Saturday, May 23, 2009

Barack's lover on the down low









Yesterday the KPFA Evening News didn't air (or not at its usual hour if it did). KPFK did carry the KPFA Evening News. This being Pacifica, we should probably point out that it's fundraising before someone thinks there was another lock-out. On the KPFA Evening News aired on KPFK, KPFA's Andrea Lewis covered the War Crimes.

Andrea Lewis: An ex-soldier convicted of raping and killing an Iraqi teen and murdering her family was spared the death penalty today and will serve a life sentence after jurors could not agree unanimously on a punishment.

Evan Bright reports:

The jury deliberated for a total of ten hours and twenty minutes. While waiting for the jury, Jim Lesousky(P) was seen, hands clasped, as if in prayer. Scott Wendelsdorf(D) was pacing around the defense table, anxious and apprehensive. His hands were shaking as he took his seat. Green, appearing in the same maroon sweater vest as before, appeared surprisingly calm, his breathing steady; the exact same calm-cool-collected look could also be seen on Green's father John and uncle David, present in court. Pat Bouldin(D) twiddled his thumbs with his head down, knowing that this was the moment they'd spent the past two and a half years preparing for. The jury entered, looking quite stern. Two juror's lips were near quivering. The members of the defense team looked down, while the prosecution eyed the flock of jurors for the last time. After reviewing the verdict forms, Judge Russell announced that the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict, giving Green life in prison without possibility of parole.

Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) broke it down thusly, "Green was given the life term after jurors couldn't come to unanimous agreement on sentencing him to death."
AFP explains, "Their failure to agree effectively handed Steven Dale Green life in prison without the possibility of parole for the rape and killing of Abeer al-Janabi, 14, and the murder of her mother, father and six-year-old sister." As James Dao (New York Times) notes, "At least four other soldiers have pleaded guilty or were convicted in military courts for their roles in the rape and murders. While most received long prison terms, none are facing the death penalty, and all will be eligble for parole in 10 years or less." UPI explains, "The trial was the first in which a civilian jury was asked whether to execute a former service member for a wartime crime." Alsumaria notes, "Green acknowledged the 17 charges addressed to him including rape, murder and judicial obstruction." Andrew Wolfson (Courier-Journal -- link has a video option as well) observes, "Green broke into a slight smile when the verdict was announced."

While Green was grinning, Iraqis were less than pleased. Marc Santora and Suadad al-Salhy (New York Times, for tomorrow's paper so it will not be considered in the next section of the snapshot) quote Sheik Fahil al-Janabi stating, "There is no comparison between the crimes and the sentence. That soldier entered an Iraqi house, raped their underage daughter and burned her with her family, so this sentence is not enough and it is insulting for Iraqi's honor." The reporters tell you that the case was news ("extensive coverage") on Iraqi TV -- well at least some media system cared -- and that Green has been dubbed "the killer of innocence." Sami al-Jumaili and Habaib al-Zubaidy (Reuters) quote Abeer's uncle Raad Yusuf stating, "It's a real shock. That court decision is a crime -- almost worse than the soldier's crime." Earlier, Habib al-Zubaidy (Reuters) noted a mechanic from Abeer's home time, Ahmed Samir stating, "What the American soldier did is a terrorist act and he deserves execution. The court has not delivered justice. If I killed an American girl, the American court would have executed me." CNN quotes Sahwa leader Mustafa Kamel Shabib al-Jaoburi stating, "He raped a girl and killed an entire family, and he got only life in prison. . . . This is an unjust trial. We demand a new trial."

And Green may get a new trial. It's always sad when anyone -- guilty or innocent -- who is poor is betrayed by a public defender. Maybe the defender falls asleep in court, maybe the defender just doesn't give a damn about the client? There are many wonderful public defenders in the US and they work very, very hard. They are heroes and heroines because they ensure that everyone gets a voice, that everyone has representation. But not every public defender is up to the job. Steven D. Green entered a plea of "not guilty." As reporters have repeatedly noted, his attorneys decided (they say) not to fight the guilt but to work on being sure Green didn't get the death penalty. If that is correct, Green's got solid grounds for an appeal because his attorneys disregarded his wishes. A public defender does not determine what the client will plead. Nor is a public defender allowed to say, "I'll just sit out the trial but, after they convict my client, I'll earn the tax payers dollars by fighting to prevent him/her from receiving the death penalty." Green does not appear to have been served by his attorneys who appear to have either thought they couldn't win or just didn't want to work for a win. This appears likely not only by their comments to the press but also by their behavior in the courtroom. April 28th the prosecution began calling their witnesses and they rested May 4th. That afternoon the defense began calling their witnesses and they rested . . . the following day. 1 day and a half of witnesses. May 7th the jury returned their verdict (guilty on all counts). Green was now guilty. It was time for sentencing. The defense called their first witness on May 11th. May 18th, the defense called their last witness. Throughout the case, the defense verbally argued the entire system failed Green. With their actions, the defense failed him. (Click here for more on that.) Comments made by Green's father and brother indicate it's likely Green may indeed appeal. He's due to be sentenced September 4th. This may or may not be over.

But let's look back to what should be the most known War Crimes of the Iraq War. The fact that they aren't go to a media failure. There are some who have earned praise. Many more have not. From July 2, 2006 snapshot: "Lupien also noted the arrest of Steven D. Green. Green, is 21 and was with the 101st Airborne Division of the US Army. Friday, in Asheville, North Carolina, he was arrested and charged with both the four deaths as well as the rape. According to the US government press release, if convicted on the charge of murder, 'the maximum statutory penalty . . . is death' while, if convicted on the charge of rape, 'the maxmium statutory penalty for the rape is life in prison'." Green's trial finally began April 27th. The first day, Andrew Wolfson (Courier-Journal) reported, "In an opening statement in a trial that is expected to last three to five weeks, Justice Department lawyer Brian Skaret said the government will present at least five witnesses who say Green bragged about the crimes, including one who says Green told his fellow soldiers that it was 'awesome'." Wolfson bid closest without going over: Four weeks. The trial lasted four weeks. In all that time, there was only one known editorial. The Washington Observer-Reporter made the trial the topic of an editorial and they concluded, "But there are no hardships, military or otherwise, that could excuse an atrocity like this and you can't blame it on a 'lack of leadership'." The New York Times? During the four weeks, they filed three reports on the story. Three. Campbell Robertson and Atheer Kakan filed "Ex-G.I. Guilty of Rape and Killings in Iraq" from Iraq and this is the first report the paper ever carried which mentioned Abeer by name. It was not their first story on the topic, or the second or third or . . . But it was the first time that Abeer's name was ever mentioned. The paper had repeatedly rendered her invisible for nearly three years. James Dao filed "Civilian Jury Considers Death Penalty for Ex-G.I." which moved Abeer's name back to paragraph 14 (paragraph thirteen was where Robertson and Kakan were able to get it in) and was a pretty sorry report with no saving graces. Today Dao filed "Ex-Soldier Gets Life Sentence for Iraq Murders" which is such a huge improvement, it's hard to believe that both articles were written by the same reporter. Praise for Dao.

That was the New York Times. The Los Angeles Times loves, loves to cover 'military justice.' They're always dispatching Tony Perry to . . . Well, as a friend at the San Diego Union-Tribune likes to put it, "Where ever Rick goes, they [LAT] send him." And if anyone ever doubted that Tony was anything other than a camp follower they had their proof over the last four weeks. Rick Rogers wasn't dispatched to Kentucky so . . . Tony didn't go. Some people call it "competition," some people call it "stalking." The Washington Post? Though Ellen Knickmeyer wrote the definitive newspaper account of the crimes in 2006, "Details Emerge in Alleged Army Rape, Killings" (July 3, 2006), the paper made do with Reuters and AP when 'covering' the Green trial. Wall St. Journal? Didn't Old Man Rupaul Murdoch promise no lay offs and that resources would be pooled so there would be even more coverage? Apparently the only thing that pooled was the blood from his lifeless head because the Wall St. Journal which should have been covering it wasn't covering it. Now everyone knows -- check any Marriott -- that the Wall St. Journal isn't really the paper with the largest circulation in the US (the bulk of the Wall St. Journals at Marriotts are never picked up -- many front desks 'store' them in the closet nearest to the front desk) but it claims to be and, as such, it certainly should have been able to manage one reporter covering the case. September 13, 2006, USA Today ran Gregg Zoroya's "Soldier describes anguish in revealing murder allegations" on the front page which not only offered a look at Justin Watt who heroically came foward, it also named the victims (Abeer, sister Hadeel, parents Fikhriya Taha and Qassim Hamza) and featured photos of her two brothers Ahmed (then nine) and Mohammed (then eleven). Justin Watt did a courageous thing in coming forward and Zoroya explained that he took the issue to a mental health counselor "because he wanted to bypass what he thought would be a skeptical command structure and get an audience with Army investigators". You might have thought they'd want to live up to their high water mark because, let's be honest, USA Today is not the paper most people read -- it's a glance-at. It's the paper which causes serious readers to groan at the airports when they realize it's the only one left. And yet despite having one of those few moments in their history that they could be proud of, they elected not to build it and appeared to think they'd show the world they were a real news outlet -- honest they were -- by blogging about what the AP wrote. Yesterday they teamed their Andrea Stone up with the Courier-Journal's Andrew Wolfson for "Ex-soldier gets life for Iraqi murders." It was a move they should have considered weeks ago but they still come out ahead of many, many other outlets.
And what about radio? A lot of McBurgers were sold to make NPR what it is so where's the beef? Never on air. Diane Rehm famously BANNED the topic from her show when the jury released their verdict of guilty (on all counts). After they were exposed (here) the show sent out a laughable e-mail to those who had e-mailed on the topic and those who had called Rehm out for banning the topic. We've got seven forwarded copies of that and I've confirmed it with a friend with the show so on a slow day this summer we may include it in the snapshot. (Click here for some of the e-mails sent into the show on the day Diane was banning the topic.) All those hours to fill every day and not a word about Abeer on the NPR programs. This afternoon Frank James blogs and includes some comments by NPR's JJ Sutherland. But actually getting it on air was too damn much work for NPR. Pacifica Radio? They didn't send anyone. They're begging for money right now and they're doing awful. KPFA, for example, is supposed to be ending their fund drive and they are $100,000 short of their target goal. KPFA has the best fundraising (because it has the richest base) of any Pacifica radio station. WBAI is teetering due to already being in debt. No one thought to send anyone to Kentucky and despite the fact that all the Pacifica stations have listeners in Kentucky, no one thought to ask one of them to file some sort of report or, for that matter, to interview Evan Bright. We'll come back to Evan. Lila Garrett talks a good game about caring about Iraqis, she talks a good game. But when it came to an Iraqi teenager who was gang-raped and murdered by US soldiers? Where were you, Lila? We know where Margret Prescond was -- on the corner whoring for Barack. Remember that when Maggie The Cat wants to tell you yet again how wonderful she is and how she interview Hugo Chavez and how she . . . Didn't do s**t.

I'm not overly fond of Amy Goodman. I'd love to right now be able to point to someone else but Amy's the only one who consistently was aware of Abeer. It was never more than headlines but when Goodman's getting ready to go to bed, she can tell herself, "I did cover it." And she did. Credit where it's due. Not as much but also deserving credit, Andrea Lewis on KPFA. Andrea covered it twice. Andrea does know what actual news is. Which puts her far ahead of her morning replacement, to be honest. When Andrea co-hosted The Morning Show and when Sandra Lupien did the news breaks? They broke the story. No other radio station in the country had run with the arrest of Steven D. Green. Sandra worked her ass off and she didn't -- as Aileen does -- just grab AP and read it out loud (which some call plagiarism when you don't say "AP reports . . ."). She found the government's announcement of the arrest and found it about ten minutes after it was released and worked furiously to include it in the news break she was about to do. KPFA was the first broadcast outlet to note Steven D. Green's death.

They're short now. And why is that? Why should we give money to KPFA? They didn't send anyone to cover Abeer's case. We had Aimee Allison making a fool herself every damn morning, being the equivalent of Phyllis George, and we're supposed to pay for that? We're supposed to pay to listen to them read Associated Press stories to us that they pass off as news? We're supposed to pay for all that Barack Whoring? It's not news. It's not free speech. It is propaganda and, no surprise, they're learning people aren't going to pay for it. (See Panhandle Media for how KPFA in particular ABUSED the airwaves and the audience to WHORE for Barack.) Andrea Lewis is a functioning adult. She may be one of the few left at KPFA. But despite all the calls and e-mails and all the blog comments they've had (you can leave comments at their archives) asking why they weren't covering the Green trial, the only KPFA employee who seemed to think "Maybe in a fundraising cycle it's really not good to piss off our audience?" was Andrea. When the layoffs come, they need to start way at the top. When the layoffs come they need to start with the execs who allowed this to go on and who have turned The Morning Show into two hours that no one can listen to because it's a daily sermonette (preached strongest by Brother Mitch Jeserich in that hideous "Washington Letter") on the Glory and Goodness of St. Barack. Instead of sending Mitch to DC to reach his hands down St. Barack's pants, maybe the money could have been spent reporting on the War Crimes trial coz, pay attention, in ten years when Pacifica really needs to beg for money, their happy time chatter about Barack won't be worth s**t but if they could say "We covered the War Crimes trial" they might have have impressed someone. That's especially true of Free Speech Radio News which appears to be utilizing all of their energies currently to demonstrate that they are not "free speech" nor are they news. Message received. May you share warm reminisces . . . on the unemployment line.

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"At least 30 dead, 48 injured in Thursday's violence"
"Steven D. Green's case may not be over"
"Gail McGown Mellor is a MENACE"
"Tomatoes and Bean Salad in the Kitchen"
"Steven D. Green is happy with his sentence"
"jassy ramsey, no 1 asked you"
"the worst library in the country is in dallas, texas"
"More of the same"
"The CBS Evening Junk News"
"Barack's detention policies"
"Senate Armed Services Committee"
"This and that"
"The Dumb Ass Gail McGowan Mellor"
"The embarrassing Jerry Lewis"
"The sentence"
"Barry will detain you"
"Memorial day brief post"
"The sentence for Green, CCR"
"No truths on Barack's watch"

Thursday, May 21, 2009

No truths on Barack's watch







Starting with Steven D. Green who was convicted two Thursdays ago in the gang-rape of 14-year-old Iraqi Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, her murder, the murder of her five-year-old sister and the murders of both of her parents. Then the jury began hearing testimony to weigh when determining his sentencing. Green could receive the death penalty; however, all 12 jurors would have to vote to sentence him to death. If that does not happen, he is facing life in prison. Two Thursdays ago the verdict was decided by the jury and only yesterday were closing statements made and the jury sent to deliberate Green's sentencing. This Thursday they issue a verdict. Evan Bright reports, "JURY UNABLE TO REACH VERDICT IN USA V GREEN. STEVEN DALE GREEN SENTENCED TO LIFE IN PRISON W/O PAROLE." The Courier-Journal's Andrew Wolfson and Andrea Stone team up for Stone's outlet (USA Today) and observe, "Green's sentence closes the case on one of the worst war crimes committed by U.S . forces or contractors in Iraq. The atrocity in Mahmoudiya may not pack the political wallop that the abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison did but it ranks with other infamous incidents in Iraq, some military experts say." Brett Barrouquere (AP) notes the life in prison sentence comes following the jury deliberating for "10-and-a-half hours".

