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Sig Christenson, San Antonio Express-News military writer, offers a long (but well worth reading) editorial in which he struggles to come to grips with the shifting relationship between the media and the military
A familiar Iraqi street scene plays out on a flat-screen TV in the office of the U.S. Central Command's No. 2 man here.
Shot from an RQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle, the image captures Iraqis in traditional Arab dress walking onto a street in Mosul near a set of earthtone homes.
"You're looking at a city that didn't look very much different than any community in the United States," said Lt. Gen. Lance Smith, deputy chief of the U.S. Central Command. "Traffic all over the place, people all over the streets, commerce going on, and they don't have mortars going off and IEDs (improvised explosive devices) blowing up and all that stuff all the time."
That's the Iraq he thinks many Americans never see or read about. It's an argument as old as the U.S.-led occupation and tends to be made by some in the military and supporters of President Bush. Once a whisper, the claim is now a roar. "You're not telling the good news stories," they say.
Between occasional attempts at balance, the piece seems to lurch back and forth between an enthusiastic defense of the media position and a rather meager attempt to deflect blame for any disconnect to the highest levels in the Pentagon. Perhaps oblivious to his own shortsightedness, the author doesn't hesitate to espouse the Iraq quagmire and Rumsfeld bad mantra that is likely the core of the complaint that so many in my profession would lodge against so many in his.
Embedding reporters with troops was a great step toward repairing a strained relationship between the media and military that dated to the Vietnam War. But the natural friction between journalists and the military has risen as the lightning invasion has morphed into a quagmire. <...> Smith, Central Command's deputy chief, is weary of the Western media's focus on terrorist bombings, insurgent attacks and the Abu Ghraib Prison scandal. Such reports overshadow a "vibrant" economy in Baghdad, a city that has "an awful lot of activity that's positive." <...> As he sat in his office July 8, after a two-day tour of Iraq with Express-News photographer Ed Ornelas and myself, Smith complained that Western media were still focused on Abu Ghraib.
"Abu Ghraib isn't a big story with the Arab media anymore. The turnover of the government, the future of Iraq, the folks that are dying senselessly, those are issues for the Arab media," he said. "But (the U.S. media) keeps wanting to get drawn back to this small group of people that humiliated a small group of Iraqis who in general were not good people to begin with."
But in the minds of many, Abu Ghraib is now about one thing and one thing only - getting Rummy - and it is (artificially) divorced from the situation on the ground in Iraq. The lust for the secdef is revealed in later passages:
..."At the Pentagon, there is a lot of bad blood between the Army and the office of the secretary of defense, and that makes reporting difficult. Also, many senior officers have the perception that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and those around him don't want generals to talk to reporters."
One journalist said reporters have become "increasingly cynical" about the Rumsfeld-led Pentagon's candor. He voiced suspicions that the White House and Pentagon have run a "concerted campaign to blame the media" for some of the failings in Iraq.
"I think the question of balanced coverage is a fair one. But demonizing one side or blaming the media for the unstable situation on the ground is telling."
Ricks and other reporters agree the low point came when Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz this summer told the House Armed Services Committee, "Frankly, part of our problem is a lot of the press are afraid to travel very much, so they sit in Baghdad and publish rumors."
Now if anyone can provide an example of anything the Pentagon tried to "blame" on the media, I'd truly like to see the quote. The more I read of this, the more I wonder about what drove it - has the failure of the press become so catastrophic? Has the desire to paint a picture so detrimental to the current administration now completely overwhelmed objectivity, restraint, and judgment of the average reporter, to the point that truth has become a casualty of a war - the war being fought in America, for votes?
It's convenient for the Bush administration and its supporters to make journalists the object of scorn for flawed policies and an obvious failure to do their homework. It is especially convenient to do so in an election year.
Journalists filing flimsy stories might be tired, stressed, under deadline pressure or lazy, but it's a stretch to imagine that any of us wake up in Iraq each morning thinking about how to trash Bush or the military."
But if he's truly interested in finding the source of mistrust that military commanders may harbor for reporters, he may want to look to Baghdad '03 before accusing Washington '04:
Wesley had been monitoring BBC radio that morning to find out how the news of the thunder run was playing. He had listened to Mohammed Said al-Sahaf, Iraq's bombastic information minister, deliver a taunting news conference at the Palestine Hotel on the east bank of the Tigris, just six kilometers from where Robert Ball had made the wrong turn off the spaghetti junction. Sahaf claimed that no American forces had entered the city and that Iraqi troops had slaughtered hundreds of American "scoundrels" at the airport.
"Today we butchered the force present at the airport," Sahaf had said,. "We are hitting them with rockets and artillery and surprising them with tactics that are new" -- apparently a reference to suicide cars and trucks. "Today the tide has turned, " he went on. "We are destroying them." Sahaf instructed Iraqi civilians to alert the armed forces to any American troop movements and to maintain "calm, good organization - to confront the enemy effectively, conquer them and force them to retreat accursed and defeated."
Wesley related Sahaf's outlandish claims to Perkins. He also told him that the BBC was reporting that its reporters had not seen any American tanks in Baghdad that morning, and had concluded that there had been no American presence inside the capital. Perkins pursed his lips and shook his head. Sahaf was starting to irritate him. It galled him that soldiers had driven so hard to penetrate the city, only to have a buffoon in a beret belittle them to the world. And the BBC wasn't even disputing Sahaf?s rants. Worse, Perkins thought, enemy fighters who had not actually seen his brigade's tanks that day would now believe their own propaganda. That only motivated them to fight harder in a doomed cause. He felt like driving his tanks up to the Ministry of Information in the city center to shut Sahaf up.
Then later, in the mission briefing:
Perkins mentioned Sahaf, the information minister. He had to admit it - he was becoming obsessed with that cocky little functionary in his military costume and ridiculous beret. Perkins didn't want to spin his own lies and propaganda. He just wanted the truth to get out. "So we're going to the back of the room where they give the news conferences and ask a couple questions - and ask for validation for parking for a hundred tanks, " he said.
Thunder Run, again.
Of course we all laughed at "Baghdad Bob" - but the reality was that Iraqi citizens out the next day under cover of nothing but a false sense of security were caught in a cross fire and never made it back home.
I certainly wouldn't want to be accused of blaming the media, but how many died as a result of reporting like this?:
SADDAM HUSSEIN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT - So where are the Americans? I prowled the empty departure lounges, mooched through the abandoned customs department, chatted to the seven armed militia guards, met the airport director and stood beside the runways where two dust-covered Iraqi Airways passenger jets -- an old 727 and an even more elderly Antonov -- stood forlornly on the runway not far from an equally decrepit military helicopter.
And all I could hear was the distant whisper of high-flying jets and the chatter of the flocks of birds which have nested near the airport car park on this, the first day of real summer in Baghdad.
The shooting and bad reporting continues to this day. Lets forgive the generals if they decline to offer any intrepid reporter their full and complete trust. We'll assume their motives are something beyond the story.
That Mr. Christensen seems to think the discussion is one of politics, vice human lives, is an interesting revelation in and of itself.
Update: I mean, well, you know, I wouldn't let my supposed bias interfere with my objectivity, er...
Update 2: Um, er, well...
An interesting story from Hawaii:
State Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Tamayo, a National Guard soldier who volunteered for service in Iraq after she had filed for re-election, said yesterday she will not campaign for a second term.
"After thorough research, it is clear that Department of Defense rules will prohibit me from performing my legislative responsibilities while on active military duty in Iraq," she said at a press conference yesterday at the state Capitol.
State law, however, requires that Tamayo's name remain on the ballot. She declined to say whether she will resign if elected, or whether she will endorse another candidate for her office.
Because Department of Defense regulations limit campaign activities, Tamayo, D-42nd (Waipahu, Honouliuli, 'Ewa), said she felt prohibited from disclosing much about her political intentions. She said she had stopped all political activities after being placed on active duty two weeks ago.
During the press conference, Tamayo called the possibility of being elected and being unable to perform her duties "unacceptable."
"My goal is to actually be of service, not just to hold onto my position," she said.
Tamayo is among some 2,000 Hawai'i National Guard members who reported for active duty two weeks ago as part of an 18-month mission that will include service in Iraq.
"Although I was not activated," Tamayo wrote in her statement, "I volunteered to go with (her fellow Guardsmen) because I felt it was my duty as a soldier and a friend to join them in the service of our country."
Pentagon officials said earlier this month that Tamayo is not prohibited under federal law from holding office while serving on active duty, but would be forbidden from conducting any of the duties of her office.
Tamayo said she did not know that would be the case when she volunteered for duty in Iraq.
We'll hope her political opponents will refrain from suggesting she's 'AWOL', or otherwise questioning the character of her service.
Smash has returned from active duty and is blogging on his backup site, where he provides a first-hand account of a San Diego "peace" protest turned violent.
A nice welcome home, eh?
This Washington Post article is one of many pretending to authoritatively "set the record staight" on the abuses at Abu Ghraib:
But the senior officers cited for indirectly allowing the abuse to flourish at the Abu Ghraib prison will not face charges under the findings of an Army report issued this week -- a fact that three Army generals explained and defended yesterday in interviews. Those in the U.S. command structure who failed to supervise their subordinates, who handed down unclear and in some cases illegal policies, and who ignored signs of abuse were found in Army reports to be "responsible" for the problems but not "culpable" because they did not have a direct hand in the mistreatment.
"That's the differentiation that's being made," Gen. Paul J. Kern -- who supervised the Army's most recent investigation, by Marine Gen. George R. Fay and Lt. Gen. Anthony R. Jones -- said in an interview yesterday with Washington Post editors and reporters. "Are we letting them off the hook? I don't think so. In fact, we put the spotlight on them and said, 'You didn't do your job right.' "
Love the "responsible" but not "culpable" - apparently the full quote wouldn't get the point across, so we're down to using just two words.
An Aug. 27 article about an Army report on abuse of detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq incorrectly identified George R. Fay as a Marine general. Fay is in the Army, and his rank is major general.
Hmmmm, Marines, Army... whatever. A "minor" mistake. Not sure from the correction who's "responsible" or "culpable" though. Doesn't matter - certainly the remaining details are "right".
Our first MilBlogger from England, welcome Kommentariat to the MilBlogs Ring! Spanning the globe like no other news organization ever.
Back stateside, Vietnam veteran Bill Faith is blogging up a storm. Scroll scroll scroll...
Sooner or later, the past comes out.
Will the wounds never heal?
Blogger Matthew Gross has issues with CNN:
Several hundred thousand people peacefully protested George Bush today in New York, and at 9:30 pm, it ain't on the frigging TV. Not even a mention on Headline News.
I guess it didn't happen. Headline News just left its first segment, and gave me a teaser for "Southern Storms."
I'll wait with baited breath, CNN.
Yes, and in the meantime we'll have to settle for coverage from Reuters, AP, the New York Times, MSNBC, the NY Times (yes, again - hey, it's local!) and, uh... well... CNN. (and on CNN TV here and here and... well, okay, anyway, unbait your breath.)
But will the lament change if middle America doesn't respond warmly to this sort of reporting:
But individual protesters kept tensions high, some of them hissing or cursing at well-heeled couples heading to popular Broadway musicals like "Thoroughly Modern Millie" and "Fiddler on the Roof."
"Republican murderers go home and kill your babies!" one young man yelled at theatergoers, a far cry from local public service messages urging New Yorkers to "make nice" to party delegates in the city for the four-day convention, where Bush will be nominated for another four-year term.
A second protester shoved a middle-aged woman in a black cocktail dress, shouting:
"Bitch, go home! We don't want you here!" At one point, police cordoned off a city block after several dozen demonstrators jeered and razzed the incoming audience.
Of course the cry will change, to this:
Let's see... the NYC police announced 134 arrests today. I estimated the crowd size to be "well over" 250,000. But, for the sake of you mathematicians from Michigan State University... let's make it easy for you and say "100,000." 134/100,000 equals a little over 1/10 of 1 percent. So, the crowd was 99.9 percent peaceful today. Humble pie, my friends?
A fair complaint perhaps - but the planes that land safely don't make the news, you know? And you know, I'm no Jethro, but I got me one of them calculators on my computer (I stuck it on with gloo) and I calculated this:
Population NYC: 8 million
Number protestors: 100,000
Percentage of people of NY protesting: 1.25%
Which works only as long as we ignore the busses that brought our fearless violators of Ashcroft's ban on free speech into town from points near and far. As long as we're doing math, you know. And hey! That wasn't reported either!!!!. But really, who's counting?
Certainly not Tim Blair. (Drink alert. Go.)
Update: More here, including an explanation of the caskets.
By the way, you're registered to vote, aren't you?
(With apologies to Mr. Kipling and the British Army)
Johnny went public with ?is boasts, an? ?ero without fear,
?Til sudden like the Swifties say, ?We got a turncoat ?ere.?
The Libs they just ignored ?em, sayin? ?Ah, it?s all a lie!?
Then Johnny?s outted by their ads an? to myself says I:
Oh it?s Johnny this an? Johnny that, ?e?s the ?ero of the day.
But it?s wait now, Mr. Kerry, what?s that record really say?
The horns are loudly blowin? boys as our band begins to play,
An? it?s goodbye, Mr. Kerry, as they blow your arse away.
Johnny goes to Cincinnati sober as a man can be,
An? they give ol? George a ?Bravo Lad!? but John no sympathy.
They give ?im plain their message, sittin? silent in the ?alls,
That when it comes to fightin? men, they know oo?s got the balls.
For it?s Johnny this an? Johnny that, but wait, he might ?a lied
From the platform of his campaign train an? on the Boston tide.
His ship is on the tide, my boys, his ship is on the tide,
An? it?s plain as day she?s sinkin? boys, because the turncoat lied.
Yes Johnny mocked our uniforms that guard you while you sleep.
He cheapened all our medals throwing his upon that heap;
An? rustlin? up his phony troops, he led them for a bit,
Until his aspirations and theirs no longer fit.
Now it?s Johnny this an? Johnny that, an? Johnny how?s yer soul,
In that brave front rank of ?eroes as our drums begin their roll?
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
An? they?ll keep right on a rollin? boys, ?til we chuck ?im in the hole.
We make no claim as ?eroes, nor we aren?t no blackguards too,
But ?onorable men an? warriors fightin? once agin for you.
An? if your ?ero?s record, our charges soundly taint,
That?s what we?re tryin? to tell you blokes, your ?ero ain?t no saint.
For it?s Johnny this an? Johnny that, an? ?Check him out, the Loot!?
Was ?e the ?Savior of ?is country? when the guns begin to shoot?
Now it?s Johnny?s turn to prove us wrong, an? make us all out liars,
By signin? that one eighty form an? puttin out the fires.
Oh it?s Johnny this an? Johnny that, ?e?s the ?ero of the day,
But it?s hold on, Mr. Kerry, what?s that record really say?
The horns are loudly blowin? boys, as our band begins to play,
?Cheerio, Old Man,? to Johnny and blows his arse away.
2d Bn, 327th Parachute Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division
Some drama last night on the stage of the MTV Video Music Awards involving the daughters of presidential candidate John Kerry. Our pop culture correspondent, Toure, is joining me now live from Miami with more on all of this.
Toure, good morning. Beautiful shot behind you there.
TOURE, CNN POP CULTURE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Heidi. How are you?
COLLINS: I'm great. Listen, I want to get straight to the sound of this. A little bit unexpected event last night, when Vanessa and Alexandra about halfway through the show or so took to the microphones. Let's go ahead and listen for a minute.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VANESSA KERRY, JOHN KERRY'S DAUGHTER: It's good to be here with you all tonight in Florida and to get this chance...
KERRY: And get this chance...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: So, Toure, I understand you had a chance to talk with Vanessa. We want to go ahead and listen to what she said about that incident.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY: I was scared out of my mind. I mean, I grabbed my sister, and I thought, what is happening? And -- but it doesn't matter, because we're fighting for something that I believe in so strongly. I will go up there and hear the whole arena boo if it means connecting with one person.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COLLINS: So Toure, did she connect?
TOURE: She did connect. I mean, most people cheered. But there were a lot of boos. And you could hear that.
And it was kind of a difficult moment for her. And, as she said, she was really scared by that. But, you know, they're really focused on helping their dad.
And MTV made it a nonpartisan moment by bringing in the Bush twins by videotape. So it was kind of a together moment. I mean, the whole night, there was a political subtext just saying, like, vote, everybody get out and be part of the system.
COLLINS: But, Toure, you know, we just did a series last week on sort of the lines being blurred between politics and entertainment. I'm just wondering, do you think the crowd was like, hey, this isn't why I'm here. I don't want to hear about politics. Do you think that could have been part of it?
TOURE: I think maybe part of it. I mean, you know, this is -- this is such a battleground state, it's such a passionate election. And I think people who really believe in the president were like boo to you. But why would you boo somebody's daughter?
The guy's from JET, the rock band said, you know, it's like if James Hetfield's daughter or son was walking down the street, James Hetfield from Metallica, and they would boo like the son, like "We don't like your dad's band, boo." Like, you know, they're just kids trying to help their parents.
Well, guess that explains it.
Update: Video here.
Note the ladies glance backwards when the booing begins to see just who the object of that scorn may be. No doubt that was a chilling moment, when they realized for whom that bell tolled.
But you'll feel foolish to learn (after reading the above report and watching the event with your own eyes) that according to this CNN story the crowd was booing the Bush twins, most likely in some sort of anticipatory response.
(Update links via Instapundit)
Regardless of who was booing who... note the title of this post.
Update 2: Matthew Gross explains it all.
Aging sure beats the alternative. One year wiser? We'll all benefit from that.
Cops were everywhere. It was fun talking to them. One of them said to me, "It's like fuggin' 9/11 never happened." His buddies seemed to agree.
But what can a poor boy do, 'cept to sing for a rock n' roll band...?
Does this man have redeeming qualities? (The subject, of course, not the author.)
Can anyone provide a few?
Vote Nader if you must.
I've said this before, I'm glad he's on our side.
The Boyd column is an embarrassment to himself and to his colleagues on the editorial pages and to the entire paper. In an age of accountability, he would be fired. Because the Strib's editorial pages have long ago given up on even a remote association with intellectual honesty, he will instead be treated to sympathetic slaps on the back and mutterings about the right wing --and left secure in his poisoned view of the world as were southern slave owners were in the face of the abolitionist movement, and the appeasers upon hearing from Churchill throughout the '30s that they had judged developments on the continent wrongly. Clinging to discredited certainties is a sure sign of a fool or a fanatic. Boyd doesn't have the talent to be the latter.
I think the concept is applicable to more than a few people, on more than a few current topics.
This piece has another withering quote from Hugh:
"I have been both a lawyer/law professor for two decades and a television/radio/print journalist for 15 years of those 20," Hugh Hewitt blogged. "It takes a great deal more intelligence and discipline to be the former than to be the latter, which is why the former usually pays a lot more than the latter. It is no surprise to me, then, when lawyers/law professors like those at Powerline and Instapundit prove to be far more adept at exposing the 'Christmas-in-Cambodia' lie and other Kerry absurdities than old-school journalists."
I'm inclined to agree on the relative difficulties (allowing for exceptions) but note that neither latin nor words of over two syllables are required for a truly effective denouement:
"Never pick a fight with a guy who buys ink by the barrel": That's old wisdom. The new wisdom -- being taught to a guy at the Star Tribune -- is don't pick a fight with guys who buy pixels by the passel. And who know how to use Google.
So says Glenn.
Now go read Powerline.
Another passage from Thunder Run: The Armored Strike to Capture Baghdad, this one dealing with a tank that had been forced to drop behind the main column. In attempting to rejoin the battalion the crew missed a turn, and instead of heading for the airport found themselves driving alone into the heart of Baghdad:
Suddenly they were rolling into a traffic circle - Qahtain Square in the Yarmouk section of Baghdad. Gruneisen radioed the captain: "Did you go through a traffic circle?"However, not everyone ran:
Iraqi military trucks were parked along the square. Soldiers were milling around. It was a staging area for attacks on the column. The tank rumbled into the square. The Iraqi soldiers stared up at the big tan machine, shocked to see an M1A1 Abrams barreling down on them. The tank crew stared, too. They had never expected to confront the enemy in such a personal way - literally face-to-face. There was a brief, suspended moment.
"Oh shit," Gruneisen said.
The Iraqi soldiers didn't open fire. They ran - they scattered everywhere. It struck Hernandez as preposterous. There were five Americans surrounded by dozens of Iraqis in the heart of the Iraqi capital, and the Iraqis were fleeing. He had a mental image of cockroaches scattering when you turn on the kitchen light.
Gruneisen ordered Peterson to speed through the circle. There wasn't enough time to back up and turn around. He wanted to just plow through the circle, past the trucks and soldiers, and head back the way they had come. The soldiers scattered out of the way. Gruneisen couldn't tell whether anyone was firing at them. As they rolled into the circle, Hernandez saw yellow pickup truck speeding toward them with two men in the front seat. There wasn't time for a warning shot - no time to determine whether these were wayward civilians or militiamen trying to ram them. Hernandez got off a burst from the M-240. He saw a spray of blood stain the windshield and watched the passenger go down. The driver hit the brakes and the pickup spun and went into a skid.A strange mix of responses, from suicidal attacks to fleeing the scene. (And in the midst of it all a large group of civilians, deceived by their government into believing there was no danger in the streets that day.) But the uncoordinated attacks from those who did choose to fight seems to indicate a lack of leadership, or at least effective leadership, on the part of the Iraqi military command. Could it have been the officers of the Iraqi army who that lone tank sent fleeing from the traffic circle that day?
During Desert Storm those officers fled long before the ground combat phase began, leaving the rank and file to confront the onslaught. That such an event occurred again during Operation Iraqi Freedom is likely, and probably contributed greatly to the swift downfall of the regime.
Regardless of what might or might not have happened on that day, certainly collapse and failure are the twin fates waiting any army whose officers seek the first opportunity to abandon their command.
SondraK offers a must-read post. Regulars here will recognize the referenced story. And don't stop at the end of her entry; make sure you catch the comment from Peter, who left similar remarks here recently.
His words have the ring of pure heartfelt honesty. Read it, and pass it on to anyone who claims it's all about Bush.
Vote Nader if you must.
Will the wounds never heal?
A reminder found while housecleaning the blog this weekend: Just Another Soldier. Interesting in light of this week's discussion on the fate of military blogs in general.
Closing Blogs is nothing new. So many site's owners just give up on their own. They come and go, you know, these MilBloggers do. Like any other sort of blogger. Many post in the lonely down hours far from home, spill their guts for the world, then abandon their spots when the tour of duty is up. They have lives again somewhere in the world, and no need to share the details. So it goes.
Many are truly gone - no site left at all. "The page cannot be found." Other blogs remain, like abandoned defensive positions in shifting desert sands. Once some bold soldier was here, now no more. The ghost battalions of the web. How you doin', Major Pain? And look, here was Thor. And here stood Moja. Farewell, Will.
They are more than the thoughts they left behind, but now only those orphaned thoughts remain, left for any to see. Museum pieces, like tombs, offering something to the scholar or the scavenger, or enjoyed in passing by the casual traveler.
Zeros and ones you know. On one level that's all they ever were. Enjoy them while you can.
Doing site maintenance today. Posts will be forthcoming, but the Mrs presented me with a list today - a carefully done compilation of the outdated links in my blogroll. I've been pretty bad at keeping that updated, time to fix. (And time for a few additional tweaks too. If you see anything funny, don't be alarmed.)
Anyway, somewhere a while back a concept of 'thinkers' and 'linkers' developed in the blogosphere. Everyone is a bit of both but I've been lax in that 'linkers' bit. (ed note - what, you think you're a thinker?!) So it's time to clean house, out with the old, in with the new, etc. etc, etc. Generally I've little time to devote to this sort of thing, but this weekend I'm on it.
Sooo if you'd like a spot on Greyhawk's blogroll (for what that's worth) link this post or leave a comment. I'll stop by. Enter the URL of one of your posts you're especially fond of, perhaps one that's 'under-appreciated' (as my first several hundred posts were), maybe you'll end up one of the new troops on the bootcamp blogroll - intended to be a place for the newly added to reside for a while enjoying added exposure before being tossed to the big blogroll.
Don't be shy. Nothing would make me happier than to be the first person to link to your blog.
Disclaimer - just being honest here: The more times I see your site, the better chance you have of getting linked here. I generally follow trackbacks, referrer logs, TTLB and technorati links to see who's joining me in my conversations. Monologues are no fun.
(Side note, the Onestat sitemeter can't be beat. Click my link above, check the features. Test drive. Note the pull down menu in the upper left corner area, and the listed options below it. I love linking people who have onestat. Get one, they're free.)
Thats how I found Russ, you know. Hi Russ.
Update: And of course, you can report here to sign up for Milblogs or Friends of MilBlogs - an instant link or two from me. And I also have the automatic reciprocal blogroll, for those using blogrolling.
While I'm at it, if you haven't signed on to TTLB, you might want to think about that too.
Update: What do you mean, you don't have a blog?
Download. Burn to CDs. Give 'em to your friends.
I would suggest sending copies to the troops in Iraq, but I'm concerned about the negative impact Teresa's Sitzpinkler might have on morale.
Not to mention the shortage of absentee ballots that might ensue.
This is misguided:
Breaking her silence on criticism of John Kerry's war record by the group Swiftboat Veterans for Truth, Teresa Heinz Kerry said this week that such attacks are undermining the morale of troops currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"I believe that discussions or attacks on [my husband's] service undermine the peace of mind not only of Vietnam veterans but of those now fighting for their country," she told the Dayton Daily News.
She believes wrong. Look, lady, veterans attacking your husband is just another form of service to their country, okay? Protecting the Republic is in their blood.
But thanks for expressing your concern for the national defense.
Okay, the sites noted as being down earlier are all up now.
Though suddenly, this guy is down, suppsedly because "it's his birthday".
None the less, in his honor I link something about nanotechnology, in the name of freedom!
And no, I don't understand it.
Update: Taranto, trying to get into the act, links porn. Lots of other things there look familiar too... (Good stuff, go read, all ye who miss Instapundit)
As of this post, My War has had all archives pulled. I can think of several reasons for this, not all of which involve suppressing free speech.
Update: Problems with the WWW? A disturbance in the force? Since there are two sites I'm unable to reach today, could there be some common cause?
Update 2: Okay, now panic.
Update 3 Okay, I've heard from Hook and from someone who is in touch with CB. Both are fine. The military is not now nor has it ever been suppressing blogs. Please note the title of this post.
Now, if we can just get Michele back in action... (Kidding, kid. Recharge that spirit, flush the system, see you soon. And stop by anytime - glad to see you weren't blocked by porn filters.)
In blog terms, this is old news (or not news):
Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry on Wednesday renewed his call for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to resign and urged President Bush to appoint an independent investigation to provide reforms after a report faulted all levels of the military for abuse at Abu Ghraib prison.
But a new rumor states that the SecDef might be willing to respond to that demand, on one condition:
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld likely will step down in mid-2005 if President Bush wins re-election.
Sounds like a workable compromise. How about it, Senator?
From the Washington Post
Despite Kerry's courting, veterans say they trust President Bush more than Kerry as commander in chief, 56 percent to 38 percent, according to a report released yesterday by the University of Pennsylvania's National Annenberg Election Survey.
But don't be quick to blame the Swift vets.
In interviews this week, local veterans said their opinion of John Kerry -- for better or for worse -- was forged long ago and has not been affected by ads accusing Kerry of lying about his wartime record.
As may have been mentioned here before, none of this is new to veterans, who are now mounting a furious campaign to overcome claims made about them from the Senate floor in 1971 and from the Fleet Center in 2004.
But of course, you'll have to scroll past the claims of the campaign spokesman to the final paragraphs of the story to find quotes like these:
Christopher E. Braun, a veteran and real estate executive in Herndon, said he is "still a little funny about Kerry's antiwar stance following his return. I don't like how he turned his back on vets when he came back. But that's not the reason why I'm not voting for him."
Unfortunately the Post declined to print Mr Braun's reason.
But for Jim Grummons, a Korean War veteran and commander of VFW Post 7327 in Springfield, Kerry's "downfall was in going against the Vietnam War. He went with Hanoi Jane, and that ticked a lot of veterans off."
Other Vietnam veterans cited Kerry's testimony in 1971 before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where he listed war crimes and atrocities that he said were committed by U.S. troops in Vietnam. It is Kerry's testimony that is the subject of the latest advertisement by the swift boat veterans.
"He should have never gone there," said Desi Arnaiz, a leader of Vietnam Veterans of America Battlefield Lodge 617 in Woodbridge. "I was not a baby killer: I didn't rape. I didn't do any of that stuff."
But the real question is, can the Swift vets convince enough American voters of that claim?
The Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal calls forth questions over the American War in Viet Nam: "How were captured US troops treated?" and "How did the Americans treat the Vietnamese?"
In fact, like in any of the dozens of countries they invaded, it was the Americans who perpetrated well-documented atrocities in Viet Nam, both at the individual and mass levels.
But despite these abuses, the Vietnamese did not reciprocate in kind; instead, they treated captured US troops humanely.
Candidate in this year’s American presidential elections, John Kerry, who fought in the war, went further in his criticism. In a statement to the US’ Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in 1971, he said the war crimes committed by US soldiers in Southeast Asia "were not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command."
Update: As of 11:36 UTC the link has vanished, and not even a google cache is to be found. A Free Republic post does include the full text.
Not to fan the conspiracy flames but The Corner had linked the same story above. That sent a noticable number of readers there, I'm sure. The time of day I linked was unlikely for server overload (but perhaps likely for site maintenance). No great conspiracy story here, just an item of interest, one of those things that makes you go hmmmm...
Update 2: Problems with the WWW? A disturbance in the force? Commenters report mixed results. Since there are two sites I'm unable to reach today, could there be some common cause?
Uh oh - trouble brewing. I foresee Glenn sending Smash to Blackfive's place with a letter...
And man, note the speed of the blogosphere.
Another danged Cowboy Republican MilBlog type.
With another letter from a Vietnam veteran. I reckon y'all oughta go read that.
Tell 'em the king a' porn sent ya. Welcome to the MilBlogs ring, pard'.
Ironically, when this incident took place, it was somewhat obscurred by a presidential election. Likely this update will go unnoticed.
Yemen's former interior minister helped the alleged mastermind of the attack on the U.S. destroyer Cole to pass through security checkpoints in the months leading up to the 2000 bombing, according to a document read aloud in court Wednesday by a defense lawyer for five of the suspects.
Yemen tolerated Islamic extremists for many years, but after the Sept. 11 attacks its government cracked down on militants and aligned itself with the U.S.-led war on terrorism. It has received U.S. military aid, such as counter-terrorism training for its soldiers.
Seventeen American sailors were killed in the attack. Many consider the lack of immediate response to be a key American failure in preventing 911.
By the way, why is it always a "mastermind"?
Go ahead, smart guys. Comment away.
Update: I mean, golly Miss Lane, I even deleted the curse words from the Kerry quotes!
Update 2: I bow to popular demand (sigh)
Update 4: Sample chapters? It's from last year! Gentlemen, we must allow the healing to begin!
Yes, the video.
Live feed available here. The warm up act will be the Swift vets ad.
Update: Another Swift ad. Max, you still in Crawford?
By the way, Gardner's a liar. It wasn't Kerry's boat, it belonged to the Navy, and the taxpayers. And what about the dog?
(See Previous entry here.)
It really is close to Plamegate, but it's just an Army corporal that might get killed and hey, think about the great followup story they could do: "Simpsons Bus Driver Killed in Unpopular War - Film at 11"
Stay safe CB.
Lex offers on-target wisdom . He notes "And if the army was anything like the Navy, it wouldn't be hard to find a creative, intelligent, discontent soul who thought the entire amalgamation of organization, mission and leadership was a bunch of horse fewmets". CB isn't like that, but the "bad apple" theory is worth mentioning. I can think of recent newsworthy examples of military types whose blogs I'd rather not read.
And an Army Wife offers a completely different perspective. One that's not subject to the UCMJ.
I can't resist providing the poets a platform.
Keep up the good work on your blog. I salute all those noble silent heroes. I wrote this for them.
REAL HEROES, THEY DON’T BRAG
When Uncle Sam said, "I want you" they answered their country’s call
Left their homes and families and vowed to give their all
They fought battles and won victories and came home from the war
With some wounds you couldn’t see and put their medals in a drawer
They thought of buddies they had lost and were haunted by those scenes
That inhabited their memories and frequented their dreams
But they got jobs and raised families while their stories stayed untold
They were your neighbor or repairman, someone just down the road
Let us thank God for their sacrifice each time we unfurl our flag
You won’t hear them boast about it ‘cause real heroes they don’t brag
August 21, 2004
Back to school time is here! It's called Social Studies now, but history can still be fun. See if you don't agree.
Jim Walker brings our attention to a quote from a previously linked story:
I believe we need to reclaim the kind of citizenship. It's a citizenship seared into me 30 years ago when I served with a band of brothers in Vietnam. We were all living together, working together, taking care of each other, kids from Arkansas, Iowa, California, Massachusetts, and a young African American gunner by the name of David Alston, from South Carolina. Color, religion, background, all of it just melted away into an understanding that we were 'Americans.' It shouldn't have to take a war to remind us understand that we're all in this together.
"...all in this together..." 'two America's' - whatever. 'Band of Brothers' though - that's catchy. But hey, once seared you just don't forget.
Next: Creative Writing 101: I think this from another entry into the Fan Fiction series. It's getting hard to tell:
As PCF-94 twisted and turned up the river, its crew occasionally losing sight of the other Swifts around the waterway's sharp turns, the Special Forces captain in the pilothouse with Kerry glanced at him knowingly as he intently scrutinized the banks for any sign of movement. But none appeared, in part because the mangroves rose so thick about them on both sides that they could barely see through them. "[Deleted], they can hear us coming for miles," the captain pointed out, "and I can't remember any [expleteve deleted] thing in the history of war that runs like this -- taking friendly boats smack into VC territory so that they can be shot at." Then, "with a sigh that said '[expletive deleted],'" as Kerry put it, the captain returned to staring out the pilothouse door.
It's by Doug Brinkley. The latest version of John Kerry's final mission in Vietnam. (Warning to parents: The expletives aren't deleted in the linked piece, you get the candidate's original language. Not for kids!) Enjoy.
Now good fiction is called literature. And the Band of Brothers thing is from Shakespeare, his dramatized account of Henry V is a fine example; history with a touch of fiction, the result is art. Here's the quote:
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,Oops - wrong passage. Well, it's there somewhere. And for those parents looking for a good story with a useful moral for their kids, try this one.
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
The fat lady hasn't sung. (But Moby's warming up.)
The Kerry campaign has found 29 Republicans who now support him. Perhaps they'll make dramatic videos explaining how they feel Bush betrayed them?
Also see here. I don't think they'll get these guys on board.
Doc in the Box, now out of the box.
An American Soldier, in the land of heat and sand.
In a highly publicized photo-op, Cleland traveled to President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, to deliver a letter from nine senators calling on the president to repudiate the activities of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which has been running ads questioning Kerry's Vietnam War record.
Cleland was met at the ranch by Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, a Republican elected official and Vietnam veteran, who tried to give the former senator a letter addressed to Kerry, accusing him of using his military service for political gain.
"You can't have it both ways," said the letter, signed by Patterson and six other veterans including two Medal of Honor recipients and a former North Vietnamese prisoner of war. "You can't build your convention and much of your campaign around your service in Vietnam, and then try to say that only those veterans who agree with you have a right to speak up. There is no double standard for our right to free speech. We all earned it."
Cleland was not able to deliver his letter nor would he accept the letter Patterson tried to give him.
And here it is:
Letter to John Kerry
August 25, 2004
Senator John Kerry
304 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Kerry,
We are pleased to welcome your campaign representatives to Texas today. We honor all our veterans, all whom have worn the uniform and served our country. We also honor the military and National Guard troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan today. We are very proud of all of them and believe they deserve our full support.
That’s why so many veterans are troubled by your vote AGAINST funding for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, after you voted FOR sending them into battle. And that’s why we are so concerned about the comments you made AFTER you came home from Vietnam. You accused your fellow veterans of terrible atrocities – and, to this day, you have never apologized. Even last night, you claimed to be proud of your post-war condemnation of our actions.
We’re proud of our service in Vietnam. We served honorably in Vietnam and we were deeply hurt and offended by your comments when you came home.
You can’t have it both ways. You can’t build your convention and much of your campaign around your service in Vietnam, and then try to say that only those veterans who agree with you have a right to speak up. There is no double standard for our right to free speech. We all earned it.
You said in 1992 “we do not need to divide America over who served and how.” Yet you and your surrogates continue to criticize President Bush for his service as a fighter pilot in the National Guard.
We are veterans too – and proud to support President Bush. He’s been a strong leader, with a record of outstanding support for our veterans and for our troops in combat. He’s made sure that our troops in combat have the equipment and support they need to accomplish their mission.
He has increased the VA health care budget more than 40% since 2001 – in fact, during his four years in office, President Bush has increased veterans funding twice as much as the previous administration did in eight years ($22 billion over 4 years compared to $10 billion over 8.) And he’s praised the service of all who served our country, including your service in Vietnam.
We urge you to condemn the double standard that you and your campaign have enforced regarding a veteran’s right to openly express their feelings about your activities on return from Vietnam.
Texas State Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson
Rep. Duke Cunningham
Rep. Duncan Hunter
Rep. Sam Johnson
Lt. General David Palmer
Robert O'Malley, Medal of Honor Recipient
James Fleming, Medal of Honor Recipient
Lieutenant Colonel Richard Castle (Ret.)
Update: Another owie! If Purple Hearts were given for minor campaign wounds John Kerry could claim much more than three, and certainly no one would blame him for backing out of the race.
I'm told this web site might be interesting, when it goes live. Perhaps someone will complain loudly at the Ranch tomorrow.
Update: It's live now.
From the USS Gridley home page, financed as all such efforts are; the vets pass the hat among themselves:
GRIDLEY already has a bank account with $490 in it. We don't need much, any size donation would be appreciated. There will be an accounting for the money posted on the site. Total expenses so far have been $323.00 to register the www.ussgridley.com name and that is up for renewal in the end of May each year.
Keith Ott $100
Cliff Tejada $100
Wayne Hoppke $100
Phil Carter $323
Tom Pendergast $25
Kevin Reilly $40
Rich Aamodt $25
Guess they aren't getting any of that big Ketchup money.
Update (hat tip Jim Walker): Once again, I leap to the rescue of John Kerry. This time, it's James Taranto questioning our hero's patriotism!!!!:
Another Seared--Seared--Memory From a John Kerry speech commemorating Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 20, 2003:I remember well April 1968--I was serving in Vietnam--a place of violence--when the news reports brought home to me and my crewmates the violence back home--and the tragic news that one of the bullets flying that terrible spring took the life of that unabashedly maladjusted citizen.
In fact, Kerry did not go to Vietnam until November 1968.
Why if that were so, then our hero's bio would be a lie. That first tour in Vietnam was on the Gridley of course. It's right on his home page:
John Kerry enlisted in the Navy in 1966. After completing Naval Officer Candidates School, he began his first tour of duty on the USS Gridley, a guided-missile frigate in the waters adjacent to Vietnam.
See James, it all depends on what your definition of the word "in" is. Now, admittedly little is made of this nearly forgotten first tour. Most likely the young Ensign could not afford a movie camera at that time.
Not so any more. Hey, Senator, how about matching Rich or Tom on that 25 large?
There's a joke about a race here somewhere, but if Tim Blair didn't touch it then I won't either.
And yes, Tony George ruined Indy. It's obvious from that far away?
Yes, that was me.
A military unit gains its own "individuality". The team becomes a whole, stronger than the individual parts. That bond, that unity, is a powerful thing that transcends any other loyalty. That Kerry understood that concept at one point in time is not so far fetched.
That he then broke that faith is why so many are so willing to do so much to stop him now.
Update: Rush Limbaugh, (yes - I know) interviewed John O'Neill and provides a rather lengthy segment of audio on line.
Give it a listen. He's motivated, there's no doubt about that. He was recovering from surgery (he donated a kidney) when he formed SBVFT, and the profits from the book have been donated to charity.
RUSH: You're going to outsell Bill Clinton before this is all over. You might outsell Hillary Clinton before this is all over.
O'NEILL: And if it does, that will be a great thing because people will pick up an awful lot of information from this, and also will generate a nice royalty check for an awfully nice charity.
RUSH: Which is?
O'NEILL: I'm not sure if I should say, but what we've offered is, I've offered my total royalty interest in this to the Navy and Marine Corps Relief, which is the organization that aids --
O'NEILL: -- families of people that are killed, servicemen --
Update 2: Yes, Rush is a bit over the top, but O'Neill handles that well, just as he did being stepped on by previous interviewers.
I begin this missive with an embrazo, as we call it here in Texas, for your service to our country, as a warrior, as a prisoner of war and as a United States Senator. You have served far better and endured far more in the service of America than most men will ever do. For that, this old sergeant salutes you.
That said, as a Vietnam ground combat veteran, I must take issue with you on the situation of John Kerry and the Swift Boat Veterans. You have labeled these men ?dishonest and dishonorable,? and that, Sir, is nothing more than your opinion based on no direct knowledge of the events they dispute. For you to so condemn these men publicly, without any firsthand knowledge of John Kerry?s performance in their midst and under their professional observation, is unfair to them and all veterans who share their view that John Kerry is unfit to command. Who was best qualified to evaluate you as a naval aviator, those senior officers who flew with you or the enlisted men who serviced your aircraft? Who had the experience, training and knowledge to make a professional military judgment of your performance in the air, the trained naval aviators on your wing or the enlisted flight crew back on the carrier? Certainly the enlisted men were vital in performing the mission but observing and rating your performance was not their role.
It is my understanding that you originally shared our animosity towards John Kerry, but during your senatorial service, you came to know him more personally and chose to forgive him for his labeling you a war criminal. That you are able to forgive a man even though he had denounced you and your fellow aviators as you languished in North Vietnamese prisons, with your captors using his testimony to try to break your will, is truly commendable. I admire you for your ability to turn the other cheek. However, I must point out that your forgiveness of John Kerry is purely personal and imposes not one iota of obligation to forgive him on those of us who still consider him contemptible.
You carry no mandate to speak for us. Your personal feelings are yours and yours alone; but, emphatically, you do not speak for us. You spoke up to defend your friend and your friend has turned your words into talking points. It is truly reprehensible how the Kerry campaign and the mainstream media are hiding so cynically behind your condemnation of the Swiftvets, using your statement as an excuse to dismiss their claims as baseless, smear politics. Honestly, Senator, did you really intend to provide this kind of cover for those who are so desperate to prevent the truth from coming out?
With all do respect, since you weren?t there to observe John Kerry first hand as were these Swiftvets, may I humbly suggest that the honorable thing for you to do, is to stay out of this fight and allow them and us to have our voice. Moreover, there is one thing you could do to level the playing field: acknowledge that you have no true knowledge of events the Swiftvets describe and that your immediate condemnation of these men was premature. Call on the mainstream media to investigate all parties fairly and determine whose version of events is true. I understand John Kerry is your friend, but that places him neither beyond accountability nor above the truth. You have a unique ability at this moment in America?s history to make a difference. You have long been a dutiful warrior and servant of the people.
Please, do your duty now.
2d Bn, 327th Parachute Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division
I would request that all who agree with the sentiments expressed here copy this letter and send it to:
MilBlogger Sean, from Doc in the Box, is home from over there.
NPR offers a misguided and condescending look at MilBlogs - specifically "My War".
Do not mistake what follows for any attempt on my part to speak on behalf of CB. He speaks for himself quite well. I will also mention "the Army" throughout this discussion. Note that "the Army" is a large group of individuals. Long years of experience have led me to this fact: An individual in the Army is usually responsible for all complaints targeted at the institution. Since I've no idea what specific individuals might think on this topic I will use the generic "the Army".
There are obvious problems with the NPR story:
1. Moments after we hear from the real blogger, (audio available at above link) they play a "dramatization" of one of his entries, read by someone CBFTW describes as an "f-ing weirdo" that sounds like "the bus driver from the Simpsons". Dude, like, you know, they sooo tooootally wanted you to be something that yer not. You B You, man, UBU. Rock on. Peace out.
2. In conjunction with the false dead beat dope smoking under achieving moron that had to join the Armyimage, they portray CB as someone 'reporting the truth about an increasingly unpopular war'. While a recent bombardment of campaign speeches and media coverage may be eroding support for the troops, I would guess "the Army" is well aware of the positive PR they were getting from My War. But this is not a political issue - its a military one. The lives of a lot of people are at risk, and CB's command shoulders that burden. Were they to not monitor the communications once they were aware of them they would be negligent, at least, likely derelict in their duties, and responsible for the results.
"The Army" wants him to continue blogging. Believe me, "the Army" could more easily issue a blanket gag order and shut down all MilBlogs - most likely there are voices calling for that. In years past that would have been the instant response. That they haven't done so speaks well for a new mentality at the top. Perhaps the same mentality that led to "embedded reporters" in the thunder run - but I'm speculating.
3. What seems apparent to me is that CB has now been "outed". "The Army" now has a new and different problem. Can they use him in the capacity for which he was trained - the service he wants to perform? Heaven forbid anything happen to him, but what would the same morons crying about "the Army" trying to silence him say if he were hurt?
A sticky issue, to say the least, but really a new version of an old problem. My grandfather wrote letters home to my grandmother in WWI (yes - one). The ones I've seen were censored. War is Hell. The people who read those letters prior to sending them knew my grandfather wouldn't intentionally violate security, and they read every letter he wrote. The military is trying to come to grips with a new age. For every MilBlogger out there that I know of, there are probably at least ten I don't. For every one of those there are a thousand more GIs writing home on the internet; IM, e-mail, personal web pages or otherwise.
I see two likely options:
1. Trust 'em or bust 'em: Train thoroughly, monitor closely, punish those who violate opsec.
2. Flip the comm switch "off".
I propose option one. But I'm biased.
And here's what the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs said to Hugh Hewitt:
Hewitt: General Myers, I have very narrow question. A lot of us who use the internet for a living and blog for a living are interested in this. There are a lot of military bloggers out there. Individual active duty servicemen and women who put their thoughts, their impressions of their duty stations and the world around them on the internet on MilBlogs. What's your opinion of that? I love them. I hope you keep them, but what's the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff think about those?Ironically, the General, like the rest of us, will now have to read CB through the filter of his immediate command.
General Myers: You know, I don't see that many of them, but based on this conversation Hugh, I will see more of them (laugh). I think, you know, when you get to the four-star level, you fight to get information from the troops and you don't want to be a victim of just getting fed what the staff brings you every day. The way you work that is through the internet as you just mentioned or you visit places. You go to Iraq, you go to Afghanistan and you try and get down to the individual soldier, airmen, sailor, Marine level, coastguardsmen duty, civilian and look them in the eye and say, "How's it going?" and establish enough rapport that they'll tell you, and at my level it's a constant fight to make sure that you get the straight skinny. I think it's a good idea that I plug into some of those too in my spare time.
War is hell.
(Hewitt quote via Chapomatic).
Update: Nathan at Brain Fertilizer offers this:
To tell the truth, I am far more disturbed that the USAF (and maybe the rest of the military, dunno), totally blocks access to the portal mail servers (Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL). Even worse, they don't warn you before you deploy. It can be a significant morale hit to not be able to receive email or even be able to tell someone you won't be able to read their email until you return...Will have to look into that. Anyone else have this problem?
Meanwhile, Darth VOB offers this:
I'd like to offer some advice to deployed milbloggers. This is roughly the same advice I've been giving soldiers about to deploy for the last year and a half. In that time, as part of my duties in the J6 (Information Management / Operations) for the Ohio Army National Guard, I've briefed soldiers on the benefits and use of AKO - Army Knowledge Online, the Army's web portal. One of the points I make is that if you want to share a photo or a story, don't do so on MSN, Yahoo IM, or standard email unless you are comfortable with it being on the front page of USA Today. That's how secure those information delivery vehicles are.They both have plenty more to say. Click in and visit, they've got nothing to hide.
Update 2: Hook weighs in from the 'Stan. He writes the second half of this post so I don't have to - on being anonymous for the benefit of the junior troops, vs the seniors.
WE INTERRUPT THIS BLOG FOR AN ANNOUNCEMENT:
IF YOU COMMENT HERE USING ALL CAPS or some BIZARRE combination of ALL-CAPS WITH LOwerCASe I WILL DELETE said COMMENT WITHOUT ANY FURTHER EXPLANATION.
IN THE INTERNET WORLD ITS CALLED "SHOUTING". IT IS ANNOYING TO THE READER, IT MAKES YOU LOOK FOOLISH, AND BY ASSOCIATION MAKES ME LOOK FOOLISH. I DON'T NEED YOUR HELP TO LOOK FOOLISH.
MOST PEOPLE SCROLL RIGHT PAST SUCH THINGS WITHOUT READING THEM ANYWAY.
OTHERWISE, FEEL FREE TO INDULGE YOURSELF IN THE COMMENTS SECTION TO YOUR HEARTS CONTENT. I FIGHT FOR YOUR FREE SPEECH, AGREE OR DISAGREE WITH ME - YOU HONOR MY SERVICE BY EXERCISING THAT RIGHT HERE.
