Tacoma News Tribune
Published: September 5th, 2006 01:00 AM
When will soldiers know that their job is done?
JESSIE ARCHIBALD; Tacoma
At least 62 U.S. service members died in Iraq in August, compared with 43 in July. President Bush tells
us, “We’ll stay until we get the job done.”
What is our soldiers’ job?
To find weapons of mass destruction?
To free Iraq?
To stop Iraqis from killing each another?
To rebuild Iraq?
None of these goals is being met.
How will we know when the job is done?
When we lose 3,000 troops?
Now we are told that we have to fight the terrorists there, or they will fight us here. I say, let them
come and bring our soldiers home to protect us on our home front instead of in that sweltering desert in Iraq.
Our brave young soldiers have suffered enough. This war is a failed effort, not for lack of hard work by
our brave young soldiers. It is their commanders at the highest level who have failed them because there is no plan for success.
It is not worth it to continue to lose our most valuable resource: our young people who otherwise would have their whole lives
in front of them.
I applaud the Raging Grannies who understand this and am sad for families that continue to lose loved ones
each day while this war rages on.
When will the American people say enough is enough?
We need to take back our country by voting out those who want to continue the endless bloodshed.
OPINION - Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Thursday, June 22, 2006
No surprise in Bush's 'emergencies'
Stacy Bannerman, Guest Columnist
President Bush has yet another supposed "emergency" on his hands. This time it's illegal immigration. His
response is to deploy thousands of National Guard troops along the Mexican border. The tactic is eerily familiar: send soldiers
on a murky mission under the pretense of promoting homeland security and the war on terror.
In the "initial guidance" Pentagon memo that The Associated Press recently acquired, Bush provided no clear
estimates of operational strategies, costs or timelines. That's just how he made the Iraq war a military, monetary and moral
More than 2,500 U.S. soldiers have died. In the first three months of this year, more than 3,800 innocent
civilians were killed in Baghdad alone. That's the real emergency. But Bush is deaf to the screaming sirens.
Sad to say, neither of the two major disasters that the Bush administration (eventually) categorized as emergencies
Pre-9/11 intelligence reports specifically warned about the possibility of a major, imminent, terrorist attack
in the United States. Various FBI personnel and flight school instructors repeatedly raised concerns about potential or suspected
terrorists getting aviation training but skipping sessions about how to land a plane. Mossad officials traveled to Washington
from Israel to warn government agencies that a cell of terrorists was setting up a major operation.
Two weeks before the attacks, a CIA cable received over a classified government computer network warned that
two "bin Laden-related individuals" had come into the United States and that two other suspected terrorists should be banned
from entering, according to the Los Angeles Times. Ignoring those warnings contributed to the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans.
The administration's failure to heed the National Weather Service's predictions about the severity of Hurricane
Katrina, coupled with a yearslong pattern of sabotaging FEMA and gutting the Guard for the Iraq war, contributed to the deaths
of at least 2,140 people along the Gulf Coast. Far fewer would have died had the Bush administration not delayed declaring
a state of emergency.
The Bushies, however, are rushing to frame the immigration issue as Code Red and militarize the border with
Mexico (but not with Canada). People have fled their homelands to come to this country in the hope of a better life for themselves
and their children for centuries. Suddenly, it's a "national emergency"? Please. With Bush's low approval rating and the Republicans
deeply divided, perhaps he's just worried about an electoral emergency.
The real crisis is the result of more than three years of a war based on false information that Bush persists
in repeating. While discussing immigration reform at an Orange County Business Council event at the Hyatt Regency Irvine on
April 24, Bush stated, "Iraq has -- had weapons of mass destruction." He went on to say, "I base a lot of my foreign policy
decisions on ... things I think are true." This suggests some of his decisions are based on lies.
The real emergency is that this administration and Congress have cut funds for education and social services
while pouring $320 billion into the Iraq war.
The true menace before us is that a nation that once was a beacon welcoming millions would douse the light
and bar the door.
Stacy Bannerman of Kent contributes to Foreign Policy In Focus (www.fpif.org) and is on the advisory board
of Military Families Speak Out; www.mfso.org She wrote "When the War Came Home: The Inside Story of Reservists and the Families
They Leave Behind." Her husband served in Iraq with the Army National Guard 81st Brigade.
Tacoma News Tribune
Tacoma, WA - Thursday, May 11, 2006
Iraqis won’t step up until U.S.
JESSIE ARCHIBALD; Anderson Island
Last updated: May 9th, 2006 01:21 AM (PDT)
I am a member of a local organization called Military Families Speak Out.
I support our troops and am very proud of our soldiers. I believe that it is wrong to put our troops in harm’s way again
and again without a successful plan or strategy in place.
Most of our troops are now on second or third deployments. I recently saw
a film clip on CNN of an Iraqi military graduation. When the Iraqi soldiers were told they would not be stationed exactly
where they wanted to be, almost half of the graduating soldiers tore off their military shirts and quit on the spot.
I ask why we keep our young people in harm’s way when the Iraqis will
not help themselves? It’s time to bring our troops home. We have done all we can to help the Iraqis. It’s time
for them to step up and help themselves. That won’t happen until we step down.
Originally published: May 9th, 2006 01:00 AM (PDT)
New MFSO member Jenny Keesey
and her first public speaking out.
Third Anniversary of Iraq War - Speech
Port Angeles Rally
March 18, 2006
Good Afternoon. My name is Jenny Keesey. I represent Military
Families Speak Out.
Tomorrow we enter our fourth year in Iraq.
Today we gather to raise our collective voice in opposition to a war that was based on lies and to oppose the policies that
sent our troops into harms way for motives we will never fully know. We gather to voice our outrage at a government
that casts a blind eye and deaf ear toward the citizens of this country. All across the nation, people are gathering
– just as we are – to demand that our government bring our troops home now. Not over the course of several
years, not over the course of 12 months, but NOW.
For as long as I can remember, my son’s
dream has been to be a soldier. He announced this to me when he was five years old. A few years later, he and
his two best friends made a sacred pact that only nine-year-old boys can make. They pledged that they would all join
the military and be soldiers as soon as they were old enough.
Through the years, and sometimes across
many miles, these three boys held fast to their pledge and their friendship to each other. Our families have grown close
because of the bond between these men. Two of us are single Moms that wondered if we would ever survive raising teenage
boys. We shared in their joys, their not-so-wonderful moments, and now we (all three families) share the unease of the
In 2002, two boys joined the Army and
the other joined the Marines. Today, one is in Fallujah, one is at Ft Hood, Texas awaiting deployment early next month
to Baghdad, and one is scheduled to deploy early next year. They have not second-guessed their decision to join the
military. They do not regret it. All are proud to wear the uniform, and all understand much better than our leaders
do the responsibilities that go along with wearing the uniform.
They carry the pride of their accomplishments
and their newfound self-respect like a badge of honor. Before he left for his duty station, I asked my son just what
it was that made him want to join the military. He assured me that he didn’t join for the college money, he didn’t
join for the medical benefits, and he didn’t join to see the world, although seeing the world, he said, was a great
bonus. He simply said it was what he was meant to do. It was that clear-cut.
I respect my son. I respect all
three of these boys. But, I do not respect this war or the people who took us there.
The arrogance of our leaders resulted
in the squandering of any goodwill the world felt for us before the war began. When I speak of leaders, I mean all of
our leaders, from the Oval Office to the Senate to the House of Representatives. Where we - as a nation and as a people
- are at this moment, is a result of a meltdown that spans political parties and all branches of government. While
we were lied to by one branch of the government, the other branch stood silently by while our troops were sent into harms
way without a plan to succeed and without the equipment they needed to be safe.
For those of us at home who questioned
or criticized our government, we were labeled as unpatriotic – un-American. Over the course of the past three
years, it has been drummed into our heads, through hate radio and special interest TV media, that this is a fearful time to
be an American. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of living in fear. I’m tired of being
told how I am supposed to think and what I’m supposed to fear. I can tell you that it is not the fear of terrorists
that keeps me up at night. It is the fear of knowing my boys are fighting for a lie and that my government is in a horrible
We cannot demand the freedoms of our Constitution
if we are not willing to stand up and voice our opposition when our leaders take us down the wrong path. I would
like to read to you a statement made by conservative Ohio Senator Robert Taft. He said, “ As a matter of
general principle, I believe there can be no doubt that criticism in time of war is essential to the maintenance of any kind
of democratic government. Too many people desire to suppress criticism simply because they think that it will give some
comfort to the enemy to know that there is such criticism. If that comfort makes the enemy feel better for a few moments,
they are welcome to it as far as I am concerned, because the maintenance of the right of criticism in the long run will do
the country maintaining it a great deal more good than it will do the enemy, and will prevent mistakes which might otherwise
occur.” Senator Taft made this statement just a few short days after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
A recent survey revealed that 72% of military
personnel believe that it is time to leave Iraq.
A recent Gallup Poll survey has revealed
that 51% of Americans now believe that we were lied to about weapons of mass destruction.
67% are now convinced that there is not
a clear plan for Iraq.
When asked how Americans felt it was going
in Iraq 60% of those polled stated that it is going badly.
Finally, when asked if going into Iraq
was a mistake 57% of those surveyed said that it was.
It is our duty to hold our elected officials
accountable. More importantly it is our responsibility – no, it’s our obligation - to our soldiers.
They need us to do that now more than ever. They need us to stand up for them as they would stand up for us.
We must get them home now and take care of them when they get here. Not one more dime should be spent for the sake of
killing. Not one more life should be lost. The cost of losing a loved one is too much to ask of our families.
Putting their lives on the line for a cause that has been nothing more than a lie is too much to ask of our soldiers.
It’s time to bring them home.
It’s time for our country to heal.
2 distinguished Speakers from Military Families Speak
Out, Washington state at the recent Out of Iraq event in Seattle
Seattle called their event Operation Homecoming.
Both Judy Linehan and Stacy Bannerman were featured speakers representing
MFSO alongside Congressman Jim McDermott, and Jay Inslee and activist Bert Sacks. A friend from amongst other networking efforts,
Dina Lydia, an artiste of Seattle, put together the flyers for the Backbone Campaign to advertise the event, and she also
put together a online report with photos (some good photos of Judy and Stacy!).
A special thank you goes out to Bill Moyer of Backbone Campaign for his coordination and making this event happen as he kept folks on track and on target through the holiday
season and we know the holdiay season can be distracting for trying to coordinate a large event.
Dying to Preserve the Lies [blog]
by Lietta Ruger
I Can’t Bear Another Vigil; 2,000 Killed and Still Counting..
There will be vigils across the nation
this week commemorating Dept of Defense report of 2,000 US
soldiers killed in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Plans are underway amongst peace and activist groups to stage vigils in local communities across the nation when that
fatal number is published. Already I’ve received media phone calls about these upcoming events as it seems
media also wants to mark the tragic occasion. They phone me as a member family representing Military Families
Speak Out. Will I be participating one wants to know; another wants to know if I can refer names of other military
family members who are willing to speak in media, specifically, who’s loved one has been killed.
gruesome time; gruesome media requests. A morbid reason to even have to think about planning or participating
in another memoriam vigil. Since August 2005 through September 22, 2005
I have participated in vigil after vigil at the Camp Casey
that sprung up in Crawford, Texas and again for nearly
4 weeks on the Bring Them Home Now Tour, central route from Crawford to DC. In DC, I was one among approximately
300,000 to 600,000 who participated in the 3 mile march to the White House.
I was in the contingent representing Military Families
Speak Out, which was one of four contingents comprising a collective military community voice calling to bring our troops
home. With the young Iraq Veterans Against The War; the seasoned veterans of Veterans for Peace, and the families
who have had loved one killed, Gold Star Families for Peace, we stood together in front of the White House in commonality
and purpose. Never mind whatever else was reported about that rally and march; our four contingents knew why
we were there and what our collective represented…the experience of being in military or connected to military by the
fact of our deployed loved ones. Our voice is a valid voice and cannot be dismissed away as it is representative
of our collective authentic experience and truth. It is an essential part of the dialogue.
While it is not in itself a singular truth, it is indeed another perspective of the authenticity of truthful experience
regarding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In that light, no matter the perceptions and opinions, our’s is a critical part of the ongoing dialogue.
When I came home, it was a
transition from high energy, high profile daily activities, morning to night; in sharing the message with a wider American
public to the quiet of the life I share with my family in our quaint little fishing village on the bay. And yet
amongst the communities in our state there are new military family voices coming forward to share their truth. Vigils
continue amongst our state communities, and last weekend an Arlington Northwest Memorial was staged on our state capitol grounds.
Last weekend the number of killed was in the neighborhood of 1977 . Crosses numbering 1970 had been crafted and
were erected to honor the fallen. There was no political message whatsoever except the tradition of veterans
to honor veterans, living and dead. I could not make myself attend; chiding myself for not attending and knowing
my heart could not take another field of so many crosses.
I write this on a Saturday knowing in a matter
of a few days, maybe even sooner, there will be memorial vigils in communities across the nation to mark the passing of now
2,000 of our fallen troops. I cannot make myself participate. In one short week, from the 1970 erected
crosses to the need now for 2,000 crosses only a week later to mark the immediately coming number of killed.
But I don’t carry the burden of the war
on my shoulders alone, and perhaps it is timely that my individual participation is less needed as more and more Americans
see the need to take up the burden on their own backs. People who aren’t typically from peace and activist movements
step forth to share their personal truths. People who have never before given opinion in public venues now see
a need to lend their voice and actions. People talk now of being less content to be about the busy-ness of daily
life are trying to make adjustments to free up time to give in lending voice and action. People talk of being
weary of trying to be in denial about what they see with their own eyes and hear with their own ears.
Isn’t that the desired
outcome in calling attention to our troops and their families who carry the burden of the wars every day without relent?
To call out to Americans to lend their own voices and actions to relieving the troops and their families from carrying
the weight of the war ensnarled now in an undefined mission with no clarity of purpose or outcome? I
excuse my temporary lapse into my own human-ness as I forgive myself for being unable or unwilling to participate in yet another
vigil and memoriam to commemorate the loss of 2,000 of our troops. As Americans across our country now pick up
their own civilian duty and carry it forward to challenge not only the basis of the initiated wars, but to challenge the mission
and duration, I take some comfort that my own work in this endeavor has been the contribution of one military family in a
collective of voices coming from military families.
As each of you who are reading go about the business
of your daily lives, what will you do this week to commemorate the marking of 2,000 loved ones killed in the wars? What will
you do different tomorrow than you did today to contribute your own voice and action? As it goes without saying
that this number doesn’t begin to measure the rest of the human cost of war. It doesn’t take into
account the number wounded, without limbs, disfigured, paralyzed, mentally destroyed, nor the unreported carnages to the people
who try to live their lives in Iraq. They too
are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, who carry a burden daily of living life in midst of war.
What is the measure for when enough is
by Lietta Ruger, Oct 22,
Enter content here
Published on Wednesday, July 27, 2005
by Stacy Bannerman
When you’re a Governor, making difficult decisions is part of
the job description. Just ask the chief executives of 33 states who attended the 97th annual meeting of the National Governor's
Association in Des Moines, Iowa on July 15-16, where they had to choose between boots, bats, or bucks. The 233 pairs of combat
boots -- one for each National Guard soldier killed in Iraq – were the focal point of a Memorial service co-sponsored
by American Friends Service Committee and Military Families Speak Out to honor the citizen soldiers. Batting practice at Principal
Park included a lavish reception for governors and their families, and was followed by an Iowa Cubs baseball game. A couple
of heavily barricaded blocks away, Republicans held a fundraising reception at the Des Moines Club. The events took place
within a six-block radius, but they were worlds apart.
8-year-old Mary Sapp, of Billerica, Mass.,
her older sister Lydia, and her mother, Anne, were at Nollen Plaza for the commemorative service. Mary clutched a picture
of her dad, Staff Sgt. Andrew Sapp, a National Guardsman deployed to Iraq in October 2004. Mary talked about how much she
missed him, and how sad she was that he hadn’t been able to attend her first softball game.
Back at the ballpark, Anibal Acevedo-Vila,
Governor-Puerto Rico, stood next to his son, chatting up the players before throwing the opening pitch. After the Cubs rallied
to beat the Omaha Royals, the Gov’s and their families were treated to a fireworks display. The next morning, the Governors
tackled the conference agenda, focused on health care and Medicaid costs and economic development.
The war in Iraq wasn’t highlighted
on the docket because it’s not considered a pressing domestic concern. But with nearly 300,000 National Guard and Reserve
soldiers deployed to Iraq so far, and 138,457 pairs of boots belonging to citizen soldiers currently on the ground, how can
it not be?
Reserve and National Guard troops tend to
have significantly higher rates of stress-related disorders than active duty military. A study of Persian Gulf War veterans
found that upwards of 90% of Reservists had one or more symptoms of Post-traumatic stress six months after coming home, compared
to approximately 20% of fulltime soldiers. (Comprehensive Clinical Evaluation Program, Department of Defense Report, June
Reservists returning from Iraq are reporting
mental health problems at levels more than twice that of active duty personnel, and a Seattle Times article stated that “out
of 76 members of [the Washington National Guard] Bravo company, 14th Engineer Battalion, just under half were referred for
counseling.” (July 26, 2005) But Vet Centers are so desperately underfunded that they’ve turned away citizen soldiers
seeking medical and dental services, making veterans care a state health care issue by default. Federal labor statistics revealed
that the unemployment rate of young male veterans was nearly double that of comparable civilians in the first quarter of 2005,
which is obviously relevant to local economies. When a military newspaper cites “ divorce rates as high as fifty to
eighty percent in some [Guard & Reserve] units returning from yearlong deployments.” (Fort Lewis Ranger, March,
2005), clearly the war has come home. The unprecedented suicide rate of Iraq War Veterans makes the war a domestic problem,
as does the number of women who are murdered by their returning husbands. One such case is Matthew Denni of Oregon’s
Army Reserve 671st Engineer Company. Driven, in part, by the trauma he experienced in Iraq, Denni murdered his wife and packed
her corpse into an Army regulation footlocker. He was convicted of second-degree murder and was sentenced to 20 years in a
Celeste Zappala, co-founder of Gold Star
Families for Peace, received a different sort of sentence when her son, Sherwood Baker, was killed in Iraq. His was one of
the names she read at the Memorial service. When a mother bears witness to the death of her child, this nations’ foreign
policy becomes a domestic matter of the highest order.
Meanwhile, George Pataki (NY), Mike Huckabee
(AK), and Mitt Romney (MA) socialized with donors. Their quips about being Republican Governors in predominantly Democratic
states got some laughs, which isn’t surprising, because Republican leaders have proven that they can be a very funny
After all, President Bush did his own comedy
routine at a party fundraiser in 2004. The Commander-in-Chief looked behind curtains and under tables, laughing with the audience,
telling them that he was searching for hidden weapons of mass destruction. His joke has cost 233 of our Guard and Reserve
troops their lives. But the Governors decided there was no time for mourning in Des Moines.
Stacy Bannerman is a contributor to Foreign
Policy In Focus (www.fpif.org) and on the Advisory Board of Military Families Speak Out (www.mfso.org). Her book “When the War Came Home: The Inside Story of Citizen Soldiers and the Families
Left Behind,” will be released by Continuum Publishing in 2006. Her husband deployed to Iraq with the Army National
Guard 81st Brigade in March 2004, and returned home on March 11, 2005.
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"Your son volunteered. He knew what he was getting into ..."
So did I ... in 1968 five months after the Tet offensive. I dropped out of college and enlisted.
And like the current volunteers who are described by worn-out conservative flag-wearers, I had a rough idea of what I was
getting into. That "rough idea" was based on trust ... trust in a system and, ultimately, trust in a specific leader and a
specific governing political party.
The specific leader of course was LBJ, the specific party was the Democratic Party and the specific system was and is the
system that allows us to hang our political opinions on buttons and sanctimonious drapery of stars and stripes from which
we belch our prejudices.
When you sign up you endorse a contract on the bottom line. It's a contract with specified written obligations on the part
of both parties, but also with unspecified but powerful assumptions on the part of both parties. In the case of joining the
military knowing what you are getting into is based on very powerful unwritten but nationally accepted assumptions:
(1) The integrity and honor of the commander in chief of the military and that CIC's skill, wisdom and understanding of
all reasons when and why military citizens are to be placed in harm's way.
As a volunteer you are at the mercy of that individual, his party and their combined priorities - with a strong expectation
that those priorities extend beyond a desire to remain in the driver's seat.
(2)As a volunteer you are at the mercy of your own fellow citizens (including your own family) whom you trust to be willing
and supportive in making sure the leadership does not waste your vital blood, devotion and patriotism in pipe dreams, self-interested
agenda's and ideologies;
That leaders are driven by a genuine desire to involve the country in on-going mutual participation and compromise regarding
foreign policy before resorting to force as a last resort.
(3) Volunteering to become a soldier is volunteering to preserve and protect - with your own power and will - the country,
its borders, its citizens and its institutions. It isn't volunteering to keep a political party in power.
The only way to avoid that circumstance is for the citizens to assume their rightful role in the triangular relationship
with the troops and the CIC.
The troops are expected to trust the CIC's wisdom as well as the patriotic participation of the Citizens who will keep
the CIC honest.
The CIC is expected to trust the troops to follow orders and expects to sustain by honesty and integrity the support of
The Citizens expect the troops to do their duties and expect the CIC to sustain by honesty and integrity his political
authority. The Citizens must be willing to hold the CIC accountable and willfully resist when the honesty and integrity of
leadership is absent.
That is what is going on right now. The President has demonstrated a lack of leadership at a time when leadership is needed.
The killing continues daily .... and we are witness to a repeat of a leader who is like a deer caught in the headlights ...
sitting there ... doing nothing ... pondering what ... while pretending to enjoy "My Pet Goat."
Military Families Speak Out Pacific Northwest
email@example.com a fairly new member of MFSO and resident of Washington state, has been
exceedingly busy in every arena out there, and I know I don't begin to know even a percentage of the work she is doing from
week to week, but I do know she has been tireless since she stepped up in October 05 to speak out publicly all over Washington
Gold Star families earn the distinction of Gold Star through the worse-case,
loss of a loved one in war.
Elizabeth carries that unfortunate distinction and has made it her 24/7
to do what she can to bring an end to the war, bring the troops home so that other families don't have to experience the suffering
of loss she knows first hand.
No Deals for Democrats: Quit Bargaining with the Lives of Our Loved
Published on Sunday, March 5, 2006 by Stacy Bannerman
It’s easy to make deals with soldiers’ lives when it’s not your soldier. It’s pretty
simple to postpone coming up with an exit strategy when your loved ones are already home.
What’s not so easy is sitting across from a familiar stranger, someone who looks like your loved one,
but isn’t, not quite. What’s even harder is dining next to an empty chair, day after day, month after month, and
year after year. Taking your meals at the bedside of what’s left of your son lying in intensive care at Walter Reed
Army Medical Center is a whole different degree of difficult.
Diane Benson’s 26-year-old boy was still unconscious when he arrived at Walter Reed after being hit
by a roadside bomb in Tikrit, north of Baghdad. Latseen Benson, in the 101st Airborne, had his legs blown off, along with
part of an arm. If he survives—and it’s still a pretty big if—he will never again sit in his old chair at
his mother’s table. Negotiate that, Senator Clinton.
Anne Roesler’s son just returned from his third deployment to Iraq in three years. Before he left in
August, he told his mom that, if he made it back this time, it would take years for him to recover. Iraq War veterans are
already exhibiting post-combat mental health challenges at unprecedented levels.
Part of the reason for the escalating psychological problems is that while soldiers were typically sent for
one tour-of-duty in Vietnam, more and more troops are serving two, three, and sometimes four rotations in Iraq. Another complication
is the moral ambiguity of fighting a war without front lines, and where the combatants are, or are dressed as, civilians,
some of them women or teens. Iraqi law allows the use of children as soldiers, and at least 1,000 youths are believed to be
serving in the Iraq military, a figure that doesn’t account for the adolescents providing assistance to insurgency forces.
There is considerable psychological distress associated with going into a country under the auspices of liberating
and helping a people, only to have those people rise up against you, and it lingers long after the war has ended.
This nation’s leaders told our soldiers that the people of Iraq would be overjoyed to see them. Forty-five
percent of Iraqis think that the insurgents’ attacks on American troops are justified. Eighty percent of Iraqis want
the troops out now, as do a majority of Americans.
When this administration sent my husband to Iraq, they told him he’d be building schools. Instead, he
killed schoolchildren. Now, how is he supposed to deal with that? How does the wife deal with being woken up in the middle
of the night by her husband, holding an imaginary gun to her head?
The only deals that interest politicians are the ones that will keep them in office. They speak of “phased
withdrawals,” a gradual drawing-down of forces, which has been tried before.
It didn’t work in Vietnam. It’s sheer arrogance or stupidity to think it will succeed in Iraq.
Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) said an immediate pullout “would cause more problems for us in America."
Does “us” refer to you folks on Capitol Hill? What about the nearly 70 percent of Americans who want the troops
out of Iraq? Or do you mean the soldiers who are serving in Iraq, and the families left behind? Because, I assure you, the
problem for “us” is not an immediate withdrawal of troops.
The problem, for those of us with loved ones in uniform, is that our soldiers are fighting and dying for a
Bargaining with the lives of our soldiers is not leadership. It is moral cowardice and an egregious failure
of office of the highest order. I’ve come to expect that from the Bush administration, but surely the Democrats can
do better. With the exception of Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), too many Democrats are trying to make deals with the lives of our
soldiers. Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean recently endorsed a report by former assistant Defense secretary
Lawrence Korb. The ‘strategic redeployment’ concept sets out a plan for a phased troop withdrawal over an 18 month
Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) recently stated that he thinks: “In 2006, American troops will begin to leave
Iraq in large numbers. By the end of the year, I believe we will have redeployed at least 50,000 troops."
But Biden, Dean, and far too many other Democrats are remarkably silent about the 80,000 or more troops that
would remain in Iraq. And they’re mute when it comes to the 800-plus soldiers who will most likely get killed between
now and then, bringing the U.S. body count to around 3,000. That’s playing Russian roulette with our loved ones. If
the Democratic leaders don’t play that game with their families, they’ve got no right to play it with ours.
Stacy Bannerman is a contributor to Foreign Policy In Focus and on the Advisory Board of Military Families
Speak Out. Her book “When the War Came Home: The Inside Story of Reservists and the Families They Leave Behind,”
will be released by Continuum Publishing in March 2006. Her husband deployed to Iraq with the Army National Guard 81st Brigade
in March 2004, and returned home on March 11, 2005.
Published on Tuesday, September 27, 2005 by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer
National Guard Sent to Protect Oil, Not People
Hurricane Katrina blew apart President Bush's rickety arguments about how invading Iraq would
make us safe.
We don't know Hurricane Katrina's death toll, or how many Americans might
have lived had the thousands of National Guard troops trained to help in the wake of hurricanes and floods not been protecting
oil in the desert.
But we know 35 percent of Louisiana's and 40 percent of Mississippi's National
Guard troops were in Iraq while their towns were leveled. National Guard officers repeatedly had warned officials about the
catastrophic impact of having so many Guardsmen deployed in the event of a major natural disaster.
More soldiers and equipment are now stateside. But hundreds of high-water
vehicles, humvees, refuelers and generators the Gulf Coast desperately needs remain overseas. Not only Gulf Coast residents
are in jeopardy; the Iraq war endangers the nation.
More than a third of the U.S. soldiers based in Iraq belong to the Reserves
or National Guard. Weekend warriors intended to supplement full-time active duty troops now fight for 14 months on average.
But most are still treated like part-timers, and prepped and outfitted for combat accordingly. New equipment goes to the Army
while Guardsmen and Reservists get hand-me-downs. This bodes badly for part-time soldiers who have become a major fighting
force in Iraq.
August was the deadliest month for citizen soldiers. Five Pennsylvania Guardsmen
died when the second-class humvee they were in was blown up. They had requested permission to use some of the 12 brand new,
fully up-armored vehicles issued to a nearby active duty unit. The request was denied. The trucks stood idle when the Guardsmen
A total of 46 National Guard and Reserve soldiers were killed in August, more
than half the 83 troop deaths. The disproportionately high -- and rising -- casualty rates of citizen soldiers are part of
a trend. Pentagon statistics released at the end of 2004 showed losses sustained by Army National Guard soldiers in Iraq were
35 percent higher than that of regular enlisted. The elevated mortality rate of citizen soldiers is unparalleled. Of the 58,209
U.S. deaths in Vietnam, 94 were Guardsmen, and none were killed in the Persian Gulf War, USA Today has reported.
Long, hazardous duty is one reason why Army National Guard and Army Reserve
recruitment numbers are off by 23 percent and 20 percent, respectively. In the first half of 2005, the Seattle Army Reserve
office missed its target of about 100 recruits by 75 percent. Oregon recruitment is down 40 percent. Several battalions have
lost more than half their members. One Reserve unit saw 70 percent of its members leave within a few months of coming home.
Half the soldiers leaving active duty service have traditionally joined the
Guard, but since that likely means a quick trip back to Iraq, the number has dropped to about 35 percent. With so many first
responders in Iraq, we have fewer first responders -- fire, police and emergency medical technicians -- in our communities.
While the Guard and Reserve are particularly hard hit, our entire country
is suffering from the Iraq war. Rep. Michael McNulty, D-N.Y., recently noted that more than 16,000 U.S. troops have been killed
or wounded in Iraq, and that the government has spent more than $200 billion on the war so far, saying, "The war has been
a tremendous failure by both measures." He was announcing his support for legislation to require that U.S. troops begin their
withdrawal from Iraq by October 2006.
It's time we add Homeland Security to the growing list of casualties of the
war in Iraq.
Stacy Bannerman is a contributor to Foreign Policy In Focus (www.fpif.org). Her book, "When the War Came Home: The Inside Story of Citizen Soldiers
and the Families Left Behind," will be released by Continuum Publishing in 2006. Her husband deployed to Iraq with the Army
National Guard 81st Brigade in March 2004 and returned home earlier this year.
© 2005 Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Matters of Conscience
is Adele Kubein, I am a spokesperson for Military Families Speak Out, a landscaper, the mother of an injured soldier, and
As a teenager during the Vietnam War I became convinced peace and diplomacy were the most effective
way to improve international relations. I marched and protested, and I began to develop the ethics which guide me today.
After that war I mistakenly thought America had learned a lasting lesson.
last twenty-eight years I have tended people’s gardens for my living. Through my customers I have gained an increased
understanding of the consequences of war, and through my daughter I have personally been affected by war. This knowledge has
propelled me back into peace activism as the major focus of my life.
a favorite customer; she is a tiny, fiery, Japanese woman. She was a girl when Hiroshima was bombed. Her family, starving
to death, had to eat fallout covered weeds by the roadside, to survive the war-induced famine. I have watched Michiko fight
for life, affected by cancer caused by radiation, for many years now. We share many things: the love of gardening, the love
of our children, and our desire for war to end forever.
customers tell me their stories of loved ones lost or injured in WWII, and of what life was like then. I remember the scars
borne by friends who returned from Vietnam alive, and the friends who did not return at all. I now carry with me the knowledge
of more than one war, and the pain of my only child, my daughter, sent to fight a war under false pretenses.
see photos of weeping Iraqi families, of parents holding bloodied children, I hear their stories in my daughter’s voice.
I think of the letters sent home over a span of ten months and of how I wept with her, unable to hold her in my arms, unable
to make things any better for her.
are naturally fearful; we worry about our children’s safety, we teach them to be good, and we protect them from evil.
But most of all, we worry that they may do something that they can never erase, something that will change their lives forever
in ways that will always cause them pain.
I raised my daughter to love all life, to be generous and to respect
all people. She saw the Iraqis as people like herself; she could not reconcile that with the things she saw and did in Iraq,
and that knowledge threatens to tear her apart. In the fall of 2003, when she called me sobbing and told me she would never
be able to be normal again, never be able to come home because of the things she saw and did in Iraq, I knew she had lost
her humanity for a time.
with her. I knew that there was no going back on the effects of her decision to serve her state. She would bear the burden
for the rest of her life.
My daughter enlisted in the National Guard eight years ago to serve the people of Oregon,
to build roads and fight fires. She had a contract that said she would never be in a combat situation. How could she know
that she would be manning a fifty-caliber machine gun on a humvee? How could she know that terror and circumstance would conspire
to cause her to take life? As young people do, she trusted the leaders around her to make the right judgment. She trusted
the administration to send her to fight for a just cause.
Her unit was told they would be welcomed as liberators,
to bring peace, prosperity and freedom to Iraq. Instead our troops have endured fear, maiming and death. They did not choose
to be instruments of destruction, yet found themselves caught up in an ever-escalating cycle of violence.
is an excerpt from a letter she sent me in April of 2003:
“Dear Mom, I have angry moments, frustration, all those things I had before, but I also have found something
else. I cannot describe the joy I have in living. Even the bad moments, I find something of beauty around me. I hold to this
with all my power. I may not be able to change the situations I face, or the world here, but I can hold true to the things
which make me myself. I will change, I will come home different. But I will not let go of this joy in life. I will not let
go of the ability to find beauty in squalor. I can’t explain the faith that surges through me, but I know that I will
return whole. I will not let this tear me apart.”
to my daughter and to all of you is that I will do my utmost to keep other young people from being torn apart. We cannot condone
destroying a nation in the mistaken belief that violence can bring peace. The women of Iraq once walked the streets safely
with their children, and people had jobs and security, water and power. Now families are torn, cities are in rubble, and places
spoken of even in the Old Testament are once again covered in blood.
not progress, and the American occupation of Iraq is drawing even more death and destruction upon innocent people.
cannot condone over 1500 dead American soldiers, and the thousands who have suffered life altering wounds, brain damage, mutilation,
blindness and missing limbs. The human price the United States has paid is not only in our own casualties, but increased by
the number of Iraqi dead, maimed, and homeless.
is one of the injured. She will never again run, or walk without a brace. Some of the things we did together we will never
be able to do again, yet I am one of the fortunate ones; I have my child back alive, I can once again hold her and hear her
The lasting legacy of this war besides bankruptcy, the division of our nation, and the disapproval of
the rest of the world, will be in the eyes, souls and hearts of the veterans. My daughter once said that the war is real,
not just on TV, not a video game.
to control the anger and guilt within her. She said that the real costs are to the children and the families of the veterans,
to the wives and husbands who struggle to keep families together through fear and impoverishment, to the co-workers who wonder
what happened to their friends who return changed, to the children of divorce and anger.
Bitter indeed is this
legacy for America and for the Iraqi people. Many generations will bear the debt and the scars of being lied to by the people
we are supposed to trust. We must not allow this to happen again. We became complacent when Vietnam was over. We must now
keep up the pressure; show that not all of us want war.
squander our spiritual well-being, our nation’s resources and human lives. We cannot judge the value of those lives;
each is a gift to be respected. Together we are strong. We have the power to change things with every dime we spend,
and every word we speak. What legacy will America leave in the eyes of the world and the hearts of our children? How will
we be judged? Will we be remembered as the people who did not raise our voices to stop this crime? It is up to us to decide.
Our loved ones depend on us to act morally, the world depends on us to lead the way, let us lead well.
by Adele Kubein for Matters of Conscience and War: A Public Forum on the second anniversary of the United State’s attack
on Iraq. March 19, 2005. First Unitarian Church, 1011 SW 12th Street Portland, Oregon.
speech may be used with full attribution by Military Families Speak Out and other peace organizations. AK
"I couldn't care less": overpass bannering, ownership and America's Restaurant
Yesterday, at the "banner bridge" overpass on I-5 near Dupont, activists
rallied in support of imprisoned soldier, Kevin Benderman who, according to The Olympian:
... was deployed to Iraq from March to September 2003. He filed
for conscientious objector status in late 2004; his application was denied.
Conscientious objectors are morally opposed to war.
Benderman was to leave for Iraq again in January 2005, but he refused. He
was charged with desertion and intentionally missing movement for not boarding the plane for Iraq when his unit left. He was
found guilty of the second, lesser charge and sentenced last summer to 15 months in prison. He is serving that sentence at
The activists did not have banner bridge to themselves. Apparently there are
others who believe that since they have utilized the overpass with frequency they own that particular overpass and it should
not be "desecrated".
At least three people did not share those sentiments and came
to the overpass to hold a counter-rally.
"It's a disgrace," Shelley Weber of Olympia said as she waved a large American
flag. "I rally here every Saturday and, upon arrival, I see these people on the bridge. I decorated this bridge. I bought
the yellow ribbons and flowers."
"This is the weekend our troops come in for drill. Their protest demoralizes
our troops," added Terry Harder, whose 23- and 26-year-old sons are in the military. Harder is a member of Operation Support
Who defines patriotism?
Who owns it - or think they do?
Is authority to define and ownership of patriotism based on the psychology
of fear, blind trust and the supposed code of shut-up-and-obey-the-commander-in-chief?
... or perhaps just plain civic laziness and deferral to TV clickers, sports,
American idols, celebrity dancers and those lost in Lost, Survivor and Greys Anatomny?
That old 1960's Democratic Foreign Policy expert, J. William Fulbright, would
disagree with Weber and Harder.
"In a democracy dissent is an act of faith. To criticize one's country
is to do it a service ... Criticism, in short, is more than a right; it is an act of patriotism - a higher form of patriotism,
I believe, that the familiar rituals and national adulation ... My question is whether America can overcome the fatal arrogance
Yeah, but he was a Democrat in the Kerry generation of the 1960's. Fulbright
would have very little credibility after Flush Limbaugh, Nose Pin O'Reilly, Squawk Hannity and Angregious Coulter got through
with him. Right?
Well then, how about that old "dove", Teddy Roosevelt, whose doviness - in
the best tradition of flag-waving, incident-creating and all around Dubya-like global big-stick swaggering - soiled his doviness
when he personally marched off to war?
"The President is merely the most important among a large number
of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad
conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in
rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole.
Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to
tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise
him when he does right.
Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile.
To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are
to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American
Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else.
But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about
him than about any one else. - Theodore Roosevelt, 1918, Lincoln and Free Speech
What would Mr. "Shut-up!" O-Reilly and all those who use "liberal" or "progressive"
or "democrat" as mere name-calling tools say to that?
Or "Mr. Republican", Robert Taft of Ohio, and the WW II era, just 12
days AFTER Pearl Harbor? All by himself Taft rebuts and repudiates Republican pretend patriotism in one short declaration:
As a matter of general principle, I believe there can be no doubt
that criticism in time of war is essential to the maintenance of any kind of democratic government ... too many people desire
to suppress criticism simply because they think that it will give some comfort to the enemy to know that there is such criticism.
If that comfort makes the enemy feel better for a few moments, they are welcome to it as far as I am concerned, because the
maintenance of the right of criticism in the long run will do the country maintaining it a great deal more good than it will
do the enemy, and will prevent mistakes which might otherwise occur.
About Taft's words, Michael Tomasky of the American Prospect Online wrote:
Twelve days after the worst attack on American soil in the country's
history, perhaps with bodies still floating in the harbor, the leader of the congressional opposition said to the president,
we will question, we will probe, we will debate.
That's a wonderful cue for lazy patriots: folks who stubbornly accept BushCo
lies and constant fear-mongering. These are folks willing to trade civil liberties and a fissuring of the foundation of the
Constitution for the appearance of "safety".
Political proponents who have never adequately proven the truthfulness of
over 95% of what they've solemnly declared have yet to prove the evidential basis of war-mongering, fear-mongering and
curtailing of constitutional rights.
This circumstance is right out of the political manipulation guru's playbook
- and not intended for public consumption.
One of the principal claimants to ownership of banner bridge was asked by
an activist if she knows who Kevin Benderman is.
"I couldn't care less," Weber said, while another man added,
"Kevin's where he belongs."
These then are the more irresponsible lazy citizen caretakers of American
These then are those who blindly believe and trust that if they go to America's
Restaurant and get a meal they can't eat, the fault does not lie with the chef who has never successfully boiled water.
Rather, it's the fault of other diners who know a poor chef when they
see one but are supposed to shut up about the cooking and let the chef poison them with a menu and fare unfit even for livestock.
These are those who believe that if the chef wears a plastic flag on his shirt,
he has more than sufficient cooking skill to out-chef all those who question him.
Here's the real problem - the one that the Bush folks, Republican leadership
and national Republican elected congressional leaders won't own up to:
Their way has failed. The choices and actions of those running the kitchen
have not and are not working out. The food has only gotten worse.
There is in fact a better way but too many are unwilling to look for and take
action on establishing a better way.
Others in the dining room and on the streets can do it better, more effectively
and with a greater eye to everything that has worked before and finding better ways to make things work now.
The current cooking committee waited years to be in charge. They have blown
it badly and in fact have made of America's Restaurant not only a place that harms the locals but also a place with
whom residents in other global communities will not do business (unless they're extorted into doing so).
The current cooking committee has a need for Americans to stay dumb, to go
out on banner bridge and tell those banner-waving thinking Americans to shut the hell up.
If dumbed down Americans don't continue following Republican promptings, our
fare at America's Restaurant might become geniune nourishment rather than fast-food jingo-ized poorly prepared salmonella.
As for those who "own" banner bridge ...
You ought to care more.
If Kevin Benderman is "where he belongs" it's because his being there is part
of an effort to clean up the Constitutional Menu at America's Restaurant. It's an effort that might include firing the chef
in order to stop the poisoning that *hurts our military troops far more than anyone will admit.
*You might not be aware of one particularly important issue and the poisoning
of our troops, but the Washington Legislature is - and they're learning more: Depleted Uranium Bill in Ways and Means Committee
Published by Arthur Ruger on Washblog, and Daily Kos
This was well, what else to call it but a blogger's conference meeting with
our state elected officials, their aides and staffers, some local mainstream media, and of course the networking of bloggers
that makes up Pacific Northwest Portal (Arthur and I have separate blogs carried at the Portal, recently Arthur has
been invited to be a feature blogwriter at one of those featured blogs = Washblog).
This event was sponsored by 4 other significant Washington organizations,
including labor SEIU (Service Employees International Union),
Institute for Washington's Future, Progressive Majority....they seem to believe that regional bloggers have some impact worthy enough
of sponsoring this kind of conference and connecting bloggers with elected officials to affect change in the political process
Andrew Villanueve, who at age 15 publicly challenged initiative
guru Tim Eyeman spearheaded this whole conference. Now pushing 20 (but not there yet) Andrew is the founder of the Northwest
Progressive Institute and creating strong progressive waves in the Washington State political scene. He is in example
of what happens when determination meets with motivation.
I was seriously impressed by the number of young people involved in the
conference and that have engaged in the political process.
We know MFSO is non-political, non-partisan, and when I am representing
MFSO, I represent MFSO with the core message and in the non-partisan position.
At the conference this past weekend we were introduced and recognized
by our colleagues as MFSO bloggers. This afforded an opportunity to represent MFSO at a politically based venue. Although
partisan to be sure, our focus remained on what has always been primaryh ... getting the troops home and out
of Iraq, and that message goes out to either and all sides of the political venues.
Why this is relevant
is because I am learning that cross-networking has significant relevance to the work we do and message we bring under the
I find repeat names amongst the different networking, for example, Dina
Lydia, who helped with flyers and website reporting on the Jan 7 Seattle event that featured our 2 MFSO Speakers; a
blogger Cool Aqua at Pacific Northwest Portal also reported on the event giving attention to Military
Families Speak Out.
Northwest Progressive Institute as well as Backbone Campaign gave online
attention to Arthur and I when I went down to Crawford, Texas.
The Seattle area
SNOW coalition (Sound Non-Violence Opponents of the War) have been helpful supporters
and many members of those coalitions cross over to other groups that support MFSO. Nina Laboy, Associate
Regional Director of Seatlle AFSC has been a strong supporter and helpful in many of our MFSO efforts, recently
providing us with a place to hold one of our rare in person meetings.
Recently we have new MFSO member in Liz Rivera Goldstein, Liz@teenpeace.org who has her own non-profit organization, Teen Peace Conscientious Objector working with teens who do 'informed recruiting' testimony to other teens
across cities and towns in Washington state. As well Liz is on an advisory board of United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ).
Another of our MFSO members in Eastern part of the state, Tricia Turner,
is on National Board of Directors of Veterans and Military Families for Progress firstname.lastname@example.org (Tricia can you provide website link?).
Actually I learned of VMFP thru another networking contact, Brian
Moran, with featured blog Washblog at Pacific NW Portal.
KBCS 91.3 Interview
Host Rus Thompson, local independent film maker, previews Winter
Soldier--the rarely seen 1971 documentary about atrocities committed by American soldiers during the Vietnam
war--showing at the NW Film Forum Nov. 11th-30th. Then Rus and his guests, Randy Roland, Raymond Miller, and Stacey Bannerman
discuss issues facing U.S. war veterans from Vietnam to Iraq. What are the lessons learned and the lessons forgotten between
those two wars? What problems are veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan facing today?
MFSO Pac NW responds to Senator Murray
Reference the report 9-22-05: walking the halls of Congress in shorts. on our MFSO (Pac NW participants) Bus Tour page.
In regard to your terse and "non-negotiable" response to Military Families Speak Out and Gold Star Families for Peace members
who visited you this week to urge you to take a stand on bringing our troops home now, I would like say that what is negotiable
is your job.
That you have become this out of touch with your constituants andthe majority of the American people and are parroting
the most unworthy and incapable Commander in Chief in this country's history with rhetorical blather about "staying the course"
I know that I do not stand alone when I say that you have lost my respect and my vote.
I second Ms Dyson's remarks with emphasis added.
I am extremely disappointed that you have not shown greater leadership and voice the majority opinion from the state you
are supposed to represent.
In previous elections, I volunteered long hard hours to help both you and Senator Cantwell succeed in you election bids.
Senator Murray unless you support our troops by demonstrating leadership to end the senseless combat operations in Iraq
and Afghanistan, you will NOT have my future support.
Obviously Democrats in the State of Washington who overwhelming oppose the Bush Administration's strategy for the war in
Iraq, who overwhelming want a complete timeline for troop withdrawal established, and who overwhelming want US troop withdrawal,
particularly National Guard withdrawal to begin IMMEDIATELY!
--We need a new representative; One who keeps her word and speaks for her constituents, the citizens of the State of Washington,
not for the Bush Administration. -
Dear Senator Murray,
Your statement that your position on the Iraq war is non-negotiable is unconscionable and Highly un-democratic. I hope
not only to see you defeated for re-election but to see you brought to prosecution for international crimes in the holocaust
which is the Iraq war, along with other perpetrators of this Holocaust.