Thursday, October 28, 2010

How did Pfc David Jones die?

Yesterday, New York Governor David Paterson's office issued the following:

Governor David A. Paterson has directed that flags on State government buildings be flown at half-staff on Friday, October 29, in honor of Private First Class David R. Jones, Jr. of Saint Johnsville, who died of injuries sustained in a non-combat incident on October 24, 2010 in Baghdad, Iraq.
Private First Class Jones, Jr. was assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, based at Fort Hood, Texas.
"On behalf of all New Yorkers I join the friends, family and fellow soldiers of Private First Class Jones in mourning his death," Governor Paterson said. "This fine, young man died while in service to his comrades and his country. Though we mourn his passing, we will honor his service, his dedication and his memory."
Governor Paterson has directed the flags on all State buildings to be lowered to half-staff in honor and tribute to our State's service members who are killed in action or die in a combat zone.

David Jones' family is attempting to figure out just how their loved one died. At one point, they were told it was suicide -- that was initially. Then they had a call from a military investigator that put a question mark on that. They don't believe it was suicide and, with all that's happened, few would believe it. All that's happened? Dennis Yusko covers it in "GI died in shooting spree, kin say" (Albany Times Union):

But Theresa Bennett, an aunt who helped raised Jones, received a copy of a text message from a soldier who worked with him in Iraq that stated Jones was one of five people killed or wounded Sunday in a shooting "rampage" on a U.S. military base in the Iraqi capital, Jones' cousin George Bennett said Wednesday.
The text came Tuesday afternoon to the family of Jones' girlfriend, Brittany Winton, George Bennett said. Brittany Winton declined comment on Wednesday, but a member of her family who asked not to be identified confirmed receiving the text and its contents.
"Someone went on a rampage and killed David," George Bennett said, though he said he didn't know who.

WYNT Subrina Dhammi interviewed (link has text and video) David Jones' mother Theresa Bennett

Subrina Dhammi: Sitting in her St. Johnsville home, Theresa Bennett holds her red cell phone tightly making sure she doesn't miss any text messages or phone calls about what happened to her son David. The text message she received yesterday from someone in Baghdad says "David died, someone else died and 3 others were injured." Now she's hearing even more.

Theresa Bennett: A man went berzerk and killed two other soldiers and critically injured a couple of others.

Dhammi notes that when she asked the DoD if any other US soldier died around the time that Pfc David Jones did all they would tell her was that his "death was under investigation."

Where the hell is Robert Gates? For that matter, where the hell is Barack Obama? Is he busy taping Rachel Ray this morning?

David Jones died Sunday. That is known. His survivors are suffering. That is known. They have been told their loved one was killed in a rampage. That is known.

At some point -- long before Thursday rolled around, the Defense Dept should have issued a statement. There is a chance, it is likely, that there was no shooting rampage. But after all this time, if you were one of the surviving loved ones, I doubt you'd believe it and came out today. They've waited too damn long to inform the family.

He may very well have been killed in a shooting rampage. If so, they've still waited too long to tell the family.

The family's gone public with what they've been told by the military ("suicide" then, a few hours later, that call was retracted with nothing additional offered) and what they've been told by others serving and spouses of others serving. With the press regularly calling DoD about this for the last three days, there is no way DoD is not aware of it.

Instead of addressing the issue in some form, they've acted as if they're a private corporation as opposed to someone paid by US citizens to do a job. They need to do their damn job. The family of David Jones is suffering. This should never have happened. A bit of confusion about the death might be understandable. But allowing the rumors of a shooting rampage to take hold and not respond to those rumors, still having nothing to offer four days after the death is inexcusable.

Maybe Robert Gates feels he can shirk his responsibility as long as Barack's shirking his to go around campaigning? I believe Barack's supposed done campaigning (and readying his flee from the country so he doesn't have to deal with the aftermath of the elections -- they pushed up the departure date and the press seems to being playing dumb on that). It's about time there was some accountability. If Robert Gates isn't up to, I'm not surprised, but if he's not up to it, he needs to steps his ass down and let someone else be Secretary of Defense. There is no excuse for the confusion and suffering that David Jones' loved ones are going through right now. And it does not inspire confidence in Barack's alleged leadership.

The following community sites updated last night and this morning:

Note: We will note Green Party candidates and may even note other third party or independent ones between now and Tuesday. However, 'getting out the message' on either of the two major parties is already being done by the media and we're not taking part. (If they have something to say about Iraq, they may get noticed regardless of party.) We'll close with this from John Anthony La Pietra's campaign:

John Anthony La Pietra for
Fairer, Better Elections
Secretary of State * Green Party
386 Boyer Court * Marshall, MI 49068

News Release: October 27, 2010

*UPDATE* on La Pietra's Initiatives for Fairer, Better Elections
3/4 of Counties Have Responded to Request for Precinct Information;
Almost 1/2 Have Sent In Lists of Declared Write-In Candidates

Saginaw County Clerk's Posted Candidate List Now Includes
Most Alternative Parties and Candidates -- Though It's Still Missing
Everyone Running for Statewide Education Boards, Supreme Court

John Anthony La Pietra, the Green Party of Michigan’s candidate for Secretary of State,
is making progress on three of his top campaign initiatives to make elections fairer and
better for voters, candidates, and parties.

Survey of Voting Conditions:
Precinct Information from Clerks
64 out of 83 county clerks have now responded to John's call for lists of precincts,
figures on how many voters are registered in each precinct, and where the polling
are. He hopes the rest of the information comes in before he starts getting
voting-conditions survey results from voters in the 5,050 precincts across Michigan
on and after Election Day.

"When we put the information from the clerks and the observations of the people
together," John says, "we'll have a powerful tool for analyzing and plannning the
equipping and staffing of polling places better and more fairly -- giving us shorter lines
and more time to vote.”

Voters who want to know how their clerks responded to this request so far can see
an updated status report on John’s campaign Website at

John’s initial request to the clerks is also on line, at

And a copy of the survey sheet for individual voters to take with them to the polls
November 2 is posted at

Treating Write-In Candidates as More
Than Just "Mickey Mouse" Protest Votes
40 counties and the Bureau of Elections have contributed some information to
another of John's "Fairer, Better Elections" projects: a comprehensive list of
"official" write-in candidates:

State law was changed in 2006 so that poll workers would no longer have to count literal "Mickey Mouse" write-in votes . . . only votes for real people who had filed the required Declaration of Intent form.

"There's a big controversy in the Alaska courts right now," notes John. "Incumbent
Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, who lost in the primary, is now running a write-in campaign trying to keep her seat. And the state Division of Elections has been offering
early voters a list of all write-in candidates if the voters ask for it. But the state
Republican Party
sued to stop the Division from doing that -- and the Democrats have
joined them.

"Here in Michigan," John adds, "state law says each precinct has to have a list of all
officially declared write-in candidates. Otherwise the election inspectors wouldn't
know whose votes they should and shouldn't count."

But under the current administration’s interpretation, the names on those lists aren’t
available to voters at the polls. The list isn’t posted next to that sample ballot that's
always up on the wall, as you might expect it to be. And if you ask the election inspectors
at your polling place, they’re not allowed to tell you who's running as a write-in. You'd
have to go to your local clerk’s office and ask there. “And who gets out of line to go do
that?” John asks rhetorically.

John believes this is unfair to those candidates -- and it’s unfair to deny voters information about all of their choices. That's why he's compiling the list page and posting it on his
campaign Website.

He hopes to hear from the rest of the counties on this, too -- and maybe from some
write-ins as well. If they have additional contact information they want John to post -- addresses,
phone numbers, e-mails, home pages -- they can contact him.

Saginaw County Clerk's Candidate List
Is Much Better -- But Still Needs Work
Last week, two Green candidates for Wayne County Commissioner discovered that
they had been left off the ballot -- including thousands of absentee ballots that had already
been mailed out. While looking into that situation, John noticed that Dianne Feeley
and Lou
Novak had also been left off the county's published online candidate lists.

So he did some checking of other counties' Websites -- and found some problems
with Saginaw County's posted candidate list:

Though this list was dated "as of October 22", it was missing almost every partisan
candidate who'd been nominated for the fall election -- before the August 3 primary
-- by an alternative party.

(The site also had a full set of proof ballots posted -- showing all the candidates on the
ballot for each local jurisdiction in the county. But the link to access those ballots was
below the link for the candidate list.)

So he e-mailed County Clerk Susan Kaltenbach Friday afternoon (October 22) to let
her know of the oversight and offer his help in fixing the list.

Kaltenbach's reply Monday morning said, "The minor party candidates will be added
today. This information other than our local listings is still from the primary results.
We usually do not add all of the State Candidates as they file and are listed by the
Secretary of State. Again we are short staffed and have so much data entry that is
beyond our required local that we sometimes do not have all of the State data."

John promptly pointed out a problem with this logic: "[T]he list as it is posted
now makes it appear that the candidates you show are the only ones on the ballot."
And voters and groups who relied on the list would "have been making decisions for
the past six to ten weeks about whom to vote for -- or whom to invite to participate in
activities and be considered for votes, endorsements, etc. -- based on the incomplete information posted."

He noted that other counties posted only "local" candidates on their Websites and
provided a link to the statewide Bureau of Elections list to cover the non-local candidates.

Saginaw County's list was updated yesterday:

John was now on it, and so were some of his fellow Greens -- but not the Green Party gubernatorial ticket of Harley Mikkelson and Lynn Meadows. Another
lieutenant governor candidate
was also omitted, and a mix-up left three
candidates labeled as Libertarians in the race for the 5th District seat in Congress,
including one who was a Libertarian candidate -- but in the 4th District.

And the races for the four statewide boards -- the State Board of Education, the
U-M Board of Regents, the MSU Board of Trustees, and the Wayne State University
Board of Governors -- were missing from the county's list entirely. The nominally
non-partisan race for two seats on the state Supreme Court was mentioned -- but
none of the five candidates were listed.

John documented these omissions and corrections, hoping to help Kaltenbach get
past her office's short-staffing situation and solve the problems. She answered:
"There are plenty of other places for the voters to get this info. We concentrate on
getting the locals and the ones we take filings for locally on the site as they do not
appear in other places."

John's response to that thanked Kaltenbach for her efforts so far, but pointed out:

The people of Saginaw County have a right to rely on you to be
authoritative about their ballots -- to rely on the candidate list
posted on your Website, and any other information you put out about
the election for public consumption, to be accurate and complete.

"This candidate list," he went on, "has been misinforming voters since it was posted"
-- and time was running out to fix it.

This morning, a further update of the list had been posted:

It is still missing all reference to the education-board races, and all candidates running for Supreme Court Justice. But all partisan candidates for other state and federal offices
are now included. (There is one error: Albert Chia, Jr. is a Libertarian candidate
for State Senate from the 32nd District, not for the 4th District Congressional seat.)

For details of the correspondence to date, visit

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The e-mail address for this site is

thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends