Military Families Speak Out Washington State Chapter


Bring Them Home Now!

One of the features of military families in this war that differs from previous wars is that there are more young married soldiers.

Here are some statistics:

-- in Iraq war, soldiers often married, with children

-- 55% of military personnel are married. 56% of those married are between 22 and 29.

-- One million military children are under 11.

-- 40% are 5 or younger.

-- 63% of spouses work, including 87% of junior-enlisted spouses.

Source: Department of Defense and National Military Family Association.

Dissent is loyalty Robert Taft, the conservative Ohio senator who is a hero to many of today's conservatives, gave a speech at the Executive Club of Chicago in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor.

There are a number of paragraphs that are just grand, but here's the best one, which is worth quoting in full:

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.

Drink in those words.

That's not William Fulbright two years into the Vietnam War.

It's not Ted Kennedy last week.

It's Mr. Republican, speaking -- when? Not mid-1943, or even March 1942

Taft delivered this speech ... on December 19, 1941!

That's right: 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.'

By Michael Tomasky,
The AMERICAN Prospect online

Order and send postcards to Congress - Fund our Troops, Defund the

Bring Them Home Now postage stamps

For more information see Appeal for Redress website.

For more information go to dvd 'The Ground Truth' website.

Some Past Campaigns - Washington state chapter MFSO members participation


(photo - Daniel Ellsberg, Lt. Ehren Watada)

(photo - Organizing Team; Lietta Ruger - MFSO - WA chapter introduces the Panelists)

(photo - on the Panel - Elizabeth Falzone - GSFSO/ MFSO - WA chapter and Rich Moniak - MFSO - Alaska chapter listen to two days of testimony)

(photo - close up of Panelists Elizabeth Falzone - GSFSO/ MFSO - WA chapter and Rich Moniak - MFSO - Alaska chapter)

(photo - rRetired Diplomat Col. Ann Wright gives her testimony)

(photo - Organizing Team - Lietta Ruger - MFSO - WA chapter with retired Col. Ann Wright - Testifier)

(photo - Stacy Bannerma, wife of returning Iraq veteran - WA Natl Guard, gives testimony)

(photo - close up Stacy Bannerman, author of 'When The War Came Home' gives her testimony. Formerly MFSO - WA chapter. For more on Stacy, her book, media archives, see her website at

(photo - IVAW veterans Geoffrey Millard and former Lt. Harvey Tharp give their testimony)

See website; 'Citizens' Hearing on Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq';

Jan 20-21- 2007, Tacoma, WA.

A 2 day citizens' tribunal support action in defense of Lt. Ehren Watada court martial at Fort Lewis.

(Organizing Team from MFSO - WA chapter; Lietta Ruger, Judy Linehan)


(photo Lietta Ruger, MFSO- WA, in support Lt. Ehren Watada, June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

(photo - Jenny Keesey, Judy Linehan, Lietta Ruger - from MFSO-WA in support of Lt. Ehren Watada June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

(photo - Lietta Ruger, Judy Linehan, Jenny Keesey - from MFSO - WA chapter, June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

(photo - Judy Linehan, MFSO - WA at support rally for Lt. Watada, June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

June 2006 ongoing through court martial Feb 2007

For more information, see 'Thank You Lt. Ehren Watada' website.

(photo - right is Stacy Bannerman, MFSO -WA; organizing team)

Representative Brian Baird, Washington state 3rd Congressional District, in blue shirt comes out to talk with MFSO members at 'Operation House Call')

'Operation House Call' June thru August 2006 in Washington DC.

MFSO members make individual calls on Senators and Representatives advocating to Bring Them Home Now.

For more information go to 'Operation House Call' website.

postcards sent to Congress - summer 2006, 'Operation House Call'


(photo - Lietta Ruger, MFSO-WA on central tour. Not pictured - Stacy Bannerman, MFSO -WA on northern tour)

Bring Them Home Now tour - Sept 1 thru Sept 25 2005. From Crawford, Texas to Washington DC. see Bring Them Home Now tour website

(photo - left Lietta Ruger, MFSO -WA with center Cindy Sheehan and right Juan Torres at Crawford, Texas, Camp Casey, Aug 9, 2005


photos from Newshour with Jim Lehrer; segment 'Homefront Battles' aired Oct 2004.

Online video, audio and article still available at Newshour website. photo - Sue Niederer, MFSO. Her son U.S. Army 2nd Lt.Seth Dvorin, 24 yrs old was killed in Iraq Feb 3, 2004.

photo - Nancy Lessin, MFSO Co-Founder

photo - Lietta Ruger, MFSO - WA

photo - Stacy Bannerman, MFSO - WA

See at Seattle PI; List of casualties with Washington state ties

This is one of WA state casualties; Army Spc. Jonathan J. Santos, Whatcom County, Washington died Oct 15, 2004

Watch a slide show of family photos and listen to audio recordings of Army Cpl. Jonathan Santos' mother, brother and the woman who's documenting his life.

See the trailer for the documentary "The Corporal's Boots." (QuickTime 7 required).

A special thank you to mother, Doris Kent - GSFSO/ MFSO - WA for her generous sharing and contribution in speaking of her son's life and death in Iraq

Title 17 disclaimer In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Contact us

Military Families Speak Out
is an organization of people who are opposed to war in Iraq and who have relatives or loved ones in the military. We were formed in November of 2002 and have contacts with military families throughout the United States, and in other countries around the world.

As people with family members and loved ones in the military, we have both a special need and a unique role to play in speaking out against war in Iraq. It is our loved ones who are, or have been, or will be on the battlefront. It is our loved ones who are risking injury and death. It is our loved ones who are returning scarred from their experiences. It is our loved ones who will have to live with the injuries and deaths among innocent Iraqi civilians.

If you have family members or loved ones in the military and you are opposed to this war join us.

