Saturday, October 23, 2010

It beats working







US service members serving in the Iraq War and Afghnistan War have been exposed to toxins that can prove as deadly as any roadside bombing or sniper attack, it'll just take longer for the effects to be felt. Those exposed to, for example, the burn pit in Balad are already experiencing symptoms such as breathing difficulty. A number of service members have attempted to find justice via the US court system and, thus far, they've had no luck. Senator Byron Dorgan has long addressed the burn pit issue. Sadly, Senator Dorgan is not running for re-election and will be leaving the Senate in the new year. Dorgan chairs Democratic Policy Committee and today his office released the following:
U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) said Friday a preliminary report of an investigation by the Department of Defense Inspector General confirms that the Pentagon dropped the ball in responding to the exposure of hundreds of U.S. troops to a deadly chemical in Iraq. Those failures left some exposed soldiers unaware that they had been exposed to the deadly chemical and without follow up health monitoring and treatment. Monitoring tests performed on other soldiers who were informed of their exposure were so inadequate that the agency that performed them now admits they have a "low level of confidence" in those tests.
A second and more detailed Inspector General's report, originally scheduled to be released this month, has now been moved back to the end of the year, a development Dorgan said he finds "disappointing."
The Senate Armed Services Committee and Dorgan requested IG investigations after he chaired hearings by the Senate Democratic Policy Committee (DPC), in June 2008 and August 2009. The hearings revealed that troops from Indiana, Oregon, South Carolina, and West Virginia were exposed to sodium dichromate, a known and highly potent carcinogen at the Qarmat Ali water treatment facility in Iraq. The DPC hearings revealed multiple failures by the contractor, KBR, and the Army's failure to adequately monitor, test, and notify soldiers who may have been exposed of the health risks they may now face.
The IG is releasing two reports on its investigation, The first report was released in September. The second, expected to be a more detailed response to specific DPC concerns, was originally slated for release by late October. But the Department of Defense Inspector General now states a draft of that report won't be available until the end of the year.
The first report provides no indication -- seven years after the exposure – that the Army ever notified seven soldiers from the Army's Third Infantry Division who secured the Qarmat Ali facility during hostilities that they had been exposed. It also confirms that the Army's assessment of the health risks associated with exposure to sodium dichromate for soldiers at Qarmat Ali are not very reliable. In fact, the organization that performed these assessments, the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine (CHPPM), now says it has a "low level of confidence" in its test results for the overwhelming majority of those exposed.
Equally troubling, Dorgan said, is the report's finding that the Department of Defense is refusing to provide information to Congress about the incident, because of a lawsuit to which it is not a party.
"I am very concerned about the findings we now have, and I am disappointed in the delayed release of Part II of this report. The IG's investigation and its findings are very important to the lives of U.S. soldiers and workers who were at the site. Details and definitive findings will help us ensure accountability for this exposure and flawed follow up, but even more importantly, they will help ensure that all exposed soldiers receive appropriate notice and medical attention," Dorgan said.
Senator Byron Dorgan addresses the issues in this video also released today.
Iraq was briefly touched on in the second hour of today's The Diane Rehm Show (NPR) and were it not for the fact that James Kitfield was strong on the topic, we'd probably skip it. But I've called him out so we'll note it to give him his due credit. Diane noted that Shaun had left a message on the program's Facebook page about the cuts in England which include military cuts: "It was the military spending necessary for England's participation in the Iraq War that put them in this predicament. The same is true here. The Bush administration could not deal with the simple fact that we couldn't afford to invade Iraq, either financially or morally."
James Kitfield (National Journal): I take the point and believe me our government is watching very closely what happens in Britain because, I mean, one thing that is interesting is that those cuts have majority support right now, we'll see if that holds, but there's a concern that if you cut back quickly, this very nascent economic recovery will be reversed and that's exactly what we don't want. So there's a big -- Britain is taking a very bold step. I think it's commendable. I hope it works but there is risk involved in it and I think we are watching it very closely.
Elise Labott (CNN): But there's also a huge concern by the United States about these defense cuts -- it's about a 7.5% defense cuts is that going to make Britain a less reliable partner? We have British troops in Iraq, you have British troops in Afghanistan. What about future conflicts, future areas that the US relies on its very special ally the Brits?
[. . .]
James Kitfield: Diane, can I just make a point? I just came back from London, working on this story. The-the fact is Britain no longer wants to be that ally to us. You know the Iraq War has really soured them on being America's, you know, ally of first resort. It's an aftermath, blowback from the Iraq War.
Diane Rehm: Who did you talk to?
James Kitfield: I talked to senior officials in the government, I talked to senior think tank people, all the same thing. They have investigations now, the whole Iraq War, where they are deposing Tony Blair and others, the Iraq War and how that went wrong and how Britian got --
Diane Rehm: Involved.
James Kitfield: -- brought up into it is very real to them right now, even today. And they have no interest in being the kind of ally of first resort, as I say.
Diane Rehm: But again, is that because of financial problems or is that also the question of moral responsibility?
James Kitfield: Well, I mean, it's partly -- The economic part plays into it. But it's primarily a feeling that they went to war that their own people did not support and they thought it was on false pretenses with the Weapons of Mass Destruction. You know, we got our election in 2008 and the Republicans lost and I think we went on, moved on from Iraq. The British have not moved on from Iraq. Their populace does not buy this argument anymore that we should stand by America's side, right or wrong.
Late today nearly 400,000 documents on the Iraq War. Phil Stewart (Reuters) reports that, at the Pentagon today, Col Dave Lapan declared that the Defense Dept did not "expect big surprises" from a rumored upcoming WikiLeaks release. On Democracy Now! this morning, Penatgon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg explained why the Pentagon would not be surprised by the release:
AMY GOODMAN: Now, in the last release of documents [on the Afghanistan War], there were 91,000 documents, but—
DANIEL ELLSBERG: Of which they've withheld so far one out of five, 15,000, for damage control. WikiLeaks has not yet released those. They're working over them to redact.
AMY GOODMAN: Which is the point I wanted to make, released around 75,000—
AMY GOODMAN: -- that WikiLeaks is withholding documents, concerned about issues of --
DANIEL ELLSBERG: Yes. And moreover, they let the Pentagon know what they were releasing. They gave them the files in code to them and asked them actually to identify people that they hoped to be redacted from those. Now, the Pentagon refused, meaning they prefer to bring charges into -- both in court and in the press, of -- endanger, rather than actually to protect these people, showing the usual amount of concern they have over other humans.
AMY GOODMAN: Has the same been done with these 400,000 documents?
DANIEL ELLSBERG: Yes. That's why they're going over them now. They know what's coming out. And they have every ability, if people are endangered -- which actually is in question to this point. The fact that there's been no damage up 'til now really strongly questions the claims that were made earlier and, as I say, passed on by most of the mainstream press, very uncritically, that there was danger. But if there was, it may well have been in those 15,000 which WikiLeaks is properly going over still.
JUAN GONZALEZ: So, what you're saying is that WikiLeaks has let the Pentagon know precisely what it is about to release?
DANIEL ELLSBERG: To my understanding, they have. I'm not in the process. But I understand that they've said that they did make them aware of what it is and have invited them to cooperate in protecting those names. But as I say, the Pentagon, if there are such names, has preferred to make charges.
Sabrina Tavernise and Andrew W. Lehren (New York Times) zoom in on the civilian death data: "The documents also reveal many previously unreported instances in which American soldiers killed civilians -- at checkpoints, from helicopters, in operations. Such killings are a central reason Iraqis turned against the American presence in their country, a situation that is now being repeated in Afghanistan. The archive contains reports on at least four cases of leathl shootings from helicopters. In the bloodiest, on July 16, w00, as many as 26 Iraqis were killed, about half of themcivilians. However, the tally was called in by two different people, and it is possible that the deaths were counted twice." Al Jazeera (link has video) zooms in on the torture revelations.
Al Jazeera: It was one of the stated aims of the war to end the torture chambers but the secret files reveal a very different story. In graphic detail, they record extensive abuse at Iraqi police stations, army bases and prison. On more than 1,300 occasions, US troops reported the allegations to their superiors.
Reading from a US service member's report: The detainee was blindfolded, beaten about the feet and legs with a blunt object, punched in the face and head. Electricity was used on his feet and genitals and he was sodomized with a water bottle.
Al Jazeera: The alleged torturers claim the victim had fallen off his motorbike but the Americans recall that this was
Reading from a US service member's report: Not consistent with the man's injuries.
Al Jazeera: There are many such reports. This one says that --
Reading from a US service member's report: A detainee was jabbed with a screwdriver, struck with cables in the arms, back and legs, electrocuted and sodomized with a hose.
The new logs detail how:
• US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished.
• A US helicopter gunship involved in a notorious Baghdad incident had previously killed Iraqi insurgents after they tried to surrender.
• More than 15,000 civilians died in previously unknown incidents. US and UK officials have insisted that no official record of civilian casualties exists but the logs record 66,081 non-combatant deaths out of a total of 109,000 fatalities.
The numerous reports of detainee abuse, often supported by medical evidence, describe prisoners shackled, blindfolded and hung by wrists or ankles, and subjected to whipping, punching, kicking or electric shocks. Six reports end with a detainee's apparent death.
As recently as December the Americans were passed a video apparently showing Iraqi army officers executing a prisoner in Tal Afar, northern Iraq. The log states: "The footage shows approximately 12 Iraqi army soldiers. Ten IA soldiers were talking to one another while two soldiers held the detainee. The detainee had his hands bound … The footage shows the IA soldiers moving the detainee into the street, pushing him to the ground, punching him and shooting him."
The six years of reports include references to the deaths of at least six prisoners in Iraqi custody, most of them in recent years. Beatings, burnings and lashings surfaced in hundreds of reports, giving the impression that such treatment was not an exception. In one case, Americans suspected Iraqi Army officers of cutting off a detainee's fingers and burning him with acid. Two other cases produced accounts of the executions of bound detainees.
And while some abuse cases were investigated by the Americans, most noted in the archive seemed to have been ignored, with the equivalent of an institutional shrug: soldiers told their officers and asked the Iraqis to investigate.
As Al Jazeera notes (earlier link), at least two orders were issued on this to US soldiers. The first told them to ignore it and do nothing. The second told them to report it to their superiors and then do nothing unless ordered. The documents contain many reports -- by US troops -- of abuse but no orders for follow up actions from the command.
Jonathan Steele (Guardian) reports on three US spy balloons which drifted or 'drifted' into Iran after they came unmoored or 'unmoored' from April to October 2006. In all three cases, only the initial report is available and there appears to hae been no follow up. A lack of follow up for balloons the US military lost -- with spy equipment on them -- would appear to indicate the 'loss' was planned. Michael R. Gordon and Andrew W. Lehren (New York Times) focus on Iran as well -- in terms of US documents detailing allegations of Iran backing Shi'ite militias and that a plan was hatched to kidnap a US soldier. Gordon -- who repeatedly sounded the alarms on Iran's alleged involvement in the violence (as he had falsely tapped out the drumbeat in the march to war on Iraq) -- no doubt feels vindicated: "But the field reports disclosed by WikiLeaks, which were never intended to be made public, underscore the seriousnees with which Iran's role has been seen by the American military." Really? Really? It's the WikiLeaks files that "underscores" that and not all the constant daily brieifings at the Defense Dept and in Baghdad where military officials insisted Iran was up to no good?

