Thursday, December 15, 2005 11:57 AM
GI SPECIAL 3D42:
How Many Died?
THERE IS NO HONOR IN THIS:
U.S. Marines walk through a house after blowing the door off during a patrol in Karabilah, Iraq, Dec. 7, 2005. (AP Photo/Jacob Silberberg
She says her daughter repeatedly told those generals and admirals that she was suffering because of the vaccine and even pleaded with one of them to stop giving it to troops. Several of those generals and admirals had promised Congress that such cases would be publicly reported to VAERS. The military never filed a VAERS report on Kristin Shemeley. Ginger Shemeley filed one after her daughter died. The Pentagon’s deliberate low-balling of hospitalizations helped persuade Congress and the public that the vaccine was safe.
Dec 06, 2005 BOB EVANS, Daily Press [Excerpts]
The Pentagon never told Congress about more than 20,000 hospitalizations involving troops who’d taken the anthrax vaccine, despite repeated promises that such cases would be publicly disclosed.
Instead, a parade of generals and Defense Department officials told Congress and the public that fewer than 100 people were hospitalized or became seriously ill after receiving the shot from 1998 through 2000.
They also showed Congress written policies that required public reports to be filed for hospitalizations, serious illnesses and cases where someone missed 24 hours or more of duty.
But only a sliver of those cases were reported, while the rest were withheld from Congress and the public, records obtained by the Daily Press show.
Critics of the vaccine, veterans’ advocates and congressional staffers say the Pentagon’s deliberate low-balling of hospitalizations helped persuade Congress and the public that the vaccine was safe.
Keeping the actual number of illnesses secret contributed to a shorter list of government-recognized side effects for the drug, giving patients and physicians a false idea of what might constitute a vaccine-related illness or problem.
Doctors are expected to know the full list of side effects and alert federal drug safety officials whenever they see a repeat of those symptoms.
Repeated evidence of the same adverse side effect after a vaccination is one of the most telling signs of a systematic problem with a drug or vaccine, as opposed to a coincidental relationship, vaccine safety experts say.
During the Daily Press’ investigation of the vaccine and its effects, the newspaper found three cases of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, that the military hadn’t reported. The disease destroys muscles and nerves, is always fatal and rarely hits people younger than 45.
One of the three cases involves Navy Capt. Denis Army of Virginia Beach. Army died in 2000, after developing symptoms less than a week after his first anthrax vaccination – and a few days before his 45th birthday.
His widow filed the first public acknowledgement of his death and its temporal connection to the vaccine this year. That occurred after she talked to a Daily Press reporter and learned that she could file a report with the federal Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, or VAERS.
SAILOR’S DEATH NOT REPORTED BY MILITARY
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Kristin Shemeley died of ALS in 2001, at 29. Her symptoms began about two months after her third shot, a sworn legal document detailing her illness says.
Before Shemeley died, she spent 14 months in Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, where she was regularly visited by high-ranking military officers, said her mother, Ginger Shemeley of Quakertown, Pa.
She says her daughter repeatedly told those generals and admirals that she was suffering because of the vaccine and even pleaded with one of them to stop giving it to troops. Several of those generals and admirals had promised Congress that such cases would be publicly reported to VAERS.
The military never filed a VAERS report on Kristin Shemeley. Ginger Shemeley filed one after her daughter died.
Col. John Grabenstein, director of the military’s vaccine agency, said no one from the military intentionally misled Congress or the public. He said the 20,765 hospitalizations merely followed vaccinations in time, without documented proof of a cause-and-effect relationship. [This is the same disgusting piece of shit who told the press months that troops who didn’t want the shot were acting like ignorant children. And here he is, lying again, covering his ass and that of the vermin in command. Of course the senior officers intentionally mislead Congress. That’s their job, lying and killing troops.]
He said a statistical analysis showed that those who’d been vaccinated weren’t more likely to be hospitalized or likely to seek medical treatment than those in the military who hadn’t been vaccinated from 1998 through 2000.
Some medical experts say this approach doesn’t adequately address the problems of many people who report illnesses after anthrax vaccination. That’s because the approach is limited to comparing rates of illness involving one symptom or disease – instead of the complex combination of symptoms and illnesses that many veterans report after getting their shots.
The data that the Daily Press used to document the underreporting of hospitalizations came from a report that Grabenstein supplied in response to the newspaper’s request. It’s never been made public until today.
It covers 1998 through 2000, when the Pentagon did detailed evaluations every three months to compare hospitalizations, clinic visits and medical treatment data for those who’d been vaccinated, compared with troops who hadn’t.
This quarterly analysis stopped and hasn’t been done since, Grabenstein said.
The practice of not reporting all hospitalizations continues.
Quarterly analysis of the vaccine’s effects ended just as the nation’s only manufacturing site for the drug regained its license. That was in 2002, after federal inspections found many safety and other problems that prompted a shutdown and renovation that began in early 1998.
TOP GENERAL NOT TOLD MONITORING TO END
The decision to discontinue the quarterly health monitoring program means that the biggest gap in research about the vaccine remains: There are no systematic long-term studies of the health of those who’ve taken the drug. Most studies that the Pentagon cites as support for the vaccine’s safety involve monitoring that lasted days to a few months.
None lasted as long as five years, the minimum length of time recommended by a nationally recognized panel of scientists assembled by the Institute of Medicine in 2002. The institute is a nonprofit organization that provides expert advice to Congress and other government agencies.
