Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Ron Cantu at Winter Soldier

I intended to write about Ron Cantu yesterday but forgot. He spoke Sunday at Iraq Veterans Against the War Winter Soldier and the story from his testimony that I thought was most important to share was about speaking out.

As he was going public, he got a call from Democracy Now! asking whether he would be willing to speak willing. He agreed to and they scheduled an interview.

The morning of the interview, he was called in and told to cease all contact with the press.

He was then called by the program and he ignored it. He was in the meeting where he was being told not to speak to the press. They stopped calling and he thought they'd gotten the message. Later they call back and he explains he's been told not to speak to the press.

He's asked if he could instead deliver a brief statement. He thought quickly about it and agreed to that. He went on and made his statement. Amy Goodman must not have learned about what was going on because she then attempted to interview him. He spoke of quickly assembling an answer with regards to her question about Appeal for Redress and then hanging up the phone.

He was immediately called in by the brass. He thought, "Oh no, this is it." That is a paraphrase. He was informed instead that the U.S. military could not prevent him from speaking to the press. Mr. Cantu spoke out while enlisted and the reason I wanted to emphasize that is to get across that people can speak out while enlisted and do so without punishment.

That is not a minor point and I am very glad he made time in his testimony to share that story. I hope you will share his story with others.

If you know me from this site or from my reports for The Common Ills, you know that I am a mother many times over and a grandmother even more so. Children are a big concern of mine and one of the reasons I am proud to be a supporter of Senator Hillary Clinton's campaign for president.

I have written about the importance of Head Start here before and about the attacks on it. Senator Clinton will defend Head Start and fight for America's children. This is "Hillary Clinton's Statement on the State of Preschool in America" (

Today, the National Institute for Early Education Research released its 2006-2007 "State of Preschool Yearbook," the most comprehensive source of information about the state of early childhood education in the U.S. This year’s yearbook reveals that state Pre-K programs have grown to the point where they are now serving more than one million students. About 22% of 4-year-olds are being served by state preschool programs, and 15% of three year-olds have access to either state or federal programs, such as Head Start. In addition, the per-pupil funding level for early childhood education has grown for the first time since 2002-2003.
Unfortunately, despite the incredible body of research illustrating the profound impact of early childhood investments, 12 states still offer no state-funded preschool education; half of all three-year-olds do not have access to preschool; and only two states met all of NIEER’s quality benchmarks. According to NIEER, more than a quarter of American four-year-olds live in states with low pre-K quality standards. The bottom line is of this report is that while we have made a lot of progress in expanding access to early childhood education, we still have tremendous gaps in access and quality, and a great deal of work to do to ensure that every child starts school ready to learn.
As President, Hillary will make early childhood education a top priority, as she has throughout her life. During her campaign, she has laid out a bold plan to provide $10 billion to states to enable them to provide quality pre-K for all four year olds and to strengthen state’s programs serving children aged zero to five. Hillary has also committed to growing the budget of Head Start to $8 billion by 2010, increasing the number of children served by 200,000, and increasing the quality of and access to child care, through the Child Care Development Block Grant. Hillary began her career at the Children’s Defense Fund and served on its board for 16 years. As First Lady, she spearheaded the Administration’s efforts to double funding for child care, and grow the budget of Head Start by 90%.

And this is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today, the fifth anniversary of the start of the illegal war:

Wednesday, March 19, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, Winter Soldier has even more bearing today on the fifth anniversary of the illegal war but continues to be ignored, members of the Out of Iraq caucus issue a statement and Panhandle Media ignores it, and Bully Boy itches to lie to the American people yet again.

Starting with war resistance.
Tamara Jones (Washington Post) interviewed war resisters in Canada for a report the paper ran earlier this week. Phil McDowell shared how he had finished his tour of duty in Iraq, he had completed his service contract, been discharged in June of 2006, only to learn that he was being stop-lossed. He explained, "I tried contacting senators and congressmen. I tried to contact civilian military lawyers, but they all said the time frame was too short." He signed up after 9-11 and thought he would be serving a larger purpose, one that "would define our generation" only to learn differently, that the search for WMDs had ceased, that the rationale was now "freedom" for Iraqi, "But then we'd go on convoys and they'd instruct us to run cars off the road if they were in our way. . . . It's a hard personal realization to join the Army out of patriotism and accept your country was wrong." Learning he was being forced back into the military, McDowell began searching for alternatives and with Congress and military lawyers refusing to help, he found the website for the War Resisters Support Campaign. That is an organization that assists US service members who go to Canada to seek asylum. Two earlier war resisters, Lee Zaslofsky, Tom Riley and others provide assistance to today's war resisters::

Zaslofsky and Riley never even knew each other before this movement, and both feel frustrated that more Vietnam-era settlers haven't come forward. Don't they owe that much? "Ancient history," they hear again and again from the weary grandfathers who want to forget that they were once angry young men. Plans are being made to develop a Web site, do some documentaries, organize more events to draw out the graying Vietnam generation. Thousands, not a few hundred, should be rising up again for this fight, Zaslofsky fumes.
Now the volunteers are labeling 800 envelopes for the letters they'll urge rallygoers to send to Ottawa. In her pink hoodie and ponytail, Phil McDowell's wife, Jamime Aponte, 28, runs the meeting with the precision and enthusiasm of a majorette. She wants to know: Who's been putting up posters where? Are there enough pens to hand out at the church?
Zaslofsky is grateful for her energy. He is weary and not a little disgruntled, himself. He thought he would be easing into a comfortable retirement by now after a career in public health, but here he is working himself ragged for $200 a week as the WRSC director, which just covers his rent, and why is the adopted country he has grown to love making this so damn hard?
"I feel so lucky that my generation of war resisters had it far easier than they do, and probably had a much easier time of it emotionally because there were so many more of us, and because so many more Americans were actively opposing the war than do so now," Zaslofsky says. "They don't have a widespread social movement backing them up."

The letters are necessary because in November the Canadian Supreme Court refused to hear the appeals of
Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey. Today, Canada's Parliament remaining the best hope for safe harbor war resisters have, you can make your voice heard by the Canadian parliament which has the ability to pass legislation to grant war resisters the right to remain in Canada. Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper ( -- that's pm at who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion ( -- that's Dion.S at who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua ( -- that's Bevilacqua.M at who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use. That is the sort of thing that should receive attention but instead it's ignored. We will note war resisters in Canada tomorrow. There is not time today, my apologies.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb,
Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum. Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

On the fifth anniversary of the illegal war, the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war stands at
3992 -- eight away from 4,000. Many others died after they made it out of Iraq. Some on R&R in places like Kuwait. Some were transported to the US and placed in hospitals to care for their wounds only to die from those wounds (Anthony Raymond Wasielewsk, Gerald J. Cassidy, Jack D. Richards, Raymond A. Salerno III and John "Bill" Smith). Some returned only to find a medical system that was falling apart and did not serve them, did not treat them and they took their own lives and there are many examples there including Jeffrey Lucey whose parents, Kevin and Joyce Lucey, testified on Friday at Iraq Veterans Against the War Winter Soldier Investigation's panel on The Crisis in Veterans Health Care. Joyce Lucey explained of her family's loss, "Unfortunately the tragedy is not that it just happened to one Marine but that this continues to happen to others four years after our son's death to countless others -- names that will never be placed on a memorial wall." The death toll for US service members is much greater than the official numbers from the Pentagon. As Daniel Fanning noted during Winter Soldier, "that number doesn't even take into the number of people who have come home with PTSD and taken their own lives."

Iraq veteran Fanning was speaking Sunday morning as part of the panel on The Breakdown of the Military. His testimony would include time and resources wasted in a military stretched to the limit including training in the use of bayonets (a weapon, he noted, that hadn't been used in decades), missions that were based on bad intel (raiding a 'bombing factory' that was just an empty building being painted by one person). Steve Mortello addressed the breakdown as well and the constant maintenance required on equipment and vehicles that were breaking down. He spoke of returning to the US and being diagnosed with PTSD, "I remember just this feeling that I told myself after I got through this everything would be cool. . . . I'll never forget the things that happened over there and I think about them every day and I hope wholeheartedly the American people can understand the impact this occupation has had on the American military . . . It's tearing us apart."

On the same panel, Iraq veteran Kristofer Goldsmith offered testimony. He noted he never saw work done on the water treatment plant in Sadr City, he never saw al Qaeda. He saw destruction, he saw Iraqi civilians turned into prisoners of war, he saw stop-loss. Most of all, he saw a refusal to treat US service members. "We were told that if we were to seek" mental healthcare, he explained, "we would be locked away." They were also told it would be the end of their military careers. Since no medical assistance was provided, he did what many do, self-medicate. He talked of getting drunk and using alcohol to treat his wounds. He was diagnosed with PTSD and still received no help but was told he would be redeploying to Iraq. Shortly after that, he attempted to take his own life and woke up "locked to a gurney and in a mental ward" while the military was still wanting to deploy him and accusing him of 'malingering' to avoid his call up. He was held accountable for that and told he couldn't fight it because to do so would bring down the military system. His discharge papers note his "serious offense," he explained, "I committed a serious offense by trying to kill myself because I was damaged by the war." Because of that "serious offense," the Iraq War veteran is denied the only thing he was counting on receiving: education benefits. He now delivers pizzas because it's the only job he could find where he can call in and say he's going to be three hours late because he's still standing in line at the VA waiting for assistance.

He did something else during his testimony. He spoke of a book that helped him, a book that informed him. We're not naming the book because the authors have disgraced themselves. One of the authors is David Corn. (The other's human slime whose name is never mentioned at this site.) David Corn bores America, at Mother Jones, with yet another mash note today to Barack Obama. David Corn's book influenced someone, someone who took the time to give it credit during his Winter Soldier testimony and Corn has so little manners, so little gratitude that anyone read that book, so little concern for the illegal war, that he can't even take a moment to blog at Mother Jones about the veteran -- whose suffering continues -- who took the time to mention Corn by name. That's shameful. That's embarrassing.

Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) continued bringing the testimonies from Winter Soldier to her audience today. She featured Camilo Mejia, Mike Totten, Kevin and Joyce Lucey, Tanya Austin and Jeffrey Smith. Tanya Austin hasn't been mentioned in a snapshot so far so we'll excerpt some of her testimony:

