for a Lie
By Mike McArdle
I didn’t know Kirk Straseskie, in fact my only contact with
him was reading a newspaper article about his death. Straseskie
was a marine who was killed in Iraq on May 19th of this year.
He drowned after leaping into a canal to save four fellow
Marines whose helicopter had crashed. By the time Straseskie
was killed the newspapers and embedded reporters were on their
way home. The staged-managed tearing down of the Hussein statue
was just a memory. The little man who had started the war
had taken his dress-up victory lap on the USS Abraham Lincoln
and had film in the can for his reelection effort next year.
The 24/7 cable news channels had moved on to Laci Peterson.
So not much attention was paid to Kirk Straseskie, who drowned
after jumping into a canal to try to save four other Marines
who had crashed in a helicopter. The war is perceived as being
over and the fate of the new casualties only resonates in
hometowns like Beaver Dam, Wisconsin where Straseskie grew
Straseskie and the other Marines that he tried to save probably
didn’t ask a lot of questions about why they were in Iraq.
A good serviceman follows orders and leaves the larger decisions
for others. They had more than enough to occupy them without
dwelling on the political issues that surrounded the war.
But Straseskie’s father had seen enough of the war to know
that Iraq did not and in fact had never posed any threat to
the United States as the President had claimed. John Straseskie
who had served in the Army and National Guard for 26 years
expressed anger at the loss of his son in a war that that
he now thinks was sold under false pretenses. “He put our
troops over there to finish what his dad didn't do. They found
no weapons of mass destruction," he told the Capital Times,
a Madison, WI. newspaper.
Now, far too late to save to save Kirk Straseskie or console
his father, the press and the intelligence community have
begun to wake up to the fact that they and the American people
were deceived. We’re finding out that Colin Powell denounced
some of the claims about Iraqi weapons as “bullshit” before
his speech to the UN in February. A newly formed group called
Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity wrote a letter
to the President protesting "a policy and intelligence fiasco
of monumental proportions." An Army intelligence officer told
Time Magazine that Donald Rumsfeld was “deeply, almost pathologically,
distorting the intelligence". Greg Thielmann, recently retired
from the State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research
says that the Bush administration “was grossly distorting
the intelligence” on both weapons and the Iraq-Al Qaida connection.
Kirk Straseskie will never have his own children or find
his life’s work or be able to comfort his parents as they
grow older. His life was ended sixty years prematurely because
of a lie told by his government, the government that he volunteered
to fight for. He almost certainly went to his death believing
that he was in Iraq to defend Americans when it is now obvious
that he was not.
Tony Blair in England will now face a parliamentary inquiry
on why the rationale for the war now appears to have been
false and U.S. Senate committees are at least talking about
pursuing their own investigation. But the gravity and result
of the deception demands a lot more than that.
If this administration cherry-picked the intelligence data
or ignored the real data in order to justify a pre-ordained
conclusion then they murdered Kirk Straseskie and the four
other Marines that he tried to save, and dozens of other U.S.
soldiers. And they also murdered a few thousand Iraqi civilians
who in the absence of weapons have become the back-up excuse
for the war (we had to go to war now to “liberate” the Iraqis).
If they sent human beings into harm's way under false pretenses
then they have committed a crime, a crime against America,
a crime against Iraq, a crime against humanity. And if there
were real justice in the world then Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld
and Wolfowitz would be placed on trial, not here, but in The
Hague where the international law that they have expressed
such utter contempt for is enforced.
Colin Powell? He should receive a worse punishment. The
General should have to go to Beaver Dam, Wisconsin and explain
to fellow vet John Straseskie why he helped send Straseskie’s
son to his death for “bullshit.”