Send us an e-mail at
You can call us at 617-522-9323
or Send us mail at:
P.O. Box 549
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130.

click here - MFSO Membership Form – to join Military Families Speak Out or

JOIN us by sending an e-mail to

MFSO - Become a Member

Membership in MFSO is open to anyone who has a family member or loved one serving, since August 2002, in any branch of our Armed Forces

* The Reserves

* The National Guard

* Returned from serving but still eligible for redeployment under stop loss.

There is no membership fee. Donations are welcome.

People who are not eligible for MFSO membership may join our Supporter Group. You are welcome to attend meetings that are open to the public, volunteer to help with event preparation and participate in our community actions and events. Supporters may purchase MFSO t-shirts and wear them with the "Proud Supporter of MFSO" button. Buttons may also be worn without the t-shirt.

Our Supporters provide emotional encouragement and physical help to our MFSO military families who are under extreme stress, especially if their loved one is in Iraq or Afghanistan

We welcome your involvement, please contact us.

click to see the list MFSO chapters other than Washington state forming around the country.

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Sunday, 21 January 2007

Now Playing: Citzen's Tribunal on Legality of the War in Iraq
Topic: Lt. Ehren Watada

Citizens' Hearing on Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq

Tacoma, WA, Jan 20-21, 2007

Live Blogging Coverage at - almost verbatim reporting of the testimonies from Daniel Ellsberg, Ann Wright, Iraq veterans;  former JAG and Arabic linquist Lt Harvey Tharp, non-commissioned officer Geoffrey Millard, Richard Falk,Benjamin Davis, Denis Halliday.

 see more blogger reports of other testimonies at

also visit Citizens' Hearing on Legalility of U.S. Actions in Iraq website for continually updated reports and audio of the 2 days of testimony.  You won't want to miss any of these poignant and powerful testimonies.


We intend for the Citizens' Hearing to heighten the discussion of the Iraq invasion and occupation in the public--and within the military itself--as similar tribunals did during the Vietnam War. We are inviting testimony by Iraq War witnesses and experts. Your donation will be used to bring the testifiers and panelists to Tacoma and to record the event so everyone can benefit from the testimony.

The hearing will present the case that Lt. Watada would, if allowed, make at his court martial. His defense attorneys maintain that the war on Iraq is illegal under international treaties and under Article Six of the U.S. Constitution. Further, Lt. Watada’s defense argues that the Nuremberg Principles and U.S. military regulations require soldiers to follow only "lawful orders." In Lt. Watada's view, deployment to Iraq would have made him party to the crimes that permeate the structure and conduct of military operations there.

The format of the Citizens' Hearing will resemble that of a congressional committee, employing a dignified approach to gathering information. Testimony will be offered by Iraq War veterans, experts in international law and war crimes, and human rights advocates. Your gift of funds (or frequent flyer miles) will enable more of these clear voices to be heard by people around the country and the world. Among the figures that have committed to testify are:

*Daniel Ellsberg, military analyst who released the Pentagon Papers in the Vietnam War;

*Denis Halliday, Former UN Assistant Secretary General, coordinated Iraq humanitarian aid;

*Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University;

*Harvey Tharp, former U.S. Navy Lieutenant. Arabic linquist  and JAG stationed in Iraq;

*Ann Wright, Retired Army Colonel and State Department official;

*Stacy Bannerman Military Families Speak Out; author of "When the War Came Home"

*Antonia Juhasz, policy-analyst and author on U.S. economic policies in Iraq;

*John Burroughs, Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy executive director;

*Benjamin G. Davis, Assoc. Law Prof., Univ. of Toledo; expert on law of war;

*Eman Khammas, Iraqi human rights advocate (via video).

*Geoffrey Millard, 8 years in NY Army National Guard; stationed in Ground Zero, Kuwait, Iraq.

*Darrell Anderson, Army 1st Armored Division in Baghdad & Najaf; awarded Purple Heart

*Dennis Kyne, 15 years as Army medic & drill sergeant; trained in NBC warfare; Gulf War I.

*Francis Boyle, Professor of International Law at University of Illinois (video testimony)

*Chanan Suarez-Diaz, Former Navy hospital corpsman; awarded Purple Heart & Commendation with Valor.

A panel of citizens will hear the testimony, examine witnesses, and issue a fact-finding report. The panel will be comprised of veterans, members of military families, high school students, union members, and representatives of local governments, academia, and religious organizations. David Krieger, Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Former Army 2nd Lieutenant stationed in Hawaii during the Vietnam War, and a member of the Jury of Conscience at the 2005 World Tribunal on Iraq (in Istanbul) will serve as panel chair.

     read more at website - Citizens' Hearing on Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq  -

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Updated: Sunday, 18 March 2007 8:49 AM PDT
Friday, 19 January 2007

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Local Lobbying

Doc Hastings; David Reichert are the only WA Legislator to Support Escalation in Iraq

Check the list to see how our WA Senators and House Members stand on escalation - Iraq war.

I'd like to see discussion on this develop here and I'd like to hear from supporters of  Doc Hastings -R- WA4  as to why - why support him in supporting an escalation?

Oh and look, Dave Reichert-R-WA8 refused to answer. What does that mean - he doesn't know his own position? Did I read down the list and correctly assert the position of our WA Legislators?  If I made a mistake, missed someone, please comment and let's get it accurate.  

Link - Senators and House Members on Troop Escalation

Perhaps it is untimely to post this as front page story and it would have better served as a diary.  I will be away from computer over the weekend. I have duties as one of the organizers of the Citizens' Hearing on Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq that is taking place this weekend in Tacoma. (see more at

Perhaps precisely because of the work that has gone into organizing what will be a citizen's tribunal on legality of Iraq war, it is so offensive to see any of our WA state Legislators take a stand in support of escalation in Iraq.

I do know about Dave Reichert, and I don't know much about Doc Hastings, but I am very disappointed to see there is not a unanimous stand of opposition to the escalation from our WA Legislators.    

Take a look at nationally among Senators and House Members who stands where on the escalation here .  

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Wednesday, 17 January 2007

Now Playing: Rich Moniak
Topic: Members Speak Out
Rich Moniak is an MFSO member who was invited to serve as a Citizen's Tribunal Panel Member this coming weekend. I've been trying for some time to get Rich to join Washblog and post some of his writings here. He has written some excellent stuff but has not been a blogger although he has written and spoken publicly as a member of Military Families Speak Out.

I'd like for Washblog to be the place he turns into a blogger.

Rich sent me the following article which asks a provocative question:

Why Can't Bush Find 21,000 Iraqi Troops?
As the debate about President Bush's new "surge" strategy intensifies, we might also try to engage in a critical assessment of one of the primary elements of his long standing "stay the course". Way back in June 2005 he told us "our military is helping to train Iraqi security forces so that they can defend their people and fight the enemy on their own. Our strategy can be summed up this way: As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down." And as recently as a week after the 2006 election, he seemed to be holding firm to the objective to train Iraqi troops.  



Two years ago during the presidential debates, Bush boasted there were 100,000 Iraqis already trained to "make Iraq safe and secure." Four weeks ago, Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey predicted that the "Iraqi security forces will reach their goal of 325,000 trained and equipped members this month."By these numbers we might imagine the coalition forces in Iraq have increased threefold. So why can't the administration find 21,000 reliable Iraqi troops for his "surge" to secure Baghdad and the western provinces?

Americans are thoroughly familiar with the debate about supporting our troops through adequate funding. It will be called to the forefront again as Congress debates Senator Kennedy's proposed legislation that will deny the President the authority to use the funds necessary to commit more troops to Iraq without specific approval of Congress.  The anti-war movement is being accused of not supporting the troops in their campaign to "de-fund" the war and bring them home now.  

From a funding perspective, who is supporting the Iraqi troops America needs to stand up so ours can come home? According to the Iraq Study Group report our "military priorities in Iraq must change" to make one of the highest priorities the training, equipping, advising of Iraqi security forces. The much celebrated bipartisan report that Bush has essentially ignored explains that the Iraqi security forces:

"cannot carry out their missions without adequate equipment. Congress has been generous in funding requests for U.S. troops, but it has resisted fully funding Iraqi forces. The entire appropriation for Iraqi defense forces for FY 2006 ($3 billion) is less than the United States currently spends in Iraq every two weeks. ... They [Iraqis] lack the ability to sustain their operations, the capability to transport supplies and troops, and the capacity to provide their own indirect fire support, close-air support, technical intelligence, and medical evacuation."  

Not fully funding the Iraqis with the equipment for the mission they are supposed to take over from us seems to be a major reason why our troops are still in Iraq. It undermines the progress Bush has been boasting about for almost two years. The failure to fund his own strategy seems to be a conscious decision by the Bush administration that has put forth every budget request that Congress has approved.  

Perhaps the administration and Congress don't trust what the Iraqis will do with the funds and equipment we provide. There's been plenty of evidence that give rise to question the loyalties of some Iraqi units. With more than half of the Iraqi people claiming to support attacks against U.S. troops, strong suspicions that weapons might be siphoned off and delivered to the militias and other resistance groups seems well justified.  

Yet how can we expect the Iraqi forces that supposedly now double the U.S. troops there to succeed on less than 4% of the budget for our troops? Shouldn't they expect the same quality of weapons and equipment to fight the same enemy? When the Iraqis see the shortcomings of their equipment next to the mighty American war machine, how could they trust U.S. intentions as sincerely aimed at helping them defend Iraq?  

Has the program failed because it was under funded or has the U.S. resisted funding it because we've been betrayed by the people our troops are fighting for? But the word failure implies the intentions were honest. Perhaps we should be asking how well has the administration succeeded in camouflaging its intent to fail. What would happen to Iraq if our tax dollars were adequate to support the military mission of training the Iraqis so we can leave their country?

It's no secret that Bush's goals and the neocon agenda of installing a pro-American secular government in Iraq failed. Instead, the country's free elections gave them a government dominated by a Shiite coalition much more aligned with Iran's interests than ours. Iran remains part of Bush's axis of evil, and an Iran-Iraq alliance may shut him out of the oil bonanza.

The lack of mutual trust seems obvious. It's placed the administration and Congress in the impossible situation of needing the new Iraqi military to succeed so we can leave, while being hog tied to the fear that whatever weapons and equipment are provided might end up in the wrong hands. They don't want to arm and strengthen those they blame for the sectarian violence, and certainly not a potential future enemy. They have to prolong the failure of getting the Iraqis prepared to defend their own country because they're afraid that seeking success might more readily guarantee a long term failure.  

The word surge isn't a mask for escalation, but for stalling. The administration doesn't want an independent Iraq unless it comes with the government it deems as acceptable. It's not coming soon, and while we wait, Bush wants to send more of our men and women to fight a battle they can't win. By not fully funding training and equipment for the Iraqis to defend themselves, it's difficult to imagine how President Bush has been supporting American troops who need their new Iraqi allies to succeed so we can stand down and bring them all home.

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Monday, 15 January 2007

Topic: Call to Action
Bush has spoken - Now it's YOUR turn!

Dear Members of Military Families Speak Out,
We are deeply saddened and outraged by President Bush's plan to escalate the war in Iraq.Yesterday our phones were ringing off the hook with press from across the country and around the world wanting to hear the response of Military Families Speak Out members to George Bush's televised message to the nation. Military Families Speak Out clearly has the attention of the press -- now it is time to move our message directly to the United States Congress.
The next two weeks are critical in the campaign to get Senators and Members of Congress to take action to not only prevent the escalation, but also to end the war. Congress can use their "power of the purse" to cut off funds that allow this war to continue.
Some in Congress are saying they can not "abandon our troops" and leave them "without bullets" by cutting off funds. The reality is that the military currently has funds to bring our troops home quickly and safely, with all the equipment, supplies and bullets they need. If the funding from the supplemental budget approved last fall were to run out, monies currently in the Defense Department budget could be 're-programmed' for use in bringing our troops home.  
In the beginning of the war, many in Congress said that they could not oppose the war in Iraq because they needed to "support the troops." It was the voices of military families and Veterans that helped them disconnect "support for the troops" from "support for the war." Our voices are needed now to help them understand that "funding for the war" is not the same as  "funding for the troops." We must convince Congress that the best way to support our troops is to de-fund the war, bring them home now and take care of them when they get here.
Congress must now hear your voice! Here's how that can happen:
1. Order and send MFSO post cards to Congress asking them to De-fund the war. You can see the post card here, and can order them by sending your address and how many you would like to They are free for MFSO members.
2. Write individual letters to your Senators and Members of Congress. If you can, include a copy of a photo of your loved one. They need to see the human faces of this war! You can find your Senators' and Representatives' names and addresses at, by entering your zip code.
3. Call your Senators and Members of Congress toll free! (These phone numbers go right to the Capital, and you can then ask for you Senators and Member of Congress): 800-828-0498, 800-459-1887 or 800-614-2803
4. For MFSO members with MFSO chapters in their area: connect with your chapter to get involved in local activities; for MFSO members in areas where there is not yet a chapter: join with members in your area for local actions. If you would like to be connected with members in your area, please email
Below is a sample script for a phone call or letter to your Senators and Member of Congress:
Sample script for phone call or letter
I am the [mother/father/wife/brother etc.] of [name of loved one, or information such as "a Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps", description of their situation - as much as you are comfortable sharing]
I am strongly opposed to the war in Iraq. [add a personal statement of what this war has done to your loved one and your family.] The recent elections have shown that the American people want us out of Iraq -- we want Congress to listen to this mandate!
I am calling [or writing] you to tell you how important it is that you support our troops by voting against any upcoming appropriation for continuing and/or expanding the war in Iraq. As military families we will stand with all who support our troops by voting to de-fund this unjust and unjustifiable war. We will make sure the American public understands that real support for our troops is de-funding the war, bringing them home now and taking care of them when they get here.
We also say to those in the 110th Congress who are considering voting in favor of an appropriation that continues or expands the war in Iraq: “You fund it, and you’ve bought it. The war in Iraq will no longer be President Bush’s war. It will be yours.”
Thank you for adding your voice to those of other military and Gold Star families, Iraq war and other Veterans calling for Congress to take action to end this war.

In Peace and Solidarity,
Nancy Lessin and Charley Richardson
for Military Families Speak Out
Military Families Speak Out
P.O. Box 300549
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Sunday, 14 January 2007

Topic: Call to Action

Read this ... then tell me why Lt. Watada is mistaken.

Think about this if you will, as if your child, your spouse, your beloved family member or friend were someone like our good Lt. Watada up the road facing court martial for declaring the war illegal and refusing to lead men in a criminal enterprise. Nor coming home with blood on their hands for Bush reasons. - Arthur Ruger

This is still another view of the surge. But this one is the butt-ugliest version I've seen.

Problem is, it's the one that makes the most sense of what has appeared to be absolute lunacy on the part of Bush and Cheney, given their statements today.

I'd really like to print this entire article but cannot legally do that so I'm going to write commentary on excerpts from the article. However, in the strongest terms, I suggest that you all read it. Whether you believe the author or not, your understanding and perspective of what is happening in Iraq almost moment by moment these days will be much greater.

If you link to and read the entire article and don't believe or agree, I'd suggest that one of us is in denial.


Petraeus! Is Baghdad Burning? Petraeus! Is Baghdad Burning?

Posted on January 12, 2007
By Stan Goff

Editor's note: In this piece, a retired U.S. Special Forces soldier takes an oil-filtered look at Bush's "surge" plan for Iraq.

    "Jodl!  Is Paris burning?"
    --Adolf Hitler, Aug. 25, 1944

[Excerpts & my commentary. Arthur]


... The other thing we need oil for is food ... more than people realize.  In Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma," he traces the U.S. food chain back to the oil fields through corn, which is now the basis of most of our other foods, then back to the oil field.  It is widely known that each calorie of food consumed in the world today represents an expenditure of 10 calories of fossil energy, but Pollan's remarks while observing a cattle feed lot, where the beef-on-the-hoof was being force-fed corn produced by Cargill and Archer,Daniels Midland, are more to the point than any statistical review:

... The reason I lead into a discussion of the Bush administration's military "surge" plan for Iraq by talking about fossil fuels is that neither the government nor the media seem inclined to talk about the subject.

I've read quite a bit about peak oil and have respect for the concept. However, I was not in the mood for more peak oil when I started this article. Stan Goff has more than a peak oil on his mind here and I was not disappointed as I continued.


The Hydrocarbon Law

... The desperation of the coming escalation of criminal lunacy is based not on some fantasy but on a real and coming competition between the U.S. and basically everyone else for these energy stores, even as most honest experts agree that world production of oil has now peaked and will begin an inexorable and irreversible decline.  The reason for attempting to implant permanent U.S. military bases in the Persian Gulf area and install compliant governments (the real reason for the war from the very beginning) has everything to do with securing control over the region.

- The surge plan is a painfully twisted military option, but what is twisting it is not well understood.  Stability in Iraq could be achieved relatively easily, even now, in conjunction with a precipitous redeployment of Anglo-American military forces.  The strange attractor --strange mostly because the media never mention it--is Iraq's "first postwar draft hydrocarbon law," which would "set up a committee consisting of highly qualified experts to speed up the process of issuing tenders and signing contracts with international oil companies to develop Iraq's untapped oilfields."

This law, which is tantamount to privatization with an Anglo-American franchise in perpetuity, is the bottom line for the U.S., as evidenced by the fact that this is the one, absolute, bottom-line point of agreement between the Bush administration and the so-called Iraq Study Group.  

The rhetorical scuffle between these two entities is not the what, but the how.

...When the situation is looked at in this way, we can bypass all the chatter from government and media mystigogues about regional stability for the sake of the people, democracy, terrorism, et cetera.  These rhetorical smoke screens are concealing two inescapable facts:  (1) The U.S. has lost the Iraq war and (2) the best retrenchment position possible now is to salvage the draft hydrocarbon law.

Okay conspiracy buffs ... it is about the oil. So how desperately determined or determinedly desperate are Bush and Cheney?

Whose oil is it?

And what could B&C do with a new embassy complex  the size of Rhode Island and the 14 permanent bases in Iraq if Bush pretends that it's only a matter of more time befeore he goes along and withdraws our sons and daughters?


The Shiite leader who has most vehemently opposed this law, and the U.S. occupation, has been Muqtada al-Sadr.  The press has frequently portrayed Sadr as pro-Iranian, and nothing could be further from the truth.

... Sadr has called for Iraqi unification, left the door open to Sunnis for an anti-occupation alliance, denounced the hydrocarbon law, and modeled his political and military leadership on Hezbollah.

Here is where we come to the nub of The Surge, and why it is probably the political death knell of Nouri al-Maliki.  The principle aim of The Surge is to break the power of Muqtada al-Sadr.  

Sadr not only has the seats in the Potemkin parliament of Iraq that put Maliki (a leader in a relatively small Shiite party, the Dawa) into power against the SCIRI (the largest parliamentary faction); he commands the ferocious loyalty of two and a half million people and has an 80,000-strong militia concentrated a stone's throw from the U.S.-protected Green Zone in Baghdad.  

Baghdad has about 6 million people;
New York City has 8 million, just by way of comparison.  
The population of Sadr City, the "neighborhood" under the leadership of Sadr, is approximately that of Brooklyn.

My perception of Al Sadr - given me by media - is essentially that he is nothing more than a holy man subordinate to a holier man named Al Sistani;

that he's an overly zealous and loyal Shiite lieutenant who's run amok and needs to be restrained by somebody else now that his superior has washed his hands of the whole thing.

And if Al Sadr is such a small timer, why is there a Brooklyn-sized "neighborhood" named Sadr City?

I think we misunderstand and make assumptions based on information failure at the hands of media.

What's with Al Sadr and Maliki?


... the Maliki government--or any other government that relies on U.S. military protection to survive for a week -- commands the loyalty of only a fraction of the armed actors in Iraq, and it positions itself tactically against most other armed actors.  

The armed forces being trained for that "government" are themselves loyal to factions with agendas, and these forces are filled with opportunists and infiltrators.

... In light of those realities there is no possibility of one faction gaining the acquiescence of the whole Iraqi population and the various armed expressions of populations.

The Bush surge plan is designed to eliminate Maliki's Shiite opposition inside Baghdad, i.e., Sadr and his Mahdi Army.

What is magical about 21,500 soldiers and a surge of that specific size?


...While the U.S. gross troop numbers are about 130,000 (with around 25,000 mercenaries as an augmentative force), the actual number of combat troops is about 70,000.  Before we can begin to subdivide these forces for any possible operation to slaughter and raze Sadr City, we have to account for basic operations and force protection at nine major  permanent U.S. bases across Iraq, at least five large contingency bases, and an unknown number of smaller forward operating bases.  Camp Anaconda in Balad alone has at least 25,000 troops.

...The Surge would inject fewer troops than are required to maintain one "camp." If the entire surge figure of 21,400 troops is compared with the number of hostile residents in Sadr City, the ratio is about 112 hostiles for every American.

This can mean only one thing: airstrikes, followed by a ruthless house-to-house slaughter.  

Sadr City is targeted to be the next Fallujah.

For those who are susceptible to the personification of war, that is, the reduction of whole populations to a single leader--as in, "we are going to take out Saddam"

--I will remind readers that Sadr City is half men and half women, with 40 percent of the population under 14 years of age.  

A million children.  

Sadr City is approximately 33 million square feet.  That is a population density of one child per 33 square feet--less than a 6-foot-by-6-foot room.  

The very smallest lethality radius from so-called precision weapons delivered by aircraft is about 20 meters.  

Even the humble infantry grenade launcher fires an M406, characterized this way in the manual:

    The HE [high-explosive] round has an olive drab aluminum skirt with a steel projectile attached, gold markings, and a yellow tip. It arms between 14 and 27 meters, produces a ground burst that causes casualties within a 130-meter radius, and has a kill radius of 5 meters.

Do the math.

In Fallujah, a mass evacuation was organized before the general assault on the city.  The mandatory mass evacuation went through checkpoints in the American cordon sanitaire.

While women and children and very old people were allowed out, all "military-aged males" were turned back into the city, which, once the assault started, became a free-fire zone, and those men were dealt with like the Jews of Warsaw.  

Thousands of people refused to evacuate for a variety of reasons. They were subsequently caught up in the general slaughter.  This is the likely operational template for Sadr City.

Think about this if you will, as if your child, your spouse, your beloved family member or friend were someone like our good Lt. Watada up the road facing court martial for declaring the war illegal and refusing to lead men in a criminal enterprise.


The Other Math

There is another calculation associated with these kinds of "surge" operations: the aftermath.  

Muqtada al-Sadr has been effectively demonized in the U.S., but he is wildly popular and influential in Iraq, especially in southeastern Iraq, which has heretofore shown the least resistance to the Anglo-American occupation.

In an attack on Sadr City, according to powerful rumors, Kurdish peshmerga troops will be used to do some of the fighting, an insane political gambit.

If the Americans proceed with what appears to be a cruel and mindless plan (surely emanating from Dick Cheney's lair) there will be a possibility of igniting the Mother of All Tactical Nightmares for the U.S.: a general armed Shiite uprising in the southeast.

Maliki, of course, knows this, and has objected strenuously--only to be blown off like a gnat by the Bush administration and its fresh coterie of compliant generals.  

Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, author of yet another U.S. military manual on counterinsurgency (none of which has ever worked--ever), is the designated paladin for this disgraceful enterprise; he's getting his fourth star for this, making him a real general.

"Petraeus is being given a losing hand," notes former Gen. Barry McCaffrey.

"I say that reluctantly. The war is unmistakably going in the wrong direction.  The only good news in all this is that Petraeus is so incredibly intelligent and creative....  I'm sure he'll say to himself,

`I'm not going to be the last soldier off the roof of the embassy in the Green Zone.' "

Stan Goff is a retired veteran of the U.S. Army Special Forces. During an active-duty career that spanned 1970 to 1996, he served with the elite Delta Force and Rangers, and in Vietnam, Guatemala, Grenada, El Salvador, Colombia, Peru, Somalia and Haiti.

He is a veteran of the Jungle Operations Training Center in Panama and also taught military science at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Goff is the author of the books "Hideous Dream--A Soldier's Memoir of the U.S. Invasion of Haiti," "Full Spectrum Disorder--The Military in the New American Century" and "Sex & War."

It's a lengthy article at but it's my firm opinion that one cannot come to any reasonable estimacion of what is going on in Iraq and why Bushco is so obstinate about a surge without including Goff's article in the mix.

Meanwhile, Link to

Cross-posted to DailyKos


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Updated: Sunday, 18 March 2007 4:50 PM PDT
Thursday, 11 January 2007

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Members Speak Out

Does increase of 92,000 troops equate to a "Temporary Surge" ?

92,000 troops   over next five years as is being recommended to the President by the new Secretary of Defense Robert Gates does not sound like a 'temporary surge' to me.

AP yahoo article here Fort Lewis Stryker Brigade will be going earlier than planned.  And likely WA state Natl Guard will be deploying again. Affected will be units based in Minnesota, Kansas, Georgia and Washington.  

Why did US troops have to "storm" an Iran Consulate  and arrest 6 staff members?  Iran? It isn't too difficult to conclude the President has his eye on Iran.  But where would the troops come from for that front?  The troops already have been recycled in repetitious deployments to the point of exhaustion and military recruitment isn't at an all time high. [ed note] correction -Iran Consulate

Senators and Representatives of Washington state will you represent us in Washington with the courage of the purse strings? And since this is not strictly a Washington state issue, but a national issue, you have an opportunity to demonstrate leadership among your peers.

The phone is ringing off the hook at the national office of Military Families Speak Out, with media requests to speak to military families. Media wants to know the reactions of military families to President Bush speech last night. After all, who is most directly affected by the President's plans for troop increase?  

Military families - those who actually have loved ones deployed, not once but twice, three times, and anticipating additional deployments - are in the best position to know how Bush's war is affecting  our troops.  

Military families - whose loved ones won't be returning because they already paid the ultimate price with their lives - know how Bush's war is affecting our troops.  

Military families - those who will live with the progressive effects of trauma in the family for years to come - know how Bush's war is affecting their marriages, children, family, the very fabric of their lives.

Bush's war - well maybe that is where it was initially, but now it's Congress' war. Parse it any way, it is an inheritance to the newly elected 110th Congres. Will they take action to interrupt funding the war with the newly won 'power' they say they didn't have before 2006 elections?   It would be unfathomable to me if our elected Democratic majority Congress were to use a political ploy to keep this as Bush's war and not own what has become their war for another two years in an effort to jockey for political position in some future election.  

I pray for strength and courage for our Congress over these immediate next hours and days as they contend with this critical decision of what to do about the President and Commander-in-Chief escalating the U.S. occupation in Iraq.  So far the non-binding resolution being suggested denotes non-action to me.  Would that they could persuade me that the cost of more lives in Iraq buys them time to carry out some grand master plan they might be keeping under wraps.  

I've heard it said among my political friend circles that first they had to get them elected, then could take action. Well they are elected, the people voted - not so much for a love of the Democratic party  - but for a change in Iraq  and the time for the newly elected Congress to take  action is now - yesterday , today, tomorrow - immediately and urgently.  

You are welcome to download and use the postcard to send to your Congressional Representative and Senators. Try clicking on the postcard. For use and download instructions visit this page at Military Families Speak Out.

With the ball now in their court,  here are reasons why we must insist Congress act with integrity and responsibility;    


* Administration officials have been calling the Bush proposal a troop surge, when it may, in fact be, an escalation of war in Middle East.  I well remember a President Bush speech that spoke of 'the long war' and I took those words to heart because I believe he meant and believed them.  Which is not to say that I believe in him, but I've learned that this President who is Commander-in-Chief and controls the lives and destiny of the Iraq veterans in my family is deadly serious about his war.

    * The Bush administration has always said that they would listen to the commanders on the ground. Yet when the commanders oppose the idea of increasing troop strength in Iraq, they are replaced.  It would seem the administration only listens to the commanders when they say what the administration wants them to.

    * More and more members of Congress (Republican  and Democrat) this week have been pointing out that increasing troop levels by 10 or 20,000 is not going to make things better in Iraq - it will make things worse. Adding more troops adds fuel to the fire raging in Iraq, it won't calm things down. More U.S. troops in Iraq will not "fix" a war that should never have started.  

    * Increasing troops on the ground in Iraq will result in the deaths of more U.S. troops and more Iraqi children, women and men. It will increase the number of wounded and the number of U.S. troops returning with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  

    * If thousands of troops are "added" to the ground in Iraq, they won't be "new" troops. Units currently in Iraq and currently scheduled to come home will be extended; other units that were not supposed to deploy for months, will be sent to Iraq earlier, often without full training or equipment.

    * By moving to escalate the war in Iraq, President Bush is doing the unconscionable: he is paying for his mistakes with the lives of our loved ones and the loved ones of others. If Congress allows this war to continue and escalate, they will also be doing the unconscionable.

    * It is now up to Congress to use their power of the purse to end funding for the war in Iraq. Congress cannot simultaneously oppose and fund this war.

    * It is not enough for Senators and Members of Congress to be talking about using their power of the purse to block the funds needed for escalating the war in Iraq. They must address the fact that there are currently 140,000 troops in Iraq right now who need to be brought home and taken care of when they get here. Each day that Congress fails to act to end the U.S. military occupation of Iraq, on average 3 more U.S. troops and countless Iraqi children, women and men die.

    * Some Senators and Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle are suggesting that cutting off funds for the war in Iraq will leave our loved ones and all of our troops in Iraq without equipment, supplies, armor, vehicles, and ammunition. They say that cutting funds would be `abandoning' our troops. De-funding the war is not de-funding the troops. In fact, de-funding this war is the most supportive thing that Congress can do for our troops.

    * per Congressman Kucinich - there are currently enough monies in the supplemental appropriation passed by Congress in fall, 2006 to bring our troops home quickly and safely, with all the equipment and supplies needed for this redeployment. If more monies are needed to bring our troops home quickly and safely, monies in the Department of Defense budget could be re-programmed for that purpose. Congress, using their power of the purse to de-fund this war, will NOT be abandoning our troops - leaving them in Iraq is abandoning them.

    * It is past time for Congress to end the U.S. military occupation of Iraq, bring our troops home now, and take care of them when they get here.

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Thursday, 4 January 2007

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Lt. Ehren Watada

Army Subpoenas WA activists To Testify Against Lt. Watada

First it was reporters being subpoenaed (Dahr Jamail, Sara Olson, and Gregg Kakesako) and now it expands to local activists in Washington state. The Army has issued subpoenas to local WA state activists to testify in the upcoming court martial of Lt. Watada.  Veterans for Peace, Washington based organizer Gerry Haynes; Veterans for Peace organizer organizer Tom Burkhart; Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace member Phan Nguyen - received subpoena's to testify.


Military subpoenas reporters and activists to help prosecute Lt. Watada.

Pre-trial hearing underway today, however judge delays testimony of those subpoenaed until full court martial February 5. Journalists say free press threatened. Activists say Army demands they "name names" in effort to chill anti-war organizing.

At a Tacoma, Washington press conference yesterday, January 3, Olympia-based anti-war activist Phan Nguyen described his objections to having been subpoenaed last week by the Army to testify against Lt. Watada. Nguyen, a member of the Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace, was the moderator of a number of press conferences in June 2006 regarding Lt. Watada and his objections to serving in an illegal and immoral war in Iraq.

When contacted directly by Army prosecutor Captain Daniel Kuecker last week, Nguyen refused to answer any questions without first speaking with a lawyer. However, Nguyen described the Kuecker's line of questions as focusing on the behind the scenes workings of the anti-war movement in the Pacific Northwest. "Kuecker basically demanded that I name the names of any key organizers that had anything to do with the public support campaign created to support Lt. Watada," explained Nguyen. "They are clearly on a political fishing expedition. Unless we fight back, this could have a chilling effect on anti-war organizing at a time when we have to step up to end the war."

Seattle chapter Veterans for Peace (VFP) organizer Gerri Haynes has also been subpoenaed by the Army. Apparently, Haynes landed on the Army's radar because she played a public role in organizing the Veterans for Peace National Convention in Seattle last August. Like Jamail, the Army is looking for information regarding Lt. Watada's speech to the convention. Like Nguyen, Haynes confirmed that Kuecker "wanted the names of convention attendees and organizers." Another VFP organizer Tom Burkhart has been placed on the Army's witness list.

above was quoted from Courage to Resist

Planned Support Actions

The campaign to support Lt. Watada plans a protest and press conference at the gates of Fort Lewis this morning from 8 AM to 11 AM as the pre-trial hearing begins.

Supporters can also express their support writing to Fort Lewis Commanding General;

 Lt. General James Dubik,
 Commanding General Fort Lewis,
 1 Corps Building 2025 Stop 1,
 Fort Lewis WA 98433.

 The Citizens' Hearing on the Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq: The Case of Lt. Ehren Watada

will be held on January 20-21 in Tacoma, two weeks before the court martial of Lt. Watada at Fort Lewis. The national event will put the Iraq War on trial, in response to the Army's trial of Lt. Watada.  

Iraq War veterans, experts in international law and war crimes, and human rights advocates will offer testimony, in a format that will resemble that of a congressional committee. We are inviting testimony by Iraq War veterans and experts to inform military personnel and other citizens to reflect deeply on their roles and responsibilities in an illegal war." Testifiers will include:

Denis Halliday   Former UN Assistant Secretary General, coordinated Iraq humanitarian aid;

Daniel Ellsberg   Military analyst who released the Pentagon Papers in the Vietnam War;

Richard Falk   Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University;

Ann Wright   Retired Army Colonel and State Department official;

Nadia McCaffrey Gold Star Families Speak Out; Brussels Tribunal advisory board;

Darrell Anderson  Army 1st Armored Division in Baghdad & Najaf; awarded Purple Heart;

Harvey Tharp   Former U.S. Navy Lieutenant and JAG stationed in Iraq;

Antonia Juhasz  Policy-analyst and author on U.S. economic policies in Iraq;

John Burroughs  Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy Executive Director;

Benjamin G. Davis  Assoc. Prof. of Law, University of Toledo; expert on law of war;

Geoffrey Millard  8 years in Army National Guard; now in Iraq Veterans Against the War;

Francis Boyle   Professor of international law at Univ. of Chicago (via video);

Eman Khammas  Iraqi human rights advocate (via video).

The hearing will present the case that Lt. Watada would, if allowed, make at his court martial. He maintains that the war on Iraq is illegal under international treaties and under Article Six of the U.S. Constitution. Further, Lt. Watada argues that the Nuremberg Principles and U.S. military regulations require soldiers to follow only "lawful orders." In Lt. Watada's view, deployment to Iraq would have made him party to the crimes that permeate the structure and conduct of military operations there.

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Sunday, 31 December 2006

Now Playing: Arthur Ruger
Topic: Members Speak Out

"There are no warlike people - just warlike leaders." - Ralph Bunche


I thought that back when the broadcast debate about whether or not Iraq was another VietNam was interesting but too focused on literal comparison.

For me the legacy of VietNam was the massive expansion of the idea of dissent as a patriotic act.

Further, VietNam legitimized a permanent change in society in the sense that a larger segment remains willing to question the motives and speak out against the administration with considerable less risk of being isolated and marginalized by pseudo-patriotic politics.

In our experience of speaking out, the most consistent disagreement with our point of view is not the political disagreement of our contemporaries, but that of the generation older than ours that remembers World War II more than it remembers VietNam.

Arthur Ruger 



Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Saturday, 30 December 2006

Now Playing: Rich Moniak
Topic: Members Speak Out

Guest Op-Ed by Rich Moniak: Who are we fighting in Iraq?

Rich has permitted me to publish his recent Letter to the Editor to the Juneau Empire. - Arthur Ruger, Washblog

Rich: "It's nice to live in a small town where a voice can be heard above the clamor of so much nonsense that dominates the newspapers next to the select few writers we all recognize.

I was told last week by a new resident from Pittsburgh that the local paper he read there allowed but one community perspective piece a year. We're allowed one every six weeks it seems.

Then again, few read a small town newspaper, so maybe I'm just hearing myself think."



My turn: Who are we fighting in Iraq?
Letter to the


Two months after declaring the end to combat operations in Iraq, President George W. Bush issued a challenge to an Iraqi opposition he's never had to face: "Bring them on."

Three and a half years later, they're still coming. But according to the most celebrated study of the war, "Our government still does not understand very well either the insurgency in Iraq or the role of the militias." Who is then opposing the U.S. occupation?

The Iraq Study Group, headed by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Rep. Lee Hamilton, doesn't attempt to provide solutions to the war in terms of the simple rhetoric we've become accustomed to hearing. The group's admission that there aren't any guarantees to success is a sobering introduction that displaces politically crafted speech with some degree of honesty.

Yet why does the final assessment of not understanding the enemy in Iraq lay buried near the end of the text? How accurate is the portrayal of the sources of violence as the Sunni Arab insurgency, al-Qaida and affiliated jihadist groups, Shiite militias, death squads and organized criminality? Is it true that most attacks against our troops come from the Sunni Arab insurgency?

History suggests that outside forces support such resistance movements. Not with uniformed fighters, but rather with funds, weapons and mercenaries. Iraq is no different.

The accusations that Iran and Syria are sending support across their borders aren't new. The Iraq Study Group recognizes that both nations are "content to see the United States tied down in Iraq." But they bring in a new player, the private citizens of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, who the study group claims are providing funds to the Sunni resistance.

Are the governments of those citizens aware of this? Is there any connection to the group's claim and the recent resignation of the Saudi ambassador to the United States? Where might the energy agreement signed last January between Saudi Arabia and China fit in?

Some pretty murky political questions begin to appear once all the various international relationships are considered. Is it possible that the most obvious adversaries to our presence in the Middle East aren't the only antagonistic forces behind the resistance movements?

China is the second-largest lender the United States relies on while our national debt soars, in a large part because of the war in Iraq. A longtime opponent of U.S. ideologies, China is emerging as a serious economic competitor. The building boom has been steady there for several years. Their thirst for oil is no less than ours.

Today's superpowers don't engage in direct warfare. America's aid to the anti-Communist freedom fighters in Afghanistan during the 1980s is merely one example. The Nicaraguan Contras are another, and that chapter of our history includes covert arms deals with Iran. And of course, the North Vietnamese received massive support from the USSR and China that helped keep the U.S. military tied down in Southeast Asia for years.

What is obvious here is that political leaders of nations share a common philosophy that is grossly insensitive to the citizens of other countries. The support of proxy armies and freedom fighters of less developed nations isn't about freedom and eventual peace for the people. Instead they aid and arm the resistance movements to undermine the economic and military strength of their global competitor. They add flames to the war with little regard for the suffering of the innocent.

The United States doesn't own the copyright to covert actions such as the Iran Contra Affair or their legal counterparts. We don't have the patent rights to shipping arms into areas of conflict that we deem essential for our national interest.

The objective here is not to accuse China of aiding the so-called insurgency, but that to understand it, we may do well to look past the Middle East geographically and ask who else prefers to see the United States fail in the country with the second largest known oil reserves in the world.

Enemies aren't created by searching for peace, but rather by the competing interests of nations. Baker and Hamilton again tell us that our war hasn't made friends: "Sixty-one percent of Iraqis approve of attacks on U.S.-led forces." Might that not encourage ideological and economic competitors around the world to lend the resistance movements support to try to undermine U.S. goals in Iraq?

It's time to be honest about the Iraq war. It will last for years unless we choose to do what's right and end it.


You can read Rich Moniak's speech at the MFSO rally observing the 3rd anniversary of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq in Juneau (3/19/2006)

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Friday, 29 December 2006

Now Playing: Arthur Ruger
Topic: Members Speak Out

Tacoma News Tribune wants to know ....

Lietta is on the TNT's survey opinion list and got the following email today:


With the execution of Saddam Hussein imminent, The News Tribune is looking for readers' reactions. How will history judge him? Was his removal worth going to war for? What effect do you think his death will have on Iraq and the war?

She's too busy focussing on a story with more substance, that of the upcoming citizen's tribunal regarding Lt. Watada.

So she asked me to respond and try to keep it down to 60 words. Me? 60 words?. I tried:


"Saddam will be no more than a footnoted dictator whose primary historical claim to fame will be Mr. Bush's excuse for exploitation based on corporate greed.

The only remaining aspect of interest for me will be the self-serving baloney from the little man Bush who'll pretend he single-handedly roped Hussein while sitting in the saddle of his presidential hobby horse."


This worst president's legacy to America will not be the trackdown and arrest of a second-rate dictator. No ... it will be this -


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST

Newer | Latest | Older

Criticism of the President is Patriotic

"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 public. 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