Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The fallen

LANSING - Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today ordered United States flags throughout the state of Michigan and on Michigan waters lowered for one day on Wednesday, July 8, 2009, in honor of Staff Sgt. Timothy A. David of Gladwin, who died June 28 in Sadr City, Iraq, while on active duty supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Flags should return to full-staff on Thursday, July 9.
Staff Sgt. David, age 28, died from injuries sustained earlier in Baghdad, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.
This was Staff Sgt. David's 6th tour of duty, having previously served twice in Afghanistan and was completing his 4th tour of duty in Iraq. Funeral services will be held at Beaverton High School in Beaverton, Michigan, on Wednesday with burial in St. Andrews Cemetery in Saginaw. He was the son of Michael and Linda David of Beaverton.
Under Section 7 of Chapter 1 of Title 4 of the United States Code, 4 USC 7, Governor Granholm, in December 2003, issued a proclamation requiring United States flags lowered to half-staff throughout the state of Michigan and on Michigan waters to honor Michigan servicemen and servicewomen killed in the line of duty. Procedures for flag lowering were detailed by Governor Granholm in Executive Order 2006-10 and included in federal law under the Army Specialist Joseph P. Micks Federal Flag Code Amendment Act of 2007 (Public Law 110-41).
When flown at half-staff or half-mast, the United States flag should be hoisted first to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff or half-mast position. The flag should again be raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day.
When a member of the armed services from Michigan is killed in action, the governor will issue a press release with information about the individual(s) and the day that has been designated for flags to be lowered in his or her honor. The information will also be posted on Governor Granholm's Website at in the section titled "Spotlight."

The above is "Flags to be Flown Half-Staff Wednesday for Staff Sgt. Timothy A. David of Gladwin," issued by the Office of (Michigan) Governor Jennifer Granholm. Timothy David was on his fourth tour of duty in Iraq (he'd also served two tours in Afghanistan). The Defense Dept noted last month, "Staff Sgt. Timothy A. David, 28, of Gladwin, Mich., died June 28 in Sadr City, Iraq, of wounds suffered earlier in Baghdad, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas." Edward Kramer, Roger Adams, Juan Baldeosingh and Robert Bittiker were killed in Iraq last week. Kramer is the subject of the Wilmington Star News' "Editorial: Sgt. 1st Class Kramer put service first:"

Kramer, 39, of Wilmington, will be counted among 15 N.C. National Guard members killed since 9/11. He and three other guardsmen were killed in Baghdad on the day that U.S. combat forces were turning over security of Iraqi cities to the Iraqi military.
The day marked a turning point in the U.S. occupation of Iraq, and was a date anticipated by many Americans who either felt that the war was unjustified or that it had accomplished as much as it could. Much of the conflict in Iraq cannot be solved by outside forces, but only by the Iraqi people.
Yet the deaths of Kramer, Spc. Robert L. Bittiker and Sgt. Roger L. Adams Jr., both of Jacksonville, and Juan C. Baldeosingh of Newport are a grim reminder of the dangers that still face our remaining troops in Iraq, and for forces in or headed for Afghanistan.
Kramer leaves behind a wife and two daughters who may be too young to understand the political complexities that lead nations to go to war. They are grieving the loss of their father, whose love no doubt meant more to them than any professional role he played. But they will grow up knowing that their dad gave his life doing a job he felt called to do, in service of his country.

The Raleigh News & Observer editorializes on the deaths in "Four of the brave:"

A war that is said to be "winding down" isn't winding down at all for those who remain in the middle of it. The N.C. Guard knows that well. It has lost 15 troops there since the Iraq war began in 2003. A strong military presence in North Carolina, with multiple bases, brings pride to the state, and in times of war, a keen and painful shared sense of what it takes to fight. (In 2004, the 30th was the first major National Guard unit in the country to be sent to Iraq. It lost five soldiers on that tour. And just this past May, three died because of a suicide bomber.)
For the families of those in action, and all who know them and all who admire them, a war is not gauged merely by victory. It is about wives and children left behind, about all the good times shared, and all those that will never be shared.

Laura Phelps (WNCT) notes that Edward Kramer's funeral is tomorrow, ten in the morning "at St. Mark Catholic Church in Wilmington." Meanwhile Michael Winter (USA Today) notes that Sgt Joseph Bozicevich "stands accused of shooting Staff Sgt. Darris Dawson and Sgt. Wesley Durbin". AP explains he's to be court-martialed. WTOC explains, "After hearing testimony from witnesses, Maj. Gen. Tony Cuculo made the decision to send Sgt. Joseph Bozicevich to general court martial." AP reveals no date has yet been announced for the court-martial. In September of 2008, Cal Perry (CNN) reported:

Darryl Mathis waits in his Pensacola, Florida, home for the body of his 24-year-old son to return home from Iraq. Mathis, a military veteran himself, was seething with anger Thursday as he spoke about the death of Army Staff Sgt. Darris J. Dawson.
Dawson and Sgt. Wesley Durbin, 26, are said to have been shot and killed by another U.S. soldier on Sunday at a base south of Baghdad.
Darryl and his wife, Maxine (Dawson's stepmother), say the military has told them nothing about the incident: no details on his death, no information at all.
His voice shakes as he says he believes that the military has let him down.
"I'm very disappointed -- very," he said. "If I would get a straight answer, if they would actually tell me what's going on, I would have something to work on; but right now, I have nothing to work on. Everything I'm getting, I'm getting from the media."

Also in September 2008, Gina Cavallaro (Army Times) reported:

The incident took place at a joint security station in Jurf as Sakhr, a town about 15 miles southwest of Baghdad on the Euphrates River, where soldiers with A Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, were on duty.
The two soldiers killed were identified as Staff Sgt. Darris J. Dawson, 24, of Pensacola, Fla., a squad leader, and Sgt. Wesley R. Durbin, 26, of Hurst, Texas, a fellow team leader.
The soldier who allegedly shot them was in Dawson's squad. The Army refused to identify him pending the filing of charges.
"As best we can determine at this time, the staff sergeant and sergeant went in to talk to the individual, whose performance was lacking. As the counseling session developed, that's when the shooting happened," division Chief of Staff Col. Terry Ferrell told Army Times on Sept. 19.

Tessa Savoy (NBC15 -- link has text and video) reported on Darris Dawson's funeral service and noted that he was known as "Smoke" by those he played basketball with ("because he was unbeatable") and those he served with. Joe Simnacher (Dallas Morning News) reported last year on Wesley Durbin:

He joined the Marines in June 2001, when he was 18 years old, shortly after graduating from Lutheran High School in Dallas. The honor student turned down a $5,000 academic scholarship that could have been repeated for up to five years at Concordia University in Nebraska. Instead, he chose to serve his country.
[. . .]
"He decided he was a soldier all around, so he went back into the Army," said his wife, Brandi Durbin of Springfield, Ga. "He had wanted to go into the Army and see if it was the same experience for him as the Marines.
"He wanted to take his expertise and give it where it needed to be given," Mrs. Durbin said.

Yesterday's snapshot covered the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing and Kat covered it at her site last night. The best witness was Retired Admiral John D. Hutson and we noted some of his remarks yesterday. His opening statement [PDF format warning] is now posted online by the committee and we'll note it in full:

I am the Dean and President of the Franklin Pierce Law Center. I served as a Judge
Advocate in the United States Navy from 1973‐2000 and as the Judge Advocate
General of the Navy from 1997‐2000. I am very aware of the honor and privilege of
testifying before this Committee on the matter of military commissions. I thank the Committee for this opportunity.
Even greater than democracy itself, the greatest export of all from the United States is Justice. Daniel Webster once said, "Justice, Sir, is the greatest interest of man on earth. It's the ligament which holds civilized beings and civilized nations together."
But Justice is fragile and easily disparaged. It must be nurtured and handled with
great care.
I was an early and ardent supporter of military commissions. Initially, I was drawn to their historical precedents and, more importantly, I was confident that the United States Armed Forces could and would conduct fair trials even of reprehensible defendants. My own experience gained during 28 years in the Navy and our long history of providing due process while trying our own military personnel in courtsmartial gave me this confidence.
Unfortunately, as it turned out, the commissions that were created did not live up to the traditions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Predictably, they became a significant distraction for the military. I hasten to add that this was in spite of the stalwart, honorable effort of many, many military personnel themselves. Indeed, that is one of the great tragedies of this saga, and largely makes one of the points that I wish to underline.
The primary role of the military is to fight and win our Nation's wars or, stated more precisely, to provide the time and space necessary for real solutions -- economic, cultural, social, religious -- to take place. Prosecution of miscreants is an occasionally necessary sidebar to that mission but shouldn’t distract from it. We have the UCMJ and the military court‐martial system to expedite the legitimate role of the military, not interfere with it.
If a sailor on a ship is alleged to have committed a crime, we must expeditiously and fairly resolve that problem. Otherwise, it can fester and interfere with unit cohesion and impede an effective fighting force. The UCMJ and the Manual for Courts Martial serve that purpose alone. They solve problems for the armed forces; not create them. Our recent history with military commissions has been the opposite. I've come to realize that even a perfect commission regime would be a distraction for the military. It's simply not part of its mission. I am very concerned when the military is called upon to perform functions outside of its core mission even when I'm confident that it can do it well. Preserving and ensuring justice in the United States is the primary mission of the Department of Justice, not the Department of Defense.
If there will be criticism of our prosecution of alleged terrorists—and there will
be -- the Department of Justice and the U. S. Federal Court system are equipped to
deal with that criticism. Indeed, it is part of their responsibility to face it, address it, and resolve it.
Notably, the criticism will come not only critics outside the judicial process such as the media, foreign allies and enemies, and domestic commentators but also from the legitimate appeal process. Some of the criticism may actually be justified or, at least, defensible. There is no reason in law or logic for the military to be the target of that.
Convictions from military commissions will be appealed until Dooms Day just
because of the forum of the conviction. Federal courts are impervious to that.
It is decidedly not the responsibility of the Department of Defense or the U.S.
military to deal with criticism of such prosecutions. It would, in fact, be detrimental to the military mission. There are valid and important reasons why our military is the most highly respected institution in America. One of them certainly is that the military limits itself to its mission and performs that mission very well. Taking on duties outside of that core mission on an ongoing basis will surely undermine the public's confidence in the military…and divert important resources, human and otherwise, from that mission in order to take on the new one.
We already have proof of this. Besides being a distraction to the vital mission of
DoD, military commissions have, to a large extent, become a discredit in spite of the valiant and highly credible efforts of many, many people in uniform. Rather than showcasing the military justice system of which we all are justifiably proud,
commissions represent something else entirely. They have not worked often or
well. "Fixing" them would help, but won't eliminate undeserved but inevitable
On the other hand, during the same period, U.S. District Courts have successfully
prosecuted literally hundreds of terrorists who now reside in Federal prisons
around the country, keeping all Americans safer. Federal courts, including judges,
prosecutors, marshals, and other court personnel have decades of experience in
these cases. They have developed a justifiable and universally held reputation for
fairness, and consequently, they are largely immune to criticism.
There is also now a large body of law that has been developed over the years in the
Federal court system. It would take an equal number of cases and decades of trials
for DoD to match the Federal precedent contained in the Federal Reporters.
Military judges, prosecutors, and defense counsel rotate out of one assignment into another every three years or so. Without significant changes to longstanding DoD personnel policy, none of them will ever, ever gain the experience in these cases that is enjoyed by scores of their civilian federal counterparts. We could do that, we could change longstanding DoD personnel policy but again, if we did we would have the tail of terrorist prosecutions wagging the warfighting dog.
It is not only unnecessary, it is inappropriate for DoD to operate a system of justice in parallel to DoJ. The UCMJ and the courts‐martial it creates are absolutely necessary to ensure our effective fighting force. But for some of the same reasons that the Posse Comitatus Act prevents the military from enforcing laws against U.S. civilians, we should resist the temptation of using the military to prosecute foreign criminals when DoJ can perform that critical function quite well.
Let us not forget, these are not legitimate warfighters. They are common criminals.
They are thugs, cowards who target innocent civilians. We should treat them as
such and not elevate their status to that of legitimate enemies. They don’t belong in the same category as Major Andre or the German saboteurs.
We don't ask DoJ to fight wars. We shouldn't ask DoD to prosecute terrorists.
If the point of this exercise is to create a court system that will ensure convictions of alleged terrorists against whom we don't have sufficient admissible evidence, then we have missed the point. You can’t have a legitimate court unless you are willing to risk an acquittal. If you aren't willing to accept the possibility that a jury will acquit the accused based on the evidence fairly presented, then it isn’t really a court. It's a charade.
The corollary to that is that you can't have a real court if the rules of evidence and procedure are so stacked against the defendant that he has no real chance to
present his case or defend against the government's case. The admissible evidence
against him based on the facts may be so overwhelming that conviction is assured
but that must be the consequence of facts, not rules of evidence tilted in favor of the prosecution.
Over the years, federal courts have displayed remarkable ingenuity, flexibility, and resourcefulness in prosecuting terrorists. The Federal Rules of Evidence and
Procedure are sufficiently adaptable to accommodate the vagaries of trying those
individuals who are captured overseas by military personnel in the midst of
performing military operations. I believe the image of the "strategic corporal"
having to give Miranda warnings after risking his life to break into the bunker is a
red herring.
If you as members of this Committee believe or suspect that the Federal Rule of
Evidence or the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure should be amended to
accommodate certain cases and situations, it is preferable to superimpose modest
new rules on an extant, tried and true judicial system than to create a whole new
system -- particularly in light of recent efforts.
It might be wise to set up a task force of experienced judges, prosecutors, and
defense counsel to make recommendations to Congress in this regard.
However, if we create yet another military commission system that "contains all the judicial guarantees considered to be indispensible by all civilized peoples" as
required by Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, then we have essentially
duplicated our own Federal courts. There is no logical reason to create a system
that mirrors one already in existence and is functioning so well. We should strive
for the minimum change necessary to accomplish the purpose, not a wholesale
change to an already effectively functioning system.
Clearly and undeniably, the Administration and this Committee are dedicated to
untying this Gordian knot in a way that serves the very best interest of the country.
We are now operating under the Military Commission Act of 2006 which many find
to be badly flawed. I very much respect and admire your effort to improve it. My
recommendation, however, is to repeal it rather than improve it. In the process, I
urge you to express this body's preference to prosecute alleged terrorists in federal court and thereby demonstrate to the world, friend and foe alike, what kind of Justice the United States wishes to export.

The New York Times has nothing from Iraq this morning* (again) and nothing but smut and sexism (again). The front page is the best example but you can find it throughout (including in the food section -- Frank Bruni, "polarizing" would be your own paper, not a woman). But especially note the front page of the so-called news section and ask who they're catering to?

Matt Richtel probes the very pressing issue of . . . porno films. The economy means 'less dialogue.' That doesn't even cut it as a humor item, let alone as news. But don't we all feel a little filthier for the garbage? We're not done. David Leonhardt appears on the front page to tell you that proposed health care reform can be measured by . . . how it addresses prostate cancer.

For those not in the know, not a cancer which afflicts women. So women learn from today's front page that the smutty New York Times loves their porn and that the only way to measure health care success is by how it addresses the needs of men. Kind of the way the paper does?

It's smut, it's garbage, it's the New York Times. And wallowing in the cess pool as always (has she mistaken it for a hot tub) is Maureen Dowd with yet another gossip column passed off as commentary on the world we live in.

ADDED: Renee e-mailed and thought Rod Nordland's article wasn't being counted because it was a notebook piece (meaning not a report). No, it wasn't being counted because I missed it. Three articles in a row of Barack will tend to do that. My mistake. My bad. Apologies to Nordland and thanks to Renee for catching it. The "journal" piece is entitled "Tracking Faraway Action In the Still of an Iraqi Base." It covers service members withdrawing from Anbar Province cities, specifically marines. It argues that the troops are now "baby-sitting" -- I don't disagree with that call. I do think there's more danger in that than Nordland either does or chooses to note. It's not a report and, on a good day, we wouldn't have noted it and I would've said "nothing" and it would have been correct (on a real news day we ignored Nordland's opinion piece last month that ran in Week In Review). But I'll be honest, I didn't see it. If I had seen it, since Alexandra Zavis was the only one remotely filing on Iraq this morning, we would have noted it.

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