The verdict follows another bad 'report' filed by Gail McGown Mellor, this one at Women's Media Center, where she floats, maybe, just maybe, Abeer wasn't raped! Based on? The fact that Gail's an idiot. The weeping rapists showed up at their military courts and one offered he wasn't sure if he had a boner. By the time they gave testimony in Green's trial both -- to run from their guilt -- were floating the notion that maybe, just maybe, they couldn't get erections. Grow the hell up. Every damn one of you putting that out, grow the hell up. You think Steven D. Green wouldn't know if his co-gang-rapists hadn't cum in Abeer. Do we really need to get graphic. He's third in line in the gang-rape, you think he wouldn't notice? Also don't forget that Abeer, prior to being gang-raped by US soldiers, was a virgin. You think Green wouldn't have noticed if he were first?

This is such stupidity and it is appalling that a feminist website wants to serve that crap up. Women are raped every day in the United States. Over 92,000 reported rapes in 2006 alone -- reported. We don't need Gail's fantasies. It happens. There's no reason for it to be stripped out of Abeer's story because Gail wants to make her 'respectable.' Stripping the gang-rape out of Abeer's story is not at all different than blaming a woman for being sexually assaulted. It happend, it is a crime and it's part of the story of Abeer. It's not pretty, but life isn't always pretty. And it is an insult to the millions of rape survivors for Gail to prattle on -- in her own ignorance -- about how maybe Abeer's wasn't gang-raped, maybe the soldiers couldn't get erections, maye . . . Women's Media Center isn't supposed to be a lurid pulp magazine. They should be ashamed of themselves. Gail? This is her second novelization of the case. If familiarizing herself with the case is that difficult for her, she should stick to writing fiction -- she's repeatedly attempted to write fiction while allegedly 'reporting.' Abeer was held down by Paul Cortez while James Barker raped her and by Barker while Cortez raped her. Abeer screamed, yelled and fought back. That is part of the testimony and was part of the testimony in these War Crimes long before this month. Gail needs to do the work required which entails looking at the confessions made to the military courts.

Stupid is apparently contagious for those reporters flitting through Kentucky. Which is how James Dao's wretched "Civilian Jury Considers Death Penalty for Ex-G.I." appears in today's New York Times. The paper rendered Abeer invisible. Intentionally. When finally forced to file something on the case, they went with a front page propaganda piece by
Carolyn Marshall and Robert Worth which presenting the defense's case before the defense could present it at the Article 32 hearing in August of 2006. Abeer's name never appeared in that. She is "14-year-old girl" or "14-year-old Iraqi girl" when she's mentioned. She has no name because giving her a name humanizes her and the paper certainly wasn't interested in that. They were more than happy to defend the War Criminals and did so repeatedly backing off only when, one after the other, received a prison sentence. In late June and early July of 2006, most oulets (Washington Post, CNN) were covering the story and mentioning Abeer by name. Not the New York Times. Abeer's name finally appears in print May 9th of this year when the paper ran Campbell Robertson and Atheer Kakan contribute "Ex-G.I. Guilty of Rape and Killings in Iraq." Nearly three years after the War Crimes were known. Even then, the paper wouldn't open with her name. It wasn't until the 13th paragraph that they finally mentioned her name. Today James Dao does mention her name. Once. Paragraph 14. It's disgusting. But the paper -- which has never printed a photo of Abeer or either of her surviving younger brothers (USA Today did back in 2006) -- prints a photo of Steven D. Green.

Yesterday the jury heard closing arguments. Deb Feyerick (CNN) explains:

But prosecutors seeking the death penalty told the jury Wednesday it was time to end the blame game.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Skaret said that the soldiers in Green's unit who died honorably "would be rolling over in their graves" if they knew their deaths were being used to explain why Green went on the murder rampage.
Skarat said that before the killings, Green and his four co-conspirators were talking about "sex" and "screwing Iraqi chicks" rather than avenging their colleagues' deaths.

Today the US military announced: "BAGHDAD -- Three Multi-National Division -- Baghdad Soldiers died when an improvised explosive device detonated near their patrol in Baghdad at approximately 10:40 a.m. May 21. The Soldier's names are being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense." The announcement brings to 4299 the number of US service members killed in the illegal war -- one away from the 4300 mark.

[. . .]

Chris Hedges: If you're an Iraqi or Afghani it makes no difference at this point whether George Bush is president or Barack Obama is president. The imperial projects in Iraq and Afghanistan continue. As you mentioned the unraveling in Iraq is beginning. The attempt to essentially silence Sunni insurgents by buying them off is fraying at the edges. We tried the same tactic in Afghanistan with tribal groups and once the money and the weapons stop or once the Taliban began to assert itself in the areas they were operating in they went right back into the arms of the Taliban. So the situation is increasinly precarious in Iraq and deteriorating at a very alarming rate in Afghanistan.

Chris Hedges and Laila Al-Arian, authors of Collateral Damage: America's War Against Iraqi Civilians, were guests on Tuesday's KPFA Flashpoints (show is archived at Flashpoints and at KPFA).

Laila Al-Arian: Last week there was a very revealing incident in Iraq where a soldier basically stepped into a mental health counseling center and killed some of his comrades. And I think it was very reavealing because I think it kind of touches on some of the work we did which is the psychologically destructive impact of war, especially an unnecessary war like the war in Iraq. The soldier was on his third tour in Iraq and he had seen a lot. And we hear so many stories like this. Some of the 50 veterans we interviewed in our book talked about having thoughts of suicide. And it all really stems from seeing injustice before their eyes either participating in it or witnessing it and as Chris could tell you having covered so many wars, this is something that is not unique to the Iraq War and to the Occupation. This happens in every war when you see a civilian population suffer disproportionately.

Friday, Hedges and Al-Arian will be speaking at MLK Auditorium (MLK Middle School) in Berkeley and ticket prices are twelve to fifteen dollars. The event starts at seven p.m.

Laila Al-Arian: We hear estimates of more than a million Iraqis killed, how did this happen? So we were told convoys -- the way that the military travels in Iraq, twenty to thirty vehicles, told don't stop if you see an Iraqi child step in front of you, they were able to just run over medians, drive on the other side of the road, the wrong side. The raids that took place night after night you'd be hard pressed to find an Iraqi family that didn't expereince the terror of that. Having people with alien looking uniforms barge into your home speaking a different language that you don't understand. Checkpoints that would pop up randomly across the country at a moment's notice and being told basically that there was no accountability -- that if you shoot an Iraqi who drives through your checkpoint you won't face any trial, any court-martial, nothing like that. And we were told time and time again that there were cover ups of these incidents. And, again, you see the same thing happening in Afghnaistan and finally hearts and minds which is the racist attitude in the military that help justify these actions. Calling Arabs H**jis which is a racial slur that's used to basically dehumanize them.

