Thursday, November 19, 2009

I Hate The War

Lietenant colonel Dominic "Rocky" Baragona was killed when his Humvee was hit by an out-of-control tractor-trailer from the Kuwaiti and Gulf Link Transport Company, which had been contracted by the United States government for work in the area.
His father, Dominic Baragona, said his son's death was not investigated until the family pursued the issue.

That's from WFMJ's "Father of valley soldier testifies before Congress." Lt Col Dominic Baragona was killed while serving in Iraq on May 19, 2003. His parents were in DC yesterday at a hearing. A visitor e-mailed about it this morning and I said we'd note it this evening. May 20, 2003, DoD announced: "The Department of Defense announced today that Lt. Col. Dominic R. Baragona, 42, of Ohio, was killed on May 19, in Iraq. A tractor-trailer jackknifed on the road and collided with Baragona's HMMWV causing his death. Baragona was assigned to 19th Maintenance Battalion, Fort Sill, Okla. The incident is under investigation." The investigation or 'investigation' did very little and the family had to be the force driving the search for truth and justice. David Goldstein (Kansas City Star) explains, "The family ran up against an Army investigation of the accident that didn’t include key details, among them the name of the company that owned the tractor-trailer, an interview with its driver or his identity. The Baragonas pushed for a second probe, which found the driver was at fault. But they have endured legal stonewalling and a by-the-book attitude from the military that members of the Senate panel said seemed strangely removed from any concern over the death of one of its own." Sabrina Eaton (Cleveland Plain Dealer) reports:

The Baragonas' lawsuit seeking damages from the Kuwait & Gulf Lines Transport was thrown out of court on the grounds that U.S. courts lack jurisdiction over foreign contractors. Baragona, who now lives in Florida, thinks that law should change so that U.S. citizens have legal recourse if they are harmed by foreign contractors employed by the U.S. government.
His years of lobbying congressional offices with his wife, Vilma, who baked brownies for the staffers they met, finally seems likely to bear fruit. Bills have been introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives that would subject foreign contractors to U.S. legal oversight.
On Wednesday, Baragona told the Senate Homeland Security Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight that the bill "will not bring us justice or peace, but it will ensure that no family of an American soldier will ever have to go through the hell that we have endured for over six years, thanks to KGL's inhuman silence."

The hearing was the Governmental Contracting Subcommittee of the Senate's Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Senator Claire McCaskill is the Chair of the Subcommittee and, if you click here, you can stream the hearing online. At some point, someone might need to start explaining why families have to fight for the truth. Every time the military's exposed in a cover up or denial, the brass says it was an error and never again. And anyone's who has lived beyond the current wars is fully aware that it's always again, over and over. It's not just stupid (though it is stupid, families will always be angrier about bad news if it's kept from them), it's also disrespectful. The military is supposed to value everyone who serves within its ranks and when they stonewall or outright law about how a service member died, it cheapens the institution and insults the memory of the fallen.

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

Last Thursday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 4362. Tonight? 4363.

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