Saturday, November 06, 2010

David Jones put to rest but questions remain unanswered

October 24th, 21-year-old Pfc David R. Jones died serving in Iraq. How? As we've noted before: No one in the government knows or is willing to tell. Tuesday the Utica Observer-Dispatch editorial board weighed in:

The Bennetts initially were told the death was a suicide, but a family member told the Albany Times Union last week that Theresa Bennett received a copy of a text message from a soldier who worked with Jones in Iraq stating that her nephew was one of five people killed or wounded in a shooting "rampage" on a U.S. military base in Baghdad.
[. . .]
A full accounting of Jones' death must be provided. The death of a soldier in the service of his country is a tragedy under any circumstance, and it must not be made worse by shrouding it in mystery. The family and the larger community who knew and loved David Jones deserve answers.

Today, WKTV points out, "
So far the Department of Defense still is not releasing any information on how he died." Thursday, WNYT reported that David Jones had arrived at the airport and was escorted back to Johnsville has taken place. Dennis Yusko (Albany Times Union) added, "Several hundred people from the area braved falling rain and cold temperatures for more than an hour to line the main street in the village to glimpse the white hearse that brought Jones home for the last time. Schools closed and workers and families came from all over to witness the procession." Paul Buckowski (Albany Times Union) has a photo essay here. Subrina Dhammi (WNYT) offered these details, "The weather Thursday fit the mood of the small, close-knit village of St. Johnsville. Residents braved the cold and steady rain to line the street waiting to welcome home a fallen soldier. School children proudly displayed signs saying 'we will never forget you'."

Today funeral services took place at St. John's Reformed Church. Stephanie Sorrell-White (Utica Observer-Dispatch) reports:

Theresa Bennett held the neatly folded American flag close to her heart Saturday after it was presented to her by U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Jonathan A. Maddux at West St. Johnsville Cemetery.
Only moments earlier, the flag had draped over the coffin of her nephew Army Pfc. David R. Jones Jr., who she raised as a son along with her husband, George.

WNYT notes, "He was the recipient of the National Defense Service Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal with combat service star, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon. Jones’ body arrived at the Griffiss Airforce Base in Rome, NY on Thursday and was escorted to St. Johnsville." Reporting for WKTV, Gary Liberatore notes, "On this cold, November day, not only is a mother in mourning, so is her entire family and the entire community of St. Johnsville as a whole." His video report includes reactions from the community.

Unidentified female: It's a shock for everybody really, it really is.

[. . .]

Connie Morse: They talked about how he was when he was in school, the crazy things he did. You know, he was that funny guy, you know. If somebody was down and out, he would make everybody laugh.

[. . .]

Bob Failing: Everybody hopes that they'll find some answers and do it soon because the word is closure, you have to bring this to an end. It's saddened everyone.

[. . .]

Ed Smith: When it's such a small community, you feel it maybe a little more so than a bigger city where the relationships aren't near as deep.

Matt Chittumm (Roanoke Times) reports members of the Virginia National Guard will deploy to Iraq in the new year. Cindy Clayton (Virginian-Pilot) explains that it will be approximately 850 members of the state's National Guard who will be active June 1st and "The order calls for 240-day tours of duty, but the mobilization could be adjusted, the release says." Wow. Even if the mobilization isn't adjusted, that would put them in Iraq past the alleged end of 2011 departure. If you don't do math and are extremely gullible, you to can pretend like the White House is invested in getting all troops out of Iraq by the end of 2011.

The following community sites -- plus Liberal Oasis, Washington Week and -- updated last night and today:

Community notes: The backup site has been moved to Word Press. Click here. The backup site will be for this site as the former Blogdrive mirror site was. Cedric and Rebecca had Blodrive mirror sites -- Cedric's was deleted -- and they will now use The Common Ills Backup site as their mirror site. Anyone in the community who wants to cross-post one of their post there can. I do not have time to even superficially master Word Press at this moment. I did not know until Friday night that I would be moving the mirror site. Problems will emerge as they did when this site started on Blogger/Blogspot and I will attempt to learn as I go along but that is not a secondary task on my list or even really on my list. It's the last thing on my mind. If Word Press doesn't work or if I'm steered somewhere else, we'll go elsewhere. I learned what happened to Cedric's backup site and immediately began looking for other sites. I found three I thought might work. Of those three, the easiest to navigate appeared to be Word Press.

Sometime after midnight (PST) tonight, Isaiah's latest comic will go up. Usually his latest goes up Sunday night. Why so early? He's doing illustrations for Third, samples that we might be able to use -- if we end up with a publishable article on that topic. He just did one that's perfect. But all it needed was a caption -- a direct quote on TV from the person he'd drawn -- and "The World Today Just Nuts" to be one of his comics. So I insisted that it was. It'll most likely still run at Third but it will count as his comic. He already does comics for all the community newsletters and a comic on Sunday for this site. I do not want him being maxed out and exhausted. So it will go up at Third, however, it his Sunday comic and will go here first.

We'll close with this from ETAN:

Statement of East Timor and Indonesia Action Network on President Obama's Visit to Indonesia

contact: John M. Miller, ETAN, +1-718-596-7668, +1-917-690-4391,,

November 5, 2010 - As President Obama departs on his twice-delayed trip to Indonesia, the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) urge him to use the opportunity to build a relationship between the U.S. and Indonesia based on the promotion of human rights and the rule of law.

As we wrote to President Obama last March, "the history of U.S.-Indonesia relations is much better known for the U.S.'s largely uncritical support of the Suharto dictatorship, from its bloody seizure of power in 1965 through its illegal invasion and occupation of then Portuguese Timor to the Kopassus kidnappings and murders of student leaders in 1997 and 1998."

President Obama's visit coincides with Indonesia's Heroes Day, and the dictator Suharto is under consideration to be named as a "National Hero." We urge President Obama to use the opportunity of his visit to decisively break with past U.S. support for torture, disappearances, rape, invasion and illegal occupation, extrajudicial murder, environmental devastation. and more. U.S. weapons, training, political backing and economic support of Indonesia facilitated these crimes. President Obama should apologize to the peoples of Indonesia and Timor-Leste for the U.S. role in their suffering during the Suharto years and to offer condolences to Suharto's many victims throughout the archipelago.

Crimes against humanity and other violations of human rights did not end with Suharto’s fall. Since then U.S. policy has largely focused instead on narrow strategic and economic interests that have little to do with the well-being of the Indonesian people. In recent weeks, horrific videos and other reports of torture, the burning of villages and other crimes show that the people of West Papua and elsewhere continue to suffer at the hands of military and police.

We urge President Obama to condition U.S. security assistance on an end to human rights violations and impunity. We urge him to follow the recommendation of Timor-Leste's Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in Timor-Leste (CAVR), which urged nations to "regulate military sales and cooperation with Indonesia more effectively and make such support totally conditional on progress towards full democratisation, the subordination of the military to the rule of law and civilian government, and strict adherence with international human rights, including respect for the right of self-determination."

We urge the President to announce that the U.S., as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, will work to establish an international tribunal to bring to justice the perpetrators of human rights crimes committed during Indonesia’s 24-year occupation of Timor-Leste. This would send the critical message that no one is above the law and would serve as an important deterrent to future human rights violators. A tribunal was recommended by the CAVR and is supported by the many victims of these crimes and by human rights advocates in Timor-Leste, Indonesia and elsewhere.

We are deeply concerned about the administration's recent announcement that the U.S. will for the first time in a dozen years engage with Indonesia's notorious Kopassus special forces. We also call on President Obama to end this planned engagement and to suspend all funding and training of Indonesia's Detachment 88 police unit pending review of charges leveled against the unit for systemic human rights violations, including use of torture. We believe that U.S. law bars cooperation with military and police units with such egregious human rights records.

These actions by President Obama would change the current course from one of repeating failed policies. While much has changed in Indonesia, U.S. security assistance does not promote further change. Instead it encourages impunity and violations of human rights and sets back reform.

In his book The Audacity of Hope, President Obama wrote that "for the past sixty years the fate of [Indonesia] has been directly tied to U.S. foreign policy," a policy which included "the tolerance and occasional encouragement of tyranny, corruption, and environmental degradation when it served our interests."

A new relationship between the two countries must be built on an honest assessment of the bloody past. President Obama's special connection to Indonesia offers an important opportunity to usher in a new era in the relationship between our two nations. One that rejects a relationship based largely on militarism with one that respects human rights and promotes the rule of law.


Members of ETAN are available for interviews

See also


Support ETAN make a contribution here
Thank you for your support.

John M. Miller, National Coordinator
East Timor & Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
PO Box 21873, Brooklyn, NY 11202-1873 USA
Phone: +1-718-596-7668 Mobile phone: +1-917-690-4391
Email Skype: john.m.miller


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thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends