Friday, February 18, 2011

The fallen (Shawn Evans), the embarrasment (Bob Gates)

DoD has issued the following statement: "The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation New Dawn. Spc. Lashawn D. Evans, 24, of Columbia, S.C., died Feb. 15 in Baghdad province, Iraq, in a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment, Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan. For more information the media may contact the 1st Infantry Division public affairs office at 785-239-3205." This is the death in the Tuesday snapshot. BNO News and only BNO News reported on it. Reuters didn't even include it in their 'factbox' summary. Last month, 3 US soldiers died in Iraq on the same day with a fourth wounded. The deaths received very little press coverage. Judi Gaston (WISTV) speaks with the grandmother of the fallen (whom Gaston doesn't name) and reports that he was due home and had been counting down the days and that he's survived by a wife (Cierra) who is deployed in Iraq and a brother who is deployed in Afghanistan.

Shawn Evans

That's the photo of him currently at his Facebook Page. Judi Gaston has a different photo (he's not flipping the bird) that she got from his Facebook page. I debated about the photo but he posed for it and someone posted it. Someone? That photo may or may not have been there when Gaston wrote her report. It's the only one there now. Information she notes (including quoting him on the number of days before he's back home) has now been deleted. Someone (presumably a friend or family member) with his password has changed up the look of his site and they chose that photo for a reason. (I do not believe the photo was chosen to disrespect him.) Along with capturing what Shawn Evans felt at the moment the photo was taken, the photo apparently reflects some anger and grief over his death.

In other violence, the Committee to Protect Journalists notes:

In Iraq, Hemin Latif, a journalist working for the Sulaimaniya-based Destur news website, was shot and injured today while covering against unemployment and corruption, Mariwan Hama-Saeed, director of local press freedom group Metro Center, told CPJ. Dozens of protesters attacked the building of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). Local journalists told CPJ that the guards for the building shot Latif while he was taking photos. Latif was briefly hospitalized and one of his fingers was broken. Guards also beat Rahman Gharib, who reports for Metro Center and Al-Sumaria News website, while he was covering the demonstration, Gharib told CPJ. He said three men from KDP's security forces in military uniforms beat him. "I demand an official apology from KDP and an investigation into what had happened," Gharib said.
Two other journalists have been injured, according to the independent biweekly Hawlati. One of them is Alan Mohamed, a photographer with the local photo agency Metrography. The newspaper did not identify the second journalist.
Two people were killed and 57 injured in the protests, according to local news reports.

In addition,
BBC reports 13 people died and over thirty were wounded in a Muqdadiyah car bombing. Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) quotes police sources, "The attack occurred when a suicide bomber drove his explosive- laden car into a police checkpoint near the town of al-Maqdadiyah, some 100 km northeast of Baghdad, he said."

Turning to the weaponization of the State Dept, Walter Pincus (Washington Post) reports on Robert Gates' Congressional appearance yesterday: "In an impassioned plea during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on next year's Pentagon budget, Gates cited the loss of more than 4,000 American lives in Iraq and the expenditure of some $900 billion. He said it is 'a critically urgent concern' that a planned $5.2 billion allocation for fiscal 2012 be approved, so that the State Department can carry on the training of Iraqi police and other programs once handled by the Pentagon."

Robert Gates' sense of entitlement is a sure sign that he needs to leave government immediately. Asked in an opening hearing by a Republican Congress member on Wednesday about whether his Department had broken the law, Gates plead ignorance of the matter. Provided with documents in the hearing, Gates insisted he would need time to review them.

If you're so damn stupid that you don't know if the department you headed broke the law, you've got problems. And maybe part of them is that you're looking over the State Dept's shoulder when you should be doing your own damn job. Robert Gates is not the liason for the White House to the State Dept. He is the Secretary of Defense and should confine himself to those issues. You can't plead something is above your pay grade and then start playing expert on a department you don't head and you're not a part of.

Will we next get Robert Gates offering his 'expert' opinion on Health and Human Services?

The economy remains in the toilet. Gates showed no awareness of that when begging Congress for money for his department. Now he thinks he can play expert on State as well?

He needs to be instructed to close his mouth and to do immediately. Joe Biden is the person Barack Obama has placed in charge of overseeing Iraq. Biden can make the case that the State Dept needs the money. I'll still disagree and I will argue Joe is wrong; however, I will not argue that Joe has no business making the argument.

Robert Gates was asked about the Defense Dept's inability to prevent sexual assaults and he played dumb. He was asked about the lawsuit and he issued a self-serving statement. But now he thinks he can go before Congress and present himself as an expert on what the State Dept needs?

Clearly, he has time to do everything but the job he was given. Clearly, it's time his tired ass retired.

If the Secretary of Agriculture appeared before Congress and argued that another Department didn't need funds, we would all be offended. Our attitude would be that the Secretary needed to confine his or her testimony to his or her own department. Pretending Gates has a right to testify about another department's needs opens the door for the day when a Secretary has the right to testify that another department doesn't need funding. He needs to fccus on his own department. Since he's currently been named in a military sexual assault lawsuit, he should have plenty on his plate already.

The following community sites -- plus Military Families Speak Out, War News Radio and Watching America -- updated last night and this morning:

The e-mail address for this site is

thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends