GI SPECIAL 4D7:
Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
walks atop this Wall and weeps,
I hear him
say, ‘These were my sons.’
of his tears fall silenced,
are washed in the Potomac,
And it runs
red with waste!
Pilates of the new Rome,
history on full automatic."
and caption from the I-R-A-Q (I Remember Another
Quagmire) portfolio of Mike Hastie, US Army Medic,
Vietnam 1970-71. (For more of his outstanding work,
contact at: (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Power At Fort Sill:
Slays Its Own:
Coward, Worthless Piece Of Stinking Dog Shit
after, a soldier who’d been sitting on watch at the
mental ward, whom deVarennes nicknamed Pvt. Gopher,
committed his own small act of defiance in front of
Drill Sgt. Langford and was ordered to "take a knee",
meaning to genuflect. As he'd recently had knee
surgery, he told Langford that he wasn't able to do
that, whereupon the drill sergeant kicked his legs out
from under him, sending him to the floor screaming. A
first sergeant on the scene ordered the others to turn
away, and just as at Abu Ghraib; told them they didn't
April 5, 2006 By JoAnn
No IED, no
insurgent force, no lurking Talib killed 21-year-old PFC
Matthew Scarano sometime between 9 PM Saturday and 4:45 AM
Sunday, March 19.
He wasn't in Iraq or
Afghanistan or even, despite his rank and year-plus of
service, in the United States Army, at least as full
membership in that force is officially construed.
Matthew Scarano died in his
bunk, in the barracks of Bravo Battery 95th, Fort Sill,
Oklahoma, but he was as surely a casualty of the War on Iraq
as any of the 2,318 US soldiers killed in action.
In 2005 he
had injured his shoulder during basic training, and on March
1 of that year entered the netherworld of Fort Sill's
Physical Training and Rehabilitation Program, or PTRP.
More than a
year later he was still there, no closer to being healed but
still subject to the restrictive rules and routine
humiliations associated with basic training, still plagued
by what he described in an e mail of March 7, 2006, as
"chronic, piercing and sometimes debilitating pain".
The Army considered PFC
Scarano a trainee; he and the 39 other soldiers in PTRP at
Fort Sill considered themselves prisoners.
where the Army, desperate for bodies in a time of war, puts
broken enlistees whom it is committed neither to cure nor to
release, nor even to respect as soldiers and human beings.
There they are warehoused, in
anticipation of the time they manage to recuperate, pass the
grueling PT (physical training) test and can be sent to
battle; or fail the test, try again, fail again, stumble
through the bureaucratic labyrinth until the point they are
chaptered out or medically discharged.
All were injured in basic
training or advanced individual training and so have yet to
be granted "permanent party" status in the Army, even those
who have been in service for six months or longer, when that
status is supposed to be automatic. In military hierarchy
this makes them lower life forms, which is how they've been
treated at Fort Sill.
before Scarano's death, the inspector general at Fort Sill
had been forced to undertake an internal investigation of
the program for assault and abuse of soldiers, inadequate
medical attention, command irresponsibility and overall
list (which I should note is unofficial) they may now add
negligence and wrongful death.
As of March 20, the Army
wouldn't comment on its investigation or on what killed
Scarano, but in the week prior, his comrades in the PTRP
barracks say, Army doctors had doubled the dose of his pain
medication, Fentanyl, an analgesic patch 80 times more
potent than morphine, whose advertised possible side effects
include difficulty breathing, severe weakness and
On the night of March 18,
according to Pvt. Richard Thurman, Scarano appeared quite
pale and weak. The soldier, however, had been in the program
for so long -- longer than anyone else in terms of
continuous service -- and was often so visibly suffering or
so drugged up as to drool and gaze vacantly that his
infirmity on this particular night did not cause special
Shortly after lights out, at
9, Pvt. Clayton Howell noticed that Scarano was lying on his
bad shoulder and turned him so he would not be in greater
pain when he awoke. At that time Scarano was breathing.
came on the next morning and everyone else had risen from
their bunks, Howell again went to Scarano; by then he was
happened next typifies the trapped situation of injured
soldiers at Fort Sill's PTRP.
handed Pvt. Thurman a cell phone, saying, "Call your mom."
He didn't say, Call the medic, or the chaplain, or the
sergeant, or anyone on post. Phoning at all meant breaking
the rules, as did having a cell phone, contraband for
soldiers in PTRP. Thurman crouched in a corner and amid the
near-panic of the barracks hurriedly dialed his mom, Pat
an apprentice dog groomer who lives near Sarasota, Florida,
is about the only person the PTRP soldiers can confidently
regard as their advocate.
concerned for the well-being of her son Richard and the
other men, she began posting reports on a web log she set up
called onlyvolunteers.blogspot.com. As a result of those
reports and her relentless appeals to Fort Sill's Public
Affairs Office, inspector general, others in the Army and
her Congressman, Connie Mack (whose office initially told
her there was nothing it could do), the aforementioned
investigation was begun in February.
By March 5 some changes,
notably the removal of a sadistic drill sergeant, the
introduction of a Medical Center liaison to monitor the
troops' medical needs, the suspension of punishing physical
tasks and the restoration of weekend on-post passes, had
been instituted. At a briefing with relatives and friends
at the start of Family Weekend on March 10, the Fort Sill
cadre were all smiles, assuring the soldiers' loved ones
that PTRP was a "work in progress" and that each man would
get the individualized treatment or therapy he needed.
