Sunday, March 30, 2008
Returning Iraqi War veterans have been charging that the unofficial Army policy on the ground in Iraq is to murder civilians, in short, war crimes. Is this condoned and encouraged because the military feels they are the biggest ape in the jungle and who will dare prosecute them?
The answer to those who feel they are beyond morality, beyond accountability: the Universe will dare.
"The killing of innocent civilians is policy. It's unit policy and it's Army policy. It's not official policy, but it's what's happens on the ground everyday. It's what unit commanders individually encourage." -- Iraq War veteran Mike Blake
Is it age or just 7 years of not being curious (or interested) in anything but war?
According to Adam Nagourney of the NYT:
A transcript of the encounter follows. (Weaver is John Weaver, his senior adviser, and Brian is Mr. Jones, his press secretary):
Reporter: “Should U.S. taxpayer money go to places like Africa to fund contraception to prevent AIDS?”
Mr. McCain: “Well I think it’s a combination. The guy I really respect on this is Dr. Coburn. He believes – and I was just reading the thing he wrote– that you should do what you can to encourage abstinence where there is going to be sexual activity. Where that doesn’t succeed, than he thinks that we should employ contraceptives as well. But I agree with him that the first priority is on abstinence. I look to people like Dr. Coburn. I’m not very wise on it.”
(Mr. McCain turns to take a question on Iraq, but a moment later looks back to the reporter who asked him about AIDS.)
Mr. McCain: “I haven’t thought about it. Before I give you an answer, let me think about. Let me think about it a little bit because I never got a question about it before. I don’t know if I would use taxpayers’ money for it.”
Q: “What about grants for sex education in the United States? Should they include instructions about using contraceptives? Or should it be Bush’s policy, which is just abstinence?”
Mr. McCain: (Long pause) “Ahhh. I think I support the president’s policy.”
Q: “So no contraception, no counseling on contraception. Just abstinence. Do you think contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV?”
Mr. McCain: (Long pause) “You’ve stumped me.”
Q: “I mean, I think you’d probably agree it probably does help stop it?”
Mr. McCain: (Laughs) “Are we on the Straight Talk express? I’m not informed enough on it. Let me find out. You know, I’m sure I’ve taken a position on it on the past. I have to find out what my position was. Brian, would you find out what my position is on contraception – I’m sure I’m opposed to government spending on it, I’m sure I support the president’s policies on it.”
Q: “But you would agree that condoms do stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Would you say: ‘No, we’re not going to distribute them,’ knowing that?”
Mr. McCain: (Twelve-second pause) “Get me Coburn’s thing, ask Weaver to get me Coburn’s paper that he just gave me in the last couple of days. I’ve never gotten into these issues before.”
This went on for a few more moments until a reporter from the Chicago Tribune broke in and asked Mr. McCain about the weight of a pig that he saw at the Iowa State Fair last year.
Friday, March 28, 2008
I remember the last time we allowed the folks who wee here illegally to be given amnesty and allowed to become citizens. It didn't affect our pocketbooks and our economy grew.....there were no economic hardships due to the last amnesty. I think folks are creating more economic problems with their xenophobia.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Senate Bill 3930 The United States Military Commissions Act of 2006.
The final version of the bill did grant a type of retroactive immunity to Bush et al by making it much more difficult to prosecute them in court for war crimes under existing law. They redefined torture and this exempted Bush et al from future prosecution for war crimes AND provides them with FREE legal counsel should they ever be tried (courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer of course). Bush and Cheney think of everything don't they? This is the bill that eliminated Habeus Corpus and US recognition of the Geneva Convention.
The latest Bush/Cheney attempt at retroactive immunity is the FISA bill that is thankfully stalled in the Democratic House. The Bush White House is very worried that if the court case is allwed to proceed (civil suit against the telecommunications companies ) then the American people will find out that the illegal surveillance began soon after Bush took office and long before the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon.
Hope this helps. Now could you assist me in getting registered on your blog so I may comment in the future? I tried to post this as a comment on your blog to give you the info you requested but I wasn't able to register. I never received an email with a password....plus I misspelled my name...So I'm giving you the info you wanted via post...Would you allow me to sign up again as Mosquito...so I can try to get a password sent to my email?
I've got news for Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, James Carville, and all the corporate controlled status quo power players in our government and our media.....We are sick of your joy of dividing us, smearing others, and fighting for the joy of it.
We need a President who doesn't "enjoy" fighting. We have had enough of the war mentality. We have had enough of the dirty Rove style of campaigning....we have had enough of the win at all costs mentality....It is bankrupting us economically and morally.
We are the deciders now. We are choosing to turn our back on your old destructive ways of doing things. The time for positive change is now.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
So Hillary throws the Rev. Wright ball back at her media lapdogs and her media lapdogs start chasing the ball again. Some of them "might" mention some of Hillary's foreign policy lies but it won't be "highlighted" and examined like the Rev. Wright affair has been.
The corporate media has already spent the month of March smearing Obama for "guilt by association."
Meanwhile, the majority of us are "sick" of this story and the blatant corporate media bias that is attacking Obama relentlessly while giving Clinton and McCain the kid glove treatment. At the same time, the corporate media is saying they've been "hard" on Hillary Clinton.
Oh yeah? It's hard to get the media to spend two solid days on a breaking story where Hillary herself (not some associate) has lied about her foreign policy experience numerous times and has gotten away with it, so far. It's NAFTAGATE coverage all over again. (There is now proof that Hillary has lied about her history with NAFTA--she actively supported NAFTA but this has not received the media coverage it deserved.)
The corporate media has been handed a major scoop. A candidate who has made foreign policy a major element of her fitness to become our president has been caught making numerous "misstatements" and there is no foreign policy experience.
According to Fact Check:
See for yourself what the Irish think of Hillary Clinton's contributions to their peace talks.
- Clinton claims to have "negotiated open borders" in Macedonia to fleeing Kosovar refugees. But the Macedonian border opened a full day before she arrived, and her meetings with Macedonian officials were too brief to allow for much serious negotiating.
- Clinton's activities "helped bring peace to Northern Ireland." Irish officials are divided as to how helpful Clinton's actions were, and key players agree that she was not directly involved in any actual negotiations.
- Clinton has repeatedly referenced her "dangerous" trip to Bosnia. She fails to mention, however, that the Bosnian war had officially ended three months before her visit – or that she made the trip with her 16-year-old daughter and two entertainers.
Clinton's tough speech on human rights delivered to a Beijing audience is as advertised, though Clinton herself has been dismissive of speeches that aren't backed by solutions.
- Both Bill and Hillary Clinton claim that Hillary privately championed the use of U.S. troops to stop the genocide in Rwanda. That conversation left no public record, however, as U.S. policy was explicitly to stay out of Rwanda, and officials say that the use of U.S. troops was never considered.
Hillary Clinton loves to spread the myth that she's been vetted. But the corporate media has not covered her participation in NAFTA that has recently come to light. Nor is the corporate media adequately covering the fact that Clinton does not have the foreign policy experience that she claims. Hillary Clinton released the First Lady's appointment book section of her White House Records. But Clinton still refuses to release her telephone logs and her work on Health care and Health insurance are also being held back. Let's not forget that her income tax records (that is a standard release for all presidential contenders) remain hidden. (Barack Obama has released his tax returns from 2000 to the present day). Hillary Clinton is not being open, she is hiding too much from us. There is no way to "vet" a candidate unless the records are accessible. What smoking guns do these records contain?
Why won't the corporate media give us the coverage we deserve? Most of the voters in the next two upcoming primaries--Pennsylvania and North Carolina--don't have the information they need to make an informed vote.
"Maybe" the corporate media does not care if the voters have the information they need so that we can have a democratic election. "Maybe" the corporate media has their own agenda--a corporate agenda--and they are favoring the two candidates--Clinton and McCain--so the status quo remains and no real change occurs. Then the corporate influence and corporate welfare in Washington DC will continue unabated.
