12/11/03 GI Special #132: Pfc. Givens Writes Home

From: “Thomas F. Barton” <thomasfbarton@earthlink.net>



This Is The Last Letter Home From A Soldier Murdered In Iraq By George W. Bush

New York Times 11 November 2003

Excerpt of a letter from Army Pfc. Jesse A. Givens, 34, of Springfield, Mo. Private Givens was killed May 1 when his tank fell into the Euphrates River after the bank on which he was parked gave way. This letter was written to be delivered to his family if he died. Melissa is his wife, Dakota his 6-year-old stepson and Bean the name he used for his son, Carson, who was born May 29.

My family,

I never thought that I would be writing a letter like this. I really don’t know where to start. I’ve been getting bad feelings, though and, well, if you are reading this. . . .

The happiest moments in my life all deal with my little family. I will always have with me the small moments we all shared. The moments when you quit taking life so serious and smiled. The sounds of a beautiful boy’s laughter or the simple nudge of a baby unborn. You will never know how complete you have made me. You saved me from loneliness and taught me how to think beyond myself. You taught me how to live and to love. You opened my eyes to a world I never dreamed existed.

Dakota . . . you taught me how to care until it hurts, you taught me how to smile again. You taught me that life isn’t so serious and sometimes you just have to play. You have a big, beautiful heart. Through life you need to keep it open and follow it. Never be afraid to be yourself. I will always be there in our park when you dream so we can play. I love you, and hope someday you will understand why I didn’t come home. Please be proud of me.

Bean, I never got to see you but I know in my heart you are beautiful. I know you will be strong and big-hearted like your mom and brother. I will always have with me the feel of the soft nudges on your mom’s belly, and the joy I felt when I found out you were on your way. I love you, Bean.

Melissa, I have never been as blessed as the day I met you. You are my angel, soulmate, wife, lover and best friend. I am sorry. I did not want to have to write this letter. There is so much more I need to say, so much more I need to share. A lifetime’s worth. I married you for a million lifetimes. That’s how long I will be with you. Please keep my babies safe. Please find it in your heart to forgive me for leaving you alone. Teach our babies to live life to the fullest, tell yourself to do the same.

I will always be there with you, Melissa. I will always want you, need you and love you, in my heart, my mind and my soul. Do me a favor, after you tuck the children in. Give them hugs and kisses from me. Go outside and look at the stars and count them. Don’t forget to smile.

Love Always,
Your husband,

Payback Is Overdue


Bush Betrays For Veterans Day


This Veterans Day is certain to hold different meanings for different people. For the honorees, it is a time to reflect on their service to our nation. For the rest of us, it is a time to pay homage to the sacrifices made by retired veterans and current soldiers alike. For the Bush administration, it’s another chance to wrap the president in the flag and talk about his hollow dedication to the armed services.

In a proclamation issued this morning, President Bush thanked America’s veterans, and promised that they “inspire new generations of Americans as we work to defeat terrorism and advance peace.”

But the administration’s treatment of retired soldiers has been anything but inspiring.

Estimates indicate that President Bush’s budget slashes over $14 billion in funding for veterans benefits over the next decade. In addition, the Bush administration opposed a $1.3 billion initiative for veterans health care that was advanced by the Senate as part of the Iraqi funding.

This year, the administration announced that it will close seven Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals, even as reports have surfaced that show as many as 230,000 veterans already waiting as much as six months for an initial doctor’s visit at VA medical facilities.

But let’s be fair. President Bush didn’t pick and choose veterans to lose benefits while everyone else gained – he has extended this type of shoddy treatment to current soldiers as well.

American Terrorist Chief & Soldier Hater Pollutes Arlington Ceremony

Nov. 11, 2003 (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

Some 200,000 low-income military personnel were denied the child tax credit from the administration’s latest tax cut.

The president’s 2004 budget cuts funding to military family housing and medical facilities by $1.5 billion over last year. That’s a 14 percent cut, even while the administration continues to increase demands on our nation’s troops.

The same budget chops $200 million in funding from Impact Aid, a program that helps educate the children of military personnel.

Injured soldiers at Ft. Stewart, GA, and Ft. Knox, KY, are receiving substandard medical treatment while being detained on “medical hold.” Lt. Julian Goodrum, a 16-year Reservist, summed it up: “I have never been so disrespected in my military career…I have never been so treated like dirt.”

The Pentagon initially intended to allow pay increases for soldiers in “imminent danger” to expire at the end of September, and only backed down after vehement public protest.

Roughly one-quarter of the troops in Iraq are still without bulletproof vests. Even more have been affected by extreme shortages in drinking water.

No Friends In High Places

Army Times | Editorial, 10 November 2003

“You not only have a former Guardsman in the White House, you have a friend,” President Bush declared during a 2001 visit to an Air National Guard base.

But for 120,000 Guard and reserve members employed by the federal government, friendship seems to have its limits.

The Bush administration last week persuaded Republican lawmakers to vote down a provision in the $87 billion supplemental funding bill for Iraq and Afghanistan operations that would have given financial relief to federally employed reservists called to active duty.

The provision, sponsored by Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., would have reimbursed those federal employees for any pay cut they suffer when mobilized. It was defeated on a party-line vote Oct. 28 during a House-Senate conference.

About 14,000 reservists are now mobilized to assist with operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Durbin estimates that 23,000 federal employees in all would benefit from this sensible measure, at a relatively inexpensive cost of $80 million.

The federal government – the largest single employer of reservists – has encouraged private employers to make up differences when mobilized reservists take pay cuts compared to their civilian wages.

Indeed, about 200 companies and 50 state and local governments do just that – earning them high praise from, among others, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who wrote a September 2002 open letter of appreciation to employers that support their reservist workers.

“During this period of mobilization, many of you did more than was required by law by voluntarily offering continued benefits, pay differentials, and additional, creative forms of family support which made the period of separation so much easier to bear,” Rumsfeld said.

Yet again, Bush administration officials and Republican leaders in Congress have shown how cheap talk can be.


From Seattle PI, Nov. 8, article by Charles Pope, “Talk Of Draft Grows Despite Whitehouse Denials”:

“In Iraq, minorities represented a disproportionate 32 percent of the deaths among combat-related specialties and 40 percent of those among the non-combat ranks,” Congressman Rangel said.

Dumbshit Sanchez Whines About Comparisons To Vietnam

By Hamza Hendawi, Associated Press, November 11, 2003

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez angrily dismissed comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam and said his soldiers will try to balance between the use of massive firepower and the need to win the goodwill of Iraqis. Attacks on coalition forces, he said, now average 30 to 35 a day, twice the number two months ago.

U.S. soldiers have been killed on average of one every 36 hours since President Bush declared an end to major combat operations on May 1.

Sanchez said insurgents have changed tactics to inflict more damage and casualties on American troops while reducing their own. (Imagine that!)

“It is not Vietnam,” Sanchez snapped when asked whether Iraq resembled the early days of that conflict. “And there is no way you can make the comparison.”

U.S. jets dropped three 500-pound bombs near Fallujah after three U.S. paratroopers were wounded in an ambush. On Friday, bombs also were dropped on the outskirts of Tikrit, Saddam’s hometown, hours after a U.S. helicopter was apparently downed, killing six soldiers.

Asked why the U.S. military was dropping bombs now, Sanchez said: “Because that is the combat power necessary to defeat the enemy and send a very clear signal that our intent is to defeat the former regime loyalists, the terrorists and those people that are attacking the coalition and the Iraqi people.”

“The most important message,” he continued, “is that we are going to get pretty tough … but we will do everything possible to minimize the impact on the people of the country.”

In Samara, 60 miles north of Baghdad, some Iraqis complained insurgents were launching attacks from residential areas, and that the American response kills and injures innocent civilians. (Oh yeah, nothing like Vietnam.)

(Of course it’s not Vietnam. In Vietnam it took years for the troops to learn to hate the war. In Iraq it’s months. In Vietnam it took years for the resistance to kick ass. In Iraq it’s months. Bye bye Ricky, your career and the war are both in the toilet. You are well and truly fucked.)

Just One More Lying Politician

U.S. Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the Commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and Drama Queen, wears a sidearm to press conference Nov. 11 in Baghdad. Either he thinks the resistance is about to come through the door, or he thinks a pissed of soldier is going to blow his ass away, or he’s been getting acting lessons complete with a costume advisor. (AP Photo/Samir Mizban)

Fear Of A Black “Street” Army;

Troops Rebellion In Vietnam

By Glen Ford, Co-Editor, The Black Commentator

This commentary originally appeared in the Summer Issue of ColorLines www.arc.org/C_Lines/ArcColorLines.html magazine.

According to the immensely valuable March 30 New York Times article, “Military Mirrors Working-Class America. www.nytimes.com/2003/03/30/international/worldspecial/30DEMO.html “ The Times concedes that Black casualties were high “in the early stages of the American ground war in 1965 and 1966, when there were large numbers of blacks in front-line combat units.”

Here, the historical revision begins. “Army and Marine Corps commanders later took steps to reassign black servicemen to other jobs to equalize deaths, according to Col. Harry G. Summers Jr. in ‘Vietnam War Almanac.’ By the end of the war,” said the Times, “African-Americans had suffered 12.5 percent of the total deaths in Vietnam, 1 percentage point less than their proportion in the overall population, Colonel Summers wrote.”

Colonel Summers and the New York Times are talking nonsense. It is laughable to pretend that U.S. military brass acted at any time to limit Black casualty rates – What? In order to increase white death rates?! Commanders “took steps to reassign black servicemen” because African American soldiers collectively resisted Washington’s plans to make them the expendable casualties of Vietnam. They effectively shut down the war from within – a history that has never been fully told, but one that is seared in the memories of those in charge of America’s current and future imperial enterprises.

Despite horrendous Black casualties in the early Vietnam years, a whiter casualty list was the last thing on the Pentagon’s mind. President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara were most concerned about how to pull off a massive increase in U.S. troop strength without dipping too deeply into the white middle class youth pool.

So, in 1966, a year that began with 200,000 men in Vietnam, Secretary McNamara announced Project 100,000 members.aol.com/vetschoice/100-1.htm , the most cynical race-class ploy ever lumped under the umbrella of LBJ’s War on Poverty. As Defense Department manpower official Dr. Wayne S. Sellman explained to a congressional committee in February 1990:

“The manpower goal of Project 100,000 was to accept 40,000 men under relaxed standards during the 1st year and 100,000 per year thereafter. Approximately 91 percent of these ‘New Standards Men,’ as they were called, came in under lowered aptitude/education standards, and 9 percent entered under lowered physical standards.”

With a straight face, Secretary McNamara declared that Project 100,000 was intended for the benefit of the “poor of America [who] have not had the opportunity to earn their fair share of this Nation’s abundance, but they can be given an opportunity to serve in their Country’s defense.” Military testing standards were lowered, high school dropouts became eligible for service, and draft boards and recruiters were encouraged to overlook criminal justice offenses.

By 1971, when the U.S. ground war in Vietnam was sputtering to an end, “354,000 L/A men had entered the Services under the program,” Dr. Sellman testified. “Of these, 54 percent were volunteers and 46 percent were draftees. The men who entered under Project 100,000 were on average 20 years of age, about half came from the South, and a substantial proportion (about 41 percent) were minorities.”

This was the infusion that allowed the Pentagon to boost Vietnam troop strength to 540,000 in the peak year of 1969, while accommodating massive draft deferments among the comfortable white classes. Young Black draftees and volunteers flocked to elite outfits, comprising near or absolute majorities in “line” units of the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions and the 173rd Airborne Brigade (all now heavily white and Hispanic, and deployed in Iraq and/or Afghanistan.)

There was one problem with this Black “street” army. As a Black lieutenant put it in “Bloods,” Wallace Terry’s seminal oral history of African Americans in Vietnam, “They are the ones who ain’t going to take no more shit.”

The “commanders” that war historian Col. Summers credits with compassionately reassigning Blacks out of harms way in fact went to extreme lengths to break the spirits of Black soldiers and destroy any expressions of Black solidarity.

Ultimately, the military established a mostly Black penal colony in Vietnam to enforce the terms of its internal race war. An online History of the Military Police home.mweb.co.za/re/redcap/vietnam.htm cites 1969 as the “year the US military prisoner population peaks when 10,450 military prisoners are confined in Vietnam, most at the United States Army Installation Stockade at Long Binh, known as the Long Binh Jail (LBJ).”

In August 1968, Black inmates burned Long Binh Jail to the ground. Jimi Childress was 19 years old, locked up for going AWOL from his unit. He told his story to Cecil Barr Currey, author of “Long Binh Jail: An Oral History of Vietnam’s Notorious U.S. Military Prison” (1999).

“I can recall at one time they had eight of us in one [6' x 9'x 6' metal] conex box. A slit in the front and a slit in the back – and that was your air. And if you wanted to urinate, you had to go to the back to do it because they kept a chain on the front with a lock on it. This was in heat of more than 115 degrees …. You could see them treating prisoners that way, but not their own soldiers ….

“All these guys that was in these conex boxes were black. You see? White guys in the stockade had fringe benefits. We had none. It was just a hateful place. Hispanics stuck with blacks, just for safety reasons, but there was so few you hardly notice. It was a black prison. I will never forget how many blacks were incarcerated in that stockade.”

In 1968, combined Vietnam AWOLs and desertions reached over 150 per thousand soldiers. About 100 Black deserters established “Soul Alley” in a Saigon neighborhood near Ton San Nhut Airport. Fully armed Black and white troops faced off at China Beach, Danang.

The online military police site sketches the rough outlines of repression and resistance in Vietnam. Some entrees from 1971:

September 1971 – Military police conduct a siege at Cam Ranh Bay against 14 soldiers of the 35th Engineer Group who refuse to come out of their bunkers.

October 9, 1971 – First Cavalry troopers again commit a “combat refusal” when asked to form a patrol. [This was an integrated affair, as were many, but not most, fraggings.]

October 1971 – Military police are flown into a military base near Da Lat, after two fragging attempts had been made on the commanding officer’s life. Discipline is restored after the MP’s have been on scene for a week.

By the end of the year there were 333 incidents of fragging reported in Vietnam.

The MP’s give credence to a “fragging” study by historian Terry Anderson home.mweb.co.za/re/redcap/vietcrim.htm of Texas A & M University: “The US Army itself does not know exactly how many…officers were murdered. But they know at least 600 were murdered, and then they have another 1400 that died mysteriously. Consequently by early 1970, the army [was] at war not with the enemy but with itself.”

The internal “war” was overwhelming racial in character.

We were at war stateside, as well. I was among the 6,000 soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division that occupied Washington, DC in the aftermath of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination, April 1968. Black troops made up about half of the division’s line units. We were aware that the near-lily white New Jersey National Guard had gone on a killing rampage on the streets of Newark the previous year, and we made it unmistakably clear to white soldiers that no harm was to come to the DC population. Nobody got hurt.

At “home” in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, we bloodied the Division’s overwhelmingly white and southern MP’s at every nocturnal opportunity. While the Ku Klux Klan and other racist groups ran amuck at nearby Camp Lejeune Marine Base, racists at Fort Bragg sulked in silence. Criminal Investigation Detachment personnel entered Black-dominated barracks in force, if at all.

In the fall of 1968, Commanding General John Deane, weary of racial strife, called the entire division to a parade field. “I give up,” he said, bluntly, then pledged to address a long list of Black grievances. He kept most of those promises. The Black soldiers of the 82nd had the “critical mass” to kick ass, if provoked.