Now talk of
reform and progress sounds empty, the corpse of PFC Scarano
the latest accusation against an Army up to its ears in
complaints of abuse, dehumanization, torture and worse.
As deVarennes wrote earlier on
her blog in "An Open Letter to members of the cadre who
can't stop laughing and to those who claim to have no
knowledge of any abuse": "I'm beginning to understand a
great deal more about how (the tortures at Abu Ghraib) must
have come to happen. It all starts when you have no loyalty
or compassion for your own men, your own soldiers."
Before reviewing the most
egregious abuses recently visited upon injured recruits at
Fort Sill, it is necessary to understand the benchmark for
normal at PTRP.
As deVarennes neatly puts it,
"Imagine basic training that never ends."
By the old Army standard, the
nine weeks of basic training will "break you down to build
you up". Lately there have been some changes in that
approach, driven by Army psychologists who reckoned that
breaking the spirit accomplishes little beyond creating
emotional wrecks or sadists. No longer are new recruits
regularly addressed as "ladies" or "shitsacks" or subjected
to the "shark attack" of drill sergeants screaming top
volume into their ears on the bus the moment they arrive.
But the regimen of absolute control and arbitrary rules is
unchanged, which is why it is time-limited and why even the
most hardened soldier will tell you, "Hell, no, I wouldn't
want to do it again".
In PTRP, where soldiers have
been stuck for months, time seems to have been stopped. The
men live in long, narrow barracks that can sleep 42 in bunk
stand in formation, on crutches, in pain, four times a day
in all kinds of weather, sometimes for 20 minutes to an
hour, at the drill sergeant's pleasure. They may not smoke,
drink, look at porn, go off post, have sex, have soda from a
machine or have any food except during set mealtimes. They
may not have cell phones or laptops, may use approved
electronic devices only at certain hours, and must compete
to use the outdoor pay phones in the 35 minutes to an hour
that is allowed after dinner. On weekdays, they may not go
anywhere on post except with permission and an escort. At
times they have been impressed to enjoy "mandatory
entertainment" -- a Southern rock concert, the Superbowl,
processed into PTRP, they are not given individualized
therapy plans, and doctors at the Medical Center are too
stretched to have much time for them, so they use a gym and
may sit in a windowless closet-like room to apply ice, but
until recently had no sustained medical guidance.
They must carry canteens for
no other reason -- because these are disgusting and no one
drinks from them -- than to advertise their low status.
Their dining hall is festooned
with nutrition posters that would suit an elementary school.
The bathroom in the auditorium they sometimes use is filthy
and looks as if it's been decorated by a deranged Martha
Stewart, with an Americana wall strip of Teddy bears, apple
pies and the flag. Elsewhere, walls are dominated by rugged
propaganda posters, battle scenes, life-size blow-ups of
soldiers and invocations to "Live the Army Values".
Periodically the PTRP barracks
is subject to what its drill sergeants call a health and
welfare check, "better known as a shakedown", says Pvt.
Thurman. Drill sergeants enter the bay, ordering the men to
empty their drawers and lockers. Bedding is stripped,
mattresses upended, vent covers unscrewed.
During one of these routines,
Thurman, who's been in PTRP since November of 2005, was
discovered to have a pack of cigarettes and a lighter and
was given an Article 15, or nonjudicial punishment, and a
fine of $270. Almost everyone who's been in PTRP for any
length of time has received an Article 15 for something.
Although the cadre says only
"motivated" soldiers are accepted into PTRP, that toys as
much with truth as saying everyone in the Army is a
volunteer. Soldiers injured in training cannot
un-volunteer. They cannot say, "On second thought, I'd
rather not ruin my leg" or ankle or back or shoulder, and go
After he was seven months in
the Army, doctors discovered that Pvt. Thurman has flat
feet, once an automatic disqualifier, but Pvt. Thurman
cannot leave. He actually completed basic training and
advanced individual training in November. At the time he
had stress fractures in his ankle, and because he couldn't
run as required for the final PT test, a post doctor
prescribed an alternate walking event.
graduated with ceremony, but that same day the Army changed
its mind. An officer pulled him and two other soldiers
aside and told them walking wasn't good enough and they were
being sent to PTRP; there, to satisfy formal requirements,
the three were "ungraduated".
forma questioning Thurman had been asked if he wanted to go
inquiring officer wrote on his file, "Soldier is
unmotivated", and "Soldier is cleared for administrative
action", meaning nonjudicial punishment or court martial.
"Lack of motivation is a
punishable offense in the US Army", Thurman says, so the
cadre's job is to talk soldiers into motivation.
They threatened Thurman with
being recycled back to day one of basic training. After
eight months in PTRP another soldier, who had completed
eight weeks of the nine-week basic course before he was
injured, opted to do just that to get out of this supposed
rest and rehab program.
an area you can be in. If you leave that area without
permission you can go to jail", Thurman explains. "You have
people over you with unquestioned power, and your daily life
is at their will. Everything's a privilege."
phone is a privilege. Going to the PX on the weekend is a
privilege. And as in prison, privileges can be taken away.
