Monday, May 29

Kerry, Murtha, Haditha and True Patriotism

In recent days John Kerry has stepped forward with additional evidence that all the claims made by John O'Neil and the so-called "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" were nothing more than lies.

Of course, this isn't really news to most people who were paying attention during the election (which weren't nearly enough). The Smearboaters had not one shred of physical evidence to support their claims, nothing from Kerry's Service Records, and none of them were members of Kerry's crew for any extended period. Regardless of how Kerry himself responded, the core case made against him regarding his 1971 Senate Testimony was thoroughly debunked in midst of the 2004 Campaign by FactCheck.org.

Since the spread of these lies against a decorated Veteran and Senator, Kerry's supporters have formed the Patriot Project - to push back when members of the military speak out and take unpopular positions. Military men like Congressman John Murtha whose been quite vocal about an atrocity as great as those described by John Kerry in 1971.

The Massacre at Haditha.

The President recently said his biggest regret in Iraq was Abu Ghraib -- well, Georgie I think that's hardly the first spoonful from the big bowl of regret you have coming your way.

Strategically and Methodically the right-wing - including George Bush's most ardent supporters - have both torn down and attempted to prop up our military with lies and distortions time and time again during the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.

We had the heroic story of Former NFL player and Army Ranger Pat Tillman, which less than a month later turned to ashes.

New details released yesterday about Tillman's death indicate that he was gunned down by members of his elite Army Ranger platoon who mistakenly shot in his direction when the unit was ambushed. According to a summary of the Army investigation, a Ranger squad leader mistook an allied Afghan Militia Force soldier standing near Tillman as the enemy, and he and other U.S. soldiers opened fire, killing both men.

That Tillman, 27, wasn't killed by enemy fire in a heroic rescue attempt was a major revelation by the U.S. military more than a month after the April 22 incident, which the Pentagon and members of Congress had hailed as an example of combat bravery. Tillman's sacrifice of millions of dollars when he left the National Football League's Arizona Cardinals to become a soldier has been held up as a stark contrast to the prison scandal in Iraq.

And then there was the Time Magazine Cover Story about Jessica Lynch.

Jessica Lynch. You know the one. The sweet, American-pie 19-year-old soldier and kindergarten-teacher wanna-be whose army squad took a wrong turn in Iraq and was, apparently, ambushed.

And some of her comrades were killed and she was taken prisoner, full of stab wounds and bullet holes, and she was whisked off to a ragged Iraqi hospital and held for eight days by vicious Iraqi guards and ostensibly abused, and later supposedly "rescued" in the most daring and macho made-for-TV moment of the war by elite teams of hunky U.S. Army Rangers and U.S. Navy SEALs. Wow.

Except that it never really happened that way. Except that Lynch herself doesn't remember a single thing and all the nurses and doctors and eyewitnesses on the scene say the Iraqi fedayeen guards had fled the day before the "rescue," and there was no danger whatsoever, no resistance of any kind, the U.S. forces could just walk right in, and they knew it.

And the hospital doors were wide open, and the nurses and doctors had gone out of their way to provide decent care for our precious Jessica, considering the circumstances, and doctors even tried to return Lynch to U.S. forces themselves.

There was even a TV Movie of the Week made about the rescue of oh-so-telegenic Ms. Lynch.
Even the one commentor on IMDB knew something was up.

The U.S. waged an aggressive unprovoked war under what could very well be false pretenses. All that aside and considering that this incident just happened a few months ago the film for a made for TV venture was quite well done. Much of what really happened and took place may not be known for some time and when the full story finally does come out as they all eventually do when it comes to war stories it may make this picture seem hypocritical, foolish and phony.

No kidding.

Jessica herself has even become quite outspoken about what didn't happen to her.

Asked how she felt about the reports of her heroism, Ms. Lynch told Ms. Sawyer, "It hurt in a way that people would make up stories that they had no truth about. Only I would have been able to know that, because the other four people on my vehicle aren't here to tell the story. So I would have been the only one able to say, yeah, I went down shooting. But I didn't."

And asked about reports that the military exaggerated the danger of the rescue mission, Ms. Lynch said, "Yeah, I don't think it happened quite like that," although she added that in that context anybody would have approached the hospital well-armed. She continued: "I don't know why they filmed it, or why they say the things they, you know, all I know was that I was in that hospital hurting. I needed help."

So after completely distorting John Kerry's service record and public statements about criminal acts and atrocities by our soldiers in Vietnam, covering up the circumstances of Tillman's death to create an artificial hero - right out of both "1984" and "Wag the Dog" - and after attempting to do the same by create a "heroic rescue" of Jessica Lynch, the right wing has finally set it sights on John Murtha. A decorated 37 year Marine Veteran and the first Congressmen to publically call for our troops to leave Iraq "at the first practicable date".

(Video)
"A Pentagon probe into the death of Iraqi civilians last November in the Iraqi city of Haditha will show that U.S. Marines "killed innocent civilians in cold blood," a U.S. lawmaker said Wednesday.From the beginning, Iraqis in the town of Haditha said U.S. Marines deliberately killed 15 unarmed Iraqi civilians, including seven women and three children....On Nov. 20, U.S. Marines spokesman Capt. Jeffrey Pool issued a statement saying that on the previous day a roadside bomb had killed 15 civilians and a Marine."

More from NBC News.

Murtha, a vocal opponent of the war in Iraq, said at a news conference Wednesday that sources within the military have told him that an internal investigation will show that "there was no firefight, there was no IED (improvised explosive device) that killed these innocent people. Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood."

Military officials say Marine Corp photos taken immediately after the incident show many of the victims were shot at close range, in the head and chest, execution-style. One photo shows a mother and young child bent over on the floor as if in prayer, shot dead, said the officials, who spoke to NBC News on condition of anonymity because the investigation hasn't been completed.

One military official says it appears the civilians were deliberately killed by the Marines, who were outraged at the death of their fellow Marine.

But is this truly all that surprising? With well documented recruiting issues and the stop-loss program it's clear that many of our soldiers are over-extended and over-stressed, now on their 3rd and 4th tours through Iraq.

Research indicates that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is becoming a greater and greater issue among our armed forces.

From ABC News.

HARTFORD, Conn. - U.S. military troops with severe psychological problems have been sent to Iraq or kept in combat, even when superiors have been aware of signs of mental illness, a newspaper reported for Sunday editions.

The Hartford Courant, citing records obtained under the federal Freedom of Information Act and more than 100 interviews of families and military personnel, reported numerous cases in which the military failed to follow its own regulations in screening, treating and evacuating mentally unfit troops from Iraq.

How unfit are they? It's so bad that they aren't just killing civilians like in Haditha - they're killing themselves.

Twenty-two U.S. troops committed suicide in Iraq last year, accounting for nearly one in five of all non-combat deaths and the highest suicide rate since the war started, the newspaper said.

Some service members who committed suicide in 2004 and 2005 were kept on duty despite clear signs of mental distress, sometimes after being prescribed antidepressants with little or no mental health counseling or monitoring, the Courant reported. Those findings conflict with regulations adopted last year by the Army that caution against the use of antidepressants for "extended deployments."

"I can't imagine something more irresponsible than putting a soldier suffering from stress on (antidepressants), when you know these drugs can cause people to become suicidal and homicidal," said Vera Sharav, president of the Alliance for Human Research Protection, a New York-based advocacy group. "You're creating chemically activated time bombs."

And how has the right-wing, y'know those people in Congress, White House, Pentagon and their various lackeys in the press responded to all of this?

They've attacked Murtha naturally. And who did they attack him with? Not with that harpy Jean Schmidt who had the temerity to accuse Murtha of being a "coward", but not the courage of her own convictions to actually stand behind the statment. No, they used they're ready made hatchet man John O'Neill of the Smearboat Vets, but of course.

During the May 18 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, host Sean Hannity and Swift Boat Veterans for Truth co-founder John E. O'Neill attacked Rep. John P. Murtha (D-PA) for saying that a pending military report will show that U.S. Marines deliberately killed innocent Iraqi citizens during a November 2005 raid in Haditha, Iraq. Both accused Murtha of, as Hannity stated, allegedly "accus[ing] our troops ... of killing innocent civilians in cold blood" without giving the Marines "the presumption of innocence." O'Neill asserted that, by giving such a report during a press conference, Murtha was "gloating," and Hannity declared Murtha's remarks to be "a disgrace to the men and women that are serving and putting their lives on the line." Yet, while condemning Murtha for discussing the Haditha incident, Hannity did not similarly fault Fox News and its chief White House correspondent Brett Baier, who -- as guest and Democratic strategist Bob Beckel pointed out -- had earlier that day also noted the pending report.

Murtha did nothing more than correctly state the contents of Pentagon's own report. He brought it out because they was an attempt to cover the incident up by people somewhere in the chain of command. Just as there was an attempt to cover up My Lai incident so many years ago.

The true failues to support our troops does not come from the statements of Murtha or Kerry - it comes from poor leadership in the field that allows the conditions for these events to build and then fails to respond to them when they do. It's a tendency to Romanticize and Fantasize the realities of war. It's a failure we saw in the death of Pat Tillman, the none-existent rescue of Jessica Lynch and more.
It's this tendency - that is the greatest dangers to honor, health and lives of our troops currently in harms way. To fail to be brutally honest with them and ourselves about how this war is being conducted is to sanction what is happening.

It's Hannity, O'Neill and their ilk who are the real traitors - they've betrayed the spirit and honor of our Military - they've betrayed their sacrifice by continuing to promote that American blood and treasure be spilled for a goal that only the Iraqis can achieve.

There is no good reason why a phased transfer of power between the supposed 200,000+ trained Iraqi soldiers and our own over-extended military is not already taking place. Our soldiers should be rotated out of forward areas and back home as their soldiers are rotated in. If neccesary we should stand-down to ensure that they will stand-up, both Murtha and Kerry have said as much.

The longer that doesn't occur, the greater likelyhood that we have only a broken military force to look forward too. One where incidents like Haditha, where the full brunt of military firepower is turned on civilians, will become common place - while the effort to cover them up become more elaborate, more desperate, more pathetic.

And just how many "hearts and minds" will that win over to our way of thinking I wonder?

As we celebrate the this Memorial Day - lets take a few extra moments to also hold accountable those who originally put our soldiers in harms way - unneccesarily - and then attempt to exploit their sacrifice for their own political ends. Yes, this mean you George.

Vyan

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