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Dead for a Lie
June 7, 2003
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 up.

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.”

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