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Member since: Wed Mar 16, 2005, 10:12 AM
Number of posts: 60,364

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Individual Honor versus Unpleasant History: The Battle Still Rages Over What Vietnam Means


Individual Honor versus Unpleasant History: The Battle Still Rages Over What Vietnam Means
by John Grant | March 7, 2013 - 8:30am

Soldiers and veterans from Iraq, Afghanistan and other wars are killing themselves, according to Sixty Minutes, at a rate of 22-a-day. For any fair-minded person whose mind is not locked into a dehumanized state of war-justifying numbness, that is both incredible and unacceptable.

The Sixty Minutes story focused on Clay Hunt, an otherwise strong and attractive 26-year-old Iraq/Afghan Marine veteran who shot himself. His devastated parents and his closest war-buddy were interviewed, each revealing great pain and the deepest of human bonds with the man. Agonizing self-blame was expressed along with the tears.

The question hovering over the story was: Why did he do it? He had undertaken important humanitarian work in Haiti following the earthquake there; he was smart, physically healthy and beloved by women; he seemed a guy ready to grab the world by the tail and accomplish important things.


The elephant in the room no one seemed willing to recognize was the idea of moral damage. Asking bright, strong young men like Hunt to fight wars like Iraq and Afghanistan -- and Vietnam before that -- can be like luring an unsuspecting animal into a trap. The bait is the powerful call to do something good for your country, to sacrifice for a larger purpose. The trap, of course, is the fact wars like Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam are never what the drumbeat of homefront-oriented propaganda says they are...
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Mar 7, 2013, 10:17 AM (1 replies)

Gun “Background Check” on Pentagon


Gun “Background Check” on Pentagon
by Norman Solomon | March 7, 2013 - 8:51am


The applicant, U.S. Pentagon, seeks to purchase a wide variety of firearms in vast quantities. This background check has determined that the applicant has a long history of assisting individuals, organizations and governments prone to gun violence.

Pentagon has often served as an active accomplice or direct perpetrator of killings on a mass scale. During the last 50 years, the applicant has directly inflicted large-scale death and injuries in numerous countries, among them the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Grenada, Panama, Kosovo, Serbia, Iraq and Afghanistan (partial list). Resulting fatalities are estimated to have been more than 5 million people.

For purposes of this background check, special attention has been necessarily focused on the scope of firearms currently sought by Pentagon. They include numerous types of semi-automatic and fully automatic rifles as well as many other assault weapons. Continuing purchases by the applicant include drones and cruise missiles along with the latest models of compatible projectiles and matching explosives.

Notable on Pentagon’s shopping list is the Massive Ordnance Penetrator. This “bunker buster” weapon -- with a weight of 30,000 pounds, set for delivery by a B-2 stealth bomber -- is for prospective use in Iran.
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Mar 7, 2013, 10:14 AM (0 replies)

This is What Austerity Looks Like… And It’s Just the beginning.


This is What Austerity Looks Like… And It’s Just the beginning.
by Thom Hartmann | March 7, 2013 - 9:15am

Only 4 days after the March 1st Sequester deadline, people around our nation are already starting to feel the pinch of austerity. Customs and Border Protection reduced overtime for TSA agents over the weekend, and delays at some airports were up 200%. According to the statement released by that agency, “lanes that would have previously been open due to overtime staffing were closed, further exacerbating wait times at airports.” Additional workforce reductions are expected in the coming weeks, so airport officials say the problem will get even worse.

And TSA agents aren’t the only ones feeling the pain. The Georgia Department of Labor issued a press release Monday to inform people receiving extended unemployment benefits that they will soon see a 10.7% reduction in their weekly checks. In Georgia, the maximum amount someone can receive under EUC benefits is only $330, and the average is just $260. A ten percent cut in those benefits won’t just hurt struggling families, but will have a larger impact to the local economy as people will have less money to spend.

Even in Republican’s most cherished industry – defense – people are feeling the pain of austerity. Yesterday, General Dynamics, a company that constructs U.S. Navy ships, warned employees that over 1,000 people will be laid off indefinitely in April, because of the sequester. In less than a week, Republican austerity measures are already wreaking havoc on working people throughout our nation.

It isn’t difficult to see how cuts like these will have a broad impact on our economy. We need to be investing in our nation, not cutting off people’s economic lifelines. That’s why we need to support the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s Balancing Act, which invests in America’s future, instead of dooming us to austerity.
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Mar 7, 2013, 10:06 AM (3 replies)

Reef Rammers Hailed as Heroes


Photo of the USS Guardian run aground in the Tubbataha reef

Reef Rammers Hailed as Heroes
by Andrea Germanos
03.06.13 - 4:30 PM

Engage in civil disobedience to prevent runaway climate change, and you might get arrested. Ruin 4,000 square meters of a World Heritage-listed coral reef, and you're a hero. Photo of the USS Guardian run aground in the Tubbataha reef: (Photo: U.S. Navy)

That's right. A hero.

The crew members of the USS Guardian, the US Navy minesweeper that rammed into the pristine coral reef at the Tubbataha National Marine Park in the Philippines back in January, were hailed for "extraordinary heroism" at a decommissioning ceremony for the ship on Wednesday.

The crew reportedly ignored warnings to avoid the area when it rammed into the reef, causing damage to at least 4,000 square meters of coral reefs. The ship couldn't even be tugged away safely — it's still being extricated piece by piece, with the reef serving as an industrial operating table for the removal, which has been thwarted by ongoing bad weather.

unhappycamper comment: Here is yesterday's stripes.com article about these 'heros':



On Monday (3.4):


USS Guardian salvage workers make progress, remove bridge deck
March 4, 2013 4:10am

Salvage crews on Sunday removed the bridge deck of the USS Guardian as they continued to dismantle the grounded minesweeper stuck at Tubbataha Reef.

Task Force Tubbataha and Coast Guard Palawan head Commodore Enrico Evangelista said this was part of the superstructure's second level, radio dzBB's Cecilia Villarosa reported.

Evangelista added that work on the second level was finished, they are now targeting the next level and the hull.

Good weather so far has allowed salvage teams to work on the USS Guardian, which had run aground at Tubbataha Reef last Jan. 17.
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Mar 7, 2013, 08:39 AM (2 replies)

Army Central Command leader wanted larger force in Afghanistan after 2014


Army Central Command leader wanted larger force in Afghanistan after 2014
By Lolita C. Baldor
The Associated Press
Published: 12:00 AM, Wed Mar 06, 2013

WASHINGTON - The top U.S. military commander in the Middle East told senators for the first time Tuesday that he had envisioned keeping about 20,000 troops in Afghanistan after combat operations end in 2014, far more than the number the Obama administration and NATO are considering.

Gen. James Mattis, head of U.S. Central Command, said he personally recommended the U.S. leave 13,600 troops in Afghanistan and that he assumed the NATO allies would probably contribute "around 50 percent" of the U.S. total, which would be roughly 6,500.

"We have to send a message of commitment," Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

U.S. and NATO leaders said last month that they may keep between 8,000 and 12,000 troops in Afghanistan after combat troops leave by Dec. 31, 2014. At a NATO meeting in Brussels, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta acknowledged the range being considered, but noted that no final decision has been made.

unhappycamper comment: Evidently we have not wasted enough money in Afghanistan.

Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Mar 7, 2013, 08:20 AM (1 replies)

Former Lackland trainer sentenced to 3 months in jail


Staff Sgt. Ryan Deraas was accused of assaulting two recruits and of improper relationships with other trainees.

Former Lackland trainer sentenced to 3 months in jail
By Sig Christenson, STAFF WRITER
Updated 8:50 am, Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A former Air Force trainer was sentenced Monday to three months in jail and given a bad-conduct discharge for assaulting a pair of recruits and pursuing five illicit relationships.

As part of a plea bargain, Staff Sgt. Ryan Deraas said he was guilty of two charges and eight specifications of misconduct. He admitted to having sex with a woman while she was in technical training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

Deraas, who had faced up to one year in jail in a special court-martial, tearfully conceded that he'd made bad decisions as an instructor, a job he wanted after being mistreated in boot camp.


The judge, Lt. Col. Matthew van Dalen, deliberated for more than two hours after Capt. Colin Eichenberger, the defense attorney, asked that his client receive far less than what the prosecution wanted: 10 months in prison and a bad-conduct discharge.
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Mar 7, 2013, 08:03 AM (0 replies)

Inspector general report: U.S. cannot account for $1.7 billion spent in Iraq


Stuart Bowen, Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, attends a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill on November 18, 2010 in Washington, DC.

Inspector general report: U.S. cannot account for $1.7 billion spent in Iraq
By Agence France-Presse
Wednesday, March 6, 2013 15:07 EST

After invading Iraq ten years ago, the United States spent $60 billion on a vast reconstruction effort that left behind few successes and a litany of failures, an auditor’s report said Wednesday.

The ambitious plan to transform the country after the fall of Saddam Hussein has been marked by half-finished projects and crushed expectations, according to the final report of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, Stuart Bowen.

The aid effort was plagued by in-fighting among US agencies and an improvised “adhocracy” approach, with no one clearly in charge of a massive investment that was supposed to put Iraq on a stable footing, said the report to Congress.


Some of the reconstruction money was stolen, with a number of US military officers and contractors now imprisoned for fraud, while other funds remain unaccounted for to this day, it said.

unhappycamper comment: Lest you think only $1.7 billion dollars disappeared in Iraq, there was also this little gem from 2004:


Audit Shows $8.8B Missing in Iraq
Published August 20, 2004

A soon-to-be-released audit will show that at least $8.8 billion in Iraqi money that was given to Iraqi ministries by the former U.S.-led authority there cannot be accounted for, FOX News has confirmed.


The draft audit by the Coalition Provisional Authority's (search) inspector general chastises the CPA — formerly led by L. Paul Bremer — for "not providing adequate stewardship" of at least $8.8 billion from the Development Fund for Iraq. The audit is not expected to be released for at least two or three more weeks, possibly longer.

The audit was first reported on a Web site earlier this month by journalist and retired Col. David Hackworth. A U.S. official first confirmed to Reuters the contents of the leaked audit cited by Hackworth were accurate.


One of the main benefactors of the Iraq funds was Texas-based firm Halliburton, which was paid more than $1 billion of that money to bring in fuel for Iraqi civilians. The monitoring board said it had not been given access to U.S. audits of contracts held by Halliburton (search).


Color me surprised. Not.....
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Mar 7, 2013, 06:40 AM (14 replies)

Pentagon linked to Iraqi torture centers by Central American ‘dirty war’ veteran


Pentagon linked to Iraqi torture centers by Central American ‘dirty war’ veteran
By Mona Mahmood, Maggie O'Kane, Chavala Madlena and Teresa Smith, The Guardian
Wednesday, March 6, 2013 11:35 EST

The Pentagon sent a US veteran of the “dirty wars” in Central America to oversee sectarian police commando units in Iraq, that set up secret detention and torture centres to get information from insurgents. These units conducted some of the worst acts of torture during the US occupation and accelerated the country’s descent into full-scale civil war.

Colonel James Steele, then 58, was a retired special forces veteran nominated by Donald Rumsfeld to help organise the paramilitaries in an attempt to quell a Sunni insurgency, according to an investigation by the Guardian and BBC Arabic. After the Pentagon lifted a ban on Shia militias joining the security forces, the membership of the Special police commandos was increasingly drawn from violent Shia groups like the Badr brigades.

A second special advisor, retired Colonel James H Coffman (now 59) worked alongside Steele in detention centres that were set up with millions of dollars of US funding. Coffman reported directly to GeneralDavid Petraeus, sent to Iraq in June 2004 to organise and train the new Iraqi security forces. Steele, who was in Iraq between 2003 – 2005, and kept returning to the country through 2006, reported directly to Rumsfeld.

The allegations made by both American and Iraqis witnesses in the Guardian/BBC documentary, for the first time implicates US advisors in the human rights abuses committed by the commandos. It is also the first time that General David Petraeus – who last November was forced to resign as director of the CIA after a sex scandal – has been linked through an advisor to this abuse. Coffman reported to Petraeus and described himself in an interview with the US military newspaper Stars and Stripes as Petraeus’s “eyes and ears out on the ground” in Iraq.
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Mar 7, 2013, 06:09 AM (4 replies)

Tucson tech: Raytheon readies to start production of ($89,000) Excalibur Ib


Tucson tech: Raytheon readies to start production of Excalibur Ib
March 05, 2013 12:00 am • David Wichner Arizona Daily Star

Even as deep defense budget cuts loom, Tucson-based Raytheon Missile Systems is poised to start a new production line for precision-guided artillery shells.

Raytheon recently announced it will start low-rate-initial production of the Excalibur Ib precision-guided artillery projectile, a 155mm, GPS satellite-guided shell that can strike within about 13 feet of its target at a range of more than 20 miles.

The Army awarded Raytheon a $56.6 million fiscal year 2012 production contract for the projectile in December. Contract options through fiscal year 2016 include an undetermined number of additional shells to support U.S. forces' requirements, training and foreign military sales, Raytheon said.

The award followed a competition to develop the next generation of the Excalibur, which was originally developed by Raytheon and rushed into combat in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2007.

unhappycamper comment: Read on about the $89 grand Excalibur 155mm round:


Posted by unhappycamper | Wed Mar 6, 2013, 09:03 AM (0 replies)

Taliban attack trends: Never mind


In this Jan. 26, 2012 file photo, an Afghan solider, left, stands guard at the scene of a suicide attack in Lashkar Gah, Helmand province south of Kabul, Afghanistan

Taliban attack trends: Never mind
By ROBERT BURNS | Associated Press – 15 hrs ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S.-led military command in Afghanistan will no longer count and publish the number of Taliban attacks, a statistical measure that it once touted as a gauge of U.S. and allied success but now dismisses as flawed.

The move comes one week after the coalition, known as the International Security Assistance Force, acknowledged in response to inquiries by The Associated Press that it had incorrectly reported a 7 percent drop in Taliban attacks in 2012 compared to 2011. In fact, there was no decline at all, ISAF officials now say.

The mistake, attributed by ISAF officials to a clerical error, called into question the validity of repeated statements by allied officials that the Taliban was in steep decline.

Anthony Cordesman, a close observer of the war as an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said it had been clear for months that ISAF's figures were flawed.

unhappycamper comment: If you don't like the numbers, don't publish them. That's very Republican of them......
Posted by unhappycamper | Wed Mar 6, 2013, 08:50 AM (1 replies)
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