Wednesday, November 29, 2006

NYT: "U.S. Troops Kill 5 Girls in Assault on Insurgents" (Edward Wong)

American troops killed five girls, including at least one baby, and what the military described as either a boy or a man, when the troops attacked a house Tuesday in volatile Anbar Province after they suspected insurgents of firing at them from the roof.
Another person, which the military described in a written statement as either a girl or a young woman, was wounded in the attack and refused treatment by the Americans.

So begins Edward Wong's "U.S. Troops Kill 5 Girls in Assault on Insurgents" in this morning's New York Times.

The carnage in Iraq is "sectarian violence," President Bush says. It's a "struggle for freedom," the "central front in the war on terror." It is not, no matter how much it may look like it, a civil war.

The paragraph above is from Peter Baker's "White House Wages War of Words Over 'Civil' Term" (Washington Post) and Martha noted it. Obviously, see Wong's article, it's not all "sectarian violence." And it's not 'liberation' or 'freedom' either. But the incident Wong's writing about is exactly the sort of thing that has fueled the opposition to the continued illegal war among Iraqis (who repeatedly, in poll after poll, want foreign troops out of their country. From Baker's article:

Forget the debate over what to do about the war in Iraq. The White House is still debating what to call the war in Iraq. With retired generals, analysts, politicians and pundits increasingly using the term "civil war," the Bush administration insists that the definition does not fit as part of its latest effort to control the words of war.

Why? The small support in the United States for the illegal war would crater further if Americans felt troops were being asked to police a civil war. (One that the illegal war has caused.) Words matter and that's why the administration has attempted, from day one, to control the message by distortion.

Inventing new terms (such as the most recent effort to curtail the use of "hunger" or the push to substitute "climate change" for "global warming"). When all you have is a hollow image, it takes a lot of work to put one over on the country.

This morning, the US military announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, was killed when an improvised explosive device exploded near his vehicle while conducting operations in Salah ad Din Province Tuesday. A second Soldier from this unit was wounded and transported to a CoalitionForces' medical treatment facility."; and they also announced: "One Soldier assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died today from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province."

Meanwhile, Suzanne Swift will be court-martialed. Swift self-checked out of the military after being sexually harrassed repeatedly while serving in Iraq. Though not a story of war resistance, Swift's story is a story of the illegal war and underscores the lack of accountability. Even after verifying some of her charges, the military has been non-responsive and now wants to court-martial her. Portland notes The Oregonian's "Soldier faces AWOL trial after talks break down:"

Eugene resident Suzanne Swift, a military police specialist, is scheduled for a special court-martial Jan. 8, the Eugene Register-Guard reported Tuesday. The court date follows two months of failed negotiations aimed at an agreement on a lesser punishment or early release from the military.
Swift is charged with failing to deploy and being absent without leave. A special court-martial, with maximum punishment of confinement for a year, is less severe than a general court-martial, which handles the most serious offenses. But it is tougher than a summary court-martial, where the maximum punishment is 30 days of confinement.

It's rather strange that all the members of Congress who wanted to show boat on the issue of sexual harrassment and abuse happening at a military facility in this country don't appear to give a damn about what happened to Swift. Apparently, the war means that they're just not interested in the topic. So Swift's being punished with a court-martial for refusal to return to a hostile environment (the hostility coming from those she served with) even though the military made no attempt to address the abuse when she brought it up through channels. So when the war's over and the same group of jaw boners in Congress express mock outrage over the next batch of sexual abuse, remember how they stayed silent on Swift's case. Stayed silent and allowed her to be punished for their own refusal to excercise Congressional oversight of the military.

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