The culture breeds tormentors and tattle-tales among the
inmates -- soldiers who haze their comrades, who report on
others for piddling infractions like drinking a Coke from
the soda machine for the imagined benefit that might bring
being here to being incarcerated", Scarano wrote to
deVarennes less than two weeks before his death. "And it
often helped during the bleaker points in PTRP history to
think of it as such: I'm far from being any kind of expert
on the subject, but perhaps it was a psychological
self-defense mechanism to try to perceive what was going on
as being punitive in nature."
soldiers have been ordered not to speak of events that are
part of the ongoing investigation, so as not to jeopardize
it, but enough was put on the public record earlier via
deVarennes' blog to indicate that punishment and not therapy
or rehab was in fact the program.
What follows is drawn from her
a Drill Sgt. Langford was put in charge of the soldiers at
PTRP, and he arrived spitting vinegar, telling the men, as
deVarennes recaps, "You're worthless, you're malingerers,
you're scared, you're useless, you're not soldiers".
addressing men keenly aware of their failure, he picked at
the scab of vulnerability. He cancelled their weekend
on-post passes, confining them to the small area around
their barracks, and ordered that on weekdays they could not
sit on their beds except during the three hours of free time
from 6 PM to 9 PM. He assigned them jobs around the post,
which while aggravating some of their injuries at least gave
the soldiers one place where they are treated as responsible
In January, before the first
Family Weekend, the drill sergeant ordered the men to clean
and wax the floor of their barracks. After they did it
once, moving the heavy bunks and wall lockers in and out of
the room, he declared the job inadequate and ordered that
they get down on their knees with small scrapers and remove
every speck of old wax. Out and in went the furniture
with a herniated groin dared not slack off in the moving
operation lest he and everyone else incur extra abuse for
another drill sergeant, by the name of Bullock, decided to
have some fun with the soldiers and give them a taste of
sleep deprivation, ordering them to line up in formation
outside every hour from 10 PM to 2 AM. After each line-up
they could not simply fall on their bunks fully dressed for
the next time because he ordered that they present
themselves in different apparel.
sleep medication were pulled from their beds by their
comrades and hustled into line, since if everyone did not
appear at formation, everyone would be punished.
At the most
recent Family Weekend, Drill Sgt. Bullock was still on
premises, still wearing his Smoky the Bear hat, still in
apparent good standing.
was receiving word of these abuses, deVarennes was
trying to get someone to care. Rep. Connie Mack's
office told her Richard would have to fill out a form
before it could act, and since that was impossible, the
door slammed. John McCain's office sent her a form
letter saying he'd need something in writing from
Richard. John Kerry's office never replied at all, which
was the most common response she got from members of
Then an injured soldier simply
lost it. He'd been in PTRP for several months, was declared
healed and sent upstairs to the Fitness Training Unit, or
FTU, where uninjured soldiers who couldn't pass the PT test
go through exercise drills to pass it.
But his injury prevented him
from doing the required exercises, and in the hopelessness
of the situation he cut himself up, smeared himself with
excrement and marched out of the barracks naked except for
his socks and boots. He was packed off to a mental ward for
a few days and put on suicide watch. He is now awaiting a
discharge, though after his freak-out the Army gave him one
more chance to fail just to assure itself that he wasn't
The soldier's breakdown shook
the others in PTRP, and that night Pvt. Thurman called his
mother and said, "You've got to find a way to help us."
a soldier who'd been sitting on watch at the mental ward,
whom deVarennes nicknamed Pvt. Gopher, committed his own
small act of defiance in front of Drill Sgt. Langford and
was ordered to "take a knee", meaning to genuflect. As he'd
recently had knee surgery, he told Langford that he wasn't
able to do that, whereupon the drill sergeant kicked his
legs out from under him, sending him to the floor screaming.
A first sergeant on the scene ordered the others to turn
away, and just as at Abu Ghraib, told them they didn't see
some of them had tried to report abuses to the medical
center, to mental health counselors, to highers-up. Now
they'd been ordered to shut up, meaning any action they
might contemplate would be in direct violation of an order.
Pvt. Thurman was not aware of
his mother's blog at that point, and after hearing from him
she decided caution was the way to catastrophe.
no longer afraid", she told me, "because I felt that at
the moment that assault occurred, the dice were rolling
for all of these guys. I thought, 'The lunatics are
running the asylum, so I have to do everything I can do,
and if I have to go by God trooping around and getting
arrested outside the Fort Sill gates, I will do that.'
At that point I felt nobody's kid was going to be any
safer for not saying anything -- on the contrary."
Apart from her own posts, she
spent $300 in ads on other popular websites, and, as she put
it, "the hits kept coming".
It is illegal for a drill sergeant to strike a soldier, but
Langford was not arrested. It is illegal to cover up a
crime, but the first sergeant remains in his position.
Langford was removed as a
drill sergeant; he "lost his hat", as they say on post.
Whether he suffers any further indignity or punishment
depends on the outcome of the current investigation.
Yet for all
this intervention, PFC Scarano still perished.
The inspector general did not
know about the death until deVarennes e-mailed him. The
base commander didn't know until Monday. On that day, a
spokeswoman at Fort Sill's Public Affairs Office said she
couldn't tell me anything about the soldier's death "because
I've never heard of that person". In death as in life, this
soldier didn't count for much in the Army.
In his March 7 e mail to
deVarennes, thanking her for "becoming our champion when no
one else would", he wrote:
"My injury is degenerative and
"I was lied
to about surgery, as were many others, and it was brought to
the attention of the Inspector-General that the medical
community had been telling us that we face courts-martial or
severe forms of non-judicial punishment if we declined the
surgery suggested to us by the doctors here at Fort Sill.
This has since been demonstrated as a bald-faced lie.
"I was told
that I'd receive arthroscopic shoulder surgery initially,
which had little chance of success, and when that failed I
would receive a full shoulder replacement, after which my
left shoulder would be essentially disabled for the rest of
little rudimentary research into the subject revealed that
there are countless other, infinitely more promising options
available to me in the civilian world, which I choose to
explore, instead of being a guinea pig to a medical system I
have no faith in, whatsoever.
the same medical system which has botched surgeries and
performed procedures without the patient's knowledge. I
guess their rationale is that up until recently, the
patients, in our case, were under the impression that we had
virtually no input in the matter, anyway.
"I've recently been told, by
our case worker, that I'm getting an MEB (Medical Evaluation
Board hearing) but as of now my consultation is pending.
I've heard no further word yet but am hopeful that as a
result of the controversy caused by the attention garnered
by your blog, I'll be out of here soon. I am a casualty of
a broken system; I fell through the cracks of the
bureaucracy that is the system which all of us must go
am a living symbol of the failure of the system and after
having been ignored for so long, despite trying to raise as
much attention as I could, I might finally be able to get on
which my adult life after spending over a third of it in
PTRP, deprived of everything from being able to be with my
family, to fundamental physical needs such as sleep and
recuperation from my injury, to the basic human freedoms and
creature comforts which I will never again take for
Scarano was working on a more
formal document right before he died, trying to understand
cognitive dissonance, the psychological process of
accommodating when what one knows or believes to be true
collides with a contradictory reality.
At Family Weekend in March,
Private Howell who has been in and out of PTRP for fourteen
months, gave deVarennes a paper he was working on, compiling
the complaints of Bravo Battery and reflecting on his own
Toward the end of it, he
"For the initial 9 weeks of
basic training I can understand the hazing and ruthless
treatment, but not for over a year.
“I used to be able to cope by
listening to music, calling people on a hidden cell phone,
or talking to my friends in the bay. But now they will no
longer let me talk to my friends or listen to music on the
radio, and they found the hidden cell phone and confiscated
it. If I was just able to do anything to mentally get away
from this place I would. Just to forget who I am and what I
am doing day in and day out. An hour or two of
disassociation is the only way I was able to put up with the
meaninglessness and mindless bullshit and torment of being
here 'on duty' 16 hours a day.
way to describe my life is sorrow, loathing, spitefulness,
depression, and endless torturous misery. Nobody is willing
to help improve our treatment or listen to our complaints.
"I joined the army to make a
difference and to help other people. Now I am being held
prisoner, doomed to a fate worse than death.
“At one point I know I had a
purpose. At one point I know I cared. I do not know when I
lost it and if I will be capable of ever possessing it
again. I do not think I have shown any of the army values
for a very long time. I believe I projected the image that
I cared for many months and it was just an act; but it was
all that I could do. I am being set up for failure and have
been for weeks.
“The fact that this unit will
not follow regulations does not inspire hope or willingness
to comply with any orders or any of their bogus policies.
In my opinion none of the cadre show any of the army values
to any of the soldiers here. That is just my opinion and I
may not see the whole picture.
“On exodus (the name for
Christmas break) I came back with renewed motivation that I
have not had since basic training. Drill sergeant Frazier
and Langford managed to snuff out all of my hope and drive
within the first few days we were all back.
"I will try to do my best, but
I cannot manage a positive thought for very long. The army
values did mean something to me at one point even though it
is just propaganda on paper.
“I have always known it was
just propaganda, but they are a good base for morals if
people would lead by example.
“In conclusion I hope this
paper reaches somebody and they read it in whole and are not
too judgmental. I also hope I can improve myself and the
situation that I am in. Perhaps I can be what they want me
to be. Perhaps I can fulfill my enlistment and be
productive, but that is not realistic.
“And it is not what I really
want; all I want in this world is to be anywhere but here.
that I have permanent physical and psychological damage from
this place. If I could describe this place in 2 words it
would be 'Malevolentia Imperium.'
Malevolentia: Latin, malevolent; having or exhibiting ill
will; wishing harm to others; malicious. Having an evil or
Imperium: Latin, can be translated as 'power'. In Antiquity
this concept could apply to people, and mean something like
'power status' or 'authority', or could be used with a
geographical connotation and mean something like
It is estimated that 15
percent to 37 percent of men and 38 percent to 67 percent of
women sustain at least one injury due to the rigors of basic
Fort Sill's is believed to be the worst, the Army has PTRP
units also at Fort Knox, Fort Jackson, Fort Leonard Wood and
Soldier Killed In Beiji
April 6, 2006 The Associated
was killed Thursday when an explosive detonated near his
vehicle in Beiji.
Hit By IED In Ramadi:
Iraqi children around the
wreckage of a humvee at the scene of a roadside bomb April
6, 2006 in Ramadi. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)
patrol was struck by a roadside bomb south of Ramadi, the
U.S. military said. There were no reports on the number of
Too Few Dead & Maimed U.S. Troops To Suit Them?