Chris Hedges: Yeah, we focused on those particular activites where you had daily intersections between occupation troops and Iraqi civilians. Iraq is so fraught now with violence and, because there's no stability, foreign journalists can't stay in one place more than fifteen or twenty minutes -- those that are there. And we really wanted to find a way to tell the stories of Iraqi civilians. And the way that we did it was to find very courageous service members who were willing to go on the record and speak about civilian atrocities that they had either witnessed or in some cases participated in. And we characterized the -- as Laila said -- the functioning of convoys for instance which are just freight trains of death in Iraq barreling down highways fifty -- sixty miles an hour. As Laila said, they are told not to stop even if whole families go in front of the convoys -- smashing into Iraqi vehicles, jumping over merdians and, of course, when an IED goes off laying down what they call suppressing fire which is essentially unleashing with very high caliber weapons [. . .] which are like machine guns, 50 caliber and very rarely stopping to inspect the human carnage that they have left behind. This is what the occupation is day in and day out for Iraqis and that is very rarely glimpsed much less examined by the American media -- partly because of their inability to get out and partly because it it runs against the counter-narrative. It runs against that idea of "Our Boys! Our heroes!" and I think that even people who oppose the war have not been able to excape from.

Repeating, Friday, Hedges and Al-Arian will be speaking at MLK Auditorium (MLK Middle School) in Berkeley and ticket prices are twelve to fifteen dollars. The event starts at seven p.m.

"The previous Chief of Staff of the Air Force said that something like an additional $20 billion per year beyond the Fiscal Year 2009 budget request would be required to maintain and modernize the Air Force," declared US Senator Carl Levin this morning as he chaired the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing to review the Defense Authorization Request for Fiscal Year 2010 and the Future Years Defense Program. Two witnesses appeared before the committee, the Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley and US Gen Norton A. Schwartz.

Noting past cost "overruns" on other programs, Ranking Member Senator John McCain stated he was interested in hearing of the status of the Joint Strike Fighter program and whether it might mirror the cost overruns of the F22. And he put the rest of his prepared opening statement into the record. Credit to Donley for not attempting to pass off a goody list as 'We're helping our people!' Apparently that sort of nonsense is left to the Secretary of the US Army. (Click here.) Donley didn't insult anyone by attempting to pass off the Air Force's goody list as 'empowering' those who have enlisted. PDF format warning, click here for a rough outline of his and Schwartz' opening statements. He listed the twelve core functions for the Air Force.

1) Nuclear Deterrence Operations
2) Air Superiority
3) Space Superiority
4) Cyberspace Superiority
5) Global Precision Attack
6) Rapid Global Mobility
7) Special Operations
8) Global Integrated ISR
9) Command and Control
10) Personal Recovery
11) Building Partnerships
12) Agile Combat Support

Donely declared that the Fiscal Year 2010 budget request "reflects a commitment to our Core Functions". The song and dance Donley didn't want to do? Schwartz was eager to strap on his tap shoes.

Gen Norton A. Schwartz: In recent testimony, Adm Mullens stated, "We are what we buy." Following his lead, we intend to maintain stewardship of America's resources, for our war fighters in the field and the tax payers at home by recapturing aquistion excellence in fielding the right capabilities for our nation on time and within budget.

Buy? The Air Force was asking for money. We'll note this exchange.

Senator Carl Levin: Last year, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General [Michael] Mosely testified that the Air Force would require something like $20 billion per year additionally beyond the budget request to maintain and modernize the Air Force. Secretary Donley, General Schwartz, have you made your comparable assessment of modernization needs for sustaining the Air Force? How much additional -- if any -- do you believe will be required? Secretary?

Michael B. Donley: Uh, Mr. Chairman, we have uh reviewed with Secretary Gates, Adm [Mike] Mullen the overall requirements for the Air Force. Uh. You have an unfunded requirements list from General Shwartz that reflects his military judgment on those capabilities above and beyond those proposed in the FY'10 buget which we would prioritize for additional consideration. The Air Force --

Senator Carl Levin: Are they prioritized?

Michael B. Donley: Yes, they are.

Senator Carl Levin: And that was the total of 1.7?

Michael B. Donley: 1.9.

Senator Carl Levin: 1.9.

Michael B. Donley: Yes, roughly.

Senator Carl Levin: And you join in that request?

Michael B. Donley: Yes, we discussed that fully. The request went to General Schwartz so it is answered by General Schwartz discussed across the Air Force leadership.

Senator Carl Levin: And, General Schwartz, I take it that is your personal judgment.

Gen Norton A. Schwartz: It is, it is, sir, and the twenty items are in priority order.

Senator Carl Levin: Relative to the Joint Cargo Aircraft Reduction Proposal by the administration is it your intention that those air craft be assigned exclusively to the air guard or the air force reserve units?

Gen Norton A. Schwartz: Mr. Chariman, I say that's not yet clear. We - we have the direction from the department to make the transition of the program from the army to the Air Force. That is not an instantaneous undertaking. It will take us into -- well into 2010 in order to accomplish that. We, the army and General McKinnley from the National Guard Bureau and our people are meeting to get together with how one would execute a program of at least 38 air craft which is reflected in the budget proposal and how we would operate the fleet and what the basing footprint would look like and so on. We have to make a recommendation to the Deputy Secretary not later than the 30 of this month.

Senator Carl Levin: Do you support the reduction in the Joint Cargo Reserve Aircraft? 78 to 38?

Gen Norton A. Schwartz: Sir, we will have an opportunity through the quadrennial defense review to confirm that 39 is the right noumber. My view is the correct number is at least 38.

Senator Carl Levin: Have you made a personal assestment as to what the right number is?

Gen Norton A. Schwartz: Mr. Chairman, we have a number of studies including the analysis of alternatives which the army did in the 2005 - 2006 time frame. A more recent study's accomplished by RAND as late as 2009 that suggests that the 78 air craft package which was split between the Army and the Air Force originaly at 24 and 54 respectively. It is a valid -- a valid need. And obviously what occurred through the budget process committment on the part of the department to recommend the Army C23 Shurpas [. . .]

As Schwartz and Donley went on (and on), Levin broke into the non-answers answering to state, "We're going to need to have your further thoughts on that if you want your thoughts to be considered we're obviously going to need those before we take up this authorization bill in mark up." That's a basic point and it took the witnesses by surprise. They apparently thought they could josh their way through the hearing which, in fairness to the two witnesses, the army had already recently done. Credit to Carl Levin for immediately raising these issues. The above exchange was from the first round of questioning. No the Air Force wasn't at all prepared to answer. Yes, it did show that the Congress was taking the spending of the tax payers' money seriously. And Levin's exchange also showed the committee it was time to get serious. The looks during this exchange were priceless and can be best be described as surprise replaced with enjoyment. Levin set the tone and brought an energy into the hearing right away with that first exchange.

John McCain followed and immediately asked for "an update on the Joint Strike Fighter -- whether it's on time and what if any cost overruns are associated with it?" McCain got a song and dance about it being national and international and across the branches and . . . McCain interrupted to ask "what's the cost" and how it was going? Donley threw together a bunch of words that really said nothing (as his last sentence indicated).

Senator John McCain: Maybe you can submit in writing a response as to where we are as to the original cost estimates and the original schedule?

Michael B. Donley: Be happy to do that.

Senator John McCain: Appreciate it. But I still don't get from your answer a feel has there been cost overruns that have been signficant already?

Michael B. Donley: I'd have to go back and look at the baseline program, sir, and -- to sort of give you a sense as to where things have come since the program started.

Senator John McCain: I'd certainly hope you'd keep track of that every single day.

Exactly. The Air Force should have been prepared with the answer for the hearing and they should be following it every day. This was where the Air Force made the case for the monies they say they need -- or it was supposed to be. And the Air Force should have come prepared. A basic question from Senator Ben Nelson about whether something was being carried over to Fiscal Year 2011 led to Schwartz yet again being unable to provide an answer.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Right before his dick falls off, Old Man Rothschild gets honest




Some in the Republican Party are trying to re-dub the Democratic Party as the Democrat Socialist Party.
Nothing like getting out the old encrusted red paintbrush.
But I hope some Democrats don’t run from this label.
Running doesn’t get you anywhere.
Democrats have been running from the label “liberal” since the days of Michael Dukakis, and that hasn’t helped them.
And for those who, like me, are actually Democratic Socialists, it’s time to come out and say so.














Starting with the sentence hearing of Steven D. Green who was convicted two Thursdays ago in the gang-rape of 14-year-old Iraqi Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, her murder, the murder of her five-year-old sister and the murders of both of her parents. Since then, the jury has been hearing testimony they will weigh when determining his sentencing. Green could receive the death penalty; however, all 12 jurors would have to vote to sentence him to death. If that does not happen, he is facing life in prison. Two Thursdays ago the verdict was decided by the jury and only now is the jury being sent to deliberate Green's sentencing. Evan Bright reports this afternoon, "The jury went into deliberation less than five minutes ago." Prior to that, the prosecution and the defense made their closing statements. Bright notes, "Scott Wendelsdorf (D) finished his closing. 'America does. not. KILL. it's broken soldiers. SPARE this boy's life, SPARE HIM". Andrew Wolfson (Courier-Journal) reports that Brian Skaret gave the closing for the proseuction and noted, "This is a chance for you to say that our soldiers do not do this, that we are a good and decent people." AFP quotes Skared stating, "The victims in this case cry out for justice from their graves" and that he stated of the defense, "They've tried to make Mr Green a victim in this case."

That's today. Of yesterday's hearing, Evan Bright reports:

For the prosecution, Jim Lesousky called a single rebuttal witness, as previously predicted. Dr. Helen Mayberg, a clinical neurologist at Emory University, was called; Dr. Ruben Gur was also listening via muted phone so as to hear what her response to his testimony would be. Mayberg was called to respond to the testimony of Gur. She told the court of her medical degree from USC and of her certification in neurology. Her testimony did not last nearly as long as Gurs. She told the jury that "testing one person deemed possibly mentally disabled...against a control group of forty-one 'healthy' people, would not always produce accurate results." She told the court that she did not note the same variations within Green's MRI that Dr. Gur previously testified to the jury. She also testified that in Gur's study of the forty one "healthy" subjects, they were tested using MRI's of a 1.5 tesla strenth, as well as two other measurements/settings that were to equal or be set to "one;" she told the jury when Gur reviewed Green's MRI, he failed to notice that his MRI was given at a 3.0 tesla strength, and that the two other aformentioned settings were also different, meaning that Green's MRI would not have matched the control group results regardless. For the most part, the defense has been excellent, but if they've ever suffered a setback, this would be it.

"Today's hearing is a result of this committee's continuing investigation into the deaths of some US soldiers by the death of electrocution in Iraq," explained Senator Byron Dorgan who chaired this morning's Senate Democratic Policy Committee hearing "Rewarding Failure: Contractor Bonuses for Faulty Work in Iraq."

Senator Byron Dorgan: That investigation has led us to internal Pentagon documents showing that in 2007 and 2008, contractor KBR received bonuses of $83.4 million for work that, according to the Pentagon's own investigation, led to the electrocution deaths of US troops. Let me repeat that: The Pentagon gave bonuses of $83.4 million to KBR for work that resulted in the electrocution deaths of American soldiers.

Dorgan spoke of Ryan Maseth, a Green Beret and Army Ranger with the rank of Staff Sgt who died in Baghdad January 2, 2008 from taking a shower in KBR's 'safe' facilities. Dorgan noted that in the July hearing, "we obtained testimony that KBR had known of this very electrocuting hazard since at least February 10, 2007, 11 months before Ryan Maseth's death. In fact, the prior occupant of Staff Sgt Maseth's room was shocked in the same room four to five times between June and October 2007, in the very same shower were Ryan was killed. According to his sworn affidavit, each time this soldier was shocked, he submitted a work order to KBR." In fact, $34.4 million of KBR's $83.4 million in bonus pay was paid after Ryan Maseth was killed by their shoddy, cheap work and the military's investigation, as Dorgan noted, now lists the death as due to negligent homicide.

Participating on the committee this morning were Senators Dorgan, Robert Casey Jr.,Amy Klobuchar, Frank Lautenberg and Mark Udall. Testifying before the committee were Master Electrician Jim Childs, ex-KBR Master Electrician Eric Peters and ex-Chief of HQ Army Field Support command Charles Smith.

Lautenberg noted this was Dick Cheney's former company and that efforts under the previous administration for investigations were repeatedly blocked. From meals never served to burning vehicles because KBR didn't want to change the tires and much more, the 2.4 billion dollars KBR was paid was never to be questioned and "A hearing was refused." Lautenberg pointed out that Cheney held KBR stock options throughout all of this and that money -- even unaccounted money -- didn't matter and certainly the deaths of US soldiers from KBR's shoddy work didn't matter. Lautenberg stated these abuses and the refusal to investigate them never needed to happen again. Casey noted, in his opening statements, that no families should have to go through what Ryan Maseth's family has had to (and he applauded Cheryl Maseth's efforts to get the truth and to help others). Casey declared, "We're looking for accountability and we're trying to seek justice. And the only way we can have either is to arrive the truth." [Note: Those comments would seem to require an investigation into the torture crimes as well.] Casey wondered, "Why is it that any company that may have been directly responsible for the deaths of American fighting men and women, in any cicrumstance but especially in this circumstance, why should they be getting more contracts?"

Udall noted he would keep his opening remarks brief and did. We'll note this comment by him, "The only way forward is to hear the truth. That's the purpose of this hearing today."
Klobuchar explained, "It seems like every time we have these hearing on this subgect, there are some answers but mostly more questions." Kobuchar noted that when she attended the last hearing, she'd thought of her state's David Cedergren who had died in Iraq. And since then (in 2009, five years later) his parents had learned that it wasn't an accident, that Officer 3rd Class David A. Cedergren was electrocuted. She noted that his parents were first told his death was due to natural causes.

Senator Amy Kobuchar: And finally, late last year, over four years after his death, the US military acknowledged that the cause of David's death was electrocution. His cause is among 18 cases that have been discussed of electrocution that are being investigated as part of the Department of Defense Specials Investigator Inquiry.

Jim Childs went over his various and many qualifications and explained he went to work for Stanley Baker Hill in Iraq and was there for fifteen months. He explained that KBR built "roughly 90,000 buildings" in Iraq and that none of them were up to code which led KBR to insist they were using the British electrical code BS7671 but holding it to that code only results in more errors for KBR. "During my theater-wide inspections," Child explained, "I concluded that roughly 90 percent of the new construction buildings worked on by KBR were not properly wired. This means that over 70,000 buildings in Iraq were not up to code." KBR's shoddy work is not limited to Iraq, Childs explained, "While doing inspections in Afghanistan, I found the exact same code violations." Eric Peters than spoke.

Eric Peters: I went to Iraq in February 2009 and returned home in April 2009. After experiencing only two months of the KBR management culture and witnessing poor quality work at three separate bases, the Al Asad Airbase, Camp Striker and Camp Warrior, I decided that I could no longer be affiliated with KBR. Based on my personal observations at these three bases, at least fifty percent of the buildings KBR worked on were not properly wired. By the time I left, I concluded that KBR was not cappable of performing quality, legal electrical installations in Iraq. I worried every day that people would be seriously injured or killed by this defective work. I would be happy to return to Iraq to help our troops, but only under different circumstances with a different contractor.

The key passage in Charles Smith's opening remarks is probably the following:

Charles Smith: The army was aware of KBR's poor performance in Iraq from 2002 to 2008. There have been numerous government inspections and reports. The army, however, continued to give KBR high award fees. Those high award fees appear to have sent a message to KBR that performance did not really matter. Award fee boards and decisions are a communications tool between the government and the contractor. The contractor learns what is important to the government and will respond accordingly.

Dorgan said that KBR would claim that they they did their work effectively and properly "as they have [claimed] after all hearings." We'll note this exchange from the hearing:

Senator Byron Dorgan: Do any of you have any notion that we should be concerned about soldiers in Afghanistan? As you know the same contractor was doing work in Afghanistan. Is your sense that -- Now General [David] Petraeus sends in a blue ribbon task force to do all of this, right? I -- I -- you know, the thing is I've not heard General Petraeus say anything publicly about this. And if I were General Petraeus, I would be furious about soldiers being put at risk as a result of shoddy work. I mean just furious. But I've heard nothing at this point. My great concern is that what I have heard in most cases is the Pentagon really kind of saying 'There's not as much of a problem here as you think.' Sgt. Maseth's mother was originally told that he was probably electrocuted because he took a radio into the shower with him. The -- my colleague Senator Klobuchar has just described the experience of the family from Minnesota who for four years were told that he died of natural causes. Should we worry about the electirical work in Afghanistan as well as this point? Mr. Childs, what do you think?

Jim Childs: As -- as -- in my role with Task Force SAFE I did go to Afghanistan and look at the electircal work in Afghanistan. Spent about a day over there, we went over there under direction of General David Petraeus through Task Force Safe to see how their electrical program was. They had the exact same electrical bonding and grounding mistakes that they had in Iraq. That had building that were dangerous because they were the exact same problems. And I stood there and witnessed new work being done by KBR that was one hundred percent against the National Electric Code that is clearly the code they are to use there in Afghanistan. And I do not know what direction has been taken to inspect over in Afghanistan.

On KBR's method of billing, Klobuchar asked Eric Peters if she had it right, that "KBR can charge the government for work that does not meet safety standards and then come back and charge the government again?"

Eric Peters: That's my understanding.

Senator Amy Klobuchar: So what we have going on here is they can charge for the work that didn't meet the standards because someone like you doesn't sign off and they charge again to repair the work that failed to meet the proper safety standards?

Eric Peters: That's correct. They would send somebody out and pay him the work done and it's not a complete job done so they'd have to send somebody else out at a different time to complete the job and do it again.

Senator Amy Klobuchar: And you think that's common with KBR?

Eric Peters: All over theater.

Senator Amy Klobuchar: Mr. Childs do you agree with that?

Jim Childs: Absolutely.

Senator Amy Klobuchar: In a sort of a broader view of this would be that what they're doing is that they're charging double and then they're getting bonuses for it. Would that be one to look at it?

Jim Childs: I believe that's correct.

Senator Amy Klobuchar: Mr. Smith, you said in your testimony that "the army provided perverse incentives to KBR by providing the company with substantial award fees without KBR having the required business systems and without performing quality work." Is that right?

Charles Smith: That's correct.

Senator Amy Klobuchar: And this is an example? What I'm talking about right here?

Charles Smith: That's part of the example.

We'll stop there. Yesterday's snapshot included the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. Kat covered some suicide stats offered in the hearing offered by Pete Geren, Secretary of the Army:

Geren responded that the top 3 reasons were:

1. shattered personal relationship (spouse/loved one)
2. work place humilitation/disappointment or financial problem
3. medical problem

Characteristics include:

* Younger than 25
* Male
* White
* By rifle or pistol

He offered this grouping of thirds on suicide -- he's breaking down all the suicides into thirds:

* 1/3 who commit suicide have never deployed
* 1/3 commit suicide during a deployment
* 1/3 commit suicide after a deployment

Ava filled in for Rebecca and covered Senator Jim Webb's questioning of General George Casey:

Senator Jim Webb: Your comments about dwell time being of your utmost concern. I recall the conversation that you and I had more than two years ago when you called me to tell me that the army was going to go to 15 month deployments with 12 months at home which I think is a .75 dwell time ratio and you will recall I expressed my strongest concern about that. As someone who had grown up in the military, as did you, and watched my father go through multiple deployments, someone who had served in Vietnam when the Marine Corps tour was 13 months and as someone who has had a son and son-in-law deploy as enlisted marines in extended tours in Iraq. Now, on the one hand, and I said this to Secretary of Defense last week and Admiral Mullen, I - I am very encouraged about programs that are in place to treat those whoa re experiencing emotional difficulties and stigma in the active forces and that sort of thing but I'm still concerned measure that could be taken and should be taken to prevent these sort of situations which was the basis really of my conversation with you two years ago, was the reason that I addressed the dwell time amendment twice in '07. If we are going to put greater discipline say into the procurement process - as has become a big focus -- maybe we should be putting the same sort of discipline in our combatant commanders' request for troops? That they're -- certainly one of the parameters in terms of troop availability or in terms of how we use troops is the stewardship that we all should feel about length of deployments versus time back here -- all of these things that you were talking about at the beginning [of this hearing] which I was talking about on the Senate floor a couple of years ago. Uhm, so what do you think about that?

George Casey: Senator, I couldn't agree more. In fact, one of the points of discussion that I hoped to have in the quadrennial defense review is whether or not we need to move toward a capability based strategy versus a war plan strategy. As I said, we're organizing the army on a rotational cycle so that we provide a sustained level of capability to commanders but at a sustainable deployment cycle.

Jim Webb: Well certainly rotational cycles should be on the table, when we're talking about the number of troops that should be deployed. You know --

George Casey: Absolutely.

Jim Webb: -- that's something that you and I were discussing two years ago. You were saying, in your defense I will say, you were saying that you had to feed the strategy. When you went to the 15 month, 12 month, you had to feed the strategy. Your obligation to feed the strategy. General Petraeus comes and testifies and I asked him about the dwell time thing and he said, 'Well I just state my requirements' and, you know, there was sort of a disconnect in the middle. And it would seem to me, particularly in this transitional period, we ought to be taking a pretty, a pretty tough look at the well being of the force as a component in terms of how we're using them to deploy in Afghanistan.

George Casey: I agree with you and I'm not articulating it well, I don't think. But once you have arranged the force into bins for the rotational cycle, that's what's available to the country. And it's available at a sustainable deployment cycle to the families and the soldiers and it's a strategy that's constrained by means which all strategies should be, rather than strategy driving requirements.

Jim Webb: I think you and I, we are rushing to agree on this but at same time the difficult really is that there seems to be such a deference to a combat commander, and there should be something of a deference, but there seems to be such a deference when they say "I need 30,000 troops" rather than where this decision is now being made this is going to be going on for a long time and how are we going to protect the health and our long term sustainability in terms of feeding these troops.

Webb also gave him a chance to clear up his comments made to Senator Joe Lieberman:

Jim Webb: . . . when you said you had a lot of units that are 1.5 dwell time ratio right now. Army wide with the troops actually deployed, what is the ratio in dwell time right now?

George Casey: We're between 1.3 and 1.5 is the average.

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"Corruption . . . and it's close to Nouri"
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"Senate hearing"
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"Michelle goes to NY, Barack to Africa"

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Michelle goes to NY, Barack to Africa






MEANWHILE A BARACK GROUPIE DISCOVERS SHE'S UNDER THE BUS AFTER SHE'S RUN OVER, "Right now it seems the only thing we're getting is the shaft. I'm very disappointed with what's happening. I put my faith and vote into a man who I believed would bring change to our community, and so far, no good."


Starting with Steven D. Green who was convicted two Thursdays ago in the gang-rape of 14-year-old Iraqi Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, her murder, the murder of her five-year-old sister and the murders of both of her parents. Since then, the jury has been hearing testimony they will weigh when determining his sentencing. Green could receive the death penalty; however, all 12 jurors would have to vote to sentence him to death. If that does not happen, he is facing life in prison. The hearing resumed yesterday and continued today. Evan Bright reports, "Just heard testimony from Dr. Helen Mayberg in contrast to the testimony of Dr. Ruben Gur. Basically said that Gur screwed up his MRI." Gur screwed up his MRI? He certainly screwed up his testimony on the MRI last week: "Gur was an 'expert.' Another reason not to waste the jury's time with 'experts'." Brett Barrouquere (AP) reports Dr. Mayberg was the prosecution's witness and that she stated Gur screwed up the MRI because the scan was not consistent with the scans he compared them to (a control group to establish a baseline for normal versus brain injury): "He [Green] was done differently. It's not big surprise that there are some areas that look different."

Bright also reports the "Court is adjourned for the day. Both sides rest with opening statements to be heard tomorrow, Wednesday May 20th. Blog later tonight." On yesterday's proceedings, Evan Bright had a post at The Huffington Post. Yesterday the hearing resumed (picking up from last Thursday) and Dave Alsup (CNN) noted, "Patty Ruth, a Texas elementary school principal, told a civilian jury about Green's childhood as a reader who loved to be hugged by relatives. 'I do not know how we got to this spot,' Ruth said in emotional testimony. 'I do not know how this happened'." The defense better hope the jury has a better grasp than Patty Ruth or Green will receive the death penalty. AP's Brett Barrouquere adds, "Ruth's testimony in the penalty phase of Green's trial came as the ex-soldier's father, John Green, and an uncle looked on in court." At his website, Evan Bright noted yesterday, "Tuesday(tomorrow): Remaining defense witnesses, if there are any, followed by the Prosecution's one rebuttal witness(an expert/specialist of some kind). There is a "50/50" chance that we will hear closing statements tomorrow, Pat Bouldin allegedly said. If not tomorrow, expect to hear them on Wednesday."

"Our army is stretched by this long war," declared the Secretary of the Army Pete Geren today to the Senate Armed Services Committee this morning when reading from his prepared, opening statement. The hearing was one where . . . Begs? The army begs for money? That implies that the Congress puts them through a song and dance. The Congress just hands out of rounds of applause. As, in fact, they did at the start of the hearing, shortly after Ranking Committee Member Senator John McCain took time to note his "policy differences" with General George Casey Jr. . . . right before praising him. The army doesn't beg. It's more like the Congress is overly generous parents and Geren and Casey show up with report cards explaining why Bs and Cs are amazing grades worthy of the really big bucks.

There's never an indication, in any of the hearings, that any member of Congress has perused the budget request coming before it. Today Senators Levin and McCain both raised the issue of the Army's Future Combat Systems eight manned ground vehicles. McCain noted, for example, the cost overruns that immediately had a $90 billion dollar project increase to $120 billion. And if you half-listened you might think, "That's the Congress at work!" But, reality, Sec of Defense Robert Gates already removed that from the budget. So what you had were some 'tough' moves and questions about . . . something not in the budget. About something Robert Gates had pointed out was wasteful.

Despite the economic crisis that's facing the country, no member of Congress ever says, "Let's take a look at this item . . ." It just doesn't happen. And didn't today. They were happy to show boat on an example that wasn't in the budget and McCain, in fact, used the bulk of his six minutes in the first round -- what a Maverick! -- to explore this project . . . no longer in the budget. This project . . . removed by Gates. But did anyone on the committee find a waste in the actual budget? That would require them using their staff to examine the budget and none do. "I'm sorry to belabor the point," insisted McCain . . . after doing just that and then going on to prattle about "but I really believe that -- if you look at the submitted budgets there are going to be decreases in procurement over time and it makes these cost overruns which are bad even worse." Well when does the Congress review the submitted budgets . . . as opposed to items not actually in the budget?

They applaud. They offer praise. And all the time they're spending the people's money. Without offering any oversight. The White House will likely soon introduce their "Social Security needs fixing" propaganda. Congress will not stop to applaud the American people. Congress will not sing the American people's praises (though US House Rep Adam Smith might again call the American people "paranoid" in an open session). Congress will rush to cut this and that and insists that cuts must be made. But when the generals do their money shine, Congress just grins and applauds . . . and freely tosses out the tax payers' dollars as if they were their own to keep the war machine rolling. As Chris Hedges' "The Disease of Permanent War" (Information Clearing House) observes:

In "Pentagon Capitalism" Seymour Mellman described the defense industry as viral. Defense and military industries in permanent war, he wrote, trash economies. They are able to upend priorities. They redirect government expenditures towards their huge military projects and starve domestic investment in the name of national security. We produce sophisticated fighter jets, while Boeing is unable to finish its new commercial plane on schedule and our automotive industry goes bankrupt. We sink money into research and development of weapons systems and neglect renewable energy technologies to fight global warming. Universities are flooded with defense-related cash and grants, and struggle to find money for environmental studies. This is the disease of permanent war.

"I am going to put the balance of my statement in the record," said Senator Carl Levin, chair of the Armed Services Committee, "because we have votes at 10:00 this morning so that means that we have even less time than usual." Levin's statement can be found here and he stopped reading from it after "I also note the presence of several non-commissioned officers behind our witnesses; we look forward to their introduction." If you thought his stopping so soon would indicate a sense of urgency, you were wrong. There was time for many more rounds of applause and many more jokes. (Including ones about the "rakish" Senator Daniel Akaka.)

For a change, General Casey had rehearsed his opening statement (as evidenced by his not referring to it during his opening and his relying on it only occasionally throughout). "Chairman," Casey began, "last year, I think you'll recall, in my testimony I said that the army was out of balance. That we were so weighed down by our current commitments that we couldn't do the things we know we need to do to sustain this all volunteer force and the strategic flexibility to do other things. I can tell you that we have made progress over the last year in putting ourselves back in balance but we're not out of the woods yet." Of course not. Were the army out of the woods then the monies requested wouldn't be 'necessities' and 'urgently needed,' right?

As they ask for ever more money and insist is so needed because the military is so stretched, any reasonable person would, at some point, start to ask, "Well instead of throwing even more money at it each year, why don't we start pulling these overseas troops and bringing them back home?" If you spend more money than you have on clothes one week, you probably should consider not buying any in the following weeks. But for the military, every day is buy a fun frock day. And the Congress is more than happy to keep shelling out Americans' money instead of pointing out that the United States could save a great deal of money by ending the military 'adventures' in Iraq and Afghanistan (and elsewhere).

In strength targets for 2012 so that gives us a big lift

Casey: One of the reasons it gives us a lift is because it allows us to begin coming off of stop-loss this year. And several months ago the Secretary of the Defense announced the plan where the reserve component would begin deploying units without stop-loss in August, the National Guard in September, and the active force in January of 2010. This puts us on track to achieve our goal of being able to deploy our modular formations without stop-loss by 2011. The second key objective was to increase the time our soldiers spend at home. And I will tell you, after two years in this job, I am more and more convinced that this is the single most important element of putting ourselves back in balance. It's important from several perspectives. One is so that the soldiers have time to recover from these repeated combat deployments. What we're seeing across the force are the cumulative effect of repeated deployments. Secondly, it gives them a more stable preparation time for the next mission. When you're only home for a year, you're barely had time to take your leave before you're preparing to go back again. And third, it gives soldiers time to begin training for other things to do things beyond the regular warfare training that they're doing for Iraq and Afghanistan. Now I will tell you back in 2007, that I didn't think we would quite get to one year back, two years out by 2011. With the president's draw down plan, if it's executed as has been laid out, we will actually do a little better than that. So I am quite hopeful that if we execute that plan, we will make a big difference here in putting us back in balance.

Stop-loss is included because we have focused on that. And because so many in the press wanted to get Gates announcement wrong. For example, this was written by a reporter back when Gates made his announcement: "Stop loss now can be dropped in part because the U.S. signed a status of forces agreement with Iraq late last year that calls for a U.S. withdrawal by the end of 2011." What? That never made sense. Stop loss was supposed to be over by the start of 2011 at the lastest. But goodness weren't there a lot of Miss Cleos and Barack Whores in the media. Ann Scott Tyson's "Army to Phase Out 'Stop-Loss' Practice" (Washington Post) was one of the few 'reports' that actually qualified as reporting. Casey made it clear that it was meeting their target goals that was allowing them to meet the stop-loss goals that Gates set last March.

Dwell time is included because it's important and because Casey's statements were apparently too honest and required that the army rush out a scrub version of his comments. This is what Casey said:

Now I will tell you back in 2007, that I didn't think we would quite get to one year back, two years out by 2011. With the president's draw down plan, if it's executed as has been laid out, we will actually do a little better than that. So I am quite hopeful that if we execute that plan, we will make a big difference here in putting us back in balance.

This is what the army's press release claims he stated:

In 2007, based on what I thought the force structure would be over the next four years. I thought we wouldn't get quite to one year out, two years back by 2011. If we execute the president's Iraq drawdown plan, and I have no reason to doubt we will, we will actually do better and actually get to the 1/2 or even better ratio -- we have to do that.

That is not what he stated. Maybe he should have read his prepared statement word for word? The army maintains this quote is from his prepared statement). What you had, before the committee, was a general offering testimony and being much less of lackey than our press corps. Casey's actual comments re: the 'plan' were accurate. Why the army felt the need to rush in with statements that were not made goes to a frantic worry on the part of someone. "I have no reason to doubt we will"? That's hilarious. The closest Casey came to the topic again was during his exchange with Senator Susan Collins and, no, he didn't say it then either. He did say, in response to Collins' concern that the dwell time targets would not be met "if we didn't execute that plan. I would say that Secretary Gates has left the door open to go back and reconsider building those three brigades that were left out -- that will not build now if the situation in the future looks like that was not a good decision so the door is open for us to do that." For them to build three brigades if the draw down does not take place or if it starts and it's decided to stop it.

Staying with dwell time, we'll note the following exchange between Casey and independent (no declared political party) Senator Joe Lieberman on dwell time.

Joe Lieberman: And your goal for the army for dwell time would be what?

George Casey: My short term goal for '11 is 1 year out, 2 years back. I would like to ultimately get the army to the point where it was one year out, three years back for the active force and one year out, five years back for the Guard and Reserves.
Joe Lieberman: Okay, so by the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2010, which would be fiscal year eleven, you'd like to see us get to one year out, two years back? Is that right?

George Casey: That is correct, senator.

Joe Lieberman: Okay. And what are the numbers now, just to have it on the record? What's the dwell time now?

George Casey: Right now we're -- for the active force, we're sitting right between 1 to 1.5 and a little less.

Joe Lieberman: Right. Okay so well below -- well below. And am I correct that we expect for the rest of this year to have to increase deployments? In other words, the path we're on in Afghanistan and Iraq together, the net effect will be an increase in deployments out for the remainder of this year?

George Casey: Correct Senator, by about 10,000 before we start to come down.

Joe Lieberman: Okay. And that's a significant number. So in that sense, there'll be more pressure on dwell time from now until the end of the year just because of the suppy and demand you talked about. As I understand it -- incidentally to say something very briefly, I think you're so right when you say that dwell time is a key because it is so clear that you and we are trying our best and, I think, doing better at the quality of life of the people in our army and their families housing, benefits, etc, etc. But if the supply of the army is less than the demand for the army then this critical factor of how long our soldiers are going to be home simply can't go up. And from the point of view -- a military point of view -- retraining, etc. rest and of course for the human element of being with their families. Now I understand that we're in a very unusual moment here which is that because recruitment is going so well and re-enlistments are so high that the authorized strength of the army is 547,000-plus. We actually have an army now that's about 549,000. Is that correct?

George Casey: It is and actually senator for this year, '09, that we're in for a few more months, it's actually 532,000.

Joe Lieberman: Yeah, it's 532,000 authorized plus the waiver of about 3% so it takes up to 547 we've got more than that now.

That's included for the numbers and for dwell time. Lieberman's proposing funding approximately $400,000 million to allow 2% to remain in the military through the end of the year. Remember, they never worry about shaving the bills the tax payers pay, they just trying to find ways to add more to the bill. Over and over.

Geren and Casey submitted [PDF format warning] "A Statement On The Posture Of The United States Army 2009." This 20 page 'greeting' wasn't put together by Hallmark. "Looking ahead, we see an era of persistent conflict," it cheerfully informs in the opening letter and, on page one of the report, they elaborate that not only will it be persistent, it will be "more ambiguous and unpredicatable than in the past." That's due, they assert, to such factors as globalization (Barack and Thomas Friedman rush to object) which "has increased interdependence and prosperity in man parts of the world. It also has led to greater disparities in wealth which set conditions that can foster conflict"; technology; population growth; increasing demand for resources and more. Increasing demand for resources? Who ever heard of a country going to war for resources? Name one country that ever went to war for resources, just one that -- Oh, yeah. But don't we all pretend like resource wars never happen? Or that they only took place in the distant past?

In the hearing, there were a few moments on Iraq. Senator Jack Reed asked about it in terms of the drawing down of some forces.

Jack Reed: How does this work in Iraq? As you pull out brigade combat teams, you no longer have that brigade structure. You'll have embeded training teams that won't be operating with their brigades -- they'll be with Iraqi brigades. That's a different sort of species?
George Casey: You're right senator. As the draw down comes it will be a mix of units that have external teams and then units that have their own teams and then that will gradually to the six advise and assist brigades that will be remaining 2010 and they'll be organized as I said.

George Casey must have been on Red Bull. The general's never been so animated in hearing. He offered the trademark Diana Ross & the Surpremes "Stop In The Name Of Love" gesture (before you break the bank? think it over, think it over) frequently and also, on the above quote, he did this sort of Bela Lugosi meets "Tiny Bubbles" repetitive move with both hands. Kat's planning on covering an exchange between Senator Saxby Chambliss and Geren when she posts at her site tonight.

Monday, May 11th, Sgt John M. Russell appears to have shot five US service members in Baghdad at a stress clinic. The five killed were Charles K. Springle, Michael Edward Yates, Christian Bueno-Galdos, Matthew Houseal and Jacob Barton. If you're wondering, the hearing had gone on for over sixty minutes before the shooting was brought up. Senator Kay Hagan noted the late Charles K. Springle, how he was a heatlh care provider and asked, "What are you doing to be sure a situation like that doesn't happen again?" Casey replied, "We -- uh -- that is being -- is being studied and the lessons learned from that will be circulated widely throughout the army. There's several ongoing investigations that will inform us about -- about it was a tragic incident." Hagen was told "every brigade has a behavioral health care professional that works with the commander". In other news on the shooting, Richard Tompkins (UPI) reports that Russell is now at camp Arifjan in Kuwait "for futher questioning and legal processing." Tompkins notes Russell has been "charged with five counts of murder and one of aggravated assault."

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