If you guys could throw up the website, please? What we have up here is dot-org, sorry. And what's really cool about this website is it was this individual's way of telling her story and trying to make progress, because the military didn't do anything to help her. So, finally, she decided, well, if the military won't help me, I'm going to help me and everyone like me. As you see there on the homepage, these are some really frightening statistics. 25 percent of women will be sexually assaulted on college campuses. 12 percent of women will be raped while in college. 28 to 66 percent of women in the military report sexual assault. The reason the number varies so much is military reports versus VA reports. It's a lot easier to tell someone at the VA that you've been sexually assaulted than it is to tell your own command, which is not right. And 27 percent of women are reported raped. And what's interesting about this statistic is if you report that you've been raped and no charges are brought against your rapist, you haven't been raped. You're not part of that statistic. And, unfortunately, for our military, this is something that happens way too often, is the cover-up of sexual assault, of rape of individuals experiencing the worst from their comrades. So here is what they're currently doing about it. According to the Department of Defense's own statistics, 74 to 85 percent of soldiers convicted of rape or sexual assault leave the military with an honorable discharge, meaning rape conviction does not appear in their records anywhere. Only two to three percent of soldiers accused of rape are ever court-martialed. And only five to six percent of soldiers accused of domestic abuse are ever court-martialed. In fact, several multiple homicides have recently taken place on military bases that have not even been criminally prosecuted. The Department of Defense's definition of morale booster for male soldiers: female soldiers--take as needed, dispose when finished and continue serving with honor. Please remember that many suffer in silent shame and never forget what's going on. Now I'd like to tell this individual's particular story. And having experienced sexual harassment in the military myself, this is kind of difficult, as it is for everyone on this panel up here. But our stories need to be told. We are often asked how we get started with Stop Military Rape, Military Rape Crisis Center. I'm a veteran of the United States Coast Guard and a survivor of military sexual trauma. I was raped in May of 2006 by a fellow shipmate. I followed all the necessary steps, including reporting the assault and providing evidence: a confession letter written by my rapist. In August of 2006, I was informed that I will be discharged. According to the Coast Guard Academy psychologist, surviving rape makes deployment--makes one ineligible for worldwide deployment, and as a result, I can no longer serve in the Coast Guard. What follows was a nine-month battle between the Coast Guard and myself, while I tried to keep my job and change the Coast Guard's unofficial policy that rape survivors shouldn't be allowed to serve in the Coast Guard. I was a female in my early twenties, brand new to the Coast Guard. I admit it: I did not know every Coast Guard policy or try to know something beyond my E3 rank. All I know is that what was happening to me was not--was just not right. I felt powerless. I didn't know how to fight the military. I was taught how to fight with them, for them. But how could I fight for my rights to stay with them? Out of the need to vent and needing an outlet to express the horror I was experiencing as a result of being raped, I started an online blog on MySpace. I was not expecting much of it. I just wanted to let out all the pain in me and share with the public. I almost immediately started receiving emails from active-duty military members and veterans alike, each wanting to share their story. Everybody's story was so different, yet so similar. I received one email from an eighteen-year-old female who was raped two hours prior by a member of her command and was scared and had no one else to turn to. I received an email from a Coast Guard veteran who was raped ten-plus years ago while serving, and I was the first person he ever told. I started doing research online about military rape. I learned about Tailhook and read the brave story of Army Specialist Suzanne Swift. What was happening to me in the Coast Guard was very common and had been going on for a long time. I knew that I was in for the biggest battle of my life. I could not abandon my fellow men and women in uniform. Something's got to change. Stop Military Rape and the Military Rape Crisis Center was formed. We are the nation's largest support group for the survivors of military sexual trauma. In 2007, we assisted over 12,000 men and women of military sexual trauma and their families. We are starting to work with Congress to change the military policy of sexual assault. Every man and woman that volunteer to serve their country should have the right to serve without the fear of being sexually assaulted, harassed and/or raped. In addition, no one should be reprimanded or punished for reporting a crime that was done to them. May 30th is International Stop Military Rape Awareness Day. Write to your representatives, contact the media, do what we're doing now, and let them know that military rape is something we just can't stand for.

Madeleine Mysko (Baltimore Sun) draws on her experience in the US Army Nurse Corps during Vietnam to reflect on Winter Soldier:

Kelly Dougherty, former sergeant in the Colorado Army National Guard and present executive director of IVAW, warned that it would not be easy to listen to these testimonials. "But we believe that the only way this war is going to end is if the American people truly understand what we have done in their name."
A certain kind of patriotism closes off a lot of otherwise good minds. It accepts the testimony of the decorated general without question but shuns the testimony of the ordinary soldier as seditious.
After my basic training in 1969, I was assigned to the burn ward at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. It was hard work, but I think I was a good nurse, maybe even a good officer. Our unit had an ironclad esprit de corps; all of us, regardless of rank, worked with one accord for the sake of those terribly wounded soldiers, alleviating their pain when we could, cheering on the remarkable survivors, trying to make the others comfortable until the end.
Meanwhile, beyond the gates of the post, veterans in beat-up uniforms were angrily protesting against the war. Their stories about atrocities and lies and failed policies were too much for me to take in. I still had no time to read the news. But with all my heart, I wanted the war to end as much as they did, so that the days of burned flesh and amputations would be over.
It was a very long time before those days were over.

Winter Soldier provided realities about the Iraq War (and Afghanistan), about what's happening in the service and what happens when leaving the service. It as a very important action. If you missed it, archives of Winter Soldier can be found at
Iraq Veterans Against the War, at War Comes Home, at KPFK, at the Pacifica Radio homepage and at KPFA, here for Friday, here for Saturday, here for Sunday. Aimee Allison (co-host of the station's The Morning Show and co-author with David Solnit of Army Of None) and Aaron Glantz were the anchors for Pacifica's live coverage (and archives are now up at Pacifica Radio).

And the war drags on.
US Senator Jim Webb spoke with the Christian Science Monitor (link has text and video) today about the Bully Boy's efforts to circumvent the Constitution and Congress (as well as the Iraqi Parliament and Iraq's Constitution) by negotiating a treaty with Nouri al-Maliki, puppet of the occupation, that would tie the US to Iraq for many years to come. Webb explained, "The new president" of the United States, "is going to inherit this agreement" and this will make things "more difficult for a Democratic president to change course than for a Republican to continue the same course."


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports "a magnetic bomb attached to Col. Midhat Ali, military" intelligence, "exploded" in Baghdad claiming his life and wounding a passenger, a Baghdad grenade attack on the "Awakening" council that wounded three of them as well as one bystander and a Diyala Province bomber who killed herself and 3 other people. Reuters reports the US military killed 3 Iraqi police officers and wounded one more via "their vehicle drone" in Kirkuk, a Mosul car bombing left eleven Iraqi soldiers and three Iraqi civilians injured, an Iskandariya roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left two others wounded while a second Iskandariya roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 woman and left two more wounded.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a robbery in Baghdad where "140 million Iraqi dinars" were stolen from a currency exchange killing 2 people ("the owner and his son"), an armed attack in Tikrit on the "Awakening" council that claimed 1 council member's life and left two more injured. Reuters notes a Basra shooting that wounded an assistant to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.


Reuters notes 2 corpses discovered in Kerbala, and, on Tuesday, two in Baiji.

How damn pathetic is Panhandle Media? They didn't call out Barack Obama when then foreign policy advisor Samantha Power told the BBC his 'pledge' to bring combat troops home within 16 months of entering the White House. They ignored it. They played dumb and silent. Self-loathing lesbian Laura Flanders and Tom Hayden both endorsed Bambi and then showed up days after to claim that both Obama and Hillary Clinton -- the two candidates for the Democratic Party nomination for president -- needed to have their feet held to the fire on Iraq. But both played dumb about Power's interview. (And it is "Power" -- not "Powers" -- one of the many factual problems in Davey D's embarrassing 'report' featured on KPFA's The Morning Show yesterday that Aileen Alfandary found so 'factual' and 'informative' she had to replay it. If you can't even get the names right, it doesn't belong on the radio. That was the least of the problems since Davey D also couldn't mention the revelation that the pledge wasn't a pledge.) They have to lie and work overtime to prop up a candidate who is not for ending the illegal war and they can tell their lies to someone who didn't speak to him face to face about this very thing when he was running for the US Senate only to discover then that, despite the press hype already going on, he wasn't going to do a damn thing to end the illegal war. He got into the US Senate and kept that vow. Yesterday, we noted the speech Hillary Clinton gave about ending the Iraq War. It wasn't noted by Alfandary or Amy Goodman, it wasn't 'news' to them. They could both pimp a bad speech by Obama that hadn't even been delivered. Today the silence continues and members (not all) of the Out of Iraq Caucus in Congress have weighed in on Hillary Clinton and the illegal war.
This is what they have said and you need to ask yourself why Panhandle Media can't tell you about it:

As firm opponents of the Iraq war, we believe there is no higher priority for the next President of the United States than ending this war, and we believe there is no one better prepared and more committed to bringing this war to a responsible conclusion than Hillary Clinton. The best way to honor the sacrifices of our brave young men and women in uniform is to bring them home.
We support Hillary Clinton because she is the candidate with the stature, strength, and experience needed to end this war as quickly and responsibly as possible.
Hillary has put forward the most comprehensive plan for bringing our troops home, with troop withdrawals beginning within 60 days of taking office. She bravely pressed the Pentagon to begin planning for the withdrawal of our troops from Iraq. And she has introduced legislation to bar the Bush administration from unilaterally negotiating a long-term security agreement with the Iraqi government and thereby tying the hands of the next administration.
Hillary's commitment to ending this war is matched by her experience. Her knowledge of the armed forces, her service on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and her extraordinary efforts on behalf of our veterans have earned her the respect of our men and women in uniform.
We are proud to support her because we know that she is the candidate ready to bring our troops home.
Del. Donna Christian-Christensen (D-VI) Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) Rep. Michael McNulty (D-NY) Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY) Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA) Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY) Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH) Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) Rep. Diane Watson (D-CA) Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA)

On the list above you'll find many names that Panhandle Media has applauded, has interviewed, has treated as heroes. Now they ignore them. Panhandle Media isn't trying to end the illegal war, they're trying to elect a candidate who will not only continue the illegal war but bring about new wars in Africa. That is the new battlefield. It's where the US military wants to move the new bases to. It is something that Panhandle Media works overtime to ignore. But they've got a candidate to elect and that matters more to them than information or journalism.
Goodman noted the endorsement of Clinton by US House Rep John Murtha but she had to pimp Bambi first and pretend the affront to Americans was over Jeremiah Wright's comments about race; the affront was over that man of the cloth standing up at the front of a church and calling for the damnation of America. Goodman wasn't raised a Christian and seems bound and determined to ignore the offensive remark just as she works overtime to ignore the talk of killing Hillary Clinton that one of Obama's supporters -- a Las Vegas precinct captain, no less -- has put online.

The lies about the illegal war do not just come from the White House. But they do continue from the White House. The Bully Boy offered from the Pentagon today one lie after another. There isn't time or even a need to note them all. He's a known liar now. He sags in the poll, his word means little to the bulk of Americans. Gone are the days when it was considered 'radical' to call him the liar and bully he so clearly is.

On this day in 2003, the United States began Operation Iraqi Freedom. As the campaign unfolded, tens and thousands of our troops poured across the Iraqi border to liberate the Iraqi people and remove a regime that threatened free nations.

There was no threat to the United States. The United States was not threatened by Iraq. There were no WMDs, there was no basis for the illegal war beyond lies.

When the Iraqi regime was removed, it did not lay down its arms and surrender. Instead, former regime elements took off their uniforms and faded into the countryside to fight the emergence of a free Iraq. And then they were joined by foreign terrorists who were seeking to stop the advance of liberty in the Middle East and seeking to establish safe havens from which to plot new attacks across the world.

When the Iraqi regime was removed? L Paul Bremer, the bwana in Iraq sent by the US, disbanded the Iraqi army. He did so with the approval of and endorsement by the White House. In addition, government employees were tossed out of their jobs. That was the de-Baathification process that Bremer also oversaw. The de-de-Baathifaction process, though listed as one of the White House benchmarks to measure 'success' in Iraq, has still not taken place. All these years later, it has still not taken place. Terrorists? The US has implemented counter-insurgency strategies in Iraq, the same sort used to kill many in Latin America. Counter-insurgency is war on civilians. It was endorsed by Samantha Power who, at the start of the month, was still part of Obama's campaign. She, in fact, went to work for him when he was elected to the US Senate. She blurbed the counter-insurgency manual, gushing over it. Sarah Sewall oversaw the counter-insurgency manual. Sewall is another advisor to Obama. Obama's 'plan' is to add more mercenaries to Iraq if elected president. He will not just continue the counter-insurgency, he will escalate it. Most supporters of it serve as advisors to Obama. Counter-insurgency is used to kill civilians -- 'difficult' civilians whose 'crimes' include speaking out about abuses. Counter-insurgency is not a peace strategy.

If we were to allow our enemies to prevail in Iraq, the violence that is now declining would accelerate -- and Iraq would descend into chaos. Al Qaeda would regain its lost sanctuaries and establish new ones -- fomenting violence and terror that could spread beyond Iraq's borders, with serious consequences for the world's economy.

"Our enemies"? That would apparently be the Iraqi people who want all foreign forces to leave. Were the US government to stop attempting to play God and pull US troops, the Iraqi people could create the government they choose as opposed to having a puppet government installed by and beholden to the White House.

The illegal war continues as long as people fool themselves. They've had a good role model in that behavior with the occupant of the White House.

aaron glantz

mcclatchy newspapers