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"Uh, we need to talk, in public"

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Uh, we need to talk, in public







Starting in the US where DNAinfo quotes Dan Choi stating, "I have a message for Valerie Jarrett and all those politicians in the White House: You've lost my trust. You have lost my trust and I am not gonna vote for Barack Obama after what he did yesterday." What did he do yesterday? Showed yet another side of hypocrisy.
Lily is dancing
on the table
we've all been
too far
I guess on days
like this
you know who your
friends are
-- "Taxi Ride," written by Tori Amos, first appears on Scarlet's Walk
Lt Dan Choi was discharged from the military for the 'crime' of being gay. With federal Judge Virginia Phillips issuing a halt to discharges under Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the Pentagon telling recruiters that while Phillips' injunction on discharges is in place, they must not discriminate in recruiting against gays or lesbians (see Rebecca's "don't ask barack because he will tell" from last night), Dan Choi took action Tuesday. For a brief moment, equality appeared to exist. Betty's "Sick of the ass in the White House," Mike's "An ugly day," and Cedric's "Shame on you, Mark Sherman" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! STOP WHORING!" covered the latest last night. For those who missed the news, Gillian Losh (Badger Herald) reports the latest in the ongoing Don't Ask, Don't Tell story:

A federal appeals court ruled to temporarily suspend a judge's ban overturning the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that prohibits openly gay and lesbian individuals from serving in the military.
The U.S. Justice Department filed an emergency motion with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to stay the decision, arguing the injunction on the policy has caused "confusion and uncertainty" in the Pentagon and the military, according to the appeals filing.
The three-judge panel approved the short-term motion to stay while they study the issue and consider suspending the injunction for a longer period.