We now resume our regularly scheduled blogging.
UPDATE: I NOTE WITH IRONY THAT MUCH MILITARY COMM IS DONE IN ALL CAPS. I CAN"T STOP THAT. LEAVE IT AT WORK. Thank you.
Sometimes synchronicity is a weird thing. Remember this comment?
As each of my children went through school I'd have to deal with Mr. Kerry's slander again. That's bad enough, what about the children of the young men who came home in those shiny aluminum caskets? Who told them that Daddy wasn't a rapist? Who told them that Kerry deliberately lied while under oath? One of my sergeants was killed trying to get a batch of children out of the line of fire in some little ville I never knew the name of. According to Kerry that man was a murderer. His children would have been in their early teens in 1971. I wonder how they took that 'testimony'?
I thought of it when I read this:
I'm the daughter of Lt. Col. Roger J. "Black Bart" Bartholomew, a First Air Cavalry rocket artillery helicopter pilot who was killed in Vietnam on Thanksgiving Day 1968, when I was eight years old. I'm a former journalist with a military newspaper, a U.S. Marine widow, and I am appalled at Mr. Kerry's latest assertions that our president "has reopened the wounds of Vietnam." For months, I've heard President Bush talking about the present, while Mr. Kerry and the media want to focus on the past. I think we need to see the whole picture.
Update: Don't miss this, either. Add to favorites, link it, blogroll it, pass it on.
Another surprising story on Iraq - this from the San Francisco Chronicle:
Amid the car bombings, ambushes, kidnappings and general death and destruction in Iraq, there is the question of where to put the generator.
The District Area Council wants it out back, in the unused parking area.
The Government Information Office -- the GIC -- wants it on a concrete slab in the middle of the courtyard.
The difference is about 5 feet. But this is an important issue to the Iraqis who run the place. The GIC takes up space on the council's grounds. And it's the GIC's generator, a brand new one, as opposed to the older, less-efficient model used by the DAC.
It's up to an Army officer, a reserve major named Harry Klein, to work it all out.
"I can't believe I'm spending the whole afternoon dealing with this," Klein says, as he walks with an interpreter into the courtyard.
Feel the pain?
It's not the duration of the shooting that will determine our departure timetable from Iraq. It's the stabilization of the country, a concept that encompasses a broad spectrum of details. Good to see progress, however slow. And of course, it's hard for the enemy to win hearts and minds when they fight against this sort of thing.
Now, way off that topic, what are they trying to say about the racial composition of the Infantry in this burried passage?
You don't get medals for this kind of soldiering. But it might be the most important work done by ground troops in Iraq.
Senge said the civil affairs team for 3rd Battalion is one of the most diverse he's seen -- African American, white, Latino and Asian.
"I think it helps," he said. "I think people over here see that we're a diverse bunch, and that we look a little more like them than the average soldier. I think that might make them feel a little more comfortable with us."
David Chong, half Jewish, half Asian American, said he likes working with civil affairs because it's unconventional. "You're not just shooting people," said Chong, who is headed to UC Berkeley when he leaves the Army. "You're working for the good of the entire country."
The French Air Force couldn't fight during the first Gulf War. The Iraqi Air Force was equipped with French fighter aircraft, thus concern for coalition forces shooting down French planes "by mistake" was high enough to keep them grounded.
Still, even without French assistance, the US and its allies won the air campaign, destroyed the Iraqi Air Force, then settled in for a twelve-year period of rotations in and out of Turkey and Saudi Arabia enforcing the "no-fly zones". (That presence in Saudi Arabia contributed greatly to Bin Ladden's hatred of America and his popularity, by the way, and his recruiting soared. But I digress...)
It's all over now, as they say, the past is past, the future is now.
Iraq's new air force took to the skies this week for the first time since the U.S. invaded last year and disbanded the country's armed forces, the U.S. military said.
Iraqi pilots on Wednesday flew two Seabird Seeker SB7L-360 reconnaissance aircraft on what the U.S. military described as "limited operations missions intended to protect infrastructure facilities and Iraq's borders."
In the 1990s, Iraq's air force fell apart due to two wars with the United States and a dozen years of international sanctions.
Okay - "fell apart". Apologies to anyone who was drinking a beverage when they read that bottom line.
Now, will the French get to equip the new Iraqi Air Force too?
Keep an eye on Najaf today. In the meantime, guess the source of this:
Fed-Up Residents Of Najaf Turn Against Rebel Cleric
Sadr and his militia are blamed as families and livelihoods suffer during fighting around shrine.
NAJAF, Iraq ? Haydar Hasan Abdullah wandered the twisting streets of this ancient city on Monday looking for a fight.
He was not seeking to battle American troops who have encircled one of Islam's holiest shrines for nearly three weeks. Instead, he wanted a shot at militants loyal to cleric Muqtada Sadr who are hiding beneath its gleaming gold dome.
"There are some fighters among the group of Muqtada who are actually saboteurs who have done such bad things to the city of Najaf," said Abdullah, who was searching for the police station on Monday to offer himself as a recruit. "We feel so sorry for what is happening to kids, women and innocent other people. We are quite prepared to do whatever the government wants us to do."
If you guessed LA Times you're right - but I'd like to know how.
Read the whole thing. Then read this from the London Telegraph:
In Najaf, Even The Dead Are Suspected Of Carrying Guns
American troops search coffins as a matter of routine at holy city's sprawling cemetery, reports Toby Harnden
I'm not sure the purpose of the story - other than to introduce the concept of war sucks to the one or two folks who aren't familiar with it. But maybe the reporter is one of those, and the event strikes him as an aberration during an otherwise civilised conflict?
Who knows. One thing is certain - given the number of journalists seemingly in and around "The Holy City of Najaf" we aren't really getting much information about what's going on.
Well, its not my war... (channeling Hank Kimball)
Anyone Been following this?
MANNHEIM, Germany, Aug. 23 -- An army reservist accused of sexually humiliating inmates at Abu Ghraib prison will plead guilty to charges of abuse, according to a statement his lawyer released Monday. Staff Sgt. Ivan L. Frederick would be the second of seven American soldiers charged in the mistreatment scandal to enter that plea.
"I have accepted responsibility for my actions at Abu Ghraib prison," he said in the signed statement. "I will be pleading guilty to certain charges because I have concluded that what I did was a violation of law."
He expressed hope that other army personnel "who contributed to or participated in the chaos that was Abu Ghraib will also come forward and accept responsibility." The statement was issued a day before he is scheduled to appear at a pre-trial hearing at a U.S. military court in this southern German town.
But wasn't it Frederick who was being represented by Lt Calley's lawyer? Wasn't it "Fredericks family" who originally released the photos to his old buddy Seymour Hersh? How could this be? How could Rummy have gotten to him?
More later. Meanwhile, for those in need of a recap, or an introduction to the real story of Abu Ghraib, click here and read the linked stories on that topic.
Update: Is The Denver Post trying to cloud the issue? Or calling for a lynching? This editorial references the Camp Bucca events, which occured (and were resolved) last year.
I notice early adapter Scott Ott has included a picture of himself on the web page for his book.
There are so few internet-sional men of mystery left these days...
Michelle Malkin beats me to a military story?
Man, you gotta be fast in the blogosphere.
A grim reminder that military folks must be ever vigilant.
For Alabama National Guard units that have had lengthy tours in Iraq or Afghanistan, some questions hang in the air when they return: Who is staying in and who is getting out?
The answers usually start coming after each returned unit has its customary 90-day cooling-off period and holds its first weekend drill.
The largest Alabama Guard unit to return from Iraq, the 877th Engineer Battalion, had its first weekend drills earlier this month at its northwest Alabama armories. And at those drill sessions, only 19 of the 555 soldiers who attended said they wanted to hang up their helmets or were seriously considering it.
Of the 19 soldiers who may leave, about half had served more than 20 years and were eligible for retirement, while the others had reasons to leave that ranged from job conflicts to their desire to spend more time with their families, Holland said.
They're probably partisan hacks though, staying in just to help Bush.
Wasn't he in the Alabama Guard?
Stories we're watching today:
And, until Friday, Ken Cordier was an unpaid veterans-affairs adviser to the Bush campaign; this link allowed the Kerry people to claim an illegal connection between the Swift boat vets and the Bush effort.
I suppose if the Kerry campaign really wants to push this issue they'll charge the Colonel with violating election laws.
If found guilty, how much prison time could result? More or less than six years and three months?
And here's more dirt on Cordier's fellow POW Paul Galanti, from John Kerry's website:
PARTISAN: Carter-Basher “I had a great final three years in the Navy despite the devastation Carter's policies had wrought on the military. My last Navy year was under one of the finest-ever Commanders-in-Chief, who led the country out of Jimmy Carter's unlamented and self-caused "malaise."” [Richmond Times Dispatch, 6/17/01]
Carter bashing. Is there anything lower?
Update: Something to keep in mind on the Swifts.
This is personal, and every vet I know feels it.
And the Kerry campaign knows it
Watch it again. Like the WTC attacks, this should be viewed every day.
It's never been about Bush.
More to come.
The Swifts aren't the only vets with a new book. From the Washington Times' Inside The Ring
The military pundits' rap on Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is that he dictates soldier-lite war plans to his combatant commanders, such as Army Gen. Tommy Franks, who led the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.Almost leads one to question the timing of the Kerry response to the Swift vets. Is he simply trying to distract from this uncomfortable revelation?
Our sources have said for months that such unsubstantiated charges are untrue. The truth is that Mr. Rumsfeld offers overall guidance and uses catch phrases to send messages during war-planning conferences. But the plan, in the end, is the combatant commander's plan.
For example, Mr. Rumsfeld sent the message on the need for special operations in Iraq by repeatedly telling Gen. Franks to remember the lessons of Afghanistan, where covert warriors won the day. "Speed kills," he would tell Gen. Franks.
Now, Gen. Franks confirms all this in his memoir, "American Soldier."
The retired four-star general writes it was he who thought the off-the-shelf plan for Iraq was "too big, [400,000 troops] too slow and out-of-date." In December 2001, he presented Mr. Rumsfeld with a "Commander's Concept" that began the framework for the lightning-fast conquest of Baghdad.
"I told the secretary that I wanted to develop new options for Iraq, and he agreed," Gen. Franks writes, "From that point on it was clear: Don Rumsfeld was eager to be part of the solution."
Kidding, of course. The Washington Times crowd is notoriously right wing Republican, therefore not worth listening too anyway, right?
And the Washington Post?
Gen. Tommy Franks, who as head of U.S. Central Command presided over the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, has duly produced the expected autobiography. It is a good read, thanks to the work of veteran ghostwriter Malcolm McConnell; the early sections on Franks's blue-collar upbringing and Vietnam service are particularly affecting. But it has not made as much of a media splash as some other accounts of the administration, because it is not hostile to George W. Bush.
To the contrary, American Soldier rebuts some criticisms directed against the president. Bush has been accused, for instance, of taking his eye off Afghanistan by ordering the plan for a possible war with Iraq in the fall of 2001. Franks writes that, given the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, this was a sensible request, and that "our mission in Afghanistan never suffered" as a result.
Scores of pundits have accused the administration of lying, or at least distorting the evidence, about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. But Franks reveals that the leaders of Egypt and Jordan told him that Saddam Hussein had chemical and biological weapons. Though no weapon of mass destruction was ever found, he writes, "I do not regret my role in disarming Iraq and removing its Baathist regime."
Another charge made against the administration is that political appointees failed to give the generals enough troops in either Afghanistan or Iraq. In fact, Franks writes, it was his own choice to employ limited forces in order to avoid getting bogged down. Instead of relying on sheer size, he thought surprise and speed were the keys to victory -- a judgment largely vindicated by events.
Not all is sweetness and light in American Soldier. Franks comes off as a bit tetchy. He complains in particular when the Joint Chiefs of Staff get involved in any operational issues that lie outside their jurisdiction. He accuses the chiefs of being focused only on their "parochial" service concerns, of leaking secrets to the press, wasting his time and offering "gratuitous" advice. In one extraordinary episode, he cusses out the Navy and Marine chiefs, Adm. Vern Clark and Gen. James Jones, in language that can't be reprinted here.
Another of those damn Republican POW war heroes. Won't those guys ever go away?
A good day for TV sales, as a few folks likely threw bricks at theirs yesterday:
MR. RUSSERT: The New York Daily News intervened on this yesterday with an editorial and said this:
"As for Kerry, he might ask why the Swifties' attacks have been effective. The answer is his propensity to exaggerate. Kerry exaggerated about `atrocities' in testimony before Congress. And it's looking more likely that he exaggerated, if not worse, when he claimed through the years that he was in Cambodia on Christmas Eve 1968. He has said the memory was `seared' into him, but it's now clear Kerry was elsewhere, at least at that time. He has yet to explain. Until he does, the Swifties will have a powerful weapon in their arsenal." And this is...
MR. DEVINE: Sure.
MR. RUSSERT: ...so we--be clear and give you a chance to respond. Senator Kerry in '86 on the floor of the Senate: "I remember Christmas of 1968 sitting on a gunboat in Cambodia. I remember what it was like to be shot at by Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge and Cambodians, and have the president of the United States telling the American people that I was not there, the troops were not in Cambodia. ...I have that memory which is seared--seared--in me."
In '79 in the Boston Herald: "I remember Christmas Eve of 1968 five miles across the Cambodian border being shot at by our South Vietnamese allies who were drunk and celebrating Christmas. The absurdity of almost being killed by our own allies in a country which President Nixon claimed there were no American troops was very real."
First of all, Nixon was not president...
MR. DEVINE: Right.
MR. RUSSERT: ...in December of '68.
MR. DEVINE: Sure.
MR. RUSSERT: He didn't take office until January '69. Does Senator Kerry stand by that statement that on Christmas Eve of '68 he was physically in Cambodia?
MR. DEVINE: Right. Well, his memory, Tim, is being there, around there. And I'll tell you what happened on December 25th...
MR. RUSSERT: No--being there or around there?
MR. DEVINE: No, being right at the Cambodian border, over the Cambodian border. That's what he remembers. That's his clear memory. Now, Tim...
MR. RUSSERT: Five miles across the border.
MR. DEVINE: Now, Tim, obviously, as those records demonstrate, particularly in respect to President Nixon, you know, there's some difference between some of the records. Let me tell you what happened on December 24, 1968. John Kerry started that morning 50 miles away from the Cambodian border and they headed towards Cambodia, deep behind enemy lines. First, they were ambushed once. Second, they were fired upon, again in a separate incident. And that night they encountered friendly fire. Three times in one day he was fired upon deep behind enemy lines. And that certainly was seared into his memory.
And by the way, that's three times more than the president and the vice president have ever been fired on in the course of their life. The president and the vice president, who sent our troops to Iraq without the body armor they need to live. And, listen, is the fog of war real?
Read the whole thing.
But just for fun, a transcript word count score: "John McCain" or "McCain" mentioned fifteen times, "Magic Hat": 0
A late entry in the Kerry Fan Fiction collection. The author has quite the imagination, as this one (sadly) seems further from reality than any previous example.
Events in the political world almost provide a reprieve from the real news from half a world away. Perhaps that's part of the attraction of today's headlines?
This is one of those amazing front line stories that you can only get from blogs. Well, okay - from MilBlogs.
CNN redefined war coverage in the first Gulf War. That paradigm is broken.
Keep your thoughts and prayers with the troops.
A great graphic illustrating why the Kerry campaign might be confident it can crush the Swift vets - or perhaps why they're so enraged that they can't.
Update: Billionaires for Bush? Self-funded? Good to see that myth hasn't died in the face of inconvenient facts.
Noted previously: America has one last chance to piss on it's Vietnam veterans.
Get in line behind Pat Oliphant.
Maybe this guy is in your local paper?
Update: More "funny" stuff (caution, these are censored, originals not):
The greatest evidence of this new jokey spirit on the left can be found on the Internet, which is home to hundreds if not thousands of independent sites put up by random people who happen to have a political grudge and a sense of humor. Shortly after 9/11, David Rees launched a cartoon strip called "Get Your War On" (www.mnftiu.cc /mnftiu.cc/war.html). While the mainstream media were still waving flags and speaking in hushed tones, Mr. Rees was attracting a devoted following for his devastatingly sarcastic take on the news.
That rousing endorsement is from the New York Times, of course. The article praises the "new jokey spirit of the left" in great detail.
Update 2: There actually is still some decent political humor around though, if not mentioned in the Times article.
Senator Edward M. Kennedy, D-MA, does not pose an immediate threat to the security of the American homeland and he should be allowed to board commercial airliners, according to a statement from Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge.And
Democrat presidential candidate John Forbes Kerry today charged President George Bush with using surrogates to "do his dirty work" by distributing excerpts from the Congressional Record which chronicle Sen. Kerry's accomplishments in the Senate.And
"I know that I accomplished much more than this," said Mr. Kerry as he waved the single sheet of paper...
Civil rights activists nationwide celebrated today's announcement by New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey that he is "a gay adulterous American."ScrappleFace, of course. But you'll likely never find mention in the Times of the guy that wrote these.
Mr. McGreevey, standing next to his wife, told a packed news conference he had feelings even as a child that he was "different".
"I've been in the closet for many years," he said, "but I'm proud to finally come out and say that I was born a gay adulterer and I have finally embraced who I am."
But wouldn't it be great to see Scott Ott's forthcoming book on the bestseller list?
The table of contents is funnier than the stuff linked from the Times story.
He: veteran of active duty service serving with the Old guard, from 89-93 and the 82nd til 95, 11-bravo
She: Air Force career NCO, was in the Pentagon on 9/11.
Dad: Six years in the Marine Reserves.
Except little bro': currently in Iraq with the 1st ID.
I'm going to have to start calling Russ Vaughn a co-blogger. Here's the latest:
Top 527 Contributors
Hey, Check this out:
If you click on each name you will find that only one of these is a Republican Party supporter, Mr. Lindner.
And the Kerry campaign has the nerve to complain about Mr. Perry supporting the Swiftvets' 527 group?
Yup - apparently a big part of the problem the Kerry camp has with the Swifts is that they aren't funded by Democrats.
And who funds Kerry? Good question. Good answer not available.
Update 2: Wow - here's some real money, as the John Kerry campaign attacks Col Ken Cordair
PARTISAN: Another Texas Republican Donor
US AIR FORCE/RETIRED COLONEL
Republican Party of Dallas County
CORDIER, KENNETHW MR
RNC/Repub National State Elections Cmte
Hutchison, Kay Bailey
REPUBLICAN PARTY OF TEXAS
CORDIER, KEN 1 $100
I know - most of us could only dream of someday having over 2000 dollars to spend over a four year period on political campaigns, but the hard working crowd at Kerry/Edwards also reveal that the Vietnam war POW “Despised” LBJ, is a member of a Bush administration advisory panel on veterans’ issues, and is wears his conservatism on his sleeve." He also said that guards putting panties over the heads of Abu Ghraib prisoners was better than cutting their heads off.
Go read. This is straight from Kerry's campaign site.
Strangely they fail to mention the years he spent living in a communist country. You'd think that might appeal to many Kerry supporters.
Beginning today, the Kerry-Edwards campaign will begin a systematic campaign to expose the president’s tactics, with a special emphasis on the veterans community. “Old Tricks” will be emailed to 200,000 veterans activists who will share it in their communities, posted on veterans websites and emailed to the entire Kerry online community of well over 1 million supporters.
Of course, there's no word yet on the faults of Paul Galanti, the second POW who appeared in the Swift vets ad. Mr Galanti was Virginia Chair for McCain's 2000 presidential bid and Chair of Democratic Governor Mark Warner's Veterans' Affairs Advisory Commission. But we expect a Kerry campaign press conference any moment to reveal the man once kicked his neighbor's dog.
Remember, that's John McCain 2000! John McCain 2000!!! John McCain...
We know the press loves to pore over Drill records in minute detail, so we'll eagerly await the release of full details of Kerry's duty status at the time he was meeting with representatives of the government of North Vietnam.
Oh - and certainly they'll make sure he had no missed Drill periods, right? Even when he was in France?
I mean, AWOL is the real big deal right?
Update: This indicates that Kerry was a member of the Navy Reserves from January 70 to July 72, when he tranferred to inactive reserve status.
Where are the Drill records? I'm sure they are available.
Now, I'd like to ask Smash about this, but he's not blogging because he's doing his annual reserve training - that two-week-a-year thing that Navy Reservists do even if they were in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Anyone else out there?
Update 2: Commenter Bill points out the famous 1986 'update' to Kerry's records tells a different story - the word "inactive" has been appended to the Navy Reserve status (eyes glazing over...). That explains everything. Must just be a case of sloppy record keeping. Who'd have thought?
So recap: Accordng to the '86 record, Kerry was Reserve (inactive) while meeting the North Vietnamese delegation and testifying against his comrades, then later became an inactive Standby Reservist. Got it? Good.
Update 3: US Navy Vietnam veteran (non-combat, he points out) John Moore, proprietor of the blog Useful Fools, offers additional insight in the comments:
I blogged about this last spring when the 1970-1972 gap disappeared when he released some of his service records.
When I left active duty, I was assigned to Naval Air Reserve (Active status). I don't know how he got the inactive status. Later, after a day with 3 aircraft fires (2 in flight), I decided I wanted to continue consuming oxygen, so I went to personnel and changed to what I guess was Regular Reserve ( Inactive Status ). A year later, I got a registered letter ordering me back to active status, but when they found out I was a Vietnam Veteran, they cancelled the orders.
In any case, a reservist is only subject to UCMJ while on reserve training (and a few uninteresting special cases).
So Kerry's meeting with the enemy was just part of ordinary treason (punishable by death) rather than military treason (punishable by death).
Update 4: This document from the Kerry collection provides useful insight. It spells out very carefully the responsibilities the young future Senator had as an inactive Reservist, and clarifies the distinction between the two categories of service (Ready Reserve - Inactive and Standby Reserve - Inactive):
1. "Legislation enacted by Congress has stressed the importance of ensuring that members of the Ready Reserve will be available immediately for active service in the event of war or national emergency. You should appreciate that such a concept is a prerequisite to an expeditious and effective mobilization if the need arises.
3. "Members of the Ready Reserve may be ordered to active duty in the event of war or national emergency proclaimed by the President. Members of the Standby Reserve - Inactive may be ordered to active duty only in the event of war or national emergency declared by Congress."
Clearly Senator Kerry is quite proud of his service as an Inactive Reservist - he's posted these documents on his web site, after all, and numerous biographical pieces include the information. And apparently he understood the responsibilities.
And as a Senator for two decades he could certainly have changed the program, or at least tried, if he had any fault with it.
All of which leads to the question: why is he so opposed to an actual execution of the option, having repeatedly referred to it as a "backdoor draft"?
"And we must end the stop-loss and involuntary recall of troops that amounts to nothing more than a back-door draft." He most recently told the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
It must be one of those "subtle nuances" that most of us are too stupid to understand.
What Bring. It. On. means . But Mrs Greyhawk thinks the baby is too cute. Several commenters agree.
But I'm inclined to agree with this commenter.
On the other hand, Kerry accusing the Swift vets of crimes is nothing new, is it?
But seriously folks - if you'd like an introduction or review of the Swift Vets story, this must-read article provides as balanced a recap as any I've seen anywhere - and a lot of information I hadn't known before. It's dated 29 July 04, so it precedes most of the controversy that has since erupted on the topic. Check it out.
Russ Vaughn checks in, via e-mail (keep 'em coming, Russ!):
For years we have said as we’ve watched and read,
That the Media is liberally left leaning.
When news only we sought, what we usually got
Was some coiffed commentator’s “true” meaning.
Just seeking the news, we instead got their views
And too much Peter Jennings-like preening.
We are fair they declare and your charge is unfair
Everything we put out is uncanted.
Then they snidely deride any charges they’ve lied
Though it’s clear where their left feet are planted.
They deny overmuch liberal leanings and such
While it’s plain they’re all Rather slanted.
What they call reporting we see as distorting
So obvious that it does appall us.
But they think we’re all sheep, unthinking, asleep,
And care less if their bias does gall us.
As Sunday eves dreadful they feed us a headful
Of that oh so impartial Mike Wallace.
And as for the press, what a self-righteous mess,
Intoning our right to know all.
While the grand New York Times, dismisses and slimes
Those, who for the truth, loudly call.
And the Washington Post sets it columnist host
To impugning these men, one and all.
So election year’s here and it’s crystalline clear
That John Kerry’s the media’s hero.
They praise him in war and completely ignore
Those brave men who rate him a zero.
With utter disdain for truth in the main
This Media’s fiddling like Nero.
At some future date, when it’s far, far too late,
To ever atone for their bias,
Finally faced with their fate that they carry no weight,
All those talking heads will be so pious,
As without any shame they will loudly declaim
How on earth did that phony get by us?
2d Bn, 327th Parachute Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division
Roger Simon, mystery novelist extraordinaire, wonders why the Senator chose to base his campaign on his Vietnam service.
I'd guess Kerry snubbed the reunions - or more likely the Swifts "lost" his invitations, or sent them to the wrong mansion. Had he gone, the cold reception might have tipped him off, perhaps leading to a different strategy.
Roger is a Hollywood mystery writer. And I think he's got fodder for a few scripts here. Something akin to Agatha Christie's "Murder on the Orient Express" comes to mind.
(But if it's mystery you want, go get one of Rogers books...)
And be sure to visit the Swift's site.
Update: Some Mudville readers might recognize Paul Galanti in the commercial above. For those who don't, meet a true American hero:
Paul Galanti learned of Kerry's speech while held captive inside North Vietnam's infamous "Hanoi Hilton" internment camp. The Navy pilot had been shot down in June 1966 and spent nearly seven years as a prisoner of war.
During torture sessions, he said, his captors cited the antiwar speeches as "an example of why we should cross over to (their) side."
"The Viet Cong didn't think they had to win the war on the battlefield," Galanti said, "because thanks to these protesters they were going to win it on the streets of San Francisco and Washington."
He says Kerry broke a covenant among servicemen never to make public criticisms that might jeopardize those still in battle or in the hands of the enemy. Because he did, Galanti said, "John Kerry was a traitor to the men he served with."
Now retired and living in Richmond, Va., Galanti, 64, refuses to cool his ire toward Kerry. "I don't plan to set it aside. I don't know anyone who does," he said. "The Vietnam Memorial has thousands of additional names due to John Kerry and others like him."
Oh, and once again, the "Republican attack squad" has a McCain tie-in:
During the 2000 presidential primaries, Galanti was the Virginia Chair of Senator John McCain's presidential bid. "John is the only guy I know who is more positive than I am," says Galanti. "He did quite well in Virginia especially considering that the campaign was composed of an all-volunteer Army of political non-professionals"!
Galanti's military decorations include the Silver Star, Two Legions of Merit for combat, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Bronze Star for combat, nine Air Medals, the Navy Commendation Medal for combat and two Purple Hearts.
Hat tip (again) to Jen Martinez.
Update 2: Ken Cordier's bio is here.
Also see this:
John Kerry's bid to become commander in chief of wartime America has opened old wounds among some former Vietnam-era POWs who bristle over Kerry's anti-war activism and atrocity allegations during the Vietnam conflict.
Those activities and statements, pushed out of sight by a campaign that spotlights Kerry's service in Vietnam, were used by the POWs' North Vietnamese captors to sap the morale of prisoners and U.S. troops still in the field in South Vietnam, former POWs told United Press International.
"They were always talking about that (anti-war demonstrations), and they picked right up on Kerry's throw-away line, 'Don't be the last man to die in a lost cause, or die for a lost cause,'" said Kenneth Cordier, an Air Force pilot who spent 2,284 days as a prisoner. "They repeated that incessantly.
"They used these photographs and inputs, voice tapes, whatever, from these peace people to try to convince us the whole country had turned anti-war and we were showing a very bad attitude and would never go home."
This is interesting. Considering how loud an F4 was perhaps it could briefly drown out the audio of Kerry's Senate speech.
And another free chapter of the book here.
And for those who wonder if this really matters today, click here, read the whole thing. History repeats.
Update 3: "Peter" has commented here from time to time before. This remark gets relocated to the main post from the comments:
I remember Kerry surrounding himself with 'veterans' testifying to war crimes, many of those 'veterans' never spent a day wearing Uncle's suit. Others never served a tour in the Southeast Asian War Games, he reported their ravings as fact.
As each of my children went through school I'd have to deal with Mr. Kerry's slander again. That's bad enough, what about the children of the young men who came home in those shiny aluminum caskets? Who told them that Daddy wasn't a rapist? Who told them that Kerry deliberately lied while under oath? One of my sergeants was killed trying to get a batch of children out of the line of fire in some little ville I never knew the name of. According to Kerry that man was a murderer. His children would have been in their early teens in 1971. I wonder how they took that 'testimony'?
I don't need the Swiftee's ad to know that John Kerry is scum. I've lived for thirty-five years with the memory of a lot of fine young men who served with honor and dignity and never grew old. John Kerry may just as well gone to each of those 58,000 graves, called a press conference at each one and when the cameras got rolling, pissed on them.
I saw my first combat death in May of '65. There isn't a month that goes by when one of those still-young men doesn't visit me in my sleep. None of them would forgive me if I were to support that lying sack of shit. I owe them this.
Yea - America has one last chance to piss on it's Vietnam vets this fall.
Perhaps these guys were on a different Gridley?
Let's demand the President silence them!
In a telling moment during John Kerry's speech to the VFW in Cincinnati his voice cracked slightly, a hint of desperation creeping in, as he referenced the days of his youth, spent denigrating his fellow veterans and the battles they fought. The gist of his comments? "Hey - it wasn't my fault that the times were controversial."
That's not a direct quote. The copy of the speech available on the Kerry website does not include the reference. The Cleveland Plain Dealer has an explanation:
Kerry said he was proud of his service in the Navy and of his efforts to end the Vietnam conflict.Sure - I fanned the flames, and yes, that was me with the gas can - but I didn't light the fire!
He said he was not to blame for the rifts that war caused in American society.
"I didn't make it controversial; the war and the times were," said Kerry, deviating from his prepared text to talk about Vietnam and pointing out he had volunteered for military service.
Of course, no one ever accused him of starting anything - opportunists by nature merely take advantage of existing situations. But Kerry's quest for advantage rarely veers from a careful script. Assuming the moment was spontaneous, what led to the near confession/ non-apology?
Might it be the view from the lectern?
A handful of his fellow Vietnam vets got up and walked out.
Kerry, who earned a Silver Star for bravery in the Navy, rose to national prominence as a leading opponent of the Vietnam War in the early 1970s. Occasionally, there were catcalls from the crowd. In the most noticeable display of anti-Kerry sentiment, two Vietnam veterans stood in silent protest with their backs turned during his speech.
Jere Hill, a 62-year-old Navy vet from Wareham, Mass., was one of the men who turned his back on Kerry.
Hill said he could never forgive Kerry for his anti-war activities.
"He turned his back on me when I was in Vietnam in 1971," said Hill, a former state commander of the Massachusetts VFW. Hill said he had prayed for the day when he could protest against Kerry before a national audience.
Wayne Sharp of Portland, Ore., listened attentively to the speech, but said when it was over that he would never support Kerry. Sharp served in Korea.
"What he did when he came back, it is unforgivable to me," said Sharp, describing himself as a political independent who leans conservative. "He tried to make his case, I listened, and I didn't like it."
The caption for this photo notes "War veterans Jere Hill, middle, from Warham, Mass., and Robert Gibson, right, from Lexington, Ky., stand with their backs turned during Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry's speech... Kerry received a polite if not overwhelmingly positive reaction from the VFW. But there was a clear divide, with scores of veterans sittings with their arms folded while others clapped."
Hearing problems amongst the aging vets may have contributed to the mixed response. Those applauding politely probably heard this:
"The sacrifices that you have made on the battlefield are well known. But what is not as well known is how hard we have fought after we returned from service to keep faith with our fellow soldiers."While those with folded arms heard this:
"They told stories that at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Ghengis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country."And doubtless the crowd was also divided by what he read about them vs what he wrote about them.
"Thank you. I am proud to be a lifetime member of this organization and grateful for your continued deep commitment to veterans and to the defense and security of our nation. For more than 100 years now, you have had many distinguished veterans come before you – some Republican, some Democrat, some presidents. But as a fellow veteran, I can proudly say that there is one title that is more important than all, and that is patriot. You have all earned that title and I am proud to stand with you today."And here's what he wrote about them:
"And so a New Soldier has returned to America, to a nation torn apart by the killing we were asked to do. But, unlike veterans of other wars and some of this one, the New Soldier does not accept the old myths.But enough about the past! It's time to move on, so here's a final quote from the VFW speech:
We will not quickly join those who march on Veterans' Day waving small flags, calling to memory those thousands who died for the "greater glory of the United States." We will not accept the rhetoric. We will not readily join the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars-in fact, we will find it hard to join anything at all and when we do, we will demand relevancy such as other organizations have recently been unable to provide. We will not take solace from the creation of monuments or the naming of parks after a select few of the thousands of dead Americans and Vietnamese. We will not uphold traditions which decorously memorialize that which was base and grim.
It is from these things the New Soldier is asking America to turn. We are asking America to turn from false glory, hollow victory, fabricated foreign threats, fear which threatens us as a nation, shallow pride which feeds off fear, and mostly from the promises which have proven so deceiving these past ten years.
After September 11th, I am proud that all our people rallied to the President’s call for unity to meet the danger. There were no Democrats, there were no Republicans there were only Americans.No, it didn't - but most likely that's not the Senator's fault either.
How we wish it had stayed that way.
But since then, we have become a country divided over Iraq – and it didn’t have to be that way.
"Thank you. I am proud to be a lifetime member of this organization and grateful for your continued deep commitment to veterans and to the defense and security of our nation. For more than 100 years now, you have had many distinguished veterans come before you – some Republican, some Democrat, some presidents. But as a fellow veteran, I can proudly say that there is one title that is more important than all, and that is patriot. You have all earned that title and I am proud to stand with you today."
--John Kerry, Speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, 105th Annual Convention, Cincinnati, OH, 17 Aug 2004
"And so a New Soldier has returned to America, to a nation torn apart by the killing we were asked to do. But, unlike veterans of other wars and some of this one, the New Soldier does not accept the old myths.
We will not quickly join those who march on Veterans' Day waving small flags, calling to memory those thousands who died for the "greater glory of the United States." We will not accept the rhetoric. We will not readily join the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars-in fact, we will find it hard to join anything at all and when we do, we will demand relevancy such as other organizations have recently been unable to provide. We will not take solace from the creation of monuments or the naming of parks after a select few of the thousands of dead Americans and Vietnamese. We will not uphold traditions which decorously memorialize that which was base and grim.
It is from these things the New Soldier is asking America to turn. We are asking America to turn from false glory, hollow victory, fabricated foreign threats, fear which threatens us as a nation, shallow pride which feeds off fear, and mostly from the promises which have proven so deceiving these past ten years.
Another MilBlogger baby arrives - congrats are in order.
Much talk around the blogosphere on a related topic today, so it seems like a good time to re-post this entry from December 2003:
A Vietnam veteran who exposed more than 1,200 people trying to capitalize on bogus or inflated Vietnam war records has been saluted with a military honor.
B.G. "Jug" Burkett received the Army's Distinguished Civilian Service Award on Monday from former President George H.W. Bush at the Bush Library in College Station.
"He exposed a mass distortion of history that cost taxpayers billions of dollars" in undeserved veterans benefits, said John W. Nicholson, an undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. "He returned to the Vietnam veterans their good name."
Burkett's mission began in 1986 with his efforts to raise funds for the Texas Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Dallas. Many people refused to donate, Burkett said, because they believed they would be helping drug-abusing psychopaths with no desire to work or contribute to society.
Though I pointed out that many successful Dallas men, such as former Dallas Cowboy quarterback Roger Staubach, had served in Vietnam, to them, men like Staubach were the exceptions to the rule, the rare individuals who were not ruined by their war experiences. "Everybody" knew most soldiers who fought in Vietnam were reluctant draftees, poor minorities, or dumb cannon fodder not smart enough to avoid military service. When I told them that I - a financial adviser with undergraduate and graduate degrees from major universities - had voluntarily served in Vietnam, they looked at me in disbelief.
"You?" one said. "That surprises me. You seem so normal." Another corporate executive looked right past me - a man with short hair wearing a conservative suit - in his waiting room and asked his secretary, "Where's that Vietnam veteran who's here to see me?"
Burkett started his own research to find out who fought in Vietnam and to debunk some of the myths about Vietnam veterans. Through the work, he exposed more than 1,200 people, including politicians and entertainers, who lied about or exaggerated their claims of serving in the Vietnam War.
"I'm a little overwhelmed because none of what I've done exceeded just doing my duty," said Burkett, a financial adviser who served in Vietnam in the late 1960s.
Burkett said he's happy to receive the Army's award because it will help bring the right type of attention to his comrades.
"It brings the focus back to the message," he said. "And the message basically is that the people who served in Vietnam are the finest troops we ever produced."
In the years after returning home from my military service in Vietnam in 1969, I watched the negative images of Vietnam veterans in movies like Apocalypse Now, The Deer Hunter, and Platoon. I saw the stereotypes on bookshelves, in newspaper stories, on the TV news. By the Eighties, more than two decades after the fighting ended, there were reputedly hundreds of thousands of homeless Vietnam vets, most suffering from PTSD. On top of that, they suffered physical disabilities brought on by poisoning from the defoliant Agent Orange. The common refrain: More men had died by their own hand -- victims of suicide -- than had been killed during the decade of the War.
Still, the popular perception of Vietnam veterans as victims tortured by memories - drug-abusers, criminals, homeless bums or psychotic losers about to go berserk in a post office with an AK-47 - did not fit me or anybody I knew who had served in Vietnam, even those who had been horribly wounded or captured and tortured by the enemy. Certainly their lives were not always perfect, but their problems could not be attributed to their experiences in Vietnam. I brushed off the negative caricatures thinking, "That's not reality."
Only a few weeks into the fund-raising effort in 1986, the truth slapped me in the face: America accepted this pervasive stereotype, and it was constantly reinforced in a variety of subtle and not-so-subtle ways. For agreeing to serve their country in Vietnam, an entire generation of veterans had been tainted with the labels of victim, loser, and moral degenerate. The men who had served in the military only 20 years earlier during World War II had received honor and respect for their efforts. Why had Vietnam been so different?
America won World War II. Vietnam was "the only war America ever lost."
In World War II, everybody pulled together. Vietnam was the class war, the war in which wet-behind-the-ears, poor, uneducated, minority men were chopped to pieces while college boys thumbed their noses at them in campus antiwar protests.
Brave American soldiers in World War II bested the evil armies of Hitler and Hirohito. In Vietnam, confused, drug addicted soldiers killed women and children.
World War II's veterans came home to stirring parades, ready to sire the baby boom and forge a supernation. Vietnam veterans trickled back in dishonor, fighting drug habits and inner demons. Or so say the stereotypes. Let's look behind the myths:
Myth: The war in Vietnam was fought by teenagers barely old enough to shave, while World War II was fought by men. A much-repeated statistic claims that the average age of the Vietnam soldier was 19, while the average age of the World War II soldier was 26.
Reality: The average age of men killed in Vietnam was 22.8 years, or almost 23 years old. While the average age of those killed was 22.8, more 20-year-olds were killed than any other age, followed by 21-year-olds, then 19-year-olds. More 52-year-olds (22) died in Vietnam than youths of 17 (12). The oldest American serviceman killed was 62. Almost 11 percent of those who died were 30 years of age or older.
Myth: The war was fought predominantly by draftees.
Reality: About one-third of Vietnam-era veterans entered the military through the draft, far lower than the 67 percent drafted in World War II. And once drafted, many men volunteered for the Marines, the Airborne, Special Forces, or other duty likely to send them to Vietnam.
Myth: It was a class war, with the poor and lower middle class those who suffered the brunt of it. The best and the brightest didn't go.
Reality: The force that fought in Vietnam was America's best educated and most egalitarian in the country's history -- and with the advent of the all-volunteer Army is likely to remain so.
In World War II, only 45 percent of the troops had a high school diploma.
Many were virtually illiterate. During the Vietnam War, almost 80 percent of those who served had high school diplomas, even though, at the time, only 65 percent of military age youths in the U.S. had a high school degree.
Throughout the Vietnam era, the median education level of the enlisted man was about 13 years. Proportionately three times as many college graduates served in Vietnam than in World War II.
A study done at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1992 compared the socio-economics of the 58,000 Americans killed in Vietnam to 58,000 randomly chosen contemporaries by rating their home-of-record according to per-capita income. They discovered that 30 percent of the KIAs came from the lowest third of the income range; but 26 percent of the combat deaths came from families earning in the highest third. This result was startling -- and far from the expectation that wealthier Americans were sheltered from the war.
Myth: The war took the highest toll on minorities.
Reality: About 5 percent of those who died were Hispanic and 12.5 percent were black -- making both minorities slightly under-represented in relation to their proportion of draft-age males in the national population.
Americans think they know the truth about Vietnam veterans because, over and over, they see the traumatized men who fought the War portrayed in all their pathetic anguish in the nation's most prestigious media -- the New York Times, the Washington Post, the nightly network news. It never occurs to most of us to ask: Were these men really there?
Phony Vietnam veterans have fooled the nation's most prestigious investigative reporters. Like the murderer who deceived the Boston Globe and Mike Wallace of "60 Minutes" fame, and wangled early release from prison because his heroin addiction was supposedly "caused" by war trauma suffered in Vietnam. Or the bogus SEAL who pulled the wool over Dan Rather's eyes and became the centerpiece of a award-winning CBS documentary on the Vietnam War. The phony Green Beret who testified before a federal judge against members of a Mafia family and duped two savvy New York organized crime writers.
Liars and wannabes have absorbed the myth and now perpetuate it, aided and abetted by the VA, veterans advocates, and the mental health care industry.
The price of this myth has been enormous -- certainly for American taxpayers, who have been bilked out of billions of dollars based on a myth -- but especially for Vietnam veterans. In the final analysis, the true tragedy is the denigration of a generation of warriors who were among the finest America ever produced.
When Burkett first arrived back in the states from the war, uniformed and lugging a duffel, the waitress at the airport restaurant ignored him, walking away.
Oh, don't mind her,'' said another who came over to take Burkett's order. ''She's got this antiwar thing. She won't serve anybody in uniform.''
No trumpets, no yellow ribbons tied around the old oak tree for Burkett. Just a cold shoulder.
It got worse. When he lucked into a standby seat on the flight home, Burkett was last to board. He was greeted by a drunk hollering out, ''Hey, folks, we've been sitting here on the runway waiting for a big goddamn war hero! ... Hey, bucko, you spent a year killing women and children,'' said the inebriate. ''Make you feel like a big man did it?''
Americans have allowed the soft-headed in the ''sophisticated'' media to convince them that Oliver Stone's drug-addled troops in Platoon and the surreal lunacy of Apocalypse Now are the real stories of Vietnam.
The crazed ''Rambo'' of First Blood, the vet who cannot stop killing, has become part of the language.
We have allowed those who were too cowardly to go to define both the Vietnam War and the Vietnam veteran.
The vets did their job. Polls show that well over 90% are proud of what they did and would do it again.
And thanks to Burkett, they have a vigorous defender.
One of his gifts to his fellow Vietnam warriors is a book called Stolen Valor : How the Vietnam Generation Was Robbed of Its Heroes and Its History. In it, he details the work he did to unmask scores of phony Vietnam ''vets,'' some claiming Silver Stars and Medals of Honor when, actually, they never wore a uniform.
As a one-man ''truth squad,'' he demolished a slanted, wrong-headed Dan Rather documentary about ''post-traumatic stress disorder'' titled, The Wall Within. Checking military records, Burkett found giant holes and many lies in the stories of men Rather depicted as heroes.
Burkett's book is a tribute to truth, and Vietnam needs some truth.
Toronto Blue Jays manager Tim Johnson fired up his baseball teams with bloody tales of his days as a U.S. Marine in Vietnam. War was hell. He had killed a little girl and her brother who happened into the line of fire.
The truth: He had been in the Marine Reserves. An exemption for baseball players had kept him out of combat.
The Blue Jays fired Johnson. Now he manages in the bush leagues.
U.S. Rep. Wes Cooley told reporters he'd fought in Korea as a Special Forces "demolition expert" trained in mountain climbing and escape tactics. The Oregon Republican said he'd engaged in countless secret missions.
The truth: Cooley never left the states during his military career. He hadn't even finished his training when the Korean conflict ended.
After his lies unraveled, Cooley dropped his re-election bid. He was convicted of falsifying campaign documents.
Actor Brian Dennehy, one of the stars of the Rambo movie "First Blood," said he served five years in Vietnam. He'd been hit by shrapnel. Combat, he told Playboy magazine, was "absolute f---ing chaos."
The truth: Dennehy had been a Marine, but his only overseas assignment had been as a football player on a service team in Okinawa.
After a long delay, Dennehy admitted his lies.
Pulitzer-winning historian Joseph Ellis spiced his lectures with tales of his Vietnam service. His unit had been nearby during the My Lai massacre. He served on the staff of America's top commander in Vietnam, Gen. William Westmoreland.
The truth: Ellis never fought in Vietnam. During the war, he taught military history at West Point.
Ellis made a tepid apology: "Even in the best of lives, mistakes are made."
Veterans call them by all sorts of names: phonies, fakes, imposters, wannabes. Some claim they fought in wars they never served in. Others served honorably but exaggerate their exploits; they claim service in elite units, tell tales of top-secret suicide raids, wear medals they never earned.
Untold thousands of masqueraders are using make-believe war records to polish resumes, collect veterans benefits, or impress business associates, friends or romantic partners.
Almost any time Burkett reads a newspaper article about someone claiming to be a Vietnam veteran, he digs into their background and files a request for their military records.
Over the past 15 years, Burkett said, he has investigated perhaps 2,000 claims of military service; at least 1,500 of them were bogus in one way or another. Rep. Cooley was among the storytellers he helped expose.
False warriors are a phenomenon that happens after every war. Historian William Marvel has written that every one of the last dozen recognized living Confederate veterans was bogus. Marvel found that the last one, Walter Williams of Texas, would have been 5 in 1860 and 10 when the war ended. Williams didn't begin identifying himself as a Civil War veteran until 1932, when he applied for a Confederate pension.
Society is fascinated, too, with victims and heroes. For self-aggrandizers, Burkett said, Vietnam is alluring because its tortured history allows them to meld two identities. Like Rambo, they can be both heroes who fought for their country as well as victims betrayed by politicians and the public.
Some fakers are compulsive liars who convince themselves of the truth of their own stories. And while most fakers are trying to bolster fragile egos, some use their stories for grander aims: to win elections, steal money, hype their public images as entertainers or business executives, make political statements for or against U.S. military actions.
When confronted with evidence of their duplicity, Burkett said, most will stick with their stories, even presenting doctored and forged documents for support. "It's very rare that they'll cough it up."
In his book, Burkett argues that the problem goes beyond acts of individual dishonor. He says military pretenders often appear in news stories that contribute to stereotypes of Vietnam vets as violent, drug-addled, psychologically wasted and homeless.
The image is so universally accepted, he says, reporters and producers are quick to use stories that fit the stereotype, and rarely check the veracity of the source.
And what happens when someone questions the record of a veteran quoted in a news story? Most of the time, Burkett said, reporters, editors and producers refuse to admit their mistakes.
The media and the public live by stereotypes; rarely do they willingly forsake long-held beliefs. It's not an easy battle to challenge oft-repeated stories of a community hero's valor, or to correct a flawed but long-accepted historical record.
Burkett said one thing his campaign has taught him is that people want to hang onto their myths, whether it's a society certain that Vietnam veterans are woebegone cases, or a spouse who wants to blame her husband's problems on the trauma of war.
"They want to believe," he said. For some people, "there's a point where, once you cross that threshold, it doesn't matter whether it's true or not."
His decade of research at the National Archives, he writes in Stolen Valor, revealed a ''massive distortion of history'' colluded in by the entertainment industry, the Veterans Administration and the legal system. Many journalists also willingly went along.
Despite his bulldog effort, Burkett will never get it all back for the Vietnam vets.
The Oliver Stones, Sly Stallones, and Dan Rathers of this world are too powerful, even when they are dead wrong. But it's great to see what one guy can do if he puts his mind and energy to it.
Note: The above information was not written by me; it was compiled from the following sources:
Fox News: Army Honors Man Who Exposed Fake War Records
NewsMax: Welcome Home, Babykiller
NewsMax: Will the Real Vietnam Vet Stand Up?
USAToday: We let cowards define Vietnam War
The Roanoke Times: Real war veterans increasingly uncover truths of 'wannabes'
Find more info on identifying false veterans at Soldiers for the Truth
I am not a Vietnam veteran.
Original post: 2003-12-02 21:50:04
Suppose that means Rumsfeld is ready for a round up of aliens? Those who are inclined to raging paranoia are free to loose sleep tonight.
Many discussions of the feud between Swift vets over qualifications of one of their number for the Presidency of the United States seem to drift to this point: The Swift vets anger towards John Kerry is long running, nothing new, and the basis of their opposition to him today.
As though accomplishing great feats of investigative reporting, many will add that John O'Neill was an opponent of John Kerry's years ago, and that the two squared off an obscure Dick Cavett show.
Since most of the numerous veterans groups against Kerry are quite aware of this (to the point of actually hosting transcripts of that show on their web sites), exactly how is this argument in Kerry's favor?
And by all means, read the whole linked transcript, commercial messages and all.
Military readers of this site are likely familiar with The Early Bird,
"...daily compilations of published current news articles and commentary concerning significant defense and defense-related national security issues ... intended to serve the informational needs of senior DoD officials in the continuing assessment of defense policies, programs and actions."In short, clip service for the top brass.
The 18 August edition included Law Schools That Protest Too Much an article from Slate.
Two reasons I find this noteworthy: One, it's an internet source. Obviously the busy folks at the Pentagon aren't limiting themselves to dead tree sources of news.
Two, the author is Phil Carter, an army veteran who runs the blog Intel Dump. (I'd be curious to know if Phil ever had his opinions briefed at the Pentagon prior to leaving the military?)
By the way, the story itself is quite good, worth a read, and offers a truly balanced look at a very contentious issue. An issue on which Phil - a veteran and recent UCLA Law School grad - is uniquely qualified to offer his two cents.
On a somewhat related note: though I don't think Phil's status as a blogger had anything directly to do with his article's inclusion in the early bird, I must note that the Pentagon is aware of MilBlogs. Hugh Hewitt's archives are down, so I rely on fellow MilBlogger Chapomatic for this clip from his show:
Hewitt: General Myers, I have very narrow question. A lot of us who use the internet for a living and blog for a living are interested in this. There are a lot of military bloggers out there. Individual active duty servicemen and women who put their thoughts, their impressions of their duty stations and the world around them on the internet on milblogs. What’s your opinion of that? I love them. I hope you keep them, but what’s the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff think about those?
General Myers: You know, I don’t see that many of them, but based on this conversation Hugh, I will see more of them (laugh). I think, you know, when you get to the four-star level, you fight to get information from the troops and you don’t want to be a victim of just getting fed what the staff brings you every day. The way you work that is through the internet as you just mentioned or you visit places. You go to Iraq, you go to Afghanistan and you try and get down to the individual soldier, airmen, sailor, Marine level, coastguardsmen duty, civilian and look them in the eye and say, “How’s it going?” and establish enough rapport that they’ll tell you, and at my level it’s a constant fight to make sure that you get the straight skinny. I think it’s a good idea that I plug into some of those too in my spare time.
Interesting, in light of this discussion. Fear and Loathing is still being updated, by the way.
The Kerry campaign is beginning some tentative direct return fire in response to attacks from his fellow Swift vets. And a major daily has the story. The Washington Times reports:
Sen. John Kerry's campaign said yesterday that the Democratic presidential nominee is not hiding any of his war records and has, in fact, released them all to the public.
"Senator Kerry's entire military service record is posted on JohnKerry.com. His entire record," said Michael Meehan, adviser for communications to the campaign, at a press conference called to defend Mr. Kerry against recent charges that the former Navy lieutenant didn't deserve some of his war decorations ? three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star and a Silver Star.
Of course, those familiar with the story are well aware that the medical records - those that Kerry's fellow vets claim would reveal the real truth about his early ticket home from Vietnam - are not available and have not been released.
But later in the Times story comes an interesting quote from Jim Rassmann:
"There's no evidence that the president did not serve honestly and well. And until that shows up, if in fact it's true, let's leave it alone," Mr. Rassmann said. "But by the same token, no one has shown any kind of evidence that John did not perform honorably and well, and by the same token, let's leave that alone as well."
But President Bush, of course, didn't reach down into a river and pull Mr Rassman onto an Iowa stage, thus making his military record the centerpiece of his campaign. Bush's record, like Kerry's, was brought into play by Democrats. (And poured over by the press.)
Still later, a quote from Del Sandusky might give insight into why the Kerry campaign has allegedly discouraged the troops he abandoned in Vietnam from speaking directly to the press:
Also, Mr. Kerry has been asked recently whether he was being "honest" when he said he spent Christmas 1968 under fire in Cambodia ? a memory he said was "seared in me."
The Swift Boat veterans say he wasn't in Cambodia then, and none of the 20 veterans who appeared to defend Mr. Kerry yesterday could say where he was that Christmas.
Mr. Sandusky said it doesn't surprise him that Mr. Kerry may have forgotten where he was then because, like many serving in Vietnam, they didn't want to think about Christmas.
"We didn't know where we were at for Christmas," he said. "If [Mr. Kerry] said it, I believe it. I've known John Kerry for 35 years, and he's never lied to me."
Perhaps that's so, but the idea that any US veteran didn't know it was Christmas when he was serving away from home is rather far fetched - to be kind - and John Kerry saying otherwise doesn't make it so. (Though we can't fault Mr Sandusky's loyalty to his superior.)
Kerry however, certainly has no fear of sailing into hostile waters today; his appearance before the Veterans of Foreign Wars aptly demonstrates that. His speech, interrupted occasionally and briefly by polite applause at the designated locations, probably evoked the same images in the minds of those who were there in person as in mine as I watched on TV from Europe.
As he spoke of not breaking faith with those who are serving or had served in the past, as he casually dismissed his post-Vietnam actions, surely many civilians gained that warm fuzzy "I support the troops" feeling. But 90 percent of GIs past present and future heard that speech, and likely saw it too, with these unforgettable images in mind (seared into their memory, if you will):
"They told stories that at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Ghengis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country."
-- John Kerry, speech to the Senate Committee of Foreign Relations, Washington DC, April 23, 1971
"As President, I will stand with you to complete that mission. The sacrifices that you have made on the battlefield are well known. But what is not as well known is how hard we have fought after we returned from service to keep faith with our fellow soldiers."
-- John Kerry, Speech to Veterans of Foreign Wars 105th Annual Convention, Cincinnati, OH, 18 Aug 2004
BLITZER: What do you make of those Vietnam War veterans -- and you served during the Vietnam War -- who are going after John Kerry bitterly right now, saying he didn't deserve to get those ribbons or those medals, that he simply made up a lot of that stuff? What do you make of this whole campaign against him?
FRANKS: Well, I'm one of the country's biggest believers in the First Amendment. And I have great respect for the fellows who served in Vietnam, and if they think that there's something that they need to say, I respect that. At the same time, I believe it's possible to support one of these candidates without demeaning the other.
BLITZER: So you don't want to make any -- go beyond that, in terms of saying, for example, what Senator John McCain, who himself was a POW in Vietnam, who blasted these critics of John Kerry's Vietnam War experience by saying it's dishonest and dishonorable, the entire attack against him.
FRANKS: Oh, I think there's room for a lot of views out there, and my preference is to just avoid the hyperbole. I think we have a very smart population in this country, and I think America can decide who it wants to be its next president.
Can't argue with that.
I'd might add this, too (see near botom of page):
Members are aware of the liklihood of difference of opinions between fellow members, and although we may not agree with each other on everything we say we will fight for the rights of each other to say it.
We mean that literally.
Our motto, of course, is "Free speech from those who help make it possible"
Thanks for your service, gentlemen.
A big neener neener neener to the Dems, from The Washington Times' Inside Politics, 17 Aug '04 edition:
Nearly one in five delegates to the 2004 Republican National Convention is a veteran of the U.S. armed forces or an active member of the military, the party announced yesterday.
"We appreciate their sacrifice and are grateful for their service, both to their country and to our democratic process," RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie said.
Veterans will make up 15 percent of the Republican delegation, and active military personnel will make up 3 percent of the delegates traveling. In comparison, veterans made up 11.5 percent of delegates to the Democratic convention last month.
About 720 veterans and 140 active-duty personnel will attend the Republican convention, which also will feature a delegation that is 17 percent minority and 44 percent female — numbers that stood at 10 percent and 36 percent four years ago.
Sadly this female will not be attending. I was looking forward to her reports, but I applaud her decision.
She does have a list of those bloggers who will be on hand.
Having failed against the most decorated war hero in the nations history the Republicans are now attacking Edwards, who earned his millions by acting only in the interest of the most defenseless Americans.
Have they no shame?
Guess the source of this op/ed and win a prize:
LET ME offer a brief summary of the left-liberal approach to foreign policy: we should stop Africans dying but Iraqis can go to hell. How else can one explain the hypocrisy that surrounds the now overwhelming calls for intervention in Sudan emanating from the same mouths which so opposed intervention in Iraq?
The revolting truth is that such sentiments are shared by most of the liberal Left, who rank their belief in humanitarian action below their antipathy towards President Bush and, more generally, the United States.
Your prize is this link to the author's blog.
More thoughts from me on leaving Europe later.
In the meantime, ponder this, from the Chaplain.
Not to be outdone by Republican Mitt Romney, Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico is making his mark on America's literary landscape:
Flying Saucers In New Mexico? Governor Rekindles Roswell
Ten years after the U.S. Air Force closed its books on the claim that a UFO crashed in Roswell, N.M., in 1947, a top Democratic Party figure wants to reopen the investigation into the cosmic legend.
Despite denials by federal officials, many UFO buffs cherish the notion that in early summer of 1947, a flying saucer crashed in rural Roswell, scattering alien bodies and saucer debris across the terrain.
Now Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, who chaired the recent Democratic convention in Boston, says in his foreword to a new book that "the mystery surrounding this crash has never been adequately explained -- not by independent investigators, and not by the U.S. government. ... There are as many theories as there are official explanations.
"Clearly, it would help everyone if the U.S. government disclosed everything it knows," says Richardson, who served as Energy secretary under President Bill Clinton. "The American people can handle the truth -- no matter how bizarre or mundane. ... With full disclosure and our best scientific investigation, we should be able to find out what happened on that fateful day in July 1947."
To the Air Force, though, there is no mystery -- and there hasn't been for a long time. In 1994, the Air Force published "Roswell Report: Case Closed, " which asserted that so-called saucer debris was, in fact, the ruins of an unusual type of military research balloon, which contained hypersensitive acoustic sensors designed to detect the rumble of any Soviet A-bomb tests. A subsequent investigation by the U.S. General Accounting Office was unable to locate any unreleased records on the case.
Hence, Richardson's foreword drew scorn from veteran UFO investigators and science popularizers.
"We're kind of disappointed in Richardson for perpetuating the mythology of that thing," said Dave Thomas, president of New Mexicans for Science and Reason, a skeptics group in Albuquerque.
The Mudville Gazette, of course, calls on President Bush to immediately disassociate himself from Thomas' group.
Having been to the Secret Hangar I'm sworn to secrecy and can comment no further without risking a sudden disappea
Found on the Republican National Committee website:
This is amazing for a couple of reasons, neither of which is made up. The John Kerry campaign, in an effort to burnish the nominee’s image on intelligence matters and spin their way out of his lousy committee attendance record, claimed on its website Monday, “John Kerry served on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence for 8 years and is the former Vice Chairman of the Committee.” Fact is John Kerry has never – ever! – served as vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Turns out, there as a senator named Bob Kerrey from Nebraska who was vice chairman for a while. Kerry’s website later pulled the plug on the page, which might be construed as a metaphor for the whole campaign.
Update: I also have it on good authority that the Republican National Comittee is funded by Republican donors. We're investigating that claim, more to come, I'm sure.
Russ Vaughn sends:
It truly hurt and I so swore
About that grievous scratch I bore,
From tense and darkened nighttime battle,
So fierce that it might surely rattle
Those who failed to see my deeds
And could sense not my future needs
For medals to lob o’er a fence
Then boast of in elections hence.
So thus it fell alone to me
To swear to what they didn’t see,
And gain myself a Purple Heart,
So they could soon see me depart.
I knew the rules and knew that three
Were all it took to spring me free
From that despised and desperate land
So I devised my nuanced plan,
To cry of wounds that hurt me naught,
But got me out ‘fore things got hot.
And thus I laid my lifetime track,
March in the front duck out the back.
So don’t expect the least contrition
When ere I boast about my mission,
And without shame brag every day
Of the medals I won in that fray.
Some vets may say they cannot see
How I could turn my back and flee
The oath I swore and my duty station
To fly back to a war-torn nation,
Where my deceiving perverse word
Was widely through the country heard,
And to forever falsely damn
Those left behind in Vietnam,
All branded by my condemnation
As villains to their saddened nation,
All while my pseudo hero throng
Gave succor to the Viet Cong.
But come now can you truly doubt
Because I got three hearts and out,
Abandoned combat and my mates
To run back early to the states,
Had any other goal in life
Than politics and richened wife?
To all you lesser men I say,
But in my subtle nuanced way,
So what I scorned you once before?
Put that behind you I implore,
Forget those slights and any others,
And join those fools in my band of brothers.
2d Bn, 327th Parachute Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division
Lots more here.
This sort of story is becoming increasingly common:
Sgt. Peter Damon, who lost his right arm and left hand in Iraq, never set out to be a bit player in presidential politics and is furious at Michael Moore for making him one in "Fahrenheit 9/11."
"It ticked me off," Damon said of the 10-second clip in the Bush-bashing documentary that shows him being treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.
"I just feel it was wrong and I was violated in some way, seeing myself up there on the screen," said Damon, 31, of Brockton, Mass.
"I think [Moore] should be ashamed of himself," added Damon, who was severely injured in October in Balad, about 50 miles north of Baghdad, when a tire on a Black Hawk helicopter exploded as he was changing it. The blast killed Pfc. Paul Bueche, 19, of Daphne, Ala.
Damon said he has no regrets about his service with the Army National Guard or doubts about the U.S. mission in Iraq and resents his unwanted link with a film offering a contrary view.
"I'd like to go to the Republican National Convention and speak out about it," Damon said. "I agree with the President 100%. A lot of the guys down at Walter Reed feel the same way."
Joanne Doroshow, associate producer of "Fahrenheit," said, "Anybody who has seen the film knows we have nothing but the deepest respect for the soldiers who were wounded. One of the purposes of the movie was to examine the impossible situation they were put into and to raise questions about why they were sent there."
Lt. Col. Chester Buckenmaier, the anesthesiologist who treated Damon at the 21st Combat Support Hospital in Iraq and later at Walter Reed, said he also was angered at the Moore film after he took Damon to see it in Bethesda, Md.
"I was appalled. This was Joseph Goebbels-type propaganda," Buckenmaier said, referring to the Nazi propaganda chief.
Moore took "a very positive thing we're doing for soldiers" who lost limbs and "used it to tell a lie," Buckenmaier said.
Both Damon and Buckenmaier said they were most incensed at what they felt was the depiction of soldiers as naive, underclass "children" forced to pay in blood for the geostrategic whims of callous politicians.
"The whole movie makes soldiers look like a bunch of idiots," Damon said. "I'm not a child. We sent ourselves over there" as volunteers for a cause, he said. "It was all our own doing. I don't appreciate him calling us children."
It's worth remembering that Moore, the standard bearer for the 21st century Democratic Party, originated the 'Democrats are war heroes/Bush was AWOL' theme - although his original vision was of someone slightly higher ranking than a Swift boat commander. Terry McAuliffe's adaptation ocurred later.
Not content with merely using GI's as unwitting props in his film, the Moore camp will likely begin a campaign to either get the movie shown on military installations or gain a bit more free publicity for the fact that it won't be:
It's been hard to go more than a few days without hearing the name Michael Moore this summer, and in some places "Fahrenheit 9/11" might still be too hot to touch. As of Friday word came that the film won't be shown at any Army bases, with distributors and military officials pointing fingers at each other.
The Army and Air Force Exchange Service, the group that books flicks for military base theaters, said the decision had nothing to do with content and was based purely on financial considerations. Spokesman Judd Anstey said distributors did not make the group aware of the film's availability until it had booked movies through Sept. 3. With the DVD reportedly coming out a month later, Anstey said "for films screened within that type of time frame, the box office is marginal."
A spokeswoman for Lions Gate, one of the film's distributors, countered that "we have made all requested materials available to them, but unfortunately a commitment to show the film has not been made." A spokesman for Fellowship Adventure Group, another distributor of "Fahrenheit 9/11," went on to say that no official DVD release date has been given, and suggested that there were more obvious political motivations for not screening the film.
It occurs to me that a travelling presentation of the film, along with personal appearances by the many soldiers Moore used, would be of great benefit not just on military installations but for all of America.
Barring that, it seems some intrepid film maker looking to set the record straight could make quite an impressive series of on-camera interviews with these guys:
The surviving family of Major Greg Stone, USAF
And probably the entire US Marine Corps
Or you can just "direct" any Moore fans you know right here.
This needs no additional comment from me:
Four Marine Corps recruits fled from Parris Island under the cover of darkness early Wednesday and spent more than 17 hours hiding out in the marsh before being picked up by an off-duty drill instructor near The Sands in Port Royal.
The recruits were reported missing from their barracks at the training depot's Support Battalion at about 2 a.m. and were discovered in the marsh across from Parris Island at 7:20 p.m., said Maj. Ken White, the depot's public affairs officer.
The recruits, who apparently swam across Battery Creek, were taken to Naval Hospital Beaufort, evaluated and brought back to the depot, White said.
"I saw movement in the weeds over in the marsh area," said Gunnery Sgt. Chad Love, the drill instructor with 1st Recruit Training Battalion who found the four recruits near The Sands boat landing. "I saw a recruit take his shirt off and wave his shirt in the air."
Love, who had been fishing, pulled the recruits into his boat, took them to the landing and called 9-1-1.
One of the recruits was suffering from slight hypothermia and another had a sprained ankle.
The recruits said they had left their barracks around midnight and had been crawling around in the marsh, stopping twice when they thought they saw sharks, Love said.
Get The Message '04
Tom Harkin on non-veterans who don't support John Kerry:
"Those of us who served and those of us who went in the military don't like it when someone like a Dick Cheney comes out and he wants to be tough. Yeah, he'll be tough. He'll be tough with somebody else's blood, somebody else's kids. But not when it was his turn to go."
They have done a better job of damaging the reputation of the U.S. Navy than they have of damaging John Kerry.
Update: More here.
Note the spelling.
Bob Kerrey, John McCain, George Bush and I have something in common. We're all veterans who didn't serve with John Kerry or his Swift boat contemporaries. What we have to say on their issues matters little compared to the comments of those who were there.
Rather than call on George Bush to condemn Kerry's fellow Swift vets, wouldn't we be better served by Kerry's release of all his military records? Really, rather than choosing sides, how about demanding the facts?
And though not a Vietnam veteran I agree completely with this sentiment from the column:
And as a Vietnam veteran myself, I do hope that one of our own will make it all the way to the White House before I die.
Because it resonates so well with this quote from the Swift vets:
We regret the need to do this. Most Swift boat veterans would like nothing better than to support one of our own for America's highest office, regardless of whether he was running as a Democrat or a Republican.
And although I'm inclined to vote against the very specific fellow veteran the Swifts describe all too well, I too would like to see the incarnation of Bob Kerrey's "one of our own". A guy I could count on for consistency and clarity, a guy who would stick to the mission until it's end.
Maybe in 2008?
"The former Navy personnel who are attempting to discredit Sen. John Kerry's record of service in Vietnam are doing so to argue that he is unqualified to be commander in chief. Most appear to be angry with him on account of his opposition to the Vietnam War, not his service in it. They have done a better job of damaging the reputation of the U.S. Navy than they have of damaging John Kerry."
Informal poll: which of these books does the best job of damaging the reputation of the Navy? Which does the most damage to John Kerry?
Update 2: Scott O'Grady appears to be angry with Kerry on account of his opposition to the Vietnam War, not his service in it too. He damages the reputation of the U.S. Air Force here:
Scott O'Grady, the Air Force pilot who captured headlines in 1995 when he survived being shot down over Bosnia, on Friday said Sen. John Kerry committed "treason" during the Vietnam War.
O'Grady, in an appearance with other military veterans coordinated by President Bush's re-election campaign, said Kerry helped push North Vietnam's proposals for the United States to withdraw at a time when the two countries were still officially at war.
"I see that as treason," said O'Grady, who lives in Texas and has been speaking at veterans events for Bush around the country. He's now retired from the military.
A Bush campaign spokeswoman, Tracey Schmitt, said O'Grady's views were his own.
"The Bush-Cheney campaign does not and has not ever questioned John Kerry's patriotism," Schmitt said.
O'Grady said he was referring to Kerry's 1971 appearance before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. In response to a question about how he proposed to end the war, Kerry mentioned that he was involved in peace talks in Paris.
"I have talked with both delegations at the peace talks, that is to say the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the Provisional Revolutionary Government," Kerry told the panel, according to a transcript.
A U.S. law prohibits citizens from negotiating with foreign governments on matters such as peace treaties.
(Via Jen Martinez).
News Flash: WWII is over!
Well, mostly. And a big 59th anniversary hat tip to all my fellow military members still serving in Japan. Been there, done that.
And if you're unaware of this discussion, don't blame me.
Another is still there.
Wish them both well.
Larry Luckey gets a lot of comments on his appearance - so many that he keeps a log of all the things people say to him.
The technical sergeant is one of about 70 airmen at McChord Air Force Base who are test-wearing the service's striking new tiger-striped, blue-green-and-gray utility uniform.
Luckey's log includes the woman who told him the new uniform made him look cold. Another said he looked wet.
A soldier asked if he were Canadian, and a teenage girl asked if he were Russian.
The bluntest critics tend to be retired servicemen. One, noting the colors and the camouflage pattern, asked what he was supposed to blend in with. Another said, "That's the ugliest thing I have ever seen."
But Luckey's favorite is the retired guy who walked up to him at the base exchange one day, angrily thumped him on the chest and said, "This is a vote against!"
Doesn't look all that bad to me. But is that the best photo they could get? At least you can't say it looks better in the dark.
Hey, need a laugh? Have one at John Kerry's expense with this trip down memory lane.
Then go here
and finally here.
I never did finish that series...
Strange but true:
Last night's Olympic opening ceremonies were broadcast in America in the evening, an obviously necessary tape delay. The irony: AFN Europe must rely on the US coverage, so the event, though it actually occurred in "prime time" here (Germany) isn't on English-language TV until 2AM! We'll experience the entire Olympics this way, or watch live on German language TV.
"Things are so crazy, so difficult in Iraq now. I just keep telling my kids to stay inside. It's hard to keep your mind on why we are here,'' said Hamad after taking his team through drills in tar-blistering heat in the western port of Patras, where Iraq will meet Portugal on Thursday in the opening match for both teams.
"I just don't have the words to describe how hard things have been.''
But they come -- in sharp, uncluttered sentences. And to listen to the former Iraqi national team star is to open a different window on the attitudes inside the post-Saddam Olympic delegation.
Leaders of Iraq's revived Olympic committee praised the nations that brought the country "freedom'' and insisted the world's media is ignoring the good news about the recovery from the U.S.-led war. Hamad retorts: "America destroyed my country.''
"There are bandits and violence. There is no law. ... What will America do with us? What do they want?'' continued Hamad, who safely rode out the war with his family. "It's all very sad.''
Last month, Iraq's Olympic chiefs displayed torture devices -- including whips and a medieval-style cage with metal spikes -- they claimed were used by Saddam Hussein's late son, Odai, to punish disgraced athletes.
Hamad, who coached Iraq's national soccer team to victory in the West Asian Championship in 2002, plays down such allegations.
"I was fired once as coach of a national team. I lived. I was even brought back,'' said Hamad, 43. "I can't say I know anyone who was tortured. Maybe it happened. But I don't know about it and I've been around Iraqi (soccer) for a long time.''
Most Americans can't grasp the potential significance of such a comment in a world where soccer is the number one sport. I pondered my response to this, or whether I should respond at all, but Mrs Greyhawk left this comment at the blog Iraq at a Glance (scroll to "Refreshing news" if needed) that pretty much sums up my thoughts on the topic:
As an American soccer mom and military wife I was rooting for Iraq. And not just in soccer. As Mr. Hamad said, "It's more than sports for us". Well it's more than sports for us Americans as well. We want Iraq to come out winners in every aspect.
Update: Caught this comment from MilBlogger John Cole on the thread referenced above:
While sitting in my tank in the desert in Kuwait in 1991, never would I have guessed that a decade or so later I would spend an entire afternoon on my couch rooting for the Iraqi national soccer team.Ain't life funny? Oddly, sitting here in Germany I found myself only marginally interested in the German contingent - probably the odds on favorites to leave Greece with more shiny objects than any other. Does America care? I think a polite yawn may be the answer. Invocations of the holy name of Armstrong might be sufficient tonic for casual fans of world sport. The current state of world affairs just doesn't evoke the same spirit that explains exactly what was so exiting about the events in the movie Miracle.
Ponder this: America just doesn't have anyone we enjoy hating enough to root against in the Olympics.
And that's a good thing.
John Cole has a few more Olympic thoughts here.
If anyone can spare a few words of cheer, I think it might be appreciated. Just click and scroll.
The virtual ink shortage continues to plague American media. A check of the NY Times and Washington Post web sites reveals no evidence of the exposure of various Kerry "embellishments" of his military service.
The Times does feature this shocking exposé, however:
Washington Post Rethinks Its Coverage Of War Debate
The executive editor of The Washington Post, Leonard Downie Jr., said in yesterday's newspaper that he and other top editors had erred before the war in Iraq by not giving front-page prominence to more articles that cast doubt on the Bush administration's claims that Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction.
"We were so focused on trying to figure out what the administration was doing that we were not giving the same play to people who said it wouldn't be a good idea to go to war and were questioning the administration's rationale,'' Mr. Downie said in a front-page article that assessed the newspaper's prewar coverage. "Not enough of those stories were put on the front page. That was a mistake on my part.''
The Post article is one of several that have appeared in recent months in which news organizations have begun to publicly second-guess their coverage of the war.
Horrible. The right wing cabal controls the media, what more proof do you need? But that's nothing compared to today's LA Times revelation:
Rumsfeld And Bush Failed Us On Sept. 11
Donald Rumsfeld, one of the chief opponents of investing real power over purse and personnel in a new national intelligence chief, told the 9/11 commission that an intelligence czar would do the nation "a great disservice." It is fair to ask what kind of service Rumsfeld provided on the day the nation was under catastrophic attack.
"Two planes hitting the twin towers did not rise to the level of Rumsfeld's leaving his office and going to the War Room? How can that be?" asked Mindy Kleinberg, one of the widows known as the Jersey Girls, whose efforts helped create and guide the 9/11 commission. The fact that the final report failed to offer an explanation is one of the infuriating holes in an otherwise praiseworthy accounting.
Why wasn't Rumsfeld able to see on TV what millions of civilians already knew? After the Pentagon was attacked, why did he run outside to play medic instead of moving to the command center and taking charge?
The story did get some TV time. However, the transcripts have apparently changed. (Note: Linked story updated. Not sure why Glenn didn't just completely rewrite the story though. Integrity maybe?)
Update: Tom Mortensen points to this link and asks the media "This is a stunning revelation if it can be verified. Is there any one in your organization that is more interested in a Pulitzer or an Emmy than they are in seeing John Kerry elected president?"
Maybe I'm a cynic, but no one's going to win a prize for telling this story Tom.
If you skimmed too quickly through the Philippine Daily Inquirer today you might have missed this story from page A17:
Troops To Join Media As Journalists
They will be the real embedded journalists.
At least 30 soldiers from the Philippine Army, Navy and Air Force will soon become members of the mainstream media after they finish a 10-day seminar-workshop set to start next week.
Maj. Gamal Hayudini, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines' Civil Relations Service in Western Mindanao, said the soldiers will be trained on "actual radio and television reporting and they will do coverage regularly like the other mainstream media."
Hayudini said the move was an idea of former intelligence chief Victor Corpus. He said initial coordination had been made between officials of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) and the AFP radio station dwDD in Camp Aguinaldo two weeks ago.
After the training, Hayudini said, the soldiers will report directly to radio and television stations, and "do what regular reporters do including following instructions from the station managers."
From the Washington Times Inside The Ring
An Air Force F-16 pilot who is flying bombing runs to support U.S. Marines and Army troops fighting terrorists in Najaf tells us that fighting was fierce this week.
The fighters were called in to drop precision-guided bombs, and helicopter gunships also took part.
The terrorists and other anti-coalition elements "really are not winning," our pilot correspondent says. "Not even a little."
Bombing runs had to be sharply curtailed to avoid collateral damage, the pilot says. "That really pains me, as an F-16 pilot, — not because we don't get to mop up all of the action, but more importantly because that means that our 'boots on the ground' are too closely engaged to allow safe delivery of the stuff that we carry. Accuracy is our forte, but these [bombs] still go 'boom' when they hit. I mean, really BIG Boom."
The pilot quoted one colonel on the ground as saying "The engagements in the cemetery were done on foot, encountering numerous fighters at a range when you can smell a man, and it's hand-to-hand combat."
Echoing the political debate under way here, the pilot took a slap at a certain Democratic presidential candidate who has been critical of President Bush's handling of Iraq.
"The vast majority, maybe even all of us, are 100 percent behind our president's decision to free Iraq and go on the offensive against terrorists," he said. "Hunkered down in Massachusetts, waiting for the next terrorist strike, is no way to deal with Bad People. That's why we're here."
The pilot said many in the military in Iraq are upset at the U.S. television networks for biased reporting. "The Third Reich's Disinformation Machine couldn't possibly have been as thorough as the broadcast 'news,'" he said.
The terrorists and other anti-coalition elements "really are not winning," our pilot correspondent says. "Not even a little."
Anyone need that translated?
Update to this post: Regarding an advance copy of the just published book, my source with the publisher tells me "there is no way the Kerry campaign could have received a copy - they were sent directly from the printer to the stores and galleys were not sent out to anyone".
By the way, Kerry's a veteran with a blog... how come he hasn't joined the MilBlogs ring?
Hey! World Net Daily: This un-retouched screen capture taken yesterday when I visted Hugh's WND page features an ad that seems to be one of several generated at random when you load the page:
Random, as I said, so your results may vary. I mean, I don't think it's on purpose... but really, at first look I thought the site had been hacked.
Now that I've had a bit of fun I'll urge all vistors and citizens of Mudville to get a copy of Hugh's book ASAP.
(Disclaimer: Mudville's mentioned on page 254. Further evidence that Hugh's no fool.)
Have you met the real Scott Ott yet?
If you've never laughed at ScrappleFace, click here. And welcome to the blogosphere!
Another JFK fan fic story by yer humble host:
Christmas '68: Cruising up the MeKong on our way to Kampuchea. The Doors blasted through the stereo speakers. "LA Woman" - I'll never forget it. Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" was our theme song, but I was jamming along with Mr Mojo Risin' on my guitar for a special lady. K-dog was water skiing, Rufus was piloting, she was sunning herself on the poop deck and we were all stoned immaculate.
The eight-track switched over. Man, what we had to put up with for state of the art sound. Then the song ended but I wailed off a few more licks before engaging the sweet little honey in scintillating conversation.
"So, you're with the CIA?" I said, casually setting my Hendrix autographed Strat into it's stand. Mom had sent it for Christmas just this year.
"Whadda yew tawkin' abowt?" she replied in that phony Brooklyn accent. "I'm a dansah, I'm here wit da USO. Not da CIA, da USO"
"Yeah, I said, admiring the curves." When were you last at Langley?"
She looked at me kinda funny "I know a guy named Frank Langley" she said "but he's a bum that can kiss my..."
"I know George HW Bush you know." I replied. "Went to school with his son. He's the head of the CIA. HW I mean, not his son. His son's a drunken frat boy, never will amount to much."
"I once danced at a drunken frat party. They tried to rip me off." She said, but she pronounced it "awf." OI loved that accent then, and I love foreign sounding accents to this day. "Yew gawt any tanning lotion?" she asked.
"CIA doesn't provide for all your needs, eh? Here, I've got some SPF 15. Want me to rub it on?"
"No tanks" she said, and took it from me.
"Yeah, lets hope so" I said.
"huh?" she asked.
"No tanks. You said no tanks. I said let's hope not."
"Yeah.. whatever. Look, I ain't CIA either. I'm USO. I don't care what Rassman said, he just wanted to make sure you'd let me on the boat, okay? Don't get angry wit him. He's a noice guy."
"Yeah, got it. Good cover, that USO thing. Hey, is this your hat?"
"Huh? Naaaw, dat ain't mine. I never seen dat before. Where's Rassman, anyhow?"
"Probably fell overboard again. You sure this isn't your hat?"
"It ain't my hat. Look at it. It looks like crap. Is that mold?"
"Maybe" I said. "Oh well, finders keepers. It's my hat now." I put the hat on my head and straped my guitar over my shoulder, and hit the "play' button on the remote. The opening chords of The Who's "Won't get Fooled Again" blasted, and I did my best Pete Townsend windmill thing. I'd seen them at Woodstock, I had it down.
Like I said...stoned. Immaculate. The sun was shining, she was sparkling, and I was singing, looking forward to the scream at the end. I could scream better than Daltry. Better than Janis Joplin even. The girls dig a good rockin' scream.
"Yeeeeaaargh" I belted it out.
"We won't get fooled again!"
Enter here early and often!
Almost missed another occasion - August marks the 90th anniversary of the start of World War I in Europe. If this event seems remote, its impact is anything but. The war shaped our modern world, and possibly by the 100th anniversary most of the damage will be undone.
But don't hold your breath.
If its importance has faded in any way its only because we've failed to learn its lessons. Relatively few books are devoted to this generation's warriors - the fathers of the "greatest generation" who had to send their sons off on unfinished business. And so on and so on and so on...
And certainly few of the veterans of the Great War are here to tell their stories today.
But no event of the 20th century had as much an impact on subsequent world events. So if you have a few spare minutes, here's a great site for an introduction to the war to end all wars.
And those who are fans of the Gods and Generals/Killer Angels/Last Full Measure trilogy detailing the Civil War will certainly enjoy this next novel from Jeff Shaara, To the Last Man : A Novel of the First World War
I'm looking forward to it.
I was going to link a specific post from fellow milblogger Andrew Olmsted, but I noticed the other stuff he's got up over there is too good to be missed. Click, then scroll scroll scroll... (and definitely don't miss this.)
It's great to 'meet' reporters who get it right about the military. And since falsely accusing him of stealing from MilBloggers I've gotten to 'know' Michael Gilbert of the Tacoma News Tribune via a couple of e-mails and the Stryker Brigade News page. He's a great guy and has been a true friend to the Strykers, having been deployed with them in Iraq:
People ask me all the time if I volunteered to go, and the answer of course is yes. But it's hard to explain that I kind of mean yes with an asterisk. I didn't HAVE to go, but I felt like I had to go, if that makes any sense.
Makes sense to me. There are a few other bits from Mr Gilbert at the Strykers page too.
By the way, is this page unique? I know it's the only one of it's kind in the MilBlogs Ring - a website linking deployed troops with their families back home via a blog. Kudos to the team that put it together.
The fog was thick as pea soup as we made our way across the border, but it muffled the sounds of the boat as we entered Cambodia. That was good, because our business there was anything but good.
"I wish you'd take that damn blindfold off." I whispered to the skipper.
"I learned to sail this way, hombre." He replied. His parrot sat silently on his shoulder. The bird spoke three languages but was not using any of them now.
"That bird makes me nervous" told him "if he spouts off in any of those three languages I'll..."
"Four languages." He said, still wearing the blindfold, piloting the river on pure instinct, nerves of steel. "English, French, Italian, and 'bird' - you probably forgot bird." He cut the engine, pulled the mask off. "He's disciplined. He wont squawk. And this is as far as we go. I'm not risking my crew. Or my bird"
"Fair enough, far enough." I said, slipping over the side. Kurtz didn't know it but his time was running short.
"Hey..." the skip whispered as I came up for air, "you forgot your hat."
"Keep it." I said, and pushed for shore.
The Mudville Gazette is pleased to announce the First Annual John Kerry Fan Fiction Contest. Entries may be submitted in comments, via e-mail (greyhawk - at - mudvillegazette.com) or as entries on your own blog - I'll link from here. Have at it. Have fun.
Speaking of fun, in reality, back during Christmas '68 I was almost seven, and mom and dad gave me my first shotgun. To this day it's seared in my memory - crawling on my belly through the rice paddies in the Cambodian fever swamp, hunting the elusive Khmer deer...
Update: Jeff Goldstein, poet.
And the guy that came in from the Cold (Fury, that is)...
And still more poetry via Balloon Juice.
Update 2: Martin Larsen contributes this inspirational artwork to the cause.
The horrah... the hamstah...
Paul Noonan, here and now.
Blackfive isn't lonely.
And Michele stayed up waaaay past her bedtime for this one.
Poke the Moonbats John. Poke them hard.
Update: Good point.
Is this true? Who knows - it's an election year!
COMMAND CONFIDENCE According to a Kerry campaign source, senior campaign advisers tasked two Washington-based campaign staffers to vet the recently published Unfit for Command.
"The purpose was to compare what that book had with what we had on file from Senator Kerry," says the campaign source, who said that the research project developed more than 75 instances where Kerry's recollections, previous remarks, or writings conflicted with the book's reporting.
"We took some of the most glaring examples, like the Christmas in Cambodia story, and presented them to senior staff, and we assume that those things were put in front of Senator Kerry," says the source. "We haven't heard a word about it. All we were told is that it was being taken care of."
The campaign source said that the book was not considered a "serious" problem for the campaign, because, "the media wouldn't have the nerve to come at us with this kind of stuff," says the source. "The senior staff believes the media is committed to seeing us win this thing, and that the convention inoculated us from these kinds of stories. The senior guys really think we don't have a problem here."
There certainly hasn't been widespread mainstream media reporting of the Swift's claims. Yet.
(Thanks to Jim Walker for the pointer.)
Update: Regarding an advance copy of the just published book, my source with the publisher tells me "there is no way the Kerry campaign could have received a copy - they were sent directly from the printer to the stores and galleys were not sent out to anyone".
Last February Mudville began a series on John Kerry's wartime service. A few folks here and there at that time were questioning the legitimacy of his achievements (and face it, he won more medals in less time than any American ever, that begs questions by itself) and while others folks were pointing to Snopes as the authority on Kerry's military career most folks were more concerned with what Kerry had to say about the future than what he did in the past. That's as it should be.
But the truth is, Kerry has no real vision for the future - unless you buy that "secret plan" he'll enact only if America votes to give him THE POWER. Thus Kerry 's campaign, as demonstrated at the Democratic National Convention, is now built around his four months in Vietnam.
Last winter no one wanted to discuss it, everyone wanted to focus on issues, (rightfully so) and the series was put away (but not forgotten) for future reference. The future is now, the past is present, and if you'd be so kind, please review this Mudville entry from February, get caught up, and then we can move on.
Go ahead, read it, we're waiting.
Done? Okay then.
According to Snopes, John F Kerry's Vietnam career ended with a bang and a whimper:
Kerry was injured yet again on 13 March 1969, in an action for which he was awarded both a Bronze Star and his third Purple Heart. According to Kerry's Bronze Star citation (signed by Admiral Zumwalt himself): Lieutenant (junior grade) Kerry was serving as an Officer-in-Charge of Inshore Patrol Craft 94, one of five boats conducting a Sealords operation in the Bay Hap River. While exiting the river, a mine detonated under another Inshore Patrol Craft and almost simultaneously, another mine detonated wounding Lieutenant (junior grade) Kerry in the right arm. In addition, all units began receiving small arms and automatic weapons fire from the river banks. When Lieutenant (junior grade) Kerry discovered he had a man overboard, he returned upriver to assist. The man in the water was receiving sniper fire from both banks. Lieutenant (junior grade) Kerry directed his gunners to provide suppressing fire, while from an exposed position on the bow, his arm bleeding and in pain and with disregard for his personal safety, he pulled the man aboard. Lieutenant (junior grade) Kerry then directed his boat to return to and assist the other damaged boat to safety. Lieutenant (junior grade) Kerry's calmness, professionalism and great personal courage under fire were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. According to the Boston Globe, this was the only one of Kerry's three Purple Heart injuries that caused him to miss any days of service:
Kerry had been wounded three times and received three Purple Hearts. Asked about the severity of the wounds, Kerry said that one of them cost him about two days of service, and that the other two did not interrupt his duty. "Walking wounded," as Kerry put it. A shrapnel wound in his left arm gave Kerry pain for years. Kerry declined a request from the Globe to sign a waiver authorizing the release of military documents that are covered under the Privacy Act and that might shed more light on the extent of the treatment Kerry needed as a result of the wounds.
Although there was no hard-and-fast rule, U.S. military procedure generally allowed any serviceman who received three Purple Hearts to request reassignment away from a combat zone, so Kerry talked to Commodore Charles F. Horne, an administrative official and commander of the coastal squadron in which he served. Four days after Kerry took his third hit of shrapnel, Horne forwarded a request on Kerry's behalf to the Navy Bureau of Personnel asking that Kerry be reassigned to "duty as a personal aide in Boston, New York, or Washington, D.C." Soon afterwards Kerry was transferred to Cam Ranh Bay to await further orders, and within a month he had been reassigned as a personal aide and flag lieutenant to Rear Admiral Walter F. Schlech, Jr. with the Military Sea Transportation Service based in Brooklyn, New York.
Kerry served with Admiral Schlech until the end of 1969, when requested an early discharge from the Navy in order to run for a Massachusetts congressional seat. Admiral Schlech approved the request, and on 3 January 1970 Kerry received an honorable discharge, six months early.
And there you have it, from Snopes, Kerry's biographer, and the Boston Globe.
i) The Purple Heart Lie
Kerry's third Purple Heart was his ticket home. It also was much of the basis of his Bronze Star, repeating "his bleeding arm" and shrapnel wound from the mine story. The problem is that his operating report was a total lie since Kerry's shrapnel wound "in the buttocks" came not from a mine at all as he falsely reported, but at his own hand. Larry Thurlow, an officer on shore with Kerry that day, recounts that Kerry's shrapnel wound came not from any mine, but from a self-inflicted wound when Kerry (with no enemy to be seen) threw a concussion grenade into a rice pile and stayed too close. See Exhibit 10, ¶ 3. This "brown rice" incident with rice/shrapnel lodged in Kerry from his own grenade is also recounted by James Rassman, a Kerry supporter and "the no man left behind" on page 105 of John F. Kerry: The Complete Biography By The Boston Globe Reporters Who Know Him Best, by Michael Kranish, Brian C. Mooney, and Nina J. Easton (New York: Public Affairs, 2004) (the "Kranish book"). See Exhibit 21.
Most surprisingly, John Kerry himself (while falsely reporting to the Navy and public that he suffered a shrapnel wound from a mine explosion so as to get a third Purple Heart and go home) reflected in his own journal that his buttocks' wound came, not from any mine but, rather, from a grenade tossed into a rice cache by himself or friendly troops (in the absence of any enemy fire). "I got a piece of small grenade in my ass from one of the rice bin explosions." Exhibit 15, Tour, at 313; see also Exhibit 15, Tour, at 317. "Kerry . . . also had the bits of shrapnel and rice extracted from his backside." See also the sworn statement of participants that there was no hostile fire (Exhibits 6, 7, and 10). It also should be noted that the rice extracted from Kerry's backside could hardly be the result of an underwater mine, as Kerry claimed in his operating report.
The conclusion is inescapable: that Kerry lied by reporting to the Navy that he had been wounded by shrapnel in his backside from an enemy mine when in reality he negligently wounded himself and then lied about the wound in order to secure a third Purple Heart and a quick trip home.
(ii) The Bronze Star Lie
As recounted in the attached affidavits of three on-scene participants (and verified by many others present) Kerry's operating report, Bronze Star story, and subsequent "no man left behind" story are a total hoax on the Navy and the nation. As recounted in the affidavits of Van Odell (Exhibit 6), Jack Chenoweth (Exhibit 7), and Larry Thurlow (Exhibit 10) (and verified by every other officer present and many others), a mine went off under PCF 3 -- some yards from Kerry's boat. The force of the explosion disabled PCF 3 and knocked several sailors, dazed, into the water. All boats, except one, closed to rescue the sailors and defend the disabled boat. That boat -- Kerry's boat -- fled the scene. After a short period, it was evident to all on the scene that there was no additional hostile fire. Thurlow began the daring rescue of disabled PCF 3, while Chenoweth began to pluck dazed survivors of PCF 3 from the water. Midway through the process, after it was apparent that there was no hostile fire, Kerry finally returned, picking up Rassman who was only a few yards from Chenoweth's boat which was also going to pick Rassman up. Each of the affiants (and many other Swiftees on the scene that day) are certain that Kerry has wholly lied about the incident. Consider this: How could the disabled PCF abandon the scene of the mine? Why did Kerry have to "return" to the scene?
Kerry's account of this action, which was used to secure the Bronze Star and a third Purple Heart, is an extraordinary example of fraud. Kerry describes "boats rcd heavy A/W and S/A from both banks. Fire continued for about 5000 meters." Exhibit 17. In other words, the boats went through a double gauntlet at about 50 yards distance that was 3.2 miles long (comparable to Seminary Ridge at Gettysburg on two sides), and yet none of the other boats within feet of Kerry's boat heard a shot or suffered an injury after the PCF 3 mine explosion, except for John Kerry's buttocks rice wound of earlier origin.
Clearly, Van Odell is right when he says, "John Kerry lied to get his Bronze Star . . . I know. I was there. I saw what happened." As Jack Chenoweth swore, "his account of what happened and what actually happened are the difference between night and day." Most poignantly, Larry Thurlow, whose brave actions saved the PCF 3 boat that day after Kerry fled, has the right to say, "When the chips were down, you could not count on John Kerry."
Pretty damning statements.
In fairness, here's James Rassman with the final word on the topic:
On March 13, 1969, John Kerry's courage and leadership saved my life.
While returning from a SEA LORDS operation along the Bay Hap River, a mine detonated under another swift boat. Machine-gun fire erupted from both banks of the river, and a second explosion followed moments later. The second blast blew me off John's swift boat, PCF-94, throwing me into the river. Fearing that the other boats would run me over, I swam to the bottom of the river and stayed there as long as I could hold my breath.
When I surfaced, all the swift boats had left, and I was alone taking fire from both banks. To avoid the incoming fire, I repeatedly swam under water as long as I could hold my breath, attempting to make it to the north bank of the river. I thought I would die right there. The odds were against me avoiding the incoming fire and, even if I made it out of the river, I thought I'd be captured and executed. Kerry must have seen me in the water and directed his driver, Del Sandusky, to turn the boat around. Kerry's boat ran up to me in the water, bow on, and I was able to climb up a cargo net to the lip of the deck. But, because I was nearly upside down, I couldn't make it over the edge of the deck. This left me hanging out in the open, a perfect target. John, already wounded by the explosion that threw me off his boat, came out onto the bow, exposing himself to the fire directed at us from the jungle, and pulled me aboard.
For his actions that day, I recommended John for the Silver Star, our country's third highest award for bravery under fire. I learned only this past January that the Navy awarded John the Bronze Star with Combat V for his valor. The citation for this award, signed by the Commander of U.S. Naval Forces, Vietnam, Vice Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, read, "Lieutenant (junior grade) Kerry's calmness, professionalism and great personal courage under fire were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service." To this day I am grateful to John Kerry for saving my life. And to this day I still believe that he deserved the Silver Star for his courage.
John McCain wasn't there. I certainly wasn't there. And to my disgust I've read attacks on Rassman made by bloggers who also weren't there, and wouldn't know a flightline from a gigline. Do I need to have been there to have an opinion? No. Is this issue "politicized?" You bet it is - this is an election year.
I pondered this issue today and can only offer this. I've served for two decades in the US military. If someone came to me and said "Hey, did you hear one of old troops was running for President?" I'd say "Who?" and the answer would determine my vote, without another 30 seconds thought.
The question of Party affiliation would not come up. I will assure the reader as best I possibly can that for the vast majority of these folks no other affiliation comes close to the bond that forms among members of military units - especially those who've experienced combat together. Often even family takes a back seat to those true brothers in arms. The idea of some other allegiance trumping this bond is beyond comprehension.
I'll add that almost every unit, however, has a guy that doesn't fit in, isn't a "team player", who never really bonds. And given the numbers involved, I think we've all got a clear idea of who's who among the Swifts.
Who's telling the truth? We've got a while until election day. If the Swift vets are lying the truth will ultimately be told.
John Kerry's military records will tell much of that truth, when he releases them.
It didn't get much media coverage, but troops from the Fort Lewis-based Stryker brigade say fighting last Wednesday in Mosul was the heaviest and most sustained combat they've seen in their nine months in Iraq.
In an interview Monday, Hyneman said the fighting took place on the east and west sides of the Tigris River, which bisects the city, and at a hotel near the northernmost of the city's five major bridges. The insurgents also attacked a hospital and a power plant, and ambushed Stryker convoys as they rolled past multistory buildings on the way to the fight, according to other sources.
Hotels, hospitals, power plants... all the usual targets. But in spite of that "so what else is new" line the real familiarity should set in with these graphs:
One soldier described what it was like on his Web log on the Internet. The soldier, who identifies himself as CBFTW, is attracting readers with his absorbing, personal account of Army life in Mosul.
"We were driving there on that main street, when all of the sudden all hell came down all around on us, all these guys wearing all black ... a couple dozen on each side of the street, on rooftops, alleys, edge of buildings, out of windows, everywhere just came out of ... nowhere and started firing RPGs and AK-47s at us," he wrote.
Sadly, Scripps-Howard version of the story fails to provide a link or even a url for Fear and Loathing, even though the original story did (see here). Unfortunately, though done with good intentions, interviews with his command might have indirectly led to this post on F&L:
So today I'm walking back from chow, and my Plt Sgt is outside my door waiting for me and he said, The Col. wants to see you, hurry up and go shave, I'll be back in 15 to take you down there. My heart sank. Shit. I know exactly what this one is about.
This might be my last entry, I haven't decided yet to end this, or continue this. I don't know what to make of all this yet.
You may want to add your comments to the discussion on his blog.
Update: This post has been corrected, as Michael Gilbert, author of the original article, has brought inaccuracies to my attention. Thanks sir, and thanks for telling the Stryker's story. I note there are over 180 comments on CBFTW's last post - looks like he's got a few fans.
I received this e-mail last week from the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth around the same time Drudge "broke" the story of their campaign. There's some great information here for those who question the motives of these guys. In my estimation they are honest and up front about what they are doing and why they are doing it. That blogs (or at least MilBlogs) were getting this info at such an opportune time says something about the media savvy of this group (who likely knew they'd be ignored in the mainstream media - at least initially) and the growing influence of the blogosphere. I've highlighted one paragraph below for those too hurried to read the whole thing, (it's only a presidential election, after all) because the reader would do well to ponder the implications of that statement.
We’re imploring you to put up links to www.swiftvets.com and to www.wintersoldier.com. All too many veterans are unaware of the truth of JFnK’s 4 ½ months of service and anti-war activities. Please read the following and check out the links. We really need your help.
John Kerry has made his 4 months and 12 days in Vietnam the centerpiece of his campaign for President, apparently in attempt qualify himself as a “war time” President. He has avoided his traitorous flip-flop on the Vietnam war from 1970-72 and his dovish 19 year Senate record on defense and intelligence.
This effort at misdirection or “hiding the football’ of his true character requires those of us that lived and suffered the Vietnam experience, including the anti-war movement, to expend a significant effort in awakening the memories of those who lived through the period and to educate those younger than ourselves whose views are founded on press, academic, and Hollywood deceptions.
Many of you may not be familiar with Mr. Kerry’s contrived military record and post service treachery. Before making your voting decision I urge you to take the time to study our case.
Swift Boat Veterans for Truth has been formed to counter the false "war crimes" charges John Kerry repeatedly made against Vietnam veterans who served in our units and elsewhere, and to accurately portray Kerry's brief tour in Vietnam as a junior grade Lieutenant. We speak from personal experience -- our group includes men who served beside Kerry in combat as well as his commanders. Though we come from different backgrounds and hold varying political opinions, we agree on one thing: John Kerry misrepresented his record and ours in Vietnam and therefore exhibits serious flaws in character and lacks the potential to lead.
We regret the need to do this. Most Swift boat veterans would like nothing better than to support one of our own for America's highest office, regardless of whether he was running as a Democrat or a Republican. However, Kerry's phony war crimes charges, his exaggerated claims about his own service in Vietnam, and his deliberate misrepresentation of the nature and effectiveness of Swift boat operations compels us to step forward.
For more than thirty years, most Vietnam veterans kept silent as we were maligned as misfits, addicts, and baby killers. Now that a key creator of that poisonous image is seeking the Presidency we have resolved to end our silence.
The time has come to set the record straight.
My qualifications for commenting on Mr Kerry’s service are as follows: BM1 USN September 1965 to November 1969. I extended my enlistment and volunteered for Mobile Riverine duty in Vietnam. I served as a Boat Captain and Patrol Officer in US Navy Task Forces CTF 117 and 116 from November of 1968 to November of 1969. River Division 92, Nov of 68 to March of 69 and was a Plankowner in RivDiv 595/153 and served there from March 69 to November 69. I logged about 20 multi-day assault missions and over 160 combat patrols, participating in about 50 firefights. I was a awarded a Silver Star, a Navy Commendation Medal w/ Combat “V”, and a Purple Heart as well as several unit citations including 3 Presidential Unit Citations. I also have a piece of self-inflicted “friendly fire” shrapnel in my stomach for which I was too embarrassed, apparently unlike Mr Kerry, to request a Purple Heart.
Many of us believe that his war diary and cinematic activities in Vietnam are the tip of the iceberg and that he recommended himself for 2 of his Purple Hearts for minor scratches that were probably self-inflicted and, more importantly, for the Silver Star. The events surrounds the award of the Bronze Star are also questionable as will be revealed in a soon to be released book, “Unfit to Command”, currently #2 in sales at Amazon.com. That’s why we are demanding the release of his “complete” service records.
More about this period in our and Kerry’s history can be found at: www.wintersoldier.com
That message came to me from Tom Mortensen, I e-mailed back with a few additional questions. He graciously responded, and the following interview is a result of that correspondence, and the first in a series on the Swift boat vets and their message here at Mudville. My questions are in regular, his responses in blocked font.
Why did you serve in Vietnam?
1. As a child of the fifties and a believer in the "Camelot" dream of the real JFK, I believed, as I do today, that totalitarian regimes represented by the Stalinist Soviet vision were, and are, a pox on humanity. I believe there is no equality by "right", but only liberty, opportunity, and justice for individual humans. I believed, and still do, the domino theory of totalitarianism, whether based on political, social, or religious theology is a pox on humanity and probably always will be.
2. I believed, as I do today, that our system of government, i.e. democratic republicanism (federalism) for large nation-states is the only viable system of government for large groups of humans. Personal liberty was, and is, pre-eminent in my thinking.
3. On a personal level I'd spent 3 years in the Navy. 2 of them driving Aviation Rescue Boats, Yard Tugs, and Mike Boats in Kodiak, Alaska. I had just been notified that I would be promoted to BM2 (E-5). I'd never been to sea on a line ship. Given 1 and 2 above I thought I could serve my country better by extending my enlistment and going to Nam to lead younger men in combat. This was based upon my age and experience in commanding small craft.
Thanks for your service Tom. I get a real sense of pride in America hearing from others who've responded to that call. But why are you doing what you're doing now regarding Senator Kerry? Part of the vast Right Wing Conspiracy?
Other than voting a conservative and hawkish vision since Johnson and the Dimocrats departed American foreign and domestic values in the late '60s, I've been apolitical for the last 34 years. No partisan or activist contributions or activities.
Kerry and the move to the extreme left of the Democratic Party activate me today. Really though, it's all about the war for our very survival in the face of another totalitarian ideology.
As to fighting the leftists; I might have demurred to traditional conservative federalists. Kerry's candidacy and possible victory has activated me.
Kerry is, and always has been, a financially secure, ideologically international Marxist elitist and supremacist. He has no clue what liberty is. He's an appeaser. I suppose, first and foremost, he's an opportunist that betrayed his "Band of Brothers" (including me and most Viet vets) in a quest for personal power as do most megalomaniacs.
He was a contributor to the loss 3 million lives to totalitarianism in SE Asia. www.swiftvets.com and www.wintersoldier.com can tell the story better than I can in a single email note. Nuff said!
I thought the motivations for your current service and your Vietnam era service to the country were similar, and boiled down to a fundamental desire to do the right thing. And you know, I'll bet another similarity is that many of the same people who were opposed to you then are also against you now. With one exception - John Kerry was a fellow Sailor and is now the ideological opponent of the huge majority of the men he served with, and is the candidate of choice for the anti-everything left. An interesting turn of events, wouldn't you say? Has Kerry "switched sides"? Is that the first of his many flip flops?.
He's never switched sides! I think you're right that he's been blowing in the wind as a back-bencher since '72. To me it's more important to expose his true ideology compounded by his opportunism. The side-switching is just a trait---but it doesn't go to the heart of the man.
Wars, domestic political ones included, are about ideology. Not about the tactics of propaganda of deception. Propaganda and deception are the definition of John Kerry.
As I said, that's just the beginning of "Swift Vet" week in Mudville.
Help with that decision on who to vote for, at least. For the benefit of those wondering about Kerry's future relationship with the military, the Stars and Stripes sent a reporter to one of Senator John Kerry's campaign whistle stops in Missouri:
On a picturesque farm north of Kansas City, the Democratic hopeful and running mate Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., spoke of reducing America?s dependence on foreign oil and answered questions from the 100-plus supporters on hogs, health care and campaign promises versus real change.
But Kerry made repeated references to the war in Iraq, stressing the need for support from allies and deliberation before sending troops to fight.
?John [Edwards] and I are going to put in place the principle, very simple: No young American in uniform should ever be held hostage to America?s dependence on oil in the Middle East.?
Kerry sat down with Stripes afterward to discuss the war, the stresses on the military and changes he would make.
The above link leads to a brief story and an edited transcript of the interview, but Stripes has also thoughtfully published the full text (we'll assume it's verbatim) of the conversation with the candidate here.
Stripes: You said during your speech sir that never again would U.S. troops operate, or be hostage to a lousy energy policy --
Kerry: What I said is, I didn?t say never again, I said I don?t want them to be hostage.
Stripes: You think that?s what?s going on now?
Kerry: I think in the first war, their oil was a critical consideration, because Saddam Hussein?s intent was to take over the oil fields. Jim Baker said publicly that it had something to do with what we were doing.
Stripes: But our operations in Iraq right now, no?
Kerry: No. That?s not related directly to the oil ? and I never suggested that it is.
The question "Then why bring it up?" remains unasked. Like most of Kerry's slogans and claims, "hostages to oil" doesn't hold up well under scrutiny. Fortunately for him, the mainstream media seems disinclined to provide that scrutiny, and the Stripes reporter at times seems reluctant to challenge the Senator too.
But credit Kerry with knowing the script, even if it's Gigli bad. One by one, Kerry gets his talking points in. The answer to this:
Republicans are much better suited to handle defense issues. How do you counter that?
Is a laundry list, a litany of talking points. I'll reformat as such without any additional editing:
My record counters that, and my friends counter that. My message to the troops over there? 1) Help is on the way. Help is on the way in every respect. 2) The Guard and the Reserves have been overstretched. 3) [The Bush team] have conducted a back-door draft by the stop-loss provisions and the lengthy deployments. 3a) People have been overextended, and stretched too thin. 4) They went into Iraq in a brilliant military strategy, which we all adopted and supported, 4a) but they didn?t have a plan to win the peace. 5) They didn?t bring other [countries] to our side. 6) They didn?t give our troops all the equipment ? the body armor and the armored Humvees, and things they need and deserve. 3a, if you missed it before) And I believe they didn?t go in with enough people to make it secure. 6a) So I think our troops are at a greater risk than they had to be, 5a) and I think we have borne greater costs than we needed to.
Still answering the same question, he continues:
Furthermore, I have a plan for a Military Families Bill of Rights. My Military Family Bill of Rights will provide greater guarantees with respect to education, health care, deployment schedules, and pay.
Unasked question: Thus countering 30+ years of Senate records? I mean really, isn't the "Bill of Rights" attached to the US Constitution enough? And if we don't elect you, will you fight against these rights? But I'm interrupting, because the Senator still isn't done with the "Republicans are better" question:
And I think we can do a better job of helping our troops. I?ll make sure that they have state-of the-art equipment. I will make sure we can actually grow the military. I?m going to create two new active divisions in the Army. I?m going to double the number of special forces troops we have to fight terror.
While you're at it, as an NFL fan I'd like you to double the number of teams in the league too. Without lowering the quality of players, of course.
Perhaps misreading his audience completely, Kerry gives an unfortunate reminder that Democratic presidents have led the nation into more wars than republicans have, and concludes with an homage to carpet bombing as orchestrated by the previous Commander-in-Chief:
There?s a great tradition of Democratic presidents who?ve led us in war. From Franklin Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, to President Kennedy ? Bill Clinton who, managed to do Kosovo without any casualties at all.
Later Kerry credits Clinton with building the military that won the war on terror.
This lengthy diatribe may explain the reporter's reluctance to ask the additional questions that Kerry's answers beg. The Senator seems to subscribe to the old adage "If you can't dazzle them with brilliance..." But kudos to the Stripes correspondent for not letting the candidate off the hook too easily. Later in the interview, Kerry states he'd bring the troops home "earlier" then the 3 to 5 years estimated by General Franks, prompting this follow-up question and full throttled reverse:
Stripes: So you can guarantee that we?ll have a substantially reduced force within a year? Two years?
Kerry: I can guarantee that the goal is in my first term ? that within my first term I will have a substantial reduction in troops, yes.
How? Well, (ahem) of course, Kerry's going to use "the power of my own diplomacy" to bring "people to the table".
Kerry: The very first thing I will do, as soon as I?m sworn in as president ? I?ll even begin the process before that, but I will not be empowered to do anything until I take office, is to convene an international conference, with the Europeans co-chairing, and the Arab countries co-chairing. And we will bring people back to the table they used to be at, before this administration proceeded unilaterally.
Anyone remember that table? Oh, and memo to Kerry campaign staff: phone the LA Times.
Meanwhile the Senator drones on:
I will seek a much greater for a much greater of level of both NATO and other-nation involvement in the training of Iraqi troops and Iraqi security [forces]. We?ll provide greater Iraqi security on the ground and reduce the burden on our own troops.
Memo to NATO: Slow down! Not until after November! Memo 2 to Kerry staff: Phone LA Times yesterday!
Some comments are ignored perhaps because they are obvious throw away campaign rhetoric, but I'd really like a better explanation of this remark:
Look, there?s a bottom line here: Nations respond according to some of their own political realities. Leaders in other countries now have a very price ? to deal with this administration. We need a new president who can change the climate for those leaders. I can do that. With a high commissioner, who helps manage the involvement of these other countries, so it?s not an American occupation. And that will greatly reduce the risk to the soldiers in Iraq.
High Commissioner? Is that as replacement or in addition to the Iraqi government? Is that a UN function, or something else? And given this recent story:
UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 4 -- U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said Wednesday that efforts to assemble an international peacekeeping force to protect a future U.N. mission in Iraq have stalled, requiring U.S.-led forces to provide security for the foreseeable future.I'm afraid I'm going to ask for more than "I know I can do it" for an answer.
Because you're not the Little Engine That Could.
Read the full interview. And vote this November.
Before the swifties or anyone else was willing to question how John Kerry won more medals in less time than anyone in the history of the world and then abruptly abandoned his command to flee home and testify before congress about his fellow GI's "war crimes" - (how's that for a recap?) - Navy vet John Moore was sounding the battle cry.
MilBloggers John of Argghhh and John Cole (and a lot of other bloggers) run the risk of having a team of Kerry lawyers show up on their door steps with summonses.
It's all over the place now, but I believe Castle Arrggh had the first post of the Swiftvets' response to the latest Kerry attack - an attack they likely expected, as it happened first many years ago. Given the resulting likely acceleration of the spread of the story it looks like Kerry may have sent his team into battle without a plan.
I like Roger Simon's early quote on the topic: "If one person says you're drunk, ignore him. If six people say you're drunk, sit down." The Senator from Massachusetts likely should have sat down and let the media ignore this story for him.
Will it get worse for our hero? Time will tell, and John Cole will be there when it needs telling - click and scroll. He's been in front of this story and will likely stay there.
Looks like the UN security forces in Iraq will speak with an accent familiar to the locals:
UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 4 -- U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said Wednesday that efforts to assemble an international peacekeeping force to protect a future U.N. mission in Iraq have stalled, requiring U.S.-led forces to provide security for the foreseeable future.
The Bush administration has promoted the idea of a U.N. protection force as a way of broadening international support for the struggling Iraqi political transition, particularly among countries that are reluctant to serve alongside American troops in Iraq. But senior U.N. officials say the initiative is on the verge of collapse as Iraqi insurgents and militants have stepped up attacks against citizens from countries considering participation, according to senior U.N. officials.
Annan said months of negotiations with more than a half-dozen potential contributors to the U.N. force -- which would be distinct from the U.S.-led multinational army but serve under the overall command of a U.S. general -- have not produced any "firm offers." Pakistan, Ukraine, Nepal, Georgia and other countries that were asked to commit more than 3,000 troops needed to protect the United Nations have engaged Annan in protracted, inconclusive discussions, officials said.
"We haven't had much success attracting governments to sign up for the dedicated force to protect the U.N. personnel in Iraq and our property," Annan told reporters Wednesday. "For practical measures, we have no other choice but to rely on the multinational force, and this is the way we are going."
Guess Annan has gotten over his fear of the Unilateral Coalition - just in time for a first anniversary.
(No update on the Nuclear inspections, though.)
All is not lost for the blue-helmet commandos, however. Remember, if Americans will only vote to give John Kerry THE POWER he will unleash his secret plan to get all our old allies on board. N'est pas?
And while some Gi's return home, others may never, if the mob has any say in the matter:
BALAD, Iraq - Second Lt. Ferley Jaramillo put his left hand on top of his head... "They're going nuts," said Jaramillo, a member of the 81st Brigade Combat Team from Olympia, Wash.
In a story absent from all major media coverage, nearly 40 soldiers from the 81st, traveling in 11 Humvees, made what they thought was a "short trip" to "win hearts and minds". Unannounced because of security concerns, word nonetheless had spread, and unknown to the GI's a determined group of Iraqis awaited them.
And other than a lone correspondent from the unit's local paper, no media coverage at all of the riot.
Perhaps the casualty count was too low?
(Read the whole thing)
Troops are returning from Iraq, but unless you live near a military installation or the hometown of a National Guard unit you likely haven't heard much about it. The story is not in line with THE STORY, the big media favored one where units are left in the desert forever to rot, poor young kids who were only in the military for an education suddenly dying halfway around the world because of a failure to plan.
Americans don't expect much from national news media, but the locals ignore these stories at their own peril. The Manchester (NH) Union Leader offers an account of the homecoming of the 94th Military Police Company, beneath a headline that seems an "in your face" response to the numerous body count stories their big media cousins so relish: 166 Soldiers Return Home Safely
MANCHESTER — The crowd at the JFK Coliseum yesterday afternoon was as pumped as any crowd at a championship playoff final game.
And they gave it up for the 94th Military Police Company of the U.S. Army Reserve, which arrived home yesterday after nearly 16 months in Iraq, arguably the longest-serving reserve unit.
First Sgt. Dennis Mawn said some people called the 94th a hard-luck unit when its tour was twice extended, but he said: “The 94th MP is anything but a hard-luck unit . . . 166 soldiers deployed, 166 soldiers returned.”
Many members of the unit are police officers or prison guards who will be returning to those jobs. Paul and Elaine Benoit of Pelham were waiting to see their son, Paul, 28, a Salem officer, for the first time since the unit deployed.
It was mobilized in early December 2002 and arrived in Iraq in April 2003. The younger Benoit, like a number of other unit members, was also deployed to Bosnia as a peacekeeper from July 2000 to March 2001.
And if you wonder how the members of the 94th feel about their long stay in the sandbox, this letter to the editor that accompanies the piece may provide insight:
94th MP Members Are Warriors And Not Whiners
By Dean Miles, Guest Commentary
I AM A platoon leader with the 94th Military Police Company and a resident of Weare. At this time we have returned from our 20-month deployment in the War on Terror. Fifteen of those months were spent in Iraq and Kuwait fighting the enemy.
As I write this, we are only a day away (today) from our homecoming ceremony in Manchester at the JFK Coliseum.
I am writing because in the past months all anyone has heard about us is how our families are all upset because they believe the Army kept us deployed too long, that we have done more than our fair share, that we have been extended three times and have been deployed longer than any other unit and should have been home long ago. Some of the families even went to the Pentagon for answers.
I would like to share my views on some things.
I have a lovely wife, two kids and a great family who all have missed me tremendously and wished that I had returned sooner. So I can appreciate the family members who thought it was necessary to go on and on to anyone that would listen about the issues I have mentioned. I also realize how hard it was on the families while their loved ones were deployed. But I am a little embarrassed by how some of the family members carried on.
I feel that all that attention depicts the 94th MP Company as a bunch of whiners instead of the warriors we are. It is this soldier’s opinion that there is nothing more noble or honorable then answering the call and fighting for this country.
We can never do enough when it comes to defending our country, and I feel so proud to have served my country and to have done it in a combat zone. We have been informed that thus far we have been the longest deployed unit to have served in Iraq and the longest deployed Reserve unit since World War II.
The Pentagon referred to us as an elite unit with the expertise that was needed. Having been there in the middle of it all, I agree.
I missed my life in Weare, but I would have stayed as long as the Army needed me to because it’s the right thing to do. People talk about the sacrifices the 94th has made in the defense of this country, and we have, but our sacrifices can’t compare to the sacrifices made by those who served in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam or those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Some have called me brainwashed and have even had the nerve to say I don’t care about my family and that they don’t care about me because we are willing to answer the call and do whatever is necessary to defend this country, whether it is going on multiple deployments or staying longer than some think we should.
That’s OK because I know there are many who feel as I do. I am in good company.
In closing I would like to thank everyone for supporting the 94th MP Company and for your continued support for all those that are still in harm’s way. This war will go on for a long time, and having been there I know it is just and necessary.
Saddam had to go. The 94th MPs consider it an honor to have served this nation. To my fellow soldiers of the mighty 94th MPs, thank you for all you have done for your country. I am extremely proud to have served with such an outstanding group of soldiers. God bless America.
The political campaigns, true crime, the latest book, celebrity lifestyles, the local news...
And (read the follow-up too)
A couple entries noted in the Fayetteville Observer's live blog coverage of Lynndie England's Article 32 hearing
CNN debates ranks Wed Aug 4 16:01:44 2004
Susan Candiotti and Bob Franken are having a debate during the break, trying to figure out which ranks are highest and lowest among sergeant, staff sergeant, sergeant first class. A production assistant successfully settles the matter.
Out through the front door Wed Aug 4 18:58:09 2004
England threw off most of the media by leaving through the front door, avoiding the parking lot - and reporters - in the back. Her lawyers made no statement to the press today.
Couldn't CNN have sent someone with a rudimentary knowledge of the military to cover this trial? What else are they ignorant of?
Does it matter?
Chris Lynch, winner of the caption contest, has a blog. Who'd have thunk?
Thanks to all who joined the fun.
Lots of great entries, here are some noteworthy examples, divided into categories that illustrate just how deeply Americans are divided this election year.
In light of his post war activities, many can't accept Kerry's embracing of his Vietnam days (The Kerry was a Vietnam veteran? Who knew? Category):
"Hey, did I mention that I served in Viet Nam?"
Posted by: Dacotti at July 31, 2004 07:37 PM
"See this finger,soldier? This finger served"
Posted by: Peter at July 31, 2004 09:04 PM
"...and then there was the time i got a medal for chasing an unarmed wounded VC through the woods and shot him in the back. Are you going to finish those fries? Stories about me make me hungry. Pass the Heinz."
Posted by: MJLange at August 1, 2004 06:06 AM
"Now are these ribbons, or medals?"
Posted by: John at August 1, 2004 03:37 PM
When I was your age I threw my effing medals away!
Posted by: Laddy at July 31, 2004 06:57 PM
Say, you didn't pick those ribbons up off the White House lawn?
Posted by: David at July 31, 2004 07:24 PM
See the scar on my finger?? That's what got me my first Purple Heart!
Posted by: arlo at July 31, 2004 07:57 PM
Those are nice alright, but they're not as pretty as my three purple hearts. Hey, did I mention I have three purple hearts
Posted by: acassa at July 31, 2004 08:02 PM
Wow, is that a camcorder, I'll bet you Marines can do some real "soldiering" with that. In my days of "soldiering" in the Navy all I had was an 8mm camera.
Posted by: Pile On® at August 1, 2004 04:56 PM
"And I got my third Purple Heart and an early trip home from Vietnam when I cut this finger here changing the tape in my 8mm camera."
Posted by: ThePrecinctChair at August 1, 2004 11:41 PM
Wait a minute while I get my camcorder so we can reenact our meeting.
Posted by: Laddy at July 31, 2004 07:03 PM
K: "And then the Viet Cong overan my position and all I had left to shoot was my finger."
USMC: "But weren't you swift boat, sir?
K: "Well yes, 'Viet Cong', and 'over ran' were just figures of speech. See I still have my finger. You can't deny that.
Posted by: M. Simon at August 1, 2004 09:21 AM
Go ahead, pull my finger-I dare you! Did you know I served in Viet Nam?
You'd BETTER be using Heinz ketchup!!
Posted by: Lord Whorfin at July 31, 2004 07:11 PM
Others are put off by John and Teresa Heinz-Kerry's affluence (The Kerry want's to be the President of the United States of Two Americas Category)
Do you know who I am?
Posted by: marzipan at July 31, 2004 07:15 PM
Ensign Kerry reporting for duty, sir! You're the officer on duty? Send someone to fetch the rest of my things on board; I left them on the pier. Here it is, midnight; it's been a long day, and one just got tired of carrying them, you know how it is, and besides, that's what the enlisteds are for. Did I mention I know the Kennedys? So this surfboard won't be in the way here, will it? Didn't think so. Yeah, I'm glad to be aboard the _Gridley._
Posted by: Clayton D. Jones at August 1, 2004 12:38 AM
My friend Jacques thinks you would look much better wearing a blue helmet.
Posted by: edpi at August 1, 2004 12:50 AM
Listen up, Boy! When I'm your CIC you'll pay for disrespecting me.
Posted by: Laddy at July 31, 2004 07:01 PM
John Edwards and I have better hair than you!
Posted by: Former CNN Watcher at July 31, 2004 07:12 PM
Son, I was born into wealth, educated in Switzerland, and my wife is one of the richest women on the planet, otherwise I'm just a grunt like you."
Posted by: Rob at July 31, 2004 09:36 PM
Kerry: What can I do for you si.....
Marine: Shut up and get behind me sir.
Posted by: Charles Hammond Jr. at July 31, 2004 07:13 PM
You're blocking my view of that fine can, baby-killer.
Posted by: carpet_lanny at August 2, 2004 03:03 AM
Many Americans think Kerry is indecisive (a right wing smear!!!! category):
"I don't know what I want, I can't seem to make up my mind. What did YOU order?"
Posted by: Natedogg at July 31, 2004 07:03 PM
Hey, you've got something on your shirt.
No wait, no you don't.
Then again, maybe you do.
(...continues for five minutes...)
Posted by: Rayonic at July 31, 2004 07:12 PM
Hi There. What you eating, a Wendy's Single? Me too. Well, I ordered one before I unordered one. But we're a like.
Well, not exactly alike Tell me, did you ever serve in Vietnam?
Posted by: rightwingduck at August 3, 2004 12:52 AM
"I actually fought against North Viet Nam before I fought for it."
Posted by: roy at August 1, 2004 03:51 PM
"Great idea sir. We will use your involvement in the VVAW as inspiration IF you become CIC."
Posted by: La Femme Crickita at August 1, 2004 11:57 PM
"I actually voted for the $87 million before I vote against it."
"Good to go, Sir. I'll be sure to vote for you before I vote against you."
Posted by: Capt Trevett at The Commons at July 31, 2004 08:14 PM
You should vote for me before you vote against me.
Posted by: Kevin at July 31, 2004 07:26 PM
Ah-ah, I know what you're thinking, punk, did he flip flop six times or only five?
Posted by: Carl Jung at July 31, 2004 07:00 PM
While many "outside the box" types offered captions for the "salute" photo:
"I'm John Kerry, and I'm reporting for duty Mr. Kofi Annan, sir"
Posted by: Pat at August 1, 2004 05:44 AM
"I wasn't saluting, the lights were in my eyes."
"Is--is my daughter wearing a see-through dress!?"
John Kerry has reported for duty, expect to seem him around for about three months.
Posted by: aaron at July 31, 2004 07:17 PM
"Hey, is that the charisma I ordered back there?"
Posted by: Jim at July 31, 2004 07:17 PM
"They pull your moral compass out of an incision just about here."
"Boy, my chances look pretty small from here"
Posted by: spidly at August 2, 2004 09:53 AM
Still others offerred comment that wasn't in the form of a caption:
The US Marines are the best.
Posted by: tony steemson at July 31, 2004 07:19 PM
As a US Marine myself, I can say this categorically:
John Kerry has virtually NO support among us.
Bush is our man, and I am damn proud of what we have accomplished the last year.
John Kerry and his pathetic party hacks can move to France for all I care. I don't consider them real Americans.
Posted by: Semper Fi at July 31, 2004 07:43 PM
Not really a caption, but am I the only one who's reminded of that photo-op stunt Saddam pulled with that British kid (detainee) on the eve of the Gulf War?
Posted by: azlibertarian at August 1, 2004 01:35 AM
(---Greyhawk says: Yeah, and the union guy incident too, when Kerry didn't know his mic was hot.).
Some used cultural icons to bash this Cultural Icon:
Kerry channels Niedermeier from "Animal House":
"A PLEDGE PIN?! On your UNIFORM?!"
Posted by: BarCodeKing at July 31, 2004 07:41 PM
You really should consider Botox...by the way, did I tell you my story about Genghis Khan?
Posted by: H. Dean at July 31, 2004 08:06 PM
I'm Rick James, B*tch!
Posted by: soybomb at July 31, 2004 08:11 PM
While others used Quickies:
"I will take that one and that one and ...oh a Biggie Fries!"
Posted by: Paul at August 2, 2004 11:50 AM
Pull my finger.
Posted by: Bruce at July 31, 2004 11:06 PM
I wouldn't even give you 87 cents. . . .
Posted by: jcrue at July 31, 2004 11:09 PM
Assistant manager, John Kerry, informs a customer that they do NOT serve "freedom fries" on his watch.
Posted by: Dave at July 31, 2004 11:09 PM
Why the long face, sir?
Posted by: Geraldo at July 31, 2004 11:25 PM
"I have three maids and my shirts still don't look that good."
Posted by: Zeno at August 1, 2004 05:43 AM
"Is this bugging you? I'm not touching you. Is this bugging you? I'm not touching you......."
Posted by: Idler at August 1, 2004 04:21 AM
Go ahead, poke the bear.
Posted by: Joatmoaf at August 1, 2004 02:32 PM
Marine in foreground: "This suit giving you trouble, Jimmy?"
Posted by: furious_a at August 1, 2004 10:42 PM
Posted by: Jeffrey Ogan at August 2, 2004 08:56 PM
But now the time has come to end the divisiveness, to reunite the people so bitterly divided. Therefore, the winner, as determined by the Supreme Court of Mudville, is...
Kerry: And you know what they call a... a... a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Paris?
Marine: They don't call it a Quarter Pounder with cheese sir?
Kerry: No man, they got the metric system. They wouldn't know what the f*ck a Quarter Pounder is.
Marine: Then what do they call it sir?
Kerry: They call it a "Royale" with cheese.
Marine: A "Royale" with cheese. What do they call a Big Mac?
Kerry: Well, a Big Mac's a Big Mac, but they call it "le Big-Mac".
Marine: "Le Big-Mac". Ha ha ha ha. What do they call a Biggie?
Kerry: I dunno, I didn't go into a Wendy's. That hayseed Edwards is the one who likes Wendy's.
Posted by: chris at July 31, 2004 08:38 PM
Thanks again to all who entered!
Look! It's Lindsay Lohan - Hot! Ready! Legal!
And If that doesn't have America's youngsters shoving their hands into their pants pockets and whipping out their wallets then how about the 2004 Hot List: Hip Hop, Sex, Metal, Politics, Rock, Models, Blogs, and Intoxicants!
What more could you want? Record reviews? Got 'em. Movies? Those too. Traffic cancelled their tour, and Van Halen is this week's top artist at the Real Player music store.
No doubt about it - Rolling Stone is every bit as hip and 'now' and cutting edge today as it was in 1977.
And the hard-edge gritty news is there too, Duke, so don't fret. See the little box nestled in Ms Lohan's Hot! ready! Legal! hair? Abu Ghraib - not quite the gonzo approach you'd have taken to the story perhaps, but hey, times change.
In the classified files, some of the photographed soldiers also provide firsthand accounts of the abuses. Pvt. Lynndie England testified that on November 8th -- the evening of her twenty-first birthday -- she went to the Hard Site to visit Spc. Graner, her boyfriend. Just after midnight, seven Iraqi detainees accused of taking part in a fight at one of the many tent compounds used to house prisoners at Abu Ghraib were brought to Tier 1A. For England, the evening was a break from the tedium of her job processing prisoners. For Nori Al-Yasseri, detainee number 7787, it quickly became a "night which we felt like 1,000 nights."
Osha Gray Davidson is no Hunter S. Thompson, certainly no Seymour Hersh; there's nothing really new here and even those details twisted into new shapes aren't really that shocking any more. Perverse, disturbing, disappointing - at least - but the shock is gone. A young woman chooses to spend her 21st birthday brutalizing prisoners? C'mon, Seymour would've alluded to a "Happy Birthday" phone call from Rummy himself, prompting her to trot off to a date with detainee number 7787 and his buds (following a quick reminder not to forget the camera).
But the media-spun version of The Story is fracturing, as details emerge in England's Article 32 hearing this week at Ft Bragg, North Carolina.
"She wasn't even trained as a guard" - an aspect of the story that was made clear when the story line was systemic failure of the institution of the Army. (A part of the Failure to Plan series that forms the foundation of John Kerry's current explanation for voting against funding for equiping the troops.) But she wasn't trained as a guard for a good reason - she wasn't a guard. She was an admin troop out for a good time.
"Just following orders"? She was likely violating orders.
From the Fayetteville Observer's coverage: Chief Warrant Officer Paul Arthur, an investigating officer, testified that England told him the motive for the incidents was to have fun. He described her as calm and cooperative during the investigation. "She was a little nervous, but not enough to cause me any concern." He says she did not think the incidents were very serious.
But here's how the NY Times reported the day's hearings:
An Army investigator, Paul D. Arthur, testified at the hearing today that he believed the reservists from the 372nd Military Police Company, based in Cresaptown, Md., were responding to the stress of being in a war zone.
"It was just for fun, kind of venting their frustration," Mr. Arthur said.
Reads a little different?
Of course, the 'fun' angle would explain why she didn't contact her commanding General:
The general who headed the U.S. military prison at Abu Ghraib said in an interview broadcast Tuesday that there had been a conspiracy to prevent her knowing about prisoner abuse there.
``I have been told there's a reliable witness who's made a statement ... indicating that not only was I not included in any of the meetings discussing interrogation operations, but specific measures were taken to ensure I would not have access to those facilities, that information or any of the details of interrogations at Abu Ghraib or anywhere else,'' Karpinski said. She didn't identify the witness.
Asked whether she believed there had been a conspiracy at senior level to stop her knowing what was going on, Karpinski said: ``Correct.''
``From what I understand ... it was people that had full knowledge of what was going on out at Abu Ghraib who knew that they had to keep Janis Karpinski from discovering any of those activities,'' she added.
Asked whether she thought the conspiracy reached up to the Pentagon or the White House, she said: ``The indication is that it may have.''
The General, by the way, is also one of those folks described as untrained and unprepared in numerous articles explaining this case. A business consultant in civilian life, many reports have noted that she had no experience at running prisons.
If so, then in addition to leadership and command, what was her Army background?
General Karpinski, the only female commander in the war zone, was an experienced operations and intelligence officer who had served with the Special Forces and in the 1991 Gulf War, but she had never run a prison system. Now she was in charge of three large jails, eight battalions, and thirty-four hundred Army reservists, most of whom, like her, had no training in handling prisoners.
And some say that's an oxymoron! (Never did think that was funny...)
GWEN IFILL: And joining me are two men who are well-schooled in the art of how politics and policy intersect: Former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and former Clinton chief of staff Leon Panetta.
Mr. Panetta, which candidate, they're both talking about these issues, which candidate would you say benefits most from headlines, which are dominated by discussions about terrorism?
LEON PANETTA: Any time you have a terrorism threat, any time you have an alert and people are concerned and anxious about their security, generally that would favor the incumbent. It would favor the president.
I don't know that's all that true this time around because you have the 9/11 Commission report, which came out, which indicated that government was responsible for the failure that took place on Sept. 11, and indeed made recommendations as to reforms that had to be taken place.
Wow - Mr. Panetta has read a chapter I haven't - everything else I'd heard or read of the report indicated otherwise; a fair report, to the surprise and delight of many. Of course, he didn't actually just say President Bush was responsible for 911, did he?
And besides that, the President is busy enacting the recommendations of the bi-partisan commission - the group that agreed to stay unified and not "politicize" the issue - even now.
Critics Say Bush's Intelligence Chief Would Be Toothless
WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 - Members of the Sept. 11 commission joined with Congressional Democrats on Tuesday in criticizing President Bush's proposal for creating the job of national intelligence director, saying the plan would not grant nearly enough power to the position.
At first read of the headline I thought they might be suggesting Jimmy Carter for the job, but it turns out they meant they feared the position would be one without power or authority.
But there you have it - nine out of ten Democrats agree, when it comes to threats to America, John Kerry is the man!
Looks like it's Marine Week in Mudville. Results from the caption contest will be up shortly. In the meantime, have a look at some of America's finest in their natural habitat:
Living on a Marine base on the edge of restive Ramadi is a shock to a civilian's senses. It's endlessly dusty and loud; the latrines smell; it's beastly hot. There is no color other than brown, and everyone is armed.
But mostly you marvel at how they go about their days: run with M-16s flapping against their backs for miles at high noon when it's topping 115 degrees just for the exercise; how they wear long sleeves, pants, suede desert boots, 30 pounds of armor and man a gun on top of a Humvee, faces encrusted with dust; how they work at least 12 hours a day, every day, with no days off, under a constant threat of mortars and rockets.
You wonder where they find the energy to play basketball at midnight (the military police do, reliably, every night, sometimes listening to rap, sometimes heavy metal and once Michael Jackson's greatest hits.) How they detach themselves sufficiently from the danger to teach fellow Marines to salsa after dinner. How in the dark of night they practice martial arts to a hypnotic drum beat, lit only by pale green chemlights broken at their feet.
It probably has something to do with the fact most of them seem to be around 20 years old, and many are in a combat zone for the first time - something they actually relish.
"Marines run toward gun fire, not away from it," a senior commander told me.
Read it all.
Blog-like live coverage of the Article 32 hearing of Pvt. Lynndie England, via the Fayetteville (NC) Observer.
An otherwise unexplained entry:
French reporter describes trial Tue Aug 3 12:58:18 2004
A reporter from France, on the phone with a friend: "She is in trouble because she had prisoners and she was naughty."
England, of course, is a central figure in the Abu Ghraib story. The hearing will determine whether she will face a court-martial with a possible maximum penalty of dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 38 years.
Welcome Grace to the MilBlogs Ring?
Not yet. How about a welcome to the world?
Nearly missed an anniversary - 2 Aug 1990 - Iraq invaded Kuwait. Fourteen years? Wow - time flies whether you're having fun or not.
Remember what you were doing when you first heard about the invasion? I do - I was in Japan. But that's another story.
This story is about Fran Davidson's experiences during the Gulf War:
"During the Persian Gulf War, I became acutely aware of how difficult it is to honor families' values when those values are different from mine. In the classroom, I emphasized peaceful resolutions to conflicts and talked often with the children about elements of peace. Most families felt comfortable . . . but when our conversations about peace expanded to include discussions of the Persian Gulf War, some families became uneasy. . . . (Some) families talked about the necessity of war to overthrow oppressors and to protect and free people. . . . This was a really uncomfortable time for me . . . "
As a result of those uncomfortable moments caused by George Bush I's overly macho response to Saddam's visit to a neighboring country, Fran co-authored That's Not Fair! A Teacher's Guide to Activism with Young Children.
Have you heard of it? The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) calls it "an exciting and informative" resource for "developing community-building, deep thinking, and partnership . . . to change the world for the better."
On page 106 of the guide, co-author Ann Pelo details an activism project she initiated at a Seattle preschool after her students spotted a Blue Angels rehearsal overhead as they played in a local park. "Those are Navy airplanes," Pelo lectured the toddlers. "They're built for war, but right now, there is no war, so the pilots learn how to do fancy tricks in their planes . . . " The kids returned to playing, but Pelo wouldn't let it rest. The next day she pushed the children to "communicate their feelings about the Blue Angels."
When I want a broken airplane fixed I'll call Stryker. I'd never argue with him over the best way to fix a busted plane.
I'm not a mechanic, I'd be out of my league
More here (lots more.)
(A good one actually...)
Great entries below in the caption contest. A winner will be announced by mid-week.
In the meantime, in the interest of keeping a fair and balanced website, here are some other responses to the photo:
Ahem: it's no mystery. These people include many violent brainwashed killers, they consume troughs of right wing propaganda, they're xenophobic and racist, they reject nuance like anorexics reject digestion, and, surprise, surprise, they don't like Democrats.
Kerry is pursuing a foolish, self-destructive strategy with his GI Joe routine. The right wingers will never go for him. Meanwhile, he's alienating those of us in the anti-war movement who are tiring of watching him play soldier while Iraq bleeds.
More insightful commentary from the Kerry/Edwards '04 crowd:
I support them, but sometimes it's hard when they insist on working against their own self-interest. I chalk it up to ignorance. Sometimes honest ignorance, sometimes self-imposed ignorance. But ignorance is ignorance.
You call them "ignorant," and yet you "support" them. They bitterly oppose your politics, yet you feel support is the correct attitude. Do you think they support you and your right to dissent, to free speech? Test that theory, some time: tell some soldiers you think them ignorant. Then tell them you "support" them. Then run.
Let's be clear. These guys are going for Bush in a big way--"100 percent," as one boasts in the article--and their political worldview intends to roll over your values and way of life. They're the very muscle of imperialism. We can only pray they won't soon be used to enforce fascism here at home.
Many a New Democrat could do with less sentimentalizing of the military.
Would they do the bidding of George W Bush to attack or imprison our own people? That's a very scary thought that should reinforce the need to have civilian control and a more strict oversight. The Repubs have lead and guided the Marines and our troops in a very dangerous direction.
Indeed. After running and escaping harm, there would not be one left on this board with illusions of "supporting the troops". There are troops who were never eager to go there and are not like these thugs. I support one troop at a time...one at a time as I am made aware of their story. I also loathe one troop one at a time...one at a time as I am made aware of THEIR fascist imperialistic ideals. Person by person...not this jingoistic "the troops" bullshit.
Your point should be a revelation to those who would think on what you have said.
the chimp and a DUer would make "the hostile Marines meet Kerry" look like a love fest. That said, those guys were being rude. And they must be very uninformed or living under a rock if they are unaware of Kerry's military heroics. For his Vietnam service alone, they should have shown the man some respect.
And still more...
How can anyone support a coward and not a man who was wounded 3 times? An aWol coward drunk for 25 years? An aWol coward who never even flew solo but tells everyone he did? An aWol coward who couldn't pass a physical because he was a alcoholic/drug addict. A student who cheated to get D+, C-'s. A commander in thief who sent them out without body armor... Are marines that unaware?
Hope the Marines are unaware of this guy:
The active duty military has been given a pay raise every year since W took office. Last year he gave them 8%.
Plus most of the career military think war is great. They don't care where they are being sent or who they are killing. They are just doing their job and this is what they have trained for most of their lives. War is good for their careers, and combine that with the pay increases, and W looks great from their POV.
At least, this is what one young marine, that I know, told me a couple of weeks ago.
This one's brief:
Bush feeds their addiction to killing.
This one's not:
Remember most of this people that go in the Marines weren't the brightest light bulb in high school. They would make good Nazis. Remember the snipers in Iraq are mostly Marines and they like killing children and killing people so they can't get into hospitals for medical care. I don't have a bit of sympathy for them---hope they're headed somewhere the rest of humanity doesn't want to go to---and they never come back. These are really sick individuals---my brother-in-law is an ex-Marine and is he ever Cheyned-up!
Early this morning this comment was on the site:
I found this site from another site, and just thought id check it out, im not overly conservative, but to your standards thats probably enough to catagorize me as a fascist imperalist baby killer. I support all of our troops, and our President, and pray every night Kerry isnt elected president, as that will mean more fighting, more wars, and more death as our enemies will know how slow and hesitant the dems are to fight, so they will fight us more so. Some of you people make me wanna vomit. where do you think this stuff up? Calling Marines fat. Ummmm, you might hate em, but they arent fat, or out of shape, no matter how stupid you are you cant deny what you see. And Marine snipers killing civilans going to the hospital, WTF? With all the prison abuse being aired all over, how in the hell do you expect them to get away with killing kids and civies in broad daylight? I understand you hate our government right now, and our country, but get real. Comments like the ones here are just stupid, bizzare, out of this world scenarios that could never happen. If you take time to learn anything about the military, its pretty appearent that it requires alot of discipline, hard work, and dedication, something that not many of you know about Id guess. Ive accomplished nothing, and am pretty lazy to be honest, so for people to acheive what our soldiers have and do what they do amazes me, and i respect them all the more for it. Its people like you that make me want to turn off liberal or Democratic speeches and hearings, but not all liberals are as fanatical and crazy as you are. Im actually pretty shocked you people can honestly think this way, in the world we live in with information so avaible its amazing you are as misinformed as you are, its one thing to have a bad opinion, but its another to create fairy tails about why you feel that way. Wake up and come back to reality. Its floors me you can have such hatred toward soldiers, who have and would give their lives for you, all the while you spit on them and bad mouth them. Someone here said how their parents taught them to talk back if they disagreed with something. How is that any different than what he Marines were doing? Obviously they disagreed, but they were polite enough to stifle it. Theyre Americans, they have the right not to like or support Kerry, just like you dislike Bush, i dont see the difference. They dont like Kerry, so why would they help put him in office, nor would you help put Bush into office if you were in a situation like that. This site is absolutely crazy, theres more hatred and militant feelings in here than in any other group or community ive ever seen, about anything. It saddens me people are dying for our country (if you think its right doesnt matter) and you dont have the respect to at least appreciate them. How would you like it if your dad or brother or sister died, and all i could say how f-ng stupid they were, and how they deserved to die, and how i feel no sympathy for their family. thats sad and pathetic, and makes for a pretty sick human being
But that last entry has since deleted by the moderator. Not up to the site's standards.
Democratic Underground has featured this sort of commentary from well before John Kerry's page was ever established. What did he hope to gain from linking himself to them?
(I mean, besides more votes than he'll ever get from Marines...)
Contrary to earlier speculation, al Qaeda chief Abu Musab al-Zarqawi apparently still runs free in Iraq:
Iraq accused al Qaeda ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi Monday of carrying out coordinated car bombings at churches that killed at least 11 people, saying the militants wanted to drive Christians out of the country.
A group linked to Zarqawi also executed a Turkish hostage. In response to the killing and a wave of kidnappings of Turkish drivers, a Turkish truckers' group said it would stop transporting goods to U.S. forces in Iraq.
In a videotape of the Turk's execution shown on Islamist Web sites, a masked man shot the hostage while he was seated. When he fell to the ground, the gunman shot him twice more with a pistol while shouting "God is Greatest."
Those who might be inclined to avoid watching Al Jazeera tonight in fear of seeing that snuff video may not have to worry:
The videotapes arrive by courier at the information desk in the shadowy lobby of the Swan Lake, a fading hotel in Baghdad's battle-pocked downtown that now serves as the Iraqi headquarters for the television channel Al Jazeera.
Chillingly similar, the grainy videos of frightened hostages have become a defining image of Iraq's new violence: tearful pleas for life and masked kidnappers, swords held aloft, laying out their demands.
For Al Jazeera's journalists, who wrestle with how to use the exclusive and often bloody footage, the tapes pose the latest in a string of credibility tests. The current rules go like this: Show the hostages. Don't show beheadings. The slaughter of two Pakistani hostages this week, for example, was deemed too gory ? Al Jazeera broke the news, but kept the pictures to itself.
"It gives me a headache every day we receive a tape," said Ahmed Sheikh, the organization's editor in chief.
We can only imagine the intensity of his pain.
Speaking of pain, if it's the abysmal conditions at Guantanamo that prevent Zarqawi from just surrendering then he might be surprised some day to find quality of life in captivity could be tolerable, if Clive Stafford-Smith has his way:
A REPORT due this week on the treatment of prisoners at Camp Delta in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, contains damning evidence of abuses, according to a human rights lawyer.
?I am ashamed to say evidence will come to light that conditions in Guantanamo Bay are in many ways very similar to Abu Ghraib,? said Clive Stafford-Smith, the lawyer who acted for the Britons ? Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal and Rhuhel Ahmed, all from Tipton, West Midlands ? during their time at Guantanamo.
One source claims that the report, to be published on Wednesday, says many prisoners were denied even basics such as underwear.
When will the humiliation end?
This report from the San Diego Union-Tribune is well worth reading for the details it provides on the activities of Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, in action at Fallujah, Iraq, during the heaviest combat there last spring.
As word of the violence spread, the media gathered for a closer look.
"One reporter said, 'It can't be that bad,' " recalled 1st Sgt. William Skiles, Echo Company's top enlisted man.
"Well," Skiles recalled, "the Armored Assault Vehicle had just stopped to let the media off when the first (assault rifle) rounds flew overhead. Then came the (rocket propelled grenades). There weren't a whole lot of stories filed that day because the reporters were face down in the dirt."
During the encounter, journalists often asked Skiles, 43, of San Juan Capistrano, for information for their reports about the fighting, but he thought they were missing something.
"I kept thinking: What about valor? Why weren't any of the reporters interested in the valor of our Marines?
"All anyone wants to write about is our dead and wounded," he said, thumbing through military papers that included nominations for Silver and Bronze stars.
Read the whole thing.