Commanders Unroll Fresh Blind Stupidity:
Pick A Fight With Heavily Armed & Well Organized Sadrist
Apr 6, 2006 Deutsche
governor of Karbala said Thursday that he was ceasing
cooperation with US troops due to the arrest of 16 Karbala
residents who were transfered to an undisclosed location on
In a meeting Thursday governor
Akeel al Khazaali told the chief of US troops in Karbala,
general Don Hugh that 'US forces must respect our bilateral
agreements and ensure that this violation is not repeated.'
In light of
the arrests, Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr distributed a
written statement in Karbala stating: 'US forces are
attempting to provoke us so as to lead the Sadrist movement
into a confrontation with the purpose of attacking us.'
Sadr also called on the Iraqi
government to push for the 16 detainees to be released.
PLACE TO BE:
ALL HOME NOW
American soldiers secure the
site of a roadside bomb explosion April 5, 2006 in Baghdad.
(AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
Rahman Sayedkhail, chief of Parwan province, about 40 miles
north of Kabul, said a mortar landed a little more than half
a mile from the main gate at Bagram
Air Base, north of the
capital, Kabul, and destroyed a truck delivering food to
U.S. military personnel there.
THIS IS HOW
BUSH BRINGS THE TROOPS HOME:
ALL HOME NOW
The casket of U.S. Army
Warrant Officer Steven Shephard, 30, is carried to the
graveside service in Purcell, Okla., July 6, 2005. Shepard
was one of two pilots killed in an Apache helicopter that
crashed June 27 in Iraq. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
SPREAD THE WORD
Sir! On ABC Show
From: David Zeiger
Sent: April 06, 2006 1:16 PM
Subject: Sir! No Sir! on Ebert
"Sir! No Sir!" will be one of
the films featured and reviewed on the ABC show "Ebert and
Roeper at the Movies" this weekend.
local listings for the time and day it airs in your area.
friends, spread the word, fire up the TIVO, and don't miss
the current list of theatrical openings of "Sir! No Sir!"
Keep checking our web site for openings in your area, as new
bookings are coming in daily. http://www.sirnosir.com
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Sir!" combines exceptional artistry and insightful analysis
with great story telling. This is no facile agitprop piece,
but a careful dissection of a growing military rebellion
that permanently altered American society, but has largely
been forgotten. International
Nominated for the Independent
Spirit Award for Best Documentary
Audience Award Best
Documentary--Los Angeles Film Festival
Jury Award Best
Documentary--Hamptons International Film Festival
Jury Award Best Film on War
and Peace--Vermont International Film Festival
Nominated for a Gotham Award
and International Documentary Association Award
3421 Fernwood Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90039
like Bush, Cheney, Rice, and all of the others who
continue supporting this war, are not just repeating the
mistakes from 40 years ago. Every day when they wake up
and do the same thing, they are repeating the mistakes
of last week and of yesterday.
From: Diane Rejman
To: GI Special
Sent: April 05, 2006 12:44 AM
Subject: Lessons Not Learned
Speech given at an anti-war
rally in Palo Alto, CA, commemorating the third anniversary
of the start of the war in Iraq:
Rejman is a member of Veterans for Peace, Chapter 101 in San
Jose. She served in the US Army from 1977-80.
She holds an MBA from Thunderbird, the American
Graduate School of International Management, and is listed
in Who's Who in America. She can be reached at:
I led the
crowd in the chants representing the messages of the day:
"US out of Iraq!"
"Bush out of Washington!"
Isn't it heartbreaking that
our country hasn't learned from history? That we don't
learn from our mistakes?
ago, things weren't all that different:
"US out of Vietnam!"
"Nixon out of Washington!"
Last month I visited Vietnam
with Global Exchange. That war is not yet over for the
The legacy of our war on them
is still visible.
In the early part of my trip,
I told a fellow traveler that the civilian massacre at My
Lai was not an anomaly, that our troops routinely destroyed
villages all over Vietnam. She replied, "I hope that's not
Later in the trip, we were
told that in Quang Tri province, in the center of the
country along the demilitarized zone, of the 3,000 villages
there only 11 were left standing by the time the Americans
left. We also learned about the potential millions of
pieces of unexploded ordnance such as land mines and cluster
bombs, left behind by Americans, that continue to kill and
maim innocent civilians.
Just three weeks before our
arrival, an elderly couple was killed when a mine,
deteriorated by age and weather, went off under their house
while they were sleeping.
At one point, our tour bus was
traveling south of Hanoi, through the beautiful countryside
full of rice fields. The fields stretch out to the horizon,
and I saw Vietnamese people working in them, bent over
planting the rice piece by piece.
I saw what looked like fish
ponds all over. I asked our tour guide about them. He
said, "Those aren't fish ponds. They're bomb craters."
(remnants of the US bombing raids)
Our tour guides made a point
of telling us that Vietnam, a third world country, had
successfully fought off occupying forces of three permanent
members of the UN Security Council - China, France, and the
decades, they came under attack by the most sophisticated
weapons available. They fought back with some weapons
captured from the French (and paid for by the US), with
bicycles and bamboo, and their hearts. When you're fighting
for the soul of your country, you don't need B-52 bombers
and WMDs to win.
look at what's happening in Iraq. They, too, are fighting
for the soul of their country. And their weapons are much
If we lost
to a country fighting us with bicycles and bamboo, how could
we possibly think we can win against a people fighting with
IEDs and rocket propelled grenades? How can we possibly
believe we can win?
learn from history.
The most difficult parts of my
trip were the visits to the military museums. In three
museums - two in Hanoi and one in Ho Chi Minh City, there
are displays of American aggression. There are displays on
the use and effects of Agent Orange, napalm, bombings,
burning villages, and massacring civilians. The horror of
these images is overwhelming.
I felt glad
the Vietnamese drove these people out.
for me then surfaced because "these people" were
representatives of my country.
And then in the nearby rooms
were posters commemorating things like the 2,000th American
plane shot down. Parts of these planes are on display,
along with photos of airplane parts being pulled from lakes,
and of American pilots being taken prisoner.
How was I
supposed to feel? These were Americans being shot down and
taken prisoner. But they were the aggressors, destroying a
population and a country. Destroying people who had done
nothing to us. We are doing the same thing in Iraq.
We are bombing and destroying
hospitals, schools, markets and homes. If you hear anybody
say, "I hope that's not true," assure them it is! I've
heard similar museums have already been built in Iraq
reflecting damage done during Desert Storm by weapons such
as depleted uranium, which we are still using.
We train our young people to
commit these atrocities. And now our soldiers are returning
home from Iraq with the same kind of psychological turmoil
US soldiers from Vietnam still suffer with.
No - we have not learned from
Bush, Cheney, Rice, and all of the others who continue
supporting this war, are not just repeating the mistakes
from 40 years ago. Every day when they wake up and do the
same thing, they are repeating the mistakes of last week and
learn how to learn from history and stop repeating these
for the US to get out of Iraq.
troops home NOW! Alive and in one piece!
have a friend or relative in the service? Forward this
E-MAIL along, or send us the address if you wish and
we’ll send it regularly.
Whether in Iraq or stuck on a base in the USA, this is
extra important for your service friend, too often cut
off from access to encouraging news of growing
resistance to the war, at home and inside the armed
Send requests to address up top.
Tells Press He Is Brain Dead
April 6, 2006 Washington Post
Secretary Rumsfeld said he
doesn't know what Condoleezza Rice was referring to when she
said last week that the U.S. had made thousands of "tactical
errors" in handling the war in Iraq.
Sylvia, The New Face Of Terrorism
[Thanks to NB, who sent this
06 April 2006 By Nigel Morris
and Jonathan Brown, The Independent (UK)
grandmothers from Yorkshire face up to a year in prison
after becoming the first people to be arrested under the
Government's latest anti-terror legislation.
Helen John, 68, and Sylvia
Boyes, 62, both veterans of the Greenham Common protests 25
years ago, were arrested on Saturday after deliberately
setting out to highlight a change in the law which civil
liberties groups say will criminalise free speech and
further undermine the right to peaceful demonstration.
Under the little-noticed
legislation, which came into effect last week, protesters
who breach any one of 10 military bases across Britain will
be treated as potential terrorists and face up to a year in
jail or £5,000 fine. The protests are curtailed under the
Home Secretary's Serious Organised Crime and Police Act.
expressed their outrage yesterday at Charles Clarke's new
law, which they say is yet another draconian attempt to
crack down on legitimate protest under the guise of the war
last year a protester in Whitehall was convicted for merely
reading out the names of British soldiers killed in Iraq.
And at the Labour Party
conference in September the Government suffered severe
embarrassment when Walter Wolfgang, a veteran peace activist
who survived the Nazis, was detained for heckling Jack
and Mrs Boyes, who have 10 grandchildren between them, were
held by Ministry of Defence police after walking 15ft across
the sentry line at the United States military base at
Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire.
They were held for 12 hours
before being released on police bail. They will learn
whether they are to face prosecution when they return to
Harrogate police station on 15 April.
"We thought this was a really
important issue and we just had to challenge it," said Mrs
John, who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize last year.
Mrs Boyes, who was cleared by a jury at Manchester Crown
Court in 1999 of causing criminal damage to a British
nuclear submarine, said: "I am quite willing to break the
law and prepared to be charged and to go to prison. The
Government thinks it can do whatever it wants and that it
has a passive public which accepts whatever it throws at it.
I find it very worrying."
The women, who have been
arrested more than a dozen times between them, went equipped
with a hammer and a small pair of bolt cutters as well as
placards declaring their opposition to the new law.
They had prepared statements
denouncing United States military policy and expressing
their support for the people of Diego Garcia and the Chagos
Islands, who were evicted from their homes to make way for
US military bases.
restrictions will be announced soon on selected non-military
sites such as royal palaces and government buildings. The
Ministry of Defence said the sites had been chosen because
they had been the scene of regular protests. A spokeswoman
said: "Persistent activity by protesters places them at risk
of being mistaken for terrorists. It also
unnecessarily diverts police resources ... People will still
be allowed to protest outside sites. This legislation is
about keeping police focused on the job they are paid to
Chakrabarti, the director of Liberty, said: "When does a
peaceful protester become a trespasser? In a free society,
when does he become a criminal? In Britain in 2006, only one
man - the Home Secretary - will now decide instead of
Parliament and the court. Just when our politicians lament
the demise of participatory democracy they increasingly
criminalise both free speech and protest."
Mrs John described the new law
as a "kick in the teeth for the Magna Carta" and said the
need for opponents of the Government to take direct action
was greater now than ever.
have seen two million people standing in Hyde Park and
Tony Blair had no compunction in ignoring them. Even
though there are huge numbers of people who oppose what
the Government is doing, the only effective protests
have been where direct action is taken. We have to
demonstrate at the bases where the killing capacity
exists - we have to attack it at source. These are the
eyes and ears of the US war fighting machine and they
are on our soil."
Clarke's announcement military police only had the power to
escort protesters off the military sites and prosecute them
for civil trespass.
April 5 (Reuters) & April 6,
2006 The Associated Press & Al Bawaba 7 Reuters
A policeman was killed by
guerrillas while he was heading to work in Hawija, police
A translator with Polish
troops was killed and his nephew wounded on Monday by
guerrillas wearing police commando uniforms in Diwaniya,
In Kirkuk, assailants killed a
policeman near his house late Wednesday, police said.
One bomb went off near a
police patrol in western Baghdad, killing a policeman and
wounding five, officials said. A second bomb exploded when
another group of police arrived at the scene, injuring two
North of Baghdad, an Iraqi
army patrol was also hit by a roadside bomb, killing one
officer and wounding five soldiers outside the city of
A car bomb also exploded near
a joint patrol of Iraqi army and U.S. troops west of
Baghdad, killing seven, one of them an Iraqi policeman, the
Iraqi army said. The attack took place in Amiriyat
al-Falluja area southwest of Falluja.
Guerrilla fighters seriously
wounded a captain in the Iraqi army in the eastern part of
Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.
DON’T LIKE THE RESISTANCE
Iraq Is Not
In Civil War;
The dichotomy between continued occupation and civil war
leaves the anti-war movement speechless as neither
alternative is desirable. It must be remembered,
however, that this dichotomy is as much a fiction as the
many others that have sought to justify the American
March 31, 2006 LAITH AL-SAUD,
of the war must be sensitive to what it means to say Iraq is
in civil war.
that Iraqis are an enemy to themselves, not the occupational
recently, every time the possibility of civil war in
Iraq has come up it has never been in conjunction with a
discussion about an American withdrawal, but rather as a
reason for the Americans to remain.
So long as
we describe Iraq in terms of civil war we miss the more
fundamental point that Iraq is under an illegal occupation.
war premise can only elicit two possible political outcomes:
First, the premise asserts that the Iraqis are enemies of
one another, thus the US occupation must continue to keep
suggestion not only fails to acknowledge how we arrived at
the current level of violence but also actually absolves the
Bush administration of its heinous crime of invading Iraq in
the first place. The occupation is presented as more of a
peace keeping mission that what it actually was, a blatant
act of greed and destruction.
The other political outcome is
to suggest that Iraq should ultimately be broken up, an
option that has persisted beneath the surface of American
policy and also seeks to satisfy imperial ambitions.
Dividing Iraq into three countries helps eliminate a
potentially independent Arab-Muslim state and, I would
argue, the most important such state, as greater economic
independence in the Middle East and North Africa could
actually develop around it.
Iraq is not
in civil war; Iraq is under occupation.
Some parties have acquiesced
in American dominance and cooperated with the American
authorities in an effort to gain power, others have not and
have violently opposed Iraqis who have.
is in Iraq is a political spectrum where at one hand there
are those adamantly opposed to the occupation and at the
other those who support it, a tension that becomes more
entrenched the longer troops remain.
With the increased emphasis on
a "civil war" in Iraq the narrative is taking a momentous
turn and casting a shadow on the continued presence of
hundreds of thousands of occupying troops; meanwhile casting
greater light on the supposed tensions within Iraqi society.
shaded by the new narrative of civil war are the ideologues
and politicians, lifted to power by the US, who have been
imposing a sectarian framework on the country from above
since the beginning.
dichotomy between continued occupation and civil war leaves
the anti-war movement speechless as neither alternative is
It must be
remembered, however, that this dichotomy is as much a
fiction as the many others that have sought to justify the
It must be
remembered that the root of current developments in Iraq is
the illegal invasion and occupation of the country; the
occupation must be eradicated if one sincerely hopes to keep
the peace in Iraq.
Sowing The Wind
Reaping The Whirlwind
US soldiers take a group of
arrested Iraqi citizens into the main US compound to be held
for questioning. Baghdad 2003. AFP/Cris Bouroncle)
nothing quite like invading somebody else’s country and
busting into their houses by force to arouse an intense
desire to kill you in the patriotic, self-respecting
civilians who live there.]
commanders know that, don’t they? Don’t they?]
OCCUPATION ISN’T LIBERATION
ALL THE TROOPS HOME NOW!
Service Officers Are To Be Sent Out Like Tethered Goats To
The Killing Fields”
“Helicopters On The Roof?” Asked An Official
April 6, 2006 Sidney
Blumenthal, The Guardian [Excerpts]
Iraqi elections in January, US foreign service officers at
the Baghdad embassy have been writing a steady stream of
disturbing cables describing drastically worsening
being received as invaluable intelligence, the messages are
discarded or, worse, considered signs of disloyalty.
Rejecting the facts on the
ground apparently requires blaming the messengers. So far,
two top attaches at the embassy have been reassigned
elsewhere for producing factual reports that are too
The Bush administration's
preferred response to increasing disintegration is to act as
if it has a strategy that is succeeding.
"More delusion as a solution
in the absence of a solution," said a senior state
Under the pretence that Iraq
is being pacified, the military is partially withdrawing
from hostile towns in the countryside and parts of Baghdad.
By reducing the number of soldiers, the administration can
claim its policy is working going into the midterm
elections. But the jobs the military doesn't want to perform
are being sloughed off on state department "provisional
reconstruction teams" (PRTs) led by foreign service
officers. The rationale is that they will win Iraqi
hearts-and-minds by organising civil functions.
The Pentagon has informed the
state department it will not provide security for these
officials and that mercenaries should be hired for
Internal state department
documents listing the PRT jobs, dated March 30, reveal that
the vast majority of them remain unfilled by volunteers. So
the professionals are being forced to take the assignments
in which "they can't do what they are being asked to do", as
a senior department official told me.
service officers are to be sent out like tethered goats to
the killing fields.
When these misbegotten
projects inevitably fail, the department will be blamed.
Passive resistance to these assignments reflects
anticipation of impending disaster, including the likely
murder of diplomats.
ever imagine in your wildest dreams that after Vietnam we'd
be doing this again?" one top state department official
remarked to another last week.
department, people wonder about the next "strategy" after
the hearts-and-minds gambit of sending diplomats unprotected
to secure victory turns into a squalid fiasco.
"Helicopters on the roof?" asked an official.
How It Is
April 3, 2005 Treasure of
Few days ago, a friend of mine
was caught in the middle of cross fire in Yarmouk
neighborhood. He had to hide in one of the shops whose owner
hesitated to accept for a minute until my friend begged him.
He swore he saw armed men walking freely in front of one of
fighting the Iraqi army until the sheikh of the mosque
called on the armed men to stop fighting. "We told you to
fight the Interior ministry commandoes, not the National
These are our friends, not
enemies," my friend heard the Sheikh of the mosque calling
through the mosque’s loudspeaker. Can you just imagine
that? What kind of state is this?
Iraqi army, which the US military said is improving, was not
able to control one neighborhood, what should I expect?
What do you think?
Comments from service men and women, and veterans, are
especially welcome. Send to
email@example.com. Name, I.D., address
withheld unless publication requested. Replies
POLITICIANS AT WORK
PARALYSIS OF IRAQI GOVERNMENT A SIGN OF DEMOCRACY
Hails Partisan Wrangling, Inaction
April 4, 2006 The Borowitz
President George W. Bush said
today that the infighting and partisan wrangling that have
brought the Iraqi government to a standstill are "signs that
true democracy has taken root in Iraq."
At a White House briefing, Mr.
Bush said the fact that the newly formed government of Iraq
is in the grip of paralysis shows that American-style
democracy can be successfully exported to a Middle Eastern
"It took the United States
government hundreds of years to attain the level of
inactivity we currently enjoy," Mr. Bush told reporters.
"The Iraqi people have achieved that in just a matter of
While Mr. Bush praised the
Iraqis for establishing such key democratic institutions as
partisan squabbling and gridlock, he cautioned that much
work needs to be done before Iraq can be considered a true
"Iraq still has not had a
major campaign fundraising scandal," he noted.
He said that key elements of a
democracy, such as indicted lawmakers and disgraced
lobbyists, were still largely missing from Iraq's political
landscape and need to take root there.
In order to kick-start those
democratic institutions, Mr. Bush said he was sending Rep.
Tom DeLay (R-Tex) to Iraq to teach Iraqi legislators how to
become indicted and disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff to
teach Iraqi lobbyists how to disgrace themselves.
"Only when Iraq has its own
disgraced lobbyists and a president who denies ever knowing
them can it be considered a truly democratic nation," Mr.
APPEARS IN NORTH CAROLINA:
marines that I have had wounded over the past five months
have been attacked by a faceless enemy. But the enemy has
got a face. He's called Satan” US Marine Colonel Gareth
Brandl. Charlotte, N.C., April 6. (AP
What do you think?
Comments from service men and women, and veterans, are
especially welcome. Send to
firstname.lastname@example.org. Name, I.D., address
withheld unless publication requested. Replies
THE FRENCH WAY
A group of students invade the
railway tracks as police stand by at the Gare du Nord train
station, in Paris, April 6, 2006. Students and unions have
been in a week-long standoff with the conservative
government over the law, which will make it easier for
companies to fire young workers. (AP Photo/Remy de la
TRUTH? CHECK OUT TRAVELING SOLDIER
the truth - about the occupation or the criminals
running the government in Washington - is the first
reason for Traveling Soldier. But we want to do more
than tell the truth; we want to report on the resistance
- whether it's in the streets of Baghdad, New York, or
inside the armed forces. Our goal is for Traveling
Soldier to become the thread that ties working-class
people inside the armed services together. We want this
newsletter to be a weapon to help you organize
resistance within the armed forces. If you like what
you've read, we hope that you'll join with us in
building a network of active duty organizers.
with Iraq War vets in the call to end the occupation and
bring our troops home now! (www.ivaw.net)
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