In an analysis, Devin Dwyer (ABC News -- link has text and video) offers an analysis:

The administration's handling of the case has angered critics on both sides of the issue. Gay rights advocates, infuriated by what they see as hypocrisy, and some legal scholars, insist the "duty to defend" has already been fulfilled and that there is ample precedent for the administration to let Judge Phillips' decision stand. Meanwhile, supporters of the law say the administration's invocation of their "duty" is a smokescreen for a halfhearted defense.
"It happens every once in awhile at the federal level when the solicitor general, on behalf of the U.S., will confess error or decline to defend a law," said former George W. Bush administration solicitor general Ted Olson, who is leading the legal challenge of California's ban on same-sex marriage. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state attorney general have both declined to defend the law in court.
"I don't know what is going through the [Obama] administration's thought process on 'don't ask, don't tell,'" Olson said. "It would be appropriate for them to say 'the law has been deemed unconstitutional, we are not going to seek further review of that.'"
Speaking on CNN today (link has video), Dan declared, "I just heard Valerie Jarrett talk to you guys and I am so absolutely upset at the things she could be saying at this moment. Yesterday, when President Obama -- after Don't Ask, Don't Tell has been dead for a week, no enormous consequences, nobody quitting the military because of honest soldiers. And all the sudden you see give mouth to mouth resuscitation to discrimination and injustice. Valerie Jarrett said that gay people, some of us should try to understand the politics in the situation that we are a nation of laws.' Well we understand that. We don't need a lecture from Valerie Jarrett on that. Civics. Day one. American government. Checks and balances. When Congress enacts a law that's unconstitutional, whose job is it to strike it down? The court. I understand that the judicial branch is the only branch of the government that is filling its mandate to the Constitution. And that the president is not able to do that? I am resentful. Absolutely."
This month Disaster Valerie Jarrett has already referred to being gay as "a lifestyle choice." Sending her out as the White House spokesperson on this issue is as offensive as inviting Rick Warren to the inauguration, as offensive as Barack putting homophobes onstage for a South Caroline campaign event in 2007. The administration is tone deaf or being deliberately insulting.
Insulring is the use of noted homophobe Rachel Martin by NPR to cover this topic. On Morning Edition today, Martin insisted that Judge Phillips caused "a little bit of uncertainty and chaos" with her decision. Rachel Martin then went on to declare the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy had to remain in effect because the White House didn't know what to do. As only a HOMOPHOBIC LIAR can do, Rachel spun that: "They're going to have to overahaul sexual harassment rules." No, they're not. Sexual harassment is sexual harassment and the rules -- excuse me, THE LAW -- covers it in terms of same-sex sexual harassment and in terms of opposite-sex sexual harassment.
Rachel's a liar, she'll always be liar. While the liar is still among us, let's apply to logic to her lies. According to Rachel, there are all these things the government has to do, just has to do. Including "sensitivity training for troops." Was there sensisitivy training required when Eisenhow racially integrated the military? No. You give an order, that's the end of the story.
But Rachel wanted to lie because -- well that's all she's ever done.
Okay there is one week left in this month. We then have November and December.
When exactly is Barack planning on ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell. The Pentagon's laughable study is supposed to be done at the start of December. That's supposed to mean the end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell (the end to those who keep half-an-eye on the story). So what's the difference. Why is Judge Phillip's decision being appealed. Forget the injunction for a moment. (The decision was that Don't Ask, Don't Tell was unconstitutional. The injunction was added by Judge Phillips after and it prevented any discharges under Don't Ask, Don't Tell while the executive branch did any appeals.) Why are they wasting, WASTING, tax payer money on this bulls**t?
Five weeks? Five weeks until -- according to the popular narrative -- Don't Ask, Don't Tell is repealed and Barack is wasting the Justice Dept's hours and our tax dollars on this nonsense? How is that cost effective and how does it demonstrate that he knows the first thing about running a government? It doesn't.
That's the decision. Now let's move to the injunction.
The injunction did no harm. All the injunction did was prevent people from being discharged for being gay. The Penatgon added the policy that recruiters couldn't discriminate. Neither of those were causing any harm -- especially when, Barack wants us to believe -- he's planning on ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell in December.
People need to be asking what's going on because it appears Barack's primary rally cry of "We're going to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell!" Is a great deal like his cry of, "We want to end the war!" Apparently, footnotes are required for all of Barack's speeches.
Chris Johnson (Washington Blade) reports that US House Rep Barney Frank states Barack shouldn't have allowed Phillip's decision -- not just the injunction, the entire decision -- to be appealed: "First, President Obama made a mistake in appealing the decision of Judge Phillips, ruling it unconstitutional. While presidents do have the obligation to defend even laws they dislike, 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' has already been repudiated as bad policy by the President himself, by a decisive majority of the House and by a Senate majority just short of the votes necessary to break filibuster." Writing for the Palm Beach Post editorial board, Rhonda Swan also feels the decision should not have been appealed and argues, "It defies logic that an administration opposed to this bigotry would fight to maintain it. President Obama has said the policy 'weakens our national security.' The Justice Department said it has a duty to defend the laws enacted by Congress. The department did so, and lost. The right thing would have been to accept defeat. In this case, defeat would have been a win for the country." GetEQUAL issued the following:
Today, Robin McGehee, co-founder and director of GetEQUAL -- a national, direct action lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization -- issued the following statement in response to the ruling by Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issuing a temporary stay against an earlier injunction in Log Cabin Republicans vs. United States of America. The stay was sought by the Department of Justice against a ruling last week that ordered the U.S. military to immediately stop enforcement of the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law:
"This temporary stay, sought by President Obama's Department of Justice, brings the military's discriminatory 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law back from the dead. It is a travesty that after numerous attempts, President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder will go down in history as the Administration that breathed life back into 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' The lives and careers of openly gay and lesbian servicemembers are now back in the crosshairs of our government and a renewed commitment to discrimination falls squarely in the hands of this White House."
GetEQUAL is a national, direct action lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization. Emphasizing direct action and people power, the mission of GetEQUAL is to empower the LGBT community and its allies to take action to demand full legal and social equality, and to hold accountable those who stand in the way. For more information on GetEQUAL, please visit: You can follow GetEQUAL on Twitter at, on Facebook at, or on YouTube at

Yesterday on All Things Considered (NPR -- link has text and audio), Melissa Block spoke with Robert Maginnis who was an officer in the US military until he took retirement. Maginnis "helped craft" Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Maginnis declared:
Actually, I tend to agree with what Secretary [Robert] Gates said on the issue. And that is that you need to engage the force to find out their opinion about this because, after all, this is an all-volunteer force. If in fact they are alienated by a decision like this to repeal, then they could walk. And who are you going to backfill?
We'll stop him there. He is right on one thing: Gates' position. Maginnis summarized Gates' position correctly.

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Shame on you, Mark Sherman





There is a long tradition that the Justice Department defends laws adopted by Congress and signed by a president, regardless of whether the president in office likes them.

This practice cuts across party lines. And it has caused serious heartburn for more than one attorney general.










Turning to the US, in July, Lt Dan Choi was discharged from the military for the 'crime' of being gay. With federal Judge Virginia Phillips issuing a halt to discharges under Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the Pentagon telling recruiters that while Phillips' injunction on discharges is in place, they must not discriminate in recruiting against gays or lesbians (see Rebecca's "don't ask barack because he will tell" from last night), Dan Choi took action yesterday.
I'm headed to the Times Square Recruiting Station. #DADT I'm gonna try to enlist in the Marines today. Anyone else can meet me at NYC Times Sq now. Walking through Chelsea about to enlist; reminded of our beautiful diversity. This is what makes America worth defending. In the recruiting station. Apparently I'm too old for the Marines! Just filled out the Army application. Joining AC360 tonite on my recruitment back to the Army! #DADT #itgetsbetter
Metro Weekly has video of Dan outside the recruiting station. As Dan Tweeted, he was on Anderson Cooper 360 (CNN) last night -- here for transcript, here for video (and you have to navigate on that page, go to TV, and then choose Anderson Cooper). Excerpt:
COOPER: There's breaking news on the Pentagon's don't ask, don't tell policy, which bars gays from serving openly in the military. Tonight, a federal judge in California denied the Obama administration's request that she suspend her own ruling, which struck down the policy as unconstitutional. Now, the administration will most certainly appeal the decision, but it comes on the same day that we learned of a stunning recruitment change by the Pentagon. For the first time in the history of this country, the U.S. military is now telling its recruiters that they can accept openly gay and lesbian applicants. They made the change because of the federal judge's ruling. Former Army Lieutenant Dan Choi went to a recruiting station in New York today to re-up. He's a veteran of the Iraq war, an Arab linguist, and a West Point graduate who was discharged earlier this year after announcing he was gay. A short time ago, I spoke to Dan Choi. I also spoke to Alex -- Alex Nicholson, founder and executive director of Servicemembers United, who was also discharged under the policy. He's a plaintiff in the case the judge ruled on. And our own Jeffrey Toobin, CNN senior legal analyst, joined in the discussion.


COOPER: Dan, you were discharged from the Army, what, a couple of months ago. Today, you actually went back to reenlist. What happened?

DAN CHOI, DISCHARGED UNDER DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL POLICY: They allowed me to reenlist. They allowed me to sign up.

We know that don't ask, don't tell has been dead for a week now, seven days. And they're allowing people to sign up and be openly gay.

COOPER: So -- so, I mean, you walked in to, what, the Times Square recruiting office today?

CHOI: That's right.

COOPER: And you -- you tried to join the Marine Corps, but you were too -- you're too old for that.

CHOI: A couple months too old. So...

COOPER: A couple months too old. So -- so, what did you sign up for?

CHOI: The Army took me. And they're processing my paperwork right now. I was an officer before. I graduated from West Point and served in Iraq, but now I get to follow my dreams. I want to be enlisted.

COOPER: Did you tell them today that you were gay?

CHOI: Yes. I said that I was discharged under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." I have no intention of keeping it secret. I want to sign up and serve with the full measure of integrity and honor and tell the truth of who I am. I don't intend to keep that part of my life silent.

COOPER: And what was the reaction in the office among the soldier you were talking with?

CHOI: Very professional, motivating and very inspirational. Told me all about what the Army is and...

COOPER: They gave you have the regular spiel? Really? That's kind of fascinating.

CHOI: Well...

COOPER: And did you kind of say like, "Yes, I know that part. I went to West Point."

CHOI: They were excited because it's rare to see people who have prior service to come back and particularly in a time of war. They need people of all different skills. And being able to speak Arabic and wanting to be a linguist, they also told me, you know, it's the needs of the Army. It's whatever the Army needs. I said, I've also been through airborne, air assault training, Rangers school and infantry training.
COOPER: By any traditional benchmark for the military you would be a great candidate. CHOI: That's right. So a week ago, even with all these qualifications, I would have been turned away if I would have said that I'm gay, and I intend to be honest about it. Today was very different.

COOPER: And they handed you a pamphlet, too.

CHOI: They said, "Stand up, stand out and stand Army strong." I was very excited.

COOPER: So your paperwork is going through?

CHOI: It's going through, and they're processing it. I'm very happy about it.

Feminist Wire Daily notes that "over 13,000" service members have been kicked out of the US military under the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. GetEQUAL issued the following this morning:
WASHINGTON -- Today, Robin McGehee, co-founder and director of GetEQUAL -- a national, direct action lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization -- issued the following statement in response to the ruling by a federal district court judge refusing to stay an earlier injunction in Log Cabin Republicans vs. United States of America. The stay was being sought by the Department of Justice against an earlier ruling ordering the U.S. military to immediately stop enforcement of the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law:
"This evening, Judge Phillips has once again shown the courage and leadership that has evaded so many of our political leaders -- including President Obama. We applaud Judge Phillips for this fair-minded, common sense ruling and continue to urge President Obama and the Department of Justice to immediately cease their unnecessary appeal of the Federal Court's ruling.
It is past time that President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder act in accordance with nearly 80 percent of the American people, distinguished military leaders, active-duty servicemembers, and courageous veterans to ensure that this ruling is carried out immediately. President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have the opportunity to act on the right side of history and to stop appeals of this decision."
GetEQUAL is a national, direct action lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization. Emphasizing direct action and people power, the mission of GetEQUAL is to empower the LGBT community and its allies to take action to demand full legal and social equality, and to hold accountable those who stand in the way. For more information on GetEQUAL, please visit: You can follow GetEQUAL on Twitter at, on Facebook at, or on YouTube at
Where there is an equality victory, there is Barack Obama trying to put the brakes on. AFP reports, "US Pesident Barack Obama's administration asked an appeals court Wednesday to immediately suspend a judge's decision to repeal a ban on gays serving openly in the military. [. . .] The Justice Department urged the appeals court in San Francisco to immediately suspend Phillips's repeal of the controversial 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' policy, while it considered a reversal of her stay decision." And, NO, there was no need to appeal it. And liars and whores who rush to rescue Barry better check themselves with the public record. They're insisting, as David G. Savage (Los Angeles Times) reports, "The Justice Department said it has a duty to defend the laws enacted by Congress, even though President Obama is urging Congress to repeal the law and to allow openly gay men and women to serve in the military.

