Military Families Speak Out Washington State Chapter

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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

2007

(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 www.stacybannerman.com)

(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)

2006


(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'


2005


(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


2004

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.
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Contact us


mfso@mfso.org




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
mfso@mfso.org
.
You can call us at 617-522-9323
or Send us mail at:
MFSO
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@mfso.org.


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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CHRONOLOGICAL ARCHIVES
into our 3rd year of speaking out
13 Oct, 08 > 19 Oct, 08
31 Dec, 07 > 6 Jan, 08
29 Oct, 07 > 4 Nov, 07
10 Sep, 07 > 16 Sep, 07
16 Jul, 07 > 22 Jul, 07
2 Jul, 07 > 8 Jul, 07
4 Jun, 07 > 10 Jun, 07
28 May, 07 > 3 Jun, 07
21 May, 07 > 27 May, 07
14 May, 07 > 20 May, 07
7 May, 07 > 13 May, 07
30 Apr, 07 > 6 May, 07
23 Apr, 07 > 29 Apr, 07
16 Apr, 07 > 22 Apr, 07
9 Apr, 07 > 15 Apr, 07
2 Apr, 07 > 8 Apr, 07
26 Mar, 07 > 1 Apr, 07
19 Mar, 07 > 25 Mar, 07
12 Mar, 07 > 18 Mar, 07
5 Mar, 07 > 11 Mar, 07
26 Feb, 07 > 4 Mar, 07
19 Feb, 07 > 25 Feb, 07
12 Feb, 07 > 18 Feb, 07
5 Feb, 07 > 11 Feb, 07
29 Jan, 07 > 4 Feb, 07
22 Jan, 07 > 28 Jan, 07
15 Jan, 07 > 21 Jan, 07
8 Jan, 07 > 14 Jan, 07
1 Jan, 07 > 7 Jan, 07
25 Dec, 06 > 31 Dec, 06
13 Nov, 06 > 19 Nov, 06
6 Nov, 06 > 12 Nov, 06
30 Oct, 06 > 5 Nov, 06
16 Oct, 06 > 22 Oct, 06
9 Oct, 06 > 15 Oct, 06
25 Sep, 06 > 1 Oct, 06
4 Sep, 06 > 10 Sep, 06
28 Aug, 06 > 3 Sep, 06
21 Aug, 06 > 27 Aug, 06
14 Aug, 06 > 20 Aug, 06
24 Jul, 06 > 30 Jul, 06
17 Jul, 06 > 23 Jul, 06
10 Jul, 06 > 16 Jul, 06
3 Jul, 06 > 9 Jul, 06
26 Jun, 06 > 2 Jul, 06
19 Jun, 06 > 25 Jun, 06
5 Jun, 06 > 11 Jun, 06
29 May, 06 > 4 Jun, 06
15 May, 06 > 21 May, 06
8 May, 06 > 14 May, 06
1 May, 06 > 7 May, 06
24 Apr, 06 > 30 Apr, 06
3 Apr, 06 > 9 Apr, 06
20 Mar, 06 > 26 Mar, 06
13 Mar, 06 > 19 Mar, 06
27 Feb, 06 > 5 Mar, 06
20 Feb, 06 > 26 Feb, 06
13 Feb, 06 > 19 Feb, 06
6 Feb, 06 > 12 Feb, 06
30 Jan, 06 > 5 Feb, 06
23 Jan, 06 > 29 Jan, 06
16 Jan, 06 > 22 Jan, 06
9 Jan, 06 > 15 Jan, 06
14 Nov, 05 > 20 Nov, 05
17 Oct, 05 > 23 Oct, 05
26 Sep, 05 > 2 Oct, 05
15 Aug, 05 > 21 Aug, 05
8 Aug, 05 > 14 Aug, 05
25 Jul, 05 > 31 Jul, 05
11 Jul, 05 > 17 Jul, 05
4 Jul, 05 > 10 Jul, 05
23 May, 05 > 29 May, 05
4 Apr, 05 > 10 Apr, 05
7 Mar, 05 > 13 Mar, 05
28 Feb, 05 > 6 Mar, 05
17 Jan, 05 > 23 Jan, 05
1 Nov, 04 > 7 Nov, 04
18 Oct, 04 > 24 Oct, 04
11 Oct, 04 > 17 Oct, 04
4 Oct, 04 > 10 Oct, 04

Friday, 24 March 2006

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger
Topic: Members Speak Out

Seattle PI editorial board calls out Cantwell on

Seattle PI editorial board calls out Cantwell on her war position.

  Disclaimer:  my political allegiance lies more in supporting our troops by bringing them home (and taking care of them when they get home).  The efforts of our organization, Military Families Speak Out - WA state chapter are to challenge our elected officials on their position on Iraq war.  Begging off taking a position in favor of 'staying the course' in alignment with the Commander-in-Chief's position does not translate to a plan of action for our troops, their families, our country.  

  In that we expect this 'volunteer military' in their repeated deployments x 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 to do their jobs with their very lives; it is not unreasonable to expect Senator Cantwell to do her job with a similar level of integrity.  New paradigm for how this war is being managed requires new paradigm in the political playing field.  Playing it 'safe' while others are dying is not an act of courage.  The vested voice of military families and troops are the real stake-holders in the policies and policy-makers in this war in Iraq/Afghanistan.  

  Apparantly the editorial board of Seattle PI has a definite opinion about Cantwell's war position...see article below the fold. See also Joe Colgan's op-ed in Seattle PI Feb 22, 2006; The Killing Has Got to Stop (brief history; military families met privately with Sen. Cantwell in Dec 2004 to express their concerns and ask her to state clearly her position on war in Iraq.  While I was invited and included, I was not able to travel up to Seattle to attend that meeting. The meeting was scheduled for 1/2 hr prior to one of her fund-raiser events and she did shift the appointment to an earlier time to allow longer than 1/2 hour meeting.  We believed that was indicative of some sincerity on her part to fully hear what those most invested had to say = Joe Colgan, veteran and father of son killed in Iraq 2003; Joshua Farris, returning Iraq veteran; Elizabeth Falzone, cousin killed in Iraq Nov 2004.)

  Joe Colgan, Kent, WA, is a veteran and father of Army 2nd Lt. Benjamin J. Colgan, who was killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad in November of 2003 while serving in an artillery unit.  I had the privilege of representing several of our Washington military families at presentation in Tacoma rally and march last Sunday. My presentation followed Rep. Jeannie Darnielle D- Tacoma who is also a military family with deployed loved ones. I was proud to give part of my 10 minute presentation to include Joe Colgan along with Joshau Farris (Seattle), a returning Iraq veteran.

see news articles:
Tacoma News Tribune article; Community marches against war

Tacoma Weekly article; Opponents of Iraq war march through Hilltop  

 In recent poll of the troops 72% say 'Bring Us Home'.  Isn't it time to listen to the authentic voices?

 

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Iraq War: Cantwell's choice

SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER EDITORIAL BOARD

It must have been a bit uncomfortable for Sen. Maria Cantwell to share the same Seattle stage with Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, not because he is among the Democratic Party's most telegenic rising young stars but because he is critical of the Bush administration's rush to war, while she supported it.

Cantwell has said she doesn't think her vote for the war was a mistake. A few months ago, she stunned the members of this newspaper's Editorial Board by talking of "our successes in Iraq."

Her Republican challenger, Mike McGavick, is unlikely to campaign against a war that is the cornerstone of a Republican administration.

But Cantwell can hardly campaign against a war her vote sanctioned, even though a large portion of the U.S. electorate and a decidedly larger portion of her own constituents are unhappy with the course of the war and President Bush's handling of it. It's a campaign issue that could bleed votes from the traditional Democratic base.

But Cantwell may be able to benefit both her re-election prospects and the nation's foreign policy. She helped lead us into this war; now it's incumbent on Cantwell to help lead us out of it.

If Cantwell is simply wedded to a stay-the-course strategy in Iraq, she's lost touch with her constituents on the central foreign policy issue.

If, however, she recognizes that we're in a quagmire that will continue to drain U.S. blood and treasure, Cantwell should bring a legitimate voice to the debate on how to best get out of Iraq.


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Saturday, 18 March 2006

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger
Topic: Civic Duty

Military Families Speak Out on tragic 3rd Anniversary Iraq/Afghanistan war

Weekend of tragically marking the third anniversary Iraq/Afghanistan war.  Some of the scheduled events of Military Families Speak Out - Washington state Chapter

We welcome friends and supporters of our message:

Support Our Troops
Bring Them Home Now
Take Care of them when they get home.

We've been busy this month - more below fold.

MFSO participation in events in Washington

Bellingham
WHAT: March and Rally
DATE: Friday, March 17
TIME: 3pm
PLACE: Bellingham Herald building, Chestnut and State Sts.
WHO: MFSO members will participate, including Anna Lawson whose son serves in the North Dakota National Guard and who has been deployed to Iraq.
CONTACT: mfsowa@swandeer.com

Port Angeles
WHAT: Rally and March
DATE: Saturday, March 18
TIME: noon
PLACE: Liberty Bell Veterans Park, 4th and Lincoln
WHO: MFSO member Jenny Keesey will be speaking, whose son is in the Army.
CONTACT: mfsowa@swandeer.com

Tacoma
WHAT: Cost of War Hits Home rally & march
DATE: Sunday, March 19
TIME: 1:30pm
PLACE: People's Park Tacoma, Martin Luther King Way & S. 9th St.
WHO: Lietta Ruger of Bay Center, WA, will speak.  Lietta's son-in-law and nephew are both in the Army and served extended tours in Iraq; they now face the prospect of multiple tours in Iraq.  Lietta brings her history as a military family spanning her childhood and early adult years, and as a young military wife during Vietnam.
CONTACT: mfsowa@swandeer.com

Louisiana

WHAT: March of Veterans, Military Families, and Survivors of Hurricane Katrina from Mobile AL to New Orleans, LA http://www.vetgulfmarch.org
DATE: 3/14 - 3/19
TIME: Rally in New Orleans, 3/19/06 10 AM
PLACE: Enter Armstrong Park (Congo Square) and begin the Rally Against War and
Injustice.
WHO: Members of Military Families Speak Out, including:
* Stacy Bannerman of Kent, Washington whose husband serves in the Washington Army National Guard, SFC Mortar Platoon, and served a year's tour of duty in Iraq. Upon return to the US, his Brigade were cut loose after a week of outprocessing, and they have gotten no post-deployment mental health counseling.

Seattle
WHAT:Sat March 18, silent vigil  9:20am Senator Cantwell fundraiser: the Palace Ballroom, 2100 5th Ave, Seattle.  
WHO:  Joe Colgan, veteran, military family and father of Benjamin Colgan, killed in Iraq in 2003. Military families, veterans, and citizen voters will gather behind one or two 3 ft. by 9 ft. banners (in front of the entrance to the fund raiser) with the following excerpt from Joe's Seattle PI op-ed piece:

"I write as a veteran who has a special love for our troops and their families, and as the father of Lt. Benjami! n Colgan, who was killed in action in Baghdad on Nov. 1, 2003... How many more Americans and Iraqis must perish or be maimed until the "stay-the-course" approach is discredited?
...It is time for Cantwell to help move the debate beyond pointless rhetoric by taking a clear position and holding public forums to promote a better understanding of the costs of this war and how to end it."

(See the full op-ed   http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0202-30.htm  )
This will be a solemn presence that conveys a clear message to both those attending the fund raiser and to the press.

Previous Military Families Speak Out events in March 2006 events noting this tragic 3rd year anniversary;

Seattle
WHAT:  Meeting with KOMO 4 TV news representatives to discuss discuss with KOMO 4 their past and future news/media coverage of terrorism and war in Iraq these past 3 yrs = adequate or inadequate and why?    
DATE:  Friday, March 17, 2006
WHO:  Backbone Campaign, Amy Lacenski of Military Families Speak Out

Tacoma
WHAT:  Forum Speak Out for Military Community
DATE:  Wednesday, March 1, 2006
PLACE:  Tacoma Unitarian Church
WHO:  Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace. Purpose was to reach out to military families of Fort Lewis.

Lietta Ruger, the state chapter coordinator
for Military Families Speak Out (MFSO), says that
"the aim of the forum is to engage with other military families in Washington in discussion of the war, the mission, and support for the deployed troops.
We hope to reach across division and splits and
find some common ground for both sides of the
discussion. We share in common the support of the
troops deployed and have reason to be proud of them."

Media coverage included invitation and interviews in Fort Lewis Ranger and Tacoma News Tribune.  http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/military/story/5557760p-5002219c.html
Also TNT reporter was at the event; article in TNT
 reporting on the event
http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/story/5561030p-5004695c.html

 


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Wednesday, 15 March 2006

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger
Topic: Take Care of Them
Washington newspaper account of local Army Sgt wounded
 
Hi Friends,
 
In Washington state, the newspaper in Vancouver, WA (The Columbian) published the below article on Dec 26, 2005.  The story of a local wounded soldier, Army Sgt Brian Radke.  
 
It is personal for us in that the father of the wounded soldier, Dave Radke, was the Administrator of the Community Services Office (Dept of Social and Health Services) in Vancouver where both Arthur and I were employed and met each other.
 
Note: This family is not connected to MFSO in any way.
 
Since then, Arthur and I have gone on to transfer to other CSOs across the state until we wound up in the current CSO in South Bend, WA.  I left state service shortly after the invasion in Iraq to give more full time attention to my daughter and her 3 children (my grandchildren) when her husband deployed to Iraq and to give more full time attention to giving voice to bringing the troops home.  Arthur stayed on cause..well, ya know, someone in the family has to have earning power.
 
When this article came to our attention it was significant for not only the personal connection to the soldier's father, and that Sgt Brian Radke is about same age as our 2 Iraq veterans, but also because it is a comprehensive, descriptive article of a Washington army Sgt's injury experience.
 
Our Washington newspapers run coverage on first hand accounts in quite different ways, and what is striking about the tone of this article is that it avoids pro/anti and partisan messages to focus on real first hand experience, keeping attention on the soldier; on the troops; on the real need to take care of them when they get home; on the potential longevity of recovery from all the wounds physical and less visible.  
 
And as secondary is the courage it takes the military families to persevere in the life-changing  aftermath  of loved ones deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.
 
I phoned the Radke household in Vancouver and spoke to Brian's parents, Dave and Lynne Radke to offer our empathy and  in common experiences with deployed loved ones.  I wanted to obtain Dave's permission to share the article amongst my own networking and affiliations and explained a bit about my affiliations and activities.   
 
I do not wish to disrespect the troops or their families and felt I needed permission before passing this article along to my networking.   The Radke's have stature in their community in Vancouver, WA as well as across the state and are well-respected, which makes the tone of the article all the more significant to me. 
 
They are not to my knowledge affiliated with any of our military family and veteran coalitions, which makes it all the more powerful as they are a military family speaking their own experience and truth independently.
 
Warning though, there are sections of the article which are graphicly descriptive of injuries and recuperation in Walter Reed.   Of note, Sgt Brian Radke has been visited by Congressman Murtha, and the article speaks some to Murtha's reaction and action;  SOD Rumsfeld, and the article speaks some about Brian's reactions to the Rumsfeld visit.  
 
A couple days after the Rumsfeld visit, in a ceremony at nation's capital Senator McCain pinned purple heart  to Sgt Brian Radke. 

Link to article;  'Trying to Heal'.    It is copyrighted so I'm reluctant to print it out for distribution.  


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Sunday, 5 March 2006

Now Playing: Stacy Bannerman
Topic: Members Speak Out

CommonDreams.org


No Deals for Democrats: Quit Bargaining with the Lives of Our Loved Ones

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 lie.

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 period.

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.

 



Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Saturday, 25 February 2006

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger
Topic: Local Lobbying

Progress!
 
02/25/2006
Last week Lietta received the following from the Senior Legislative Assistant for Senator Mark Doumit. Senator Doumit (coincidentally our state senator from our legislative district) is the co-chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee in the Washington State legislature..
Hello, I want to let you know that a budget proviso was included in the Senate's proposed budget for $150,000 for a Military Department to study the scope and adequacy of training on exposure to depleted uranium received by Washington state members of the National Guard serving during the first Gulf War or reccently in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is similar to the bill that you had contacted us about and I hope this comes as good news. Your message bringing it to our attention was very, very helpful.

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Saturday, 18 February 2006

Now Playing: Arthur Ruger
Topic: Take Care of Them

Why the Depleted uranium study on behalf of the WA Natl Guard is important

I want to follow up on Lietta's recent article Depleted uranium study WA Natl Guard IS funded! Tx Sen Doumit

Led by Senator Mark Doumit and the Senate's Ways and Means Committee, Washington State has a chance to act in a profoundly wise manner. They will join other wise legislators across the country who have not been fooled by Pentagon's and Republican adminisration's shush-now pooh-poohing of the serious, tragic and potentially calamitous medical /financial impact of the use of depleted uranium in American weaponry in Iraq and the Middle East.

Earlier last year, the Connecticut House voted 144-0 to approve the kind of legislation Doumit and company gave life to and moved closer to the Governor's desk for signature.

Depleted Uranium is not a figmentary notion in the minds of conspiracy theorists - the sort of people easily dismissed and discredited by political manipulators and suppressed by Pentagon authorities.

More and more attention is drawn to this issue requiring that more and more authorities address the issue; a  situation that itself debunks the old DU-debunking in the early years of the war.

Bored on a Saturday moving into the afternoon, out of curiosity I googled "depleted uranium victims" and rather than click "web" on Google, I clicked "images."

What came up included victim pictures of greater tragedy and criminality than anything we've seen in the original and now recent 2nd issuances of photos from Abu Ghraib.

These D.U. pictures are so numerous, one can only conclude the legitimacy of the problem or fall back on a stubborn insistence that camera-clickers from all over the world have conspired to attempt the most massive and hideous fraud ever perpetrated.

Denying and refusing to believe the D.U. tragedy will eventually be tantamount to denying the Holocaust.

After seeing those pictures, I again googled "depleted uranium" and clicked on "web" to see how easily one can become informed about whether or not our legislature is wasting time by looking into DU effects on our National Guard and the regular military members who reside in this state.

Well, I'll tell ya ... Our legislators are not wasting time. Any who try to diminish the effort or its importance have been just plain been lazy ... too lazy to even Google.

 

Manuel Valenzuela is a social critic and commentator, international affairs analyst, current events observer, Internet columnist and author of Echoes in the Wind, a novel now published by Authorhouse.com.

His articles appear regularly at his blog, Valenzuela's Veritas and at Information Clearing House as well as at other alternative news websites from around the globe.

The following are excerpts from his lengthy article, The  Killing Fields: Ghosts of the Walking Dead.

Lengthy yes, but - I promise you - an article worth reading in its entirety.

 

The Killing Fields

Meanwhile, all around Iraq and its cities a clandestine yet deadly killer lurks, invisible and unseen, devastating in its capacity to destroy human DNA, a silent death sentence that has and will befall hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of unsuspecting human beings, both Iraqi and American.

This killer festers in the air, water, food supply, vegetation and ground, infiltrating the porous bodies of human beings, cementing itself for life.

It lingers on streets and rivers and buildings and homes, carried by wind and rain and through the daily weather patterns of Mesopotamia.

... Depleted uranium is a silent mass murderer, a clandestine nuclear bomb whose mushroom cloud is never seen exploding, yet the radiation and heavy metals excreted from the weapons it envelopes when they strike their target, the heat evaporating uranium particulates into the air, become airborne contagions that latch onto our carbon and organic bodies.

It attacks our organs and our bones, our nerves and blood, mutating our DNA genetic sequence, destroying our immune systems, penetrating our reproductive systems and causing various terminal cancers.

... Depleted uranium used fifteen years ago is now being felt where American ordnance was dropped from the sky above, as lands, food supply, water and air once contaminated, inhaled and ingested release the WMD lingering in their midst.

Child deformities, stillbirths, mutated fetuses, miscarriages and birth defects have been springing up for quite some time now, as the DU embedded in the sperm and eggs of parents transfers over to the embryo.

The mutations taking place, along with the deformities now apparent yet hardly ever seen in human society, are gross distortions of human normalcy, creating beings the likes of which have never been seen before. The photos of what DU can do to newborn babies and fetuses are available on the Internet.

Entire regions, towns and neighborhoods are experiencing clusters of these mutations in their newly born babies, with doctors unable to explain the sudden rise in defects and deformities that did not exist previously.

... Iraq has been transformed into a vast killing field, a wasteland overrun by the remnants of America's silent WMD, a cheap and money saving weapon...

... Already, 11,000 American soldiers, veterans of the first Gulf War, have died thanks to Gulf War Syndrome, cancer and disease. Over 350,000 veterans, out of 700,000 who served, have asked for serious disability, most of these veterans being in their late twenties and early thirties, in the prime of their lives, cleared as healthy before the war in military conducted medical physicals.

Depleted Uranium is the most likely culprit, as many more get diagnosed with terminal diseases and illnesses every year. Many veterans of Gulf War One and now the Iraq/Bush War have themselves been giving birth to deformed and defective children, much like their Iraqi counterparts.

Depleted Uranium, it seems, does not discriminate nor does it need a passport to infect human beings. It has been imported into America by our returning soldiers, a great percentage of which most likely have remnants of depleted uranium buried deep inside them.

How many American veterans of Gulf War One and the Iraq/Bush War will in the next few decades succumb to cancer or destroyed immune systems? How many of their children will be born like those in Iraq, unable to live more than a few days or months because their bodies are infested with DU, their appearance no longer presenting the appearance of a human child?

It is estimated that 40,000 to 80,000 more veterans will die in the next twenty to thirty years as the effects of DU run their course. How many more will produce offspring with genetic birth defects, gross mutations of fetuses, miscarriages and stillborns?

... In their whispered plea can we also see what might happen to tens of thousands of our own men and women, themselves hosts carrying the demons of the Iraqi Killing Fields back home.

Is the price of what America has done in our name worth our silence and indifference?

So what happens when we question the leaders who have done this on our behalf and in our name?

Valenzuela is a gifted writer who captures passion in his words and expresses that passion well.

To supplement Valensuela's thoughts, I recommend the following as well.

Depleted Uranium - A Hidden Looming Worldwide Calamity
found at Global Research.CA

These are what we ought to be sharing with our legislators.


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Thursday, 16 February 2006

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger
Topic: Local Lobbying

Depleted uranium study WA Natl Guard IS funded! Tx Sen Doumit

From email I received from my State Senator Doumit's office;

  Hello, I want to let you know that a budget proviso was included in the Senate's proposed budget for $150,000 for a Military Department to study the scope and adequacy of training on exposure to depleted uranium received by Washington state members of the National Guard serving during the first Gulf War or reccently in Iraq and Afghanistan.  This is similar to the bill that you had contacted us about and I hope this comes as good news. Your message bringing it to our attention was very, very helpful.

Sincerely,

Vickie Winters
Sr. Legislative Assistant for Senator Doumit
...snipped


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger
Topic: Local Lobbying

 

Depleted Uranium Bill (SENATE BILL SB 6732) Made it out of Committee!

Please contact members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee to tell them SB 6732 is on the way and why it needs to be passed.

Group and Friends,

Thank you for your attention and taking rapid action below...much appreciated.  Please send along a quick email reply once you've taken action.  Questions? please ask...

MFSO, Washington state chapter congratulations to the team that put this together and put it forth; thank you.

Respect, Peace, Solidarity

Lietta Ruger, member Military Families Speak Out
military family with 2 Iraq veterans,
PO Box 335
Bay Center, WA  98527
home phone:  360-875-6380
cell phone:  360-942-9169
email: rugerla@centurytel.net

website: Military Families Speak Out, Washington state

RAPID ACTION REQUEST

SENATE BILL SB 6732  (studying military uranium exposure) made it out of committee!  Senate Health, voted "majority, do pass, and refer to Ways and Means."  

View online progress and reports at  SB6732  

Also including text of the pdf adobe report of the State Senate hearings held on this bill in Olympia Feb 2, 2006.

Suggestion that you send e-mails or call those that you know or are in your districts on the Senate Ways and Means and alert them that the Senate Bill 6732 is coming.  

Use two or three sentences about what it will do and why it needs to be passed this year (troops are coming home).  

Suggestion not go into great detail about anything, just let them know we want their support.

These are the names and a comment or two about the Committee members of the Senate Ways and Means.  
Please act rapidly as this will be a very short turn around for them.

 

Margarita Prentice, D, 11, Chair, lives in Renton, is a nurse.

Karen Fraser, D, 22, Vice-Chair, Lives in Thurston, was part of Nuclear Waste Round Table.

Mark Doumit, D, 19, Vice-Chair, Grays Harbor area,

Joseph Zarelli, R, 18, Ranking Minority, Woodland area, 6 years active duty 82-89.

Dale Brandland, R, 42, Belllingham, Navy 68-69, Sheriff.

Darlene Fairlay, D, 32, Redmond/Edmonds, ex overseas volunteer.

Mike Hewitt, R, 16, Walla Walla, Tri-Cities.

Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D, 36, Seattle,  All around person.

Linda Evans Parlette, R, 12, Wenatchee, BS in Pharmacy, Health care is an interest.

Craig Pridemore, D, 49, Vancouver, current active duty vet.

Marilyn Rasmussen, D, 2, Pierce County, Fort Lewis, Tacoma.

Debbie Regala, D, 27, Tacoma, Pierce, Doing something with Habitat.

Pam Roach, R, 31, Auburn, Has done international teaching, volunteer?

Mark Schoesler, R, 9, Spokane, farmer.
Mrs. Pat Thibaudeau, D, 43, Seattle, interest in health.

SENATE BILL REPORT
SB 6732

As Reported By Senate Committee On:
Health & Long-Term Care, February 2, 2006

Title: An act relating to exposure to depleted uranium and other hazardous materials by members and veterans of the national guard.

Brief Description: Studying military uranium exposure.

Sponsors: Senators Franklin and Rasmussen.

Brief History:

Committee Activity: Health & Long-Term Care: 2/2/06 [DP-WM].

SENATE COMMITTEE ON HEALTH & LONG-TERM CARE

Majority Report: Do pass and be referred to Committee on Ways & Means.

Signed by Senators Keiser, Chair; Thibaudeau, Vice Chair; Franklin, Kastama, Kline and Poulsen.

Staff: Sharon Swanson (786-7447)

Background:

Depleted uranium is what is left over when most of the highly radioactive isotopes of uranium are removed for use as nuclear fuel or nuclear fuel weapons. The depleted uranium is used in armor-piercing munitions and in enhanced armor protection for some Abrams tanks.

Heavy metals such as uranium, tungsten, and lead have chemical toxicity properties that, in high doses, can cause adverse health effects.

Depleted uranium was used extensively in place of tungsten for ammunition by the United States and United Kingdom in the first Gulf War. A report issued by the Hague Peace Conference, dated May, 1999, states that at least 320 tons of depleted uranium was "lost" during the first Gulf War and that much of that was converted at high temperature into an aerosol, creating a mist or fog.

Once inhaled, very small particles of depleted uranium can reside in the lungs for years, slowly passing through the lung tissue into the blood. Uranium can be stored in bone, lymph, liver, kidney, or other tissues. Eventually, all uranium that gets into the bloodstream ends up in the kidneys prior to expulsion through urine.

Summary of Bill: Effective October 1, 2006, the Adjutant General of the Washington State National Guard is required to assist any eligible member or veteran in obtaining federal treatment services, who:

 

l) Has been assigned a risk level I, II, or III for depleted uranium exposure by his or
her branch of service;

  2) Is referred by a military physician; or
Senate Bill Report - 1 - SB 6732

  3) Has reason to believe that he or she was exposed to depleted uranium during service.

Eligible member is defined as a member of the Washington National Guard who served in the Persian Gulf War, or in an area designated as a combat zone during Operation EnduringFreedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The bill directs the Adjutant General to submit a report on the scope and adequacy of training received by members of the National Guard on exposure to depleted uranium.

Additionally, the report must include an assessment of the feasibility and cost of adding pre-deployment training concerning potential exposure to depleted uranium and other toxic chemical substances and the precautions recommended under combat and non-combat conditions.

The report is due by October 1, 2006.

A task force which includes the Secretary of the Department of Health, or designee, the Adjutant General, the Director of Veterans Affairs, six legislative members, and additional members totaling fifteen is created. The task force is directed to complete several tasks by January 31, 2007, specifically:

 

1) initiate a health registry;

  2) develop a plan for outreach to affected military personnel; and

  3) prepare a report on potential exposure to depleted uranium
and recommendations for precautions to be taken.

Appropriation: None.

Fiscal Note: Available.

Committee/Commission/Task Force Created: Yes.

Effective Date: Ninety days after adjournment of session in which bill is passed.

Testimony For:

The United States government and military has a history of lying to its veterans.

In Vietnam, it was agent orange. Many veterans returned home to a life of cancer, children with birth defects, and eventually death. The military claimed to not know about agent orange.

Our new veterans returning home from Iraq face similar challenges. We need to force the military to perform the proper tests to determine uranium poisoning.

The current test only looks for uranium in urine. That test is only good for thirty days. The conclusive testing must look at blood results, tissue testing, and must be able to detect microscopic particles.

Depleted uranium becomes microscopic. Troops breath it in and it settles in the lungs.

In Mississippi, returning Persian Gulf male veterans are 1.7 times more likely to father children with birth defects. Female Persian Gulf veterans are 2.4 times more likely to give birth to a child with birth defects.

This is only the beginning.

England and Germany are conducting the proper tests. The United States needs to do the same for their veterans.

Testimony Against: None.

Who Testified:

PRO:
Terrence Zander, Veterans for Peace

Jerry Muchmore, Veteran

George Hill, M.D.

Peter Von Christierson, Depleted Uranium Study Team

Col. Ron Weaver, Washington Military Department

Harvey Brooks, National Association of Black Veterans

Note:  Written testimony by MFSO was provided and entered into the testimony record.  While time was allotted to MFSO representative (Lietta Ruger) to give oral testimony, due to the time limitations allowing for approximately 2 minutes to each testimony, choice made for MFSO representation to provide written testimony and yield more time to others presenting oral testimony. 


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

Now Playing: Arthur Ruger
Topic: Members Speak Out
"I couldn't care less": overpass bannering, ownership and America's Restaurant 
 
On Kevin Benderman
Click here for Kevin and Monica Benderman's website
Kevin Benderman Timeline
 
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 Fort Lewis.

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 Our Troops.

 

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 of power."

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 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

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".

"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 freedoms.

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



Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Thursday, 2 February 2006

Now Playing: Joe Colgan in Seattle PI
Topic: Members Speak Out
The killing has got to stop

Seattle Post-Intelligencer 

Thursday, February 2, 2006
JOE COLGAN
GUEST COLUMNIST

I write as a veteran who has a special love for our troops and their families, and as the father of Lt. Benjamin Colgan, who was killed in action in Baghdad on Nov. 1, 2003. I also write on behalf of those who joined me in meeting with Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell last December about this senseless war in Iraq.

How many more Americans and Iraqis must perish or be maimed until the "stay-the-course" approach is discredited?

In October, Cantwell signed a letter stating "simply staying the current course is not a strategy for success." Yet when I met with Cantwell, she failed to distinguish her position from that of President Bush.

She also touted the importance of the Warner/Frist Amendment, which does nothing more than offer advice to the president and require that he report to Congress. After almost three years of unnecessary war, is this the best our highest deliberative body can do: make suggestions that will be ignored and beg to be kept informed? At this point in her re-election campaign, Cantwell must clarify her position on the Iraq war and hold public forums to discuss realistic options for ending this ever-deepening disaster.

It is time to acknowledge that the United States has now hit a dead-end on both the political and military fronts in Iraq, with current U.S. involvement in both areas only inflaming civil war. Last December's election in Iraq -- an event heralded as promising stability -- is itself undermined by the continuation of this occupation.

The United States is caught in the middle of a sectarian divide, and it will only get worse. Over the past five months, it has been widely reported that the United States has been trying to engage the Sunnis in political dialogue. Experts say that failing to do so can only deepen the insurgency. Yet showing Sunnis diplomatic respect inspires mistrust and anger from the rival Shiites.

Militarily, we've created the armed basis for a civil war. Iraqi armies in the north now consist of more than 10,000 Kurdish Peshmerga militia members who "wouldn't hesitate to kill their Iraqi army comrades," according to a Knight Ridder new story in December. In southern Iraq the army consists of pro-Iranian Shiite fundamentalists. We have created military forces that, as they increase in "operational readiness," actually add to the instability of Iraq. Yet we continue a policy that conditions U.S. military disengagement on such operational readiness.

More Iraqi civilians are dying as a result of U.S. military actions. U.S. air strikes in Iraq have jumped from 25 per month last August to around 150 in December. The results of this strategy are predictable and horrifying. On Jan. 2, as many as 14 Iraqis, mostly women and children, were killed in a U.S. air strike. On Dec. 24, 2005, The Washington Post reported that U.S. air strikes killed many dozens of civilians throughout Iraq's Western Anbar province during the November offensive. In a 2005 report, Human Rights Watch deplored the U.S. strategy of resorting to indiscriminate aerial strikes resulting in civilian deaths.

A "reduction" of U.S. troops during 2006, in concert with an increasing air war, is not morally defensible or a way out.

The city of Fallujah represents a microcosm of the larger nightmare. We destroyed this town in order to save it. More than half its residents remain as refugees in their own country, and Americans are again dying in Fallujah at an increasing rate (12 in the past two months). The Pentagon's policy of "clear, hold and build" in reality does nothing more than "destroy, banish and build resentment."

We must go beyond the administration's false choice of staying the course or cutting and running. It is time for Cantwell to help move the debate beyond pointless rhetoric by taking a clear position and holding public forums to promote a better understanding of the costs of this war and how to end it. The only victory to be gleaned from this war is one for the American soul: Let's stop the killing.

Joe Colgan of Kent served in the Army from February 1963 to January 1966.

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST

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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