Soldiers fresh from Iraq speak out against war, Bush administration

  1. Soldiers fresh from Iraq speak out against war, Bush administration

    AUSTIN (AP)-Two military service members who recently returned from Iraq spoke out against the war Wednesday during a rally at the Capitol, telling a small but boisterous crowd that the Bush administration misled America about the threat of terrorism there.

    "I supported this war at first, when my administration led me to believe that it was the right thing to do to oppose the government of Saddam Hussein and free the Iraqi people," said Capt. David Harris, a 12-year veteran who recently returned from Iraq.

    He criticized the administration for accusing Saddam Hussein of harboring weapons of mass destruction, which have not been found in Iraq. Harris called on the small crowd to vote for the Democratic presidential ticket of Sens. John Kerry and John Edwards.

    Mike Hoffman, a former Marine who was in the first wave of service members to cross into Iraq last year, said Iraq is still dangerous despite Saddam's capture.

    "Democracy cannot be forced on people who don't want it," he said.

    James C. Berbiglia, a Vietnam veteran and retired military chaplain, said the protest was not about politics.

    "It's about getting young Americans, the best of our country, back here in the states so that they can defend us and get on with fighting terrorism, which has absolutely nothing to do with Iraq," he said.

    Berbiglia is affiliated with Veterans For Peace, a 3,500-member group based in St. Louis that has appeared at rallies across the country.

    The small crowd applauded after each veteran spoke.

    Not far way, down the Capitol promenade, Austin's Women in Black gathered for their weekly protest, holding up peace signs and passing out literature opposing the U.S. i
  2. 3 Comments

  3. by   pickledpepperRN

    Oct 29, 2003

    A reservist writes home from Iraq to assure his family that he's okay - but it is obvious he is angry at being placed in a country where friend is indistinguishable from foe and he is being treated as a second-class soldier by regular army troops. They won't tell him when he's going home and his computer repair business is going down the tubes. But, his wife isn't telling him that. He'll find out later, maybe.

    "I once believed that I served for a cause: "to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States." Now, I no longer believe; I have lost my conviction, my determination. I can no longer justify my service for what I believe to be half-truths and bold lies. My time is done as well as that of many others with whom I serve. We have all faced death here without reason or justification.

    "How many more must die? How many more tears must be shed before America awakens and demands the return of the men and women whose job it is to protect them rather than their leader's interest?" - Tim Predmore, on active duty with the 101st Airborne Division near Mosul, Iraq.

    Another soldier stops writing all together. "Why?", his wife asks, then notices the story on page three about Iraqi civilians, some of them children, killed in a firefight between US forces and Iraqi insurgents. She wonders what her husband had to do. She's afraid of who will return to her when its over.
    Our soldiers are encountering what soldiers have always encountered; the confusions, uncertainties, the injustices and the violations of spirit that accompany war.

    Many a football player, wanting distinction on the field of battle, will pay too high a price for personal glory. He may be someday be that person visiting the VA center, after several broken marriages, episodes of gratuitous violence, bouts of depression, alcoholism. That is, if he makes it and there is a VA center to receive him.
    At a time when America has hardly dealt with the human wreckage of her last half-century of war, our country is increasing the debt she owes her most vulnerable citizens - the youth she asks to fight on her behalf.
    A few facts about how much we care:
    Present expenditures on veterans' medical claims has decreased by 36% per person since 1995.

    There are over 25,000,000 honorably discharged veterans of the Armed Forces of the United States.
    Over 500,000 veterans have claims pending with the Department of Veterans Affairs for veterans' benefits, Approximately 100,000 of such claims are over one year old with no resolution.

    Since 1995, the number of VA enrollees for medical care has shot up from 2.9 million to more than 6 million, with total beneficiaries heading to more than 8 million by 2006 and almost 9 million by 2012.

    From 1995 to now, the VA's annual budget for medical care has climbed only 32 percent, from $16.2 billion to $21.4 billion.

    Veterans Affairs Department secretary Anthony Principi is talking of suspending enrollment of lower-priority veterans into the health-care system, and capping the number of veterans who can enroll, or limiting annual open enrollment periods.
    The VA has told its network directors to stop marketing for new patients.
    This Veterans Day, we are in the midst of creating a new crop of veterans. We cannot ignore them while we pray at monuments to old conflicts and weep for our long-ago dead.

    Veterans Day, originally Armistice Day, commencing the 11th hour of the 11th Day of the 11th month, was intended to celebrate the end of war. Right now - there is nothing to celebrate.

    Instead, as a member of Veterans For Peace, I appeal to all citizens to honor the dead and the injured, the currently suffering, by expressing our deep, deep, regret that we asked too much of our youth -- and resolving not to allow anyone to offer them up for sacrifice in our name again.
  4. by   Spidey's mom
    Interesting. I just finished reading the Sunday paper and came across a column about how the internet has changed "Big Media". Or how bloggers are checking the "Big Media" for errors/bias.

    On Society
    By John Leo
    Blogging the watchdogs

    On June 28, Paul Bremer gave a farewell speech as he stepped down as U.S. administrator in Iraq. Some Iraqis, at least, found the talk moving. Ali Fadhil, 34, a resident in pediatrics at a Baghdad hospital, watched it on television with a group in the cafeteria. He said Bremer's words choked up even a onetime supporter of April's Shiite uprising. We have this information about the Bremer speech because Fadhil and his brothers are bloggers who file their own reports on the Internet ( I had never heard of "Iraq the Model," but Margaret Wylie of Newhouse News Service produced a good story June 29 about Fadhil's blogging and Bremer's talk.

