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Iraq War

Attn: Pentagon, I'm Going To Blog About Your Support Of Mass Rape

cross-posted to jack & jill politics Wired.com recently revealed that the Pentagon considered recruiting and hiring bloggers to promote their message and attack and hack the sites of those those antithetical to their interests. Given that, I'd just like to take an opportunity to discuss the Pentagon's policy of mass rape of American servicewomen. Go ahead, Pentagon. Hack me. For an excellent and lengthy treatment of this topic, Salon.com's "The Private War Of Women Soldiers" is a must-read. The LA Times ran an excellent opinion piece on the story this Sunday. It was written by Jane Harman (D-Venice) who chairs the House Homeland Security subcommittee on intelligence:
The stories are shocking in their simplicity and brutality: A female military recruit is pinned down at knifepoint and raped repeatedly in her own barracks. Her attackers hid their faces but she identified them by their uniforms; they were her fellow soldiers. During a routine gynecological exam, a female soldier is attacked and raped by her military physician. Yet another young soldier, still adapting to life in a war zone, is raped by her commanding officer. Afraid for her standing in her unit, she feels she has nowhere to turn. These are true stories, and, sadly, not isolated incidents. Women serving in the U.S. military are more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire in Iraq.
More than the incidents of rape is the fact that the military does not take this problem seriously, as evidenced by the low rate of serious discipline:
At the heart of this crisis is an apparent inability or unwillingness to prosecute rapists in the ranks. According to DOD statistics, only 181 out of 2,212 subjects investigated for sexual assault in 2007, including 1,259 reports of rape, were referred to courts-martial, the equivalent of a criminal prosecution in the military. Another 218 were handled via nonpunitive administrative action or discharge, and 201 subjects were disciplined through "nonjudicial punishment," which means they may have been confined to quarters, assigned extra duty or received a similar slap on the wrist. In nearly half of the cases investigated, the chain of command took no action; more than a third of the time, that was because of "insufficient evidence." This is in stark contrast to the civilian trend of prosecuting sexual assault. In California, for example, 44% of reported rapes result in arrests, and 64% of those who are arrested are prosecuted, according to the California Department of Justice.
So someone tell me where the real war is. No, don't tell me. I understand: We're raping them over there so we don't have to rape them over here. Oh, I'm sorry, that's actually not true since there's a problem with military recruiters assaulting and raping potential enlistees, as reported by CNN and the AP. See the YouTube clip

Extra troubling: No Child Left Behind was designed, in part, to increase the ranks of the military. As stated by the CNN reporter above, "No Child Left Behind guarantees schools federal funding as long as they grant recruiters access to students on campus." The act also forces schools to provide students' home phone numbers and addresses. No child left behind or no rapist left behind? There is an epidemic of sexual assault in our military, and being stuck in this war only exacerbates the problem. Opposition to the war in Iraq is not simply about being "preoccupied" with the mistakes that got us into the war. It's about putting an end to all the costs associated with war, which go much farther and deeper than we generally acknowledge. What can you do?

Iraq 5 Years Later: How The Media Helped Get Us Into This War

cross posted to jack & jill politics Thank God for Democracy Now. Amy Goodman had on Greg Mitchell, editor of Editor & Publisher. His has a new book out called, So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits—and the President—Failed on Iraq. In all the retrospective coverage going on covering the five years of this unnecessary war, few in the media have bothered to look in the mirror and take the due blame for driving this country to war. We had the largest demonstrations in the history of the planet trying to stop this madness, yet few listened. The newspapers and broadcast and cable news outlets almost universally banned any voice that challenged the idea that Iraq was something we needed to do. Media outlets and personalities that fancy themselves critical of the war or the administration now, were the worst kind of journalists when we really needed them. It's easy to criticize Bush now. It's the hackiest thing you can do. It's easy to criticize the war, but when it really counted -- before we sent people in -- most of these idiots had nothing to say. They created a very hostile environment for our politicians to do the right thing, and for this complicity in war propaganda, they need to be held forever accountable. We should remember that these same media outlets are the ones driving the coverage and narrative of our current election. In general, they cannot be trusted. Their agenda is not our agenda. If they could help pull off the overthrow of a government, leading to the collapse of a society, the death of hundreds of thousands and the draining of the treasuries of two nations, what interest do you think they have in a substantive mediation of this presidential election? That's right. None. I'm as guilty as anyone of continuing to prop up these grossly negligent entities, but they've not learned their lesson, and I will try as much as possible to avoid validating them. This means more linking to alternative and perhaps local media, for example. Charlie Rangle made news years ago for proposing a military draft, as a way to spread the burden of this war more widely across society and, in so doing, end the war. I offer a more modest proposal: a military draft for elected officials and the media. If it were their kids and family members going off to commit crimes against another people, going off to get disfigured by an unjust and wasteful effort, you can bet we would not be where we are today. Check out Goodman's interview with Mitchell below. Tell us what you think.

Iraq 5 Years Later: I Am Ashamed (I Beg You. Read, Watch and Act)

cross-posted to Jack & Jill Politics I am sad. I am angry. I am weary, and I am ashamed. I hardly know where to begin writing about this five year travesty called the Iraq War, but I do know that it must end. I was one of those people that didn't need to read a top secret National Intelligence Estimate to know that this war was a terrible idea, but knowing that I was right doesn't make me feel any better. It makes me feel worse for I've done not nearly enough to bring an end to the tragedy. None of us has. I'm sure you're busy. We all are. But we owe it to our servicemen and women and to the Iraqi people to pay attention to what's happening. Please, stop what you're doing, and read this. No one in my family, nor any of my close friends are in the military. When I do get a chance to listen to soldiers, I do so with great attention. Three years ago, I ran into a returning U.S. Marine at the Philly airport. Here's a segment of what I wrote:
“Ok, then the opposite question: what’s the most scared you were?” This required no time for Joe to give me a response. “Mortar fire. It’s as loud as an airplane.” I thought that was it, but then he told another story. When he finished, I realized at some point, that I had stopped breathing. “Also, when someone yells ‘gas!’ that means we suspect a chemical weapons attack, and we have to get suited up.” All the troops get suited up in their chemical gear — huge, heavy rubber suits with full face masks. This is in 120 degree desert heat. Then they wait. To me, of the F-U-Philly-Airport crowd, “mortar fire” qualified as most frightening. When he upped it with “gas!” I could see that yes, thinking you might melt from the inside, was more frightening than loud explosions. But, Joe wasn’t finished. “When it’s over, the commanding officer has the youngest, most junior marine take his mask off… to make sure the air is ok. I was the commanding officer, and I had to look into these kids’ eyes and tell them to risk their lives by taking off a mask. The medics were standing by with [instant treatment of some sort] but I’m 22 looking into an 18 year old’s eyes, and he’s scared. It’s hard thing to do.” Damn. Damn. I did not expect that. I’m not sure what I expected, maybe fears of a roadside bomb or some sort of ambush, but not some deep, emotionally scarring event. That’s war. Right there.
A year after meeting Joe, I went to a panel at the progressive Yearly Kos blogger convention (summer 2006). It was a panel of those who had served in Iraq, and more than one story moved me to tears. The panel was sponsored by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). Again, here's an excerpt of what I wrote at the time under the title, YearlyKos Day 2: “Listen to me. They come home from war, and they kill themselves”:
IAVA hosted a panel with veterans from Iraq talking about their experience over there, but most horribly, their experience here in the US, once they returned. The quote in the title was from a female vet who joined the military at age 17. She was describing the heart-breaking, back-stabbing and outright cruel lack of resources available to veterans once they get back, especially psychological help. She told of how she was sexually assaulted by a major when she was 19 (a subject I’ve blogged about before), traumatized by her experience in Iraq, and forced into nearly 9-month delays once she returned. She was officially noted by the military health staff as having suicidal tendencies. If it weren’t for IAVA, she said, she’d be another statistic. “I know people who came back from the war and blew their brains out because they couldn’t take it. Listen to me. They come home from war, and they kill themselves”
And one year later (June 2007), I wrote about the tragedies waiting to happen as trained killers return home in Let's Talk About The Monster's We're Creating It's 2008, and we are still over there, still murdering and maiming and displacing countless Iraqi people. We're still murdering, maiming and psychologically scarring American servicemen and women. Yet, our leaders, for the most part, tell us to be patient. Victory is attainable. They are wrong. We have already lost. Two weeks ago, I watched No End In Sight, an infuriating documentary which chronicles the extreme arrogance and carelessness with which we planned, launched and prosecuted this war. The people behind this misadventure are criminals, in both their conscious behavior and their negligence. But this is not all I've been thinking about this week. I have spent the past several days listening to the testimony of servicemen and women who have returned from Iraq. They've been speaking openly about their experiences in the Winter Soldier testimonies, modeled on events of the same name post-Vietnam. Every American citizen must take the time to listen to at least some of these stories. You owe it to the people we have sent over there to know what is being done with your money and in your name. It's practically the least you can do. I have pulled together four stories in the video player below
  • Mike Prysner talks about the deep-seated racism he witnessed and was a part of
  • Camilo Mejia speaks eloquently and painfully of the loss of humanity that is necessary in dehumanizing the enemy
  • Kevin and Joyce Lucey had to tell their son's story because he is no longer alive to do so. He returned from Iraq but was overcome by the emotional wounds and killed himself as the VA hospital refused to admit him, despite pleas from his family
  • In the most disturbing testimony, Tanya Austin talks about the widespread rape and sexual assault that occurs in the military and how victims are further victimized by the system. Check out Stop Military Rape.
You can move through the clips using the big arrows on the side of the video player.
The clear message I have gotten from listening to returning soldiers is that what hurts them is to come home and see a society that has forgotten them, a society preoccupied with the most trite of interests, a society that by its willful ignorance, devalues their experiences. Don't be that person. I guarantee that whatever you think you must do in the next few hours can wait. We owe it to the people serving in your name. We owe it to the people of Iraq. As for action, please check out the newly-released Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq. End U.S. military action, use diplomatic tools, address humanitarian concerns, restore our constitution, restore our military, restore independence to the media, create a new, U.S.-centered energy policy,
A Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq - Click here to add your support