Friday, January 29, 2010

The US military announces another death

AP reports 1 US service member has died in Iraq. The announcement brings to 4375 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war. (ICCC hasn't updated to 4375 yet, they should later in the day.)

Now to the topic of accountability. Sometimes Barack's nominees are blocked because they're just bad. Or even hideous. Take Joseph Taluto.

The general was nominated in May 2009, by Barry O, for both the director of Army National Guard and for three-star Lieutenant General. Yesterday, New York Governor David Paterson's office released a statement that the still unconfirmed nominee had decided to retire.

What's going on? The answer is in Siobhan Esposito's "Fragging Widow Applauds General's Withdrawal to Serve as Director of the Army National Guard" (Siobhan Esposito's Blog):

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Alexandria, VA -- Siobhan Esposito, the widow of Army Captain Phillip Esposito who was murdered alongside 1st Lieutenant Louis Allen in Iraq in 2005 applauds Major General Joseph Taluto's unprecedented decision yesterday to ask for the withdrawal of his nomination to serve as Director of the National Guard. Taluto's withdrawal is due to an investigation Mrs. Esposito instigated examining Taluto's failed leadership as commander of the 42nd Infantry Division of the New York National Guard -- a failure Esposito believes directly contributed to the murder of her late husband and the acquittal of his killer.

"Gen. Taluto's withdrawal and retirement," says Esposito, "made before the special Army report investigating his role in my late husband's death was publicly released is vindication of my call for the Army to properly address the unforgivable lack of military discipline that led to my husband's murder."

"Two American heroes like my husband and Louis Allen cannot be murdered in cold blood without those responsible being held to account for it," says Esposito. "I believe Alberto Martinez murdered my husband, but it was the Army's lax standards that gave him license to do it and then get away with his crime."

"The Army must learn from these needless and preventable deaths, punish those responsible for them and reform its standards or there will be more deaths like my husband's and Lt. Allen's in the future," says Esposito. "Had the Army learned from its mistakes surrounding my husband's murder, I hold that its leaders could have prevented further tragedies such as the horrific massacre of soldiers at Fort Hood."

"I am deeply indebted to Senator Jim Webb for his leadership in support of my quest," says Esposito. "His willingness to support my call for an investigation of General Taluto's conduct helped me and my young daughter secure the first iota of accountability since my husband was murdered in 2005."

"No soldier should ever fear his comrades -- least of all when there are clear warning signs that demand action," says Esposito. "My act of justice to the memory of my husband will be to fight for reform until the mistakes that lead to the preventable deaths of our soldiers are corrected."

We've noted the murders before, the last time on February 21, 2009:

December 4, 2008, Alberto B. Martinez was aquitted in the murders of Lou Allen and Phillip Esposito causing widow Barbara Allen to exclaim as the verdict was announced, "He slaughtered our husbands, and that's it? You murdered my husband!" Today Paul von Zielbauer reports on the April 3, 2006 confession Martinez signed as part of a plea agreement: "This offer to plea orginated with me. No person has made any attempt to force or coerce me into making this offer." The agreement was also signed by the same two attorneys who represented Martinez. Barbara Allen is quoted by von Zielbauer stating, "They had a conviction handed to them and chose not to take it." The plea would have meant life in prison. Georgetown law professor and former Marine judge Gary D. Solis tells von Zielbauer, "The only reason you should turn this down is if you have an absolutely bulletproof case. I can't imagine why they didn't take it. You've got life in prison in hand."

So how did Taluto get nominated? Who's doing the vetting? He never should have been nominated. Even allowing for his having done his job and done it well with no cover up, the White House should have known there were two grieving families and they would not just be sitting by passively. If the White House has problems getting nominees confirmed -- and they do -- a lot of that is on them because they do not do a proper job of vetting their nominees (which is how you get the tax cheats and someone like Van Jones who is a nightmare for an administration falsely called Communist and Socialist). Dennis Yusko (Albany Times Union) reports on the news here.

While we're on the subject of appointees, Ray Mabus, Jr.

Who is he? He's who a number are e-mailing about. From yesterday's snapshot:

Ranking Member Richard Burr: Today as we sit here getting ready for this markup, even though under US Code 42, statutorily the Secretary of the Navy is obligated to pay for the studies required to understand the health and mortality effects of this exposure, the Secretary of the Navy refuses to fund the CDC's arm at ASTDR that is obligated entity to go out and share with the country their scientific conclusion. Let me say that again: The Secretary of the Navy has refused to fund -- even though the law says he has to. So for me in good conscience to turn this over to the Dept of Defense to determine the scope of coverage for these individuals is insane. If the outcome of this vote is pre-determined, then so be it. I would hate for members to leave the markup today and believe that they will not revisit this issue. It will be revisited time and time and time again until the Congress recognizes that maybe the Dept of Defense, maybe the Secretary of the Navy can hide but the Congress can't hide from these people. These are people we represent. These are people that have asked us to come here and represent their interests, their health concerns, their future and I can't hide from them.

Ray Mabus is the Secretary of Navy and took office June 18, 2009. He is the one Burr was referring to and, as Wally noted last night filling in for Rebecca, after Burr's remarks quoted above (long after, end of the hearing) it was noted by other senators on the Veterans Affairs Committee that Mabus' non-compliance should be referred to Carl Levin and John McCain who are the Chair and the Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee.

The following community websites updated last night:

If you're e-mailing to have something highlighted, it may or may not be. I'm following Blair's testimony right now -- see next entry -- while juggling three cell phones (friends following the Inquiry). And that's my focus this morning.

We'll close with this from Sherwood Ross' "HISTORIAN ZINN SAID 'LARGEST LIE'
" (Public Record):

The “largest lie,” wrote hisorian Howard Zinn who died yesterday at age 87, is that “everything the United States does is to be pardoned because we are engaged in a ‘war on terrorism.’”
“This ignores the fact that war is itself terrorism, that the barging into people’s homes and taking away family members and subjecting them to torture, that is terrorism, that invading and bombing other countries does not give us more security but less security.”
In an article published previously in “The Long Term View” magazine of the Massachusetts School of Law, Zinn said that in the Fallujah area of Iraq Knight Ridder reporters found there was no Ba’athist or Sunni conspiracy against the U.S., “only people ready to fight because their relatives had been hurt or killed, or they themselves had been humiliated by home searches and road stops.”
Zinn, popularly known as the people’s historian, pointed out that the U.S. may have liberated Iraq from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein but afterwards it became Iraq’s occupier. He noted this is the same fate that befell Cuba after the U.S. liberated it from Spain in 1898. In both nations, the U.S. established military bases and U.S. corporations moved in to profit from the upheaval.

And I lied, I just saw Pru had e-mailed to note this from Great Britian's Socialist Worker:

Blair and Brown have blood on their hands

The real legacy of the war in Iraq has been exposed this week.

This, together with the appearance of Tony Blair in front of the Chilcot inquiry, has reignited anger over the Iraq war.

Many people are rightly sceptical about the outcome of Blair’s hearing—it will not be the grilling the majority wants. But the lies and horror of the war continue to seep out.

An official Iraqi study found more than 40 sites across the country were contaminated with high levels of radiation and toxins.

These are the result of the use of depleted uranium shells by US and British forces in Iraq.

Iraq’s energy resources continue to be sold off. The Iraqi government has signed a deal with oil giants Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell PLC to develop a major oil field in the south of the country.

This gives ownership of the oil fields to the companies for 20 years. There are an estimated 8.6 billion barrels of oil in West Qurna.

The oil giants will pay the Iraqi government $1.90 for each barrel of oil they extract. But when this is refined and sold on the world market it will fetch $78 a barrel at present prices.

George Bush and Blair’s war has left a trail of destruction. There are 4.5 million Iraqi refugees inside and outside the country. Electricity supplies have dropped dramatically in Baghdad.

In 2008, 61 percent of Iraqis said that they believed that the US military presence made the security situation worse. Many want the occupiers out of their country as soon as possible.

The price for the Iraq war has been paid by the one million killed—the estimate of the most credible surveys. Blair is responsible for this—and Gordon Brown signed the cheques.

On Monday at least 36 people died in coordinated suicide bomb attacks in Baghdad and in shoot-outs between security forces.

The police threat to impose a ring of steel around the Chilcot inquiry on Friday when Blair appears is another attempt to protect the guilty.

Undaunted the Stop the War Coalition organised a whole day of events outside the inquiry. They include a protest in the morning, then speeches, performances and music throughout the day.

A naming of some of the many war dead was also to be held. Those reading the names included members of Military Families Against the War, who have lost loved ones in Blair’s wars.

The Iraqi people deserve a voice in this inquiry, to tell their side of the story.

As they have been deprived of this right, it is the role of the anti-war movement to make Blair’s appearance a nightmare.

The following should be read alongside this article:
» Tony Blair is guilty of mass murder
» Afghanistan: London conference will not stabilise the 'good war' gone bad
» Chilcot whitewash brings out the dirt
» Attempt to ban protest outside Tony Blair’s appearance at Iraq inquiry
» Protesters greet warmongers’ London Afghanistan conference
» Army drops several major charges against Joe Glenton
» Tony Blair’s judgement day starts at Chilcot inquiry

© Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original.

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