Tuesday, April 14, 2009
How Would You Spend It?
This request for U.S. spending in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan has a 20:1 ratio of military to nonmilitary expenditures. $75.5 billion would go to support military operations, while only 3.7 billion would go to nonmilitary assistance.
In Afghanistan, the U.S. spends twenty times more on military operations than on development. The U.S. military currently spends $35 billion a year in the country, nearly $100 million a day: yet USAID spending for 2008 was only $1.6 billion, some $4.4 million a day. A RAND Corporation report says that there is only a 7 % chance of military success in Afghanistan.
Military solutions aren't working. Instead we should be funding refugee assistance, Iraqi-and Afghan-led development, and diplomacy.
USAID Country Profile: Afghanistan: http://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PNADN479.pdf
Caught in the Conflict, A briefing paper by eleven NGOs operating in Afghanistan, April 2009: http://www.afghanconflictmonitor.org/Afghanistan_CaughtInTheConflict.pdf
RAND Corporation report: How Terrorist Groups End: Lessons for Countering Al Qaeda. RAND, 2008: http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9351/index1.html
Supplemental Funding Breakdown: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/assets/budget_amendments/supplemental_04_09_09.pdf
Thursday, March 12, 2009
That is one message that I heard from Michael Schwartz, author of War Without End, when he participated in the discussion on Lessons From Iraq and the War on Terror this past Thursday at the University of Colorado, Denver campus.
(Wasn't that a lesson that we were supposed to get, on the individual level, in Elementary School? At what point do we drop the lessons and pick up the bombs?)
Schwartz also brought up the point that I have heard several times before:
I wanted to write about the thoughtful discussion that was held on the University of Colorado at Denver campus this past Thursday, but I've found that I can't. I took pages and pages of notes. I also took mental notes of my impressions and feelings about what was said and how it was said. A few years ago, I would have written an article from my notes, but something is blocking me right now and I'm going to listen to it.
The people from the University of Colorado at Denver who created this event were kind, wonderful people and it was a great experience to work with them. They brought speakers, students, and the community together for a much-needed discussion regarding the U.S policy in Iraq and the world.
I enjoyed hearing from each of the speakers, and I learned a lot from both Mr. Schwartz and from the Director of Homeland Security. I could see how, if I were in the shoes of Mr. Recca, Director of the Center of Homeland Security in Colorado Springs, I would see the world the same way that he does.
It was all good. I wish that you could have been there.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
What I Learned at Eyes Wide Open
It was about 20 degrees out when we set up the Eyes Wide Open exhibit at the Auraria Campus which serves three schools: Metropolitan State College of Denver, the University of Colorado at Denver, and the Community College of Denver. It never got really warm all day and I am still frozen to the bone.
One of the first visitors that I interacted with at the exhibit was angry. I never figured out what he was angry about, but he was a veteran and he needed to tell his story. I get that. So I listened. And I learned some things. Connecting with that man made all of the lugging of boots and shoes worth it.
But there was more.
We have a sign about the veteran suicides and we place a pair of boots that have been painted white in front of it. These boots represent all veterans who have committed suicide while in the service or afterward. We will never know the number of people this one pair of boots represents. One young man was very, very touched that we remembered those who don't count in the casualty statistics. His friend, an Iraq war vet, killed himself a month ago. His brother, another vet of this insane war, has lost his home and his marriage because of his violence toward his wife.
War is an atrocity that reverberates through families and communities, and the damage will last for generations. How can we do this to ourselves?
I saw another man bent down for a long time in front of a pair of boots . I knew that he must have known the soldier represented by those boots. I heard his sniffles. He tenderly lined up one boot with the other. When he finally left the boots, I asked him if he knew people who had been killed in Iraq. That's when the stories came. The young soldier who was represented by those boots had died only a short time after turning 18. The two were good friends. The man I spoke with was traveling behind the vehicle carrying his friend as it exploded, killing all inside.
There is a tradition in the Army that I still don't understand completely, but soldiers, after a certain amount of combat duty, may be awarded spurs. It is a high honor. At another point, they may be awarded a Stetson hat. These honors come from the tradition of the Calvary. The man that I was just writing about, whose 18-year-old friend died two vehicles ahead of him, had earned two pairs of spurs and a Stetson. While we all shivered among the boots and shoes, he had his girlfriend bring a pair of his gold spurs and he placed them on the boots of his departed friend. It was stunning.
4,257 U.S. soldiers and countless Iraqis.
Isn't it interesting how sadness is so much more bearable when there are more shoulders to help carry the burden?
I hope to have photos from today soon.
I found some information on spurs and Stetsons here.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
6th Anniversary of the Iraq War
Here's the scoop:
Hold Obama accountable for his promise to get us out of Iraq.
4,255 U.S. soldiers dead in Iraq so far. We will never know the number of Iraqis who have lost their lives from this atrocity.
(I not only want an end to this devastating occupation, but I also want the U.S. to make amends for the death and destruction.)
Labels: Iraq War
Monday, November 24, 2008
The Price We Pay
With that amount of money, we could have offered 1,777,367 scholarships to university students for one year, given insurance coverage to over 3 million people for a year, paid the wages of over 178,000 jobs for a year, or supplied over 13 million homes with renewable energy for a year.
But we couldn't do these things. Instead, we funded a war and occupation. We have interesting priorities, don't we?
Find out the price you and the residents of your state are paying for the war (excluding casualties, lost jobs, loss of goodwill, etc., etc.) by clicking here.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
The Eyes Wide Open exhibit is a display with pairs of boots that represent each of our soldiers killed in the Iraq War/Occupation. It also includes many pairs of shoes that represent Iraqi dead. The exhibit used to be national, but it got too big and expensive to move thousands of boots and shoes all over the country, so now it's been divided into an exhibit for each state, each one containing boots representing the men and women from that state who have died in this war.
I worked on the national exhibit when it came to Denver two years ago. On the day that we took the display down, 2,753 of our young men and women had died in Iraq. Nine of our soldiers died just in the two days that the display was up.
Today, 4,193 of our soldiers have died in this occupation, along with 176 soldiers from the U.K., 138 soldiers from other countries, and, of course, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.
Oh. These photos. Remembering... Blessings to all who have died in violence around the world...
Well, after digressing for a few paragraphs, I come to the point of what I wanted to write in the first place (Sheeeesh! I've had no words for days and now ya can't stop me!).
Today another woman and I met with some members of the Amnesty Club of a local High School because they are interested in hosting the Eyes Wide Open exhibit at their school. I don't know what about this touches me the most:
1) This High School is not in the most affluent neighborhood of Denver. Maybe the Eyes Wide Open exhibit will have the ability to open one student's eyes to the cost of war, helping him or her to realize that the price is too high.
2) The young people with whom we met are poised, confident and capable. I have seen this a lot in the youth of today. They are not like anyone that I knew when I was that age. They give me hope.
3) This administration has not allowed us to see the dead and wounded of this war. We can easily live each day not even remembering that our country is involved with fighting and occupying another sovereign nation, killing its citizens and displacing millions. The Eyes Wide Open exhibit is a tiny look into the truth of what is happening. I am proud to be a part of bringing this glimpse of reality to people too young to have seen the carnage of Vietnam, thus they don't know what is being blocked from their view now.
I will probably be writing more about this exhibit as I attend the events that will be occurring at different venues across the state. I know that these experiences will change my life.
If you are trying to figure out how to use up a few minutes of free time - or if you're curious about my posts from the Eyes Wide Open exhibit when it was here two years ago - here are some links to the posts I wrote at that time:
Eyes Wide Open
A photo of the Iraqi shoe display
What Would We Do If Another Country Did This To Us?
People Just Like Us
Boots Tell Haunting Tale Of Losses In Iraq
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
My email friend, Darla, and her friends were there to protest the event. She sent me this article that was written by John Scripsick whose son died in Iraq. In 2005 and 2006, I sat in the bug-ridden heat of Texas with Cindy Sheehan as she waited for answers to her questions. Now I read this grieving man's questions. And I wonder... will anyone in power ever answer these people? How does one sleep at night knowing the pain they have caused millions all over the world?
What Did My Son Die For?
by John Scripsick
Most people will lie or stretch the truth for one reason, and that is money.
My son died in Iraq one year ago, and it has made me study the reasons we went to war, as any parent would do looking into the loss of their child.
President George W. Bush came to Oklahoma City Friday to raise money for Senator John McCain. I think for a donation of $5,000 you got your picture taken with Bush at a beer distributor's house. I was there outside the house but did not attend the fundraiser.
My son joined the Marines to help this country do good. I tried to talk him out of joining, but after 9/11 lots of young men and women joined. One day before his final signing, I thought he was having second thoughts, but Bryan looked at me and said he already gave them his word. I was worried but proud that he was a man of his word.
As time went by, I have seen that President Bush, Dick Cheney, and others are not men of their word. They will lie straight to your face.
I was there on Friday, not to get a picture taken with Bush, but to ask some questions:
How can our government pay $800 to $1,000 a day to Halliburton, KBR, and Blackwater employees, who work for businesses that Cheney has ties to, and only pay our troops $70 to $100 a day?
Is it true that Blackwater, which has cost taxpayers billions to provide security in Iraq, has given generously to your campaign?
Was Enron your largest contributor?
Did a Texas oil company that gave to your campaign drill in the Kurdish region yet?
Did you read the report sent to you in August 2001 about an attack in America coming soon?
Did you pay $5 million to a man from Iraq so he would not talk about weapons of mass destruction (WMDs)?
Did you ignore Iran's offer to infiltrate Al Qaeda after the 9/11 attack?
Did you disregard Joe and Valerie Wilson's knowledge about WMDs and Al Qaeda in Iraq?
How many military leaders, CIA officials and others, have resigned since you have been president?
If you collect enough money, pull a good-looking rabbit out of the hat, and McCain becomes president, do you get a pardon from these questions?
My son died in Iraq on Sept. 6, 2007. Does my asking these questions make me unpatriotic? Did my son die for my freedom. or did he die so Bush could pump money through private contractors and please Republican campaign contributors?
I was sure standing on a corner outside the fundraiser would not get these questions answered. But maybe the right person will hear the message. I do know that doing nothing will produce nothing.
Labels: Iraq War
Monday, June 16, 2008
Plus so many others...
Labels: Iraq War
Saturday, June 14, 2008
This Is My Brain With No Sugar
And my brain is mush. I have screwed up a bunch of things today. Example: I went to the grocery store, selected my VEGETABLES (since that's about all I'm eating right now), put everything on the conveyor belt it so it could be beeped over the noisy scanner, then reached into my pocket to find no $$$, no credit card, nothing but my driver's license and a little lint.
I did stand in the heat out at our Women in Black vigil (I was late because of the above little adventure). We are coming upon three years of standing at this particular vigil.
And the occupation continues.
4,099 U.S. soldiers, many more soldiers from other countries, and countless Iraqis are dead from this atrocity.
I like this quote below (taken from the book Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life by Gregg Levoy):
Mark Dubois once asked a friend of his, a city planner in Moscow who worked as an environmentalist in Mikhail Gorbachev's government, how they could get more people involved in saving the environment.
"First," his friend responded, "I think it is important that one fall in love."
That last line is the answer to almost everything. When we fall in love (and I'm not talking about being in love WITH SOMEONE - even though that can be a part of it, too. I'm talking about being in love, being love), we don't want to harm the earth or any of its inhabitants. And it's not about judging that anything or anyone is worthy of our love, it's just about CHOOSING to love.
Maybe I'll think about this differently once I've fed my sugar-deprived brain some chocolate or something.
But I doubt it.
Henry Louis Mencken
Thursday, June 05, 2008
More Power, Less Love
A secret deal being negotiated in Baghdad would perpetuate the American military occupation of Iraq indefinitely, regardless of the outcome of the US presidential election in November.
The terms of the impending deal, details of which have been leaked to The Independent, are likely to have an explosive political effect in Iraq. Iraqi officials fear that the accord, under which US troops would occupy permanent bases, conduct military operations, arrest Iraqis and enjoy immunity from Iraqi law, will destabilise Iraq's position in the Middle East and lay the basis for unending conflict in their country.
President Bush wants to push it through by the end of next month so he can declare a military victory and claim his 2003 invasion has been vindicated. But by perpetuating the US presence in Iraq, the long-term settlement would undercut pledges by the Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama, to withdraw US troops if he is elected president in November.
The timing of the agreement would also boost the Republican candidate, John McCain, who has claimed the United States is on the verge of victory in Iraq – a victory that he says Mr Obama would throw away by a premature military withdrawal.
No surprises here, although I TRY to maintain hope that our government will, at some point, take the high road.
How do you cure people of the "Love of Power"?
Labels: Iraq War
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Awwww... I'll miss him
White House press secretary Dana Perino said Bush would zero in on one constant -- "that freedom has the power to overcome tyranny and transform societies."
The spin is incredible. While our freedoms are eroding, we're occupying a society that was doing just fine and didn't pose a threat to us. And I don't know who appointed us the transformer of the societies of the world...
Only 237 days...
I hope we do better after that, but I don't believe that a better future is solely dependent on a different prez. We, the people, have to willingly lower our material expectations and increase our skills of interdependence. We have to expect MORE of our leaders. Ahhh... it's been too easy to have low expectations the last eight years...
Thursday, May 01, 2008
Big, fluffy snow is falling here. Very beautiful against the colors that have come out. Pink flowered trees, white flowered trees and all colors of flowers are at their peak right now. The snow adds magic to it all.
In Baghdad, it's about 93 degrees right now. I wonder what it's like to be an American soldier or an Iraqi civilian there today. Five years ago today, it was announced that our mission was accomplished. It's hard to wash out the bad taste that scene left in my mouth.
The temps in Kabul will reach 82 degrees today. Watching the snow outside my window, I wonder what's going on in that country so far away. We hear so little.
I Google "Afghanistan War" and find this:
At a NATO summit in early April, President Bush told the allies the United States would send many more troops to Afghanistan in 2009. He mentioned no numbers, but U.S. commanders say they need at least two more brigades, or 7,500 troops.
Juan Torres, whom I first met at Camp Casey in 2005, has been working on a movie about his son who died rather mysteriously at Bagram AFB in Afghanistan. Read more here. Today I found out that a website has been created for the movie, which is titled Drugs and Death at Bagram. If you visit the site, scroll down to read the story behind the movie.
Juan Torres is one of the sweetest, most humble men that I met at Camp Casey (I've seen him there twice and then in D.C. - he is on a mission). I can only imagine the pain that was caused first by the death of his son and then as Juan dug deep into the cause of his son's death.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Labels: Iraq War
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
And Five Years Ago Today...
No need to repeat the numbers. We all know that this has been devastating for the people of Iraq and it isn't helping our country (except the few that are profiting from it) very much, either.
Labels: Iraq War
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
One Last Post Before I Go
As we near the funeral for the 4,000th U.S. soldier killed in Iraq;
while we continue to resist acknowledging the numbers of soldiers that have committed suicide, the numbers of vets living on the streets and the numbers of Iraqis who have died since we invaded their country;
As the price tag for this war approaches $500 billion dollars (plus the on-going medical and other costs that will go on and on)
I want to acknowledge the suffering that has come about due to this horrendous plan that many powerful people came up with and instigated years ago.
They don't understand. Those that believe in power at the expense of others don't understand that when you harm another, you're also harming yourself - and everyone else.
Or maybe they just don't care.
Rallies for peace will be occurring around the country on the 15th and 16th of this month. I no longer get attached to the thought that the media will give much coverage or a realistic view of the events. But still, it's important to keep community alive and support each other. If you are so motivated, join others in your area as we begin our 6th year of the illegal occupation of Iraq.
The Million Musicians March for Peace in Austin (wish I could be there for that!):
If you want to march, endorse, or volunteer, please register at
Or just show up and play your heart out!
"Hello dearest friends. Greetings to all. This is beautiful and
efficient work you are doing. I will be marching with you in thoughts.
Thank you with all my heart on behalf of my son, and on behalf of our
children, our troops. Thank you for wanting to BRING THEM HOME NOW."
--Gold Star Mom Nadia McCaffrey, mother of Sgt. Patrick McCaffrey,
killed in Iraq.
"Mom, I don't know why we are here. We are not rebuilding anything.
We are not helping anyone. We shouldn't be here."
--Sgt. Patrick McCaffrey, (In a June 16, 2004 email to his mother, six
days before he was killed in Iraq.)
Saturday, January 26, 2008
One Day of the Iraq War
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
Don't Read This! It's Only Me, Trying To Understand Human Behavior. Good Luck to Me!
So much violence in the world
This is what I find interesting: A revered person is killed and even more killing follows. Election results are disputed and that incites mass killings. (3,000 people die in the World Trade Center and wars justified by revenge cause the deaths of even more Americans plus at least a million Iraqis and Afghanis.)
We watched the DVD, Bobby, last week. I could so empathize with a young man in the film who, upon hearing that RFK was shot, seemed to crumble as though it was his own flesh and blood that was murdered. So many of us felt that knock-you-to-your-knees pain when we heard the news. It seemed that hope died that day. I am thinking that there are people in Pakistan who feel like that now that Bhutto is dead.
But not only did that character in the film fall, sobbing, into the arms of the beautiful woman who had hit upon him a short time before Bobby was shot; he also, in his angst, picked up a chair and threw it at the wall. I find it intriguing that we find it normal to display our sorrow by throwing, burning, killing, or acting in some other damaging way.
If I really feel sorrow, I get pretty vulnerable. Sorrow rips open my heart and gut. I guess a way to avoid that vulnerability would be to lash out at something, anything, and feel anger instead of the pain. Anger seems to be a much more acceptable emotion than sorrow. With anger, I'm right and "they" are wrong.
Sorrow stays with me. Anger brings any victims of my acts along with me. Not great karma.
Maybe it is thought that we need anger in order to take action. If we only feel sorrow, we will become crying messes, incapable of righting what's wrong. Ummm... I think that acting from any strong emotion gets in our way of rational, helpful action.
I have no expectations that violence will die a peaceful death this year. Or next.
So at the beginning of this new year, my wish for all of us is that we will have peace within ourselves while we travel together through these interesting times.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Sunday, November 11, 2007
The Marlboro Marine Revisited
From the L.A. Times
To watch a narrated slide-show, click here (It's worth watching, if you have the time).
Two lives blurred together by a photo
Times photographer Luis Sinco made James Blake Miller an emblem of the war. The image would change both of their lives and connect them in ways neither imagined.
By Luis Sinco
Times Staff Photographer
November 11, 2007
The young Marine lighted a cigarette and let it dangle. White smoke wafted around his helmet. His face was smeared with war paint. Blood trickled from his right ear and the bridge of his nose.
Momentarily deafened by cannon blasts, he didn't know the shooting had stopped. He stared at the sunrise. His expression caught my eye. To me, it said: terrified, exhausted and glad just to be alive. I recognized that look because that's I how felt too.
I raised my camera and snapped a few shots.
With the click of a shutter, Marine Lance Cpl. James Blake Miller, a country boy from Kentucky, became an emblem of the war in Iraq. The resulting image would change two lives -- his and mine.
I was embedded with Charlie Company of the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, as it entered Fallouja, an insurgent stronghold in Iraq's Sunni Triangle, on Nov. 8, 2004. We encountered heavy fire almost immediately. We were pinned down all night at a traffic circle, where a 6-inch curb offered the only protection.
I hunkered down in the gutter that endless night, praying for daylight, trying hard to make myself small. A cold rain came down. I cursed the Marines' illumination flares that wafted slowly earthward, making us wait an eternity for darkness to return.
At dawn, the gunfire and explosions subsided. A white phosphorous artillery round burst overhead, showering blazing-hot tendrils. We came across three insurgents lying in the street, two of them dead, their blood mixing with rainwater.
The third, a wiry Arab youth, tried to mouth a few words. All I could think was: "Buddy, you're already dead."
We rounded a corner and again came under heavy fire, forcing us to scramble for cover. I ran behind a Marine as we crossed the street, the bullets ricocheting at our feet.
Gunfire poured down, and it seemed incredible that no one was hit. A pair of tanks rumbled down the road to shield us. The Marines kicked open the door of a house, and we all piled in.
Miller and other Marines took positions on the rooftop; I set up my satellite phone to transmit photos. But as I worked downstairs in the kitchen, a deep rumble almost blew the room apart.
Two cannon rounds had slammed into a nearby house. Miller, the platoon's radioman, had called in the tanks, pinpointed the targets and shouted "Fire!"
I ran to the roof and saw smoldering ruins across a large vacant lot. Beneath a heap of bricks, men lay dead or dying. I sat down and collected my wits. Miller propped himself against a wall and lighted his cigarette. I transmitted the picture that night. Power in Fallouja had been cut in advance of the assault, forcing me to be judicious with my batteries. I considered not even sending Miller's picture, thinking my editors would prefer images of fierce combat.
The photo of Miller was the last of 11 that I sent that day.
On the second day of the battle, I called my wife by satellite phone to tell her I was OK. She told me my photo had ended up on the front page of more than 150 newspapers. Dan Rather had gushed over it on the evening news. Friends and family had called her to say they had seen the photo -- my photo.
Soon, my editors called and asked me to find the "Marlboro Marine" for a follow-up story. Who was this brave young hero? Women wanted to marry him. Mothers wanted to know whether he was their son.
I didn't even know his name. Shell-shocked and exhausted, I had simply identified Miller as "A Marine" and clicked "send."
I found Miller four days later in an auditorium after a dangerous dash across an open parade ground in the city's civic center. Miller's unit was taking a break, eating military rations.
Clean-shaven and without war paint, Miller, 20, looked much younger than the battle-stressed warrior in the picture -- young enough to be my son.
He was cooperative, but he was embarrassed about the photo's impact back home.
Once our story identified him, the national fascination grew stronger. People shipped care packages, making sure Miller had more than enough smokes. President Bush sent cigars, candy and memorabilia from the White House.
Then Maj. Gen. Richard F. Natonski, head of the 1st Marine Division, made a special trip to see the Marlboro Marine.
I was in the forward command center, which by then featured a large blowup of the photo. "You might want to see this," an officer said, nudging me to follow.
To talk to Miller, Natonski had to weave between earthen berms, run through bombed-out buildings and make a mad sprint across a wide street to avoid sniper fire before diving into a shattered storefront.
"Miller, get your ass up here," a first sergeant barked on the radio.
Miller had no idea what was going on as he ran through the rubble. He snapped to attention when he saw the general.
Natonski shook Miller's hand. Americans had "connected" with his photo, the general said, and nobody wanted to see him wounded or dead.
"We can have you home tomorrow," he said.
Miller hesitated, then shook his head. He did not want to leave his buddies behind. "It just wasn't right," he told me later.
The tall, lanky general towered over the grunt. "Your father raised one hell of a young man," he said, looking Miller in the eye. They said goodbye, and Natonski scrambled back to the command post.
For his loyalty, Miller was rewarded with horror. The assault on Fallouja raged on, leaving nearly 100 Americans dead and 450 wounded. The bodies of some 1,200 insurgents littered the streets.
As the fighting dragged on for a month, the story fell off the front page. I joined the exodus of journalists heading home or moving to the next story.
More than a year and a half would pass before I saw Miller again.
Back home, I immersed myself in other assignments, trying to put Fallouja behind me. Yet not a day went by that I didn't think about Miller and what we experienced in Iraq.
National Public Radio interviewed me. Much to my embarrassment, the Los Angeles City Council adopted a resolution in my honor. I became a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Bloggers riffed on the photo's meaning. Requests for prints kept coming.
In January 2006, I was on assignment along the U.S.-Mexico border when my wife called. "Your boy is on TV. He has PTSD," she said. "They kicked him out of the Marines."
I'd spoken with Miller by phone twice, but the conversations were short and superficial. I knew post-traumatic stress disorder was a complicated diagnosis. So once again, I dug up his number. Again, I offered simple words: Life is sweet. We survived. Everything else is gravy.
As the third anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion approached, my editors wanted another follow-up story.
So in spring 2006, I traveled to Miller's hometown of Jonancy, Ky., in the hollows of Appalachia. I drove east from Lexington along Interstate 64, part of the nationwide Purple Heart Trail honoring dead and wounded veterans, before turning south.
Mobile homes and battered cars dot the rugged ranges. Marijuana is a major cash crop. Addiction to methamphetamine and prescription drugs is rampant.
Kids marry young, and boys go to work mining the black seams of coal. Heavy trucks rumble day and night.
Miller showed me around. At an abandoned mine, he walked carefully around a large, shallow pool of standing water that mirrored the green wilderness and springtime sky. He picked up a chunk of coal.
"Around here, this is what it's all about," he said. "Nothing else.
"It was this or the Marines."
Often brooding and sullen, Miller joked about being "21 going on 70," the result, he said, of humping heavy armor and gear on a 6-foot, 160-pound frame.
Before he was allowed to leave Iraq, he attended a mandatory "warrior transitioning" session about PTSD and adjusting to home life.
Each Marine received a questionnaire. Were they sleeping all right? Did they have thoughts of suicide? Did they feel guilt about their actions?
Everybody knew the drill. Answer yes and be evaluated further. Say no and go home.
Miller said he didn't want to miss his flight. He answered no to every question.
He returned to Camp Lejeune, N.C. His high school sweetheart, Jessica Holbrooks, joined him there, and they were married in a civil ceremony.
Then came the nightmares and hallucinations. He imagined shadowy figures outside the windows. Faces of the dead haunted his sleep.
Once, while cleaning a shotgun, he blacked out. He regained consciousness when Jessica screamed out his name. Snapping back to reality, he realized he was pointing the gun at her.
He reported the problems to superiors, who promised to get him help.
Then came a single violent episode, which put an end to his days as a Marine.
It happened in the storm-tossed Gulf of Mexico in September 2005. His unit had been sent to New Orleans to assist with Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. Now a second giant storm, Hurricane Rita, was moving in, and the Marines were ordered to seek safety out at sea.
In the claustrophobic innards of a rolling Navy ship, someone whistled. The sound reminded Miller of a rocket-propelled grenade. He attacked the sailor who had whistled. He came to in the boat's brig. He was medically discharged with a "personality disorder" on Nov. 10, 2005 -- exactly one year after his picture made worldwide news.
Back home in Kentucky, the Millers settled into a sparsely furnished second-story apartment. Four small windows afforded little daylight. The TV was always on.
Miller bought a motorcycle and went for long rides. He and Jessica drank all night and slept all day. He started collecting a monthly disability benefit of about $2,500. The couple spent hours watching movies on DVD, Coronas and bourbon cocktails in hand. Friends and family gave them space.
Miller had hoped to pursue a career in law enforcement. But the PTSD and abrupt discharge killed that dream. No one would trust him with a weapon.
But at least he didn't have to go back to Iraq. He started to realize he wasn't the only one traumatized by war.
"There's a word for it around here," Jessica said. "It's called 'vets.' " She talked of Miller's grandfather, forever changed by the Korean War and dead by age 35. Her Uncle Hargis, a Vietnam veteran, had it too. He experienced mood swings for years.
Sometimes, Miller's stories about Iraq unnerved his young bride. He sensed it and talked less. Nobody really understands, he said, unless they've been there.
On June 3, 2006, the Millers renewed their vows at a hilltop clubhouse overlooking the forests and strip mines. It was a lavish ceremony paid for by donors from across the country who had read about Miller's travails or seen him on television. Local businesses pitched in as well.
His father and two younger brothers were supposed to be groomsmen but didn't show up. His estranged mother wasn't invited.
Miller looked sharp in his Marine Corps dress uniform of dark-blue cloth and red piping. Jessica was lovely in white, her long hair gathered high.
Instead of a honeymoon, the young couple traveled to Washington, D.C., at the invitation of the National Mental Health Assn. The group wanted to honor Miller for his courage in going public about his PTSD. Its leaders also wanted him to visit key lawmakers to share his experience.
As a boy, Miller confided, he had embraced religion, even going so far as to become an ordained minister by mail order. He knew the Bible verses, felt the passion for preaching.
That's how he found his new mission: to tell people what it was like to come home from war with a broken mind.
Three days after their wedding, I tagged along as the young couple flew to the nation's capital. Easily distracted by the offer of free drinks for an all-American hero, Miller stayed out until 3 a.m. He was hung over when he met with House members a few hours later.
Miller chatted up GOP Rep. Harold Rogers, the congressman from his district. He smoked and frequently cursed while recounting his combat experiences. I cringed but stayed on the sidelines, snapping photos.
Miller shuffled from one congressional office to the next, passing displays filled with photos of Marines killed in Iraq. As he told his story over and again, the politicians listened politely and thanked Miller for his service. One congressman sent an aide to tell Miller he was too busy to meet. No one promised to take up his cause.
After Miller picked up his award, he took a whirlwind tour past the White House and Lincoln Memorial, but his mind was elsewhere. At a bar the night before, free booze had flowed in honor of the Marlboro Marine. Miller wanted more.
"Let's get drunk," he said.
I returned to Los Angeles the next morning, thinking I would catch up with Miller in a couple of months.
A week later, Jessica called. After they got home, Miller's mood had become volatile. He was OK one minute and in a deep funk the next, she told me. Then he'd disappeared. She hadn't seen him for days.
Could I come to Kentucky and help?
Why me? I thought. I am not Miller's brother. Or his father. I could feel the line between journalist and subject blurring. Was I covering the story or becoming part of it?
I traveled all night to get to Pikeville, Ky., and soon found myself with Jessica, making the rounds of all the places Miller might have gone. I wanted to be somewhere else -- anywhere else.
Finally, the next morning, Jessica saw her husband driving in the opposite direction. She did a U-turn, hit the gas and caught up with him down the road.
He got out of his truck. A woman sat in the passenger seat.
"Who is that, Blake?" Jessica demanded. "Who is she?"
He said her name was Sherry. They had just met, and he was helping her move. Jessica didn't believe him.
I thought: Didn't I attend this young couple's fairy tale wedding just 10 days ago? Now, here they were, in a gas station parking lot, creating a spectacle.
Jessica grilled Miller. He bobbed and weaved. He appeared sober and sullen. Then he dropped a bomb. He didn't want her anymore and had filed for divorce.
"You guys might want to go home and talk," I suggested.
There, the tortured dialogue escalated.
Jessica pleaded with Blake to stop and think. They could quit drinking, she said. They'd get help for him and as a couple. Maybe they could move away -- anything to work it out.
Miller slumped on the couch. I sensed his unease and feared he would become violent, so I stayed for a while even though I felt intrusive. But Miller remained strangely calm, albeit brooding and distant.
I returned the next morning. He called his attorney and put the phone on speaker. If uncontested, the lawyer said, the divorce would become final in 60 days. Jessica went to the fire escape to gather herself.
Miller remained unmoved, chain-smoking. The local newspaper had been calling him about rumors that he was getting divorced. It was a major local story. Finally, he wrote a statement. He asked for compassion and respect for their privacy.
The next day, I found Miller in a back bedroom at his uncle's house. He told me that he had come close to committing suicide the night before, when he thought about driving his motorcycle off the edge of a mountain road.
He showed me the morning newspaper. His divorce was the lead story.
I felt torn. I didn't want to get involved. I desperately wanted to close the book on Iraq. But if I hadn't taken Miller's picture, this very personal drama wouldn't be front-page news. I felt responsible.
Sometimes, when things get hard to witness, I use my camera as a shield. It creates a space for me to work -- and distance to keep my eyes open and my feelings in check. But Miller had no use for a photojournalist. He needed a helping hand.
I flashed back to the chaos of combat in Fallouja. In the rattle and thunder, brick walls separated me from the world coming to an end. In the tight spaces, we were scared mindless. Everybody dragged deeply on cigarettes.
Above the din, I heard what everybody was thinking: This is the end.
I've never felt so completely alone.
I snapped back to the present, and before I knew it, the words spilled out.
"I have to ask you something, Blake," I said. "If I'd gone down in Fallouja, would you have carried me out?"
"Damn straight," he said, without hesitation.
"OK then," I said. "I think you're wounded pretty badly. I want to help you."
He looked at me for a moment. "All right," he said.
(Thank you to Walt on the Camp Casey list for the heads-up on this article.)
Saturday, October 27, 2007
The People Speak
My friend, Darla, lives in Oklahoma and asked that I post this on my blog. Reading that two of the speakers at this rally were men whose sons recently died in the war, I feel a lot of admiration and sadness. Admiration for the courage it takes to make a stand against the violence - especially when one's grief is so raw - and sadness that so many young men and women all over the world die and suffer because a few powerful people want more power.
PV father to speak out on Iraq war
A grieving Pauls Valley father is expected to be a featured speaker at a weekend event in Oklahoma City focused on ending the war in Iraq and bringing American troops home.
John Scripsick, father of Marine Cpl. Bryan Scripsick, who was killed last month while serving in Iraq, will speak at the event meant to call for the end of the war.
The demonstration entitled "End The War Now - National Day of Action" is set to go from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27 at the northeast corner of the intersection of N. Meridian Ave. and Northwest Expressway.
Scripsick will be one of two Oklahoma "Gold Star" fathers to speak.
The demonstration will take place in Oklahoma City in solidarity with United For Peace and Justice, who is hosting massive regional demonstrations and other actions around the country, according to organizers.
"Regional and local events on Saturday may bring out millions of Americans calling for our troops to come home," said Nathaniel Batchelder, director of the Peace House in Oklahoma City.
"The people of this country know this war is wrong and it must stop," said media representative Darla Shelden.
"On Saturday, from many cities but in one voice, we will send a clear and unified message: end this war, bring the troops home and fund our communities instead of this immoral war."
The two Gold Star fathers whose sons died in Iraq will be speakers calling for an end to the war.
"I just want to spare other parents what our family has gone through," said Warren Henthorn of Choctaw, who lost his son, Jeffrey, during his second tour in Iraq.
The event will include music by special guests, The Electric Primadonnas, drumming by Jahruba, signs, petitions, and post cards to be sent to members of Congress.
Those attending are encouraged to attend, bring signs, drums, lawn chairs and "let their voice be heard."
For more information about the Oklahoma City event go to the Peace House website http://www.peacehouseok.org/ or for the protests in the 11 other cities across America go to Oct27.org, or unitedforpeace.org
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
It's Hard to Look at the Blood on our Hands
Thursday, October 18, 2007
I Live in the Wrong State
Go Representative Pete Stark!
"You don't have money to fund the war or children," Stark declared. "But you're going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president's amusement."
Now that's my kind of guy!
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Most People Want Us OUT of Iraq
Well, it looks like waving our little signs for an hour (plus all of your sign-waving and blogging - you're to blame, too, ya know) must've had an impact on the world, because a majority of people from 22 countries who answered a BBC poll said that they think the U.S.-led forces in Iraq should pull out.
Or maybe, just maybe, those polled don't believe that we should be in Iraq because they know we went there based on lies. And maybe the people across the world that want us out really care about the innocent lives that are taken daily as a result of our power and greed.
Half of the people polled also think that we will keep a permanent military presence in Iraq. I'm one of those who believe that, and I'd like to be proven wrong.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
And who even knows how many more Iraqis will be dead by then? The American people are never told.
Last year, I would fast for 36 hours every time the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq reached another 100 point. I haven't done that this year, because of health issues, but I am ready to start again tomorrow.
I am not willing to go to Iraq and kill. That would be against everything that I believe. But I am willing to feel uncomfortable while my brothers and sisters who live in every corner of our world suffer.
There's that great story of the mother bringing her kid to Gandhi and saying, "Please tell my son to give up sugar." Gandhi said, "Come back in a week." The mother left perplexed. A week later, she came back and Gandhi said to the kid, "Give up sugar." The mother said to Gandhi, "Couldn't you have told him that last week?" Gandhi replied, "No, because I hadn't given up sugar last week."
Saturday, August 11, 2007
What's Goin' On?
This is Carol reporting alive from Lakewood, Colorado. I just left the scene of the weekly Women in Black Vigil which was held here today, as it is every Saturday, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
The hour started out with a large woman in a car passing by with a "thumbs down" gesture. I interviewed a member of the Women in Black group, whose name also happens to be Carol, to find out her reaction.
"I try to understand how anyone, but especially how a woman - who may have given birth to beautiful children; who may be married to a man she loves - can have a negative response to the word 'Peace'. Women are the bearers of life, and to want to put their flesh and blood in harm's way; to allow her offspring or husband to kill another woman's offspring... I do really try to understand this way of thinking...", she explained.
As the hour progressed, a middle-aged woman made her way to the vigil bearing ice cold drinks for the vigilers. These were not the usual bottles of water. These drinks came in many flavors. As she dropped off the bag of bottles, the woman told the vigilers, "God bless you."
Standing in the hot sun, I witnessed many waves, thumbs up, peace signs, and honks of appreciation. Twice, young men shouted their disapproval of a man named Bush - one of them wanted him out of office. The other was not so nice.
Shortly before the end of the vigil, a truck stopped at the stoplight in front of us. On the side of the vehicle were the words, "When Trucking Stops, America Stops", and the sign on the back revealed an American flag surrounded with "There's Only One". A voice from inside yelled angrily, "My daughter is over there fighting so that those pieces of sh** can stand there!"
I asked Carol if she had any last words for me.
"War is not the answer. Only love can conquer hate. You know we've got to find a way to bring some lovin' here today. What's goin' on?", she replied.
Monday, August 06, 2007
Just When We Thought We Were Winning the War on Terror...
Some say that these weapons are now being used against U.S. soldiers.
And our tax money paid for this.
Between our new and improved spying laws and our bungling of this occupation, among other things, it only gets worse, doesn't it?
Two Years Ago
When Cindy asked me if I wanted to go to Texas, I had to refuse, because I was already getting ready to leave for MA for my husband's family reunion. I remember that, while I was there, I kept up on Cindy via the news on the internet. She quickly went from an unknown grieving mother to a national figure.
And W never took even a few minutes to talk with her. I think that it would've done him some good - both as a human and as a prez who needs all the positive ratings he can get - to have met with Cindy and listened to her pain.
By the time I got to Crawford on August 21st, Cindy was gone to be with her mother who had had a stroke. I didn't get to meet Cindy during that trip. But I did meet her the following Easter. (If you have nothing better to do, you can read about my Crawford trips in my August, 2005 and April, 2006 archives.)
Cindy and I are no longer in contact. I stay up-to-date on what she's up to and I admire her energy and focus. I hope that she wins her run for Congress.
Two years ago, when Cindy went to Crawford, 64 per cent of Americans did not believe the war was making us safer and 61 per cent did not approve of the prez's handling of the war.
Today, W has a 29 per cent approval rating and more than 7 in 10 people polled think that we should bring the troops home by April.
He STILL has not met with Cindy and he continues to ignore the people of this country.
A week and a half ago at Carolyn's trial, a potential juror said that if we don't like the prez or the war, we change things in 2008 by voting in that election. By following that logic, do we keep our child in a classroom with an abusive teacher until the next grade? Do we allow our kids to watch a sick and violent television show until the next season when we know the television schedule will change? When someone is destroying things, we stop them!
It's been two years since Cindy sat in that hot Texas ditch. When she settled into her spot by the road, almost 2 1/2 years into the war, 1770 U.S. soldiers had died. Now, two years later, 1900 more have given their lives, along with hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis. (Then there's the damage to the Iraqi infrastructure, the exodus of refugees, the injured Iraqis and Americans, the loss of respect for our nation in the world... and on and on...)
W won't answer. Only history will show for what noble cause these lives were taken.
Saturday, July 28, 2007
The Verdict is in
Denver Post article here.
Carolyn was charged with trespass and illegal assembly for sitting in Representative Udall's office in March. She, along with four others, were reading the names of Coloradoans who have died in Iraq, along with the names of many Iraqis who have died. After ten minutes of doing that action, she and the others were asked to leave. They refused, so the police were called. I need to say that activists had been sitting in the office for two days before that and that about 60 people had been coming in and out of the office, on this March day, in order to deliver their letters of concern regarding the war.
To save you the suspense, I'll let you know the verdict first. This was a verdict delivered by a six-member jury.
Illegal Assembly charge: Not Guilty
Sentence (ordered by the judge):
365 days in jail and a $1000 fine.
I'll write some of my observations and thoughts about the trial later. It is time to go to the Farmer's Market to buy my first big box of organic peaches this season.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
We All Would Be Different With Different Parenting, Community, Leadership
He and his buddies killed a middle-aged Iraqi man, who was dragged from his home, marched 1,000 yards and shot 11 times. Prosecutors said the Marines tried to cover up the killing by planting a shovel and an AK-47 by the man's body to make it look like he was an insurgent planting a bomb.
"We failed him as a Marine Corps, because under good leadership, this Marine would not be here today," Maj. Haytham Faraj told the court. "Consider where the responsibility lies."
It may be true that, under good leadership, Thomas wouldn't have done what he did. So, is anyone going after the leadership where the responsibility lies? I haven't found out anything about that yet.
But what about anyone else who murders - or robs or rapes? Are they any different? Are they responsible for their actions or does the responsibility lie with leadership (from parents to the community to the prez)?
Just wonderin' what the difference is...
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Or Face the End of Constitutional Democracy
By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS
07/17/07 "ICH ' -- -- Unless Congress immediately impeaches Bush and Cheney, a year from now the US could be a dictatorial police state at war with Iran.
Bush has put in place all the necessary measures for dictatorship in the form of "executive orders" that are triggered whenever Bush declares a national emergency. Recent statements by Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff, former Republican senator Rick Santorum and others suggest that Americans might expect a series of staged, or false flag, "terrorist" events
in the near future.
Many attentive people believe that the reason the Bush administration will not bow to expert advice and public opinion and begin withdrawing US troops from Iraq is that the administration intends to rescue its unpopular position with false flag operations that can be used to expand the war to Iran.
Too much is going wrong for the Bush administration: the failure of its Middle East wars, Republican senators jumping ship, Turkish troops massed on northern Iraq's border poised for an invasion to deal with Kurds, and a majority of Americans favoring the impeachment of Cheney and a near-majority favoring Bush's impeachment. The Bush administration desperately needs dramatic events to scare the American people and the Congress back in line with the militarist-police state that Bush and Cheney have fostered.
William Norman Grigg recently wrote that the GOP is "praying for a terrorist strike" to save the party from electoral wipeout in 2008. Chertoff, Cheney, the neocon nazis, and Mossad would have no qualms about saving the bacon for the Republicans, who have enabled Bush to start two unjustified wars, with Iran waiting in the wings to be attacked in a third war.
The Bush administration has tried unsuccessfully to resurrect the terrorist fear factor by infiltrating some blowhard groups and encouraging them to talk about staging "terrorist" events. The talk, encouraged by federal agents, resulted in "terrorist" arrests hyped by the media, but even the captive media was unable to scare people with such transparent sting operations.
If the Bush administration wants to continue its wars in the Middle East and to entrench the "unitary executive" at home, it will have to conduct some false flag operations that will both frighten and anger the American people and make them accept Bush's declaration of "national emergency" and the return of the draft. Alternatively, the administration could simply allow
any real terrorist plot to proceed without hindrance.
A series of staged or permitted attacks would be spun by the captive media as a vindication of the neoconsevatives' Islamophobic policy, the intention of which is to destroy all Middle Eastern governments that are not American puppet states. Success would give the US control over oil, but the main purpose is to eliminate any resistance to Israel's complete absorption of Palestine into Greater Israel.
Think about it. If another 9/11-type "security failure" were not in the works, why would Homeland Security czar Chertoff go to the trouble of convincing the Chicago Tribune that Americans have become complacent about terrorist threats and that he has "a gut feeling" that America will soon be hit hard?
Why would Republican warmonger Rick Santorum say on the Hugh Hewitt radio show that "between now and November, a lot of things are going to happen, and I believe that by this time next year, the American public's (sic) going to have a very different view of this war."
Throughout its existence the US government has staged incidents that the government then used in behalf of purposes that it could not otherwise have pursued. According to a number of writers, false flag operations have been routinely used by the Israeli state. During the Czarist era in Russia, the secret police would set off bombs in order to arrest those the secret police
regarded as troublesome. Hitler was a dramatic orchestrator of false flag operations. False flag operations are a commonplace tool of governments.
Ask yourself: Would a government that has lied us into two wars and is working to lie us into an attack on Iran shrink from staging "terrorist" attacks in order to remove opposition to its agenda?
Only a diehard minority believes in the honesty and integrity of the Bush-Cheney administration and in the truthfulness of the corporate media.
Hitler, who never achieved majority support in a German election, used the Reichstag fire to fan hysteria and push through the Enabling Act, which made him dictator. Determined tyrants never require majority support in order to overthrow constitutional orders.
The American constitutional system is near to being overthrown. Are coming "terrorist" events of which Chertoff warns and Santorum promises the means for overthrowing our constitutional democracy?
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions. He can be reached at PaulCraigRoberts@yahoo.com
Saturday, July 07, 2007
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
"Destroying human life in the hopes of saving human life is not ethical, and it is not the only option before us," said Bush.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Who names these things?
And how much do they get paid to do it?
If a soldier dies in Operation Arrowhead Ripper, will he/she have more prestige than, say, if he/she just died in a nameless fight?
"The end state is to destroy the Al-Qaeda influences in this province and eliminate their threat against the people," said US commander Brigadier General Mick Bednarek.
How does a soldier know who is a member of al-Qaeda so that only those people are "eliminated"? When I work in my garden, I can identify each weed and each vegetable plant. Do al-Qaeda members wear name-tags so that they can be identified?
Labels: Iraq War
Sunday, June 17, 2007
He's Coming Home!
Today, he leaves to come home. After four years and two deployments. First to Iraq, then to Afghanistan. At one point, he sat in a Humvee in the middle of the night for hours with his friend whose head was blown away. A twenty year old. Sitting for hours in the middle of the night, not knowing who was around and who would come get him - people on "his side" that would help, or those from the "other side" that would do the same to him as they had done to his friend.
That's the stuff nightmares are made of.
But that happened during his first deployment - in Iraq - and he would have to tempt fate again by going to Afghanistan.
His mom has worked and stood vigil to bring him and the others home. She has raised money to supply the troops with body armor. She spoke to crowds, to representatives, to senators - more than she ever would've chosen to had she not had a mission. She has cried and laughed and held her breath for four years.
I cry as I write this. I don't know if they are tears of joy or relief or sadness at the pain of it all. Maybe it is that big All Of It.
There is really nothing about this war that I can find to enjoy, be happy about, or appreciate.
But Andy is coming home today. Alive.
Happy Father's Day, Frank.
And Happy Belated Mother's Day, Gaye.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Look Into His Eyes
What will Seif think of the U.S. when he grows up? Will he think that we are the wonderful people who liberated his country and gave it democracy? Or will he hate us for creating the conditions that took his parents away from him?
Will he live long enough to figure out that this war has not been about democracy, but about U.S. power and profit? And what will he do with that understanding?
(Photo: Wathiq Khuzaie / Getty Images)
Labels: Iraq War
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Labels: Iraq War
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
MFSO Families Inspire Change
DeGette will also co-sponsor Rep. David Obey's (Wisconsin) legislation that will have the troops home by June of next year. (Unfortunately, more than 800 troops will die between now and then and an unknown number of Iraqis will be victims of the devastation that we started there.)
Article and video on Channel 4, Denver (watch for my friend, Gaye who I went to Camp Casey with. We also held a Bake Sale for Body Armor together. Her son is coming home REAL SOON!).
Thank you, Gaye, Vrnda, Pam, and other MFSO members!
Monday, June 04, 2007
We Fight Them Over There...
And our innocent children won't have to endure the same traumas and deaths that their innocent children have to suffer.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Sunday, June 03, 2007
Adam was honorably discharged after serving in Fallujah and is a member of the Inactive Ready Reserves.
Tomorrow he will attend a hearing for his participation in anti-war actions, especially this one: Bringing the War Home.
From Sargeant Kokesh Goes to Washington:
The implications of this hearing may be far reaching, as the prosecution of a member of the inactive reserves under these circumstances is unprecedented. At stake is the right of freedom of speech for the hundreds of thousands of members of the Inactive Ready Reserve, as well as the nation's right to get the unbiased truth out of Iraq. Last week, the prosecuting attorney, Captain Sibert, offered Kokesh a general discharge. To accept this would be to allow the Marines to say that members of the IRR do not have freedom of speech, so naturally, he declined.
Even the head of the VFW has spoken up about how ridiculous this is.
"Trying to hush up and punish fellow Americans for exercising the same democratic right we're trying to instill in Iraq is not what we're all about," said VFW head Gary Kurpius. "Someone in the Marine Corps needs to exercise a little common sense and put an end to this matter before it turns into a circus."
Saturday, May 26, 2007
I appreciate that Obama and Hilary voted against the bill, but I would like to hear clear ideas from them regarding the next step.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Friday, May 11, 2007
And Speaking of Ambiguity...
Thursday, April 26, 2007
A Thousand Pictures
3 standing tall and proud in the background
3 crouching in the foreground
6 Marines posing in Fallujah, supposedly the "Graveyard of Americans".
6 young, strong men with battle hardened countenances.
6 marines in great health posing with rifles, deep in enemy territory.
How brave they look, how American.
They can go to any country in the world, kick ass and take pictures to show the folks back home what their tax dollars are paying for.
That picture of my buddies and I, is forever in my mind, yet slightly changed.
Private Perez was killed by a car bomber at a vehicle check point.
There's only 5 Marines in the picture now.
Sergeant Silva lost the use of his left leg after a rocket attack and now is addicted to painkillers and booze.
There's only 4 Marines in the picture now.
Lance Corporal Dubois joined the Marines to help conquer his heroin addiction. After 3 years clean and sober, he came home from Iraq a broken man, and turned back to heroin. He overdosed two months after we got back.
There's only 3 Marines in the picture now.
Corporal Allen's stress and emotional problems got the better of him and he started beating his wife and children. 2 years after Iraq he's in prison, without a family.
There's only 2 Marines in the picture now.
Private First Class Anderson got dishonorably discharged for drug use 5 months after we came home. Rather than turn to his family for help, he wanders the streets of southern California, begging for money, food, work.
There's one Marine left in the picture now, and it's me. Am I still alive?
I might be physically breathing, but I'm dying inside. So really there aren't any Marines in that picture and without those Marines it's just a picture of a shattered city in a devastated country.
Thursday, August 31, 2006
Blessed are the Peacemakers
Mark Wilkerson has been AWOL since January of 2005 when his unit was to be deployed to Iraq for a second time. He is now turning himself in at Ft. Hood. He joins many other members of the military, like Ehren Watada, and Katherine Jashinski, in standing against this war. My deepest respect and gratitude to these people who face harsh punishment by taking a stand against the U.S. occupation of Iraq. I hope that you'll visit his site. If you are so moved, I hope that you will support Mark and all members of the military in whatever way you can.
Some quotes from Mark Wilkerson:
"And I say this to every member of our Congress and our senate, and even our president: Don't leave any soldier behind. Give them the help and support they need, because you sent them there."
"I am turning myself in as a war resistor, a person who not only disagrees with the current administrations policies, but war in general. I am nervous, I am scared, but I am going in with my head held high, knowing that what I did was right. Sometimes doing the right thing is not a popular decision in the eyes of others. Sometimes you just need to do what you need to do to the right thing."
"I joined the military with honorable intentions, and I still feel honor in my heart. I love my country; I want no one to doubt that. I am unsure of what actions and punishments will be placed on me for my decision. I am scared, but I go with peace in my heart and hope for the future- not only my future, but the country's future as well. This is a difficult and scary time for our country, but hopefully in the end, peace will rule this great land. John F. Kennedy once said that war will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today. I look forward to that day. There comes a time in a person's life when they must do the right moral decision for themselves, doubtless of how popular that decision is in other's eyes, or what others feel about it. While I would not consider myself a very religious man, I do believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ. I would like to share two passages from the bible. The first - from Psalms Chapter 33, verse 5: Seek peace, and pursue it. The second from Matthew chapter 5, verse 9 - Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God. I believe that through my actions, I am doing my best to live by the values stated in those quotes. Thank You"
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Bush's Next Reason For War in Iraq
2) No, it is because of the weapons of mass destruction.
"Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent."
State of the Union Address
January 28, 2003
"Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."
Address to the Nation
March 17, 2003
3) Oh, now I remember! It's to liberate this poor country from a brutal dictator and bring democracy to them. They must've asked us for this; after all, there are many other countries that are not under a democracy – why Iraq?
And today, reason # 4: We are there to protect Iraq's oil fields from terrorists!
From the today's Boston Globe:
Bush gives new reason for Iraq war
Says US must prevent oil fields from falling into hands of terrorists
By Jennifer Loven, Associated Press August 31, 2005
CORONADO, Calif. -- President Bush answered growing antiwar protests yesterday with a fresh reason for US troops to continue fighting in Iraq: protection of the country's vast oil fields, which he said would otherwise fall under the control of terrorist extremists.
MR. BUSH, YOU'RE GETTING CLOSER! Keep tryin', we'll believe ya sometime.
Labels: Iraq War