in a Final Four in its home city since champion UCLA in 1972.
By the way, Butler is 15-0 in Indy.
The Bulldogs' defense was so suffocating that they held No. 1 seed Syracuse and No. 2 seed Kansas State (29-8) to season lows and a collective 46 points under their averages. Butler is 19-0 when holding opponents under 60 points, and Kansas State fell to 2-5 when scoring fewer than 70.
"Our dreams definitely didn't stop at getting to the Final Four," said Hayward, voted outstanding player of the West Regional. "We want to win the whole thing."
The Christian Science Monitor, on Allawi's opponents:
Finally, they questioned whether his mother's Lebanese citizenship barred him from seeking the post of prime minister, a strategy akin to the "birther" movement against President Barack Obama.
Golly jeepers, if it wasn't for the ever-present threat of violence I'd say they have a Democracy just like us.
(If you're looking for a deeper discussion on the Iraqi elections, try this.)
Update: the Party of the man targeted by that birther claim wants a joint statement calling on elected officials "to set an example of the civility we want to see in our citizenry," who they want to "refrain from inappropriate forms of intimidation, to reject violence and vandalism, and to scale back rhetoric that might reasonably be misinterpreted by those prone to such behavior." However, the opposition says ""we don't need to do anything on their schedule or on their timetable."
Maybe Obama can have them over to the White House for a beer?
Reminds me of this sad tale of days gone by:
I, along with a few others, had decorated the vans with Bush/Cheney and Coors signs Friday night. They were left in those spots as we went home, since it was after midnight. Apparently one of the vans was not locked properly (we didn't go into the vans to decorate them; we just taped signs onto the outside) and a group of socialist thugs stole it.
They drove it through one of the gates of Ft. Carson, the largest military installation in town, and then set fire to the van.
Well, if it's any consolation, Mr Maliki, you now have evidence that political comebacks are possible in Iraq.
This Wall Street Journal article, while brief, provides excellent insight to the results of the elections in Iraq. I suppose "upset" is correct, but a close race between Allawi and Maliki was expected, so don't read that to mean "shocker."
The real value to the piece is in this interactive map. It appears Allawi benefited from considerable support among the Sunnis - Anbar, Diyala, and all points north of Baghdad (to the Kurdish region) are "his". But he had notable support in the Shiite south, too - whereas Maliki gained only one seat outside Baghdad and the south.
All that geographic diversity of Allawi supporters is a good sign. If events over the next few weeks are not but a little more contentious than say, America in 2000 we should be hearing some talk of drawdown in US forces there soon - maybe even a promised "acceleration," too. Maybe even something beyond talk will occur.
(Iraq has a Parliamentary system - so yes, if you're wondering, I'm using shorthand in referring to the candidates in the above.)
And a blast from the past: The Boys Of Baghdad. (Note the name that does not appear. I suppose that reinforces the wisdom of not putting too much faith in predictions and plans. And news analysis, for that matter)
Okay, here's another blast from the past - during the battle of Fallujah, November '04 version.
It's a good thing we're communicating by written words now rather than spoken, because there's a helicopter parked about 50 yards from me, still running, an ambulance next to it with a guy on a stretcher in between. It's loud - but it's also dark out right now so I can't see if it's an American on that stretcher or an Iraqi. Whoever it is they're on their way out now.
It's gone. That's better - it's much quieter. Quiet is better because you can hear the incoming rockets.
Trivia test 1: Which of the following is an actual quote from Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi regarding the insurgents in Fallujah on the eve of the assault?
I wasn't kidding (or complaining) about the chopper. The rest is here. Pinky swears.
And... more maps, more details, and lots more pessimism from the New York Times.
The secular party of Ayad Allawi, a former interim prime minister once derided as an American puppet, won a wafer-thin victory in Iraq's election, setting the stage for a protracted period of political uncertainty and possible violence that could threaten plans to withdraw American troops.And the Washington Post:
The results signaled the start of another protracted phase of uncertainty for this country's fledgling political system.
I'm not sure exactly what results wouldn't have "signaled the start of another protracted phase of uncertainty for this country's fledgling political system," or what sort of "certainty" is attainable in a Democracy (where degree of "certainty" seems inversely proportional to "choice") but those concerns aside, the statements are certainly accurate. So, props to both papers' positively prescient prognostication of possibly protracted periods of political pugnaciousness.
The real fun starts when Maliki tries to make nice with old friends.
The electoral results will be finalized following Federal Supreme Court ratification once all complaints have been considered. At that point, the current president, Jalal Talabani, will call upon the new parliament to convene within 15 days of the ratification. Instead of Allawi's winning coalition having an automatic first shot at forming a government, however, any new coalition with more seats which can be cobbled together before the parliament is seated will gain that advantage.
With the process therefore wide-open despite Allawi's victory, the core contradictions of Iraqi politics will be on display as a government is cobbled together. No Iraqi governing coalition will be a natural ideological fit. In fact, any feasible coalition will produce mind-bending alliances of convenience that defy easy categorization, particularly with respect to the decisions of the Sadrists and the Kurds, who will constitute key targets for Allawi and Maliki.
To understand that whole "Instead of Allawi's winning coalition having an automatic first shot" bit (and more) read the whole thing.
Footnote: if you haven't been keeping up on Muqtada al-Sadr news, here.
Heinrich Introduces Bill To Help Military Families Extend Health Care Coverage To Their Children
WASHINGTON, D.C.--U.S. Representative Martin Heinrich (NM-1) has introduced H.R. 4923, the TRICARE Dependent Coverage Extension Act, a bill that would increase the maximum age to 26 at which our troops and military retirees are allowed to provide health coverage to their dependent children.
"Our brave men and women in uniform sacrifice so much for our country, and it is our duty to make sure that they have access to quality, affordable health care," said Rep. Heinrich. "Because of the new health reform bill passed by Congress, Americans who receive health insurance through a group plan will soon be able to provide coverage to dependent children up to age 26--our military health coverage must meet that same standard and be nothing less."
Rep. Heinrich introduced this legislation following the enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the sweeping health care overhaul that will allow all American citizens the opportunity to gain access to quality, affordable health care. Under the new system, individuals with private health insurance will now be able to provide coverage to their dependent children up to age 26.
TRICARE, the health insurance for military service members, retirees, and the families of both, is under the control of the U.S. Department of Defense and governed by a different section of the United States code, so it will not be affected in any way by the new health reform legislation. To provide our troops and military retirees with the same new benefits given to civilians, H.R. 4923 would amend Title 10 to change the maximum age of coverage for children from 23 to 26.
"Our military families stand behind our troops and lift them up, often making significant sacrifices like our service members themselves," said Rep. Heinrich. "Allowing parents to provide health coverage to their dependent adult children is just one of the many small things we can do to show our military families how much we appreciate them and honor their service to our country."
The House voted last weekend to declare that TRICARE already met the minimum requirements of the new law, and was therefore exempt. Unfortunately, TRICARE didn't really meet the minimum requirements of the new law, and this legislation, if it passes, will fix one identified shortfall.
However, based on the text of the bill dependents under 26 will only be eligible for TRICARE coverage if they are "not eligible to enroll in an eligible employer-sponsored plan."
The bill also would authorize Defense to charge beneficiaries a premium for the additional coverage, to be determined based on "an appropriate actuarial basis."
This image, used to "teach" students at Langley High School, in McLean, Virginia, has caught the attention of more than a few veterans.
"I am offering $10,000 of my own money," Breitbart says, "to provide hard evidence that the N- word was hurled at him [Rep. John Lewis] not 15 times, as his colleague reported, but just once."
Saturday's "never mind" moment will live in infamy as the Congressional Black Caucus claimed the N-word was hurled 15 times. YouTube video shows that at least two of the men in the procession were carrying video cameras and holding them above the crowd. They have not come forth with evidence to show that even one person hurled the vile racist epithet.
I could use some cash like that, but these videos are all I've seen:
However, Breitbart's offer doesn't require video proof.
...I'll give him a backup plan: a lie detector test. If you provide verifiable video evidence showing that a single racist epithet was hurled as you walked among the tea partiers, or you pass a simple lie detector test, I will provide a $10K check to the United Negro College Fund.
I wasn't in Washington on March 20, 2010. But like most people I've seen reports of what went on there during protests over the new health care bill that day, including the shocking claim by Representative Emmanuel Cleaver that a man had been arrested for spitting on him as he approached the Capitol building.
From the official statement:
This afternoon, the congressman was walking into the Capitol to vote, when one protester spat on him. The congressman would like to thank the U.S. Capitol police officer who quickly escorted the other members and him into the Capitol, and defused the tense situation with professionalism and care. After all the members were safe, a full report was taken and the matter was handled by the U.S. Capitol police. The man who spat on the congressman was arrested, but the Congressman has chosen not to press charges.
A dramatic description, and one that conjures vivid imagery. However, the police stated they had made no arrests.
More from the released statement: "For many of the members of the CBC, like John Lewis and Emanuel Cleaver who worked in the civil rights movement, and for Mr. Frank who has struggled in the cause of equality, this is not the first time they have been spit on during turbulent times."
Fortunately we aren't living in the past. Progress has brought us to the point where "what really happened" is a bit easier to determine - or at least to the point where those of us who weren't there can be witness to exactly that.
Within hours of the event this video was uploaded to YouTube. I have no idea who took the video, who uploaded it (FrumForum is credited - though I haven't found it on their site), or who is speaking. What matters is it appears to be a description of the event that differs from Congressman Cleaver's, one that was obviously recorded that night and available shortly after the incident described occurred.
Two days later this video of the actual event appeared. Again, I have no idea who shot this video. It was uploaded by someone identified as "yk122960" - a new YouTube account. For our purposes there's nothing questionable about that, what matters is it's clearly an unbroken video sequence taken from quite close to the actual scene of "the incident." I note there's a guy in a hat in the clip who might be the guy in the hat in the first video - but that one is too dark to confirm the identification.
So, combining the two video's (and I've brightened the first one as much as I could) with the statements from Representative Cleaver's office and the Capitol Police gives those of us who weren't there a unique opportunity - a chance to evaluate the conflicting versions while watching the event described play out before our eyes, and make up our own minds about what did or didn't happen.
Can we determine without doubt exactly what went on here? No. But we can conclude that the bulk of the inflammatory statement issued by the congressman's office is overly dramatic, and the remainder is not true. On the other hand, there's nothing in the video that refutes the (to my knowledge) anonymous eye-witness testimony.
I understand the congressman has quietly dropped the "arrest" claim, but given the media coverage, and subsequent "dramatic events" reported, one might hope some sort of full apology or clarification would follow, a bit of a confession to clear up the obvious remaining confusion seems in order. There's more than a bit of hostility in the news since the passage of the health care bill (and there's a great lesson for consumers of "news" in this case), and obviously a dose of real truth from one of the individuals responsible for fanning the flames of that hostility - especially when he's an elected representative of the people (and a Methodist minister) - could go a long way to defuse a tense situation.
If reduced tensions are desirable, that is. If they aren't, I'd advise everyone to be careful out there.
Previously: Rabble rousing.
...but every day is a good day to visit Castle Argghhh.
In the mail: Matt Gallagher's Kaboom: Embracing the suck in a Savage Little War.
This is what you call original reporting:
It was a tense scene outside a meeting of Democratic lawmakers as a 100 or so protesters chanted "kill the bill," and one man launching a homophobic slur at Rep. Barney Frank.
Frank, who is gay, was leaving the Longworth House Office Building when a man yelled a charged homophobic slur at the Massachusetts lawmaker.
Other protesters quickly admonished the shouter, with one woman yelling back, "We don't need that."
This is what's known as an immediate response: "Frank, approached in the halls after the president's speech, shrugged off the incident."
File this under "on second thought..."
Rep. Frank wants GOP to distance itself from Tea Party protests after gay slurs While making the trek across the street from his office to the Capitol, Frank was called a "Homo Communist" and told to "go homo to Massachusetts" by several protesters, according to witnesses and confirmed by Frank.
"If this was a movement that I was part of, I'd be doing more than I think the Republicans are, to differentiate myself," Frank said in an interview with The Hill that afternoon.
This is a statement from the office of Representative Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.)
This afternoon, the Congressman was walking into the Capitol to vote, when one protester spat on him. The Congressman would like to thank the US Capitol Police officer who quickly escorted the other Members and him into the Capitol, and defused the tense situation with professionalism and care. After all the Members were safe, a full report was taken and the matter was handled by the US Capitol Police. The man who spat on the Congressman was arrested, but the Congressman has chosen not to press charges. He has left the matter with the Capitol Police.
This is a statement from the Capitol Police:
A congressman who was spat on by a protestor on Capitol Hill says he is declining to press charges, but turns out the Capitol Police say they made no arrests.
Sgt. Kimberly Schneider of the U.S. Capitol Police said in an e-mail later: "We did not make any arrests today."
This appears to be an eyewitness account of the incident from the day of the protest:
And (added) this is video of the actual incident - it occurs directly in front of the camera about a minute and a half in; Cleaver continues to walk away, but then returns with a police officer.
The description of the incident provided in the first video is more accurate than Cleaver's.
This is the later coverage from the Washington Post:
'Tea party' protesters accused of spitting on lawmaker, using slurs
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus said that racial epithets were hurled at them Saturday by angry protesters who had gathered at the Capitol to protest health-care legislation, and one congressman said he was spit upon. The most high-profile openly gay congressman, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), was heckled with anti-gay chants.
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) issued a statement late Saturday saying that he was spit upon while walking to the Capitol to cast a vote, leading the Capitol Police to usher him into the building out of concern for his safety. Police detained the individual, who was then released because Cleaver declined to press charges.
