Tuesday, August 04, 2009

US military belatedly announces another combat death

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Staff Sgt. Johnny R. Polk, 39, of Gulfport, Miss., died July 25 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Landstuhl, Germany, of wounds suffered when his vehicle was struck by an anti-tank grenade on July 23 in Kirkuk, Iraq.
He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.
For more information on this soldier, media may contact the Fort Hood public affairs office at (254) 287-9993; after hours (254) 291-2591.

The Department of Defense made that announcement yesterday. Guess what? Solo National Forces (it's not MN-F anymore) forgot to announce that. And the reporters playing stupid -- it was playing, right -- with their damn embarrassing "only" X dead stories (I guess it's "only" when it's not them or their loved ones) didn't know what the hell they were talking about. As usual.

Click here
and you'll see ICCC hasn't yet seen the DoD release from late yesterday and still has 7 dead in Iraq. Johnny Polk died July 25th. And the US government didn't have 'time' to announce his death until August 3rd?

Didn't have time or really needed that wave of Operation Happy Talk that they knew the compliant and shameful press would provide?

July 25th and you're only finding out about in August. Mike Tharp, you want to take that one? You want to write another feel-good column? Didn't think so.

Dead from wounds received from an attack in Kirkuk. Doesn't fit with the happy talk does it? Reality rarely does.

4329 is the total number of US service members who have died in Iraq since the start of the war when you include Polk. Maybe DoD's sitting on other announcements? Who knows?

The Killeen Daily Herald informs that Polk's full name is Johnny Roosevelt Polk and that he enlisted in March 1992, deployed to Iraq at the start of the year and his "awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon and the Overseas Service Ribbon."

For USA Today, Gregg Zoroya (link has text and video) reports
on the effects the deployments are having on families:

If military families are quietly "coming apart at the seams," as the wife of the Army's top soldier told Congress in June, the evidence is here in the dining room of Army Capt. Mark Flitton and his wife, Lynn.
Their oldest child, Scott, 15, stormed into this room early this year after an argument with his father, asking why his mother ever married "that man." It was here in March where the couple first discussed divorce.
In July, Mark and Lynn explained at the dining room table how they live together now only on a superficial level, driven apart by back-to-back combat deployments and marking days until he goes back to war in Iraq next year.
"I haven't come home yet," admits Mark, 46, who during the past 10 years has spent a cumulative 36 months away in three separate tours. "I'm still in the war mode, and I don't know that I'm going to come out of it until I know I don't have any more war rotations to go back on."

And we'll drop back to Friday's snapshot to note NPR's The Diane Rehm Show when Mary called in to share her story:

Hi there. As a matter of fact, that's exactly what I was calling about. My husband is currently on his fourth tour in Iraq which is his fifth deployment in six years. As a matter of fact, he's physically lived at home six months since 2001. There's -- there's two reasons I think why the high suicide rate You have these up tempo deployments. When someone comes back from being deployed in Iraq you have what's called a honeymoon period and it might be a month or several months where everyone's happy to see you and every thing's going fine and then the cracks start to show a little bit the stress that every body's been under -- whether it's the normal stress or maybe PTSD. But by the time that starts to rear it's head, they're back for another deployment again and so those issues don't get addressed. And I live in fear for when my husband is home permanently and I know for certain that we're going to have to address that. My husband told me once a story when they were in Iraq, in a combat mission. There was a young gentlemen, maybe 19, scared to death to go out -- understandably. And he was out maybe thirty minutes and they got hit by an IED. He was absolutely terrified and the next day he had to go back out on another mission. And he did not want to go and he had to. And I asked my husband what do you do in those circumstances? And my husband said "Charley Mike" which is an acronym for CM and it means continue mission. That is the most important thing is you continue the mission and you don't stop until it's complete and then you look back and maybe try to figure out what's wrong with these poor people. The -- I don't care what any senior officials say -- the mental health is abysmal in the military. It's frowned upon, there's not enough services. Also I think because the rest -- only the military is at war and the rest of the country is not, there's not -- there's a big disconnect there and I think that adds to the situation. My husband is proud to do his service. He's happy to be there so many other fathers don't have to be. But he would like at least some acknowledgment and recognition. When you turn on the TV and very little is talked about.

"He's physically lived at home for six months since 2001."

Why? What's being accomplished. We've noted Iraq's efforts to censor books last month and there's more on that we'll get to in a second but they're also lying and refusing to follow the Constitution. Ahmed Janabi (Aljazeera) reports:

Haroun Mohamed, an Iraqi political activist and columnist, says: "The main issue lies in the constitution. Kurds and leading political entities have contributed to this constitution, they wanted [it to be] vague and confusing.
"The problem now is each one of the two parties reads the constitution from the angle that suits him and insists that his reading is the right one.
"What makes things even more complicated [is that] there is no national and independent constitutional body to settle the disagreement; even the constitutional court [is] set up on a quota basis, which means there is always a judge [who] would disapprove any resolution [that is] not in his party's favour."

Is that the new talking point? So Nouri's boosters are just going to try to lie their way out?

The 2005 Constitution is very clear on what happens. A census and referendum are held in Kirkuk to determine it's fate. You can lie all you want, but that's what the Constitution says and that's always said that. And Nouri's agreed repeatedly that it said that. He agreed it said that when he physically signed off on the 2007 White House bench marks. And for those who need more background . . .

To the Editor:
Re "Defiant Kurds Claim Oil, Gas and Territory" (front page, July 10):
The Iraqi Constitution, specifically Article 140, requires a vote by referendum to resolve Iraq's disputed territories. To cast this as a "threat" is unfair. The Iraqi Kurds are simply trying to carry out the constitutionally mandated referendum.
Furthermore, the Iraqi Kurds are not defying Baghdad in formulating a regional constitution; they are embracing their right to create such a document, which is allowed in the Iraqi Constitution.
The Kurds, who represent the most stable and progressive element of Iraq, have made it clear that they desire to be a part of a united Iraqi nation.
To allow for a responsible and phased withdrawal of American forces from Iraq, which is the stated policy of the Obama administration, several issues must first be resolved, the most important of which is that of the disputed territories. Only then will a stable and united Iraq be able to thrive.
Jay Garner
Erbil, Iraq, July 10, 2009

The writer, a retired lieutenant general in the Army, was director of the Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance for Iraq in 2003.

Jay Garner knows what the Iraqi Constitution says. The whole world knows and people can pretend all they want but it says what it says. And it's very telling that the Iraqi government wants to not only ignore the Constitution but also to lie about it. Doesn't inspire a great deal of trust. But neither does Timothy Williams' report in the New York Times:

The doors of the communications revolution were thrown open in Iraq after the American-led invasion in 2003: In rushed a wave of music videos featuring scantily clad Turkish singers, Web sites recruiting suicide bombers, racy Egyptian soap operas, pornography, romance novels, and American and Israeli news and entertainment sites that had long been blocked under Saddam Hussein's rule.
Now those doors may be shut again, at least partially, as the Iraqi government moves to ban sites deemed harmful to the public, to require Internet cafes to register with the authorities and to press publishers to censor books.
The government, which has been proceeding quietly on the new censorship laws, said prohibitions were necessary because material currently available in the country had had the effect of encouraging sectarian violence in the fragile democracy and of warping the minds of the young.

Freedom! Liberation! Democracy! Yeah, right. One more reason the US troops need to be withdrawn immediately. It would have been smart for Williams to include the attacks on the press but the Times still hasn't reported on this.

When Kurdistan was holding elections, the press was meeting with the judiciary about the problems they face. A draft law has been proposed and -- supposedly yea! -- it will provide a few pennies to the families of Iraqi journalists killed in Iraq. The pennies are a disguise. The law actually exists to control the press. It requires that they sign off to note reporting on anything that might 'endanger' Iraq's 'security'. The pennies are the sugar coating which attempts to sell this latest attempt to legislate censorship.

Again, the New York Times should have included that in their report today. However, they have never reported on this draft law. We've mentioned it here but the day of the Saturday elections in Kurdistan, we were focused on that (and I don't do that much here on the weekends). But we've mentioned it and we've explained it. News consumers who count on US outlets have never heard of the draft law.

Danny Schechter's News Dissector blog is back up. Since we're noting media criticism, Bob Somerby owned the month of July for domestic media criticism. It's always puzzling why people like Danny never link to Bob.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com. And, PS, IMPORTANT ONE, Dona asked me to note that the address is for people writing about things up at this site. Translation, STOP WRITING THE PUBLIC ACCOUNT TO COMPLAIN ABOUT WHAT YOU READ ELSEWHERE.

It's a waste of time because I really don't read the bulk of the e-mails to the public account but other people do and it wastes their time. Dona is really ticked off that someone has a problem with something at Third -- that a blogger has a problem with something at Third -- and instead of taking it there, is writing me about it. I am not responsible for what anyone else says in a roundtable and you look like a two-year-old rushing to tattle when you e-mail me about what someone else said. I long ago made clear I wasn't interested in that crap. I've told Dona she can delete and mark that sender as blocked so we don't have to deal with them anymore.

The public account is where you can sound off about some opinion I've expressed, where you can ask that something gets covered, etc. You can also use it to write Kat, Ruth and Isaiah. (And you should put their names in the e-mail because that post that's seven months old but you just read yesterday is not something that other people will instantly know what you're talking about.) The public e-mail account is not where you rush to flaunt your immaturity and whine, "___ said something mean about me!" I'm not your Mommy. You're a grown adult, you need to act like one. Step one, stop trying to drag other people into your problems with someone else. Dona, Jim, Jess, Martha, Shirley, Eli and Beth are going through the e-mails at the public account and they don't have time for this nonsense. Ava and I hit them for about thirty to forty minutes each morning, Monday through Friday, and Sunday night I try to read as many as I can. None of us have time for you to misuse the public account. And P.S.S. If I've stayed out of something, I've done so to be nice. You bring me in, you won't be happy with my response because I will always stand with the community.