Tuesday, March 06, 2007

9 US service members dead in Iraq

Task Force Lightning Soldiers were attacked while conducting combat operations in Salah ad Din province Monday. Six Task Force Lightning Soldiers died as a result of injuries sustained following an explosion near their vehicles. Three other Soldiers were wounded and taken to a Coalition medical facility for treatment.

The US military announced the above today. And they announced:

Task Force Lightning Soldiers were attacked while conducting combat operations in Diyala Province Monday. Three Task Force Lightning Soldiers died as a result of injuries sustained following an explosion near their vehicles. One other Soldier was wounded and taken to a Coalition medical facility for treatment.

The AP reports, "The nine deaths Monday brought to 20 the number of Americans killed in Iraq this month" and notes that the total number of US service members who have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war is 3184.

In the church they light the candles
And the wax rolls down like tears
-- Joni Mitchell "Hejira"

The fourth year anniversary of the illegal war approaching, no end in sight (Bully Boy's stated that ending the war will be up to the next occupant of the White House). Well it sure is a good that the people believe in his illegal war, right?

Oops. Jill Lawrence "Only 28% think U.S. will win in Iraq" (USA Today) reported yesterday:

Only 28% say the United States will probably or definitely win the war, down from 35% in December and the lowest since the question was first asked in September 2005. The share of people who now call the war a mistake is 59% -- the same as September 2005 and the highest level in the 58 times the question has been asked since the war began.

Well his illegal war of choice is hated, but he's liked, personally, right? Lawrence noted, "Bush's approval rating in the new poll was 33%, while 63% disapproved of his performance. That was a slight dip from last month, when 37% approved and 59% disapproved."

Well, maybe he can ride this out. He's got that image of being pro-service members and fortunately there's nothing else sticking him to right now . . . Oh. Yeah. From Zachary Coile's "Walter Reed hospital scandal 'hits at the heartstrings of America'" (San Francisco Chronicle):

Mounting revelations about decrepit housing and mistreatment of injured soldiers at the U.S. Army's major medical complex have touched a raw nerve with the public and have sparked fierce bipartisan outrage on Capitol Hill.
The outcry has led a White House known for defending its embattled leaders to fire the Army secretary and relieve a two-star general of his command. Vice President Dick Cheney was dispatched Monday to soothe the angry feelings by telling the Veterans of Foreign Wars: "There will be no excuses, only action."
Lawmakers' fury was on display at a hearing Monday at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the hospital complex in the nation's capital long seen as the crown jewel of military health care, where allegations of mice-infested buildings and neglected patients first surfaced.
The tearful wife of an injured National Guardsman told lawmakers her husband received "treatment ... a dog wouldn't have deserved." A wounded soldier described how Army officials ignored his complaints about black mold in his room for months -- until photos of his mildewed walls appeared in the Washington Post.
"We find it appalling," said Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass., who chaired the hearing of a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee.
Lawmakers noted that injured soldiers and veterans are flooding their offices with phone calls and e-mails complaining of similar conditions at military medical facilities and veterans' hospitals nationwide.
"What's going on here in Walter Reed may be the tip of the iceberg of what's going on all around the country," said Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, who chairs the full committee.
The Pentagon initially belittled the allegations, saying the problems at Walter Reed were minor and already had been fixed. The Army's surgeon general, Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, publicly complained that the media's coverage was "one-sided."

Oh, the press was the problem? (Before yesterday's hearing.) From Michael Luo's "Soldiers Testify to Lawmakers Over Poor Care at Walter Reed" (New York Times):

Wearing a black eye patch, Staff Sgt. John Daniel Shannon described how he was struck in the head by a round from an AK-47 in November 2004 during a firefight near Ramadi, causing a traumatic brain injury and the loss of an eye.
Within a week of the injury, he was released to outpatient treatment, Sergeant Shannon recounted.
Despite being extremely disoriented, he said, he was given a map and told to find his own way to his new residence on the hospital’s sprawling grounds. He wandered into a building and received directions.
He then waited several weeks wondering whether anyone would contact him about additional treatment, eventually calling people himself until he reached his case worker.
He told of languishing in the hospital's bureaucratic system that evaluates soldiers for continuing in active duty or becoming medically retired, and what benefits they should receive. His paperwork, he said, was lost repeatedly, forcing him to start over several times.
Specialist Jeremy Duncan, one ear shredded by a makeshift bomb, told of the moldy living conditions in Building 18.
"It wasn't fit for anybody to live in a room like that," Specialist Duncan said.
Annette L. McLeod, whose husband, Wendell, returned from Iraq with a head injury, spoke emotionally of her distress during his treatment.
"My life was ripped apart the day my husband was injured, and having to live through the mess we've had to live through at Walter Reed has been worse than anything I've had to sacrifice in my life," Mrs. McLeod said through tears.

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