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11/12/2003 Archived Entry: "Veteran's Day"

"With Veterans Day upon us, we should all pause and reflect on the carnage wrought in the US - Iraq War. Nearly 400 US soldiers are dead, and more than 7,500 have been medically evacuated. This means the total number of US casualties is nearly 8,000 in less than eight months ..." Although the original article by Esther Schrader that offers these figures appeared in the Los Angeles Times, I have linked to the information from the excellent Veterans for Common Sense site. (The Times requires registration and is ephemeral.) The VCS article proceeds from the summary directly into a separate article subtitled: "With the number of amputees and burn victims from Iraq, the military's medical system is waging its own war." It is a disturbing read that inspires almost automatic hostility toward the Bush administration and its professed concern for Americans in Iraq. No wonder the administration has a news black out on returning wounded, on returning coffins. No wonder blatantly false stories -- like the "heroism" of Jessica Lynch -- are widely circulated by White House officials. And, no, I am not bashing Lynch. It required a great deal of courage for her to stand up and contradict the glamorized version of her brutalization. Usually the lying takes place by omission, however, and that is far more difficult to correct. Those of us who have a satellite dish or other means of accessing both CNN/Atlanta and CNN International have known for many months that the news presented to Americans by the former is dramatically different than that broadcast abroad by the latter...both in quality and content. The quality of the US version is watered down and dissolves into pure entertainment as often as not. The content skirts anything too critical of Bush and many relevant stories go simply unreported. One of the brightest hopes for truth to emerge may well be the CIA -- (I can't believe I'm writing these words!) -- and the agency's disgust with how the administration has rejected its advice, outed an agent, shifted blame onto CIA shoulders, etc. etc. In an article in the UK Independent, Andrew Gumbel quotes Ray McGovern who worked as a CIA analyst for 27 years, as saying: "The intelligence process is a bit like virginity. Once you prostitute it, it's never the same. Your credibility never recovers. Watching what has happened with Iraq over the past several months has been like watching your daughter being raped." Gumbel comments, "Such is an indication of the extraordinary depth of feeling within the US intelligence community as the Bush administration's basis for the war in Iraq - the weapons of mass destruction, the dark hint of links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qa'ida - has been shown to have been built on air." Maybe truth will rise out of the cracks widening between DC agencies.

Mary Lou Seymour's Liberty Action for this week makes a point of saluting the vets/Americans "who have the courage and conviction to understand that keeping America 'safe and free' sometimes means saying 'hell no, I won't go', or, 'enough is enough'." In her newsletter, Mary Lou cites a news item [reg.req.] from the New York Times that also caught my attention. "The Bush administration is seeking to block a group of American troops who were tortured in Iraqi prisons during the Persian Gulf war in 1991 from collecting any of the hundreds of millions of dollars in frozen Iraqi assets they won last summer in a federal court ruling against the government of Saddam Hussein. In a court challenge that the administration is winning so far but is not eager to publicize, administration lawyers have argued that Iraqi assets frozen in bank
accounts in the United States are needed for Iraqi reconstruction and that the judgment won by the 17 former American prisoners should be overturned." Mary Lou advises people to salute veterans by supporting the following organizations (and similar ones):
--Bring Them Home Now. A campaign of military families, veterans, active duty personnel, reservists and others opposed to the ongoing war in Iraq;
--Citizen Soldier, a GI/veterans rights advocacy group founded during the Vietnam war;
--Military Families Speak Out, organization of people who are opposed to war in Iraq and who have relatives or loved ones in the military;
--Veterans For Peace, veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, other conflicts and peacetime veterans whose " collective experience tells us wars are easy to start and hard to stop and that those hurt are often the innocent.";
--Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Inc. (VVAW) a national veterans' organization that was founded in New York City in 1967 to "do all we can to prevent another generation from being put through a similar
tragedy and we will continue to demand dignity and respect for veterans of all eras.";
--Veterans Against Iraq War, a coalition of American veterans who support our troops but oppose war with Iraq or any other nation that does not pose a clear and present danger to our people and nation;
--Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (VVAF) a vet organization dedicated to global security and reducing the worldwide threat posed by war and conflict through programs that promote justice and
--Veterans for Common Sense, an organization started in August 2002, by several Gulf War combat veterans who have formed an organization so the concerns of veterans would be raised and discussed in public before the bullets started flying again.

Another way to support the troops is to join the "Home for the Holidays" campaign that was launched by PoliticalNonViolence.Org to raise awareness that soldiers in Iraq could be home by Christmas if the Bush administration so desired. Thomas Knapp of the Rational Review recently announced that his organization had joined into partnership with PoliticalNonViolence.Org on the campaign. Tom wrote, "The target is the US occupation of Iraq, and the goal is to use the impending holiday season as a theme for urging an end to that occupation.Throughout US history, "home by Christmas" has been a consistent theme when the government has taken the nation to war. It almost never comes to pass, of course, but it carries a certain emotional power. The idea behind this campaign is to put into the minds of readers the idea that US troops _could_ be home by Christmas, if the Bush administration decides to _bring_ them home ... and that it should do so. There's no better way to "support the troops" than to get them home where they belong.

"Shane Stanfield and his comrades at PoliticalNonViolence.Org have really put together a nice "engine" for generating "letter to the editor" campaigns. Included is a sample letter and a "fact list" with links to relevant information. All you have to do is choose your state, select up to ten newspapers to send your letter to, draft it, enter contact info and click. Voila, those newspapers have your letter."

Maybe we can speed up the day when we won't hear more parents say, "My Son Died For Oil."

Best to all,

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