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Massacre cover-up 'may go to the top'
(Michael Gawenda, The Age, May 30, 2006)
Senator John Warner, the Republican chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said he would hold hearings to determine whether there had been a military cover-up of the November 19 incident in Haditha, an insurgent stronghold in Anbar province. . . . Democrat congressman John Murtha, a fierce critic of the war who has close ties to the military and served as a marine for 30 years, including in Vietnam, said there was "no question" that there had been a cover-up of the "massacre". . . . "It might go all the way up the chain of command to General Pace", he said, referring to General Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. . . . "There was an investigation right afterwards, but then it was stifled, so we need to know what happened," he said. "It goes right up the chain of command." . . . [COMMENT by Lorenzo: How many of you remember that Colin Powell's career skyrocketed after he helped his superiors cover up the My Lai Massacre. . . . There is increasing anxiety in the Bush Administration about the fallout from the incident in Haditha, with most Americans already convinced that the war was a mistake and that the Administration has no strategy for winning in Iraq. . . . Mr Murtha said the killings, which allegedly involved a small group of marines going house to house and killing unarmed civilians after one of their colleagues was killed by a roadside bomb, was worse than the human rights abuses at Abu Ghraib. . . . "The killings were unprovoked", Mr Murtha said. "They included girls from 14 to a one-year-old baby. One woman, as I understand it in talking to the officials in the Marine Corps, was bending over her child, pleading for mercy and they shot her in cold blood. That's the thing that's so disturbing." . . . Twenty marines, including officers, have been suspended pending the outcome of the two inquiries, and military officials have made it clear that if the evidence suggests that unarmed civilians were killed, some marines will face murder charges. . . . Senator Warner said he was determined to get to the bottom of the incident and find out why it took the military so long investigate the killings. . . . Mr Murtha said that after the attack on the convoy at Haditha, a group of marines killed a family of five in a taxi before entering two houses where they shot 19 more people during a five-hour rampage. . . . The American ABC network has carried an interview with a 12-year-old girl who said her father was killed as the marines entered her house and they then killed her mother and her sisters, who were cowering in a bedroom. She was huddled with them and played dead. . . . In its latest edition, Time magazine reports that photographs were taken with a mobile phone by a marine that showed a group of Iraqis kneeling before they were shot.
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posted by Lorenzo 8:55 AM
Rumsfeld 'wasted US lives in Iraq' says General Batiste
(The Telegraph Group, 29 May 2006)
A senior American general who served as a combat commander in Iraq has accused the Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, of squandering the lives of United States soldiers by ignoring military advice on how to conduct the campaign. . . . In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Major General John Batiste, who resigned last year after 12 months stationed in Iraq's Sunni Triangle, said the Pentagon chief had caused "unnecessary deaths" by committing "strategic blunders of enormous magnitude". . . . His outspoken comments come as the US military death toll in Iraq approaches 2,500, and put him at the forefront of the chorus of former generals who have called in recent months for Rumsfeld to step down. . . . . . . the former career soldier, who resigned last year after commanding 22,000 troops of the US Army's 1st Infantry Division, is planning a sustained public offensive aimed at driving Rumsfeld from office. . . . "I'm as mad as hell," he said. "I'm not stopping. They can hand wave me off, dismiss me, but I'm coming back, again and again and again until there is some accountability." . . . The transformation of a once loyal soldier into an outspoken rebel is a stark indicator of the growing disquiet at the heart of America's military establishment, and will renew the pressure on President George W. Bush to replace his defence chief. . . . General Batiste, 53, who claims that his critique has "growing support on both sides of the aisle in Congress", alleges that Rumsfeld not only went to war with too few troops, but then refused urgent pleas from commanders on the ground for more. . . . He says Rumsfeld's "contemptuous, arrogant and dismissive attitude" led him to ignore military advice and hamstring ground commanders with troop shortages. . . . The critique outlined by General Batiste, the son of a colonel who fought in the Second World War, Korea and Vietnam, is all the more potent because before observing Rumsfeld's policies in practice in Iraq he served alongside him in the Pentagon. . . . As the senior military aide to Paul Wolfowitz, the then deputy Pentagon chief, he experienced Rumsfeld's abrasive style first-hand. . . . "You can't tell that man anything because he knows it all," he said. It is, however, his allegation that Rumsfeld has wasted the lives of soldiers that will hit home hardest. "There were insufficient troops on the ground by a factor of two-and-a-half to three," said General Batiste.
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posted by Lorenzo 6:02 AM
U.S. braces for 'Iraq's My Lai'
(Robert H. Reid, Chicago Sun Times, 29 May 2006)
he U.S. military is getting ready for a major scandal over the alleged slaying of Iraqi civilians by Marines in Haditha -- charges so serious they could threaten President Bush's effort to rally support at home for an increasingly unpopular war. . . . Although the case has attracted little attention so far in Iraq, it still could inflame hostility to the U.S. presence just as Iraq's new government is getting established, and complicate efforts to quell the insurgency. . . . A Pentagon official said investigators think Marines committed unprovoked murder in the deaths of about two dozen in November. . . . Haditha is not the only case pending: Wednesday, the military announced an investigation into allegations that Marines killed a civilian April 26 near Fallujah. The statement said "service members" had been sent back to the United States "pending results of the criminal investigation." . . . Last July, Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations accused the Marines of killing his 21-year-old cousin during a search of his family's home in Haditha. Results from a criminal investigation have not been announced. . . . Together, the cases present the most serious challenge to U.S. handling of the Iraq war since the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. . . . "What happened at Haditha appears to be outright murder," said Marc Garlasco of Human Rights Watch. "The Haditha massacre will go down as Iraq's My Lai," a reference to the Vietnam War incident in which American soldiers slaughtered up to 500 civilians in 1968.
ALSO SEE: Marines in Iraq 'massacre' may face the death penalty - 29 May 2006 - World News
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posted by Lorenzo 5:55 AM
One Excellent Reason Not to Join the Military: You May be Ordered to Kill Civilians
(Paul Rockwell, CommonDreams.org, April 29, 2006)
He talked like the Terminator. I was stunned and said, ‘You shot an unarmed man behind barbed wire for throwing a stone.’ He said to me, ‘Well, I said a prayer, and I gunned him down.’ There was a complete disconnect between what he had done and his morality. He was the nicest guy, a family man, a courteous, devout Christian.” War crimes in Iraq are not mere aberrations. They emanate from official policies regarding the aims and conduct of the occupation . It is official policy, for example, to use cluster bombs in populated areas. Soldiers and Marines merely carry out the policy. It was official policy, under Operation Iron Hammer, to put barbed wire around villages, to bulldoze crops, to bomb homes, and to hold families in jail until they released insurgent information. It was official policy to level Fallujah, a city of 300,000 people, as an act of collective punishment. American commanders openly declared that Fallujah needed to be taught a lesson. Commanders ordered the use of 500-pound bombs that are utterly indiscriminate in their effects. At a mass burial of dead Iraqis, Captain P.J. Batty stated: “Everyone needs to understand there are consequences for not following the Iraqi government.” ...Not only are American Marines, reservists, and soldiers expected to follow unlawful orders, they are also expected to bear life-long burdens of shame, guilt, and legal culpability for the arrogance of their own commanders—who dispense life and death from an office computer.
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 6:46 AM
Pentagon terrorizing families of dead and injured soldiers
(Pravada, 6 May 2006)
"Those guys in the White House really have no shame. They want to collect the money allegedly owed to the government by the soldiers who served in Iraq, by the families of those who were killed out there," said the 25-year old U.S. Army Sergeant (Retired) Ryan Kelly who lost his leg while on a battlefield near Baghdad. He burst into tears during an interview to journalists. . . . Ryan Kelly is one of the U.S. soldiers and officers killed or seriously wounded during combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq who Pentagon put on the list as having "bad debts." The U.S. Government Accountability Office submitted its report on the problem to Congress. The GAO report effectively tipped off the Pentagon on a way to cover multimillion losses. The report says the soldiers officially owe the government $1.5 million. . . . According to USA TODAY, so far the government has collected $124 thousand from the Army veterans and families of servicemen killed in action. Several cases with regard to soldiers' debts are currently in court. The aforementioned Ryan Kelly resisted the government's efforts to collect the money for a year. The government demanded that he repay $2,231.. . . Experts indicate that as a rule the Army accountants are not advised promptly on a soldier's demise or retirement due to injury. Therefore, accountants keep making wire transfers to accounts of those who should have been deleted from the payroll due to above reasons. The Pentagon also frequently billed solders for equipment e.g. gas masks or body armor left behind on the battlefield. . . .
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posted by Lorenzo 10:41 AM
Baghdad anger at Bush's undiplomatic palace
(Daniel McGrory, The Australian, May 4, 2006)
THE question puzzles and enrages a city: how is it that the Americans cannot keep the electricity running in Baghdad for more than a couple of hours a day, yet still manage to build the biggest embassy on earth? . . . Irritation grows as residents deprived of airconditioning and running water three years after the US-led invasion watch the massive US embassy they call "George W's palace" rising from the banks of the Tigris. . . . In the pavement cafes, people moan that the structure is bigger than anything Saddam Hussein built. They are not impressed by the architects' claims that it will be visible from space and cover an area larger than Vatican City. They are more interested in knowing whether the US State Department paid for the prime real estate or simply took it. . . . While families suffer electricity cuts, queue all day to fuel their cars and wait for water pipes to be connected, the US mission, due to open in June next year, will have its own power and water plants to cater for a population the size of a small town. . . . The design of the compound is supposed to be a secret, but you cannot hide the concrete contours of the 21 buildings that are taking shape. . . . Looming over the skyline, the embassy has the distinction of being the only big US building project in Iraq that is on time and within budget. In a week when Washington revealed a startling list of missed deadlines and overspending on building projects, Congress was told the bill for the embassy was $US592million ($772million). . . . The heavily guarded 42ha site - which will have a 3m-thick perimeter wall - has hundreds of workers swarming on scaffolding. Locals are bitter that the Kuwaiti contractor has employed only foreign staff. . . . Diplomats, after roughing it in Saddam's abandoned palaces, should have every comfort in their new home. The plans are rumoured to include the biggest swimming pool in Iraq, a gymnasium, a cinema, restaurants offering delicacies from US food chains, tennis courts and a swish American Club for functions.
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posted by Lorenzo 3:28 AM
Gulf War Illness: the Sequel
(Irving Hall, VHeadline.com, 1 May 2006)
Bush's impending, insane nuclear attack on Iran has provoked an unprecedented rebellion within the top leadership of the United States military. At the same time, depleted uranium (DU) is steadily taking down our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's time for the soldiers to follow the lead of their commanders in order to end the war. . . . Was Army Sergeant Michael Lee Tosto the first American victim of the Bush administration's March 2003 "Shock and Awe" attack on Iraq? . . . The 24-year old North Carolina tank operator died "mysteriously" in Baghdad on June 17, 2003. . . . The Iraqi capital was saturated with radioactive dust from the initial explosions of 1,500 American bombs and missiles, many of them made from solid depleted uranium. After the saturation bombing, the city was the scene of street battles with M-1 Abrams tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, A-10 Warthog attack jets and Apache helicopters, all firing DU munitions. . . . The army told Sergeant Tosto's family that he died from pulmonary edema and pericardial effusion, or cardiac failure, after showing flu-like symptoms. . . . Young Michael Tosto believed George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Condoleezza Rice. He believed he had been deployed to Iraq to stop Saddam Hussein from nuking the United States. Michael died before we all learned that Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld are nuking the world. . . . Michael Tosto died, young and innocent, when they nuked him. . . . "Michael did not have heart problems. One other time they asked me if he had asthma. He was never sick." . . . Inhaling depleted uranium causes pulmonary edema ... symptoms include bleeding lungs, bronchial pneumonia, and vomited blood. Pericardial effusion is a common cause of death among leukemia patients. Michael's mother, Janet Tosto, reported that military officials told her that her son Michael’s military autopsy exhibited elevated levels of white blood cells. Exposure to depleted uranium can cause Lymphocytic leukemia. . . . Tom Flocco consulted Dr. Garth Nicolson of the Institute for Molecular Medicine in Huntington Beach, California who said "just one microscopic particle -- let alone thousands -- trapped in a soldier's pulmonary system for one year can result in 272 times the annual whole body radiation dose permitted US radiation workers." . . . * We are witnessing the same symptoms of radioactive poisoning today as fifteen years ago. We are hearing the same denial of reality from Donald Rumsfeld's Department of Defense (DoD). . . . The government spokesman in Michael's death claimed, "We don’t think depleted uranium has anything to do with it." . . . After the publication of "Depleted Uranium For Dummies" last month, a reader emailed me with a demand. "You claim that half million soldiers are sick because of the tons of depleted uranium used in 1991. I'd like to hear the government's side of the story." . . . Well, the Department of Defense's estimate, as you might expect, is lower. Much lower. According to the Pentagon, depleted uranium hasn't caused even one GI's illness or a single veteran's death. [COMMENT by Lorenzo: I lost a lot of my friends to Agent Orange that was used in Viet Nam. The screwheads in Washington told us the same thing back then, they said it wasn't the chemicals, just some mysterious disease that killed them. When will our loyal troops wake up to the fact that the Bush Crime Family is lying to them?] . . . If you still believe that the Bush administration doesn't lie to its citizens or Rumsfeld's Department of Defense doesn't lie to the troops, please click to another website ... I don't want to be the first to break the news to you. . . . Soon you might begin to doubt Condoleezza Rice's warning about Saddam Hussein's imminent nuclear attack on America or Dick Cheney's claim that Hussein was responsible for taking down the Twin Towers. You might question why on 9/11 acting Commander-in-Chief Dick Cheney couldn’t find one available US fighter jet to send aloft during the hour that, allegedly, nineteen Saudis and Egyptians with box-cutters were crisscrossing the East Coast in hijacked commercial airliners! . . . These are the stories Sergeant Tosto took to his grave. But no one ever told him that the depleted uranium munitions packed into his tank could kill him. . . . That's right. As far as the Department of Defense is concerned, depleted uranium is "40% less radioactive than natural uranium," is "not a serious external radiation hazard," and thus is not considered dangerous . . . [Please click the link above for the full story, which includes other accounts of U.S. troops being killed, slowly, by their own weapons.]
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posted by Lorenzo 5:06 AM