According to observers, Frank was confronted by about 100 protesters inside the Longworth House Office Building, where Democrats were huddling for another meeting about the legislation. Some targeted Frank with anti-gay epithets and urged him to vote against the bill.
Democratic leaders and their aides said they were outraged by the day's behavior. "I have heard things today that I have not heard since March 15, 1960, when I was marching to get off the back of the bus," said House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), the highest-ranking black official in Congress.
I'd quote the sections that explain what actually (in the case of Cleaver) or what else (in the case of Frank) happened, but those are missing from the account.
This is the AP's "analysis"
Courtland Milloy: Congressmen show grace, restraint in the face of disrespect
I know how the "tea party" people feel, the anger, venom and bile that many of them showed during the recent House vote on health-care reform. I know because I want to spit on them, take one of their "Obama Plan White Slavery" signs and knock every racist and homophobic tooth out of their Cro-Magnon heads.
Reps. John L. Lewis (D-Ga.), Emanuel Cleaver II (D-Missouri), James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and others deserve a hats off for their restraint and composure.
Cleaver told me: "I said to this one person, 'You spat on me.' I thought he was going to say, 'Hey, I was yelling. Sorry.' But he continuing yelling and, for a few seconds, I pointed at him and said, 'You spat on me.' "
How about pointing and declaring: "Spit in my face, fist in yours"? But that's just me.
And he refuses to press charges, no less.
"I would prefer to believe that the man who allowed his saliva to hit my face was irrational for a moment," Cleaver said.
Have mercy. The preacher walks the walk.
"It reminds me of that period in our history right after Reconstruction," Clyburn said, "when South Carolina had a black governor and the political gains were lost because of vigilantism, the rise of the Ku Klux Klan."
Of course, black people are not supposed to have such memories. Forgive -- and forget; that's what we are supposed to do. See, we live in post-racial America now, with a black president and all. So, if anybody is racist, it's black people.
"It reminded me of photographs I saw of the jeering crowds when Central High was being integrated by the Little Rock 9 in 1957," said Lewis, 70, a civil rights veteran and one of the nation's most distinguished advocates for justice and racial quality.
"It also reminded me of the angry demeanor of white people when a group of us were being arrested in February 1960 in Nashville, during a civil rights demonstration. As we were being led to a police van, people lined the streets just like they were at the Capitol, and they were yelling 'The niggers are coming!' and 'Go back to Africa!' "
There he goes again, remembering.
Makes me mad as hell.
From the "N-word" and anti-gay slurs being leveled at congressmen by protesters right outside the Capitol, to a shout of "baby killer!" within the chamber itself, to veiled and not-so-veiled threats online, the weekend saw an explosion of stunningly ugly discourse.
First there were the racist slurs shouted by protesters at black congressmen outside the Capitol on Saturday, only feet from the actual debate inside.
Rep. Andre Carson, D-Ind., said that as he left the Cannon House Office Building with Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., 70, a leader of the civil rights era, they were taunted with chants of "the N-word, the N-word, 15 times."
A spokeswoman for Democratic Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., said a protester spit on Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., who is also black.
"I heard people saying things today that I have not heard since March 15, 1960, when I was marching to try to get off the back of the bus," Clyburn told reporters.
"It was like going into a time machine," Carson said of his experience.
That's an important point, Cohen notes; the same kind of vitriolic language was used after civil rights measures were passed, and also when Franklin Roosevelt was trying to implement the New Deal. "It was at least as intense back then," Cohen says.
Also targeted this weekend was Rep. Barney Frank, the openly gay congressman from Massachusetts. Protesters used common anti-gay slurs against him.
"Yes, they called me faggot, homo, several times," Frank said in a telephone interview Monday. "It doesn't hurt me, but it was sad to see this level of vituperation." He also said he was stunned to see, inside the chamber on Sunday, Republican lawmakers cheer protesters who stood up in the House gallery and shouted, "Kill the bill."
While numerous videos of the protests have surfaced online, none have confirmed any of the other alleged racist attacks.
About 100 suspected militants linked to al-Qaeda have been arrested in Saudi Arabia, the interior ministry said.
It said a group of 47 Saudis and 51 foreigners had been preparing "acts of terror" - attacks on oil installations in the world's biggest oil exporter.
"Saudi Arabia is the world's biggest oil exporter, and therefore central to the global economy," explains the Guardian.
While its monarchy is an ally of the US, it is seen as a stronghold of al-Qaida activity. Fifteen of the 19 people who plotted the September 11 attacks were born in the country.
But many of the suspects arrested there this week were from Yemen.
Among the foreign nationals were dozens of people from Yemen, which has been the focus of increasing security concerns since the failed December bombing of a plane over Detroit by a Nigerian man with links to the country.
Most of those held were arrested in the southern province of Jazan, near the border with Yemen, the reports said.
The militants were organized in three cells, two of which were planning to attack oil and security facilities in the oil-producing Eastern Province. They included a Yemeni who security officials describe as being a prominent member of al Qaeda.
Lt. Dan Choi, a West Point graduate and fluent Arabist being discharged from the Army for being openly gay, was arrested last week along with former Army captain Jim Pietrangelo II, after handcuffing themselves to the White House gate in protest of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
That's a fact, Jack. But the rest of this Newsweek story is Choi explaining himself.
In his first interview after the arrest, Choi spoke with NEWSWEEK's Eve Conant about what drove him to act, the schism within the gay movement, and why those in support of gay rights need to be prepared to make personal sacrifices in the quest for full federal equality.
Within the first few paragraph's he's comparing himself to Jesus and Gandhi.
But in the entire article you won't see this news from last month.
Gay military rights advocate Lt. Dan Choi has been called back into drill duty, he told The Advocate in a phone interview Tuesday...
Choi said his commander called him personally, asking him to return.
Pardon me if I pause a moment here to point out that confronted with the possibility of not being separated for being gay - and with a repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell very likely within the next year - Dan Choi took an action that (regardless of the motivation behind it - ain't that right, "Major" Cook?) should pretty much end anyone's military career - he chained himself in uniform to the effing White House fence - the home of the Commander in Chief - as a way of making a very public political protest. Anyone who finds that image inspiring is best ignored on all matters of US national defense. Choi damn well ought to be out of the military for that stunt ASAP, in fact he's all but forced it. How happy he's made the powers-that-be who are now spared from having to discharge him under DADT.
And oh by the way given supporters of banning homosexuals from service something they'll very much welcome: an example of why "those people" shouldn't be allowed to serve. (And this was the guy who was the best example of exactly why so many anti-gay arguments were wrong, a guy who really, truly, sincerely just wanted to serve... no, really, I swear...)
As a very secure heterosexual male who doesn't care about anyone's sexuality, and one who served 24 years and has the stories to go with it, I personally never cared if someone I served with was gay or not. I had exactly one measure of anyone's worth - could they accomplish their mission or would they become the mission of five other people? Anyone who ever served beyond the lowest levels knows exactly what I mean, I suspect anyone who ever held a job anywhere knows exactly what I mean.
Dan Choi just f#$ked a lot of gay service members and veterans - those who really do want to serve - right in the ass.
Elsewhere: Andrew Sullivan says (approvingly) Choi's self-comparison to Gandhi and Jesus is the "quote of the day." At Mediate, it's "perhaps the most intelligent but destined to be ignored sentence in the interview".
The American Legion commander weighs in:
"I have been assured personally by the President, Secretary of Defense, VA Secretary, Speaker of the House, Majority Leaders, and numerous other Senators and Representatives - as has National Commander David Rehbein before me - that nothing in the national health care reform legislation will change current DoD and VA health care eligibility or practices," said The American Legion National Commander Clarence E. Hill concerning the outcome of the health care vote on Sunday.
So there's that.
But are all the new requirements for health care insurance (insurers and beneficiaries) under the bill "worse" than what's available to active duty military, veterans, and their families? No. And "change" can be read as "degrade or improve."
Our family isn't the only one in this situation: my 22 year old daughter, currently working her way through college, is no longer eligible for coverage under TRICARE after her next birthday. So unless it does change (to meet the same requirements imposed on other insurers, who must keep dependent children on their parent's policies until age 26) she'll be forced to obtain her own insurance. That might only immediately affect a small number of career military/retired military families, but ultimately it will impact each and every one.
We're not special. Like most families - military or not - we're waiting to see. I'd like to add a note of optimism to that, but pledges that "nothing will change" don't give me any reason for it.
Mohamedou Slahi: "It does not make any sense to me," he said, according to a Pentagon transcript. "It looks like O.J. trial."
There's no audio in the first few seconds of this video... then, Eleanor Roosevelt tells a joke to the troops in the Pacific theater during World War II, about the poor Marine who couldn't kill a Jap on Guadalcanal. (Racist hatred alert: Yes, the first lady uses the term "Japs" here.)
And there the video ends, with uproarious laughter.
The joke is actually funny with the missing punch line: "And the Marine says, "Well damn! I can't shoot a fellow Republican!!"
Here's the Bob Hope version:
Democrat Franklin Roosevelt was the first of eleven presidents Republican Bob Hope entertained. The commander-in-chief loved the comedian on the big screen and appreciated Hope's efforts entertaining the troops during World War II. Their paths crossed when Bob emceed a dinner in the president's honor, a few months before Roosevelt won an unprecedented fourth term in 1944. In front of a crowd of luminaries, Hope told a story about a Marine in the South Pacific who was disappointed that he had not encountered an enemy combatant. At the edge of a jungle, with his gun at the ready, he shouted out, "To hell with Hirohito!"
A Japanese soldier emerged from behind the trees. "To hell with Roosevelt!"
But the Marine lowered his weapon. "Darn it, I can't shoot a fellow Republican."
The president threw back his head and laughed so hard Bob later said he almost considered voting for him.
And here's the story of racism and hatred that led to Mrs Roosevelt's journey.
But it's still a good joke. (An updated version in Afghanistan featuring Obama and Osama would be too easy. Would Michelle tell it?)
From Iraqi's in Baghdad.
"It was a good movie... the things that have happened in Iraq, the things we've been through, when we talk about them to our sons and to those who follow, we'll be able to show them things in the form of a movie "
"This movie clarified the war between Iraq and America, and showed the suffering of the American soldier..."
"It was not logical. I am astonished, really. How did that movie get an Oscar?"
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (AP) -- Eight Marines were charged in the biggest criminal case against U.S. troops to arise from the Iraq war. Six have had charges dismissed, and one was acquitted.
Whether the only remaining and perhaps highest-profile defendant stands trial may hinge on what happens this week in a military courtroom.
Gen. James Mattis is expected to testify at the pretrial hearing today.
John Murtha was not available for comment.
From today's Dawn Patrol:
Tricare Meets Health Care Bill's Standards, Gates Says -- [Department of Defense]
WASHINGTON, March 22, 2010 - The Tricare military health plan meets the standards set by the health care reform bill the House of Representatives passed last night, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said in a statement issued yesterday.
Calling their health and well-being his highest priority, Gates reassured servicemembers and their families that the legislation won't have a negative effect on Tricare, which "already meets the bill's quality and minimum benefit standards."
"This was clarified by a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives [March 20], and is expected to be re-affirmed by the Senate," Gates said in the statement.
"The president and I are committed to seeing that our troops, retirees and their families will continue to receive the best quality health care," the secretary said.
National Healthcare Bill Betrays Veterans -- [Veterans of Foreign Wars]
WASHINGTON, March 21, 2010 -- The national commander of the nation's oldest and largest combat veterans' organization is furious that Congress is moving ahead with a flawed healthcare bill that does not protect the health programs provided to veterans, servicemembers or their families...
"This is Washington doubletalk at its very worse, and the uproar is going to be huge in America's military and veterans' communities," said Tradewell, who wants Congress to vote against H.R. 4872 today.
The issue surfaced publicly Friday when House Armed Service Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) introduced legislation to explicitly protect Tricare and other Defense Department nonappropriated fund health plans from any health reforms currently under consideration by Congress.
Yesterday, Reps. Steve Buyer (R-Ind.) and Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) tried to introduce an amendment to H.R. 4872 to protect the integrity and independence of the VA and Defense Department healthcare systems. Buyer is the ranking member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee and McKeon is the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee.
The statement "Tricare Meets Health Care Bill's Standards" is incorrect on at least one point. Under TRICARE, unmarried dependent children are eligible for coverage until their 21st birthday (or their 23rd if a full-time student) - then they're own their own. One of the most frequently touted points of the health care bill is that insurers must offer coverage for 'children' up to age 26 on their parent's policy.
The statement could be wrong in other regards, too - that's just the one I noticed off the top of my head. (I've got 'kids' in and approaching that age range.)
Update: from The American Legion "Burn Pit" blog: Now that the deed 'tis done, how will it affect you?
And... here's part two.
Some Monday morning comedy to start the week off right.
Speaking of The Pacific, you can watch the first episode online (free) here.
Sergeant Basilone, what do you think of the Japanese as a fighting man?
Far from the dense jungles and brutal fighting on Guadalcanal, Platoon Sergeant John Basilone sat down on 1 September 1943 for an interview with a Marine public relations captain in Washington, D.C. The following is a transcript of their conversation in which Basilone recounts his actions during the Battle of Henderson Field that earned him the Medal of Honor. The transcript is at the National Archives, College Park, Maryland.
Basilone's story is featured in part two of HBO's The Pacific. Read the whole thing.
Protest video from the AP.
"...organizers estimated the crowd at 10,000. A U.S. Park Police officer on the route estimated about 2,500," sez the Washington Post. "A disparity," sez I. But if the police officer is in error, he's erring on the side of generosity; the organizers are being organizers, of course. Since the march included a stop at their offices, you'd think maybe the Post could add their own guess - or (even better) a decent crowd photo. You'd think wrong. (But here's what they got.)
So Jonn Lilyea somehow managed to accomplish what the AP camera crew, the Washington Post, and other "journalists" couldn't - he captured a whole-crowd photo at the D.C. "anti-war" rally yesterday. (To understand the quotes around "anti-war", see his other pictures.) If anyone's got a better one, by all means let me know.*
The WaPo story includes many quotable quotes, but this one stands out to me.
Larry Syverson, 61, a geologist from Richmond, said three of his sons have served a total of five tours in Iraq. His oldest, Branden Syverson, 38, is on a one-year tour in Afghanistan. Syverson held a sign that included a photo of his son Branden in Army fatigues and this message: "Bring my son home now."
Long-time/often-quoted protester Larry (though his opposition to war in Afghanistan seems to be a more recent development) seems every bit as committed to his cause as his sons are to theirs. All that reminded me that somewhere on this site long ago I observed that the only claim to fame for some Baby Boomers' is that they're the first generation in history to protest their parents and their kids.
* To be fair - from what I hear half the folks who had time to attend rallies like this one a few years ago actually had to work this weekend. Something about voting on a health care Bill...
The association denied the Times' request for the records, maintaining it is exempt from disclosure because its staff is all-volunteer. A former top IRS official says there is no such exemption.
The group reported $4.58 million in income from its Florida chapter in 2008 and $17.82 million from its other chapters. It said it donated about 1 percent to needy beneficiaries and said the other 99 percent went for administrative costs, educational materials and "direct assistance'' to veterans and their families.
By e-mail, the association said it had "tens of thousands'' of expense records that document everything. The group would not discuss details, disclose where the records are stored or let the Times review a single receipt.
If this is a legitimate charity they should learn how to answer legitimate questions. I don't think the next phone call will be from the press.
Mentioned it in passing before, but from the above screen capture you can see the big anti war protest in DC ("Thousands Rally in D.C. Against Iraq War") is not just covered, but is the lead story on the local NBC web site's news page today.
And D.C. is a protest town. A search of the Washington Post for headlines with "protest" in them today turns up all these stories (and this just the protest coverage from one day):
So not just one, but two stories on the Iraq war protest.
They missed at least one, though. Scroll a bit further down the NBC page and you'll learn that "Peace Lovers Not the Only Protesters in Town"
...apparently there are some skull-carrying nutjobs running around loose, too. Fortunately, not too many of them, from what I can tell.
The war started quietly just before dawn. I woke up in my sleeping bag on the Bradley's lowered ramp and looked at my watch. It was 0429 hours local time, about half an hour after George Bush's deadline elapsed. Col. Perkins had said we'd be parked under the air corridor the cruise missiles would pass through enroute to Baghdad. They'd be 350 feet overhead.
Ten minutes later, still lying in my bag with the night's chill creeping in, I heard them. Small whiny jet noises, accompanied by a odd waffling sound of air turbulence. One after another. Voom, voom, voom. I counted 20, about $30 million worth, and thought, "Someone's in for a rude wakeup."
The international press in the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad would capture some spectacular shots of those missiles blowing the crap out of the Palace District across the Tigris in about 45 minutes. And, over the next few weeks, though we didn't know it then, we would follow the missiles to exactly the same place they were going now, where we would fight and then camp among the bodies of the men we had killed, amid the ruins the cruise missiles had made there. I say "we," because by then a lot of the distinctions between us, reporter and soldiers, would have become less distinct and we would all be inescapably part of the same thing, very dirty and very tired and somewhat different than we had been before.
I think Jules and I both share frustration at having been part of something that's been so ill-defined by those who weren't. I don't think we're alone.
You know how this guy knew it was March, 2010? Someone reminded him about the protest on the seventh anniversary of the Iraq war, dude.
Know how everyone else knew it was March, 2010? No protest coverage in the American media.
But don't take it personal, comrade. Even the big protests are ignored these days.
Update: heh - here's NBC's local coverage of the protests: "Saturday's large-scale protest signaled the revival of the anti-war movement, that has been largely silent since January 2008, according to The Hindu." So, even the local D.C. reporters based their story on the coverage from the Hindu.
Meanwhile, here's a Boston Globe report from Baghdad on the seventh anniversary of the US invasion. ("Iraqis went about their business yesterday with little observance of the anniversary"). For the American view, here's an AP report in the LA Times and USA Today: "It was a day like any other day -- except that it was the seventh anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. And, for the most part, that was forgotten."
Master Sgt. Normand Roy of Lewiston led a Maine National Guard platoon in Iraq and lost three soldiers there. He figures he fought for his fellow Americans' freedom to forget about the war.
"That's what's so great about America," he said. "People have a right to their opinions. ... Unless it's right there in front of you in plain sight, then you tend to forget."
As an Iraq vet, I understand that. I agree with it, even. (Which is not to say I think the date isn't noteworthy - it absolutely is.) But really, there's no denying there are things going on that seem more exciting than the seventh anniversary of something that actually was.
But maybe for some this complaint from Mediaite is valid: "Notice Something Missing? MSM Seems To Collectively Forget Anniversary Of Iraq War." (After all, as all good Huffpo readers learned yesterday, "1,050,923 dead Iraqis, Afghans, civilians, soldiers, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, wives, husbands, daughters, sons, friends, cousins, aunts, uncles -- too many.")
The web site Talk Left gave a nod to the anniversary yesterday, and drew this as comment #1: "The MSM sure got quiet about it when it became Obama's Occupation....look, over there, they published Tiger's text messages to a pron star...Iraq who?"
Perhaps that explains it.
There's been no shortage of news stories lately on successful anti-Taliban efforts in Pakistan. It began with a leaked (but only after they knew it wouldn't hurt national security!) story from the New York Times ("The participation of Pakistan's spy service could suggest a new level of cooperation from Pakistan's leaders...") and for weeks thereafter it seemed a day didn't pass without news of another Taliban operative captured there. Here's a roundup of some of the roundups, crediting both the CIA and Pakistan's intelligence service for their great success. ("...by far the most extensive and successful targeting of the Afghan Taliban since the war began... The raids suggest that the two agencies are working closer together than ever before.")
Hooray for a new era of cooperation - but now comes this:
The former United Nations envoy to Afghanistan accused Pakistan of undermining negotiations with the Taliban by arresting senior Taliban officials.
Kai Eide, a Norwegian diplomat who stepped down from the U.N. post this month, said in a British Broadcasting Corp. interview broadcast Friday that he had been engaged in negotiations about a possible end to Afghanistan's war with "senior Taliban leadership" since last spring, with the apparent blessing of the insurgency's overall chief, Mullah Muhammad Omar.
These contacts, Mr. Eide added, stopped in the past few weeks after Pakistan captured the Taliban's operations chief and effective No. 2 Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Karachi and detained more than a dozen other Afghan Taliban leaders.
Pakistan's motivation, Mr. Eide suggested, was to stop independent negotiations between the Taliban and the international community, so as to ensure its own control over any future settlement--a theory that Pakistani officials have denied.
"The Pakistanis did not play the role that they should have played," he said in the interview, which he confirmed to The New York Times.
There has been a swirl of often contradictory reports about the arrest of Mullah Baradar, and a wide range of American and international reactions to it. Some American officials have welcomed Pakistan's new enthusiasm for hunting down Taliban leaders. Others have questioned Pakistan's motivations in detaining Mullah Baradar, who was open to early discussions about peace negotiations.
Peter Galbraith, once the Obama administration's "man inside" the UN Afghanistan mission, says things weren't as Eide claims.
Mr Galbraith, who had a public falling out with Mr Eide last year, said of his former colleague: "He's had very irregular meetings with people who were once associated with the Taleban, but he has not been in any negotiations with the Quetta Shura. He's simply exaggerated his role."
In his final news conference as the United Nations special representative in Afghanistan earlier this month, Eide "cautioned against excessive militarization of international efforts" there, and "also warned that military operations against insurgents needed to be waged in a manner that did not impede efforts to negotiate a peaceful solution with them."
Prior to the announcement of the Taliban arrests, General McChrystal commented on senior Taliban leaders here.
FT: Do you think then that it would be conceivable that this conflict could end with senior figures in the Taliban perhaps playing a role in a future government in Kabul?
Gen McChrystal: It's hard to speculate about individuals, but I think that anybody who dedicates themselves to the future and not the past, and anybody whose future is focused on the right kinds of things for Afghanistan, under a constitutional fair umbrella, then I think it's likely that it will be a wide participation.
However, he added that the decision wasn't his, and "would be the Afghan people's." Further: "It's not my job to extend olive branches, but it's my job to help set conditions where people in the right positions can have options on the way forward."
General Petraeus commented in an interview here.
Senior commanders right up to the very top if they're willing?
As Secretary Gates observed recently. He noted the possibility of that is probably unlikely given the dynamics at present but I don't think it is something that anyone rules out. Again that was not an option pursued in Iraq. We certainly never approached the most senior al-Qaeda in Iraq or the most senior Sunni extremist leaders. However there were certainly some fairly high-level insurgent leaders who did indeed reconcile with the Iraqi Government so it is not something that can be ruled out but it is also not something that I would anticipate as they say in the United States: coming soon to a theatre near you.
Both those late January comments could be interpreted as a signal to the enemy that negotiations would be welcome - but a few days later came the announcements of the captures in Pakistan.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Afghan President Hamid Karzai discussed the topic during Gates' visit there this month.
On the issue of reconciliation with top Taliban leaders, Gates said it was important that it be done under terms set by the Afghan government. Recent captures of Afghan Taliban leaders by the Pakistani intelligence service have increased speculation that Pakistan is attempting to put its own imprint on any talks that materialize.
Returning to the original New York Times story on the capture of Baradar ("The New York Times learned of the operation on Thursday, but delayed reporting it at the request of White House officials... The Times is publishing the news now because White House officials acknowledged that the capture of Mullah Baradar was becoming widely known in the region...") for the sake of a complete account it's worth noting that the story broke after a weekend of highly-publicized assaults on the Obama administration's anti-terror policies from former VP Dick Cheney.
The thus-timely Times' account prompted responses like this one.
The capture of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban's top military commander, is no small matter. It's a "major victory." Given that Baradar is the most significant Taliban figure to be detained since the war began, and his role in leading the Taliban's military operations, this is a success that may very well pay considerable dividends for U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
As far as the politics is concerned, it's worth noting that U.S. leaders were well aware of Baradar's capture late last week, but deliberately kept the news under wraps in order to help bolster a sensitive and ongoing intelligence-gathering effort. This prompted Juan Cole to note:[T]hat Joe Biden and others kept the arrest secret, in order to allow further operations against Taliban leaders in Karachi, shows a discipline that Bush and Cheney never had. They were always happy to prematurely release details of ongoing investigations to get a political bump, even if it meant allowing terrorists to escape.Right. Dick Cheney was blasting the Obama administration on national security over the weekend, and it might have been tempting for Biden and others to use the Baradar capture as evidence that Cheney doesn't know what he's talking about. But the White House Grown-Ups knew the ongoing efforts were more important than making Dick the Clown look foolish. As Andrew Sullivan noted, the president and his team "are serious about national security and do not put domestic political games before it."
The author was perplexed as to why the Obama administration wasn't drawing even more attention to the great success.
I have my own reasons for taking any report on the CIA, ISI, UN, or the Obama administration (and this story involves all of them) with a grain of salt - perhaps best summed up by this: it seems certain that things are never as they seem.
FACING UP TO IRAQ
Washington Post, Monday, January 29, 2001
OF ALL THE booby traps left behind by the Clinton administration, none is more dangerous -- or more urgent -- than the situation in Iraq. Over the last year, Mr. Clinton and his team quietly avoided dealing with, or calling attention to, the almost complete unraveling of a decade's efforts to isolate the regime of Saddam Hussein and prevent it from rebuilding its weapons of mass destruction.
That leaves President Bush to confront a dismaying panorama in the Persian Gulf: intelligence photos that show the reconstruction of factories long suspected of producing chemical and biological weapons; reports of massive illegal Iraqi exports of oil through Syria; a stream of planes landing at Baghdad airport in violation of sanctions, carrying passengers from France, Russia, Turkey and Italy, in addition to Arab states; Turkey and even Britain signaling that they may no longer be willing to support U.S. air operations over Iraq. And, in case there is any doubt about Saddam Hussein's intentions, he recently presided over a bellicose military parade in Baghdad featuring 1,000 tanks and scores of mobile missile systems.
The Clintonites had one clear reason for trying to ignore this worsening threat: It is hard to know what to do. Efforts to tighten sanctions on Iraq in the U.N. Security Council, or even to maintain the ones that exist, are blocked by France, Russia and China, which are eager to do business with Iraq. Arab states -- and in particular the wobbly new leaders of Syria and Jordan -- have no interest in supporting a U.S. effort to crack down on Baghdad. On the contrary, Arabs throughout the Middle East are angry at the United States for its perceived support for Israel during recent clashes with the Palestinians, and that mood is likely to grow still uglier in the months ahead. The Iraqi opposition remains weak and divided; even its latest, modest plan to mount clandestine aid and propaganda operations inside Iraq, reluctantly funded by the outgoing Clinton administration to satisfy a congressional mandate, seems like a reach.
In this light, the two-word prescription for Iraq that Secretary of State Colin Powell has so far repeated -- "reinvigorate sanctions" -- is more ambitious than it sounds, while the hugely aggressive plan endorsed two years ago by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his likely deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, which involved recognizing an alternative Iraqi government and providing it military cover to set up a headquarters in southern Iraq, sounds just as ambitious as it is. Both ideas would require radical reversals by unhappy allies such as Turkey and Jordan, and Secretary Powell would have to win over non-allies such as Syria and Russia too. Other options are more plausible but far weaker: The United Nations is due to resume talks with Iraq next month and could try to broker a deal that would end sanctions in return for Iraq's acceptance of new weapons inspections; some Europeans are suggesting a refocusing of sanctions on essentials, such as controlling Iraqi oil exports and stopping the import of militarily useful materials.
In all this, the option the Bush administration can least afford is Mr. Clinton's inaction. Saddam Hussein -- who tried to assassinate Mr. Bush's father after losing the Persian Gulf War to him -- is likely to challenge the administration soon; among other things, Iraq has been laying the groundwork for an attempt to disrupt world oil markets by withholding its production as OPEC tightens supplies. To be sure, it will take considerable time and effort to roll back Saddam Hussein's gains. But in the short term, some steps can be taken. Pressure can be focused on Syria, as well as on Turkey and Jordan, to stop the illegal export of Iraqi oil. And the administration can take a clear stand: If new Iraqi production facilities for weapons of mass destruction can be identified, the United States quickly will take action against them -- with or without its allies.In fairness, here's a policy statement from the Clinton administration, issued within days of his inauguration in 1993.
CLINTON -- U.S. WILL STAY WITH IRAQ POLICY
(Following is an editorial, broadcast by the Voice of America January 26, reflecting the views of the U.S. government.)
The new administration of President Bill Clinton has made it clear in both words and deeds that it will continue to insist that Iraq comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions. The day after President Clinton took office, an Iraqi missile battery used its radar in a hostile manner to track American planes patrolling the "no-fly" zone in northern Iraq. In accordance with previously established rules of engagement, the American planes attacked the Iraqi missile site. A similar incident took place the next day.
President Clinton stressed that United States policy on Iraq will not change. "It is the American policy," he said, "and that is what we are going to stay with."
Secretary of State Warren Christopher also stressed the continuity of U.S. policy toward Iraq. "The United States intends to protect our pilots in the 'no-fly' zone," he said. "The Iraqis know perfectly well what it takes to comply with the U.N. resolutions and with the establishment of the 'no-fly' zones." Secretary Christopher said the U.S. attack on the missile site shows the determination with which the Clinton administration will pursue its policy toward Iraq.
The United States and other members of the international coalition have established "no-fly" zones in both northern and southern Iraq to protect coalition pilots helping to monitor Iraqi compliance with U.N. Security 1ouncil Resolution 688. This resolution demands that Iraq cease immediately its repression of the Iraqi people. Earlier this month, after repeated Iraqi violations of the "no-fly" zones, officials of the United States, Britain, France and Russia issued a formal warning to Iraq. When the warning was ignored, coalition forces took military action. The coalition members have made it clear that further actions will depend on the Iraqi regime's behavior.
As President Clinton said in his inaugural address on January 20, America "will not shrink from the challenges" it faces in a changing world but will work with its friends and allies to shape change. President Clinton said that when America's "vital interests are challenged, or the will and conscience of the international community is defied, we will act -- with peaceful diplomacy whenever possible, with force when necessary."
Posted at 0939Z
Following the obligatory "seven years" stories, the big news from Iraq today seems to be "FIFA lifts Iraq's ban from international soccer." In many regards that general lack of news is good news in and of itself.
But this sort of thing goes on, too:
Forces Kill Suspected Al-Qaida in Iraq Leader
Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs
Posted: 03.19.2010 12:35
BAGHDAD - A suspected senior al-Qaida in Iraq leader was killed and six suspected associates were arrested, March 19, during a series of operations in Mosul, military officials reported.
Acting upon a warrant issued by an Iraqi judge, Iraqi forces and U.S. advisors stopped a vehicle and searched several buildings for Khalid Muhammad Hasan Shallub al-Juburi, also known as Sheikh Khalid, who is a suspected leader for the terrorist group in northern Iraq.
He is believed to have played an integral role in approving al-Qaida in Iraq operations, including attacks against the Iraqi people before and during the recent parliamentary elections, officials said.
Iraqi soldiers and U.S. advisors stopped a vehicle on a public road, based on credible intelligence tips that Sheikh Khalid was a passenger, officials said. When the security team ordered the two occupants to come out of the vehicle, the passenger brandished a pistol and fired a shot that struck a security-team member.
The security team returned fire, killing the passenger and wounding the driver in the leg. The wounded security-team member and driver were taken to a local medical facility for treatment of minor injuries. The passenger later was identified as Sheikh Khalid.
After the vehicle stop, four combined security teams composed of Iraqi soldiers and U.S. advisors searched several buildings in eastern Mosul associated with Sheikh Khalid and his terrorist group.
Evidence discovered during the operation included plans detailing upcoming bomb attacks against security forces in Iraq. After conducting preliminary questioning and an initial examination of the evidence found during the operation, Iraqi forces arrested six suspected criminal associates of Sheikh Khalid.
So, should we be glad to live in a world where such things aren't newsworthy?
I ask because I don't know.
Now that he is back, Drake said he is already looking forward to his next deployment. "I volunteered to go with this unit. My unit will start to pre-mobilize in 2011 for Afghanistan."
The Mudville Gazette, on the other hand, just turned seven years old this week. Be sure to scroll down today's Dawn patrol, where for today (with some help from the invaluable Internet Archive) I've recreated the world as it was back then.
That history's still being written, in more ways than one. The next year begins today.
Senior Obama administration officials this week have given sharply different views on how bin Laden would be dealt with if he fell into U.S. hands. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said Wednesday that the military would "certainly" try to capture bin Laden alive and "bring him to justice."
A day earlier, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. told a congressional panel that bin Laden would never go on trial in the United States because the chances of him being caught alive are "infinitesimal." He predicted flatly that bin Laden will be killed -- either by U.S. forces or by al-Qaeda operatives determined to prevent him from being captured.
Panetta said the agency has a plan in the event that a top al-Qaeda leader is captured. "The most likely scenario is you bring them to a military facility, and we would then do the questioning" there, he said.
Well then, time for the President to settle the issue. What say you, sir?
"We will kill bin Laden; we will crush Al Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority."
Sounds pretty straightforward to me. In fact, it's a surprisingly clear and unequivocal promise - maybe the only one made in a campaign otherwise characterized by subtle nuance. There's just no way to parse "we will kill bin Laden" to mean something other than "we will kill bin Laden."
Perhaps the president has subsequently determined that wasn't such a great idea after all - but until he says so his orders are clear: Bring. It. On.
"For weeks, the U.S. public followed the biggest offensive of the Afghanistan War," writes Gareth Porter of the recent Marjah campaign in Afghanistan.
That statement has some truth to it, but as far as followings go, Olympic Women's Curling probably drew a bigger crowd. And while much of the coverage of the Marjah campaign was outstanding, with many embedded reporters providing details from on-scene, much more of it (no doubt produced with TV ratings in mind) was just awful.
For Porter all that meant maybe, just maybe, he could write a story like this one, and people would believe it.
WASHINGTON, Mar 8, 2010 (IPS) - For weeks, the U.S. public followed the biggest offensive of the Afghanistan War against what it was told was a "city of 80,000 people" as well as the logistical hub of the Taliban in that part of Helmand. That idea was a central element in the overall impression built up in February that Marja was a major strategic objective, more important than other district centres in Helmand.
It turns out, however, that the picture of Marja presented by military officials and obediently reported by major news media is one of the clearest and most dramatic pieces of misinformation of the entire war, apparently aimed at hyping the offensive as a historic turning point in the conflict.
It's a great conspiracy theory - claiming that a major city was situated precisely where one obviously wasn't is even more audacious than claiming a nation had weapons of mass destruction when they really didn't. But it's riskier, too - anyone spending a minute with Google Earth could expose the "big city" claim as fraud without any room for arguments to the contrary.
"But wouldn't even the most effective propaganda campaign have collapsed," you might wonder, "when at least one of the many reporters embedded with the Marines eventually noticed that the city they were supposedly assaulting did not exist?"
Why, no - they're the obedient major news media, after all. But what happened - in Porter's story - was that one mysterious "official of the International Security Assistance Force" found the courage (or maybe Porter's tenaciousness simply wore him down) to at last admit The Truth.
"It's not urban at all," an official of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), who asked not to be identified, admitted to IPS Sunday. He called Marja a "rural community".
"It's a collection of village farms, with typical family compounds," said the official, adding that the homes are reasonably prosperous by Afghan standards.
And now we know that all those DoD and news media photos and videos showing Marjah as a rural area are, um, somehow part of the, er, um... vast military industrial, uh... We are left to imagine what fate might befall that hapless whistle blower if his name was known to those whose evil manipulations he'd exposed!
Okay, no. Actually we aren't. Because that actually is a guy who can't tolerate twisted manipulation of truth - as practiced by Gareth Porter.
Gareth's argument is supported by an ISAF official "who asked not to be identified" confirming that Marjah is a "rural community" -- which adds to the air of a secret plot revealed. Except there's no secret. The official was me, and I didn't ask to be quoted anonymously.Damn, perfectly good tinfoil hat - ruined by ISAF spokesman Lt Col Tadd Sholtis, writing on his personal blog.
[Porter] has somehow managed to convince himself and a bunch of people repeating his post that briefings and press accounts describing the rural community of Marjah as a "town" or "city" was somehow a misinformation campaign by the evil militarists of 40-plus nations who are committed to eroding their political support by duping the public into extending an unpopular war in the hopes of killing as many brown people as possible. Or something like that. A search for clear motives tends to muddle an otherwise pristine paranoia.
Porter's motive, on the other hand, seems a bit more clear - and he doesn't need to sway rational people to achieve his goal, just enough people. So if an actual US military spokesman is the person telling you Marjah isn't a major urban area, but you still write a story about a US military fraud supported by major media, then describing that (as Sholtis does) as a case of someone jumping "off the Reason Train short of Plausible Junction" sounds just about right. Or maybe too kind.
It's absurd beyond any semblance of reason. But Google a quote from Porter and you'll find quite a crowd - not limited to blogs. Google a quote from the response (which also includes the text of an email sent to Porter) and you'll discover that if there's any such thing as a reason train, it's got plenty of empty seats.
Tasked with briefing the press in Afghanistan, Sholtis has probably seen more than a few of those.
More on Marjah here. (There are plenty of valid reasons it's too bad no one was paying attention...)
More Women's Curling here.
BillT gets a sendoff:
At about 1600, my Viet Vet Ops bud and I checked the weather charts and agreed it looked dicey, but since the pilots had the final call, we weren't about to second-guess them. Visibility started to improve a bit by 1700, and by 1800, the wind had abated. We were standing outside Ops, talking about pretty much everything except the weather, when the klaxon went off.
Remember I told you about sitting through the obligatory Things To Do When We're Being Mortared brief when we first got there? One of the things they mentioned was that they could guesstimate where a round would hit, and had strategically-located klaxons throughout the FOB - if you heard the klaxon, you were in the vicinity of the predicted impact area, and you'd have about five seconds to get to cover.
The mortar hit before the klaxon got its second *ONNNGGGG!* off.
Read the whole thing. (And a happy Saint Paddy's day to ya'.)
And here's mine from five years ago. The more things change, as they say.
Oh, a storm is threat'ning
My very life today
If I don't get some shelter
Oh yeah, I'm gonna fade away...
"It's just some ribbon" - until a wounded Iraq vet sees it.
Chuck Z says:
American Idol is one of the Mrs.' guilty pleasures. While I watched it tonight, I was treated to Andrew Garcia, a talented performer, singing something. I can't remember what, however, because I was way to interested in why he was wearing a series of ribbon devices on his pocket. One of those medals is the Army commendation medal. The others I haven't bothered to look up yet.
I'm not surprised the American Idol folks deleted the discussion thread from their web page.
By the way, he performed the worst cover of "Gimme Shelter" I've ever heard.
It is a great commercial, and that quote is destined for the American cultural lexicon. Remarkable what TV can do.
Now that I've seen "the making of" I still have one question: What ocean is that? The Pacific?
(In fairness, Team America was in 500 fewer theaters. Both films had a per-screen average take of @4,700 dollars.)
On a related note, from days gone by:
UGO: Who did Matt Damon?
TREY: I think we both did, actually.
MATT: We both did parts, but that's not a very tough voice. Anyone could have done that one.
TREY: The way that happened was funny, too, because it wasn't in the script. What's funny is that you can only use one skull that these faces go over so many times, and you'd be like, "Oh, let's make this person." And you try to make them, and it really didn't look that much like them because you always had to deal with the same eye things that define a person's face. Sometimes, you'd get a puppet that looked close, and sometimes you just didn't. With the Matt Damon one, I remember, they brought it down, and we were supposed to shoot Matt Damon that day, and the puppeteers came down and were like, "Here's Matt Damon!" We were like "Dude! That doesn't look like Matt Damon! He looks like retarded!" So what are we going to do? Probably out of all those people, Matt Damon we've met before, and he's actually a pretty cool guy and a talented actor. So it's just because his puppet was screwed up.
What better way to prepare for a miniseries about the Pacific theater in World War II than watching an original propaganda film used to inform the troops and the American public on the real thing? From the Wikipedia entry on Frank Capra's Why We Fight series:
Why We Fight is a series of seven propaganda films commissioned by the United States government during World War II to demonstrate to American soldiers the reason for U.S. involvement in the war. Later on they were also shown to the general U.S. public to persuade them to support American involvement in the war.
Most of the first 5 episodes dealt with Nazi Germany - the primary focus of US efforts in the early months of the war. Episode 6, "The Battle of China" was not released until 1944, years after America's entry into the war.
Is the message being delivered that "we're fighting them because they're... 'different'"? If so, I'm missing it, but I put it here so others can make up their own minds.
I'm not claiming this movie stands as a perfect representation of anything other than what official American war time propaganda was like - it's important that viewers today understand that, just as their parents and grandparents did. But the first thought that occurred to me while watching this film is that anyone who views just the first two minutes will know more about the people, land (including its location), and history of China than the average American knows of Afghanistan today. (The second thought was that any claim that the civilization that produced Sun Tzu "has never fought a war of aggression" in "four thousand years of continuous history" is one of those things I'd want a second opinion on.) But then again, Americans today can be told that "back in World War II, we viewed the Japanese as 'yellow, slant-eyed dogs'" and "wanted to annihilate them because they were different" and some will believe it without question.
(And FWIW, this version of the film appears to be one with a message to an Australian audience appended - an excerpt appears in the thumbnail above.)
Now for the bonus material - here's a quick look at a more "Hollywood" version of the war in the Pacific - the trailer from the 1943 20th Century Fox movie Guadalcanal Diary.
The film was based on a book by reporter Richard Tregaskis - "one of only two journalists on location at Guadalcanal."
And no matinee is complete without a cartoon, doc - so here's one from Warner Brothers.
And from the U.S. Naval Institute: more historical background on The Pacific here.
Previously (on The Pacific): How ignorance spreads.
More Mudville entries on The Pacific here.
Filmed on a budget reported at between 12 and 15 million, Hurt Locker is not a bomb:
The Hurt Locker DVD sales spiked after the film won best picture at the Academy Awards, and analysts said its six Oscars may help double box-office revenue for distributor Summit Entertainment.
By Monday, the Iraq war drama, which won best original screenplay and best director for Kathryn Bigelow had risen to third place from 13th on March 7 on Amazon.com's DVD sales chart. On Thursday it had dropped to No. 4, but expanding the film to 1,000 theaters from 274 in the next few weeks would boost its worldwide box-office sales to an estimated $40 million, said David Joyce, an analyst with Miller Tabak & Co. in New York. The movie has taken in $21.4 million in global ticket sales since its June 26 release, according to Box Office Mojo, a researcher based in Sherman Oaks, Calif.
Nice to see it made its way out of the red zone on the balance sheets.
On the other hand, early reports on Jason Bourne's fourth identity (The Green Zone) might have movie execs glancing nervously at the protective gear.
I haven't seen it yet, but I'm not surprised to read it trashes the troops. I would be very surprised to discover that's true, but I'm not surprised to read someone claiming it. Similar complaints have been leveled at the billion-dollar blockbuster Avatar.
(*When I saw that sort of intense concentration on someone's face in Iraq it usually meant "bad decision in the DFAC" the night before.)
A soldier sat somewhere alone
in far off land unlike his own
and heard the sound of feet on stone
and turning swiftly saw her
through dusty lens and misty eye
The noise and heat and smoke and fire
weight of armor, earth and sky
all faded in the moment
An image among the many, rare
with fearless smile and cautious stare
and something priceless she could share
the gift was all she owned
A not to be forgotten face
A hand outstretched and open, awaits
what seems uncommon in this place
brief glimpse of peace, eternal
U.S. Army Private First Class Danny Comley of Camdenton Missouri, assigned to Delta Company 4th Brigade combat team,2-508, 82nd parachute infantry Regiment, receives flowers from an Afghan girl during a patrol in the Arghandab valley in Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan. Click image for larger: (REUTERS/Baz Ratner)
...and other martial virtues on display along the India/Pakistan border.
(Hat tip: Some Soldiers Mom)
Former Air Force sergeant Jene (jeh-NAY') Newsome says she played by the rules. She never told anyone in the military that she was a lesbian.
But Newsome was discharged earlier this year under the military's "don't ask, don't tell" law after Rapid City, S.D., police officers saw an Iowa marriage license in her home and told the Ellsworth Air Force Base.
The police were at Newsome's home in November with an arrest warrant for her partner, who was wanted on theft charges in Alaska.
"I played by 'don't ask, don't tell,'" Newsome told The Associated Press by telephone.
...indicates that she's not really too familiar with the rules. She may not have told anyone she married a person of the same biological sex, but "don't ask, don't tell" is a media slogan. The rule is "A member of the armed forces shall be separated from the armed forces" if "the member has married or attempted to marry a person known to be of the same biological sex."
Actually, this sort of rule is called a law. Congress passed it. Individuals may or may not like it, but the military has to follow it.
According to the story, Newsome got an honorable discharge. Now "Newsome and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint against the western South Dakota police department, claiming the officers violated her privacy when they informed the military about her sexual orientation."
The unasked question is "do you think her unit didn't already know?"
Exclusive: we've just obtained this newly-released, first look photo of a device being deployed in Afghanistan. According to the Pentagon, it's a "culvert denial system."
Click image for high-res version direct from the DoD web site.
Here in Mudville, we strive to bring you the latest on defense technology. (Eat your heart out, Noah.)
Time magazine, on how America exported racism to Japan:
Scholars from Japan suggest that their countrymen are not intentionally racist but are insensitive toward other peoples because of centuries of homogeneous and isolated development. "They have little social experience in dealing with different races," explains Nagayo Homma, a professor of American studies at the University of Tokyo. "They know about Martin Luther King and civil rights, but it's in an abstract context." If that is the situation, it is not surprising that stereotypes abound -- and not just about blacks: while whites generally are considered by Japanese to be advanced and "civilized," fellow Asians and others are sometimes seen as backward, even inferior.
For many Japanese, the first exposure to blacks came during the post-World War II occupation, when they saw U.S. soldiers housed in segregated barracks. Others picked up racial attitudes and stereotypes -- such as Little Black Sambo -- from U.S. television, movies and books, or American acquaintances. "I experience racism daily," says Robert Jefferson, a black radio correspondent for ABC News in Tokyo. Jefferson says Japanese avoid sitting next to him on trains or taking the same elevator.
While such experiences are commonly shared by white foreigners, Jefferson also recalls stereotyped remarks -- not unheard of in the U.S., of course -- such as "You must be able to sing very good" because all blacks do.
Hard to reconcile whites generally are considered by Japanese to be advanced and "civilized" with such experiences are commonly shared by white foreigners, but our intrepid reporter managed to do it without disrupting the narrative: it was a land of peace and harmony until those damn gaijin showed up.
More Mudville entries on The Pacific here.
So I was a kid and it was the late sixties or early seventies and I was downstairs watching TV. Probably Saturday morning cartoons - maybe Jonny Quest, but not that horrific Japanamation Speed Racer crap. No, that came years later, when for reasons unknown to me they stopped making cool Saturday morning cartoon shows. (My older brother and sister might tell me that happened before I ever started watching them, but they're wrong - I know, and they might have said the same thing about Rock music, too.)
Maybe this Jonny Quest episode.
...but I don't think that's the original title because one of those words (I know this because later I had the record album) is one of the seven words. And if that's what I was watching I wasn't watching it in color because the TV was black and white.
Anyhow, my uncle was visiting and he saw this emblem on our TV even though it was real tiny...
...and he said that was the emblem of the "Three Diamond" company. From Japan. And I probably might or might not have told him no, it was a Mitsubishi, or maybe they used to be called that but now they were called Mitsubishi, not Three Diamonds, but I do remember him saying that the Three Diamond company was the one that made The Zero.
I knew what The Zero was. Not as well as he did, because he flew for the army in World War II in the Pacific and, and years later in the 70s (which is now longer ago than World War II was then - even though WWII was ancient history then and I remember the 70s quite well) he was still an Air Force pilot and might have been visiting us on leave from Thailand or Vietnam for all I can remember. ( I do know he was there, too - just not sure if he was then.) But to me it seemed pretty crappy to think that we could be buying TVs from the company that made the planes that were used to kill his friends back in World War II.
The more I thought about it though, the more I realized it had to be a different company. There's no way we would have let the company that made the Zero stay in business after we won the war. He didn't seem too bothered by it though, or by the two VW Beetles we had - the older brother's and sister's cars. (Although the older brother's was in the garage getting worked on a lot and was a Dune Buggy - which was also cool.) And I also remember wondering if they were the same company why did Mitsubishi put that red circle on their planes and not three diamonds?
I knew about that red circle because I had seen movies where the Japs flew Zeroes right into our Navy ships - Kamikazes, they called them.
You don't forget seeing stuff like that when you see it as a kid, even in movies. I mean, the pilot just stayed right in the plane and flew it right into the ship. And I had friends whose dads had been in the Navy and served on ships like those. Like I said, no way would we let that company stay in business and sell televisions to Americans.
Funny, the stuff you remember from when you were a kid. Like I remember wondering why he wasn't upset about that Mitsubishi TV in our house, but I don't remember asking him. I just wanted to watch Jonny Quest.
Previously: The Pacificsts.
More Mudville entries on The Pacific here.
Click image for larger, legible version.
I follow elections when veterans are candidates. This one, for example: GOP chooses Burns for special election in 12th.
Among 131 votes cast at a Republican convention held at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Burns won 85 and easily defeated the only other GOP nominee - William Russell of Johnstown, who had 46.
That's John Murtha's seat, you may recall. "We have an opportunity to put a common-sense conservative in a seat that has long been held by a political insider," Burns proclaimed, but it looks like a tough battle for the R's. Besides being a district gerrymandered (by Republicans) to be a "Democrat stronghold," the Party's second favorite son isn't going down without a fight.
Russell, who spent his career in the Army, ran a spirited but unsuccessful campaign against Murtha in 2008.
"We're not surprised," Russell said in a statement issued after Thursday's vote.
"The party doesn't want a candidate that's connected to the people, they want one with money. While unfortunate, this is what we expected."
The "GOP selection sets up a special-election contest between Burns and Mark Critz, a Johnstown resident and Murtha's former district director" to finish out Murtha's term. However,
Both Burns and Russell remain in the running for the May 18 primary election, which will decide who wins the GOP nomination for a chance to be elected to a full two-year term in the 12th Congressional District.
Both elections will be held on the same day. So... pass the popcorn.
"I received my commission when I graduated Tufts in 1937," recalled Bill Hawkins, years later. "Shortly after this I went to work teaching Latin and English at the Milford Academy, located between Bridgeport and New Haven in Connecticut."
Not very exciting - but I get the impression he didn't think the job would last: "This was the period when Hitler was trying to grab everything that wasn't nailed down. By the time he reached Poland, Great Britain and France said no more and, bang, we had World War II. I knew it was just a matter of time before they'd start calling up the reserves and I was right. My turn came in December, 1940, one year before the Pearl Harbor attack."
I'm quoting Captain Hawkins from a book I pulled off the shelf here at home this morning. It's a paperback I've had long enough to have forgotten how long I've had it or where I got it, but in all that time I've never forgotten it. It's an oral history built on interviews with Marines who served in the Pacific during World War II - Bill Hawkins is but one of many.
He thought he knew what he was in for, but as his next words will reveal, his vision was flawed.
"The funny thing about the period was that none of us thought about fighting the Japanese. Nazi Germany - that was the big menace. We'd been told all about Belleau Wood, Soissons, Mont Blanc, all those big fights from World War I. Most of us just didn't think about Japan."
Let's jump forward to today. The event that prompted me to grab a yellowing and well-creased paperback from my shelf was the arrival of an email containing a link to this online Time magazine story - an oral history of Tom Hanks, as related by the subject to historian Douglas Brinkley and published with the title "How Tom Hanks Became America's Historian in Chief."
His father had been a U.S. Naval mechanic (second class) in World War II. But Amos Hanks wasn't the type to tell his son tales of bravery and sacrifice. "Growing up, I always knew Dad was somewhere in the Pacific fixing things," Hanks says. "He had nothing nice to say about the Navy. He hated the Navy. He hated everybody in the Navy. He had no glorious stories about it." (See pictures of Tom Hanks' career in film.)
Occasionally, Hanks enjoyed a war thriller like Battle of the Bulge, but he much preferred the Three Stooges, James Bond and any film with Sophia Loren. Like a lot of Americans, he found memorizing historical facts boring. Because his family was directly related to Nancy Hanks Lincoln, mother of the 16th U.S. President, he routinely recycled the same short paper he had written about her for easy classroom grades. "My idea of American history was just a course you were forced to take," Hanks says, laughing. (See the top 10 Tom Hanks hairstyles.)
The Pacific, Hanks' 10-hour HBO miniseries about the Pacific theater in World War II begins on March 14th. I'm looking forward to it.
Much of the miniseries is based on two evocative World War II memoirs, Eugene Sledge's With the Old Breed and Robert Leckie's Helmet for My Pillow, but the imaginative energy comes straight from novels like Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead and James Jones' The Thin Red Line. The result is like Herman Wouk's The Winds of War (both the novel and the made-for-TV movie) on steroids. Hanks and fellow executive producers Spielberg and Gary Goetzman are wrestling with age-old -- and current -- questions about the barbarity of war: How can Americans ask our young men and women to indiscriminately kill a shadowy enemy and then return to their ordered Coca-Cola lives Stateside?
"It's even worse for our troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan," Hanks says.
So it's history connected to now. But the Time story is about Tom Hanks - and how he became America's Historian in Chief.
How did this shrug-prone comedic actor transform himself into our most ambitious champion of U.S. history? And how is his vision of history shaping the way the past informs and, yes, entertains us?
At school, all Hanks remembers learning about World War II was that Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese on December 7, 1941, and that the American revenge came on August 6, 1945, when Army pilot Paul Tibbets dropped an atomic bomb from the Enola Gay on Hiroshima. For Hanks, the U.S. armed forces' island-hopping -- Peleliu, Iwo Jima and Okinawa, among other bloody military engagements -- was just a blur on a map that seemed impossibly exotic and faraway. "Strange to think that I've become the World War II guy," Hanks laughs. "All my friends had dads who were on the U.S.S. Nimitz or U.S.S. Enterprise or U.S.S. Coral Sea. They lived in naval housing, and everybody who was like a primary caregiver to me talked about the war. But when it came to understanding the history, I nodded off."
For most folks history is best consumed in small doses, which is why the miniseries is an effective manner of presentation.
And you've arrived at the end of part one of this one. Next entry in the series here.
More Mudville entries on The Pacific here.
The New York Times, 2005 edition:
The New York Times, 2010 edition:
Uproar in House as Parties Clash on Iraq Pullout
Republicans and Democrats shouted, howled and slung insults on the House floor on Friday as a debate over whether to withdraw American troops from Iraq descended into a fury over President Bush's handling of the war and a leading Democrat's call to bring the troops home.
"You guys are pathetic!" yelled Representative Martin Meehan, Democrat of Massachusetts. "Pathetic."
The measure to withdraw the troops failed in a 403-to-3 vote late Friday night.
House Rejects Plan to Leave Afghanistan by Year's End
In a strong bipartisan endorsement of the Obama administration's policy in Afghanistan, the House of Representatives on Wednesday soundly rejected a call to withdraw American troops by the end of the year.
After a three-hour debate held to allow antiwar Democrats to air their dissent, the House voted 356 to 65 to reject the withdrawal proposal.
Nice to see they're much more united and non-partisan now, 'cause that's what really matters.
Added thought: you know, if I didn't know any better I'd believe all that anti-war/withdrawal talk from certain politicians years ago was nothing more than some sort of a put-on to fool the rubes. But I confess I don't really know. If it was a put-on, it was a pretty damn good one, I'll give 'em that. On the other hand, if they were authentically anti-war you'd have to acknowledge they were complete and miserable failures.
So, liars, failures, or both?
Well, everything's gotta be something: "Third Army is the Department of the Army and Central Command logistical center of gravity for Responsible Drawdown from Iraq."
I'm actually all for responsible drawdown from Iraq. But should military agencies/organizations adopt descriptions that sound that damn much like presidential campaign slogans? I'll go with "no" on that one.
Guess something must have jammed the ol' newsman's radar. Now? Well damn, look at the quotes a few phone calls turned up. "Oh yeah, he was constantly fondling the boys."
Doesn't much enhance the "witch hunt" stories re: don't ask don't tell, but I'm sure there's an explanation for that, too.
"I'm sorry... from Rhode Island, for three minutes":
On an odd side note, this "Moxnews.com" ("unfair and biased") Youtube-hosted video can actually be found embedded in the Fox News story on this topic.
"There's two press people in this gallery," he shouted. "We're talking about Eric Massa 24-7 on the TV? We're talking war and peace, $3 billion, a thousand lives -- and no press? No press?
"You want to know why the American public is fit? They're fit because they're not seeing their Congress do the work that they're sent to do. It's because the press -- the press of the United States is not covering the most significant issue of national important and that's the laying of lives down in the nation for the service of our country. It's despicable, the national press corps right now."
I might have agreed with the gist (if not the tone) of that statement once, but I've come to believe the people get the news they want.
I've received two emails recently from guys in Afghanistan that (coincidentally, and before this speech was made) addressed this topic. "Out of curiosity," asked one, "how much news coverage has Moshtarak been getting in the MSM there? From what Ive seen it hasn't been much after the first 24 hours or so."
The second, on the other hand, was frustrated with the focus (or lack thereof) of many milblogs on Afghanistan. He was less dramatic about it than Mr Kennedy, though - perhaps because (as one of those soldiers actually there) his concern was real.
Update: Okay, count how many bloggers picking up this story chose to address Afghanistan or media coverage of Afghanistan. The total (as of now) is close enough to zero. That's their prerogative, of course, I'm neither condemning them or bemoaning their choice. Like Kennedy, and like the "mainstream media," they know what people want.
In fact, "there's no point discussing the resolution itself on serious terms," said yer humble scribe a mere two days ago, and I'd now like to thank young Mr Kennedy (whose recollections of 'Nam are remarkable for a man born in '67 - but clan Kennedy is nothing if not exceptional) for making me look a lot wiser and more prescient than I am. Unfortunately the location of this "debate" was the House floor - and that begs the question of exactly where a hypothetical serious debate could take place. I've got no answer for you there.
Next: The Lost City of Marjah
The New York Times, March 10:
The question the American soldiers ask as they board planes for home after seven months in the desert is the same one that worries the politicians that live in the region as they turn from preoccupation with military problems to the concerns of civil life.
Will we have to do it all over again? Will we have to find the money and the will, they ask anxiously, to assemble half a million troops to turn back another of Saddam Hussein's attempts to push his neighbors around?
It is the biggest unanswered question among several that hang in the air after the allies' stunningly decisive triumph in the Persian Gulf war, and it casts an ominous shadow over the jubilation here and in the United States. The man who started it all, the villain of the piece, is still around.
President Bush and the other coalition leaders elected not to push through to Baghdad to destroy Mr. Hussein's Government. Authorized by the United Nations only to oust Iraq from Kuwait, the allies went farther, fighting on despite a series of frantic peace bids until they were confident that they had shattered Mr. Hussein's best divisions.
Coalition Called a Halt
But with their armies at Nasiriya and the highway to Baghdad, 150 miles away and all but undefended, the coalition leaders called a halt. Despite President Bush's inclination to compare this war to the conflict of his youth, World War II, the allies chose not to hound Mr. Hussein to death in his bunker, as they had hounded Hitler, and not to demand total surrender.
The Saudis wanted to press on, and so did their Egyptian allies, high-ranking officials in Riyadh said, but the Americans, the British and especially the French feared that they would embitter Arab opinion if they seemed bent on revenge or on installing a government of their choice.
If Mr. Hussein were to make warlike noises again, he would not be told, as the State Department told him last year, that the United States was taking a neutral position. If he were then to take warlike steps, a counterattack would come at once, not after he had had months to dig in and ravage conquered territory. Or so American officials are promising.
So if the allies have not rid themselves of the Iraqi dictator, at least not yet, and if they had not engendered lasting stability in a region that has seldom known it, they appear to have done just about enough to make it unlikely that a second Persian Gulf war will erupt any time soon.
What a happy headline: Former soldier finds new mission fighting for veterans on home front.
You can almost hear the creepy, robot quality as he recites the motto:
Mike Flaherty served two tours in Iraq, and he wears an "Iraq Veterans Against the War" T-shirt.
His actions aren't incompatible, and he has a simple explanation for those who disagree: "Our organization has the courage to resist."
But Flaherty's focus of late has been to develop green jobs for veterans.
"Our mission is to revitalize the economy by empowering veterans with meaningful work in an unstable economy," Flaherty said. "We want to provide veterans with pathways to a successful career in the green industry. This can be work in energy conservation, nature conservation or a variety of related jobs."Which sounds pretty cool - except the real jobs are crawling around in attics and cellars looking for places to put more insulation - as far as you know:
Veterans who once crawled around attics and other claustrophobic spaces in homes in Iraq and Afghanistan, searching for hidden weapons and suspected terrorists, are now crawling through homes in the United States to track down air leaks and missing insulation. They are part of a new wave of veterans who are turning the skills and determination they developed in the military to a new mission: that of reducing Americans' energy use and carbon emissions.
"We think veterans are uniquely qualified to lead the environmental restoration here at home," said Kirsten Maynard of Veterans Green Jobs. "Not only have they seen environmental destruction across the world; they also have technical skills and other kinds of work skills that allow them to do the really tough work that needs to be done - like go into homes and crawl in the attic and the basement. They've been trained by the military to do it, and they actually feel comfortable being in that kind of environment."
"After deploying to Iraq, I have many-a-buried-memory of entering strangers' homes," one quoted veteran confesses. As comfortable as they might seem down in that crawl space with the spiders, hopefully they don't then butcher the families and burn the homes down - which is the image of veterans that IVAW knows best.
According to the July 30, 2007 issue of The Nation magazine, damning photos of a U.S. Soldier using a spoon to literally scoop out the brains of a dead Iraqi and pretending to eat the gray matter were recently acquired.
Of course, everyone is appropriately appalled and make all claims of disgust and finger-wagging. Research shows, however, that such unacceptable behavior happens more often than the United States military wants you to know.
When it comes to training killing machines, the military really does create "an Army of one."
The list of serial killers and mass murderers borne from the military is astounding.
There could be one in your attic even now.
Troop supporting rockers Saving Abel will be in town during the Milblog Conference and have volunteered to stop by the Friday evening Cocktail Reception for a brief, acoustic performance.
Register for the Milblogs Conference here.
And keep up with the latest news via the Fan of Milblogs Facebook page here.
Old Blue got a break from his tour in Afghanistan - and traveled to Germany "to train part of the incoming International Joint Command (IJC) staff who will be taking over in Afghanistan this year."
Once that was done he ended up with some spare time on his hands. So, in Germany, nothing official to do, and a plane ride to Afghanistan some time in the near future - a dream situation for anyone serving in a combat zone...
Because of the limited return flights, I had to spend a little over a day waiting before I traveled back to Kabul. I had contacted MaryAnn Phillips, President of Soldiers' Angels Germany and told her I would be in Germany. I knew that she'd be disappointed with me if I went there and made no effort to say hello. I have too much respect for her to just breeze in and out and not say a word about it. MaryAnn found something for me to do with my bit of extra time; visit Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. When she mentioned it, I was torn. I have put the bodies of friends in bags. I had to go through their pockets for ID so that I could figure out who they were. I have helped MEDEVAC soldiers, some critically wounded. The dead suffered no more and needed only to be shown dignity and respect. The wounded suffered only for a brief time while I was near them and then they were gone. I am trained as a combat lifesaver, but I am an Infantryman and not a Medic. MaryAnn wanted me to go into the den of the great beast of what comes after the bird leaves. That's what I saw in my head...
What follows is the best account I've read of one of the finest stories never told. "She may actually kill me for writing this," says Blue.
Which makes me an unlikely accessory. Read the whole thing.
House liberals force vote on pullout from Afghanistan. Almost forgot this was an election year.
The resolution, which has 16 co-sponsors, calls for the United States to remove all of its troops from Afghanistan in 30 days -- or by the end of the year, if it is determined that trying to do so in a month would be too dangerous.
There's no point discussing the resolution itself on serious terms. If there was, my first question would be 'don't they know the capabilities of the US military? Do they really not know whether or not such a thing can be done in the time frame they describe?'
"We haven't had a real debate," Kucinich said in explaining why he was pushing the resolution. "We want to light the fire of the American peace movement." (And, he added, "get out of there!")
Let's give Kucinich the benefit of the doubt and assume he's only pretending to be stupid here, too. The odds that he doesn't know the whereabouts of the American "peace" movement are slim. (Hey, if he wants to bring out the buses and round some up it won't be too hard to find them - many former members are now busy installing insulation and weather-proofing homes as part of the president's "Green Jobs" program. Hey, keeps them off the streets, you know?)
And debate is all well and good - though it seems we have one on Afghanistan every few months - each beginning with a claim that it's the first. But (just a thought here) how about learning a little about the subject matter prior to introducing legislation regarding it? If your intent was actually to debate the topic and achieve a reasonable conclusion you'd actually sound informed on the topic going in.
The emails show that the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) coordinated their response to a damning Spanish report on "green jobs" with wind industry lobbyists and the Center for American Progress (the progressive think tank founded by John Podesta and funded by George Soros).
Gosh, seems like just yesterday Soros was more interested in funding the anti-war movement than developing Green Energy... funny how so many of the old "anti-war" crowd are cashing in (with your cash now, dear taxpayer, not Georgie's) on "green jobs."
"Funny" as in funny how the wars are still ongoing, too. Sans any real protest, of course.
...yeah, that's just about right for a close. For now.
(U//FOUO) Today, March 06, 2010 at 9.46 AM local time (UTC/GMT -5 hours), US seismographic stations recorded seismic activity in the area of Okinawa Island (Japan). According to National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Democratic People's Republic of Korea has carried out an average range missile attack with use of nuclear warhead. The explosion caused severe destructions in the northern part of the Okinawa island. Casualties among the personnel of the US military base are being estimated at the moment.
However, there is a virus-spreading email going around on that topic. Going around into unclassified individual military email in-boxes by the thousands. (And no doubt to civilians, too.). Read more (without fear of virus spread) here.
And don't open any unexpected email you receive from the Director of National Intelligence. He's probably not that into you.
General McChrsytal: No.
Longer version at the link, of course.
For some it's tough to set the record straight, especially if the story erroneously portrays you as a hero. For others, not so much.
Because I was personally named in the MailOnline article (which was republished by Michael Yon at his site) as having done something I did not do, I would formally like to set the record straight...
But I suppose it's easier when you're surrounded by real heroes who can't or won't accept credit for their very real heroism - and know that doesn't make it yours. Read the whole thing.
Update: glad to see Mike's posted MaryAnn's correction on the story at his site, too. It's worth noting he wasn't the author of that piece. The original at The Daily Mail is still uncorrected. Hardly surprising.
Greyhawk is rooting for The Hurt Locker.
Never heard of it? Read this.
American al Qaeda spokesmodel Adam Gadahn captured "during a raid by Pakistani special forces." I wonder what Pakistan will do with him?
A senior police officer said soon after the men's arrest that authorities were likely to deport them, but it now looks increasingly like they will face trial in Pakistan on charges that carry a maximum term of life imprisonment.
The men could be indicted on as many as seven charges at their next hearing on March 10, lawyer Hamid Malik told The Associated Press.
I doubt anyone in the Obama administration will lose much sleep over that. Ditto if they decide Gadahn should be tried there, too.
And update 2 - not Gadahn, but apparently "American and Pakistani officials said the man arrested was Abu Yahya Mujahdeen Al-Adam, who was described as having been born in Pennsylvania and who was thought to be affiliated with the operations division of Al Qaeda, commanding fighters in Afghanistan." So rest same. This is certainly a good day for almost right news. (Both MSNBC and the AP had previously reported Gadahn as bagged. I don't think I'll start this again, though.)
And (update): obscure title reference explained, at approximately the 5 minute point...
I didn't remember it quite right, though.
"For months, details of the massive operation to save one man's life have been shrouded in secrecy." Imagine that.
He needed a portable, low-pressure artificial lung and the Americans offered to help. But the bureaucracy of moving from the British to the American military system meant that valuable time was being lost.
More... * Major accuses Brown of using troops as a 'party political prop' as PM announces £100m of new equipment on surprise Afghan visit
Contacted by a quick-thinking British doctor at Camp Bastion, Mr Yon sent an urgent email to a group of American civilian volunteers called Soldiers' Angels near Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where most American casualties from Iraq and Afghanistan are initially sent.
The volunteers, founded by the great-niece of General George S. Patton, alerted the US Army's nearby Landstuhl Regional Medical Center's Acute Lung Rescue Team, which specialises in going straight to the aid of soldiers with severe lung problems.
And within an hour, the team was in touch with doctors at the nearby University of Regensberg...
A great story - but not true. However, for those who enjoy true stories, the true story is pretty incredible, too. It's from last summer (and certainly hasn't been "shrouded in secrecy"), but while it isn't news it's at least true.
And here's a statement (via email) from MaryAnn at Soldiers Angels Germany:
Michael Yon contacted Soldiers' Angels to improve communications about Soldier X's status after he was moved from British to US and German medical care. Soldiers' Angels did not directly contact the Acute Lung Rescue Team. Soldiers' Angels role is to support soldiers and soldiers' families, not to initiate or intervene in medical care.
100% of the credit goes to the coalition military medical teams, who pulled together across the world to save a human life - no matter what nationality. They would have done it for anyone. That is the spirit of the original story, "The needs of the one."
As Patti Patton-Bader says, "important to note Soldiers Angels did not call in a lung machine :)) We're good but not that good yet."
MaryAnn assures me that as of 2PM ET both Mike and the Daily Mail reporter have agreed to add that correction to their stories. (Although as of five hours later, they haven't done it.)
Because - and only because - it's already been referenced in this story I'll share something from another email from MaryAnn last summer: "While at Regensburg hospital with the patient's Mom right after she arrived here, I told her about some of this. She broke down and couldn't believe "all of those people would do all that for my son". It was a very, very moving moment."
That's what MaryAnn does - and it's important. She holds hands. When there are hands to hold.
The Daily Mail, on the other hand, publishes stories like this one - or "American Soldier Waterboards his own Daughter!!!!" - and people believe it.
Update: glad to see Mike's posted MaryAnn's correction on the story at his site, too. It's worth noting he wasn't the author of that piece. The original at The Daily Mail is still uncorrected. Hardly surprising.
The Wall Street Journal on elections in Iraq:
As polls opened at 7 a.m. on Sunday, the contest was too close to call, riveting much of the region with its uncertain outcome--a rarity amid the mostly authoritarian regimes across much of the rest of the Mideast.Initial reports were grim:
Across Baghdad, mortar attacks, bombings and the collapse of two buildings due to explosions marred the early hours of voting in the capital. But by late morning, the burst of violence appeared to have subsided in most places, and many Iraqis shrugged off the attacks and cast their ballots.
"The Iraqi people have seen much worse than this," said Ibtihal Khaled, a 51-year-old housewife waiting to vote in Baghdad's predominantly Shiite neighborhood of Utaifiya. "A few bombs won't keep them away from the polls."
Live blogging the Iraqi elections from the NY Times Baghdad bureau:
Early reports from the New York Times:
One of the Iraqi politicians urging Iraqis to vote in defiance of the morning attacks is the most prominent one who was disqualified from the ballot on grounds that he was sympathetic to Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, Saleh al-Mutlaq.
"I call you by the name of Iraq," he told the Sharqiya television channel. "I call on you by all the values of Iraq. No one should stay at home.
"All should go," he added. "These are the decisive hours. So go and trust God is with you and will reward you for all what you have paid in the past times."
At least 24 people were killed and at least 55 were wounded, according to the Ministry of the Interior.
"This is the security that Maliki brings to us," a woman in Karrada, on the eastern bank of the Tigris River, said, referring to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. She said she was fleeing with her son, though it was not clear to where.
Mr. Maliki cast his ballot in the Green Zone even as explosions rumbled like thunderclaps.
More live blogging from At War - with Americans on standby:
"There's a lot going on out there," Lt. Ryan P. Alexander told the soldiers, briefing them ahead of the anticipated operation. He rattled off the incidents in their area: two improvised explosive devices at a culinary school, a mortar attack on a building, an attack on a hospital, and rockets fired from a nearby bridge.
He seemed to be stating the obvious. More explosions were heard in the distance. The soldiers, many of whom have not faced combat, joked about getting killed today, the sort of black humor that prevails in combat.
"But there's nothing significant enough for us to go out yet," Lieutenant Alexander said.
So the soldiers waited, waiting for a request from the Iraqis. They smoked. They ate. They talked about women and movies. After three hours, most of the soldiers stood down, heading back to their barracks to get out of the increasingly warm sunshine and get some rest, though the platoon remains on alert.
"It's good they're trying to handle this on their own," the lieutenant said of the Iraqis.
If you're wondering if US soldiers are involved anywhere, the At War blog has that covered, too:
American troops helped keep the voting quiet in Kirkuk, potentially the most explosive city in Iraq. While American soldiers are barely seen elsewhere in Iraq, worry was so high about tension among Kurds, Arabs and other ethnic groups in the oil rich northern city that Americans were posted at polling stations, on roads and at police stations. There was U.S. air cover too.Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports from Sadr City:
Later in the day, the Wall Street Journal: Voter Turnout Solid Despite Blasts
At a school in the vast Shiite slum of Sadr City in eastern Baghdad, men and women lined up against a concrete wall protecting the polling station.
Inside Silik Audy, 76, sat down waiting for her nephew.
"Y'ummah," she whispered in fear. The term means "Oh, mother." But she stayed put.
"This is our right," she said. "We came to take it."
Her son, Salem Malah, was killed by the Mahdi Army, the Shiite militia that once controlled the streets here.
His name is still on the voter rolls and the family brought his identification card, planning to cast a vote on his behalf.
"He died for Maliki," said Malah's widow, Hayat Jiaz.
"I cast my vote and gave it to the State of Law, the Maliki coalition," Muslim Ali, 31, said after voting in Najaf. "He has worked hard for the sake of the country."
Taher Ali Musawi, meanwhile, said he cast a vote for former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, calling him a legitimate Iraqi.
Despite at least eight reported explosions near voting centers in Baqouba, turnout appeared solid. Authorities said another 10 explosions in the area were determined to be simple flash and sound grenades, intended to scare voters. They didn't inflict real harm.
In Falluja, authorities reported a series of blasts early in the day. They also turned out to be relatively minor. They were simple bombs left in trash cans. They did little damage but created an impression of unrest intended to scare voters, officials said.
Polls in Iraq are now closed. An update from At War:
What was striking, the Western official said, was how the bombings seemed to have spurred voters to go to the polls.
"The bombings, it seems, provoked the people to vote," the official said.
But they add this note of caution: "The officials asked not to be quoted by name because the reports are anecdotal and Iraq's election officials will hold a press conference tonight to provide an official accounting of the day's events."
And here's a great closer (for now) from Bill T in Iraq:
I really hate to admit it, but I gotta disagree with Teh President's assertion that the Muslim call to prayer "is the most beautiful sound on Earth." I've heard it a lot over the past few years, and, maybe it's just my Westernized "weaned on Mozart, raised on Rock 'n' Roll" ears, but to me, it sounds over-stylized and -- considering its purpose -- rather monotonously dirgeful.
Except for tonight...
Pre-election day, from Omar at Iraq the Model: "here are my predictions for what the distribution of the 325 seats in the new parliament is going to look like."
Highly recommended reading:
"Iraq's new order evolves" by Nir Rosen at The National.
Our Mission is Finally Accomplished... Anyone Care? by David Bellavia
Q: Hi, I'm new around here. What time do they release the reports that conclude "we're going to lose the war in Afghanistan"?
A: Fridays at 4 PM.
The so-called "civilian surge" in Afghanistan is mired in bureaucracy and may not succeed in time to help the war effort, a State Department report found.
The report released Friday said U.S. diplomats spend too much time giving war zone tours to visiting officials . They have struggled to house, feed and transport an influx of new civilians. And they can't get regular sleep because bosses at the National Security Council and others in Washington call for briefings from midnight to 4 a.m., apparently unworried about the different time zone.
Follow up question: did we learn anything from our Iraq experience? (Someone better notify Harry Reid.)
In other happy news: New top official in Marja, Afghanistan, was convicted of stabbing stepson.
U.S. officials in Afghanistan said Zahir's criminal conviction did not undermine their confidence in his ability to govern.
Previously: Marjah "cleared"
There's been much commentary (among those inclined to comment) on the Ganjgal report (more accurately, the executive summary of the Ganjgal report) since its release late last month. The exsum is (obviously) a distillation to quick-look format of a more in-depth (and unreleased) report, but for a further step in the distillation process check the NATO/ISAF press release accompanying its release:
The investigation concluded that appropriate personnel were not involved with the critical pre-mission planning of fire and air support. This, coupled with the severity of the situation, resulted in a delay in receiving timely support.
Nothing about ROE or who should have been somewhere they weren't in that - just an affirmation of an old military truth. Consider that a "here's what really matters" message from on high.
And if that's seems obvious, I can only say that those who were inclined to comment somehow missed the obvious.
"I was one of the service chiefs when the "don't ask, don't tell" compromise was reached in 1993," writes General (retired) Merrill McPeak.
I know some will see these ingredients of the military lifestyle as a sort of absurd, tough-guy game played by overgrown boys. But to prepare warriors for a life of hardship, the military must remain a kind of adventure, apart from the civilian world and full of strange customs. To be a fighter pilot or a paratrooper or a submariner is to join a self-contained, resolutely idealistic society, largely unnoticed and surprisingly uncorrupted by the world at large.
I do not see how permitting open homosexuality in these communities enhances their prospects of success in battle. Indeed, I believe repealing "don't ask, don't tell" will weaken the warrior culture at a time when we have a fight on our hands.
Yawn. Another NY Times op-ed by another retired General Officer opposing the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. This retired general, however, was co-chair of Barack Obama's presidential campaign.
He's got a right to his opinion - but he's not very good at forecasting results of military actions. Here's his 2007 take on the surge:
"Even if we had a million men to go in, it's too late now," says retired four-star Gen. Tony McPeak, who served on the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Gulf War. "Humpty Dumpty can't be put back together again."
Sounds like McPeak was already working for Obama back then.
I see McPeak as consistent - he's wrong 100% of the time. That he later "changes his opinion" doesn't mean he's unpredictable - in fact, it means exactly the opposite.
As for his tenure as Chief of Staff - it took years to undo the damage he did - but there isn't much "McPeak legacy" left.
This one's for you, Merrill.
Dr.Mohammed is an Iraqi blogger who just moved to America, where he's discovered an unexpected language barrier:
It has been about 18 days since I arrived to Houston but it felt like months; somehow now I feel I belong here, I was really terrified of the cultural shock , the reaction of people , the change of time zone, home sickness and the terrible conditions I might face. But thank god none of those happened till now.
I found that America or at least Houston has a really low percentage of Americans! Or people who speak English as it should be spoken...I can say that I speak English (with an American accent) better than 70% of people I have talked to! Where are the Americans? Is it a state of immigrants? It's really hard to communicate with people who don't know the language that they should speak...I found less trouble talking English in Turkey than in Houston!
Most Americans can certainly understand that. Read the whole thing.
"Report: Army denied aid to team under fire" reads the headline in the Marine Corps Times.
Nearly two hours after the initial call for help, helicopter air support arrived -- but not before the unit took heavy casualties. The delay occurred because Army officers back at the tactical operations center refused to send help and failed to notify higher commands that they had troops in trouble. In the end, three Marines, a Navy corpsman and a soldier were dead, along with eight Afghan troops and an interpreter.
Those are the findings of a new investigation into the Sept. 8 ambush involving a team of U.S. military trainers embedded with Afghan troops in Kunar province.
You may remember the incident in question: "U.S. commanders, citing new rules to avoid civilian casualties, rejected repeated calls to unleash artillery rounds at attackers dug into the slopes and tree lines -- despite being told repeatedly that they weren't near the village," embedded journalist Jonathan Landay reported at the time. Back in the USA a different sort of firestorm was launched - ROE are killing our troops.
"The investigation found a slew of mistakes," we are now told. Among them, key senior personnel "were not continuously present in the operations center" - and some who were are described as "not adequately experienced, qualified or trained." On the other hand, mission planning and coordination was accomplished "without participation from fire-support personnel" - so if key personnel were missing, it may be that they didn't know there was good reason to be there that particular point in time. Regardless, there's no shortage of blame to spread in this case.
But some junior troops who were in place were described as capable but frustrated:
...a battalion NCO overseeing artillery requests "took action to provide immediate support to the units in the Ganjgal valley early in the engagement." An Air Force joint terminal attack controller also acted swiftly to support the requests, but both "were overruled by higher echelons," the summary said.
...and that could keep the fires lit on the ROE debate a bit longer.
This report validates anyone whose first thoughts on hearing that original story rhymed with flustercluck - and that should be just about anyone with more than a little experience in the service, regardless of the cammo pattern worn. But the Marine Corps Times story is slanted more towards fanning the flames of outrage over the perceived Army vs Marines angle (though one investigation was "led in tandem by colonels from the Army and Marine Corps").
If that's the case, here's an earlier example that seems more egregious. What follows is an account of events from 2001, the earliest days of the war in Afghanistan. Members of a Special Forces A-Team have been wounded, along with their Afghan allies. The nearest evac capability rests with Marines under the command of then-Brigadier General James Mattis...
This should be interesting: Adam Kokesh on YouServed Radio, tonight 7PM ET.
For background, read this.
Update: More from Tim Sumner.
Afterward we're all going to the concert. Do not miss that.
Congratulations to the new mom and dad!
"How many times has this happened to you..." I once asked back in 2004:
You're flying into Baghdad on a C130 along with a lot of other GIs and some members of the Iraq Survey Group whose report will soon be released and while waiting for the plane engines to fire up (after which point conversation becomes impossible) you say: "So what's the bottom line?"
I knew the answers to both questions before I asked them. The response to the second question- the one I asked of the ISG guy - was "he didn't have stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, but he could have reconstituted his programs in a matter of months." The response to the first question - the one posed to the reader - was "none."
I knew that little vignette was a unique experience. It was a very real one, but in a way it was also surreal to begin my first Iraq tour having gained certain knowledge that the widely accepted reason for the invasion was a mistake. Had I believed that was the actual reason for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, or had I expected a different answer, I might have been pissed. As it was, I went on into Iraq and didn't say anything about that conversation until after the report was officially released. I had quite a blog scoop there, but I didn't reveal it. OPSEC, etc.
"What tales we'll tell
when that time comes
when tales can be told..."
Another quote from that first tour.
The movie version of my tale would go like this:
"So what's the bottom line?"
Closeup of his face: He starts to answer, but at that moment a bullet hole appears in his forehead. His face doesn't change as he slumps to the ground.
Camera change - wide shot: Ninja-like dudes are converging on us from all directions, firing AK's. I grab the girl by the arm, yell "let's move," and charge up the ramp of the C-130. With one hand I start to lift the ramp, with the other I keep a continuous burst from my infinite-ammo machine gun sweeping the area. Just before I close it all the way a grenade pops in. I try to kick it back out but can't reach it. The girl kicks it straight into the face of an onrushing ninja dude, the door shuts just in time to hear a muffled scream end abruptly with a boom. We turn and haul through the cargo hold to the cockpit, where we find the pilot - dead.
"Looks like I'm going to have to learn to fly a plane," I say.
But neither the book version or blog version will begin there. And they will be true.
Twelve people were killed by suicide bombers in Baghdad today as early voting began in Iraq's parliamentary elections. 25 soldiers were also wounded in an attack on a polling station where security services were voting early.
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who are unable to make it to the polls on Sunday -- mostly security personnel and hospital patients -- are voting today. Turnout is high so far for the country's first full parliamentary elections since the U.S. invasion in 2003. Today's attacks follow yesterday's bombing in Baquba which killed 33.
Lots of people are saying lots of wrong things about Iraq in the news this week. For my part I'm reminded of a day five years ago...
Bumped for showtime. Click here, don't miss it.
I love the USO. Always will. Didn't need another reason for that, but here it is.
Tonight: Catch Saving Abel Perform for the USO from the Persian Gulf - March 4th at 10pm EST / 7pm PST. It's not on TV - it will stream online right there at that link.
is in the midst of just wrapped up a USO tour through the combat zones. Check out their web page here - lot's of great music. (And join their mailing list.) Like Greta, I was late to discover these guys - but I'm glad I did.
And here's a cool making of video for their song "18 Days."
And for you folks who want to support a band that supports the troops, here's Amazon's Saving Abel store.
Explosive Hurt Locker news that might hurt:
A U.S. Army bomb disposal expert has filed a lawsuit against the makers of the Oscar-nominated movie The Hurt Locker, claiming that screenwriter and producer Mark Boal based the movie's main character, Will James, on him. Master Sgt. Jeffrey Sarver filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit in a U.S. District court in New Jersey on Tuesday, alleging that "The Hurt Locker motion picture and DVD are nothing more than an exploitation of a real life honorable, courageous, long serving member of our armed forces, by greedy multi-billion dollar 'entertainment' corporations." Among those named in the suit are Boal, director Kathryn Bigelow, distributor Summit Entertainment.
Boal's original Playboy article ("The Man in the Bomb Suit," a now-ironic title) is here - and better than the movie. (But it's Playboy - so don't try it from a military computer.)
"The screenplay says he is a blonde, blue-eyed trailer trash from Tennessee, but he's blonde, blue-eyed and grew up in a trailer in West Virginia.
"Nobody can claim with a straight face that it's not Jeff Sarver," [his lawyer] said.
For the first time in its history, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has banned a nominee from attending the Oscars.
The group said Tuesday that Nicolas Chartier, a producer on best picture candidate "The Hurt Locker," will not be allowed into the Kodak Theatre for Sunday's ceremony. Chartier's tickets have been revoked, and he will not be granted entry as a guest of any other attendee, an academy spokeswoman told The Times.
The decision comes on the heels of Chartier sending an e-mail message to a group of colleagues that included academy members asking them to choose the Summit Entertainment-distributed "The Hurt Locker" for best picture and "not the $500-million film" -- a clear reference to "Avatar."
I liked Inglourious Basterds better than either of those anyway.
Previously: The Hurt.
March 4, 1789 - Government under the U.S. Constitution begins: "The first session of the U.S. Congress is held in New York City as the U.S. Constitution takes effect. However, of the 22 senators and 59 representatives called to represent the 11 states who had ratified the document, only nine senators and 13 representatives showed up to begin negotiations for its amendment."
All that and lot's more recent news in today's Dawn Patrol.
In the years after the the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the subsequent failure to find WMD, the American media flagellated itself publicly over its lack of skepticism of Bush administration cassus belli claims. We endured reams of essays about the supine nature of the corporate-owned media, the supposed disinformation campaign of the White House, the "lies" on WMD claims (that had also been made by Democrats in Congress from 1998 until the invasion), and so on. To this day, the American media still considers their self-described blind acceptance of claims about intelligence without sufficient investigation as an indictment on their industry -- and a consequence of the Internet-driven changes to the media market.
He goes on to compare that example of lack of skepticism to the treatment global warming gets in the American media today.
The answer - which he doesn't offer - is another point of comparison that shouldn't be ignored: counter-arguments for both claims were ignored in the media while Democrats occupied the White House. The case against Saddam Hussein (as threat to use WMDs) was not manufactured in the media immediately prior to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 - in fact that threat was well established before George Bush took office in 2001. For the media to suddenly become skeptical with a change in administration would have been absurd and transparent.
But while that threat was misunderstood and misrepresented (by many - even Saddam Hussein himself) throughout the 1990's, it wasn't manufactured, it was as real as a threat can be. That reality was convenient throughout the Clinton years, but somehow less so after 2003.
To be fair, the reality that there were no existing weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was clear (to all but the most devoted) after the invasion. But while it might seem hard to believe now, this Washington Post piece accurately reflected the nation in May, 2003: existing weapons weren't the point:
This week, Pelosi said it is "difficult to understand" why the weapons can't be found. Yet she did not seem concerned about whether any are found. "I am sort of agnostic on it; that is to say, maybe they are there," Pelosi said. "I salute the president for the goal of removing weapons of mass destruction."
Similarly, Senate Democratic Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.), who on the eve of war accused Bush of failing "miserably" to win international backing, now talks of giving the president "great credit" for winning the war.
Why the reticence to remind Bush of the rationale for the war? Public opinion may be one reason.
According to a May 1 Gallup poll for CNN and USA Today, 79 percent of Americans said the war with Iraq was justified even without conclusive evidence of the illegal weapons, while 19 percent said discoveries of the weapons were needed to justify the war. An April Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 72 percent supported the war even without a finding of chemical or biological weapons. Similarly, a CBS News poll found that 60 percent said the war was worth the blood and other costs even if weapons are never found.
Everyone has a right to change their opinion - but facts are facts. The idea that Saddam Hussein either had, could have, or would manufacture weapons of mass destruction is no absurdity - and that he would use them is not a baseless fear. There's absolutely nothing unreasonable or far-fetched about those assumptions, and they weren't fabricated in the media or anywhere else. That most Americans were somehow "duped" into supporting the Iraq war based solely on the assumption that he did have and would use such weapons is a post-invasion media construct, from a media POV an incredibly successful one rather than a "failure" - and an historical re-write that every American should consider an insult to their intelligence.
Except, of course, for those of you who believe it. This year.
Via email, from the victim's mom.
Amazon's book of the month for March is Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War.
During the period 1 to 6 March 1969, Company C was engaged in a combat operation north of the Rockpile and sustained numerous casualties from North Vietnamese Army mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, small arms, and automatic weapons fire. While continuing to function effectively in his primary billet, First Lieutenant Marlantes skillfully combined and reorganized the remaining members of two platoons, and on 6 March initiated an aggressive assault up a hill, the top of which was controlled by a hostile unit occupying well-fortified bunkers. Under First Lieutenant Marlantes' dynamic leadership, the attack gained momentum which carried it up the slope and through several enemy emplacements before the surprised North Vietnamese force was able to muster determined resistance...
From his bio on Amazon, he also earned the Bronze Star, two Navy Commendation Medals for valor, two Purple Hearts, and ten air medals.
The book is available for pre-order, and will be released on March 23, 2010.
Via email from Robert Stokley:
"Master SGT John Skinner is the faculty instructor / leader of the East Coweta Marine JROTC. This corp of high school students are committed to learning prinicples of military life and conduct, and many will go into full time service post high school. Their student leader is senior Col. Allison Gordy, a Sharpsburg resident who plans to attend ABAC College in Tifton after graduation."
"This group of students organized and collected $1,300.00 during a fall 2009 campaign to help Bravo 2/121 Wounded Warrior SFC Mark Allen. SFC Allen suffered a serious head wound during a fierce firefight on July 8, 2009 in Afghanstan while serving as a Platoon leader with Bravo 2/121 (Newnan GA) of the 48th Brigade Georgia Army National Guard. It was his second deployment in four years, having served with E 108th CAV (Griffin GA) of the 48th Brigade Georgia Army National Guard in Iraq from May 2005 - April 2006. SFC Allen is currently hospitalized at the VA PolyTrauma Center in Tampa Florida and has a long term recovery care plan. His wife and young daughter are with him as well as his parents. While the United States Army and VA are providing many benefits for SFC Allen's wife and daughter the money raised by the Marine JROTC at East Coweta, pooled with the money raised through seven Chick-fil-A fundraising events at their resturant locations at UpScale Pizza Fayetteville, Banks Station Dwarf House Fayetteville, Thomas Crossroads Newnan, Bullsboro Newnan, Original Dwarf House Hapeville, Loganville, and Truett's Grill McDonough will be used to offset the extra-ordinary expenses of the extended family being with SFC Allen and aiding in his long term recovery from a Traumatic Brain Injury.
"The Marine JROTC group contacted the Mike Stokely Foundation, Inc. and asked the Foundation to accept the donation and use it on behalf of SFC Allen and his family, as part of the overall Wounded Warrior Fundraising project led by Chick-fil-A. This project, spearheaded by David Pruiksma, Chick-fil-A Dwarf House Business Consultant, and the five Chick-fil-A resturants (Fayetteville Banks Station, Thomas Crossroads/Newnan, Bullsboro/Newnan, Hapeville/Original Dwarf House, and Loganville) along with Chick-fil-A companion resturants UpScale Pizza (Fayetteville) and Truett's Grill (McDonough) raised over $23,000 to date for Mark Allen and his family. When Chick-fil-A heard of the efforts of they provided assistance to the East Coweta Marine JROTC."The East Coweta Marine JROTC collected this money through various events including donation booths at home football games over a two week period. They are to be commended for their loyalty to a wounded soldier and their community."
The 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team will be returning home from Afghanistan this month.
If you don't recognize Robert's name, take a moment to read this.
For more information on the efforts on behalf of SFC Mark Allen and his family, click here.
"Call of Duty" is for when you're off-duty. Until then...
The Pentagon's added yet another video game to their growing collection. This time, they're investing in a "First Person Cultural Trainer" designed to teach one-on-one cultural sensitivity to American troops.
The Army's Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) is backing University of Texas researchers to create the game, which is a 3D sim with scenarios in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Troops play themselves, and interact with Iraqi and Afghan civilians in replications of local villages.
Some of the locals have "more clout" than others. Piss off the wrong person, and it's game over.
Very nice - but will the pissed off dude look like this?
And as good as Alex's ideas are, the prize for "realistic war game" of 2009 still goes to The Onion:
The AP, via Stars and Stripes
An Army probe into allegations of verbal threats involving a base's food supply has revealed that none of the five soldiers detained was involved in any plot to poison food at the base, a congressman said Sunday.
U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., said Sunday information he received as a member of the House Armed Services Committee showed there was no plot.
For those still interested: "Four of the soldiers were discharged from the Army for petty crimes, Wilson said, and the fifth was returned to his National Guard unit in Virginia. None of the soldiers has been identified."
And even though they've been discharged, a federal investigation continues:
An investigation continues into other possible crimes relating to information found on their laptops, Wilson said. The laptops were turned over to the FBI for analysis.
The Columbia, S.C. Fox affiliate reports Wilson "says all five men were U.S. citizens from northern Virginia."
Previously: Bardus Maximus
March 1, 1913:
...the 16th Amendment to the US Constitution, establishing a Federal Income Tax, takes effect.