IF the shoe was on the other foot, and it was Obama who had done what Hillary Clinton has been caught doing....it would be a slam dunk and Obama would be out of the race. Unfortunately, the people's candidate--Obama--continues to have higher hurdles and has to live with a different set of rules than the other two "corporate approved" presidential candidates.
I also am incredulous that the Democratic party's "Super Delegates" are sitting idly by while Hillary Clinton's campaign continues their homicidal campaign against Barack Obama. A campaign that is also suicidal. If Hillary Clinton continues in this race it will result in Clinton making herself "un-electable" and unless the Democrats can come up with a viable candidate, John McCain could be our next president.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Monday, March 24, 2008
Other real news that is ignored involve multiple instances of Hillary Clinton's versions of her "experience" not matching the reality of other participants. Hillary's historical recall of "not" supporting NAFTA has been refuted by other participants. Hillary's alleged foreign policy experiences have been debunked by other participants. Yet Hillary is still repeating and dramatizing her latest fantasy--that she and Chelsea were under sniper attack and bravely risked their lives going where no President could go. She does this knowing that the press corps has footage showing that there was no sniper fire and that a welcoming ceremony took place instead. (I wish the media would show this footage and compare it with Hillary Clinton's account of reality. The comedienne Sinbad stepped up to the plate and let the cat out of the bag. Why does Clinton continue to lie and McCain doesn't bother to correct his errors? They seem confident that the media isn't going to "highlight" their negatives.
Unfortunately the media is not "highlighting" issues when it comes to Clinton and McCain. Instead they want to "highlight" the Rev. Wright, who is not running for president, in a blatant attempt to "throw the kitchen sink" at Barack Obama.
The corporate media has become so biased in it's coverage of Barack Obama that two Fox commentators actually rose to the occasion to be journalists (if only for a moment). Gretchen Carlson and Steve Doocy got so out of hand with their Obama bashing that Brian Kilmeade actually walked off the set during a live broadcast. Chris Wallace was so disgusted by the two hours of Obama bashing and distortion of Obama's "typical white person remark" that Wallace called Gretchen Carlson and Steve Doocy out for their outrageous behavior. Wallace asked them to move on to the real news of the day....for example, Richardson's endorsement of Obama. Gretchen Carlson and Steve Doocy are sell outs willing to repeat whatever story line their corporate bosses pay them to say. The hell with the truth when it comes to characters like these. The FCC should force Fox to have a "this is not true; this is not news" disclaimer on whenever Carlson or Doocy are on the air.
Americans are tired of the guilt by association that the media is constantly throwing at Obama. We realize that all of us have imperfect friends, family, business associates, political associates. This type of media tactic means that no one is safe from being smeared by corporate media. It does not mean we are criminals if we have a friend who is in jail, or is an ex con. Thank heavens their audience continues to drop. Many folks are searching for alternative news sources that are more respectable than the current corporate media news outlets.
Why doesn't the corporate media get it? We are asking them for fair balanced coverage of ALL the Presidential contenders. Don't bash Obama and his religion and ignore the pertinent question on religion surrounding both Hillary Clinton and John McCain. Report the issues so we know what's going on and then move on to the other important issues like ECONOMICS, ENVIRONMENT (has the media asked any candidate "anything" about the nuclear issue (pro's and cons) and covered the rapid developments in alternative energy?? HEALTHCARE--IRAQ (which they often fail at giving us a big picture with the whole story of what's going on.....) and so on...
Unfortunately, the owners of corporate media do get it. They prefer to give us news that is biased with a corporate slant so that they can continue to get rich at our expense. Unfortunately, if we want to live in a functional democracy we need to get some reliable, ethical journalists to provide us sound, reliable information so that we can all make well informed decisions when we cast our votes. The Fairness Doctrine helped curb biased corporate media reports. I think The Fairness Doctrine needs to be reinstated and enforced asap. That would help curb some of the excesses.
Another Truth Teller.....The Reverend John Thomas.
Say what you will about the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. But no one has had the audacity (yet) to call him a liar....In fact, I believe that the Reverend Wright speaks truth to power....and whenever one does that effectively they can expect a BACKLASH from the establishment of almost biblical proportions.
Reverend Jeremiah Wright is a patriotic American when he speaks his truth. Our very own President Theodore Roosevelt said, ""To announce that ... we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."
Last night, I was disappointed in CNN's coverage of Rev. Wright, the United Church of Christ, and Black Liberation theology. CNN said they were going beyond the sound bite. However, I knew that it was going to be a hack job when I saw them bring Ken Blackwell in as a critic of Black Liberation Theology. I suspect that the average viewer would think Ken Blackwell was an expert on religious matters. Instead, Ken Blackwell is a black, right wing extremist in the Republican party, who is better known as the "Katherine Harris of Ohio." Too make matters worse, there are many allegations that Blackwell repressed the vote in Ohio's black community. IF CNN was seriously reporting on Black Liberation Theology they should have used a theologian not an unidentified Right Wing Republican party hack.
Thankfully, not everyone in America is marching in lockstep with the propaganda from the corporate media. We are sick of the divisiveness and the petty personal attacks that take the place of any discussion of major critical issues that need to be addressed. We are tired of being distracted from these important issues. We want change and we want it now. The few that have made huge profits from the status quo are powerful and will do whatever it takes to prevent change from occurring.
The Rev. Wright and the United Church of Christ are doing "good works" in this world. In fact, the Rev. Wright is a strong advocate of peace and non-violence. He is also VERY effective at getting people off their butts and talking about controversial issues like race. At least Barack Obama's church is not a secret organization grooming the select few who are anointed by God to rule over us. It's not an anti-democratic, anti-union religion. But the same cannot be said for Hillary Clinton...yet the media is definitely NOT reporting on her religion--the Fellowship. The Fellowship is a religion that does need media scrutiny since so many Republicans and right wing conservatives in our government are members. The Fellowship gets involved secretly in our government, especially in the area of Foreign Relations...... Look for the book that is coming out in May....
None of us want to be judged by a 30 second sound bite that is taken out of context. No one looks good in this sort of attack...I guess that is why it is used so often.
Maybe "some" of the Christians in America need to get a grip and remember that Christianity does not condone the judgemental attitude that is the modus operandi of the extreme right wing. If you believe in Jesus then follow him. Remember that Jesus said, “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her.”
It's a tragedy that the President, Vice President, and our Congress have not honored the oaths they took.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Iraq has been reduced to a cartoon in many Americans' eyes, thanks to the White House, Pentagon and Corporate Media. The war is now largely depicted as al Qaeda versus the Iraqi people and the noble Coalition forces. Well, that is as skewed a picture as we used to get about Vietnam, when we were told that the war there was the evil Viet Cong versus the Vietnamese people and their noble American protectors.
The war in Iraq is far more complex than that, just as the Vietnamese war was far more complex. In Iraq, there are five main factions, 1) the Shiites with their often warring militias, 2) the Sunnis with their various tribes and militias, 3) the al Qaeda faction, which actually overlaps the Sunni faction somewhat, because al Qaeda largely draws from the Sunni population and foreign volunteers who are also usually Sunni as best as I can tell, 4) the Kurds in the north, who have several often warring factions too, and 5) the Turkomen in the north, who are opposed by the Kurds and have strong support from Turkey, which has been crossing the Iraqi border to attack Kurdish guerrillas for several months.
Al Qaeda is the most difficult to figure out, because there are many, many contradictions about al Qaeda. First of all, the United States created and organized the forerunners of al Qaeda, the Mujadhedeen warriors fighting the old Soviet Union in Afghanistan, and al Qaeda itself, the term of which is often translated as "the Base", was actually apparently created from the "database" of Mujadhedeen members on computer lists.
Al Qaeda, their leader bin Laden (or so we are led to believe) and the CIA actually had some kind of ongoing murky relationship in the 1990's, the CIA utilizing al Qaeda "soldiers" against the Serbs in Kosovo during the NATO-led actions against Yugoslavia. In fact, there is confirmed evidence that the CIA and Pentagon were supporting elements of al Qaeda even a few weeks befor 9/11, as noted in this 2005 report:
Both the CIA and German intelligence (BND) supported the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), a terrorist organization with links to Al Qaeda.(source)
This report by the German TV ZDF Network, reviewed by Mira Beham, is revealing in many regards.
First the report corroborates earlier analysis on the role of the BND and the CIA in supporting the KLA, several years prior as well as in the wake of the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia.
Second, it further documents and confirms the KLA's links to Al Qaeda and the role of the latter in the Kosovo conflict:
"What German journalists and their Dutch colleagues at VPRO Radio Television investigated has a long tradition. Since the beginning of the 1990s the BND has maintained contacts with the KLA, which was then considered to be a terrorist organization. Although we have to admit that the KLA has stronger ties with the CIA than the BND. Commander Hoxha had ties with the CIA, the BND and with the Austrian military intelligence service which has devoted great attention to this region and has very good connections with the KLA."
Despite its links to organized crime and Al Qaeda, the KLA rebel army had been skillfully heralded by the Western media in the months preceding the 1999 NATO bombings as broadly representative of the interests of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. Its leader Hashim Thaci had been "designated" (by US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright) as chief negotiator at the Rambouillet peace talks.
The fact of the matter is that the Atlantic Alliance had been supporting a terrorist organization. The KLA was not supporting the rights of ethnic Albanians. Quite the opposite..........
Macedonia August 2001: Central to an Understanding of 9/11
The reference in the report to Macedonia is crucial to an understanding of 9/11 and the war on terrorism, because it confirms that US military advisers had integrated a terrorist paramilitary organization linked to Al Qaeda, barely a few weeks before 9/11.
Moreover, it also confirms that US paratroopers were sent in to save the Al Qaeda sponsored fighters and their US military advisers.
"Samedin Xhezairi, also known as Commander Hoxha, joined the Kosovo Liberation Army when armed conflict in Kosovo began, fighting in three operation zones. He was a fighter in Chechnya, trained in Afghanistan and acted as the commander of the Mujahideen 112th Brigade operating in the summer of 2001 in the region of Tetovo [Macedonia]. In August of the same year 80 members of the 3/502 battalion of U.S. paratroopers evacuated him from Aracinovo [Macedonia], together with his Albanian extremists and 17 instructors of the U.S. private military company MPRI which was training the Albanian paramilitary formations."
In other words, the US military was collaborating with Al Qaeda, which according to the Bush administration was involved in the attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon.
Yet, the US military was working hand in glove with "enemy number one" barely a few weeks before 9/11, and we are led to believe that the Bush administration is committed to waging a battle against Al Qaeda. Michel Chossudovsky, 15 February 2005
There was no viable al Qaeda presence in Iraqi territory before America invaded Iraq in 2003. There was only the maniacal Zarqawi, who had recently set up a training camp in northern Kurdistan, which was under the protection of the United States military and beyond Sadam Hussein's reach. Bush had been informed about Zarqawi's presence by the Pentagon, who wanted to take him out, but Bush refused their request, repeatedly. Why?
Al Qeada moved into Iraq proper only after we invaded, and the Pentagon itself revealed somewhat later that they actually began building up Zarqawi's mystique and influence through their propaganda mills to, to put it bluntly, scare everybody. Now that's amazing!
When did the CIA and American military actually sever their well-hidden ties with al Qaeda, if they ever did?
So just what is al Qaeda exactly and who directs and supports it? Bin Laden, you might say, but he is either holed up in a cave or village several thousand miles away OR DEAD. And there is actually powerful evidence that the real bin Laden has been dead since December, 2003. Benazir Bhutto actually said so, rather matter-of-factly, in an interview with David Frost just before she was slain.
Regarding Iraq, the Shiites, Sunnis and the very strangely affiliated al Qeada forces (or at least a tier of them) in Iraq all want American occupation forces out of their country. Al Qaeda, because of its utterly vicious penchant for slaughter, has angered many Sunnis who might otherwise sympathize with them, while the Shiites have never much liked al Qaeda. The non-al Qaeda Sunnis, who were fighting the Shiites, al Qaeda and the American military all at once, agreed to a bargain with what they tend to consider the Devil, the US Military, and signed on to the "Awakening Councils" to gain time and money and to concentrate on the other two foes. But now indications are that the Awakening Councils are starting to unravel, as noted in this video.
The United States, no matter how you cut it, is considered a brutal, deadly occupation force, which it absolutely is, and the vast majority of Iraqi Sunnis and Shiites all want America out. A recent poll of Iraqis showed that 70% want the U.S. to leave right now. The Iraqi government may say another thing, because they are largely divorced from the Iraqi people, some of them being utter American puppets, and are all hunkered down in the Green Zone, requiring troops and body-guards to go anywhere in the Red Zone.
Sunnis and Shiites have both set their intention to get rid of the Americans in their varying ways and strategies, whether it takes a year or decades, so to think that somehow the United States can defeat several thousand poorly understood al Qaeda fighters, if they have that many personnel in the first place, and all will live happily ever after is utterly delusional. We are, in actuality, still diametrically opposed by millions of Iraqis. There is no light at the end of this tunnel.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
“Of course I am going to misspeak and I've done it on numerous occasions and I probably will do it in the future.”--McCain
I have no doubt that you will.....McSame as Bush....
Hoping for change as soon as possible......
You would think that after five years, half a trillion dollars and hundreds of thousands of deaths, that the corporate media would at least get a little skeptical, but they aren't here to reveal the truth, rather to make you acquiescent to the agenda.
But the reality is far different in Baghdad and Iraq, as these two video clips reveal. Would you like to live in Baghdad right now?
Call me an idealist or whatever you want to call me. l will do what l must to keep hope alive so I will keep acting on my beliefs. I believe it's better than being apathetic....Apathy kills.....
Now the question is....are you going to let the corporate media spin and spread it's propaganda so "they" can annihilate the people's candidate and install another "corporate" president into the White House?
Friday, March 21, 2008
Do the "feminists" and LGBT supporters of Hllary Clinton know that she opposes same sex marriage and would have voted to pass the Defense of Marriage Act if she had been a member of the U.S. Congress. According to Hillary Clinton, "Marriage has got historic, religious, and moral content that goes back to the beginning of time, and I think a marriage is as a marriage has always been, between a man and a woman."
It also appears that Hillary Clinton has a secret religious life. She belongs to a "secret" religious organization that is allegedly linked with George Bush, John Ashcroft, Condi Rice, Sam Brownback, ex Sen George Allen, Virginia's own Frank Wolfe and Pat Robertson. It is a religion that recruits powerful members who are anointed by God to be leaders and to rule the people. This version of believing in Jesus does not believe in democracy and is also anti-union.
There's a book coming out in May that will expose this religion and will reveal that Hilary Clinton is a member in high standing in this group. In the meantime, here are two sources to get you started-- Hillary's Nasty Pastorate and Hillary's Prayer: Hillary Clinton's Religion and Politics.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Why hasn't the corporate media called these buffoons are their lies?
Remember back to the day of the invasion. Some of us were able to be glued to the television coverage before the bombing began. It was reported that a few hours BEFORE the invasion, Saddam Hussein offered to step down and go into exile with his sons and family. The Bush Cheney cabal basically said Saddam's offer was "too late" and they invaded Iraq anyway at the cost of over 1 million lives of innocent Iraqi civilians, US military casualties, and untold numbers of wounded soldiers and civilians.
This 3 trillion dollar war that has wrecked so many lives and the US economy, and created the largest humanitarian crisis in the world today, was easily avoided. We did NOT have to illegally invade Iraq to oust Saddam from power and continue monitoring and searching for WMD.
Why did we invade Iraq? This question remains unanswered to this day.
