Monday, August 24, 2009

The Beat of Black Wings

"They gave me a gun" he said
"They gave me a mission
For the power and the glory --
Propaganda -- piss on 'em
There's a war zone inside me --
I can feel things exploding --
I can't even hear the f**king music playing
For the beat of -- the beat of black wings."
[. . .]
"They want you -- they need you --
They train you to kill --
To be a pin on some map --
Some vicarious thrill --
The old hate the young
That's the whole heartless thing
The old pick the wars
We die in 'em
To the beat of -- the beat of black wings"
-- "The Beat of Black Wings," words and music by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her Chalk Mark In A Rainstorm. Friday's snapshot noted:

Today the US military announced that Staff Sgt Enoch Chatman, Staff Sgt Bob Clements, Sgt Jarrett Taylor and Spc Daniel Weber are all "charged with cruelty and maltreatment of subordinates . . . The four Soliders are alleged to have treated Soldiers within their platoon inappropriately." CNN states they are accused of "cruelty and maltreatment of four subordinates in Iraq after a suicide investigation brought to light alleged wrongdoing, the military said Friday." Michelle Tan (Army Times via USA Today) reports, "The alleged mistreatment consisted of verbal abuse, physical punishment and ridicule of the subordinate soldiers, Lt. Col. Kevin Olson, spokesman for Multi-National Division-South wrote in an e-mail to Army Times."

The soldier has been identifed as Keiffer Wilhelm. August 4th the US military announced: "A Soldier assigned to Multi-National Division - South died of a non-combat related injury August 4. The Soldier's name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin." The Department of Defense announced August 5th: " Pvt. Keiffer P. Wilhelm, 19, of Plymouth, Ohio, died August 4 in Maysan province, Iraq, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 13th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas. The circumstances surrounding the incident are under investigation." Andrew Kreighbaum (El Paso Times) reported August 6th, "Wilhelm, an infantryman from Plymouth, Ohio, enlisted in the army in December after graduating from Willard High School last year. His father, Adrian Wilhelm, said his son joined the Army to be like his older brother, who is in the U.S. Air Force. Adrian Wilhelm said Keiffer Wilhelm was the best man at his brother's wedding in Arizona on May 7 and was sent to Kuwait soon afterward. The wedding was the last time he saw his son." Today Chris Roberts (El Paso Times) reports:

"We believe this alleged abhorrent behavior was isolated to a single platoon," Maj. Myles Caggins, a spokesman for the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, wrote in an e-mail from Iraq.
Wilhelm, who died Aug. 4 of noncombat injuries, was in that platoon, Caggins said. Wilhelm joined the Army in December.
"There is no direct evidence that the alleged misconduct caused Pvt. Wilhelm's death," Caggins said.
The Army has not specified how Wilhelm died, declining to say if he was in an accident or killed by a self-inflicted wound.
But Wilhelm, 19, of Plymouth, Ohio, was abused by his "first-line supervisors," Sgt. Brandon LeFlore wrote in an email. He is a spokesman for Multi-National Division-South in Basra, Iraq.
Wilhelm's parents declined Friday to discuss specifics of the case when asked for comment by e-mail.
"We only want justice and to prevent this from happening to another family," they wrote to the El Paso Times.

The Defense Dept issued a statement Thursday:

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Spc. Matthew D. Hastings, 23, of Claremore, Okla., died Aug. 17 in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 582nd Medical Logistics Company, 1st Medical Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command, Fort Hood, Texas. The circumstances surrounding the incident are under investigation. For more information media may contact the Fort Hood public affairs office at (254) 287-9993; after hours (254) 287-2520; or via the internet at Fort Hood's news center online at .

Kevin Canfield (Tulsa World) reported on the death and quotes Hasting's mother Lawanda Lowry stating, "He was just an all-American kid. He was so proud to be in the Army and he was so proud to serve our country. [. . .] He called me when he was graduating from basic training and said, 'Mom, I have accomplished far more and greater things than I ever thought possible'." Saturday Manny Gamallo (Tulsa World) reported the family believes his death may have been a suicide and cited sister Michelle Brazil explaining that e-mails her brother sent to Kristy Moore (friend), Clark W. Hastings (grandfather) and herself "were basically the same. He said he couldn't take it anymore, and he was going to hang out with Clark tonight. [. . .] They were almost like twins. They wore the same clothes, had the same friends, did everything together." Clark was Matthew Hasting's brother who passed away.

From American soldiers to British ones, Danny Fitzsimons is facing a trial in Iraq and could be sentenced to death. He served in the British military for eight years and was stationed in Afghanistan and Kosovo. He is accused of being the shooter in a Green Zone incident this month in which 1 British contractor, Paul McGuigan, and 1 Australian contractor, Darren Hoare, died and one Iraqi, Arkhan Madhi, was injured. Eric and Liz Fitzsimons spoke to the BBC (link has video) and noted that they are not asking for Danny to 'walk.' They stated that he has to take responsibility. But they want a fair trial and do not believe that is possible in Iraq. His legal defense team doesn't believe he can get a fair trial either stating today that the British military's presence in Iraq during the war means that Fitzsimons will be used as scapegoat. The Sunday Mail quoted Danny Fitzsimons yesterday stating, I see Paul and Darren's faces every night before I sleep and every morning when I wake up." Jonathan Owen (Independent of London) quotes him describing his cell, "There's 12 of us sleeping on the floor; some are sharing – two to a mattress. The guys that are in here with me are a really good bunch, but the water gets turned off at odd hours and the electricity goes off. It could be a lot worse – I'm not complaining. [. . .] The only thing that gets me stressed out is the amount of people in here. It's quite loud. I like to be able to escape somewhere on my own but I can't. In the scheme of things I know that's trivial. I've got nothing to moan about -- this is as good as it gets here." The Manchester Evening News adds, "His British lawyer, John Tipple, is stepping up efforts to have him extradited to Britain under an unused provision in the Iraqi legal code that dates back to the 1930s." Tipple is quoted stating, "We are not going to let the British government hang him out to dry. He is a British national and the right place for him to be tried, if at all, is at home."

In today's Boston Globe, Bryan Bender reports on veterans of the Iraq War and Afghanistan War who are reluctant to participate in studies. Experts insist it's the stigma but it might just be the screw-you nature has gotten to them. For example, using a 'technique' tried out on grade school children as the 'answer' to PTSD? Insulting. Insulting and not applicable. That's when you stretch a field to the point that it breaks. When you're taking studies on unsuspecting children (raising a whole other set of issues) and attempt to apply it to the battlefield. In terms of logic, this would fall under the always ridiculed by the MSM inductive reasoning. But you didn't see anyone question it last week, did you? Of course not. When the goverment pimps it, the press waves cash.

Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Barack Speaks to the VFW" went up yesterday as did Kat's "Kat's Korner: John Fogerty rushes to country-lite" which is Kat's latest album review.

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joni mitchell