Sunday cat pix
Josie from the ground up.
Sound of the week
A brief interlude: Echoburble.
Sunday cat pix
Musa, waiting an eternity to go outside.
Wednesday garden pix
Azalea: it’s not much to look at the rest of the year, but for two weeks in May…
Sunday cat pix
An eternal afternoon.
HS, 11 May 2008
Honor the dead
Here are some of the ways the Bush administration has chosen to honor our soldiers in the current conflict.
- They allowed private contractors to supply substandard rations and unsafe water to frontline troops. They demoted contract overseers who objected to profiteering by their corporate friends.
Quote: “I can unequivocally state that the abuse related to contracts awarded to KBR represents the most blatant and improper abuse I have witnessed” (Bunnatine Greenhouse).
- Paul Krugman (New York Times), Thanks for the M.R.E.’s, 12 August 2003.
- Pratap Chatterjee (CorpWatch), Halliburton Hearing Unearths New Abuse, 27 June 2005.
- Dan Friedman (CongressDaily), Senator condemns Army response to unsafe water in Iraq, 10 March 2008.
- Robert Burns, AP, Lawmakers Ask Pentagon to Probe Firing , 29 Aug 2005.
- Griff Witte, Halliburton Contract Critic Loses Her Job, 29 Aug 2005.
- Nick Turse, Casualties of the Bush Administration, 14 Oct 2005.
- Bunnatine H. Greenhouse, Senate Democratic Policy Committee Hearing “Abuses in Private Security and Reconstruction Contracting in Iraq: Ensuring Accountability”, 21 Sept 2007 (PDF)
- They sent infantry to Iraq with inadequate body armor.
Quote: “We’re getting people locally who are deployed National Guard and parents, specifically, coming in and buying,” said Don Budke, [Reliance Armor]’s vice president of sales. “The military people don’t want to advertise the fact that there are people doing this on their own.”
- Jeff Huber , Two Words: Body Armor, 20 May 2007.
- Michael Moss (New York Times), U.S. body armor is deemed inadequate, 7 Jan 2006.
- AP, Soldiers in Iraq still buying their own body armor, 26 Mar 2004.
- They instituted a “back-door draft” by using stop-loss orders to keep soldiers in service even though their tours of duty have expired or they are eligible for retirement.
Quote: “People don’t surrender (all) rights when they go into the military,” says Marguerite Hiken, co-chair of the Military Law Task Force of the National Lawyers Guild. “The government can’t hold you indefinitely. If the war on terrorism never ends, ‘stop loss’ doesn’t end. These people never get out. The military is saying we control you completely.”
- Wikipedia, Stop-loss policy, Edited 26 May 2008.
- Tom Squitieri, USA Today, Army expanding ‘stop loss’ order to keep soldiers from leaving, 5 January 2004, updated 6 Jan.
- Richard Muhammad, AlterNet, Firing Back, 24 August 2004.
- They have forbidden the photographing of returning dead and wounded soldiers to Dover AFB and elsewhere.
- Global Security, U.S. Casualties in Iraq, includes figures for dead and wounded through March 2008 as of 26 May 2008.
- Memory Hole, Military Coffins: The Photos You’re Not Supposed to See, updated 13 Jan 2005.
- Memory Hole, Photos of coffins, no date.
- SourceWatch, The Invisible Wounded, last edit 4 Apr 2006.
- Dana Milbank, Curtains Ordered for Media Coverage of Returning Coffins, 21 Oct 2003 (the link to the original Washington Post article is obsolete).
- They lied about the rescue of Jessica Lynch and the death of Pat Tillman.
Quote: “It was like a Hollywood film. They cried, ‘Go, go, go’, with guns and blanks and the sound of explosions. They made a show—an action movie like Sylvester Stallone or Jackie Chan, with jumping and shouting, breaking down doors.”
Quote: “Not only is he lying about the circumstances surrounding Pat’s death, as enemy fire had ceased many minutes before, he is proposing false language for the Silver Star narrative,” Mrs. Tillman writes of the Silver Star language. “The false narrative, which McChrystal clearly helped construct, diminished Pat’s true actions.”
- Guardian (based on a BBC report), The truth about Jessica, 15 Apr 2003.
- MSNBC, Ex-NFL star Tillman makes ‘ultimate sacrifice’, 26 April 2004.
- Wikipedia, Pat Tillman, revised 23 May 2008 [the official story]
- AP, New documents shed light on Tillman’s death: GI’s last words, lawyers’ congratulatory e-mails made public in testimony, July. 27, 2007.
- Robert Collier (San Francisco Chronicle), Family Demands the Truth: New inquiry may expose events that led to Pat Tillman’s death, 25 Sep 2005.
- Scott Lindlaw, Martha Mendoza, Pat Tillman’s mother recalls journey for facts, 13 May 2008.
- Glenn Greenwald, The Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch frauds, 25 April 2007.
- They allowed Walter Reed Hospital to deteriorate, not to mention some barracks at Fort Bragg.
Quote: “If we would have known about this, we would have fixed it. Unfortunately, we didn’t know about it” (ex-Secretary of the Army, Frances Harvey, on Walter Reed).
- CNN, Army fires commander of Walter Reed hospital, 1 Mar 2007.
- Justin Rood and Anna Schecter, Waxman to Force Walter Reed Ex-Chief to Talk About Problems, Contract, 2 Mar 2007.
- Brandon Friedman, Fort Bragg Barracks: Shades of Walter Reed?, 25 Apr 2008.
- Estes Thompson, AP, Poor conditions at Bragg barracks exposed, 30 Apr 2008.
- They tried to cut costs by diagnosing “adjustment disorder” in returning soldiers instead of post-traumatic stress disorder; in other cases veterans were denied disability on the grounds that their medical problems were pre-existing conditions.
Quote: “Given that we are having more and more compensation seeking veterans, I’d like to suggest that you refrain from giving a diagnosis of PTSD straight out,” (Norma Perez, former PTSD team leader Olin E. Teague Veterans Center in Temple, Texas).
- Christopher Lee, Washington Post, Official Urged Fewer Diagnoses of PTSD, 16 May 2008.
- Kimberly Hefling, AP, E-mail from VA worker says to avoid PTSD diagnosis, 15 May 2008.
- Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Crew and Votevets.org expose VA directive barring staff from diagnosing soldiers with PTSD in order to cut costs, 15 May 2008.
- Julie Robinson, Vets taking PTSD drugs die in sleep: Hurricane man's death the 4th in West Virginia, 24 May 2008.
- Greg Mitchell , West Virginia Paper: 4th Local Vet Taking 'PTSD Drugs' Dies , 24 May 2008.
- They tried to hide statistics on suicide among returning vets.
Quote: “Shh! Our suicide prevention coordinators are identifying about 1,000 suicide attempts per month among the veterans we see in our medical facilities. Is this something we should (carefully) address ourselves in some sort of release before somebody stumbles on it?” (Dr. Ira Katz, chief of mental health services for the Department of Veterans Affairs).
- They opposed the GI Bill sponsored by Senators Webb and Hagel (nevertheless the bill passed with a veto-proof majority).
- Charles M. Sennott, GI Bill falling short of college tuition costs: Pentagon resists boost in benefits, 10 Feb 2008.
- Christian Lowe, Vet Advocates Fight for New G.I. Bill, 14 Feb 2008.
- ThinkProgress, Soltz: Pentagon’s Spin On GI Bill Is ‘Offensive Nonsense’ That ‘Insults The Intelligence’ Of Soldiers, 7 May 2008.
Addendum: Sadly, No! has more items for the list. If you’re a veteran of the Iraq War, take a look at Iraq Veterans Against the War.
Addendum: Veterans Affairs Secretary James Peake, asked about the problem of post-traumatic stress disorder among veterans, said that
some of the concern about post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury has been overblown.
Many of the brain injuries are serious but some of them are akin to what anyone who played football in their youth might have suffered […]
Peake also wondered whether PTSD was being overdiagnosed.
“I worry about labeling all these kids coming back,” he said. “Just because someone might need a little counseling when they get back, doesn’t mean they need the PTSD label their whole lives.”
In response to the story mentioned above on the diagnosis of PTSD, Peake said that the VA is “committed to absolute accuracy in a diagnosis and unwavering in providing any and all earned benefits” (Kelly Kennedy, “VA e-mail: Save money, do not diagnose PTSD”, Army Times, 19 Mary 2008).
Wednesday garden pix
A volunteer pansy springing up between the bricks of the patio. It’s about three-quarters of an inch across.
The message automaton speaks
Scott McClellan, Bush’s former press secretary, has a tell-all book just out. Among other things he chides the media for their slavish behavior in the run-up to the war. Of course not everyone was slavish. Three McClatchy correspondents respond:
we find it a wee bit preposterous — and we are being diplomatic here — that a man who slavishly — no, robotically! — defended President Bush’s policies in Iraq and elsewhere is trying to “set the record straight” (and sell a few books) five years and more after the invasion, with U.S. troops still bravely fighting and dying to stabilize that country.
Their word “robotic” reminds me of an entry here in which I described the “message automaton” generating McClellan’s reponses to questions about the ads attacking Kerry that were paid for by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. McClellan responded to the press, which did its best that day to get a straight answer, in a way easily simulated by a nondeterministic finite-state automaton, which is to say, by a rather dumb sort of computer. I guess Mr. McClellan has gotten smarter since then. Has he acquired some morals?
For more on the conduct of the press, see Eric Boehlert’s Lapdogs.