How can anyone forget that Saddam Hussein OFFERED to go into exile right before the invasion? Why haven't Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Rice been asked WHY they did not accept Hussein's offer to leave Iraq and continue with their illegal, immoral invasion?
Why haven't all of these war profiteering criminals been impeached?
Now that you know (or remember) that Saddam Hussein offered to leave Iraq BEFORE we invaded...what do you think should be done about the reckless, immoral actions of our Bush administration to continue with their plan to invade Iraq?
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
They want to discount Barack because he's a great speaker. Ronald Reagan and John Kennedy were great speakers and the media was not hard at work minimizing their speeches. Their speeches were not dissected, taken out of context, and minimized or misinterpreted.
The media and the other candidates want to discount every word that comes out of Barack Obama's mouth. They are saying IGNORE what Obama says and listen to US tell you what he really said. THEY want to do our thinking for us. They want us to DISTRUST Obama and not listen to him.
The fact is that words and the candidate's record are the ONLY things we have to judge a candidate by. How a candidate performs in a debate, in a speech, answering a reporters questions is usually the standard we have always judged our candidates by....along with what is known about their records. WHY are we suddenly going to minimize one of our most important tools for assessing our presidential candidates? It's like changing the rules of a game every time a certain team gets in the lead.
We have ALWAYS judged our candidates speeches and words. This is often the most important factor for a candidate winning or losing an election. Kennedy is credited with winning the presidency by out debating Nixon on television.
Hillary and John McCain are not being held to the same standard. They say something, it gets repeated again and again(unless it's a gaffe like McCain stating that Iran is training Al Queda), and they may get a question. Barack's statements aren't repeated. His words are dissected, taken out of context and the original message is thrown overboard. We are being told we shouldn't judge Barack Obama by his words.
The fact that Barack Obama can communicate and inspire people should be a major asset for any presidential candidate. The corporate media is turning it into a handicap. Alleged journalists (i.e. the pundits who are more often wrong than right) are hard at work distorting and miminizing Obama's statements. They are not doing this with Clinton nor McCain, the "status quo" candidates. The media wants us to shut off our minds, and shut off our hearts, so we won't hear the messages of hope, possibility, and change that Barack Obama is sharing with us.
As it is the media is hard at work trying to negate Obama's message. They are trying to tape Obama's mouth shut. If that's the case then let's tape up the mouths of all three candidates and see what kind of campaign we will have.
We should LISTEN to ALL the candidates with our eyes, ears, hearts, and minds so we can evaluate the messages they are communicating to us. We should assess their positions on the issues we care about, and thoroughly check out their records.
All we want is FAIR, ACCURATE reporting. We haven't seen much of that in a very long time. It's time to shut off the corporate media and do our own thinking an analyzing. IF they won't report the news fairly for all three candidates then WE need to throw them out of the process.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
What is that way? It is the path of love and peace, of letting go of your ego and all its conundrums and just loving one another, of just surrendering to the presence of peace, which is the transcendent reality beyond duality in the first place, where we all belong spiritually anyway. And here is a bold song a beautiful friend just sent me to direct that spirit of love and peace into the hearts of Moslems and Jews everywhere. For centuries you, both descendents of Abraham, got along pretty well together in Spain and much of the Middle East, so it is not that this is an impossible task, to love one another and forgive one another. Just listen to the song and see where it takes you.
These are the notes from the YouTube video you are looking at:
A group of Jewish-Israeli and Palestinian singers and musicians joined together to perform the Hebrew-Arabic song "Hevenu Shalom Aleinu" (We Brought Peace Upon Us) - "Ma Ana Ajmal Min Salam" (There is Nothing More Beautiful Than Peace).
Background: This song, commissioned by the organization Peace Child Israel and adopted as its anthem, was arranged by Israeli composer and singer Shlomo Gronich, who is the second singer to appear in the video (with the goatee). Sung in both Hebrew and Arabic, this beautiful, Middle-Eastern melody has the power to heal and transform Arab and Jewish communities. Down with the Occupation! Let's start an era of coexistence based on mutual respect and human dignity!
Zehava Ben, Shlomo Gronich, Nivine Jaabri, Elias Julianos, Eli Luzon, Lubna Salame, Lea Shabat and Sahmir Shukri and participants from the Peace Child Israel workshops.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Then THIS will become big news. Barack Obama and his supporters won't use it....we don't want the old style politics....but here's my prediction....IF Hillary is the candidate against John McCain THIS will be used by the rightwingers for sure. They always throw in the kitchen sink.
Robert Murdock and his Fox News network is once again trying to pick our president.
The Fox Virus is spreading.....REmember the 2000 elections that were "too close to call." All the networks were saying this and suddenly Fox News announced that Bush had won. All of the networks immediately made the same announcement.
The fellow at Fox who made the call--that Bush had won--was Bush's cousin.
So here we go again....Deja Vu....
When will "our" tax dollars begin to be utilized for the benefit of "our" communities, instead of fat cat weapons manufacturers and a bloated Pentagon that has NEVER had to have a decent accounting system to show where the money goes???
Sunday, March 16, 2008
But isn't that what the whole mass media, Congress and the White House are trying to hold together, a fantasy scenario about the cartoonish War on Terror, fueled by stereotypes, lies and paranoia about Middle Eastern Moslems and Arabic peoples every bit as pernicious as the stereotypes against the Jews by the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s, all driven beneath the surface by sadism, greed and power and whipped into high gear by the Right Wing's decades of experience in propaganda techniques and False Flag Operations?
Listen to Phyllis Bennis of The Institute for Policy Studies address this topic:
Saturday, March 15, 2008
The floating rules of engagement:
To go to the Information Clearing House webpage for streaming live video and audio starting again tomorrow, click here.
Also check out KPFA Radio's The War Comes Home Project at http://www.warcomeshome.org/ for full coverage of the four day event.
Madsen also named one big Republican--Dick Cheney--as a client of the DC Madam. This has never been denied. However, Cheney was allegedly a client of the DC Madam when he was running Haliburton before he became the vice president.
Interesting...once again justice is being handed out unevenly. Hmmm...Vitter remains a U.S. Senator even though he was recently caught for the exact same thing Elliot Spitzer was. Oh, I forgot...Vitter is a Republican and the Bush White House only wants to go after Democrats and give the corporate war profiteers and Republican congressmen privileges the rest of us will never know. Buzz...Buzz...
Friday, March 14, 2008
-General of the Army, Douglas MacArthur, 1946, confirming the death by hanging sentence imposed by a United States military commission on General Tomayuki Yamashita, convicted of failing to prevent Japanese Imperial troops under his command from committing massacres and outrages against prisoners of war and civilians in the last stages of the Japanese occupation of the Philippines.
The actual testimonies from servicemen and women who have done tours in Iraq began today. Here are some excerpts from The Real News Network:
You can go directly to the Iraqi Veterans Against the War website (click here) and click on the video right at the top of the website to get into some of the gruesome testimonies of mass, purposeful and/or carnage against Iraqi civilians.
Amy Goodman also devoted her one hour news show today largely to Winter Soldier. To visit today's Democracy Now website, go to http://www.democracynow.org/2008/3/14/hundreds_of_veterans_of_iraq_and
Here is today's rush transcript from DemocracyNow.org, which is always free to the public:
Winter Soldier: Watch or Listen Live
Hundreds of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are gathering in Maryland this weekend to testify about their experiences in the wars. The testimony begins at 9 a.m. on Friday.
Watch Winter Soldier live on Free Speech TV or online at IVAW.org
Listen on KPFA or online at KPFA.org
Filed under News
March 14, 2008
Winter Soldier: Hundreds of Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan Gather to Testify in Echo of 1971 Vietnam Hearings
Hundreds of veterans and active-duty soldiers of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are gathering today for the Winter Soldier hearings. The soldiers plan to give eyewitness accounts of the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Organized by Iraq Veterans Against the War, the gathering is modeled after the 1971 Winter Solider hearings organized by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. [includes rush transcript]
"Winter Soldier", –excerpt from film about the 1971 Winter Soldier hearings by Milliarium Zero and the WinterFilm Collective. More information at Wintersoldierfilm.com
David Cortright, Vietnam war veteran and author of the Soldiers in Revolt: GI Resistance During the Vietnam War. He is a professor of peace studies at the University of Notre Dame.
Phil Aliff, up until last week he was an active-duty soldier with the 10th Mountain Division stationed at Fort Drum in New York, the most deployed base in the country. He served nearly one year in Iraq from August 2005 to July 2006, in Fallujah and the city of Abu Ghraib. In 2007, he refused to return to Iraq with his unit. He is president of the Ft. Drum chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War and has focused on organizing GI resistance within the active-duty military.
Bill Perry, member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War who testified at the original Winter Soldier hearings in 1971.
Tanya Austin, active-duty soldier who is an organizer with Iraq Veterans Against the War. She is an Arab linguist specializing in military intelligence.
Camilo Mejia, the first soldier to refuse to return to fight in Iraq and the chair of Iraq Veterans Against the War. He is author of The Road from ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejia.
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Related Democracy Now! Stories
Flashback: A Rare Broadcast of John Kerry’s 1971 Speech Against the Vietnam War Before the Senate (7/30/2004)
War Resister Camilo Mejia Elected to Chair Iraq Veterans Against the War, Group Encouraging War Resistance (8/23/2007)
AMY GOODMAN: Today, we’re broadcasting from Silver Spring, Maryland, the site of Winter Soldier. Hundreds of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans plan to give eyewitness accounts to atrocities committed by US troops. We’ll speak with veterans, active-duty soldiers and play excerpts from the original Winter Soldier hearings held in 1971 by Vietnam Veterans Against the War. All that and more, hundreds of veterans here in—outside Silver Spring.
We’re going to turn right now, go back in time to 1971, to John Kerry, John Kerry testifying in the Winter Soldier hearings organized by Vietnam Veterans Against the War. In a moment, we will be joined by some of the soldiers who plan to testify this weekend. Now, though, 1971, John Kerry, the future senator and presidential candidate, testifying before Congress about the original Winter Soldier hearings.
JOHN KERRY: Several months ago in Detroit, we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged and many very highly decorated veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia, not isolated incidents, but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with a full awareness of officers at all levels of command. It’s impossible to describe to you exactly what did happen in Detroit, the emotions in the room, the feelings of the men who were reliving their experiences in Vietnam. But they did. They relived the absolute horror of what this country, in a sense, made them do.
They told the stories of times that they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam, in addition to the normal ravage of war and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.
We called this investigation the Winter Soldier Investigation. The term “winter soldier” is a play on words of Thomas Paine’s in 1776, when he spoke of the “Sunshine Patriot” and “summertime soldiers” who deserted at Valley Forge because the going was rough. And we who’ve come here to Washington have come here because we feel we have to be winter soldiers now. We could come back to this country, and we could be quiet. We could hold our silence. We could not tell what went on in Vietnam. But we feel, because of what threatens this country, the fact that the crimes threaten it, not reds, not red coats, but the crimes which we’re committing are what threaten it, and we have to speak out.
I would like to talk to you a little bit about what the result is of the feelings these men carry with them after coming back from Vietnam. The country doesn’t know it yet, but it’s created a monster, a monster in the form of millions of men who have been taught to deal and to trade in violence and who are given the chance to die for the biggest nothing in history.
AMY GOODMAN: John Kerry, 1971, talking about the first Winter Soldier hearing. Today, thirty-seven years later, we’re at the National Labor College just outside Washington, D.C. in Silver Spring. Another Winter Soldier is taking place, hundreds of veterans, active-duty soldiers, soldiers who have just returned are gathering for a weekend of testimony.
We’re joined right now by Camilo Mejia. He is chair of the board of the Iraq Veterans Against the War. IVAW is what it’s known as.
Welcome to Democracy Now!
CAMILO MEJIA: Thank you, Amy.
AMY GOODMAN: Camilo Mejia is a former staff sergeant, Army guard from Florida. Tell us about the Winter Soldier and why even the name. Give us the history.
CAMILO MEJIA: Well, Winter Soldier, actually, we’re borrowing from the first Winter Soldier hearings held in ’71 by Vietnam Veterans Against the War about their eyewitness experiences in that war. And this time around, we’re basically following the tradition of resistance in the military by gathering veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan to testify about our eyewitness accounts in those two wars.
AMY GOODMAN: Who’s here?
CAMILO MEJIA: We have over 250 registered Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, and we also have members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace and other military family groups, such as Military Families Speak Out and Gold Star Families for Peace. And we’re also going to have people testifying from the civilian perspective from both Iraq and Afghanistan.
AMY GOODMAN: Camilo Mejia, you’ve been on Democracy Now! before. You served close to a year in the brig in prison. Talk about, very briefly—you wrote a book about your experience, Road from ar Ramadi—what happened to you, how you ended up in Iraq, how you came back, how you were jailed.
CAMILO MEJIA: I ended up in Iraq because about four months before my—the end of my service, I was stop-loss, which means that my contract was involuntarily extended. And I deployed to Iraq in April of 2003. And although I had deployed with a political opposition to the war, I was not necessarily—I did not have the moral strength needed to take a stance against it.
But when I arrived in Iraq, the first mission we had was one in which we kept prisoners sleep-deprived for periods of up to three days in order to soften them up for interrogation. And because of the way that our leadership was conducting itself, driven mostly by ambition and with total disregard for the lives of civilians, we ended up killing a lot of unarmed people. And a lot of these things were things that could have been prevented, but that were not, not because soldiers on the ground are bad apples or wake up one day as monsters, but because there’s a policy behind everything that we do that is criminal.
So, upon my return to the United States on a two-week furlough, I decided that I could not go back to Iraq in good conscience. And I, instead of going back, began to work on a conscientious objector claim and to put together a case to bring before a military tribunal. And I surrendered, and I went public and I denounced the war. And two months after my surrender, I was tried by a court-martial and found guilty of desertion and sent to jail on a one-year sentence and demoted from staff sergeant to private and given a bad-conduct discharge, which I am appealing. And then, after nine months in jail—I got out three months earlier because of good conduct—I joined Iraq Veterans Against the War, and I have been active with the organization ever since.
AMY GOODMAN: Your family is from Nicaragua, Camilo Mejia. There is a very interesting juxtaposition of events here right now. Winter Soldier, the testimony that’s taking place this weekend here just outside Washington, and late last night, for only the sixth time in history, Congress held a secret session that was completely closed. The last time it was held was 1983, when Congress was debating supporting the Contras in Nicaragua.
CAMILO MEJIA: Right. My father is from Nicaragua. My mother is from Costa Rica. Both were really involved in the resistance to overthrow the US-backed dictatorship of Samosa. And that is a background that I have with me, but I believe that the thing that had the most influence on me was the fact that they always stood for their principles, and I believe that that’s exactly what everyone who is testifying at these hearings is doing. You know, we’re not really driven by a political agenda, but we’re driven by, you know, our human nature, you know, the nature that tells you that you should not travel halfway across the world to brutalize a country for no reason.
AMY GOODMAN: Camilo Mejia is a former Army staff sergeant, Army guard from Florida, here at the Winter Soldier, the accounts that will be given this weekend of the occupations and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The book about his experience has just come out on paperback that he wrote, The Road from ar Ramadi.
This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, the War and Peace Report. When we come back, we’ll be joined by David Cortright. He was there during the Vietnam War. He’ll talk about those original hearings. We will also be joined by Dennis Kucinich to talk about the secret session of Congress, the congressman from Cleveland. Stay with us.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re broadcasting from National Labor College just outside Washington, D.C. in Silver Spring. Hundreds of veterans, active-duty soldiers, soldiers who have just returned from Iraq and Afghanistan are here to testify in the second Winter Soldier hearing. We’re going to go back now, though, in time to February 1971 to the original Winter Soldier.
JOE BANGERT: The first day I got to Vietnam, I landed in Da Nang Air Base, got off the plane and hitchhiked on Highway 1 to my new unit—to my unit. I was picked up by a truckload of grunt Marines with two company grade officers, first lieutenants. We were about five miles down the road, where there were some Vietnamese children at the gateway to the village, and they gave the old finger gesture at us. It was understandable that they picked this up from the GIs there. They stopped the truck—they didn’t stop the truck, they slowed down a little bit. And it was just like response. The guys got up, including the lieutenants, and just blew all the kids away. It was about five or six kids blown away there. And then the truck just moved—continued down the hill. That was my first day in Vietnam.
In Quang Tri City, I had a friend who was—he was working with USAID. And one time he asked me would I like to accompany him to watch. He was an adviser with an ARVN group, and he asked me if I would like to accompany him into a village that I was familiar with to see how they act. So I went with him, and they didn’t find any enemy, but they found a woman with bandages. So she was questioned with about—she was questioned by six ARVNs, and the way that they questioned her was, since she had bandages, they shot her. She was hit about twenty times. So, after she was questioned and, of course, dead, this guy came over who was—and knowing him, he was a former major, he was in the service for twenty years, and he got hungry again and came back over working with USAID, Aid International Development—and he went over there and ripped her clothes off and took a knife and cut from her vagina all the way up—well, just about up to her breasts and pulled her organs out, completely out of her cavity, and threw them out. And then he stopped and knelt over and commenced to peel every bit of skin off her body and left her there as a sign for something or other.
AMY GOODMAN: That was the testimony from Winter Soldier, a hearing in February of 1971. It took place in Detroit. We’re joined by David Cortright right now. He is a Vietnam War veteran, author of the landmark book, Soldiers in Revolt: GI Resistance During the Vietnam War, now a professor of peace studies at the University of Notre Dame.
Welcome to Democracy Now!.
DAVID CORTRIGHT: Good morning
AMY GOODMAN: Professor Cortright, tell us about these Winter Soldier hearings, the gory descriptions, the atrocities these soldiers are describing they engaged in themselves.
DAVID CORTRIGHT: Yeah, this was part of our experience during the GI movement, the resistance movement of the soldiers and veterans in the Vietnam era. And many of us who were part of that experience learned that what we had been told by our leaders was false, it was a lie, and what we saw on the ground was horrible. And our political leaders put the Armed Forces in a situation that was impossible. It was a criminal situation. The policy itself was a crime. Free-fire zones, the bombings, the destruction of villages that was a common part of the routine of our experience during Vietnam meant that soldiers were being asked to commit criminal acts. And those of us who were a part of that increasingly spoke out, and the original hearing in 1971 was a powerful and dramatic event, when more than 100, 150 veterans came and gave testimony.
I was still in the Army at the time. I didn’t participate. But I was stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas, and a couple months later, we had our own war crimes hearing among active-duty soldiers and recent veterans at Fort Bliss. And we had more than a dozen come forward and talk about what had happened. One fellow had been a tail gunner in a helicopter, and he was particularly irate about the fact that Lieutenant Calley—Lieutenant Calley had been indicted for being involved with the My Lai Massacre. And this soldier said, “If Calley was guilty, I was guilty, because what I was told to do was to fly over territory and shoot anything that moved. So if there was a farmer out there with a water buffalo, we shot him. I was asked to do criminal acts while I was in Vietnam, and the whole policy was criminal.” So it was a powerful, but important, testimony that our soldiers gave about the nature of this war, trying to wake up our country to the nature of this kind of policy.
AMY GOODMAN: What effect did the Winter Soldier hearing have? We know about it, 2004, because John Kerry ran for president, and he had attended, though not testified, at the Winter Soldier hearing in Detroit.
DAVID CORTRIGHT: Well, I think the voice of the Vietnam veterans was critical to trying to change public opinion. We found later on that the Nixon administration was extremely upset about the VVAW, the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. The whole spy operation that became Watergate was in part motivated by an attempt to undermine the voice and the legitimacy of the veterans.
But we spoke with real authority. We were there on the ground. We could tell the truth to the American people about what was going on, and that voice was critically important in helping to broaden public understanding of the nature of the war, helped to build antiwar opposition. I think that the voice of the veterans and the soldiers was critically important to forcing our political leaders to end that war. We know that Nixon and company ended the war, not because they saw the folly of what the United States had done or they had changed their imperial policies; they changed the policy because the American people would not stand for it any more, and the soldiers and the veterans who had actually fought the war spoke out to say we are not going to participate in this kind of policy any longer.
AMY GOODMAN: When did the tide turn for soldiers? When was the voice—when did it become the loudest in the Vietnam War?
DAVID CORTRIGHT: Well, if you look at the history of the GI movement, it really began to take off in 1968, and I think it was the whole Tet experience, when we had been told that there was going to be progress, we were achieving the light at the end of the tunnel in Vietnam, and then along came Tet. The worst year of the war was 1968.
AMY GOODMAN: Explain Tet.
DAVID CORTRIGHT: Tet was the uprising, the offensive of the Vietnam resistance to the United States in late January, early February 1968, massive attack all across South Vietnam. It put the lie to what the administration had said about how we’re winning this war. And it was the worst period for the American military. At one point, there were as many as 500 American soldiers dying every week in combat in Vietnam during this period right after Tet in the first half of ’68. So it was the worst period, and it really brought forward to all of us the lie that we had been told and the—we saw the experience.
So the GI movement really took off in ’68 in the Army and the Marine Corps, in particular. And then later on, in ’69 and ’70, when the government shifted to an intensified air war, then we saw growing resistance in the Navy and in the Air Force. So from the period ’68 to ’72, there was a very widespread opposition movement in the military in bases all over the world, in ships, in aircraft carriers. It was really a very widespread phenomenon.
AMY GOODMAN: David Cortright, the significance of what’s happening today, Winter Soldier II, I guess you could say?
DAVID CORTRIGHT: We’re seeing a similar experience. The soldiers and veterans who have been there to Iraq and Afghanistan can see the lie of what we’ve been told. They’re starting to speak out. They’re acting again as the conscience of our nation, trying to alert our citizens that this war—these wars are wrong and that we need a different policy: we have to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan. And more fundamentally, we need to end this whole imperial war system that we have in America. We thought we had learned the lesson thirty-five years ago about Vietnam, but our leaders have dragged us again into another series of unjust, illegal wars, and the veterans are saying we have to stop this way of doing business.
AMY GOODMAN: David Cortright, thanks for joining us, now a professor of peace studies at University of Notre Dame, Vietnam-era soldier, author of the landmark book, Soldiers in Revolt: GI Resistance During the Vietnam War.
This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, the War and Peace Report. We’re going to go to Congressman Kucinich to get the latest on the secret congressional session that was held last night for the sixth time in history. But first, we’re going to go back to the first Winter Soldier.
SCOTT CAMILE: The calling in of artillery for games, the way it was worked would be the mortar forward observers would call in—we’d pick out certain houses in villages, friendly villages, and the mortar forward observers would call in mortars until they destroyed that house, and then the artillery forward observer would call in artillery until he destroyed another house, and whoever used the least amount of artillery, they won. And then, when we got back, someone would have to buy someone else beers.
And I saw one case where there were two prisoners, and one prisoner was staked out on the ground, and he was cut open while he was alive, and part of his insides were cut out. And they told the other prisoner if he didn’t tell them what they wanted to know, that they would kill him. And I don’t know what he said, because he spoke in Vietnamese, but then they killed him after that anyway.
MODERATOR: Were these primarily civilians, or do you believe that they were—or do you know that they were actual NVA?
SCOTT CAMILE: The way that we distinguished between civilians and VC, VC had weapons and civilians didn’t, and anybody that was dead was considered a VC. If you killed someone, they said, “How do you know he’s a VC?” The general reply would be, “He’s dead,” and that was sufficient.
