Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The fallen and burn pits

The next year, on Sept. 11, 2007, insurgents released a second video. This time, a produced propaganda piece showed close-ups of Maj. Gilbert's badly decomposed corpse exhumed from a grave, still in a flight suit. It displayed his military ID, and singled him out as "America's baby killer."
It was anguishing proof that his body still existed.
"His whole body is still over there somewhere, buried in a shallow grave," Ronnie Gilbert said. "All we're asking for is: Bring him home."
"For five years! Five years we have been waiting patiently," Kaye Gilbert cried. "Patiently waiting for the Air Force and everyone over there to do their business. Find our son."
When the U.S. pulled out of Iraq in December, the family could wait no longer. Maj. Gilbert's sister in Arlington questioned the Pentagon's prisoner of war/missing personnel office.
"Well, if our troops are no longer there, who is looking for him?" Rhonda Jimmerson asked. "Who is putting that effort in?"

The above is from Jim Douglas' "North Texas family seeks pilot's body left in Iraq" (WFAA -- link is text and video). The fallen is Maj Troy Gilbert whose plane went down in November 2006 while he was assisting US service members on the ground under fire ("credited with saving about 20 American commandos"). All the family has is a small amount of tissue from the crash. They say that during combat, they were understanding that a war was going on but US President Barack Obama has declared that over and declare the war over so why can't they get their son's body? Partly because that tiny bit of tissue from the plane crash? That's all it took for the US military to classify the fallen as "body accounted for." So no efforts are being made to recover Troy Gilbert's body.

Does no one remember what Barack prattled on about in his State of the Union just last month? "Those of us who've been sent here to serve can learn from the service of our troops," he declared. "When you put on that uniform, it doesn't matter if you're black or white; Asian or Latino; conservative or liberal; rich or poor; gay or straight. When you're marching into battle, you look out for the person next to you, or the mission fails. When you're in the thick of the fight, you rise or fall as one unit, serving one Nation, leaving no one behind."

Leaving no one behind? Troy Gilbert's been left behind. His body was taken by insurgents and surfaced a year later in a propaganda film. No, his body has not been recovered and how telling that one month after Barack was prattling on about his (White) grandparents yet again (he trots them out whenever he feels the need to use their service to the US to make up for his own lack of service) the Gilberts have to meet with the Defense Dept to argue that a little tissue from their son's body -- a full body seen in a propaganda video -- does not count as Troy Gilbert being "recovered" from Iraq. Maybe instead of trashing the lives of 5 American service members by releasing members of the League of Righteous to do favors for England, maybe instead of doing that, Barack could have focused on bringing home the body of Troy Gilbert? A man who let terrorists go when they were in American custody -- ringleaders of the death of five American service members -- had a lot of nerve trying to hide behind his ill informed notion of what being in the US military was like.

And for any who are late to the party on the news of the League of Righteous, let's drop back to the June 9, 2009 snapshot:

This morning the New York Times' Alissa J. Rubin and Michael Gordon offered "U.S. Frees Suspect in Killing of 5 G.I.'s." Martin Chulov (Guardian) covered the same story, Kim Gamel (AP) reported on it, BBC offered "Kidnap hope after Shia's handover" and Deborah Haynes contributed "Hope for British hostages in Iraq after release of Shia militant" (Times of London). The basics of the story are this. 5 British citizens have been hostages since May 29, 2007. The US military had in their custody Laith al-Khazali. He is a member of Asa'ib al-Haq. He is also accused of murdering five US troops. The US military released him and allegedly did so because his organization was not going to release any of the five British hostages until he was released. This is a big story and the US military is attempting to state this is just diplomacy, has nothing to do with the British hostages and, besides, they just released him to Iraq. Sami al-Askari told the New York Times, "This is a very sensitive topic because you know the position that the Iraqi government, the U.S. and British governments, and all the governments do not accept the idea of exchanging hostages for prisoners. So we put it in another format, and we told them that if they want to participate in the political process they cannot do so while they are holding hostages. And we mentioned to the American side that they cannot join the political process and release their hostages while their leaders are behind bars or imprisoned." In other words, a prisoner was traded for hostages and they attempted to not only make the trade but to lie to people about it. At the US State Dept, the tired and bored reporters were unable to even broach the subject. Poor declawed tabbies. Pentagon reporters did press the issue and got the standard line from the department's spokesperson, Bryan Whitman, that the US handed the prisoner to Iraq, the US didn't hand him over to any organization -- terrorist or otherwise. What Iraq did, Whitman wanted the press to know, was what Iraq did. A complete lie that really insults the intelligence of the American people. CNN reminds the five US soldiers killed "were: Capt. Brian S. Freeman, 31, of Temecula, California; 1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Nebraska; Spc. Johnathan B. Chism, 22, of Gonzales, Louisiana; Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, 25, of Cortland, New York; and Pfc. Johnathon M. Millican, 20, of Trafford, Alabama." Those are the five from January 2007 that al-Khazali and his brother Qais al-Khazali are supposed to be responsible for the deaths of. Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Robert H. Reid (AP) states that Jonathan B. Chism's father Danny Chism is outraged over the release and has declared, "They freed them? The American military did? Somebody needs to answer for it."

Another way the White House has demonstrated that, lip service aside, they don't give a damn about the veterans? They refused to back then-Senator Evan Bayh's Burn Pit Registry bill. They refused to work on an official list of those veterans (and contractors) exposed in Iraq and Afghanistan to burn pits. They didn't want to spend the money. So they worked with Senator Jim Webb to ensure that the bill never left the Senate Veterans Committee. And yet Barack likes to grand stand and pretend what a great friend to veterans he is. Want to be a friend to veterans, Barack? You don't have to have a photo op dinner with them, just give them the health benefits they deserve and are owed.

Patricia Kime (Marine Corp News) reports:

Army Reserve wife Rosie Torres, 38, stood in line Jan. 19 at a Texas Health and Human Services office to apply for assistance with her mortgage, bills and groceries.
Mounting debt related to her husband’s medical bills has pushed the couple into arrears; between insurance deductibles, house payments and overages, they owe more than $55,000.
LeRoy Torres, 39, a Reserve captain and former Texas state trooper, was assigned to Joint Base Balad, Iraq, in 2008 and believes exposure to the camp’s open-air burn pits left him with debilitating respiratory problems. He can’t walk long distances, perform daily tasks or even roughhouse with his kids.
But although he can't work full time, between his drill pay and Rosie’s part-time pay, they make too much to qualify for a grant.

Rosie Torres is with BurnPits 360 which addresses the issues of exposure to burn pits and, next week, the first ever Burn Pit Symposium takes place:

1st Annual Scientific Symposium on
Lung Health after Deplyoment to Iraq & Afghanistan
February 13, 2012

sponsored by
Office of Continuing Medical Education
School of Medicine
Stony Brook University

Health Sciences Center, Level 3, Lecture Hall 5
Anthony M. Szema, M.D., Program Chair
Stony Brook
Medical Center

This program is made possible by support from the
Sergeant Thomas Joseph Sullivan Center, Washington, D.C.


* Register with your credit card online at:

* Download the registration form from:
fax form to (631) 638-1211

For Information Email:

1st Annual Scientific Symposium on
Lung Health after Deployment to Iraq & Afghanistan
Monday, February 13, 2012
Health Sciences Center
Level 3, Lecture Hall 5

Program Objective: Upon completion, participants should be able to recognize new-onset of lung disease after deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan.

8:00 - 9:00 a.m. Registration & Continental Breakfast (Honored Guest, Congressman
Tim Bishop

9:00 - 9:30 Peter Sullivan, J.D., Father of Marine from The Sergeant Thomas Joseph
Sullivan Center, Washington, D.C.

9:40 - 10:10 Overview of Exposures in Iraq, Anthony Szema, M.D., (Assistant
Professor of Medicine and Surgery, Stony Brook University)

10:10 - 10:40 Constrictive Bronchiolitis among Soldiers after Deployment, Matt
King, M.D. (Assistant Professor of Medicine, Meharry Medical College,
Nashville, TN)

10:40 - 11:10 BREAK

11:10 - 11:40 Denver Working Group Recommendations and Spirometry Study in
Iraq/Afghanistan, Richard Meehan, M.D., (Chief of Rheumatology and
Professor of Medicine, National Jewish Health, Denver, CO)

11:40 a.m. - Microbiological Analyses of Dust from Iraq and Afghanistan, Captain Mark

12:10 p.m. Lyles, D.M.D., Ph. D., (Vice Admiral Joel T. Boone Endowed Chair of
Health and Security Studies, U.S. Naval War College, Newport, RI)

12:10 - 12:20 Health Care Resource Utilization among Deployed Veterans at the White
River Junction VA, James Geiling, M.D., (Professor and Chief of Medicine,
Dartmouth Medical School, VA White River Junction, VT)

Graduate students Millicent Schmidt and Andrea Harrington (Stony Brook
University) present Posters from Lung Studies Analyzed for Spatial
Resolution of Metals at Brookhaven National Laboratory's National
Synchrotron Light Source

1:20 - 1:40 Epidemiologic Survey Instrument on Exposures in Iraq and Afghanistan,
Joseph Abraham, Sc.D., Ph.D., (U.S. Army Public Health Command,
Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD)

1:40 - 2:10 Overview of the Issue Raised during Roundtable on Pulmonary Issues
and Deployment, Coleen Baird, M.D., M.P.H., (Program Manager
Environmental Medicine, U.S. Army Public Health Command)

2:10 - 2: 40 Reactive Oxygen Species from Iraqi Dust, Martin Schoonen, Ph.D.
(Director Sustainability Studies and Professor of Geochemistry, Stony
Brook University)

2:40 - 2:50 BREAK

2:50 - 3:15 Dust Wind Tunnel Studies, Terrence Sobecki, Ph.D. (Chief Environmental
Studies Branch, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Cold Regions Research
and Engineering Laboratory, Manchester, NH)

3:15 - 3:45 Toxicologically Relevant Characteristics of Desert Dust and Other
Atmospheric Particulate Matter, Geoffrey S. Plumlee, Ph.D. (Research
Geochemist, U.S. Geological Survey, Denver, CO)

3:44 - 4:15 In-situ Mineralogy of the Lung and Lymph Nodes, Gregory Meeker, M.S.
(Research Geochemist, U.S. Geological Survey, Denver, CO)

Continuing Medical Education Credits

The school of Medicine, State University of New York at Stony Brook, is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
The School of Medicine, State University of New York at Stony Brooke designates this live activity for a maximum of 6 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)TM. Physicians should only claim the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

The following commmunity sites -- plus the Guardian, On The Wilder Side, The NewsHour and Antiwar.com -- updated last night:

David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award. ImmigrationProf Blog notes this article on Bacon and his latest exhibit:

On February 2, the Center for Cultural Investigation of the Autonomous University of Baja California mounted an exhibition of 18 large photographs, taken by photographer David Bacon, on the border wall, next to the garita, or gate, between Mexicali, in Mexico, and Calexico, in the United States. The photographs, which measure about 6' by 4', hang on the steel beams that make up the wall in the section of the border that lies between the two cities. They hang on the Mexican side, next to the lanes where traffic lines up, waiting to cross into the U.S. At times, hundreds of cars spend over an hour in the lines, giving drivers ample opportunity to look at and react to the images. The show, called "Beyond Borders," consists of images that document the process of migration. Some show the life of Mexican migrants in the U.S., while others were taken in migrants' home communities in Mexico. Three photographs show children working in the fields in northern Baja California, including one taken just a few miles from the Mexicali gate itself.

In an interview with local media at the show's opening reception, in a park across the street from the wall, Bacon explained, "As a photographer, I've tried to create images that aren't neutral. They are, first, a reality check, showing what life is actually like, trying to do it through the eyes of people themselves. But they are also a form of social criticism - of poverty, of the discrimination and unequal status migrants face, especially in the U.S., but even in Mexico itself. Therefore, they're also a call for social change. So what better place to show them than on the wall itself? The Center is using an object hated on both sides of the border, and reclaiming it as a site for developing popular culture, and even more, a space where people can be urged to make changes so that some day we live in a world where the wall itself will not exist."

Luis Ongay, director of the Center for Cultural Investigation of the Autonomous University of Baja California, said that many people will see the show, because of its location where cars and pedestrians are crossing to the United States. "We know this is an open space, it's bringing the museum into a public space." He invites people to give their comments on its Facebook page.

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