Saturday, May 05, 2007

Here come the chickens with PTSD.

The WaPo reports a new Army report says:

"[A]bout two-thirds of Marines and half the Army troops surveyed said they would not report a team member for mistreating a civilian or for destroying civilian property unnecessarily. 'Less than half of Soldiers and Marines believed that non-combatants should be treated with dignity and respect,' the Army report stated.

About 10 percent of the 1,767 troops in the official survey -- conducted in Iraq last fall -- reported that they had mistreated civilians in Iraq, such as kicking them or needlessly damaging their possessions."

This confirms the theory of US general -- whose name I can't recall at the moment -- who said about a third of the troops over there 'get it;' a third are clueless and the others just want to blow stuff up.

What worries me is how many of these guys didn't admit what they've been up to.

Another equally worrying finding:

"The study also found that the more often soldiers are deployed, the longer they are deployed each time; and the less time they spend at home, the more likely they are to suffer mental health problems such as combat trauma, anxiety and depression."

Something just tells me the Army and the VA are really low-balling the actual number of guys coming back with serious mental problems. The VA would rather not admit what the numbers really are because they're too busy giving themselves raises to be able to afford to care for the tens of thousands coming back with PTSD.

AP reports:

"Months after a politically embarrassing $1 billion shortfall that put veterans' health care in peril, Veterans Affairs officials involved in the foul-up got hefty bonuses ranging up to $33,000.
The list of bonuses to senior career officials at the Veterans Affairs Department in 2006, obtained by The Associated Press, documents a generous package of more than $3.8 million in payments by a financially strapped agency straining to help care for thousands of injured veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan."

The chickens are coming home to roost and it ain't goign to be pretty. When will someone be held accountable for this mess?

Friday, May 04, 2007

Crime in Philly.

Can I just say that crime is out of control in the city of Philadelphia? This may not come as any big surprise to anyone, what with the 125 gun homicides all ready this year -- we're well on the way to surpassing the 406 last year -- but beyond those grim stats there's also the day to day violence which is endemic. I'm sure everyone knows someone who has been a victim of a crime or has been a victim themselves in the past year.

Two friends of mine in the last six months have been assaulted on the streets of Fishtown. One friend was beaten by three young white males who jumped out of their car and just started pounding on him, for no reason. Another was a young woman in her twenties who was mugged and had her purse stolen by three young white males who also jumped out of a car. In that case, happily, she happened to see those same young men in another location many days later and called the police who apprehended them. That happy outcome, unfortunetly is probably, in most cases a rare event.

To me, though, the most egregious incident happened just three days ago at a well known local restaurant in Northern Liberties, an area that is supposedly on its way up. Two white males were asked to leave the premises at closing and proceeded to pummel an employee around the face and head, giving him two black eyes. One waitress was knocked unconscious and a cook was stabbed with a throwing dart in the ear and neck. The circumstances surrounding the arrival of the police and the resulting release of the assailants are murky, but the fact is that these two brutal thugs are still walking our streets as free men. From what I've heard, second hand, mind you, is that all the employees were too intimidated to press charges and the police therefore allowed the men to go not even bothering to verify their identities.

This may or may not be the whole story, but I'm sure we all know of similar stories of criminals getting away scott-free through sloppy police work. I don't wish to be too harsh on the police, though; this city is severely under-policed for the size of the population. The prosecutor’s office is also overwhelmed and the intimidation of witnesses and the lack of protection from them is well documented.

There are currently 2 million people in prisons in the United States -- up from 200,000 thirty years ago -- and about 100,000 are being released into the general population every year. Since the 80's, when punishment became be all and end all of incarceration, instead of rehabilitation, criminals have only become more violent and recidivist. In the years to come we’re all likely to run into some of these people and they will be wanting to take out their punishment on us.

We’d better think about hiring some more police and start working on finding more room in prison for the truly violent offender. We haven’t the luxury of imprisoning the non-violent drug offender any more.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Silent Coup in the night and fog? It could happen here.

I was listening to Nathan Englander on WHYY's Radio Times this morning talking about his new book "The Ministry of Special Cases" and in the course of the discussion about the coup and the disappeared in 1970's Argentina he brought up something that was very obvious but also very profound.

Coups don't happen over night. You know, there's planning that has to go into it; the tanks don't immediatly appear on the streets; the Germans didn't just wake up one day and find out they were living in the Third Reich.

This whole deal with Congress legislating away the Writ of Habeas Corpus for detainees at Gitmo is just another step on the slippery slope. I remember reading in the Rise and Fall of the Third Riech by William Shrier the story of a Herr Schmidt who was disappeared by the Gestapo shortly after the enactment of the Nacht Und Nebel Erlass (The night and fog directive) in 1941. The directive gave the authorities the right to sieze people and disappear them forever.

As I recall from memory, the Gestapo arrived at Schmidt's house in the middle of the night and hauled him away. It turned out that the Gestapo had gotten the wrong Schmidt and soon after returned his body to the family in a sealed coffin which they were told never to open.

From the freedonarchives:

"The Führer and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces:[stamp] SECRET

Directives for the prosecution of offences committed within the occupied territories against the GermanState or the occupying power, of December 7th, 1941: Within the occupied territories, communistic elements and other circles hostile to Germany have increased their efforts against the GermanState and the occupying powers since the Russian campaign started. The amount and the danger of these machinations oblige us to take severe measures as a determent. . . Prisoners taken to Germany are subjected to military procedure only if particular military interests require this. In case German or foreign authorities inquire about such prisoners, they are to be told that they were arrested, but that the proceedings do not allow any further information."

Hmmm. . . that sound familiar doesn't it?

Instead of the Democrats wasting everyone's time with this damn troop withdrawal language they should be moving to immediatly restore all the rights we've had taken away. I mean, today the WaPo reports that Democrats have conceeded to the White House and are going to "drop their demand for a timeline to bring troops home from Iraq." Sounds more like a capitulation than a concession to me, but who cares anyway? They knew they wouldn't be able to over-ride a veto and even if they had been able to, W. would have just done his own legislating with a signing statement.

Nancy Pelosi said after losing the vote to over-ride in the House "We made our position clear. He made his position clear. Now it is time for us to try to work together."

What the hell does that mean? He knew what your position was in January, you knew his.

Pelosi: "But make no mistake: Democrats are committed to ending this war."

Yeah right! The only way to end this war is to either, to wait W. out until Jan. '09, or to impeach him and Cheney. It's pretty much that simple. So, let's get serious about rolling back the dictatorial excesses of this administration and focus on not waking up in the Third Reich; this time with the full power of the internet, cameras on every street and the wonders of biometrics.

By the way, has anyone been paying attention to what ICE has been up to with all these raids all over the country?

"Immigration and customs enforcement, also known as I.C.E, says it has arrested more than 4-thousand immigration fugitives around California in the last 12 months. . . Virginia Kice, ICE Spokesperson, says 'by the end of the year we'll be apprehending more immigration fugitives than we ever have before.'" [ABCNews30]

Apprehending fugitives is one thing, but they're arresting entire familes, orphaning American children from their Mexican parents and in some case, as posted here before, locking whole families up in ICE prisons. Could all this be more than just cracking down on illegal immigrations? Could it be a dry run for rounding up some of us out here who don't get with the silent coup game plan?

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

George Tenet liar, liar pants on fire!

George Tenet is really just a victim right? Poor guy, they scapegoated him! I seem to remember back before Colin Powell -- who for some reason is getting a major pass for the WMD lies -- made that shameful speech at the UN on Feb. 5 2003, George Tenet had to be brought in to get him to read it.

Remember the US News and World Report article about what went on when Powell was going over the draft of the speech that Scooter Libby had provided for him?


"The draft contained such questionable material that Powell lost his temper, throwing several pages in the air and declaring, 'I'm not reading this. This is bullshit.'"

It was George Tenet that swooped in and told everything was thriple checked. Of Course, it turned out Powell made a complete as of himself in front of the world and now Tenet is claiming he's the victim. Some former CIA officiers are saying he should have resigned rather that sign off on a war he knew was going to turn into a disaster. He says, though, that he couldn't have known what was going to happen, but then he goes on to says the CIA got it right about what was going to happen. [This is from an interview on NPR which I can't get the link to because the damn crappy library computer keeps crashing.]

Tenet is a real lying sack of you know what.

Ring another one up for the war on terror!

AP reports:

"The Supreme Court refused to stop the Bush administration Tuesday from transferring a Guantanamo Bay detainee to his home country of Libya. Lawyers for the man argued he faces torture at the hands of the Libyan government if sent there."

The detainee, Abu Abdul Rauf Zalita , says he was turned over to the Americans by the Pakistanis for a bounty in 2001. Gosh, that must be one of those excuses they train terrorists to use in the al-Qaeda manuel, because our good friends the Pakistanis would never go around rounding up people for a profit, right? And our new good buddy Moammar Kadafi isn't known for torturing or killing or anything like that, so I think Mr. Zalita is in good hands.


"In opposing Zalita's request, the Justice Department said the Military Commissions Act of 2006 ends federal court jurisdiction over legal challenges by enemy combatants. Zalita invoked the international convention against torture, but his request 'ignores Congress's explicit mandate' that U.S. courts not consider challenges like his, the Justice Department solicitor general's office said."

You know in most countries sending someone to another country where you know they're going to be tortured would be a war crime, but not here. You know if the Justice Department says it, I believe it and that settles it. If the administration needed a legal justification to out-law gravity Alberto Gonzales could find it.

When is Congress going to get around to get rid of the noxious Military Commissions Act anyway? What a shameful state this country is in when we send people off to the tender mercies of a dictator and -- yes a terrorist -- like Moammar Kadafi. Whatever this guy has or hasn't done, he is entitled to due process, this is fundamental. Just because a bunch of right wingers and yahoos in Congress say it ain't so, doesn't make it so.

Congress need to repeal the Military Commissions Act today!

Israel get's a spanking from the Gipper?

You know, back in the 80's we thought Reagan was pretty much the second coming of Satan, we didn't think things could possibly get worse. Now we know things can always get worse. Just look at these Reagan diary outtakes from Reuters:

"On February 6, 1982, he noted that 'trouble brewing in the Middle East' ahead of the Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon and that, 'Right now Israel has lost a lot of world sympathy.'
He said one particularly devastating bombing and artillery attack on western Beirut in August 1982 had led King Fahd of Saudi Arabia to call the White House 'begging me to do something.'
'I told him I was calling P.M. Begin immediately. And I did -- I was angry -- I told him it had to stop or our entire future relationship was endangered. I used the word holocaust deliberately & said the symbol of war was becoming a picture of a 7-month-old baby with its arms blown off.'"

Imagine that! An American president, that American president, calling the Israeli PM and telling him to cut it out. Time sure have changed; nowadays, we give them political cover working on "sustainable" ceasefires to our own political and diplomatic detriment and send them plane loads of cluster bombs as a reward for turning us into a big bull's eye for every terrorist in the world.
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