The cutting off of heads—on Operation Stone, there was a lieutenant colonel there, and two people had their heads cut off and put on stakes and stuck in the middle of the field. And we were notified that there were press covering the operation and that we couldn’t do that anymore.
I saw one case where a woman was shot by a sniper, one of our snipers. And when we got up to her, she was asking for water. And the lieutenant said to kill her. So he ripped off her clothes, they stabbed her in both breasts, they spread her eagle and shoved an E- tool up her vagina—an entrenching tool—and she was still asking for water. And then they took that out, and they used a tree limb, and then she was shot.
MODERATOR: Did the men in the—in your outfit, did they seem to think that it was alright to do anything to the Vietnamese?
SCOTT CAMILE: It wasn’t like they were humans, like we were—you know, we were conditioned to believe that, you know, this was for the good of the nation, the good of our country, and anything we did was OK. And like, when you shot someone, you didn’t think you were shooting a human. They were a gook or a Commie, and it was OK.
AMY GOODMAN: An excerpt of the hearing from February 1971 in Detroit, Winter Soldier, where hundreds of soldiers gathered—at that time, it was Vietnam—talking about the atrocities they themselves had engaged in in Vietnam. We, today, are in Silver Spring, Maryland for Winter Soldier for the testimony, for the accounts of Iraq and Afghanistan soldiers and veterans who have come to talk about their own experiences.
AMY GOODMAN: We are broadcasting from National Labor College, where hundreds of Iraq and Afghanistan soldiers, veterans have gathered to tell their stories of war and occupation, as we turn now to the issue of resistance within the military. Up until last week, Phil Aliff was an active-duty soldier with the 10th Mountain Division stationed at Fort Drum in New York. He served nearly a year in Iraq in Fallujah and the city of Abu Ghraib. Last year, he refused to return to Iraq with his unit. He’s been actively organizing soldiers at Fort Drum to oppose the war.
Phil Aliff, welcome to Democracy Now!
PHIL ALIFF: Thank you, Amy.
AMY GOODMAN: You got out on Friday?
PHIL ALIFF: Yes. Yes, I did. I was released from my contract, ETS, which is end of term of service. And so, I finished my three years, and they let me out.
AMY GOODMAN: Tell us about your time in Iraq at Abu Ghraib and Fallujah.
PHIL ALIFF: Yes. I went to Abu Ghraib City in August of 2005. And when I got there, it had been a few years after the war had started, and we were still seeing the insurgency actually grow larger through those years. And I was right outside of the prison, and so the detainees that we would take from missions would go directly to the prison. And I think that was the thing that people were scared of most in the city, was going to Abu Ghraib prison.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about organizing within the military.
PHIL ALIFF: Organizing in the military, especially for Iraq Veterans Against the War, is incredibly important, because we see the most social power within the antiwar movement being in the hands of GIs and veterans, because for a GI to be able to throw down their weapon and say “I’m not going to fight an illegal war” is the most important aspect, to us, of organizing. And so, being at Fort Drum, being at a place where it’s the most heavily deployed unit in the US military, to be able organize active resistance is key. We’ve actually won a lot of battles for soldiers there, including healthcare benefits, benefits with the VA, and other things.
AMY GOODMAN: What are the key issues, Phil Aliff?
PHIL ALIFF: The key issues are the fact that we’re here today to show that soldiers are not committing these crimes and atrocities in Iraq individually; it’s actually a policy from the top. From the top general to the US President, they’re all implicit. And by sending soldiers to go and fight and die in an illegal war is causing this country to become, you know, polarized, go into a crisis. And so, for us to be able to speak out on our experiences, I think, is most important, to be able to articulate our opposition to the war for the American people and be able to show them that this is something from the top. These atrocities—Abu Ghraib, Haditha—are policies of the US government and not individual soldiers.
AMY GOODMAN: What is the attitude of most soldiers you’ve talked to? What is the attitude at Fort Drum, in Fallujah, where you were in the city of Abu Ghraib?
PHIL ALIFF: The attitude right now is that a lot of soldiers are going back on their third, fourth, fifth deployment, and they’re not seeing any progress. The biggest thing that I heard from soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan was that, you know, I went there, I was told that we were going to be rebuilding the country, and the worst thing to come back to is knowing that we made no progress in the country, that conditions were the same from when we got there ’til when we left. And so, I think that there is a lot of demoralization within the military. I think that’s one of the largest problems. And I think that soldiers right now are looking for another option; they’re looking for something else. The US military is having a very hard time with retention right now, trying to keep people in. And so, for us to be able to bring our brothers and sisters home, I think that that is the most important thing to them right now.
AMY GOODMAN: What is the attitude of your superiors in the military?
PHIL ALIFF: The superiors in the military are very threatened by what we’re doing, because of the fact that we have a voice that we never had—that we didn’t have, you know, a few years ago. We have a way of actually articulating our opposition to the war as veterans, as active-duty members, who have actually been to Iraq and Afghanistan. And so, for the people that they’re sending over there to fight to say that this is—this war is wrong, it’s immoral, it’s illegal, I think is most threatening to them. And it shows the kind of social power that we have that they’re willing to try to discredit us or speak out against us.
AMY GOODMAN: Phil Aliff, the issues of healthcare and veterans?
PHIL ALIFF: Veterans’ healthcare right now is a crisis within the US military and the VA. Traumatic brain injury and PTSD, the two signature wounds of the war, are not being treated at the rate that they should. Soldiers are coming back, and they’re not being screened after ninety days for post-traumatic stress disorder, and there’s no screening for TBI at Fort Drum right now for every soldier coming home. And so, that’s what we want to win, because the crisis right now is so bad that it may take soldiers two years to get VA benefits. And a lot of soldiers are actually missing benefits from the Army, because they’re being discharged for—they’re either being chaptered for personality disorders and pre-existing conditions, or they’re being just let out with no screening at all.
AMY GOODMAN: Your plans this weekend?
PHIL ALIFF: My plans this weekend is to speak out on the war about my experiences and to speak about GI resistance to the American people, because I think that, you know, we’re here today to inspire America, we’re here today to build a movement to end this war. And I think that by creating a dialogue, by creating a way of expressing our opposition, we’re actually creating a spark for the rest of the movement to be able to go forward and win the end to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
AMY GOODMAN: You were an Army corporal?
PHIL ALIFF: Yes, ma’am, I was.
AMY GOODMAN: How old are you?
PHIL ALIFF: I’m twenty-one years old.
AMY GOODMAN: You were in the military for how long?
PHIL ALIFF: I was in the military for three-and-a-half years.
AMY GOODMAN: Phil Aliff, I want to thank you for being with us, just out, released on Friday. Phil Aliff, here at the National Labor College for Winter Soldier. As we go back again to 1971, the original Winter Soldier.
NATHAN HALE: I arrived at the base camp of the 1st—of the 1st Cav., which is Hill 29. When I arrived there, my S-2, a captain, told me that my job was to elicit information. This meant that I could elicit information in any means possible. He told me that I could use any technique I can think of, and the idea is “Don’t get caught.” And what he meant was, I could beat these people, I could cut ‘em, I could probably shoot ’em—I never shot anyone—but I could use any means possible to get information; just don’t beat them in the presence of a non-unit member or person. That’s someone like a visiting officer or perhaps the Red Cross. And I personally used clubs, rifle butts, pistols, knives, and this was always done at Hill 29.
The important point here is that everything I did was always monitored. An interrogator is always monitored. I was monitored by an MP sergeant at Hill 29, who often helped me in my interrogations.
AMY GOODMAN: That was 1971, Detroit, Howard Johnson’s in Detroit. Several Vietnam veterans who testified at the original Winter Soldier hearings are in attendance this weekend, including Bill Perry, longtime member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. He served as a combat paratrooper in Vietnam, was wounded in action, suffers from combat PTSD, post-traumatic stress.
Bill Perry, welcome to Democracy Now!
BILL PERRY: Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.
AMY GOODMAN: So it was a Howard Johnson’s in Detroit. How did it happen then?
BILL PERRY: It was interesting. Eleven of us from Philadelphia were shanghaied pretty much by Dr. Kenny Campbell—teaches at the University of Delaware now—and Dr. Jon Bjornson, who was a—at the time, he was a major and a surgeon in the Army, but he eventually morphed into being a shrink, because he worked with Dr. Bobby Jay Lifton and Dr. Chaim Shatan on developing what we were experiencing in collective situations, in communal situations, dealing with our post-traumatic stress disorder.
Back then, they called it—I mean, it originally was battle fatigue and things like that, and it became Vietnam Syndrome, then post-traumatic stress syndrome. And then, after they observed us and after they took notes on us, after they studied us and did empirical research, it became post-traumatic stress disorder by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual III, which has now been pushed up to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV, and we’ve got number five coming out next year. So it’s established and accepted worldwide and studied worldwide, and it’s a heck of a thing. It’s been out there for quite a few millennia. You know, Homer with the Iliad and the Odyssey, and all them cats back in the day, they all had it. You know, we’ve had it all through history.
AMY GOODMAN: And how has it affected you?
BILL PERRY: How has it affected me? It has affected me deeply. It’s gotten me for forty years opposing what I consider to be unjust occupations, nasty, unnecessary wars. And it’s gotten—
AMY GOODMAN: But how—post-traumatic stress.
BILL PERRY: It’s gotten to the point, personally, where it was really difficult for me to hold a job for any length of time. I did thirty years in building trades, but I was used oftentimes as a goon. I had problems. I had—I had long-term employment problems. And a lot of times when you have to listen to a second lieutenant, what we used to call “butter bar,” nothing, you know, compared to like a platoon sergeant or a staff sergeant, and all of a sudden you’re out in the real life and you’re on a job, maybe on a concrete pourer, maybe you’re doing something—some high bridge work or something, and you’ve got some young snot-nose who’s related to the family or tied into the contractor’s family trying to tell you what to do, and all you want to do is backhand him, you know, or throw him off whatever you’re on, you know, punch him out, knock him out. You lose jobs really quick.
So there’s ways, fortunately, if you’re politically active [inaudible], they know how to utilize your temper, know how to utilize your political aggressiveness, let’s say. But the way—other than anger and some of the more frightening things that come out of the shock and the horror of war, on my particular case is my ability, my desire to give back to fellow GIs. We all took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, and I really respect that. Anyone who signs up for something and keeps their end of the bargain and understands what the Constitution is all about, who understands the commander-in-chief was violating the Constitution, when we have these kind of people who put their neck out like that and keep their end of the deal, I have to respect them and have to respect and help them get over what the policy has done to them.
AMY GOODMAN: Bill Perry, what are you advising soldiers, vets who are testifying this weekend?
BILL PERRY: Well, we all come out of a society that’s entrenched in the Judeo-Christian culture. And the other ten percent of society that’s not particularly Judeo-Christian also believes in what we call the Fifth Commandment: Thou shall not kill. No matter how big a battery of shrinks, how big a battery of behaviorists, how big a group of psychiatrists, can make a good human being who comes up and believing in “Thou shall not kill” into a cold-blooded killing machine, we can salvage things. We can bring you back, you know, to where you were prior to going in. We can bring you back to what we all believed in back in the day coming up.
AMY GOODMAN: Bill Perry, we’re going to go back to 1971, once again, to Winter Soldier, the soldiers who testified, used pictures to illustrate what they were saying.
CARL RIPPBERGER: The first slide you’re going to see shows a prisoner of war. And the way that they tried to get him to talk is by making him stand in front of a pile of Viet Cong bodies that we had picked up.
It’s the same POW, was forced to sit for probably from six to eight hours by this pile of bodies in the hot sun.
It’s a shot of five or six GIs going through the bodies, looking for souvenirs.
In this picture, there’s a lieutenant and a captain overlooking what’s going on.
This is a shot of our interrogator. He took his M-16. He took him and forced him into this prisoner’s nose, and he twisted him, It’s extremely painful.
MODERATOR: Officers were present at all times during this?
CARL RIPPBERGER: Yes, field grade officers were present—were present.
And the next slide is a slide of myself. I’m extremely shameful of it. I’m showing it in hopes that none of you people that have never been involved ever let this happen to you. Don’t ever let your government do this to you. It’s me. I’m holding a dead body, smiling. Everyone in our platoon took two bodies, put them on the back ramp, drove them through a village for show, and dumped them off at the edge of the village.
AMY GOODMAN: Winter Soldier, testimony in 1971, February, in Detroit. We’re here in 2008 in Silver Spring National Labor College, Winter Soldier once again, accounts of occupation and war in Afghanistan and Iraq by soldiers who have gathered here and vets.
Tanya Austin is with us right now. She was active-duty until 2004. She was an Arabic linguist. She is with Iraq Veterans Against the War and will be testifying.
TANYA AUSTIN: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: As we wrap up today’s show, what will you be saying this weekend?
TANYA AUSTIN: I’m going to be testifying about the VA health system and how the way to deal with PTSD is first by just over-medicating and not giving the chance to have someone to talk to, because there are too many soldiers who need counseling and not enough counselors. So, me, personally, it was a year after being medicated before I had a chance to actually speak with someone. And they actually put me on a wrong medication that caused an increase in suicidal feelings, because a lot of antidepressants do that. Luckily, I was able to get off of that one and onto something else. But it’s just to show how the VA is so under-equipped to be dealing with today’s soldiers. I mean, people come back from Iraq, Afghanistan or even just duty here in the United States, and they don’t have the outlet in the room in the VA in order to get the treatment they need and deserve.
AMY GOODMAN: Where did you serve?
TANYA AUSTIN: I served stateside. I can’t say more than that, because I was in Military Intelligence.
AMY GOODMAN: Arab linguist.
TANYA AUSTIN: Yes, I was. I was an Arabic linguist.
AMY GOODMAN: How do you feel about your time served?
TANYA AUSTIN: I’m proud of what I did to serve my country, do not like what we are doing, obviously, by being here.
AMY GOODMAN: You’re also giving someone else’s testimony.
TANYA AUSTIN: Yes, I am. I’m going to be giving testimony of someone who was in the Coast Guard who was raped, and the Coast Guard decided to cover it up and actually discharge her, because she wouldn’t drop the charges. She is not able to give her own testimony because of ongoing legal matters. But it’s a very heart-wrenching story how the Coast Guard covered up her rape and also the fact that she was beaten by one of her fellow shipmates.
AMY GOODMAN: How do you feel about those who say this is the greatest outrage, for soldiers to be speaking out against their service?
TANYA AUSTIN: I think it’s just the actual 100 percent opposite of that. There’s no one who knows better than the soldiers. No one knows better than those of us who have served in today’s military, who have seen what we’ve seen, heard what we’ve heard and done what we’ve done. And for all of us that are here, I see nothing more than absolute patriotism by coming out and speaking out about what we see and what we’ve done.
AMY GOODMAN: Are you afraid of suffering repercussions from within the military?
TANYA AUSTIN: No, because I know what I’m doing is right. And doing what is right and what is easy is often two different things.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you very much, Tanya Austin, for joining us, in Military—was in Military Intelligence—
TANYA AUSTIN: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: —Arab linguist here at Winter Soldier, the accounts that are going to be given today, all day today, Saturday and Sunday by soldiers, veterans, about their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is going to be broadcast live throughout the day at ivaw.org. That’s Iraq Veterans Against the War (dot) org. Pacifica Radio stations will be running it, and affiliates. Free Speech TV, as well, Channel 9415 of DISH Network, will be broadcasting these hearings, gavel to gavel. And Democracy Now! will continue to bring you what happened throughout the weekend next week.