The U.S. military never forgot their experience with the Vietnam-era Black “street army,” and would scheme and conspire for the next three decades to ensure that white supremacy would never again be threatened in the elite combat arms.


Telling the truth – about the occupation, the cuts to veterans benefits, or the dangers of depleted uranium – is the first reason Traveling Soldier is necessary. 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. www.traveling-soldier.org/

LouAnn Merkle holds a placard showing U.S. troops who have died in the war in Iraq and a bunch of flowers ‘mourning the loss of life,’ during a Veterans Day protest against the U.S.-led military occupation in Iraq Nov. 11, 2003 in Philadelphia. Merkle’s husband is a Vietnam veteran and leader of the Veterans for Peace organization. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma)

Families, Soldiers Condemn War;

Iraqis Call U.S. Officer “Little Saddam”

Sean Gonsalves, Cape Cod Times, 11.10.03–

Jari Sheese of Indianapolis, whose husband is currently serving in Iraq, has this to report: “He doesn’t want to be there any more. There was a time he felt they were doing some good, but that has gone. He helped set up the Iraqi Media Network. He enjoyed working with the Iraqis, helping them set up six television stations and three radio stations, but since the 82nd Airborne took over, they’ve been making the Iraqis broadcast things like statements from generals over and over and over again.”

“The Iraqis now say that it’s eerily like under Saddam’s regime, even calling one of the commanders ‘little Saddam.’ The commanders are threatening to take the Iraqis’ equipment or funding away if they don’t do what they say, but they advertise this ‘new, free Iraq.’ The military is not a democracy and this doesn’t really seem like the way to help build democratic institutions there.

“My husband tells me… when politicians go to Iraq, they meet with soldiers who just got there, so they don’t get a real assessment of how demoralized many soldiers are. The dignitaries virtually never meet with reservists…

It’s incredible how badly the reservists are treated. He just got a new flak jacket about a week ago, but it doesn’t have the ceramic plate. He says it’s better than nothing. The media used to go to bases, but many have been kicked out now, so information is getting harder and harder to come by. Bush says that we have to stay to stop the attacks, but it’s clear that our staying is causing attacks.

Alberto Suarez del Solar Navarro, who lost his son in Iraq on March 27, said, “These attacks are the tragic result of the illegal occupation of Iraq by the U.S. military. Our young people are exposed to death every day. They are wounded in faraway lands for the whims and lies of President Bush.”

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 in Iraq, and information about other social protest movements here in the USA. Send requests to address up top. For copies on web site see:www.notinourname.net/gi-special/

Roll Call:

The Names They Still Won’t Mention

Jimmy Breslin, November 11, 2003

The baby had gone into a deep sleep in the warm funeral home and she was flat on her back in the mother’s arms as the mother brought her out into the chill night. The baby did not move. Warm air, cold air, it made no difference.

The mother was carrying her out from the wake of . Sgt. Joel Perez, dead at 25 when he went down in a Chinook helicopter near Fallujah, Iraq, Nov. 2. The wake was in a funeral home with a neon sign saying, “Funerarias Las Americas.”

“I’m the cousin,” the woman said.

“His mother called my mother and then my mother told me,” she said. “That is how you find out.”

She shook her head and said she didn’t want to talk anymore and she left.

On the funeral parlor steps were Omar Valentine, 22, and a friend.

“Did you know the guy well?” Omar was asked.

“The wife.”

“From school,” the friend said.

“We graduated high school together. Essex County Vocational.”

“He was coming home to surprise them,” the friend said.

That is all they had to say. Nobody else wanted to talk, either. What was there to say?

The other Sunday, in high excitement, Sgt. Perez got on a helicopter that was going to start him home to his wife, Milagros, and 15-month-old daughter in time for the wedding anniversary, which was yesterday, the day they put him into the ground in Newark.

He had not told his wife that he was coming home and the others in the family kept it secret. He got on that helicopter because he had a Bronze Star and Purple Heart from the fighting.

Now, yesterday, he was a name on a list of the dead. If I had not been typing out this list, I wouldn’t have known that Perez was the short ride away at Newark.

There is no public display over the death and all these others on the list accompanying this column. Bush and his people sent them out to get killed and now you can’t get one of them in Washington to mention these dead.

Your government would prefer that night falls and the dead are buried in darkness. We must keep them remote, names on a list, and concentrate on things like patriotism, exporting democracy and shipping freedom – all those big words that Joyce said make us so unhappy.

On this list of our dead is a name that shakes the insides. It is Staff Sgt. Morgan D. Kennon, age 23. He is from Memphis, Tenn. “Kennon was guarding a bank in Mosul, Iraq, when his position came under rocket-propelled grenade attack.”

He was from the 101st Airborne in Fort Campbell, Ky. He never had a job. He went from Central High in Memphis to the Airborne. He picked a spot as rough as he could find. Then they sent him to war, proud and strong, and put him in front of a bank like a retired broken-down cop.

This is called nation building in Iraq. Repairing the infrastructure. Putting freedom into the country. Fighting terrorism.

Stand in front of a bank and get shot like he’s guarding an ATM in Brooklyn.

Kennon’s mother talks to nobody. She is separated from her husband, who is an over-the-road truck driver. His brother, Isaac, was killed when a burglar broke into his home in 1975. Kennon’s oldest son, Marcus Kennon, was murdered and his body thrown onto the street in Birmingham in 2000. His girlfriend Sharron White disappeared in 1986 and hasn’t been found.

And the other Friday he arrived home from work at 4 p.m. and he was taking off his shoes when there was a knock on the door. Two Army officers were at his front door. Right away, they told him that his son had died but he had not suffered.

They did not tell him that the best thing in his life was put out in front of a bank with all that bravery. And he was shot as if in a common robbery.

He was guarding God. The money that is the true religion of Bush and Cheney and the others who hide in offices while young men in the Army die.

Here is your war so far this week:

Staff Sgt. Paul J. Johnson, 29, of Calumet, Mich. Killed Oct. 20 in Fallujah, Iraq.

Spc. Paul J. Bueche, 19, 131st Aviation Regiment, Army National Guard, killed Oct. 21 when the tire he was changing on Black Hawk helicopter exploded. Home, Daphne, Ala.

Pvt. Jason M. Ward, 25, 2nd Battalion, 70th Armored Regiment, lst Armored Division, Fort Riley, Kansas. Died in Baghdad on Oct. 22 of non-combat related injuries. Home, Tulsa, Okla.

Spc. John P. Johnson, 24, 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, lst Armored Division, Fort Riley, Kansas. Died in Baghdad of non-combat related injuries on Oct. 22. Home, Houston.

Capt. John R. Teal, 31, 2nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. Killed on Oct. 24 when an improvised explosive device struck his convoy in Baghdad. Home, Mechanicsville, Va.

Spc. Jose L. Mora, 26, C Company, lst Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo. Died of wounds received from an enemy mortar attack Oct. 24 in Samaria, Iraq. Home, Bell Gardens, Calif.

Sgt. Michael S. Hancock, 29, lst Battalion, 320 Field Artillery Regiment, Fort Campbell, Ky. Killed on Oct. 24 when shot while on guard duty in Mosul, Iraq. Home, Yreka, Calif.

Spc. Artimus D. Brassfield, 22, B Company, lst Battalion, 66th Armored Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. Died of wounds received from an enemy mortar attack on Oct. 24 in Samaria, Iraq. Home, Home, Flint, Mich.

Staff Sgt. Jamie L. Huggins, 26, C Company, 2nd Battalion, 325th Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C. Killed on Oct. 26 on patrol when his vehicle was hit by improvised explosive device. Home, Hume, Mo.

Pvt. Joseph R. Guerrera, 20, C Company, 2nd Battalion, 325th Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C. Killed when his vehicle was hit with an improvised explosive device while he was on Patrol on Oct. 26 in Baghdad. Home, Dunn, N.C.

Lt. Col. Charles H. Buehring, 40, Army Central Command Headquarters (Forward) Fort McPherson, Ga. Fatally injured during a rocket-propelled grenade attack on the El Rashid Hotel in Baghdad on Oct. 26. Home, Fayetteville, N.C.

Pfc. Rachel K. Bosveld, 19, 537th Military Police Company, V Corps, Giesen, Germany. Killed Oct. 26 during mortar attack on the Abu Ghraib Police Station. Home, Waupun, Wis.

Pfc. Steve Acosta, 19, C Company, 3rd Battalion, 67th Armored Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. Died on Oct. 26 from a non-combat gunshot wound. Home, Calexico, Calif.

Pvt. Jonathon L. Falaniko, 20, A Company, 70th Engineer Battalion, lst Armored Division, Fort Hood, Texas. Killed on Oct. 27 while on duty near the police station in downtown Baghdad when a vehicle containing an improvised explosive device detonated. Home, Pago-Pago, American Samoa.

Sgt. Aubrey D. Bell, 33, 214th Military Police Company, Alabama National Guard. Killed in Baghdad on Oct. 27, when an improvised explosive device detonated at his location at the Al Barra Police Station. Home, Tuskegee, Ala.

Spc. Isaac Campoy, 21, 3rd Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, Fort Hood, Texas. Killed on Oct. 28 in Baghdad, Iraq, when his tank was hit with an improvised explosive device. Home, Douglas, Ariz.

Sgt. Algernon Adams, 36, 122nd Engineer Battalion, Army National Guard. Died on Oct. 28 of non-combat related injuries at Foreward Operating Base, St. Mere, Iraq. Home, Aiken, S.C.

2nd Lt. Todd J. Bryant, 23, lst Battalion, 34th Armored Regiment, lst Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas. Died on Oct. 31 when an improvised explosive device blew up while he was on patrol at Fallujah. Home, Riverside, Calif.

Spc. Maurice Johnson, 21, 326th Engineer Battalion, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Fort Campbell, Ky. Killed in Mosul, Iraq, on Nov. 1 when the high mobility multi-purpose wheeled vehicle he was riding in was hit by an improvised explosive device. Home, Levittown, Pa.

1st Lt. Joshua Hurley, 24, 326th Engineer Battalion, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky. Killed when vehicle he was riding in was hit by an improvised explosive device. Home, Virginia.

2nd Lt. Benjamin J. Colgan, 30, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, lst Armored Division, Giessen, Germany. Killed when he was struck with an improvised explosive device while responding to a rocket-propelled grenade attack. Home, Kent, Wash.

The following were killed in the crash of the Chinook helicopter at Fallujah, Iraq, Nov. 2:

Sgt. Daniel M. Bader, 28, Air Defense Artillery Battery, 1st Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Carson, Colo. Home, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Sgt. Ernest G. Bucklew, 33, Support Squadron, 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment, Fort Carson, Colo. Home, Enon Valley, Pa.

Spc. Steven D. Conover, 21, 2nd Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment, Fort Sill, Okla. Home, Wilmington, Ohio.

Sgt. Anthony Dagostino, 20, 16th Signal Battalion, Fort Hood, Texas. Home, Waterbury, Conn.

Spc. Darius T. Jennings, 22, of 16th Signal Battalion, Fort Hood, Texas. Home, Cordova, S.C.

Pfc. Karina S. Lau, 20, of 16th Signal Battalion, Fort Hood, Texas. Home, Livingston, Calif.

Sgt. Keelan L. Moss, 23, of 2nd Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment, Fort Sill, Okla. Home, Houston, Texas.

Spc. Brian H. Penisten, 28, Air Defense Artillery Battery, lst Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Carson, Colo. Home, Fort Wayne, Ind.

Sgt. Ross A. Pennanon, 36, assigned to 2nd Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment, Fort Sill, Okla. Home, Oklahoma.

Sgt. Joel Perez, 25, 2nd Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment, Fort Sill, Okla. Home, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico.

lst Lt. Brian D. Slavenas, 30, F Company, 106th Aviation Battalion, Army National Guard, Peoria, Ill. Home, Genoa, Ill.

Chief Warrant Officer Bruce A. Smith, 41, Detachment I, Company F, 106th Aviation Battalion, Army National Guard, Davenport, Iowa. Home, West Liberty, Iowa.

Spc. Francis M. Vega, 20, 151st Adjutant General Postal Detachment, Fort Hood, Texas. Home, Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico.

Staff Sgt. Paul A. Velazquez, 29, 2nd Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment, III Corps Artillery, Fort Sill, Okla.

Staff Sgt. Joe N. Wilson, 30, of 2nd Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment, Fort Sill, Okla. Home, Mississippi.

Sgt. Paul F. Fisher, 39, Detachment I, Company F, 106th Aviation Battalion, Army National Guard, Davenport, Iowa. Home, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Sgt. Francisco Martinez, 28, of B Detachment, 82nd Soldier Support Battalion (Airborne) Fort Bragg, N.C. Killed on Nov. 4 in convoy when improvised explosive device exploded. Home, Humacao, Puerto Rico.

Sgt. lst Class Jose A. Rivera, 34, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Fort Bragg, N.C. Killed on Nov. 5 while part of a patrol at Mumulktdyah, Iraq, that came under rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire. Home, Bayamon, Puerto Rico.

Spc. Robert T. Bensonm, 20, of Company A, lst Battalion, 35th Armored Regiment, lst Armored Division, Smith Barracks, Germany. Died from a non-hostile gunshot wound. Home, Spokane, Wash.

The following were killed when a Black Hawk helicopter was shot down by unknown enemy ordinance Nov. 7 in Tikrit, Iraq:

Chief Warrant Officer (CW5) Sharon T. Swartworth, 43, (identified by Pentagon as “female”), regimental warrant officer for the Judge Advocate General Office, Headquarters Department of the Army, Pentagon. Home, Virginia.

Chief Warrant Officer (CW3) Kyran E. Kennedy, 43, of Boston, Mass.

Staff Sgt. Paul M. Neil II, 30, of S.C.

Sgt. Scott C. Rose, 30, Fayettville, N.C.

Kennedy, Neil and Rose were assigned to 5th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, 10th Airborne Division, (Air Assault) Fort Campbell, Ky.

Spc. James A. Chance III, 25, of C Company, 890th Engineer Battalion, Army National Guard, Columbia, Miss. Killed Nov. 6 when his vehicle struck a landmine in Husaybah, Iraq. Home, Kokomo, Miss.

Staff Sgt. Morgan D. Kennon, 23, of 3rd Batallion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, (Air Assault) Fort Campbell, Ky. Killed on Nov. 7 in Mosul, Iraq, while guarding a bank in downtown when he came under rocket propelled grenade attack. Home, Memphis, Tenn.

Staff Sgt. Mark D. Vasquez, 35, of lst Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment, lst Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas. Killed on Nov. 8 in Fallujah, Iraq, when a Bradley Fighting Vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device. Home, Port Huron, Mich.

Spc. James R. Wolfe, 21, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 52nd Engineer Battalion, Fort Carson, Colo. Killed on Nov. 6 in Mosul, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device was detonated in his convoy. Home, Scottsbluff, Neb.

Copyright (c) 2003, Newsday, Inc. www.newsday.com


Insurgents Mortars Hit Occupation HQ Area

AP 11.11.03 BAGHDAD, Iraq – Insurgents fired mortars after sundown Tuesday in the center of the Iraqi capital, and two rounds exploded within the American headquarters area known as the “green zone,” the U.S.-led coalition said.

There were no reports of damage or casualties after up to eight detonations thundered through the heart of the capital shortly after 9:30 p.m.

After one of the detonations, white smoke could be seen rising from an area just north of the palace.

Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez demonstrates his self-protection posture for Resistance mortar attacks on occupation headquarters. (AFP/File/Ahmad Al-Rubaye)


By Daniel Benjamin, Slate, Nov. 7, 2003,

Watching the video footage of the smoldering helicopter last weekend, it was hard not to think of Afghanistan in the 1980s, where U.S.-armed mujahideen using shoulder-fired missiles-mostly the more effective American-made Stinger, but also some captured SA-7s-destroyed at least 270 Soviet aircraft.

There have been conflicting reports about whether the Chinook had such countermeasures installed and whether it fired flares. If an account that claims flares were ignited is correct, it is possible that the helicopter suffered a direct hit fired from a point closer than the missile’s minimum range-closer, that is, than the distance within which the heat-seeking sensor would normally correct course and home in on an aircraft. A straight shot like this would leave insufficient time for the countermeasures to divert the weapon.

As the shooters become increasingly proficient, there will be more weeks like this one.

This could eventually wreak havoc on civilian aviation. The Iraqi opposition’s missile hoard is bad news for Iraq and the U.S. reconstruction effort, and it postpones still further the day when large numbers of business travelers can start flowing into the country to reconnect it to the global economy.

No major airline in the world has countermeasures installed on its aircraft, and it is difficult to imagine any of them scheduling regular service to Baghdad anytime soon. (The airport was supposed to open on July 15, but the missile threat has kept it closed.)


Veterans Day 2003:

Honoring Real Vets; Remembering Real War

by Stan Goff 11 Nov 2003 Bring Them Home Now


Those of us who are veterans and military family members, and I am both, have a special responsibility this Veterans Day.

We need to honor our veterans without idealizing them, because idealizing does much to erase the reality that was (and is) our story. Instead of honoring us as heroes on pedestals this Veterans Day, tell our real stories.

Many of us have never craved a pedestal, and we do not want our reality to be erased in yet another stage-managed orgy of nationalism, designed to gain the acquiescence of the public to send soldiers to risk life, limb, health, and sanity on an errand of plunder disguised as self-defense.

Many people are unaware that Veterans Day was originally Armistice Day, commemorating the end of World War I. In 2003, we would do well to reflect on what exactly was ended November 11, 1918. There are lessons for us to learn from that even now. We also need to know something about what happened afterward.

Just as veterans themselves are often stripped of their human complexity-and therefore their true history-in the process of idealizing them, so is our national history frequently idealized almost to the point of being mythologized until our true history is lost. The story that World War I was undertaken for some noble purpose is just such a myth.

President Woodrow Wilson, far from being the great progressive into which official mythmaking has transformed him, was elected on a platform of unabashed white supremacy, and was an ardent public admirer of the Ku Klux Klan. Let’s just put these hard things out there first, to set the stage for his decision to commit US troops to World War I.

For the first three years of the war, Wilson himself said there was no appreciable moral difference between the Allies and the Germans. He was elected for his fierce defense of the subjugation of Blacks, and also on the merit of his opposition to entering the war.

But during the conflict, the Allies borrowed heavily from US banks, purchased vast amounts of materiel from US companies on credit, and took loans with the US Treasury Department. By 1917, it became apparent to the US that the Allies could lose the war, which would cause them to default on billions of dollars of debt owed to both public and private entities in the US, which might precipitate a domestic economic collapse.

The American public was whipped up into a war fever with claims that Germany now presented an imminent threat to the security of the United States, and by 1918 Congress was stampeded into passing the Sedition Act that clamped own on the press, criminalized discouragement of the purchase of war bonds, and jailed political opponents. 116,563 Americans soldiers died so war profiteers could collect their debts.

After the war, the US financial establishment refused to cancel the debts of the devastated Allies, who in turn imposed hellish reparations payments on Germany to offset their payments. The US political establishment followed the self-serving advice of Wall Street and the corporations and plunged the world into a deep and destabilizing economic crisis, setting the stage for the rise of extreme racial nationalism in Germany. Two decades later, the world was plunged into another se of blood and fire.

Before, during, and after.

Before, there were schemes and lies. During, there was death and destruction. After, there was destabilization that led to deeper destruction. In exchange for their lives, limbs, health, and sanity, the veterans got a pedestal that erased the trenches, the lice, the mustard gas, the blood, the nightmares… all of it.

Perhaps if we quit erasing history, we can stop repeating it.

What do you think? Comments from service men and women, and veterans, are especially welcome. Send to the E-mail address up top. Name, I.D., withheld on request. Replies confidential.


THANKS TO B WHO E-MAILED THIS IN: B WRITES: Check Bremer’s view: He’s saying “white man better at democracy than ragheads.”

(WASHINGTON (Reuters), Nov. 11,2003) U.S. officials recently told Reuters there was growing friction between Bremer and Washington, particularly over Bremer’s resistance to accelerating the transfer of authority from the Americans to Iraqis.‘

“I think Bremer thinks he can do the job (of stabilizing Iraq and putting it on the road to democracy) better than the Iraqis and you know, he’s right,” said one senior official, who is generally supportive of Bremer.

Losing The War: Fallujah

By SUSAN SACHS The New York Times,11.11.03

FALLUJA, Iraq Nov. 8 As a tribal chieftain in Iraq’s most rebellious city, Sheik Khamis el-Essawi has met more American commanders in the last seven months than he can remember.

They all make the same polite yet firm demand. He must, they say, exert his legendary tribal authority to stop guerrilla attacks on their troops.

Sheik Khamis, a dapper man whose Buessa tribe still controls a fine swath of fertile land along the Euphrates, says he keeps responding that, alas, his influence is just not what it used to be.

“Every time a new general comes, they call us to a meeting and say the same things,” he said after conferring Saturday with the latest high-ranking visitor, Gen. John P. Abizaid, commander of American forces in the Middle East.

“But they don’t understand that the sheiks have no control over those people doing the attacks. Believe me, those people are not going to listen to me.”

Since Baghdad fell in April, five different American commanders have tried to tame Falluja, a rough and tumble city of 450,000 people that lived almost exclusively off the patronage of Mr. Hussein’s government.

Nearly every day, bombs explode near American convoys, rocket-propelled grenades are fired at American patrols or soldiers raid the houses of suspected insurgents.

To judge by the look of Falluja, the violent opposition still has the upper hand.

The main streets display neatly written banners urging people to kill “traitors” and Americans. The police station, where officers are paid and supervised by American soldiers, is reinforced against attack with sandbags and barbed wire. City Hall, where the American-appointed mayor sits, has been hit repeatedly with rocket-propelled grenades.

Yet the newest American commander is confident he has found the right combination of military force, persuasion and promise of a brighter future to pacify Falluja.

“What we offer is this,” said Lt. Col. Brian M. Drinkwine, of the 82nd Airborne Division, who took charge two months ago. “If Falluja and the surrounding area are safe, then the coalition and the international community would invest here.” (God, there’s a convincing argument. “If Philadelphia and the surrounding area are safe, King George will invest here.” What a great reason to keep it totally unsafe.”)

The colonel and his men operate from trailers on the southern outskirts of the city, among the bleak remnants of an old holiday camp. They frequently invite clerics and tribal leaders over for chats about the disadvantages of allowing attacks to continue. Sometimes they also make the point more forcefully.

After American convoys encountered homemade explosives on roads running through Sheik Khamis’s land, soldiers turned up on his doorstep and demanded to search his home for weapons.

The sheik was delighted.

“When they came to my house, honestly I was happy,” he recalled. “It’s kind of a cover for me because some people were calling me a traitor for supporting the Americans. It actually helped me.”

Colonel Drinkwine has also dangled financial incentives, spending thousands of dollars to fix some schools and a hospital. Not everyone was impressed.

“He was telling us one day how he spent $3,000 on this and $5,000 on that,” said Sheik Ibrahim el-Buessa, a cousin of Sheik Khamis. “So what? When Sheik Khamis’s father died two years ago, we paid $35,000 just for the funeral.”




“They make a desert and they call it peace”

Zionists War On Olive Trees

By laurie Copans, Associated Press Writer November 11, 2003

EINABUS, West Bank – Men with chainsaws turned Fawzi Hussein’s olive grove into a wasteland overnight – 255 trees cut down at the trunks, fruit-laden branches wilting on a West Bank slope, at the height of the harvest season.

The culprits: militant settlers who have been harassing Palestinian farmers for years, especially in the past three years of fighting. Human rights groups say it’s part of an attempt to drive Palestinians off their land.

The destruction of about 1,000 trees in three villages including Hussein’s was unusually large-scale. Hussein, the olive farmer, is from the village of Einabus near Nablus. His grove is on a slope near the Jewish settlement of Yitzhar, whose people are known for their militancy.

On Oct. 27, Hussein, several Israeli peace campaigners and a journalist were visiting the grove when seven settlers approached wielding clubs.

“They started threatening us and pushing us and throwing rocks,” said Arik Ascherman, leader of the Rabbis for Human Rights. “I was kicked a couple of times and hit by a rock and pushed down a couple of times.”

The military itself has uprooted tens of thousands of trees in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the past three years.

West Bank farmers say they mainly fear settlers.

Hussein, 55, a father of 14, said he rarely went to his grove until the harvest began last month. “I can’t come up here because I am afraid for my life,” he said.

Yehoshua Mor-Josef, a spokesman for the Settlers’ Council, said militants are blackening his entire community “with this horrible thing of cutting down olive trees.”

Zvi Berenstock, the secretary of Yitzhar, said he did not know if members of his community were involved, but said settlers have to defend their communities, claiming Palestinians disguised as farmers attacked Jews from olive groves.

(That problem has now been solved. Cutting down the farmers’ olive trees will turn them into resistance fighters. What have they got left? They will join the Palestinians who take up arms against the Israeli occupation of their nation, and they will be right to do so.)

This Is What State Terrorism Looks Like

United Nations 11/10/2003

Israel continued to destroy Palestinian territories through deforestation and the expropriation and erosion of agricultural lands, as well as by seizing lands, harvests and livestock in the occupied Syrian Golan, the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) heard this afternoon as it concluded its debate on permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian and Syrian peoples over their natural resources in the occupied Arab territories.

Syria’s representative said that Israel continued to uproot trees and to allow factories to dump chemical waste in the occupied Syrian Golan. In addition, it had diverted some 90 per cent of Palestinian water and the Israeli military had destroyed reservoirs, keeping water from refugee camps. Israel’s illegal construction of a separation wall to cover a large part of the occupied Palestinian territory underscored its intention to strengthen its presence and cut off groups of Palestinians from each other.

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