Friday, July 30, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Nancy A. Youssef continues to LIE about Bradley Manning, WikiLeaks' Julian Assange tells US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, "We will not be suppressed. We will continue to expose abuses of this administration and others," the Army releases a report on the increased number of suicides, and more.
Starting in the US, Elisabeth Bumiller (New York Times) reports, "At a time of record-high military suicides, commanders are ignoring the mental health problems of American soldiers and not winnowing out enough of those with records of substance abuse and crime, a United States Army report has concluded." The report is 234 pages of text entitled [PDF format warning] "ARMY: Health Promotion Risk Reduction Suicide Prevention REPORT 2010." The report opens with a note from Gen Peter W. Chiarelli which explains Fiscal Year 2009 saw 160 suicides among active duty soldiers and 239 suicides in the Army Reserves. Page i conveys that the Army wants to appear alarmed: "This is tragic!" It's very rare you encounter an exclamation point in a government report. So what has the Army been doing -- and the report covers only that branch of the military, the Army and Army reserves -- to address the problem?
Concrete steps taken by the Army may included the following (list is from page 126 of the report):
* June 2009, accessions waivers were reduced for adult felony (major misconduct) convictions; and drug/alcohol positive tests; misconduct (misdemeanor)/major misconduct for drug ues; possession; or drug paraphernalia, to include marijuana. This means over 4,000 recruits were not accepted into the Army compared to 2008.
* Revised legacy protocols for investigating and reporting suicide.
* Standardized a council at every post, camp and station to integrate all aspects of health promotion, risk reduction and suicide prevention into the community.
May? The list continues on subsequent pages and also insists that they have "Reduced the stigma associated with counseling services and maintained continuity of care by requiring all Soldiers to be in- and out-process through Behavior Health (BH), Social Work Services and ASAP." No, they haven't reduced the stigma.
And it's so stupid for them to continue to claim that. There are officers -- high-ranking ones -- who have sought counseling. They need to be encouraged to step forward and put a face on the issue. The stigma doesn't vanish from saying "There's nothing wrong with it."
over and over. The stigma vanishes when General Joe or Joanne Martin steps forward and says, "I went through a period where I was feeling really low. I couldn't understand that period or my mood, so I sought help. It made me a better soldier, it made me a better commander." That's what ends the stigma. When the enlisted can see that it helped someone high ranking and can see that there's no punishment or fall out for them seeking help. When a general stands up and makes such a statement, the thoughts no longer are a sign of 'weakness' but are natural thoughts that anyone could have and seeking help for them becomes a duty a soldier has to those he/she serves with and to his/her self. Until those in leadership start speaking out, serving as the Army's own personal PSA, nothing's going to change. And it's going to require men and women speaking out in the officers ranks because there are men and women serving. But it's especially going to require men coming forward because the stigma is there and 15 women generals, majors and lieutenants can come forward and it will not make a difference for a number of male soldiers because they will dismiss it with something like, "Well women are better in touch with their feelings."
The report does have objections and criticisms. Gen Peter Chiarelli shared with NPR last night that he feels that there are a number of factors at play including repeat deployments. He's probably correct on about the factors because the three he gave are interelated. Finances and family life and, if you're doing repeat deployments, you are limited in how far you can get ahead in a job that i not the US military due to the fact that you're constantly deployed. Constant deployments also affect your family. So the three are interrelated. And all three can wear on anyone and cause grief, shock, sadness, any number of emotions in the normal -- perfectly normal -- human range. The report focused on the Army. Today on Morning Edition (NPR -- link has text and audio), Wade Goodwyn reported on Mary Gallagher who has had to survive and live with her husband James Gallagher's decision to take his own life. James Gallagher was an Iraq War veterna, a Marine.
Mary Gallagher: Most Marines were not ones to really talk at all. Jim always said he'd placed it right in his heart and he said I'll carry it forward because that's what I have to do and that's how I'll get through it. I'm sure he saw a lot of ugly things, but I just don't know, you know, all the ugly he did see. [. . .] To me, he just seemed sad. You know, he was, you know, not quite himself but, you know, again -- I just had no idea that he was really struggling as bad as he was. And obviously he was struggling a lot. And that's the hardest part for me, you know? It's something I carry with myself every day -- that I didn't notice, that I didn't realize how much he was hurting.
Mary Gallagher is a member of Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) -- an organization for the loved ones of service members who have taken their own lives and which explains at their web site, "We are here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, whether it is just to talk, or meet others with shared experiences and understanding, or to find support and information from our professional network of resources."
From service members to veterans, we noted in yesterday's snapshot there was a press release from a Republican member of Congress but we didn't have room for it. Steve Buyer is from Indiana and serves on the House Veterans Affairs Committee where he is Ranking Member. His office released the following:
Continuing in his efforts to improve the lives of veterans and the Department of Veterans' Affairs, Congressman Steve Buyer (IN-04), Ranking Member of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, offered three amendments during the House consideration of the Military Construction and Veterans' Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (MILCON VA) on Wednesday. Congressman Buyer offered five amendments to the House Committee on Rules, though only three of the amendments were accepted by the committee. Of the Congressman's accepted amendments, the House passed all three by a voice vote.
The first amendment offered by Congressman Buyer would require that $10 million of the $2.6 billion appropriated for VA General Operating Expenses be used to increase the number of VA employees available to provided vocational training and rehabilitation to veterans with service-connected disabilities. The goal of VA's Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) program is to put disabled veterans back to work, or for the most severely disabled, to live as independently as possible.
The Congressman explained that the VA's counselors currently have an average caseload of over 130 disabled veterans. Because of the heavy workload which includes a significant amount of case management and regular interaction with their clients, the wait time for a disabled veteran to actually enter vocational training is nearly six months. That is on top of the average of the 6 months it takes to receive a disability rating needed to even become eligible for this benefit.
"The $10 million included in my amendment would fund one hundred additional professional level staff and reduce the caseload to a more manageable average of one hundred cases per counselor thereby shortening the time it takes for a veteran to begin their training. For many veterans and servicemembers VR&E training is the bridge to meaningful and productive employment," stated the Congressman.
The second amendment offered by the Congressman would require $162 million of the $508 million appropriated for VA construction of minor projects be used for renewable energy projects at the VA's medical facility campuses. Congressman Buyer for the past three years has worked with the Department to increase the VA's use of renewable energy. In 2009, the Congressman was responsible for securing funding to allow VA's renewable energy projects to continue in fiscal year 2010 -- and the amendment would continue this work.
"As the second largest Federal department operating the largest health care system in the nation, the VA is uniquely positioned to advance the use of alternative sources of energy," noted Buyer. "Savings accrued from an increased reliance on alternative energy, would allow additional resources to be devoted to improving the care and services offered to our veterans and reducing the rising budget deficit."
The last amendment offered by Congressman Buyer requires that $8 million of the $2.6 billion appropriated for VA General Operating Expenses be used to fund the adaptive sports grant program and that an additional $2 million be used to provide supplementary funding for the Office of National Veterans Sports Programs and Special Events. The Congressman notes the $10 million would be used to fund the second year of the VA/U.S. Paralympics Adaptive Sports Program for disabled veterans.
"Several years ago I had the opportunity to visit the U.S. Olympic training center in San Diego. I was inspired by the attitude and positive example of our Olympians that train there, which they continue to set for all Americans. It truly was a remarkable place, and as I have said before, I learned that there is never a 'bad' day at the Olympic training center," expressed Buyer.
The Congressman went on to explain the amendment's purpose, "The US Paralympic program establishes partnerships with local adaptive sports programs. US Paralympics currently has over 100 of these partnerships in place across the nation. These local programs submit a proposal describing how they intend to attract disabled veterans to their adaptive sports programs. The types of programs run the gamut of sports from track and field to marksmanship, water sports, volleyball, and wheelchair team games like basketball, soccer and rugby. In short, there is a sport for any disabled veteran. The US Paralympics then chooses the best proposals and submits a funding proposal to VA. My amendment would provide $10 million to fund the second year of a 4-year program."
That's the US Congress. Iraq really has no Congress currently. It's met once, for less than twenty minutes in that last four months with no plans to meet again anytime soon. What's going on? The political stalemate. March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. Three months and two days later, still no government. 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. It's four months and five days and, in 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's now 4 months and 23 days. Today Andrew England and Anna Fifield (Financial Times of London) report that a US diplomatic mission is planned for August -- by which point, the current nominee for US Ambassador to Baghdad, James Jeffrey, may have been confirmed.
In today's violence, Reuters reports a Baaj roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier last night and left three more injured while a Buhriz roadside bombing today targeted Sahwa and killed 4 family members. Asia News reports Yonan Daniel Mammo, a Chalean Christian, was kidnapped in Kirkuk as he left work: "After he was abducted, he called his wife by phone, saying that he had been taken. Since then, there have been no news from him. Many believe he was kidnapped for ransom."
Moving to the US, we'll note this exchange from the second hour of today's The Diane Rehm Show (NPR) with guest host Susan Page of USA Today.
Susan Page: You had Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, on the Today Show this morning, on NBC, saying -- imploring WikiLeaks not to post more of those documents from the Afghan War. What is the White House concern here, Nancy?
Nancy A. Youssef: Well WikiLeaks has said that it has an additional 50,000 documents that have yet to be published. These documents are believed to be State Dept cables and to be a little bit more detailed -- some would argue damaging -- than the 75,000 that have already come out. And I think the real concern is in the 75,000 that have been released so far there are names of Afghan informants and families who have come forward, who have done things as innocuous as handing over weapons to providing useful tips to American soldiers. The Taliban has said, through their spokesman, that they're going through those documents now and there's a real worry that those Afghans will be killed for-for working with the allies. And the reality is the US doesn't have the resources to protect these Afghans who are living in remote villages and parts where we might not have the right resources to give them the kind of protection that they need?
Before we deal with Nancy, let's deal with some facts. Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7th, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Philip Shenon (Daily Beast) reported last month that the US government is attempting to track down WikiLeaks' Julian Assange. This month, the military charged Manning. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported he had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." Manning has been convicted in the public square despite the fact that he's been convicted in no state and has made no public statements -- despite any claims otherwise, he has made no public statements.
Back to Nance. I thought Nancy Youssef was a member of the press. She's a member of the military now? What is that "we"? It certainly explains that piece of garbage explanation. A war is going on. WikiLeaks isn't enlisted. It's not its job to take sides. How stupid of Nancy to feel that "we" have a right to ask an independent body to do what is best for, presumably, "us." WikiLeaks exists to release information. There's nothing puzzling about it unless you're so simple-minded that you confuse yourself with the US military when you are allegedly a reporter. "We"?
Nancy went on to spread rumors about Bradley Manning again. We'll get to who he is in a moment. Nancy, the rumors from Iraq in 2006 were about you. Do we need to go into those? We can. We can treat them as fact if you like. There is a list. We can treat it as fact, if you like. I assumed it was jealousy on the part of your male colleagues but maybe it wasn't? Maybe we should WikiLeak your ass? What do you think, Nance?
Nancy A. Youssef: One of the key suspects of the leak is a Private by the name of Bradley Manning who has said that he leaked 287 documents to WikiLeaks, that he did it while humming to Lady Gaga's "Telephone."
Nancy, Bradley Manning has not said a damn thing. You need to quit lying. If you can't, you better believe that list floating around -- made by your male colleagues when you were in Iraq -- will be widely circulated. Repeating, I believed it was a lie by men jealous of your scoops. But if you're going to lie about Bradley Manning, if you're going to present rumors as truth, well we can turn the spotlight on your glass house, Nancy. Later in the program, Nancy Youssef won't "want to conjecture" about the military but she's more than happy to try and convict Bradley Manning despite the fact that he has thus far never spoken in public and has admitted to nothing that anyone's aware of.
Nancy's basing her 'Bradley said' on claims put forward by Felon and Drama Queen Adrian Lamo. Felon Lamo has trashed Bradley in public and launched a behind the scenes whisper campaign which the press should have walked the hell away from after the repeated press embarrassments of the 90s. But they're just as eager to convict as they were when they 'just knew' Richard Jewel was guilty. (He wasn't.) Ashley Fantz (CNN) is the latest to participate in backdoor gossip that is not passed on to the news consumer but which is influencing the way this story plays -- and check out the Joan Crawford-style portrait Lamo supplies CNN with.
While Manning is kept from the press -- and has just been transferred out of Kuwait to Virginia -- the government continues to attempt to sway public opinion and the press just goes along with it. Does no one remember innocent until proven guilty? Does no one remember that the press is supposed to be objective.
On the word of a deranged felon -- Adrian Lamo -- Bradley's been drug through the mud and the press has never stopped to question that nor has it bothered to point out to its audience that the government is trying the case in public while maintaining a lockdown on Bradley. They say whatever they want -- and the press runs with it as fact -- while Bradley Manning is not allowed to make any statement. This is justice? It's not reporting, that's damn sure, but it's also not justice.
Horton: Is it true that -- I guess there was a CNN report that said that WikiLeaks has received, I guess especially since the "Collateral Murder" video was published, a deluge of new high-level leaks from people inside the U.S. government?
Assange: Yes, that is true. And we are, as an organization, suffering, if you like, under this enormous backlog of material we're trying to get through. It will cause substantial reform when that material is released. Bar a catastrophe, that's going to go ahead, not just from the U.S. -- we have a six months' backlog to go through because we were busy fundraising and reengineering for this period of intense public interest. So it'll be interesting days ahead.
Horton: Yeah, it sounds like it. So I'm interested -- one of the things we like to cover on the show a lot here is American involvement in the war in Somalia since Christmastime 2006, and --
Assange: Well, that's good, that's good. That's very underreported. The first leak that we ever did was about Somalia.
Horton: Well, I'd read that, and I wonder whether you have any information about the renditions going on there, CIA, JSOC intervention inside Somalia on behalf of the Ethiopians and African Union forces there?
Assange: We have a little, although nothing -- I don't know in the queue, how much material there is there relates [sic]. But certainly there are some classified orders and policy material related to that. We also released a rendition log from Kenya -- where most of the Somalis end up passing through -- for about 103 people were -- I have to be careful on this number actually -- but somewhere between 50 and 150 people were renditioned through Kenya, most of them from Somalia, and we have the flight logs, which we put up about a year ago.
We are disappointed in what was left out of Secretary Gates' comments. Secretary Gates spoke about hypothetical blood but the grounds of Iraq and Afghanistan are covered in real blood. Secretary Gates has overseen the killings of thousands of children and adults in these two countries. Secretary Gates could have used his time, as other nations have done, to announce a broad inquiry into these killings. He could have announced specific criminal investigations into the deaths we have exposed. He could have announced a panel to hear the heartfelt dissent of US soliders who know this war from the ground. He could have apologized to the Afghani people. But he did none of these things. He decided to treat these issues and the countries effected by them with contempt. Instead of explaining how he would address these issues, he decided to announce how he would suppress them. This behavior is unacceptable. We will not be suppressed. We will continue to expose abuses of this administration and others.
"But it wasn't the Iraq War that did the Labour Party in, since the British people, like their American counterparts, are keen to forget that fiasco," scribbled eternal dumb ass Amitabh Pal at The Progressive in May. (Rebecca called him out here.) And that bag gas baggery just keeps on giving. Gas baggery, for the uninitatied, is what takes place on the Sunday chat & chews where woefully underinformed 'journalists' weigh in on every topic under the sun despite being immensely unqualified to offer anything even adjacent to an informed opinion. We're really not supposed to get gas baggery from so-called independent media; however, it's cheap to produce so it swams 'independent' media the same way it does the yack-fests. And Amitabh Pal's gas baggery is worth calling out so frequently because -- as Labour polls ahead and following the election demonstrated -- the Iraq War did have a huge impact on the elections and the Iraq War continues to be a significant topic in England.
Ed Balls: I was in Parliament at the time. I took a decision. It was the most agonizing process I have ever been through in my life. I have been over it and over it ever since. The reason I voted for the war was because the leader of the Iraqi Kurds pleaded with backbench Labour MPs to vote for the war because he said his people had no chance ever of being free from Saddam. The weapons inspectors, if they'd done their job and then eventually come to the conclusion that there were no weapons, that probably would have been a very bloody civil war in Iraq. With hindsight we look back. You know I look back at the lack of post-war planning and it horrifies me. But when I go back to that vote, did I do the right thing for the right reasons? And I believe I did and I'm not going to change that position just because I'm standing for the leadership position.
Victoria Derbyshire: Okay, would you --
Ed Miliband: First of all, first of all, I did tell people at the time that I was against the war -- you asked me. But secondly --
Ed Balls: Well you didn't tell me.
Ed Miliband: -- it's a really, it's a really fundamental --
Victoria Derbyshire: Sorry, what was that Ed Balls?
Ed Balls: Well I, you know I have to say, in 2005, the Times [of London] newspaper asked us whether we would have voted for the war? I said in 2005, I would have voted for the war. Ed didn't answer the question of the Times' newspaper --
Ed Miliband: I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I --
Ed Miliband: -- when I was standing for selection, my constitencuency party asked me if I was against the war and I said I was. But look, but look, the real issue here is not some great claim of moral superiority in 2003, the real issue is do you recognize the mistakes that were made and do you recognize the fact that we hitched our wagon to the United States on foreign policy in a way that was a profound mistake. And-and it's not just about the loss of trust that there weren't WMD, it is a profound issue about our foreign policy and about whether we're willing to say that actually there are times when we can't just go along with what the US says.
Victoria Derbyshire: So if you were to become leader, you would apologize, would you?
Ed Miliband: Yes, I would.
As disclosed many times before, I know and like both Miliband brothers.The Press Trust of India reports on the latest polling which has David Miliband in the lead with 37% of respondents, followed by his brother Ed Miliband with 29%, Diane Abbot with 12% and Ed Balls with 11%. In the May election, Labour suffered huge losses and a power-sharing coalition between the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats is now in charge. The latest poll leads Mehdi Hasan to declare, "The next Labour leader will be called Miliband" (New Statesman). And click here for an analysis of the race by Hasan that was written before the latest polling.
Staying in England where the Iraq Inquiry heard testimony today from Deputy Prime Minister (May 2, 1997 to June 27, 2007) John Prescott (link goes to text and transcript options). Taking time away from his very busy days of non-stop tweeting via his BlackBerry, Prescott mourned the loss of those who died in Iraq -- except for the Iraqis. He then whined about the Middle East process (he wanted 9-11 to mean Palestinians received "social justice" -- a term he didn't define). He blathered away about the intelligence. He felt it was spotty and incomplete. Did he vote for the Iraq War? Yes, he did. Which makes his judgment of the evidence today and his actions puzzling.
Committee Memeber Roderic Lyne: Did it [intel] convince you that Iraq posed a serious and growing threat to the region and to UK and western interests? YOU way it wasn't very substantial.
John Prescott: I think you are right, there was a threat to the region anyway by its actions whether it was an invasion of Kuwait or whether it was primarily this war between Iran and Iraq. It was obviously not a very stable situation there. I didn't need JIC to tell me that. Where we were concerned with the intelligence on JIC was to whether he was coopearting with the resolutions from UN in giving information as to whether he was actively involved in weapons of mass destruction. So to be fair to the intelligence agency, when they said in our report which led, in fact, to the information produced on the document, that there might be something happening in 45 minutes, they have this ability, they have these missiles, you do tend to accept that's the judgment and there must be something in it. I didn't totally dismiss it. I didn't have any evidence to feel that they were wrong, but I just felt a little bit nervous about the conclusions on what I thought seemed to be pretty limited intelligence.
And yet still he went along with the war. Okay. With this round closing, John Chilcot, who chairs the Inquiry, made some closing remarks which included:
Chair John Chilcot: Ove the coming months we will be analysing and integrating all this evidence and information as we begin to write our report. as we do his, we may find conflicts or gaps within the evidence. If we do this, we will need to consider how best to get to the bottom of what actually happened. This may be through seeking additional written evidence or, where we wish to probe more deeply, through holding further hearings, possible recalling witnesses from whom we have heard before. If, and I stress the word "if," we decid to do this, these hearings will probably take place in the late autumn. The Inquriy also hopes to visit Iraq. We want to see for ourselves the consequences of UK involvement, to hear Iraqi perspectives and to understand the prospects for Iraq today. For security both of the Inquiry team and those we wish to meet, we shall not publish any further details in advance of a visit. If we are able to visit Iraq, we shall provide a summary afterwards, as with all our other oveseas visits.
But Chilcot doesn't get the last word. It goes instead to Michigan's Green Party:
** News Advisory ** ** ------------- ** July 30, 2010
For more information . . . ========================== About the meeting: ----------------- Lynn Meadows -- Meeting Manager <email@example.com> (734) 476-7101
About the candidates: -------------------- John Anthony La Pietra -- Elections Coordinator <firstname.lastname@example.org> (269) 781-9478
Michigan Greens Hold Convention This Weekend ============================================ Nominating at All Levels for November 2 Ballot; Will File Papers Monday to Make Candidates Official
Who: GPMI members from all over the state.
What: GPMI state nominating convention
When: Saturday, July 31 -- 9am to 5pm; and Sunday, August 1 --- 9am to 4pm
Where: Meeting Room, Great Wall Chinese Restaurant 4832 West Saginaw Highway, #1 Lansing, MI 48917 (Saginaw Highway is M-43 and Business I-69; the restaurant is about 2-1/2 miles east of Exit 93 off I-69/I-96) 517-327-9500
Why: To nominate Green candidates for Federal, state, and local office to appear on the November 2, 2010 general-election ballot. GPMI will file the appropriate nomination paperwork with the Bureau of Elections (and county clerks as necessary) on Monday, August 2 to certify the convention results.
For information on the issues, values, and candidates of the Green Party of Michigan, please visit the party's homepage: