Thursday, August 09, 2012

Blackwater walks, Bradley remains imprisoned

In England, a scandal's garnering attention -- a scandal which should seem very familiar to American news consumers.  Nick Hopkins and Shiv Malik (Guardian) report, "The Ministry of Defence is urgently trying to identify the body parts and remains of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq which were kept by the military without the knowledge and permission of their families. An investigation began after the Royal Military police (RMP) discovered they had retained six body parts and 50 samples of tissue following incidents during the recent conflicts."  It really is amazing what governments will do when they think no one will ever find out and they can get away with it.  In the US, the similar scandal was learning that remains of the fallen were dumped in a landfill.  Dropping back to the November 11, 2011 snapshot:

On this Veterans Day, the Pentagon finds itself in another scandal.  Last night, David Martin (CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley -- link has text and video) reported on the Air Force's landfill scandal. Here's a transcript of the first minute of the report.

Scott Pelley: Just when you thought the scandal over mishandled remains of fallen American troops at Dover Air Force Base couldn't get any worse. It did today. David Martin has been reporting on the investigation that led to a career ending letter of reprimand for the commander of the mortuary and tonight David is at the Pentagon with new developments.

David Martin: A landfill is no one's idea of a fitting resting place for a soldier fallen in battle.

Gari-Lynn Smith: No service member, no human being at all, should be placed into a landfill -- no matter if it's a finger nail, a foot or an entire body

David Martin: Yet that is what happened to Gari-Lynn Smith's husband, Sgt 1st Class Scott Smith, who was blown apart by a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2006. Without her knowing part of his body was incinerated and disposed of as medical waste in this Virginia landfill. She found out two years after his funeral.

Gari-Lynn Smith: I have honestly no idea what we buried of him because they forbid me to see him in the casket.

The issue was raised by Senators Kelly Ayotte and Claire McCaskill in yesterday's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.  We noted the hearing in yesterday's snapshot in terms of Ayotte and McCaskill's remarks and questions on the disrespect shown to the remains of the fallen (Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Portions" notes Ayotte's exchange). That was a needed topic and one more senators could have explored.

Governments love to give lip service to honoring the fallen.  If they didn't, it would be a great deal more difficult to get people to serve in the wars of choice.  But time and again, the actions they take telegraph just how little care actually exists.  Earlier it was the US' DoD.  This week, it's England's defense department.  Who knows who it will be next time?


Lip service of concern, of course, never translates to any real concern for Bradley Manning (pictured above).  Monday April 5, 2010, 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 7, 2010, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August 2010 that Manning 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." In March, 2011, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted. The Article 32 hearing took place in December.  At the start of this year, there was an Article 32 hearing and, February 3rd, it was announced that the government would be moving forward with a court-martial.  Bradley has yet to enter a plea and has neither affirmed that he is the leaker nor denied it.

Despite the fact that Bradley has entered no plea, Barack Obama betrayed his office by declaring Bradley guilty.  You can't catch a press conference without hearing someone say they can't comment on an ongoing legal matter but there was Barack Obama -- the supposedly brilliant Barack, alleged Constitutional Law scholar -- declaring Bradley guilty.

If found guilty, Bradley faces many years in prison.  There's no concern for him, no slap on the wrist like what Blackwater -- Xe -- Academi received this week.  As Joseph Neff and Jay Price (McClatchy Newspapers) make clearreport, this corporation that haas endangered millions and killed a sizeable number as well gets caught breaking the law and they get a slap on the wrist, no one has to admit personal guilt and they get to continue business as usual.  They broke the laws.  And that puny seven million dollar fine is nothing compared to what the mercenary company makes each month -- forget each quarter.

When Condi Rice and Bully Boy Bush -- intentionally or unintentionally -- screwed up the prosecution of Blackwater for the September 16, 2007 slaughter of 17 Iraqis in Nisoor Square, that's awful but the legal system is the legal system.  Sometimes it's not fair.  (Realilzing it would prevent prosecution or not, the Bush White House offered Blackwater employees no-prosecution guarantees to get them to talk about the slaughter.  As a result of those agreements, once evidence was gathered, there was no way to bring charges against individuals.  However, nothing prevented or prevents the US government from putting Blackwater on trial for the culture they fostered and encouraged -- and those no prosecution agreements would mean no Blackwater employee who signed one could take the Fifth.)

So Bradley, who killed no one whether he was the leaker or not, is imprisoned for over 800 days and now his court-martial is pushed back to next year but Barack wants you to know he 'cares' about veterans.  If he gave a damn, he wouldn't have declared Bradley guilty and he wouldn't be delaying the court-martial until after the election in an attempt to con the left one last time. Which is why the court-martial's now been kicked back to February of next year.  Earlier this month, Bradley marked his 800th day behind bars but he's yet to have his day in court and, by the time February rolls around, he will have spent 1000 days in jail.  Barack, so quick to pronounce guilt, seems very unaware of the right to a fair and speedy trial.  So much for the "sacred trust" b.s. Barack likes to claim he has with those who served whenever he steps before a camera.

As the full force of the government comes to bear on one young service member, the administration lets Blackwater off with a pass. Blackwater has the worst track record of any corporation in the last ten years.  That's why they repeatedly change their name.  And yet when the government finally can prosecute them, finally can nail them for

The following community sites -- plus Cindy Sheehan, McClatchy Newspapers, The Diane Rehm Show, Pacifica Evening News, and The World Can't Wait --  updated this morning and last night:

Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  This morning, she will be Seattle with Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki.  The two will be joined by veterans this morning at a press conference to announce the Veterans Jobs Corps bill.  This is the press release from her office and I've changed "Tomorrow"s to "Today"s  and eliminated yesterday's date in the heading so there would be no confusion about the event this morning in Seattle.

CONTACT: Murray Press Office
(202) 224-2834
TODAY: VETERANS: Murray in Seattle to Discuss New Veterans Jobs Bill with Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Senator Murray will outline Veterans Jobs Corps bill, legislation that helps veterans overcome barriers they face when finding employment
(Washington, D.C.) -- Today, Thursday, August 9th, 2012, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, joins Secretary of Veteran Affairs Eric Shinseki at the Port of Seattle for a press conference on veterans jobs.  Senator Murray will highlight a bill she is sponsoring in the Senate, the Veterans Jobs Corps bill.  Senator Murray's bill is modeled of successful job training programs across the country and in states like Washington.  The Veterans Jobs Corps bill would build on the gains already made with Senator Murray's VOW to Hire Heroes Act, and serves as a $1 billion investment in veterans and their capacity to strengthen America.
Over the next five years, the Veterans Jobs Corps would: increase training and hiring opportunities for all veterans; help restore and protect national, state, and tribal forests, parks, coastal areas, wildlife refuges, and cemeteries.  It will also help hire qualified veterans as police, firefighters, and first responders at a time when 85 percent of law enforcement agencies were forced to reduce their budget in the past year.  Senator Murray will point out that this bill contains bipartisan ideas, is fully paid for with bipartisan spending offsets, and should not be controversial at a time when veterans continue to struggle.
The Port of Seattle was recently recognized with The Freedom Award, the Department of Defense's highest recognition given to employers for exceptional support of our Guard and Reserve members.
WHO: U.S. Senator Patty Murray
           Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki
           Tay Yoshitani, Port of Seattle CEO
            Veterans currently employed by the Port of Seattle
WHAT: Senator Murray and Secretary Shinseki discuss new veterans jobs legislation
WHEN: TODAY: Thursday, August 9th, 2012
             10:00 AM PT
WHERE: Port of Seattle Marine Maintenance Facility
                25 S. Horton Street
                Seattle, WA 98134
Kathryn Robertson
Specialty Media Coordinator
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
448 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington D.C. 20510

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