Really?: Did they appeal an appeals-court ruling on the ban in 2009? No. Jess Bravin and Laura Meckler (Wall St. Journal) reported in real time (May 19, 2009), "The Obama administration has decided to accept an appeals-court ruling that could undermine the military's ban on service members found to be gay." This is the Margert Witt case. The same issue and they didn't appeal that ruling. Why was that? As Josh Gersein (Politico) explained earlier this week, Barack's concern then wasn't with the law it was with Elena Kagan:
In May 2009, the Obama administration faced a decision about whether to ask the Supreme Court to take up a 9th Circuit ruling that sharply limited the Pentagon's ability to discharge gay service members. The court's opinion in the case brought by Air Force Maj. Margaret Witt was clearly at odds with a 2008 ruling from the 1st Circuit that upheld "don't ask, don't tell."
The Witt case could have produced a definitive ruling from the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of "don't ask," but the case could also have put Solicitor General Elena Kagan in the exceedingly uncomfortable position of arguing in the nation's highest court in favor of a statute that she once excoriated as "a moral injustice of the highest order."

Oh, it might have made Elena Kagan uncomfortable? That's the difference? For the comfort level of a public servant who elected to accept a job, Barack will bend his so-called rules but for the millions of gays and lesbians in this country and around the world, they're on their own. For CNN, Jeffrey Toobin (link has text and video) offers this legal opinion, "They are in a very bizarre position, frankly, of their own making."
Like millions of Americans, I was terribly saddened to learn of the recent suicides of several teenagers across our country after being bullied because they were gay or because people thought they were gay. Children are particularly vulnerable to the hurt caused by discrimination and prejudice and we have lost many young people over the years to suicide. These most recent deaths are a reminder that all Americans have to work harder to overcome bigotry and hatred.
I have a message for all the young people out there who are being bullied, or who feel alone and find it hard to imagine a better future: First of all, hang in there and ask for help. Your life is so important -- to your family, your friends, and to your country. And there is so much waiting for you, both personally and professionally -- there are so many opportunities for you to develop your talents and make your contributions.
And these opportunities will only increase. Because the story of America is the story of people coming together to tear down barriers, stand up for rights, and insist on equality, not only for themselves but for all people. And in the process, they create a community of support and solidarity that endures. Just think of the progress made by women just during my lifetime by women, or ethnic, racial and religious minorities over the course of our history --- and by gays and lesbians, many of whom are now free to live their lives openly and proudly. Here at the State Department, I am grateful every day for the work of our LGBT employees who are serving the United States as foreign service officers and civil servants here and around the world. It wasn't long ago that these men and women would not have been able to serve openly, but today they can -- because it has gotten better. And it will get better for you.
So take heart, and have hope, and please remember that your life is valuable, and that you are not alone. Many people are standing with you and sending you their thoughts, their prayers and their strength. Count me among them.
Take care of yourself.
You have value to your friends and family, your community and your country. She's certainly the first in this administration to get that across and a far cry from Valerie Jarrett who was insisting this month that being gay was "a lifestyle choice." It's not just Val. Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense, is not the hero on this issue so many try to make him. We were at that hearing where he first gave testimony. Only NBC Nightly News got his testimony correctly. CBS, ABC and other outlets lumped him with Adm Mike Mullen. Mullen was speaking only for himself. And the fact that they weren't able to quote Gates or show a clip of him speaking passionately on the issue should have been a clue to all. What he said was, he would follow any order from the president. For those who are confused, Gates isn't in the military. He's in the presidential cabinet. Damn straight he will follow any order from Barack. If he doesn't, he'd be fired. What Gates advocated for -- and no one wants to pay attention to this -- is a study. Not, as Barack keeps saying, to determine how to repeal it but to determine whether to repeal it.
We've gone over this and yet last week you had a bunch of idiots making fools of themselves online at the New York Times praising Robert Gates for his strong support of the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. That's not his position. We're going to try to make that point one more time. No one in the social scene in DC is mistaken about what Gates' actual position is. He's hardly been silent semi-privately. But if you still don't get it, if the basic still elude you, former Lt Col Robert Maginnis is interviewed by Melissa Block on NPR's All Things Considered today. Listen to it. Listen to what he's saying, grasp that he knows Gates' postion (he knows Gates' position very well, the two know each other). Listen to what he's saying. And then you'll grasp why suddenly the Pentagon that was just supposed to be studying how to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell decided to start surveying the husbands and wives of straight (or straight-passing) service members. There was no point in that ever. Unless you were trying to game the study so as to continue Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Barack the basic cable star






How is it possible for a country to be at war on two fronts for nearly a decade and not be plunged into constant fits of epic soul-searching? Whatever trick of light makes it possible to pretend "We, the People" have nothing to do with wars waged in our name overseas also blinds us to its tragic legacies at home.
In a little more than two weeks, a nation suffering from willful amnesia about Iraq and Afghanistan will either vote for new representatives who share their myopia -- or retain those incumbents most skilled at exploiting it.
If polls are to be believed, these wars are too low on the list of voter priorities to prompt much turnout on Election Day. Although more than a trillion dollars has been spent on the wars, that's an unthinkable abstraction to the vast majority of us.
The column comes on the heels of Tom Brokaw's "The Wars That America Forgot About" (New York Times):
Notice anything missing on the campaign landscape?
How about war? The United States is now in its ninth year of fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, the longest wars in American history. Almost 5,000 men and women have been killed. More than 30,000 have been wounded, some so gravely they're returning home to become, effectively, wards of their families and communities.
In those nine years, the United States has spent more than $1 trillion on combat operations and other parts of the war effort, including foreign aid, reconstruction projects, embassy costs and veterans' health care. And the end is not in sight.
So why aren't the wars and their human and economic consequences front and center in this campaign, right up there with jobs and taxes?
So did the people forget or did the press forget? Jared Hunt's article (West Virginia's Daily Mail Capitol Reporter) on the US Senate race between Joe Manchin and Governor John Raese appears to indicate that, when asked, candidates will discuss the Iraq War. Manchin terms it a distraction "with a tremendous cost to human life, the personal tragedies that the families had to endure, and the financial cost of this mission." Raese speaks of his opposition to "adherence to rules of engagement in combat" (which would put him at odds with the Pentagon's official position) and asserts that the US military in Iraq has been forced to conduct "a politically correct war". The two columns argue a point similar to the one made last Friday on the second hour of The Diane Rehm Show (NPR):
Gordon Lubold: Well I don't disagree but it's just that you are not hearing that as part of the conversation. Even the veterans who are running for seats in the House are not -- that's not resonating. People are not paying attention to the fact -- And this is different from two years ago, uh, when the surge in Iraq was-was topic A and everybody wanted to weigh in about it. It's just not as much of an issue.
For more of that exchange, you can see Friday's snapshot. From Third's "Editorial: Media bites the people," "'It's just not as much of an issue.' The Iraq War vanished from TV. Most newspaper no longer have even a one-person Baghdad bureau. But somehow, Lubold wants you to know, the public just stopped thinking about the Iraq War. How strange that is? That the media creates a vacuum and, after time, the public goes along?" It's not strange at all, as a response from the public. It's very strange that the US media largelly withdrew from Iraq and now journalists want to act puzzled that people aren't focused on a war that few bother to report on.
PEW doesn't even bother to do their yearly (at least yearly) report on how Iraq's fallen off the media radar. But if there's no coverage, there's little awareness. This is reflected in past PEW reports. Take March 12, 2008 when PEW found only 27% of adults surveyed were aware of the general number (4,000) of US service members who had died in Iraq -- down 26% from the previous year. What else was down during that time period? News coverage and, as PEW noted, "As news coverage of the war has diminished, so too has public interrest in news about Iraq."
NPR is supposed to be reporting from Iraq. It's in the budget. They've had to justify that budget. So it's surprising that 'continuing' coverage translates these days into one or two reports a month. I don't think anyone thought 'continue' would mean one or two reports a month. Kelly McEvers last aired report was October 6th. That's 12 days ago. (And click here, an NPR friend says a report will air on All Things Considered today.) (McEvers and others have had reports from Iraq that were offered in tiny bits at the top of the hour news. There was one Monday, in fact, on Nouri going to Tehran.) The only significant thing since then has been Steve Inskeep's discussion on Iraq with Peter Kenyon (Morning Edition, October 8th). And look at the other programs NPR has. Where's Iraq? Where? And the programs they carry? On Point with Tom Ashbrook? It last covered Iraq when? What about To The Point? We can go through all the programs. The answers are not pretty. (PRI actually has covered Iraq, you can especially refer to PRI's The World this month.) It gets even uglier when you go to network so-called news and pick up nothing on Iraq but a bunch of crap like "car surfing" gets air time. It's disgusting. The American people can't follow what's not covered. Accusing them of disinterest when the press refuses to cover a topic is really sad and, honestly, weak. It, after all, takes some guts to call out the press but to attack 'we the people'? It's a breeze, it always has been which is why one blowhard after another hectors the people while refusing to call out the ones in charge of coverage.

September 3rd, Poynter published an internal AP memo written by Tom Kent, the AP's Deputy Managing Editor for Standards and Production,
Whatever the subject, we should be correct and consistent in our description of what the situation in Iraq is. This guidance summarizes the situation and suggests wording to use and avoid.
To begin with, combat in Iraq is not over, and we should not uncritically repeat suggestions that it is, even if they come from senior officials. The situation on the ground in Iraq is no different today than it has been for some months. Iraqi security forces are still fighting Sunni and al-Qaida insurgents. Many Iraqis remain very concerned for their country's future despite a dramatic improvement in security, the economy and living conditions in many areas.
As for U.S. involvement, it also goes too far to say that the U.S. part in the conflict in Iraq is over. President Obama said Monday night that "the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country."
However, 50,000 American troops remain in country. Our own reporting on the ground confirms that some of these troops, especially some 4,500 special operations forces, continue to be directly engaged in military operations. These troops are accompanying Iraqi soldiers into battle with militant groups and may well fire and be fired on.
In addition, although administration spokesmen say we are now at the tail end of American involvement and all troops will be gone by the end of 2011, there is no guarantee that this will be the case.
Our stories about Iraq should make clear that U.S. troops remain involved in combat operations alongside Iraqi forces, although U.S. officials say the American combat mission has formally ended. We can also say the United States has ended its major combat role in Iraq, or that it has transferred military authority to Iraqi forces. We can add that beyond U.S. boots on the ground, Iraq is expected to need U.S. air power and other military support for years to control its own air space and to deter possible attack from abroad.
Unless there is balancing language, our content should not refer to the end of combat in Iraq, or the end of U.S. military involvement. Nor should it say flat-out (since we can't predict the future) that the United States is at the end of its military role.
Other than AP, what outlet have you seen take those steps? And where are the watchdogs? At CJR they're writing defensive, bitchy posts about articles in Women's Wear Daily while wanting to pretend they're some sort of journalistic oversight body. Get real. They're nothing but another useless and mythical watercooler -- with half the intelligence and none of the pertinence. They haven't done a thing of value online that they can point to in the last two years.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Any takers?






Turning to the 'pranking' of Iraqis by US soldiers. We covered this last month and, on this week's best of War News Radio segment (from last month), they speak with a 'pranker.' Excerpt:
Kyle Crawford: The video which was posted in April begins with American soldiers from the 172nd Stryker Brigade stopping an Iraqi driver at a routine checkpoint outside of Mosul in northern Iraq. After quickly planting a grenade in the man's car without his knowledge, Dunson and his partner repeatedly demand an explanation.
US miilitary voice 1: What the f---?
US military voice 2: What's that? What's that? What is that? What is that? What is that?
Kyle Crawford: The Iraqi gestures in denial and after about 30 seconds Dunson announces that it was all a joke and shakes hands with the relieved man. Dunson says he was surprised by the attention his video produced
Sgt Leo Dunson: I was pretty shocked. I mean I was -- I woke up -- Honestly, I woke up to like uhm all these calls and a lot messages, you know, a lot of messages. And I had no idea what was going on.
Kyle Crawford: Although War News Radio first reported on the video in July, it wasn't until and CNN reported on the prank last week that Dunson's video drew national attention. Gawker wrote, "It's hard to believe Iraqis really appreciate having a grenade stuck in their trunk by US soldiers no matter how well intended.
Sgt Leo Dunson: What they had to say in the article was pretty shocking as well. I didn't think so many people would take it so offensive.
Kyle Crawford: In the wake of prisoner abuses in Iraq, the US military has operated under the microscope of global criticism but Dunson suggests his detractors are misinterperting the video of the incident.
Sgt Leo Dunson: It was all in fun and even the guy he laughed with me and then that was it, you know? It wasn't that big of a deal. I remember the day like it was yesterday. I remember not like he was petrified of his life situation. I was there. I mean it might look to them like he was but he was not petrified of his life.
Kyle Crawford: As a guest on Russia Today, an English language Russian TV network. American army Col Joel Hamilton vehemently criticized Dunson's actions stating that the behavior was unacceptable and it would not be tolerated in his battalion but Dunson has strong words in response.
Sgt Leo Dunson: The Lt Col that goes on TV and attempts -- attempted to bash me or slam me -- I can't think of his name. But he said I would never let somebody under my -- in my unit act that way and I'm thinking to myself, 'Well, sir, you're not even out in the field so you don't know what those guys are doing.
Kyle Crawford: Dunson explains that people don't understand the pressure weighing on soldiers in Iraq. He says joking around is one way to relax and pass the time.
Sgt Leo Dunson: I'm here for a year and a half. You want me to be serious the entire time? Do you want me to sit here with my gun pointed at everybody and shoot and kill everybody I come across?
Those are the choices? Really? You get to goof on duty while you're supposed to be working -- not in your down time, let's be clear -- or you're going to "shoot and kill everybody I come across"?
That service member needs some help, some serious help and a serious talk for that reason only. Do I want him to be serious the whole time? I don't want him or any US service member over there. As for how he conducts himself on duty, that's a code of conduct and, unless he's attempting to resist that code of conduct, he needs to follow it. Foreign occupiers -- we covered this before -- do not get to 'prank' the occupied. It's dangerous in many ways -- including the Iraqi could panic and run off, end up seen as a 'fleeing suspect' (and suspects get shot in Iraq) and end up dead or wounded or the US military could 'prank' the wrong people and find themselves being assaulted with AK-47s or they could give a person a heart attack or even just a panic attack. There's no reason for it. It's dangerous. It's not part of the code of conduct. It's not funny, it's not right and it shouldn't be happening. Leo Dunson clearly needs a sit-down with superior officers because he's just not getting it. And, in fact, if he's still not getting it, the problem may well be superior officers above him.
Today on Law and Disorder Radio (WBAI -- airs on other stations throughout the week and streams online) attorney Margaret Ratner-Kunstler discussed the FBI raids and the issues of grand juries. If you're asking what FBI raids (because you missed it or because there are so many FBI raids), Friday, September 24th raids took place in at least seven homes -- the FBI admits to raiding seven homes -- and the FBI raided the offices of Anti-War Committee. The same day the raids took place the National Lawyers Guild issues a new report, Heidi Boghosian's [PDF format warning] "The Policing of Political Speech: Constraints on Mass Dissent in the US." Heidi is one of Law and Disorder's three co-hosts, the other two are Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner. And they addressed the raids on the program that began broadcasting September 27th. Excerpt:
Heidi Boghosian: You are our resident expert in grand juries and you've been doing this kind of work for decades so you've seen the historical impact especially in the wake of 9-11. Can you talk generally -- and we'll be talking a little bit about the raids that happened to activists -- but can you talk generally how grand juries have been misused historically to target activists?
Margaret Ratner-Kunstler: Well the threat of a grand jury subpoena, just the mere threat of a subpoena, has been used since 1968 when the immunity law changed -- and I'll explain that a little bit later -- to threaten activists with incarceration. The grand jury functions in a very insidious way. Before 1968, if you were subpoenaed before a grand jury and you asserted your Fifth Amendment right then that really was the end of your participation in the grand jury because you asserted immunity and if you were given immunity, you couldn't be indicted so --
Michael Ratner: Now by immunity you mean we have a Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate ourselves and you're asked to speak before a grand jury or answer questions, you say 'I have a Fifth Amendment right not to say anything and I'm not going to say anything' and that would be the end of the matter. Now why was that the end of the matter?
Margaret Ratner-Kunstler: Why was it the end of the matter? Because if you were given immunity than that was the end of the potential for indictment.
Michael Ratner: Because immunity meant that you no longer?
Margaret Ratner-Kunstler: That nothing you say not only could not be used against you, but anything you testified about could not be the subject of a criminal indictment against you.

Michael Ratner: So they really couldn't indict you anymore.
Margaret Ratner-Kunstler: They really couldn't indict you anymore. What happened subsequent to that, it didn't prove to be a good tool obviously for getting or testimony for people so immunity was changed. And the immunity that was once a full immunity became a transactional immunity. And your testimony then was only if you asserted your Fifth Amendment right before the grand jury, then you were given immunity. But the immunity was so tiny, it only covered what you said. Your very words could not be held against you or the fruits of those words. But it was so easy to get around that just by a prosecutor saying, 'Well this didn't come from that, it came from something else.' If you then refused to testify once you were given this kind-of minor immunity, you could be subject to imprisonment.
Michael Ratner: So let me give you an example. I'm sitting at home one day -- and maybe something like the activists who were given subpoenas for a grand jury in Minneapolis or Chicago. And I'm given a piece of paper served by an FBI agent but it comes from a United States Attorney and it says, 'Michael Ratner, you have to go down to wherever the courthouse is and you have to go into a room with 23 jurors or something -- grand jurors, all in secret, and I don't have my attorney in there, my attorney -- let's say it's you, Margie, -- can stand outside but I have to go in the room. And I'm there with the US Attorney and these 23 grand jurors and they ask me questions. And they say, "Michael Ratner, what's your name?" I say, "My name is Michael Ratner." They say, "Were you in Chicago on such-and-such a date?" And I say, "Well I'm not going to testify because that might incriminate me if I testify." Then they say, "Okay, don't answer. We'll get you immunity." Then they get me immunity, they drag me in again, and then they say, "What's your name -- were you In Chicago on such-and-such date?" And I say, "I take the Fifth Amendment." And they say, "Well you can't anymore because you've been given immunity." And I mess around and say something about the First Amendment right of association but, at that point, they can haul me before a judge and do what with me?
Margaret Ratner-Kunstler: This is assuming that you didn't use certain procedures that are available to you before that. But at that point, they haul you before a judge and you have a contempt hearing. The judge says, "What are your reasons for refusing to testify?" And listens to them. Generally, people assert the First Amendment claims which are not deemed sufficient to overcome the immunity issues so the judge then orders you to testify. You go back into the grand jury room if you testify, that's one thing. If you refuse to testify, your brought back before the judge and the judge then holds you in what is known as civil contempt. That means that whatever length of the grand jury -- Normal grand juries are 18 months. The grand jury that we're concerned about today is a grand jury that's a federal grand jury in Chicago that was impaneled in August and it's a special grand jury which means that it's twice as long -- it's a thirty-six month grand jury -- and can be extended because it's called "special." Now that's significant because the time you can -- If you are held in civil contempt, it's so-called, the keys to the jail are in your pocket. You're in jail for as long as you refuse to testify. It used to be that we would stal and stall and stall so that if a person refused to testify, there was only three months left for the life of a grand jury and the person would only have to do three months. But since grand jury lives are longer and since this is the beginning of a grand jury, people who refuse to testify and are held in contempt can easily face thirty-six months in jail, something near that.
Michael Ratner: They don't get a fixed sentence, they go to jail and the judge says, as you said Margie --
Margaret Ratner-Kunstler: Until you -- until you agree.
Michael Ratner: -- you have the keys to the jail. If you agree to talk, you can get out.
Margaret Ratner-Kunstler: Right.
Michael Ratner: They ask you, name all of your friends. That's the kind of thing they'll ask you.
Heidi Boghosian: But this is called coercion. The point of incarceration is to coerce the person to change their mind.
Margaret Ratner-Kunstler: Right. And that's why it's civil.
Michael S. Smith: But isn't it punative?
Michael Ratner: Yeah.
Margaret Ratner-Kunstler: Of course it's punative. It's punative because if a person is going in saying "I know I am not going to testify," then there's no coercion and it's all 100% punative.
Michael Ratner: You're not allowed to torture people anymore now, you just go to jail.
Margaret Ratner-Kunstler: But that's all you do, you go to jail.
Michael Ratner: Right, it's not like --
Heidi Boghosian: But they say theoretically it's not supposed to be punative.
Margaret Ratner-Kunstler: But you know at that point, after you have served your civil contempt time, you are still, you are still potentially subject to criminal contempt and that has happened.
Michael Ratner: To some of your clients. Puerto Rican clients, right?
Margaret Ratner-Kunstler: Yes. After they were held in civil contempt and did their civil contempt time, they were indicted for criminal contempt. And a criminal contempt trial is a joke because you've already been held civilly, you've been in a court room refusing to testify so the evidence against you is quite simple so there is very little you can do in terms of adjustification.
Heidi Boghosian: Now I remember I went to a training that you did a couple of years ago that you did with Bob Boyle and I remember the advice, "Do not say anything." Even sometimes admitting your address or your name --
Michael Ratner: This is in the grand jury, Heidi?
Heidi Boghosian: This is in the grand jury. Is it true that somehow that could be manipulated? That one really shouldn't say anything?
Margaret Ratner-Kunstler: Well there is the potential of waiving. If you say something, you could waive your Fifth Amendment right by already participating in the conversation. So if you talk, then you might lose the ability to assert your Fifth Amendment and go through the immunity process.
Michael S. Smith: So, Margaret, what's at stake now with these various people in Chicago and Minneapolis being subpoenaed to the grand jury, the FBI going into their homes and taking their computers and their records and everything. What's goin on?
Margaret Ratner-Kunstler: Well I think it's really interesting what's going on. I mean it really represents the tremendous sea change we have in this country in terms of the ability of people to actively oppose this government's policy. This is a situation that, if it happened in 1983, for example, with the groups that were opposing the US intervention in Central America and the propping up of various dictators, there were many groups in this country who were joining forces with the progressive groups in Central America and aiding them in various ways. You had the Committee of Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, you had the people working with the Nicaraguans, you had a whole host of people supporting the progressive movements in Central America. Now if that happened today, these people would be subject to -- as the people who have been subpoenaed to these grand juries -- would be subject to very serious criminal actions against them based on the Patriot Act that now is in existence.
Iraq War veteran and IVAW member Adam Kokesh has a radio show that airs daily on KIVA -- streams live online -- from 9:00 pm to 11:00 pm Mountain Time (which is 11:00 pm to 1:00 am EST) and is entitled Adam vs The Man. Video archives of the radio show are here. Adam is part of the Campaign for Liberty and, of course, ran for the Republican nomination for the US House District 3 race in New Mexico where he received 29% of the vote in the GOP primary which is a more than respectable showing for a first time run. There are a lot of things we ignore because (a) they're not related to Iraq and (b) they're inaccurate. And, in the case of someone's attack on Angelina Jolie, it was both of those plus I've known Angelina since she was a little girl. But we will stop to note Jessica Simpson's latest mess (because it is related to the wars and because a friend at US asked if I could work it in). US magazine reports that 4Troops -- Iraq War and Afghanistan War veterans who have formed a signing troop -- were scheduled to be a part of Jessica Simpson's upcoming Christmas show for Detroit Public Television but they were cut at the last minute and they've been told it was because Simpson's manager father didn't like the costumes they were performing in (camouflage fatigues). Joe Simpson would be the bad guy in this story but Jessica's not 14-years-old and she can't hide behind Daddy her whole life. More importantly, she and ex-husband Nick Lachey had the gall to call their non-special in 2005 Nick & Jessica's Tour of Duty. When you've tried to hawk your bad film (Dukes of Hazzard) on the backs of service members, you damn well make sure they appaear. Which defeats the newest spin an unnamed spokesperson offers for Jessica, lack of time. You don't cut 4 Troops after you've used the service members as props in your previous special. 4 Troops has more information about their performances, recordings and news at their site and their Twitter feed is here. This isn't meant to excuse Simpson but 4 Troops is lucky to miss out. She's a faded non-star without talent or looks and she peaked some time ago. More importantly, her 'specials' are embarrassments. As Ava and I noted of the 2005 one:
As the "special" continued, the entertainment casualities continued to pile up, far too many to mention. (Maybe Nightline can do a special on that?) But among the more noteable fatalities would have to be Simpson's laughable attempt to cover Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made For Walking." While stamping across the stage and sticking out her nothing to brag about ass, Simpson managed to chirp each word correctly even while never demonstrating that she had the first inkling as to what the song was actually about. It was as though you were watching a five-year-old scuffle around in Mommy's high heels.
Which is puzzling when you consider another fatality -- "God Bless America." Who knew it was an ode to orgasms?
Watching little Jessie wet her lips and tousle her mane (as a person she makes a great little pony), we were left to wonder what that or heaving bossoms had to do with either God or a country. Simpson apparently learnt the song at Our Lady of Lap Dance.
[. . .]
It takes tremendous vanity or stupidity to dub an "entertainment special" a "Tour of Duty." We're guessing it took equal parts stupidity and vanity on the part of of the couple front and center. Both continue to push themselves as "stars" when the reality is that Krista and Ryan qualify for that honor far more than Simpson and Lachey. Having achieved little but magazine covers fretting over the state of their business merger, er, marriage, we're guessing that the star system has so imploded that soon Kathie Lee Gifford will be spoken of with the sort of awe usually reserved for Meryl Streep.
Journalist Ron Brynaert has posted "I'm Back And I Still Got A Sledgehammer Break!" at his old website Why Are We Back In Iraq? and he has a longer post which is an introduction to his earlier reporting on spikes of activity. So a Blogspot/Blogger welcome back to Ron, you have been missed at Good Intentions Paving Company. I don't know how long he'll be blogging at his own site. You'd be smart to check it out now while he is. And we'll close with this from David Edwards and Muriel Kane's "Whistleblower Reveals Systematic Humiliation of Detainees" (World Can't Wait):

Note -- On October 20, Ethan McCord will be joining World Can't Wait for a live webcast on the Collateral Murder video released by Wikileaks. Ethan is the soldier in video carrying the young girl from the van. Today, he has also just released some videos showing humiliation of detainees...
A former US soldier in Iraq has come forward with video of his fellow soldiers subjecting Iraqi detainees to what he describes as "mental, emotional, degrading" abuse.
US Army Specialist Ethan McCord was a member of Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry, the same unit that was involved in a 2007 helicopter attack in Baghdad shown in a leaked video released last April by WikiLeaks.

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