After the quarterly reviews of the vaccine’s effects stopped, more than a million troops were forced to take the vaccine – until a federal judge ruled last year that the drug had never been adequately licensed for protection against anthrax use in warfare.
He ordered the military to make vaccination voluntary. The Pentagon is appealing that ruling. Lawyers argued the case Thursday, and a decision is expected by February.
VACCINE MONITORING STILL IMPORTANT
Grabenstein said he decided to halt the quarterly studies after consulting the chairman of the Institute of Medicine panel and its staff, and with doctors affiliated with the military. He acknowledged that he didn’t consult the general who ultimately was responsible for the anthrax program.
The chairman of the institute panel, Brian Strom, said he didn’t recall what was discussed at the time about the quarterly reports. But he said, “I think they should continue to be using it,” in case there’s a problem.
Another panel member, Linda Cowan, said she’s sure the committee expected quarterly reviews to continue and pointed to a number of the panel’s recommendations and findings that she said clearly contradicted Grabenstein’s interpretation of its report.
Strom and Cowan emphasized that they thought the vaccine was still safe.
Beth Clay isn’t so sure. She directed the staff of Congress’ House Government Reform Committee investigation into the anthrax vaccine from 1998 to 2001. She continued working on the subject as a congressional staff member through 2003, after her Republican boss was no longer chairman of the committee.
Clay said the military’s decision not to report all the hospitalizations gave the public and Congress a rosier picture of the vaccine than it deserved.
“We were never given this data,” she said. “Had we seen this, the committee would have had significant questions” and would have demanded more information about the program.
After reviewing the report obtained by the Daily Press, Clay said it raised several questions about the vaccine’s safety.
She said Congress was never told about the detailed level of data in the report but was assured regular monitoring of the vaccine and its health effects would continue.
Terminating the quarterly reviews would seem to break those promises, she said. “It’s just appalling that they didn’t keep up with this,” she said.
LINK BETWEEN VACCINE, HOSPITALIZATIONS?
Steve Robinson is executive director of the National Gulf War Resource Center, a lobbying and advocacy group for veterans. He said he was stunned when he learned that the reviews had stopped: “They track the flu vaccine and not the anthrax vaccine, which is totally crazy to me.”
He said discovery of the hospitalization data showed that the Pentagon couldn’t be trusted to monitor the vaccine’s safety.
“You can’t let Enron investigate Enron, and you can’t let DOD (the Department of Defense) investigate DOD,” he said. “We work with the people who have been hurt by this vaccine every day.”
No one knows how many, or how few, of the 20,765 hospitalizations are directly attributable to the vaccine. Ruling out certain illnesses, such as broken bones or injuries from falls or other accidents, might appear a safe bet. But military doctors have documented cases where broken bones and other injuries from falling were the result of vaccine-induced loss of consciousness affecting the nervous system – sometimes beginning months after vaccination.
The difficulty of figuring out what’s related and what isn’t is why safety officials encourage people to file reports even if they’re not sure.
During the years covered by the hospitalization report obtained by the Daily Press, dozens of sick veterans who’d received the shot went to Capitol Hill, complaining of various health problems. Some got the shot for the 1991 Persian Gulf War, in which the vaccine had its first widespread use. Others were members of the military forced to take the shots under a mandatory program that began in 1998.
Their complaints had common themes: Fatigue. Chronic pain in joints and other symptoms of arthritis. Tingling in their feet, arms and hands. Mental lapses. Often, more than one of the symptoms were present, making diagnoses difficult.
Sympathetic doctors testified that these complaints were indicative of autoimmune problems, in which the body’s natural protective mechanisms go haywire and start attacking healthy cells and tissue. The doctors said that could result if the vaccine overstimulated the vets’ immune systems. The vaccine primes the system to develop protection against anthrax.
Bewildered and sometimes-angry members of Congress asked how many vets were affected. Pentagon doctors and generals used the cases reported to VAERS, fewer than 100 hospitalizations or other “serious events” from 1998 to 2000, or said the number was so small, it couldn’t be detected. [And those lies were not an accident, now were they?]
VACCINE REPORTS ARE FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE
The two sets of numbers for how many hospitalizations followed the shot come from a comparison of two sets of data kept by three federal agencies.
The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintain the only database open to public inspection, VAERS. VAERS is the nation’s first line of defense in identifying possible problems with vaccines after they’ve been licensed, said Susan Ellenberg, who led the FDA’s efforts to monitor vaccine safety from 1993 to 2004.
During congressional testimony before the House Government Reform Committee’s Subcommittee on National Security, Veterans Affairs and International Relations in July 1999, Ellenberg explained how and why the system worked.
VAERS was established to help identify and head off problems once a vaccine is licensed and more people are taking it, she said. The few hundred people typically involved in vaccine or drug testing and licensing trials can’t mimic the diversity of age, race, gender and other biologic variables encountered once the vaccine gets widespread public use, she explained.
Reports to VAERS by civilian doctors and hospitals are mostly voluntary, based on suspicion of a connection between an illness or injury and a vaccination, Ellenberg told Congress.
Doctors and others are encouraged to file a report, known as a VAERS-1, even when they aren’t sure there’s a cause and effect, she said. That’s because VAERS requires as many reports of problems as possible, so experts can identify possible patterns and investigate further, she said.
THE TRAITOR GENERALS AT WORK;
During the same congressional hearing, Lt. Gen. G. Robert Claypool, then the deputy assistant secretary of defense for health operations policy, assured Congress that military doctors, hospitals and medical officials were filing VAERS-1 forms, too.
And, he said, they were expected to report even more cases than civilians, including all hospitalizations.
“The duty to report adverse medication events has been codified for many years,” Claypool testified. “The joint regulation requires submission of a form VAERS-1 for all adverse events resulting in more than 24 hours of lost duty time or any period of hospitalization. These requirements represent a higher standard than in comparable civilian community health care settings.”
There was no mention that the word “all” didn’t mean all hospitalizations.
Two months later, Lt. Gen. Ronald R. Blanck, then the Army’s surgeon general and the top Pentagon official responsible for the anthrax vaccine program from 1998 to 2000, gave similar assurances to Congress.
He said, “We have a reporting system that when either of those two criteria are met, that is, either a patient is hospitalized following an anthrax immunization or misses duty because of it for greater than 24 hours, we have an active reporting system. That must be reported to us. We, in turn, report it to the Food and Drug Administration, and they have a group that reviews those reactions.”
Clay and other congressional aides say these assurances came in private, too. “We had lengthy conversations that they were supposed to report,” she said.
But the numbers reported were very low. And the Pentagon stuck with them for years to persuade the public that the shot was safe.
In December 2003, Pentagon officials conducted a news conference to rebut a judge’s ruling that the shots had been given illegally and that troops had been used as “guinea pigs.”
Grabenstein was asked whether he had “any data on the numbers of people who have had bad adverse reactions to the vaccine and would have required hospitalization.”
He said that only 69 hospitalizations had been reported to VAERS for the anthrax vaccine from 1998 through 2000. A panel of civilian experts had analyzed each, he said, and decided that 11 were results of the shot.
The 69 cases were “a complete, exhaustive list of what was reported,” Grabenstein said.
Grabenstein told the Daily Press that his statement wasn’t misleading. He said no one should expect all hospitalizations after vaccination to be reported to VAERS, despite the Pentagon’s written policies, because the number included cases unrelated to the vaccine, sometimes years after vaccination.
He said, “The simple answer is it’s so obvious, it’s never appeared in the memo.”
SOLDIER-KILLER GRABENSWINE DELIBERATELY DISOBEYS ORDERS
The memo, “Policy for Reporting Adverse Events Associated With the Anthrax Vaccine,” serves as the standing order for all military personnel. It reads: “For the purposes of reporting anthrax vaccine adverse events, a Form VAERS-1 must be completed and submitted using service reporting procedures for those events resulting in a hospital admission or time lost from duty for greater than 24 hours or for those events suspected to have resulted from contamination of a vaccine lot.”
The memo lists additional circumstances requiring a report, but nothing that would permit excluding hospitalizations after vaccination. It refers to the Pentagon’s formal regulations, which don’t include the exclusions that Grabenstein cited.
The data on all hospitalizations after anthrax vaccination comes from the Pentagon’s Defense Medical Surveillance System, or DMSS. This computerized tracking system pulls medical records for every shot, clinic visit, hospitalization or other instance of medical treatment for active-duty military personnel.
Experts in health care and statistics say it’s one of the most important medical databases in the world. That’s because of its precision, its millions of patients, and the diversity of drugs and vaccines used by the armed forces. By design, it’s more complete and accurate than VAERS. Unlike VAERS, its data isn’t open to the public.
EXPERTS: NO EXCUSE FOR SECRET DATA
The Institute of Medicine report that Grabenstein cited as supporting the vaccine’s safety and his decision to end the quarterly monitoring program also says the DMSS database should be open to researchers outside the government, with precautions to protect the privacy of individuals’ health records.
This hasn’t been done. Grabenstein said the military had not been able to figure out how to protect individuals’ health records and make it work.
Strom of the institute panel and other experts say it should not be that difficult. “There’s no excuse,” he said. “We use these kinds of data sets in Medicaid and Medicare data all the time. There are technological solutions.”
Cowan, another member of the panel, said the institute’s recommendation was based, in part, on the military saying it couldn’t afford all the analysis that the data was good for: “That way, you get the most of what the American people have invested in.”
Strom said keeping the data from the public only bolstered the perception that the military was hiding the truth about the vaccine.
Walter Schumm is a professor of family studies and an expert on statistical methods at Kansas State University. He said he and other researchers would love to get the DMSS data. He’s a retired Army colonel who’s spent more than a decade using statistical analysis to examine the vaccine’s safety – after friends and others in uniform began complaining about health problems after the shots.
Schumm has used other data made public on the anthrax vaccine to publish several scientific papers that poke holes in the safety assertions made by Pentagon doctors and researchers.
Good science involves people with different approaches to the same problem having a chance to test their theories, Schumm and others say. Their findings might cement the safety assertions, he said, but no one knows for sure until the military loosens its hold on the facts and data.
Army Spc. Lacy Killed In The Line Of Duty:
December 6, 2005 BY BOB EVANS, Daily Press
Army Spc. Rachel Lacy was killed in the line of duty.
The line was at Fort McCoy, Wis., where Lacy and others from the 452nd Combat Support Hospital unit waited to get anthrax, smallpox and other vaccinations while preparing to deploy to Afghanistan.
Instead of serving overseas, Lacy got terribly sick within days.
She died a month later.
At first, the military denied that her illness was related to the vaccines, says Moses Lacy, her father.
“At the military hospital, no one wanted to pay attention to the possibility that what was happening was related to the vaccine,” he says.
Even later – after doctors acknowledged the connection at a private hospital in Wisconsin and then the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota – the military still denied it, Lacy says.
Seven months after Rachel Lacy’s death, medical and vaccine experts hired by the government ruled that her death was a “possible” or “probable” result of the vaccinations.
Officially, Lacy died of massive failures of lungs, heart and other organs. But the autopsy found widespread evidence of autoimmune problems as the likely cause of those failures.
The speed of her declining health was also remarkable. Shortly before the shots, Lacy got high scores on physical fitness tests. Two days after the inoculations, she could barely draw a breath.
Lacy was eventually rushed to the Mayo Clinic, a world-renowned research hospital. She died within days. An autopsy there listed a number of underlying causes for the organ damage, including “lupus-like autoimmune disease.”
Lupus is a type of autoimmune disease that affects mostly women. It attacks tissue in multiple organs, including the eyes, lungs and heart.
Medical reports have been published about people with these problems after they received the anthrax vaccine. Those patients lived, so there were no autopsies done.
Lacy didn’t have all the earmarks of lupus, though, Sartin says. The disease’s cause isn’t known, he says, but “there’s some pretty good evidence that lupus can be triggered by vaccines and other things.”
“Triggered” is the important word here, he says. Whatever went wrong in Lacy’s body probably involved an underlying genetic condition unleashed when the drug or drugs entered her system. Some of those conditions are known to researchers, but there aren’t good tests to identify those at risk.
Sartin says he suspects that Lacy’s problems were more likely the result of the smallpox vaccination, or multiple vaccinations, than the anthrax shot alone. But he says that’s probably because doctors have studied smallpox vaccine more extensively.
We know a ton about the smallpox vaccine” because it’s been given for more than 50 years, he says. “There really isn’t very much on the anthrax vaccine.”
Critics of the anthrax shot say that’s because the military has a stranglehold on the money and data necessary to do that research.
“They track the flu vaccine for adverse reactions and not the anthrax vaccine, which is totally crazy to me,” Steve Robinson says. He’s executive director of the National Gulf War Resource Center, a veterans’ advocacy group.
After the Mayo Clinic autopsy listed the anthrax and smallpox vaccines as part of the diagnoses for Lacy’s death, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asked a group of medical experts to examine the case.
John Sever, who led the panel of five experts, says the members split on their assessment of the matter after spending weeks examining the data. Three voted that her death was a “possible” result of the vaccinations she received, and two voted that it was “probable,” his report says.
Both groups agreed that the connection in time was strong, based on how rapidly her health changed after receiving the vaccine. They also agreed that there was a plausible biological case to be made for the relationship. But they disagreed over whether there might be other possible unknown factors involved. That’s the dividing line between “possible” and “probable” in these evaluations.
Pentagon officials say that while Lacy’s death might be the result of the then-mandatory vaccination program, it was a rare and regrettable occurrence amid 1.4 million vaccinations.
Moses Lacy isn’t impressed. “They told me one in 10,000 is acceptable. It is not. Not one in a million is acceptable because somebody loves that one person. Someone loves them.”
Moses Lacy says he hopes that his daughter’s story will make the military think twice about giving the shot. For those who decide to be inoculated, he hopes that her story will teach military doctors to be aware of complications that can follow.
Anthrax Vaccine Kills Worker At Plant Making It
12.7.05 Newport News Daily Press
Richard Dunn worked with the test animals at the only anthrax vaccine manufacturing site licensed in the United States, so he had to get the shots regularly.
Each time, his arm would swell up painfully, says his widow, Barbara, a nurse. It got so bad that doctors at the BioPort plant decided to split his annual booster into two smaller doses.
After receiving those shots, he rapidly became ill and died. The medical examiner who performed Dunn’s autopsy, a nationally recognized forensic pathologist, thinks the man died because of the vaccine.
War-Profiteers Made Millions On Deadly Anthrax Vaccine
December 7, 2005 Newport News Daily Press
In a two-year span, the nation’s only licensed anthrax vaccine maker went from pleading poverty to announcing $100 million in acquisitions, including other pharmaceutical companies and a new manufacturing plant near Washington, D.C.
The pattern worked well for BioPort Corp.:
Tell the Pentagon or Congress that it doesn’t have the money to keep going, negotiate a new deal, then count the extra cash rolling in. The vaccine maker’s frequent cries for help brought it millions of additional tax dollars-even when it could not deliver a product that troops could use.
IRAQ WAR REPORTS
REALLY BAD PLACE TO BE:
11.18.05: US Marines near the town of Kusaiybah. (AFP/USMC)
Task Force Baghdad Soldier Killed By IED
12/11/05 MNF Release A051211b
BAGHDAD, Iraq — A Task Force Baghdad Soldier was killed when a patrol struck an improvised explosive device in west Baghdad Dec. 11.
Bomb Badly Burns Lowell Marine:
December 11, 2005 By John Agar, The Grand Rapids Press
LOWELL — The family of a U.S. Marine injured by a bomb in Iraq planned to meet him this morning in a San Antonio burn center.
Lance Cpl. David Stephens, 20, a Lowell High School graduate, was among Marines injured last week when an improvised-explosive device exploded near the truck he was in. He suffered burns to his arms, legs and back, said his grandfather, Dick Gephart, of Kentwood, on Saturday.
While the injuries were considered critical, Gephart said: “The Marines told our daughter it isn’t that bad.”
Barb Lafler and her husband, Wayne, left Saturday morning for a burn center in San Antonio. They expected to be there when Stephens arrived this morning from a hospital in Germany, the grandfather said.
“It’s been a really traumatic week,” said B.J. Gephart, the injured Marine’s grandmother.
She said her grandson is a “nice, decent kid,” with a girlfriend here. She said he seemed so young to be fighting a war, but noted that a 19-year-old medic treated his injuries.
They said they had not received detailed reports on the bomb that struck their grandson and the others. He was stationed near Ramadi but the bomb exploded near Fallujah, they said.
Dick Gephart served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
He said his grandson loves being in the Marines, but said his grandson and others should not have been sent to Iraq.
“Old men make wars fought by young people.”
NEED SOME TRUTH? CHECK OUT TRAVELING SOLDIER
Telling the truth – about the occupation or the criminals running the government in Washington – is the first reason for Traveling Soldier. But we want to do more than tell the truth; we want to report on the resistance – whether it’s in the streets of Baghdad, New York, or inside the armed forces. Our goal is for Traveling Soldier to become the thread that ties working-class people inside the armed services together. We want this newsletter to be a weapon to help you organize resistance within the armed forces. If you like what you’ve read, we hope that you’ll join with us in building a network of active duty organizers.
Soldier’s Death Brings Family Together On Thanksgiving:
November 29, 2005 By Cindy V. Culp Tribune-Herald staff writer
Christine Lebron usually celebrates Thanksgiving with a big family gathering. But this year, with work and other obligations nagging at everyone’s time, she and her relatives decided to forgo the annual feast and celebrate separately.
But that plan didn’t last long. About 6:45 Thanksgiving morning, two uniformed soldiers showed up at Lebron’s house in Bellmead, and instantly she knew: The day that had been set aside to give everyone some space was about to turn into one where family was the only thing holding them together.
Lebron’s oldest son, Army Spc. Javier Antonio Villanueva, was dead. The 25-year-old had been injured the day before in the Iraqi town of Hit when an improvised explosive device detonated near his patrol. By the time the news of his injuries could be relayed to his family, he had already died.
“The hardest thing to do was to open the door to those two soldiers,” Lebron said. “I had told (her son) that we weren’t going to do anything (for Thanksgiving). But it was like in a way that he was bringing us together anyway.”
Official military records list Villanueva’s residence as Temple because that’s where his 22-year-old wife, Felicia Owens, and 1-year-old daughter, Taliyah, live. But Villanueva’s hometown was Waco, his relatives said.
Villanueva spent his entire life here, attending Waco schools the first few years of his education before switching to the La Vega Independent School District in the fourth grade. He continued in the school system, graduating from La Vega High School in 1998.
Family and friends say Villanueva often gave a first impression of being shy. He was quiet, and often quite serious. But he had a playful, even mischievous, side to him as well, they said.
Villanueva’s family remembers that sense of humor coming out when he and his cousins recorded CDs of themselves rapping. Or when they would dress up and take silly photos of themselves. And then there were the early morning shoe trips.
“They all loved Michael Jordan,” his mother said. “Whenever they would come out with some of those Air Jordans, they’d be the first ones at the store, at like 6 a.m. so they could go to school that same day with new Jordans.”
After high school, Villanueva attended Texas State Technical College for a while to study computers. But he ended up taking on too much course work and decided just to work instead, his mother said. For a while he was a manager of a local Taco Bell. Later, he became an assistant manager at the Ross clothing store in Temple.
Then, shortly after getting married in May 2003, Villanueva decided to join the Army. Assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 11th Armored Calvary Regiment in Fort Irwin, Calif., he was trained as a medic and deployed to Iraq in January 2004. The last time his family saw him was this summer when he came home on a two-week leave.
In the last few months, though, Villanueva talked to his family by phone. He was getting nervous because of the intensity of the fighting he was seeing, his mother said. One of his best friends was killed in action about a month ago, she said, and the loss hit him hard.
All he wanted, Lebron said, was to come home to his family. He was scheduled to end his tour of duty within a month or so, and be home by about the first of the year. He was so excited, she said, that he kept telling everyone his bags were packed; he was ready to go.
“The last call I got he was real excited because (his daughter) had called him ‘daddy’ over the phone,” Lebron said. “He loved doing what he was doing. He just wished he wasn’t where he was at.”
Now, Villanueva’s loved ones say, they are waiting for his body to be sent back from Iraq. They plan for him to buried at Waco Memorial Park, in the section with the veterans garden. Afterward, they hope to have a gathering at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6008 in Hewitt.
That Villanueva died on Thanksgiving Day is certainly tragic, his loved ones say. But at the same time, they say they believe the timing is more than coincidence. Never again is a Thanksgiving likely to pass without his family being together.
An Open Letter To Wealthy Patriots, From A Gold Star Mother
Celeste Zappala, right, with Cindy Sheehan [Photo from Daily Kos]
Dec 10, 2005 By Celeste Zappala, Dailykos.com
George Bush will be speaking about the war at the World Affairs Council in Philadelphia on Monday. Tickets for the event are sold out, however, the luncheon tickets that are closest to Mr Bush were sold for $10,000. I would like to be at a table close enough to Mr Bush so that he could meet with me.
I was one of the Gold Star Mothers who camped on the road side ditch in Crawford, Texas waiting to meet with George Bush. I watched him roll past me on his way to a local fundraiser. He never stopped to talk to the Gold Star Mothers.
On Monday he will be in Philadelphia, the City where I live and where my fallen son Sgt. Sherwood Baker grew up. I will be outside of the hotel where he is speaking hoping to ask again, “for what noble cause did my son die?”
I would like to be inside, I would wish to be seated at the $10,000 a seat table, with other patriots. Maybe then Mr Bush would be willing to speak to me, look at my son’s picture and tell me why Sherwood was killed looking for the weapons of mass destruction.
Thank you for your consideration, I hope you can find a way to include me.
Mother of Sgt Sherwood Baker, the First PA National Guardsman to die in combat since 1945 killed in Baghdad, 4/26/04 while protecting the Iraq Survey Group as they looked for the Weapons of Mass Destruction
Do you have a friend or relative in the service? Forward this E-MAIL along, or send us the address if you wish and we’ll send it regularly. Whether in Iraq or stuck on a base in the USA, this is extra important for your service friend, too often cut off from access to encouraging news of growing resistance to the war, at home and inside the armed services. Send requests to address up top.
IRAQ RESISTANCE ROUNDUP
GET THE MESSAGE?
Supporters of cleric Moqtada Sadr, step on the Japanese, US and Israeli flags painted in a street during a parade in the southern city of Samawa. (AFP/Ahmad Abdel)
Assorted Resistance Action
12.11.05 By BASSEM MROUE, The Associated Press & Reuters
Assailants opened fire on a Turkoman political party office in Mosul, wounding three people, police said.
A polling station in the area of Mutasem in Samara was blown up by unknown attackers on Saturday night, said Iraqi Interior Ministry sources on Sunday.
The source, who requested anonymity, said that the attackers planted explosives in a high school being used as a polling station and blew it up causing great damages to the building, but no human losses.
The city of Samara on Saturday night witnessed armed clashes between the Multi-National Force (MNF), the Iraqi forces, and masked insurgents.
An Iraqi police source in Samara said that an Iraqi soldier was killed.
BAIJI – Two members of the Iraqi army were killed and one wounded when insurgents attacked them as they drove in an unmarked car in Baiji, 180 km (112 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.
RIYADH – One Iraqi soldier was killed and another wounded when insurgents attacked a checkpoint near Riyadh, a small town 60 km (40 miles) southwest of the northern city of Kirkuk, police said.
IF YOU DON’T LIKE THE RESISTANCE
TWO FONDAS And A REDGRAVE:
Reading both the Hershberger book and even Jane Fonda’s own autobiography, I am again saddened by the lack, disappearance of the FTA Film, shot with Fonda and Donald Sutherland in Hawai, Okinawa, the Philippines and Japan in December 1971.
FTA was released and immediately “murdered” in July 1972 (4). Here we see that Jane Fonda’s work, with and for the American Soldiers, went far further than a simple critique of the Vietnam war.
From: Max Watts [He knows whereof he writes. He was there, in person.]
The following is a (relatively!) short draft of my thoughts about three books. If interested in more, contact: Max Watts; email@example.com
Some weeks ago my mate Nobby Braumann sent me a book review about Jane Fonda, that is a review of a book about Jane Fonda (1). In the meantime the book too has arrived, been read, thought about. A good review, a good book (2).
The Reviewer, Rick Perlstein, notes the author, Mary Hershberger’s, tendency to “defang” (1a) Jane Fonda. Make her almost into a Sainte Nina Nitouche.
Yes. She – Mary – does that. To Jane. For instance, all through the Hershberger book FTA is gentililly translated only as: “Free The Army”. Yes, but… Jane Fonda, in her own book (3), has no problem with the GI’s ruder: “Fuck..The Army.”
Does no one, except old me, remember that that once was a recruiting slogan: FTA ? Join the Army, for Fun, Travel, and Adventure ?
Sometimes even I, usually very fond of Fonda, do feel that she swerves a bit towards the right, towards her “respectable” origins. Leaves herself open to being misunderstood, criticised, by her (real!) friends of the left.
For instance, Jane has apologised fulsomely for (being photographed) sitting on a Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun. This apology has been misconstrued in many ways.
Me, I’d have said: “that anti-aircraft gun is a defensive weapon. It could harm no one but an intrusive bomber pilot, someone who has no business coming, bombing, killing, Vietnamese. In Vietnam, not America.”
But, obviously, I’m not Jane Fonda.
What Hershberger does, well, is to bring out that Jane Fonda was that rare peacenik who not only was first activated by a resister, RITA, soldier, but who, for several years, then linked her intense anti-war work to such GIs. A friend, a good friend, of the RITAs. A Frita.
That the gentle Jane Fonda was, and to some extent still is, the target of concentrated, vicious, attacks seems to have surprised many, to some extent even Hirshberger, who studied Fonda’s FBI dossiers in detail.
Resistance Inside The Armies is so dangerous to the establishments, the ruling classes, that even the most “gentille” Frita can expect ferocious reprisals.
In a way, this confirmes their importance, their effectivity.
That the contents of such attacks bear no resemblance to reality, indeed often stand truth on its head, is that surprising?
Fonda is attacked as anti-military – exactly she, who bust her guts working with, for, soldiers!
Reading both the Hershberger book and even Jane Fonda’s own autobiography, I am again saddened by the lack, disappearance of the FTA Film, shot with Fonda and Donald Sutherland in Hawai, Okinawa, the Philippines and Japan in December 1971.
FTA was released and immediately “murdered” in July 1972 (4). Here we see that Jane Fonda’s work, with and for the American Soldiers, went far further than a simple critique of the Vietnam war.
anti-racism, discrimination against Black Soldiers, Americans
Labor Union struggles – here in Okinawa, but easily extended all over
Anti-imperialism – in the Philippines; us “Oldies” were really touched when the marchers sing the Internationale, a rarum in any American Film
Women’s rights, oppression, resistance, inside the military, but of course also outside
In Hiroshima, in Japan, the danger of past, of future, atomic wars. The US military attempts at re-introducing illegal nuclear weapons into Japan
How to deal – effectively – with pro-war, anti-Fonda, soldiers.
And, to terminate, a general attack on militarism, with Donald Sutherland making the point that there is always a danger for the ruling classes in RITA, that the guns can, sometimes, be turned around…
No wonder that FTA film was, apparently on direct orders of the Nixon Watergate White House, murdered. Neither Hershberger nor Fonda have yet pursued this trail, found that smoking gun !
The FTA film has, almost miraculously, been reborn. It now reappears directly in a “found” clean copy, and, in parts, with Jane Fonda both then (1971) and now (2005) in the brand new Zeiger documentary: “Sir No Sir !” (5)
Unfortunately Hershberger does not mention “Iraq”, nor that newest, best ? Fonda film (5).
Hershberger may be excused, concentrating on the GI and antiwar aspect of Fonda’s work, for failing to examine the “other” issues (unions, racism, feminism, imperialism, nukes…) but it is a pity that she ignored, is apparently unaware of, the direct influence Jane Fonda had on the US Air Farce Rita in England. .
A complete description of Jane Fonda’s antiwar GI work should include the induced effects of her friendship, example, leadership on her British colleague and close friend – Vanessa Redgrave.
Fonda took Redgrave to the Oceanside Camp Pendleton US Marine Corps base, distributed the local and West Coast GI papers there.
The (at first anxious) Redgrave was “blown away”. Enthusiastic. She soon felt “…I must initiate a similar campaign in Britain with the American GIs stationed on the giant USAF bases in East Anglia…”(6).
She did. With further help from Jane Fonda, successfully.
Of course the American Airpeople would have, sooner or later, organised themselves, but there is no doubt that the “induced Frita Redgrave” gave important start-up help. An unsung story, one of so many!
(1) Rick Perlstein: “Operation Barbarella”; London Review of Books (1). LRB Vol. 27 No. 22; 17 November 2005
(1a) Maxism: “pull her fangs out”
(2) Hershberger, Mary: “Jane Fonda’s War – A Political Biography of an antiwar Icon”; New Press/ Norton – New York, 2005, 228 pp, ISBN 1-56584-988-4 (hc); US $ 24.95
(3) Fonda, Jane Fonda – “My Life So Far”; Random House, New York, 2005, 600 pp, ISBN 0-375-50710-8, US $ 26.95
(4) FTA: Film/DVD/Video: with Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland, et al. 97 mins. For information, contact Max Watts, firstname.lastname@example.org
(5) Sir ! No Sir !” Film; 2005, release pending. Contact: David Zeiger, email@example.com Displaced Films; 3421 Fernwood Ave. Los Angeles CA 90039, USA; Phone: 1 323 906 9249
(6) Redgrave, Vanessa: An autobiography; Arrow Books Ltd. 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London SW1V 2SA, England;1992 ISBN 0 09 983610 6 First Published in GB by Hutchinson in 1991
“If Occupation Is Ugly, Then Resistance Will Hardly Be Pretty”
December 10, 2005 Associated Press
In an interview with Sky TV, British legislator George Galloway urged British forces to leave Iraq.
“The only thing the Iraqis want from the British government is to see the backs of their heads as they leave the country,” he said.
“If occupation is ugly, then resistance will hardly be pretty,” he said, in an apparent reference to the deadly attacks that are being conducted by insurgent groups in Iraq.
What do you think? Comments from service men and women, and veterans, are especially welcome. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org. Name, I.D., withheld on request. Replies confidential.
Pissing Away The Money
December 8, 2005 by Mike Leonard, Herald Telephone Columnist, Bloomington, Indiana
It’s been some time since I’ve been to New York City, and so I can’t say if the federal deficit ticker that became irrelevant during the Clinton administration has returned.
A reader recently made me aware of another, similar, constantly increasing number posted on the Internet, however. And like the old deficit ticker, the numbers it displays are mind-boggling.
It’s called “The War in Iraq Costs” and I can’t watch the numbers fly by without feeling sick. The dollars are dizzying, literally, even without considering what they mean. The biggest number, the billions column, stood at $224 billion-plus on Wednesday, based on Congressional appropriations.
If that’s unfathomable, the sponsors of the Web site, a nonprofit group called the National Priorities Project, provide some comparative data.
For example, if we took all of the money spent on this elective war against a country that neither attacked nor threatened the U.S., we could do the following:
* Pay for 29,781,707 children to attend a year of Head Start.
* Insure 134,641,948 children for one year.
* Hire 3,896,715 additional public school teachers for one year.
* Provide 10,900,344 students four-year scholarships at public universities.
* Build 2,024,584 additional housing units.
* Fully fund existing global anti-hunger efforts for 9 years.
* Fully fund existing worldwide AIDS programs for 22 years.
* Ensure that every child in the world would get basic immunizations for 74 years.
Sit back and think about that while you contemplate the rationale for the war, the way the occupation of Iraq has been managed and the Bush administration’s “stay the course” policy.
What has Indiana’s contribution been to date? More than $3.4 billion and counting.
Indiana households? About $2,023 per household. Or about $900 a person.
Want to watch the numbers for yourself? Go to nationalpriorities.org/index, look for “Quick Hits” on the right-hand margin and click on “Costs of War.”
U.S. OCCUPATION RECRUITING DRIVE IN HIGH GEAR;
RECRUITING FOR THE ARMED RESISTANCE THAT IS.
An Iraqi man waits as U.S. soldiers from Charlie Company 2nd Battalion 22 Infantry regiment search his car in Sadr city, eastern Baghdad, December 7, 2005. (Laszlo Balogh/Reuters)
[Fair is fair. Let’s bring 150,000 Iraqis over here to the USA. They can order people to kneel down before them, bust into their houses with force and violence, overthrow the government, put a new one in office they like better and call it “sovereign” and “detain” anybody who doesn’t like it in some prison without any changes being filed against them, or any trial.]
[Those Iraqis are sure a bunch of backward primitives. They actually resent this help, and consider it their patriotic duty to fight and kill the soldiers sent to occupy their country. What a bunch of silly people. How fortunate they are to live under a military dictatorship run by George Bush. Why, how could anybody not love that?]
OCCUPATION ISN’T LIBERATION
“We Call Our Stuff Information And The Enemy’s Propaganda”
December 11, 2005 By JEFF GERTH, The New York Times Company [Excerpts]
The media center in Fayetteville, N.C., would be the envy of any global communications company.
In state of the art studios, producers prepare the daily mix of music and news for the group’s radio stations or spots for friendly television outlets. Writers putting out newspapers and magazines in Baghdad and Kabul converse via teleconferences. Mobile trailers with high-tech gear are parked outside, ready for the next crisis.
The center is not part of a news organization, but a military operation, and those writers and producers are soldiers. The 1,200-strong psychological operations unit based at Fort Bragg turns out what its officers call “truthful messages” to support the United States government’s objectives, though its commander acknowledges that those stories are one-sided and their American sponsorship is hidden.
“We call our stuff information and the enemy’s propaganda,” said Col. Jack N. Summe, then the commander of the Fourth Psychological Operations Group, during a tour in June.
In Iraq and Afghanistan, the focus of most of the activities, the military operates radio stations and newspapers, but does not disclose their American ties. Those outlets produce news material that is at times attributed to the “International Information Center,” an untraceable organization.
“We don’t want somebody to look at the product and see the U.S. government and tune out,” said Col. James Treadwell, who ran psychological operations support at the Special Operations Command in Tampa.
The United States Agency for International Development also masks its role at times. AID finances about 30 radio stations in Afghanistan, but keeps that from listeners.
The agency has distributed tens of thousands of iPod-like audio devices in Iraq and Afghanistan that play prepackaged civic messages, but it does so through a contractor that promises “there is no U.S. footprint.”
DANGER: POLITICIANS AT WORK
Voice Of God Revealed To Be Cheney On Intercom
December 7, 2005 The Onion
Telephone logs recorded by the National Security Agency and obtained by Congress as part of an ongoing investigation suggest that the vice president may have used the Oval Office intercom system to address President Bush at crucial moments, giving categorical directives in a voice the president believed to be that of God.
While journalists and presidential historians had long noted Bush’s deep faith and Cheney’s powerful influence in the White House, few had drawn a direct correlation between the two until Tuesday, when transcripts of meetings that took place in March and April of 2002 became available.
In a transcript of an intercom exchange recorded in March 2002, a voice positively identified as the vice president’s identifies himself as “the Lord thy God” and promotes the invasion of Iraq, as well as the use of torture in prisoner interrogations.
A close examination of Bush’s public statements and Secret Service time logs tracking the vice president reveals a consistent pattern, one which links Bush’s belief that he had received word from God with Cheney’s use of the White House’s telephone-based intercom system.
Officials privately acknowledged that there is reason to believe that the vice president, as God, urged Bush to sign legislation benefitting oil companies in 2005.
“There’s a lot of religious zeal in the West Wing,” said a former White House staffer who spoke on the condition of anonymity. ”It’s possible that the vice president has taken advantage of that to fast-track certain administration objectives.”
An ex-Treasury Department official and longtime friend of Cheney was asked to comment on the vice president’s possible subterfuge. ”I don’t know. I certainly don’t think it’s something (Cheney) planned,” he said. ”I do know that Mr. Bush was unfamiliar with a phone-based intercom, and I suppose it is possible that Dick took advantage of that.”
A highly placed NSA official who has reviewed the information released Tuesday said Cheney masked his clipped monotone, employing a deeper, booming voice.
Said the NSA source: “It sounded as though the speaker, who identified himself as God, stood away from the intercom to create an echo effect.”
On Capitol Hill, sources are expressing surprise that Cheney, a vice president with more influence than any other in U.S. history, would have resorted to such deception.
“The vice president has a lot of sway in this administration,” said a former White House aide. ”But perhaps when President Bush was particularly resolute and resistant to mortal persuasion, the vice president chose to quickly resolve disputes in his favor with a half-decent God impression.”
For many, the revelation explains Bush’s confusion in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
“I was very surprised by the president’s slow response in New Orleans,” political commentator Bill Kristol said. ”The president told me that he was praying every day in his office, but had received no reply. I had no idea what he meant, but of course, it all makes sense now.”
At the time of Katrina, Cheney was on a fly-fishing trip, from which he returned on Sept. 1.
According to highly placed White House sources, Bush’s senior advisers are trying to shield the president from the news. Aides are concerned that too harsh an awakening might shake Bush’s faith, which has been a central part of his life for nearly 20 years.
“It’s hard to tell the leader of the free world that he has been the butt of an elaborate and long-term ruse,” a former staffer said. ”Maybe it would be easier to take if it came from Cheney’s God voice.”
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