Thunder rumbles over Fort Carson as Pamela Knott weeps inside the Army base's chapel. Minutes later, she tells television and newspaper reporters that the pouring rain soothed her during the memorial service for her son, Pfc. Joseph Knott, who was killed by a remote-controlled explosive device while on patrol in Iraq.
Journalists hover, adjusting cameras and scrawling in notebooks, asking the same questions and getting the same sorrowful responses, again and again and again.
With the war unofficially entering its 29th month -- though President George W. Bush was seen under a banner reading "Mission Accomplished" more than 26 months ago -- almost 1,780 American troops have been killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Of those, 121 have been memorialized on the base in southeastern Colorado Springs.
The Knotts, whose son was memorialized with three other soldiers on May 24, say Joseph's death is part of the big price Americans must pay to bring freedom to a people oppressed by former dictator Saddam Hussein. Pamela Knott says her son helped make the United States safer.
Not everyone feels this way. A June Gallup poll found that 58 percent of Americans think the war isn't worthwhile. It's the lowest level of support since the war's start in March 2003. In another poll, 52 percent of respondents said they believe the world has become less secure because of the war, which Bush maintains is a major and inexorable component of the nation's broader fight against terrorism.
Embedded deep in such polls is an indefinable malaise, where Americans somehow have become numb to the great human suffering taking place in Iraq, says Robert Schulzinger, professor of history and director of international affairs at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
"I'm only speculating, but I wonder if people are not talking much about the war out of some kind of embarrassment for thinking they were wrong," he says. "They're now changing their minds. They're now thinking it wasn't worth it. They're now discouraged."
The above, e-mailed by Brandon, is from Michael de Yoanna's "Paying the Price: As soldiers are buried, America tunes out" (The Colorado Springs Independent).
It's early Friday morning and we're doing the Indymedia roundup with my apologies to everyone for the delay. I got home late, got off the phone with Elaine a little while later and thought I was just resting my eyes but ended up falling into a deep sleep.
We're pulling from the Indymedia items members sent on Iraq for this entry.
Lori e-mails, from The Boulder Weekly, Doug Monroe's "Liars, Liars" which also has to do with Iraq:
Much attention is focused now on the Downing Street memo, the leaked British document that suggests President Bush and his administration tailored intelligence to support his decision to attack Iraq.
The memo--despite being ignored for nearly six weeks by much of the American media, which dealt instead with Duluth's runaway bride and Michael Jackson's acquittal--has bubbled up through the Internet and into Congress. It's helping Americans see how Bush and his administration fabricated the reasons they publicly gave for war against Saddam Hussein.
But 5th District Congressman John Lewis, D-Ga., didn't need the British memo. He began asking questions about the origins of the war during Bush's first term. In fact, he believes Bush decided to go to war with Iraq before he even moved into the White House.
A member of the new Out of Iraq Congressional Caucus, Lewis recently told a group of senior Democratic House leaders, "It was time for us to break our silence. We had been too silent."
In a telephone interview, Lewis said, "We've been very frustrated with the administration not giving us a timetable about getting out, and we continue to lose so many of our young men and young women." At a Democratic House leadership luncheon in Washington last week, he said, "We need to organize and start speaking up and speaking out to stop this madness."
Lewis' doubts about the Iraq adventure go back to the beginning, when the administration was saying it had made no decision about going to war in Iraq. Regarding a briefing with then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, now secretary of state, Lewis said, "I asked her point-blank in a Democratic caucus meeting whether the decision had been made to go to war --whether there had been a meeting with her, along with President Bush, [Defense] Secretary [Donald] Rumsfeld and others--and she denied it. But apparently, even before [Bush] took office, there was some conscious decision that they would have a war with Iraq and they would find the necessary means and message to justify it.
Portland e-mails to note Brian Bogart's "America Programmed for War: The Long War: from NSC68 to 2005" (Eugene Weekly):
A single policy decision made in secluded chambers of the White House shortly after World War II explains why our financial and intellectual creativity focuses on lethal technologies, why 51 percent of our taxes go to defense and less than 5 percent go to education, why there are 6,000 military bases in the U.S. and 1,000 U.S. bases overseas, why comprehensive agendas support warfighting and weak agendas address human services and the environment, and why our top industry since 1950 remains the manufacture and sale of weapons.
Our dilemma stems from the postwar adoption of a military-based rather than a people-based economy. This policy, authored by Wall Street's Paul Nitze, is embodied in NSC68, a document signed by President Truman in 1950. Along with then Secretary of State Dean Acheson, Nitze convinced -- some say coerced -- Truman into recognizing the Soviet Union as an evil and imminent threat, and into adopting NSC68 and launching the Cold War.
Assessing key indicators in 1947 and '48, Truman's advisors acutely feared an economic collapse back into the Depression, and, as Noam Chomsky points out, there was scant debate among them: "It wasn't really a debate because it was settled before it started, but the issue was at least raised -- should the government pursue military spending or social spending?"
All U.S. military actions from 1950 to 2005 flow from this decision, made without the consent of the American people. There is no fundamental difference between the Cold War and today's so-called permanent war on terror -- perfect fuel for our military-based economy. For 55 years, America has been waging a crime against humanity, a crime for profiteers. I call it the Long War because "permanent" is defeatist.
As satellite photos and extensive post-Cold War interviews have revealed (including interviews with Acheson, Nitze, and Paul Wolfowitz, our current Deputy Secretary of Defense), no Soviet threat existed in 1950. NSC68 was a for-profit ploy. Paul Wolfowitz cites Nitze and Acheson among his role models [. . .]
Erika e-mails to note, from the Philadelphia City Paper, Brian Hickey's "Ms. deYoung Goes to Washington: A Philly native wants Americans to realize how wasting Billions in Iraq is ruining our lives at home:"
Chances are you've heard very little about [Marie] deYoung, or her cause. There's a reason for that: She and her fellow advocates -- namely U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman of California, U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota and the rest of the Democratic Party -- have found themselves howling into the winds of war when they call for fiscal accountability in Iraq.
In short, they believe the powers-that-be have ignored the skyrocketing costs involved and, thanks to that lack of oversight, Halliburton, the Texas-based defense contractor that provides support services to soldiers in the field, has delivered bills containing more than $1.4 billion in "questioned" and "unsupported" charges.
Critics have focused on how Halliburton, through its subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR), has received billions in "cost-plus" contracts. (KBR is an engineering and construction firm; Halliburton is its parent company. As such, what KBR earns, Halliburton earns.) In a cost-plus contract, a company gets paid for the work it does and also receives an additional bonus percentage based on the amount of money it spends. Such an arrangement, critics claim, is tailor-made for abuse; the more a company bills, the bigger the bonus check.
[. . .]
If what deYoung claims is true -- and she dutifully and exhaustively provides evidence to back up every claim from her five months working as an $8,800-a-month KBR subcontracts administrator -- we all should be furious.
The money deYoung says has been wasted would cover, for example, most of the cash-strapped Philadelphia School District's $1.9 billion budget for 2006, educating more than 200,000 students in more than 270 schools.
That cash could also have purchased life-saving body armor for soldiers who've come home maimed or dead. Instead, it's been spent on $85,000 SUVs that are abandoned in the desert when they get flat tires.
It funded the 100 KBR workers who partied at luaus -- one, in the wake of the 2004 Good Friday convoy attacks that left several KBR workers dead -- and dipped their feet in the "uniquely unpolluted azure waters" of the $10,000-a-night hotel they leased in Kuwait while soldiers huddled in $139 tents during sandstorms.
Now whistleblower deYoung wants to know what taxpayers would think if they knew their tax money allows Halliburton to charge $45 for a case of soda and $100 for a 15-pound bag of laundry. Or that these controversy magnets are reaping billions in profits while soldiers are forced to eat meals that, if they're not a year past their expiration dates, are accented with the delicious seasoning of bullets and shrapnel.
Kayla e-mails to steer us to Douglas Nelson's "Local Peace Groups Meet on Depleted Uranium Munitions" (DC Indymedia):
Representatives from local peace groups and concerned citizens met to view a German film, "The Doctor, the Depleted Uranium and the Dying Children" Sunday, July 17 in Takoma Park, MD. The DC and northern VA chapter ofVeterans for Peace sponsored the event. DC Antiwar Network, Code Pink, Military Families Speak Out, several DC and MD based labor groups and various local organizations were represented.
This film, a German public television documentary, follows the work of Dr. Siegwart Horst-Gunther, who first demonstrated hard evidence of US and allies use of Depleted Uranium (DU) during the 1991 Gulf War and today. "The Doctor, the Depleted Uranium, and the Dying Children" documents uranium contamination in Iraq following aerial bombardment and armored tank assaults by U.S. and allied forces. The story is told by citizens of many nations and opens with comments by two British vets, Kenny Duncan and Jenny Moore, describing their exposure to radioactive, so-called 'depleted' uranium (DU), weapons and the congenital abnormalities of their children.
Dr. Siegwart-Horst Günther, a former colleague of Albert Schweitzer, andTedd Weyman of the Uranium Medical Research Center (UMRC) traveled to Iraq, from Germany and Canada respectively, to assess uranium contamination inIraq. As an M.D., Dr. Günther is especially interested in the health effects that can be caused by such contamination. Dr. Jenan Hassan brought Dr. Günther and the film-makers through the Mother and Children's Hospital inBasra. Over 300 tons of uranium weapons were used by coalition forces in 1991 during Gulf War I, and some of the heaviest use was in Basra, in southern Iraq. There we glimpse an on-going health catastrophe--a ten-fold increase in cancers and a twenty-fold increase in congenital deformities.
Throughout his travels, Tedd Weyman regularly took Geiger-counter readings and soil and water samples for laboratory analysis. As well as a bombed television station, and areas where tanks shelled buildings and vehicles, Weyman visited city streets and scrap yards where children played on the remains of destroyed vehicles.
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