    Word that Bremer actually gave the speech is something of a collector's item among American reporters. The Washington Post said Bremer left without giving a talk. The Los Angeles Times did worse. It missed the speech, then insulted Bremer for not giving it. A July 4 Times "news analysis" said: "L. Paul Bremer III, the civilian administrator for Iraq, left without even giving a final speech to the country--almost as if he were afraid to look in the eye the people he had ruled for more than a year." This is a good one-sentence example of what readers object to in much Iraq reporting--dubious or wrong information combined with a heavy load of attitude from the reporter.

    Not sorry. Bloggers in the United States have been all over this story, quoting one another, leaning on the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times for an apology or a correction. Last Thursday, the Times published a correction of sorts. No apology, though, and no regret for the zinger aimed at Bremer. The Times said that Bremer taped anaddress that was given to Iraqi broadcast media and "not publicized to the western news media." So nobody at the Times watches Iraqi TV or reads blogs? One blogger wrote: "Bremer's farewell address had been common knowledge among readers of Internet blogs since at least June 30," four days before the Times criticized Bremer for having given no speech. Apparently nobody at the Times reads the American press either. Margie Wylie's Newhouse piece discussing the Iraqi reaction to the Bremer talk ran five days before the Times said the speech hadn't been given.

    The blogging world cackled a bit about the mess the Times made, mostly because many bloggers think the most powerful big-time news outlets are becoming more and more partisan. The Times may be on its way to becoming Exhibit A for this belief. Bloggers regularly pummel the Times for fact-free negativity about Iraq. One of the best and best-known bloggers, Mickey Kaus at, tore apart one of the Times 's front-page we-can't-win efforts--"Iraqi Insurgency Showing Signs of Momentum; Analysts and some U.S. commanders say it could be too late to reverse the wave of violence." Kaus pointed out that no U.S. commander said any such thing in the Times report. The allegation was left hanging out there with no factual support. Another the-war-is-lost report was a front-page lead on July 6: "U.S. Response to Insurgency Called a Failure." It said "some top Bush administration officials" were criticizing the Pentagon for "failing to develop a coherent, winning strategy against the insurgency." But the alleged "top Bush administration officials" were AWOL in the Times, just like the absent "U.S. commanders." Kaus wrote: "Again, there are no quotes--even blind quotes, even blind paraphrased opinions--from 'top Bush administration officials' backing up the story's dramatic initial assertion."

    The Times 's negativity about Iraq seems to leak out fairly frequently. A June 29 report depicted the new prime minister, Ayad Allawi, as obscure and unpopular: "little-known to most Iraqis after spending more than three decades in exile . . . . Many Iraqis have questioned the interim government's legitimacy." But four days earlier, the Washington Post reported that a large majority of Iraqis knew very well who Allawi was and backed him with confidence. Citing a survey commissioned by U.S. officials in Iraq and conducted by an independent pollster, the Post said 70 percent of Iraqis were familiar with their new leaders and 73 percent approved of Allawi to head the new government. Allawi had been appearing in the Iraqi media frequently, visiting sites and generating optimism. The poll was not reported in the Los Angeles Times, possibly because the poll was positive about the war and the Times is not. What's new about the press is that so many people who follow it with a critical eye now have an outlet to howl about inaccuracy and partisanship. The big media used to be able to shrug off critics like this. Now they can't. is very interesting . .. . . . .

  5. by   pickledpepperRN,00.html

    Idaho GIs Told to Talk About 'Themes'

    Thursday July 15, 2004 9:16 AM
    Associated Press Writer

    BOISE, Idaho (AP) - The Idaho National Guard has told soldiers to use five approved ``themes'' when talking to the media, including support for war in Iraq and confidence in the superiority of American troops.

    The suggestions were made on the front page of ``Snakebite,'' the official newsletter of the 116th Brigade Combat Team.

    It does not prohibit soldiers from speaking about other issues, but says that referring to the themes ``adds continuity to the message we are portraying as a unit.''

    The other messages include pride for being on active duty, eagerness to work with coalition forces and appreciation for family and employers.

    ``Those themes are the things we feel are consistent with what we're doing. Those are the messages we want out there right now,'' said Capt. Monte Hibbert, who wrote the article.

    Hibbert spoke by telephone from Fort Bliss, Texas, where he is training with 2,000 other Idaho guard members for a one-year tour in Iraq beginning this fall.

    The 116th started deploying soldiers to Texas in early June, and there was heavy coverage of soldiers and their families in Idaho newspapers and television.
    Hibbert said he did not intend to restrict soldiers' comments to the press.
    But Charles Sheehan-Miles, director of the Washington-based Veterans for Common Sense, said that's not the message that will be perceived by most rank-and-file soldiers.

    ``I suspect it's going to be received with a good deal of cynicism,'' he said, because the military is increasingly ``trying to control the message, because the leaders and the Pentagon have taken a lot of hits on the war.''

    Val Limburg, a journalism ethics and law professor emeritus at Washington State University, said it would be unethical if soldiers were being asked to cover up something that was wrong. He said the approved themes were more of a public relations issue.

    Still, Limburg wondered if the military was returning to an era when it avoided uncontrolled media contacts.

    ``In World War Two, we had a War Department and everything was cleared by the government before it went out as news. And the press went along with that because they wanted to win the war, too,'' he said.

    During the Cold War and as recently as the 1991 Gulf War, contact between rank-and-file service members and the media was generally taboo. Military personnel were instructed to avoid talking to news reporters and to report all contacts to their local public affairs officer.

    But Hibbert says the attitude has changed over time, particularly in the last decade and as news technology has changed and reporters have become ``embedded'' with particular units. Because of the increased contact, even the lowest privates now receive training on dealing with the media.

    ``We actually try to give them some experience by simulating interviews and role-playing,'' Hibbert said.