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Challenging the Generals

August 26, 2007

On Aug. 1, Gen. Richard Cody, the United States Army’s vice chief of staff, flew to the sprawling base at Fort Knox, Ky., to talk with the officers enrolled in the Captains Career Course. These are the Army’s elite junior officers. Of the 127 captains taking the five-week course, 119 had served one or two tours of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan, mainly as lieutenants. Nearly all would soon be going back as company commanders. A captain named Matt Wignall, who recently spent 16 months in Iraq with a Stryker brigade combat team, asked Cody, the Army’s second-highest-ranking general, what he thought of a recent article by Lt. Col. Paul Yingling titled “A Failure in Generalship.” The article, a scathing indictment that circulated far and wide, including in Iraq, accused the Army’s generals of lacking “professional character,” “creative intelligence” and “moral courage.”

Whistle-blowers Face Punishment in Iraq; Contractors Say U.S. Military Jailed, Tortured Them for Reporting Fraud

Whistle-blowers face punishment in Iraq
Contractors say U.S. military jailed, tortured them for reporting fraud

One after another, the men and women who have stepped forward to report corruption in the massive effort to rebuild Iraq have been vilified, fired and demoted.

Or worse.

One Tin Soldier

Mike Gravel: Why Hillary Endorsed the Surge

Why Hillary Endorsed the Surge
by Senator Mike Gravel |

In an attempt to please an audience of veterans yesterday, Hillary Clinton said the surge was "working" and gave a helping-hand to the Bush spin machine, Pentagon dead-enders and right-wing pundits who have already begun to quote her.

Ray McGovern: Bush League War Drums Beating Louder on Iran

Bush League War Drums Beating Louder on Iran
By Ray McGovern

It is as though I’m back as an analyst at the CIA, trying to estimate the chances of an attack on Iran. The putative attacker, though, happens to be our own president.

It is precisely the kind of work we analysts used to do. And, while it is still a bit jarring to be turning our analytical tools on the U.S. leadership, it is by no means entirely new. For, of necessity, we Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) have been doing that for almost six years now—ever since 9/11, when “everything changed.”

Mike Ferner: Former Enemies Find New Way Forward

by Mike Ferner

St. Louis -- A young man from Palestine and another from Israel riveted 400 U.S. military veterans to their seats last week in this city on the Mississippi River. What captivated the audience was their recent decision to put down the guns they’d pointed at each other for years.



There is a self-defeating aspect of our thinking about Iraq. Why can't this government get its people under control? We spend billions of dollars and the lives and limbs of thousands of Americans to support a government that can't govern. So we get frustrated, and we send in more troops, and we put more pressure on the government to institute reforms and to get tough with dissidents, and it only gets worse. How much money do we have to spend, and how many lives need to be lost before it will get better? The answer to the enigma is that it is our support for this government that makes it unable to govern the country. The more money we spend, the more soldiers we send, the more pressure we put on them, the less they are an Iraqi government, and the more they are an American client regime. An American client regime will always create resentment among Iraqis who would prefer not having foreigners run their country. So it is like when you have been given the wrong medicine and the more you take, the sicker you get. Or when you think you are dousing a lab fire with water and you actually picked up the alcohol. The more we push, the less legitimate the Iraqi government becomes. When you add the perfectly normal suspicion of the people in the Middle East that we are there for the oil, and not for their benefit, then you see that the more active we get, the worse our situation becomes. Our American can-do attitude pushes us in exactly the wrong direction. Arrogantly we think that we can solve any problem in the world if we just have the will and spend the resources. The President is preparing the country now for the down-side of our eventual departure. When we leave he will say it was not a faulty policy but a failure of will. As in Vietnam people will argue for decades over whether we could have "won" if we had the will. In me it generates screaming, wall-kicking frustration. (I don't actually scream or kick walls. I write emails.) We would never tolerate another country exerting pressure on our government to implement "reforms." We would never tolerate foreign troops on the ground in the United States. We would never tolerate another government telling us that we should do things like they do. Why do we think that a majority of the Iraqis would want the United States to do all of these things for them? "Don't tread on us either!" In the last few days American politicians have been critical of the Maliki government. Then Thursday President Bush felt the need to shore him up, so he said he supported Maliki. "He is a good guy." We are acting like whether or not we support him matters. That is because whether or not we support him does matter. This makes it more obvious that he is our client and not a patriot with indigenous support. Maliki may be seen as an extension of the Bush regime. (Did you know that when Americans applied for government jobs in Iraq immediately after the fall of Saddam, one of the questions on the questionnaire was, "Do you support the US Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade?). We had the same frustration with the Ngo Dinh Diem regime which we supported in South Vietnam until 1963. We think that when politicians express and support American values (Diem was a Christian, although most of Vietnam was Buddhist) people should support them, because obviously American values are the best, and everyone does or should know that. But leaders of other countries who support American values, for instance a free market economy that allows unfettered access to Iraq oil, look like foreigners to their own people. We might not think that Moslem religious values are more important than a free market economy or majority rule, but in Iraq it doesn't matter what we think. As long as we think it does, we will continue to try to put out a fire with flammable liquids.

White House Manual Details How to Deal With Protesters

White House Manual Details How to Deal With Protesters
By Peter Baker |

Not that they're worried or anything. But the White House evidently leaves little to chance when it comes to protests within eyesight of the
president. As in, it doesn't want any.

A White House manual that came to light recently gives presidential advance staffers extensive instructions in the art of "deterring potential protestors" from President Bush's public appearances around the country.

Iraq Vet Tower Guard Vigil in DC 8/26 - 9/1/2007

Iraq War Veteran Evan Knappenberger, 1st BDE, 4th Infantry Division, will maintain an ongoing vigil on a 6' scaffold on the Mall in Washington, DC as part of a weeklong Tower Guard vigil beginning Sunday, August 26th through Saturday, September 1st.

Knappenberger will hold his 7-day, 24-hour vigil adjacent to the Washington Monument on the National Mall. He will set up the tower between Constitution Avenue and Madison Drive and 14th and 15th Streets, NW (area near National Museum of American History). This action, supported by various organizations including the Washington Peace Center, Iraq Veterans Against the War, and Whatcom Peace & Justice Center, follows a successful 8-day/7-night Tower Guard in Bellingham, WA that garnered extensive media coverage from the AP; all major Seattle TV news networks; Democracy Now! and Air America.

Knappenberger is drawing attention to the US military's STOP-LOSS and INACTIVE RESERVE policies, which he submits are being used as a substitute for conscription in a political war.

"I spent a year in Iraq. I pulled 97 nights on tower guard," explained the 22 year-old intelligence veteran. "Many of the friends I served
with have completed their Active Duty contracts. Now, they're being sent back to Iraq for their third or fourth tours. Tours have been extended from 12 months to up to 18 months. Some soldiers are getting called up after living years of civilian life. Stop-loss is an unethical policy."

While fulfilling his duties, Knappenberger witnessed the full effect of the administration's policies on military personnel and the Iraqi
people, and began to question those policies. He was given a General Discharge under honorable circumstances in April 2007. Now that he is home, he is committed to doing everything he can to represent his fellow soldiers and address the wrongs being done to them and their families.

Iraq War Resisters to Get Boost from Veterans Group

Iraq War Resisters to Get Boost from Veterans Group
By Aaron Glantz | OneWorld US

Members of a leading Iraq war veterans' organization voted this weekend to launch a campaign encouraging U.S. troops to refuse to fight.

The decision was made at the group's annual membership meeting, held this weekend in Saint Louis, Missouri alongside the annual convention of the Veterans for Peace organization.

Pro-Bush Group Spends $15M Defending War

Pro-Bush group spends $15M defending war
By Mike Allen |

A new group, Freedom's Watch, is launching Wednesday with a $15 million, five-week campaign of TV, radio and Web ads featuring military veterans that is aimed at retaining support in Congress for President Bush's "surge" policy on Iraq.

Quakers Undercut Their Own Mission by Not Supporting the Only Presidential Peace Candidate - and It's Done by a Peace Fellow!

The Quaker lobby in Washington, The Friends Committee on National Legislation, won't include the only true peace candidate, Dennis Kucinich, in their compiliation of "Candidates' Positions" flyer.

Here is the Friends' brief mission statement:

We seek a world free of war and the threat of war
We seek a society with equity and justice for all
We seek a community where every person's potential may be fulfilled
We seek an earth restored.

Awfully close to Candidate Kucinich's positions, wouldn't you say? And yet, rather than promoting the singular peace candidate that shares their ideals and goals, the Friends opt for beltway blindness insuring that they hamper their own mission!



Please take a minute to read this message-lots here I want to share with you. Jim and I just got back from seeing an amazing and very disturbing new movie about the Iraq War, entitled No End in Sight. It was just released in local theaters today (we saw it at the Landmark in La Jolla). I encourage you to seek out a theater where it's playing and see it as soon as you can. What an important and powerful film!

Senator Levin (D-MI) Calls for Maliki's Ouster - Urges Iraqis To Replace Leaders

Senator Calls for Maliki's Ouster - Levin Urges Iraqis To Replace Leaders
By Jonathan Weisman | Washington Post

Declaring the government of Iraq "non-functional," the influential chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said yesterday that Iraq's parliament should oust Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his cabinet if they are unable to forge a political compromise with rival factions in a matter of days.

Send This One to Your Congress Critters: The War as We Saw It

The War as We Saw It


VIEWED from Iraq at the tail end of a 15-month deployment, the political debate in Washington is indeed surreal. Counterinsurgency is, by definition, a competition between insurgents and counterinsurgents for the control and support of a population. To believe that Americans, with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is far-fetched. As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day. (Obviously, these are our personal views and should not be seen as official within our chain of command.)

Another U.S. Military Operation, More Unrest

Another U.S. Military Operation, More Unrest
By Ali al-Fadhily* | Inter Press Service

New U.S. military operations across Iraq appear to be worsening the situation.

On Aug. 13 about 16,000 U.S. and Iraqi troops began a massive new military operation north of Baghdad. According to the U.S. military, the goal of the operation, named Lightning Hammer, is to "target insurgents who have fled a crackdown in the restive city of Baquba."

They’re Already Spinning the Surge, and the Media is Buying it.

The pro-war political machine has already started spinning General Petraeus’ much anticipated report a month before its supposed release.
And the network media and NPR have joined in, eagerly following developments like the ways that Obama and Clinton are squirming back to the muddy middle, reasserting their love for war in general, and even conceding that –hey, that darn surge might have worked after all, if it means that I can call it supporting the troops and get your vote in return.

Ted Glick: Ella Baker, Presente!

Ella Baker, Presente!
By Ted Glick

“We who believe in freedom cannot rest

We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes (repeat chorus)

Until the killing of black men, black mothers’ sons

Is as important as the killing of white men, white mothers’ sons (chorus)

That which touches me most is that I had a chance to work with people

Passing on to others that which was passed on to me (chorus)

Powerhouse GOP Firm Working to Undermine Iraqi PM

Powerhouse GOP firm working to undermine Iraqi PM

CRAWFORD, Texas (CNN) -- A powerhouse Republican lobbying firm with close ties to the White House has begun a public campaign to undermine the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, CNN has confirmed.

A report by the U.S. intelligence community quesitons Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's ability to govern.

War Psychiatry and Iraq Atrocities: How Killing Becomes a Reflex

By Penny Coleman, AlterNet
Posted on August 22, 2007

In 1971, Lt. William Calley was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the massacre of some 500 civilians in the Vietnamese hamlet of My Lai. In response to Calley's conviction, Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) convened the "Winter Soldier Investigation." Over a three-day period, more than a hundred veterans testified to atrocities they had witnessed committed by U.S. troops against Vietnamese civilians. Their expressed intention was to demonstrate that My Lai was not unique, that it was instead the inevitable result of U.S. policy. It was a travesty of justice, they claimed, to focus blame on the soldiers when it was the policy makers, McNamara, Bundy, Rostow, Johnson, LeMay, Nixon and the others who were truly responsible for the war crimes that had been committed.

David Swanson Netcast: "Solutions for Peace" this Friday, 8/24, @ 7 PM PST

There will be a live show at on from 7-8pm Pacific time this Friday, August 24. The theme of the show is "Solutions For Peace," and the main solution is impeachment. There will be a short version of the interview I did with David Swanson included in the show. The LONG version will be posted at at that time.

Norman Solomon: Let’s Face It: The Warfare State Is Part of Us

Let’s Face It: The Warfare State Is Part of Us
By Norman Solomon

The USA’s military spending is now close to $2 billion a day. This fall, the country will begin its seventh year of continuous war, with no end in sight. On the horizon is the very real threat of a massive air assault on Iran. And few in Congress seem willing or able to articulate a rejection of the warfare state.

Only Kucinich, Gravel and Richardson Are for Withdrawal

Democrats Candidates on the Iraq Pull-out
By Steven Thomma | McClatchy Newspapersu

Listen to a Democratic presidential candidate talk about Iraq and you'll likely get the bumper-sticker promise to end the war: U.S. troops out, war over.

But most of them don't really believe it should be that neat and simple. What they seldom emphasize as they court anti-war primary voters is that they'd leave at least some U.S. troops "perhaps tens of thousands" in Iraq, or nearby, indefinitely, perhaps for years.

1864 - Twelve nations sign the First Geneva Convention. The Red Cross is formed.

The First Geneva Convention dealt with the rights of wounded soldiers on the battlefield. But, an earlier document, the Treaty between his Majesty the King of Prussia and the United States of America, which was signed on 6 June 1786, recognized the legal rights of Prisoners of War for the first time in history. The signers for the United States were Thos. Jefferson. Paris, July 18, 1785, B. Franklin. Passy, July 9, 1785, John Adams, London, August 5, 1785.

To think George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney know better than Jefferson, Franklin, and Adams!

Cheney's Office Says It Has Wiretap Documents


Cheney's Office Says It Has Wiretap Documents

By Dan Eggen,

Vice President Cheney's office acknowledged for the first time yesterday that it has dozens of documents related to the administration's warrantless surveillance program, but it signaled that it will resist efforts by congressional Democrats to obtain them.

The disclosure by Cheney's counsel, Shannen W. Coffin, came on the day that the Senate Judiciary Committee had set as a deadline for the Bush administration to turn over documents related to the wiretapping program, which allowed the National Security Agency to monitor communications between the United States and overseas without warrants.

White House counsel Fred F. Fielding has also declined to turn over any documents about the program, telling lawmakers last week that more time was needed to locate records that might be responsive to the panel's subpoenas.

The committee's chairman, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), said yesterday that he will pursue contempt proceedings against administration officials if the documents are not produced.

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