Friday, March 23, 2007

Desertion and the Pelosi measure

In today's New York Times (Friday's paper), Paul von Zeilbauer's "Army Revises Upward the Number of Desertions." From the article:

The Army's new figures also show a faster acceleration in the rate of desertions over the previous two fiscal years than the Army had disclosed. In 2006, for instance, desertions rose by 27 percent, not 17 percent, as the Army previously said, an Army spokesman said.

The article notes that the Government Accountability's Office's director over the DoD says it's "just unbelievable to the G.A.O. to hear that the Army does not know what the number is." von Zeilbauer attempts to explain the difference between desertion and AWOL and uses the unwritten rule that was tossed out the window with Augstin Aguayo.

Micah and Erika both e-mailed about the story. I didn't see it. It's on A11, the first page of the national section, and my paper was pretty much blank (the ink was barely visible) on that page. It was the national page and I didn't think much of it. (We all know that Times has no quality check and no customer care.) So thank you to both of them for pointing it out. We would have included this in the snapshot if I'd seen it. von Zeilbauer notes that the new figures do not include figures for the National Guard and Reserve soldiers. There is no noting, in the article, that the figures have been questioned for some time by those who counsel service members who are considering going self-checking out.

We'll pair that with one of the many things that almost gets noted each day but ends up being put on hold because something else comes up. This is an excerpt of Robert Fantina's "Deserting the Military: Teaching the Lessons the Government Won't Learn" (American Chronicle):

U.S. soldiers are deserting the military in ever-increasing numbers. Many who have actually fought in Iraq are illegally leaving the military and speaking out against the war. Lance Corporal Ivan Brobeck, who deserted after a tour of duty, witnessed the abuse of Iraqi detainees and the killing of Iraqi civilians. Sgt. Ricky Clousing, also a veteran of the war, deserted when he realized U.S. soldiers were not helping the Iraqis. His allegations of systematic abuse of Iraqi detainees are now being investigated by the military.
The list of brave men and women who served in Iraq, saw the war for what it actually is and subsequently deserted, is growing. Having proved their courage on the battlefield they are now demonstrating it again by opposing the most powerful -- and possibly most dangerous -- government in the world. They join a list of courageous soldiers that dates back to the American Revolution.
Desertion throughout the nation's history has had many common causes. Men and women enlist for a variety of reasons, many of them not at all related to feelings of patriotism. In the country's earliest wars financial rewards, called bounties, were offered to men for enlisting. Farming was a main occupation, and for many men struggling to sustain their families these bounties looked very attractive. The potential recruit could enlist and send the money home to help his family. However, once they enlisted too many men learned that the bounty would not be paid. This left their families back home in an even worse situation: there was no money forthcoming, and the person mainly responsible for farming duties was off at war. Many men finding themselves in this situation simply returned home.
Today, recruiters make a wide variety of promises to potential recruits, none of which they are legally bound to fulfill. The guarantees of stateside or time-limited deployment are simply not true: anyone enlisting today can be sent anywhere the government chooses, and once the enlistment period is over, the military can arbitrarily extend it. These promises made in 2006 are as meaningless as those made in 1776.
That soldiers enlist because they believe American interests are threatened in some way, then learn on the battlefield that the cause they were sold was nothing but lies and choose the only realistic option out of the U.S. military -- desertion -- is not new. Also not new is the government's desire to skew their reasons and try to show them as cowards. This lie becomes less credible every day.

That's an excerpt and the fact that it's been hold for days (and days) isn't a reflection on the quality of the piece, just that I wasn't able to figure out a way to include it in a snapshot. And, some days, just didn't have the time. There were two links to John R. MacArthur's piece in the snapshots this week and that was largely due to the fact that I'd been trying to work it in for some time -- Tom Hayden's comments was the way work it in this week. When a member highlights something, I do try to work it in and will force it in if I have to. But on things I stumble across, I'll hold them until I can find a way to make them fit. And, honestly, I will hoard a piece on war resisters because there have been huge dry spells where there was no news on war resistance -- not because there wasn't news but because no one was covering it.

And Brenda has a highlight, from Ken Silverstein's "Democrats Vow to Bring the Oil Back Home" (Harper's magazine -- this was posted online before today's vote):

The House will vote as early as today on the Democratic leadership's $124 billion supplemental appropriations bill. The bill funds the war in Iraq but calls for withdrawal of U.S. troops by September 2008. Democrats are arguing that while they don't have the votes to actually cut off war funding, by passing the bill they will effectively shut it down 18 months from now.
That's a dubious proposition given that President Bush has promised to veto the bill if it passes. Meanwhile, about halfway through the 80-page supplemental bill is a section that demands that the Iraqi government enact "a broadly accepted hydro-carbon law that equitably shares oil revenues among all Iraqis" by this fall. That sounds perfectly fine, but the law in question turns out to be one that the Bush Administration and American energy firms have been pushing for years and that, as Antonia Juhasz of
Oil Change International explained last week in a New York Times op-ed, would allow international companies to take control of much of Iraq's oil "for a generation or more," with no requirements to reinvest earnings in the country. Juhasz noted elsewhere that the Bush Administration dismissed nearly all of the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group Report--save for the recommendation that called for the United States to "assist Iraqi leaders to reorganize the national oil industry as a commercial enterprise" and to "encourage investment in Iraq's oil sector by the international community and by international energy companies."

Brenda wanted it noted ("please, please") that Harper's wasn't schilling for the House resolution. That does deserve to be noted. Put them on the list, the very small list, of outlets that was more interested in the truth than in being a party organ. (Harper's really doesn't play party organ.)

To pad this out with a 'talking entry' portion, there were some questions about the delays in the second entry and how the second entry (each morning) was often longer than the first. That's been due to the e-mails. There are a number of issues in the second entries resulting from a large number of e-mails. When I'm doing the morning entries, I'm trying to get something up and if there's an issue coming up in a number of e-mails, I'm trying to read as many as possible before noting it. So the first entries this week have probably been tossed up quickly to provide time to read the e-mails. The time change is something I'm still adjusting to as well.

McClatchy Newspapers did do a roundup today of the violence. Mohammed Al Dulaimy was the author of the roundup and this is some of the reported violence that's not in the snapshot: in Baghdad, a roadside bombing resulted in two people wounded (the car bomb's death toll, noted in the snapshot, climbed from five to six), and 26 corpses were discovered (if you never use the link to the McClatchy roundups, just FYI, they usually break the number of corpses discovered down to the neighborhoods they were discovered in -- it's very specific); in Diyala Province, two people were wounded in shootings, and Colonel Ahmed Kahdhim Jawad was kidnapped; in Tikrit there was a roadside bombing with no injuries or deaths and a home invasion (Bassim Jassim's home) resulted in 2 women being shot dead as well as "a child less then 5 months old" being shot dead and one other person (unidentified by age or gender). And let's repeat that, 26 corpses were discovered. (And, though there wasn't time to note in the first entry today or yesterday, Kirk Semple has been noting the count for corpses discovered in the New York Times and deserves credit for that -- especially considering how often the count has been an undercount each morning.)

On the attempted assassination of Salam al-Zobaie, Iraq's deputy prime minister, Leila Fadel and Mohammed al-Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) report:

The man believed to be behind the attack on al-Zobaie was a personal guard, Waheb al-Dulaimy, from the troubled Sunni neighborhood of Adhamiyah, said Omar Abd al-Saytar, a leading legislator from the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party.

In the snapshot, I noted that Al Jazeera's English broadcast had mentioned that the assassin was thought to be a guard of al-Zobaie's and a visitor wanted a link. That was a TV broadcast. It was near the top of the hour at 10:00 PST. At some point, their web site may include video clips but it doesn't currently.

The e-mail address for this site is