"Ain't Gonna Study War No More"

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Right-To-Life Party, Christian, Anti-War, Pro-Life, Bible Fundamentalist, Egalitarian, Libertarian Left

Monday, December 20, 2004

Sneak Attack

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. 2,388 people -- mostly military personnel, but including civilian men, women, and children -- died. At the same time, the American Pacific Fleet lost much of its capabilities. President Franklin Roosevelt, speaking on the airwaves to a shocked nation, called December 7 a day that would live in infamy and subsequently set into motion US involvement in World War II.

There are some who say that Roosevelt knew about the attack in advance and that he let it happen so as to have an inarguable reason for getting into a war the American public was none too keen on joining at the time. Perhaps that's just a conspiracy theory; perhaps it's true. Either way, the public at large was appalled first by the attack, and then by the discoveries of what was really happening behind the gates of Adolf Hitler's concentration camps.

The troops and the American public alike were rallied with music, posters, movies, and speeches appealing to a patriotic love for freedom, and the American public responded. Young men signed up for military service in droves. Women took on a variety of jobs, many of which were traditionally male provinces, so that more men could be freed for fighting. All were urged to help in the war effort by limiting their use of certain products like those items made with rubber (ask me sometime about my mother's stories of underwear without elastic) or nylon. No sacrifice was too great because everyone believed that the stakes were high and that they were facing the potential loss of liberty under the boot of tyranny.

Fast forward some 63 years to today, and look at your calendar for December of 2004. On December 7, you'll see that most calendars take note of the Pearl Harbor attack which is still remembered with surprising freshness by many Americans. That's why I found it especially ironic -- and more than a little painful -- that Americans were subjected to another sneak attack on freedom on that very anniversary. December 7, 2004 marks the moment when the House of Representatives passed legislation to provide for intelligence reform. The vote tallies were overwhelming. A day later, and by an even more lopsided margin, the Senate did the same.

The intelligence bill is just the latest fall-out resulting from the 9/11 attacks. Literally within days of the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania, another lengthy piece of legislation was rushed through Congress. Referenced by a singularly inappropriate acronym, the USA PATRIOT Act was heralded as necessary for law enforcement to prevent further attacks on American soil. The PATRIOT Act has been the subject of controversy ever since, with civil liberties advocates claiming it infringes mightily on American freedoms, and even members of Congress scrambling to defend their votes or to talk of reforms for various provisions of the Act. Of course, defending affirmative votes for the measure are limited to rationalizations of general notions rather than specifics. That's because the text of the USA PATRIOT Act wasn't available to members of Congress before they voted on it.

At the time, the authorities said that we had to do something right away to prevent more terrorist attacks, and their conveyed sense of urgency in combination with the veiled accusations that anyone voting against the PATRIOT Act wasn't patriotic served to force some votes. Members of Congress were also promised that the PATRIOT Act would never be used for anything but terrorist tracking and prosecution. Of course, that's since turned out to be untrue with PATRIOT Act-related prosecutions ranging from suspected drug dealers to embezzlers. (There are those who believe that the ability of the Department of Justice to put together such a comprehensive measure in such a short period of time meant that those measures had long been on a federal prosecutors' "wish list." They allege that the situation following 9/11 merely presented an opportunity to see those wishes granted. Although I'm not completely convinced that's the case, I'll admit I lean that direction myself).

Even some of those matters that could be argued as being legitimate under the original anti-terrorism explanations of the PATRIOT Act are problematic for the federal government. An Oregon lawyer, accused of participating in the train bombings in Madrid after investigators claimed his fingerprints had been found on evidence there was reluctantly released after Spanish authorities conclusively showed the fingerprints belonged to an Algerian man instead; an Idaho webmaster was acquitted by a jury who, despite government accusations to the contrary, didn't believe he should be held responsible for web site content for which he'd had no responsibility whatsoever.

Hundreds of municipalities and counties, along with four state legislatures, have passed resolutions in protest of the law that range from pleas to Congress to review the PATRIOT Act to outright refusals to participate in any local PATRIOT Act-based investigations. But these things are all well after the fact and represent what's likely to be an uphill battle as the Department of Justice and the Bush administration continue to defend the PATRIOT Act and all of the powers it gives.

Still, one positive result of the ongoing controversy surrounding the USA PATRIOT Act seemed to be the demise of the so-called PATRIOT II legislation. Apparently not satisfied with the inroads against the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments made by the PATRIOT Act itself, the Department of Justice wanted still more powers to aid in its battles in the War on Terrorism. Although accusations were later made that provisions from PATRIOT II were being stealthily added piecemeal to other bills making their way through the legislative process, much of the original legislation seemed to have been largely dismantled. But, as your grandmother might have said, there's more than one way to skin a cat.

Perhaps it felt stung by the criticism surrounding the USA PATRIOT Act and its hurried rush to passage and implementation. More likely, it was simply doing what it thought would appease public concern. Whatever its reasons, the administration appointed a Commission to investigate the 9/11 attacks. Primary among the questions to be answered were such as: Why didn't we know this would happen? Who was at fault for us not knowing? How can we best make sure we never fail to know such things again? The 9/11 Commission's report made a number of suggestions for improvements in intelligence gathering and dissemination as well as offered ideas for the interdiction of terrorism within the US. That report ostensibly formed the basis for the intelligence bill recently passed on December 7 and 8.

Unfortunately, while it does supposedly address what I personally think are some issues that did require reform (communications between at least 14 intelligence agencies, along with requirements for the review and oversight of the privacy impact of various programs -- though the latter is suspect as to any real teeth or even motivation behind it), the legislation also allegedly contains some extraordinarily anti-freedom measures. Some of those are said to include the implementation of a de facto national ID card, rumored measures for widespread and inclusive Internet surveillance, the effective repeal of prohibitions to the CIA of spying on Americans in America, and broad opportunities for abuse by authorities. Further, at least one politician (Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin) has been on record as opposing the bill as is because he believes it doesn't address immigration issues adequately, a matter which many believe is central to protecting us against another terrorist attack.

You, the astute reader, will doubtless note that I've used such "weasel" words in the paragraph above as "supposedly," "rumored," "allegedly," and "said to." There's a reason for those "weasel" words, and that reason is this: Once again, Congress has voted under pressure from the administration on an extensive bill (I've seen Internet reports that claim the bill is comprised of anywhere from 600 to 3,000 pages) with even more extensive implications, and which was not made available to them to review beforehand!

Do I blame the administration for forcing the issue? Sure. Do I find fault with the people who wrote this legislation? From what I know of its likely content, you bet I do. But our supposed protectors from bad legislation -- the men and women who vote on it -- are the real villains here. It's one thing to disagree with what bad legislation might be (there are some in Congress who, I suspect, favor anything that gets the government more involved than it should be in citizens' lives and pocketbooks); it's another entirely to take note of the utter and complete abrogation of responsibility involved when a Representative or Senator votes on a bill he or she hasn't read and considered carefully and with the gravity that is its due.

The votes held on December 7 and 8 were a sneak attack on American liberty in more ways than one. It seems we don't know much of what is contained in this new legislation shortly to become law; it's also readily apparent that those concerns have no meaning for the many who are glossing over specificities by calling this bill "necessary to fight the War on Terrorism," a phrase that's sounding more hollow with every passing day even as it's becoming more familiar with every passing bill.

December 7, 1941 heralded the beginning of a battle against forces in Japan, Germany, and Italy that would have established tyranny across as much of the world as they could conquer. September 11, 2001 marked an attack that's been compared any number of times to the one on Pearl Harbor in its shock, horrific death toll, and impetus to war. But though the declaration of war resulting from the more recent attack was ostensibly to fight against terrorism, it seems to me that there's also an ongoing war in this country between those who value freedom above all else, and those willing to trade it in any quantity for any semblance of security, however ephemeral it may be.

For all of the similarities between Pearl Harbor and the 9/11 there's one ironic dissimilarity that stands taller than the World Trade Center Towers ever did: World War II was fought for freedom. Our current fight is one in which freedom may prove to be the ultimate casualty.

Lady Liberty is a graphic designer and pro-freedom activist currently residing in the Midwest. More of her writings and other political and educational information is available on her web site, Lady Liberty's Constitution Clearing House, at http://www.ladylibrty.com. E-mail Lady Liberty at ladylibrty@ladylibrty.com.

Bloody Rules of Engagement

Most Israelis revere the army. They still see it as an institution of national salvation.

"The combination of rules of engagement that encourage a trigger-happy attitude among soldiers together with the climate of impunity results in a clear and very troubling message about the value the Israeli military places on Palestinian life." Israeli human-rights group B'Tselem

Most Israelis revere the army. They still see it as an institution of national salvation. They believe that it is the most humanitarian army in the world because it claims to risk its soldiers' lives to avoid killing innocent civilians. This is called the code of 'the purity of arms'.

The rules of engagement when someone enters a security zone are very clear. If someone is inside the zone without a weapon and not attempting to harm anyone, then the soldier is supposed to shoot 50 meters from him or her into something solid that will stop the bullet, such as a wall. Then the soldier is supposed to shoot twice in the air, and then, if the trespasser continues to move, it is permissible to shoot them in the leg. Once the person is wounded, soldiers are only permitted to kill if there is an imminent threat to their lives. There is also a very strict rule of engagement about shooting children: Soldiers are not supposed to do it.

In October, in broad daylight, 13-year-old Iman al-Hams was wearing her school uniform when she walked into the Israeli army's 'security zone' at the bottom of her street carrying her satchel. A few minutes later the child was pumped full of bullets. Doctors counted at least 17 wounds and said much of her head was destroyed.

The army swiftly blamed Iman for her own death by entering the security zone. At first the military said soldiers suspected the girl was carrying a bomb in her satchel. When it turned out there was no bomb, it said she was being used by Palestinian combatants to lure troops from their post.

Unfortunately, a tape recording of the radio conversation between soldiers at the scene revealed that, from the beginning, she was identified as a child and at no point was a bomb spoken about, nor was she described as a threat.

Instead, the tape showed that the soldiers swiftly identified her as a "girl of about 10" who was "scared to death." The tape also revealed that the soldiers said Iman was headed eastwards, away from the army post and back into the refugee camp, when she was shot. At that point, Captain R took the unusual decision to leave the post in pursuit of the girl. He shot her dead and then "confirmed the kill" by emptying his magazine into her body.

On the tape, the company commander then "clarified" why he killed Iman: "This is commander. Anything that's mobile, that moves in the zone, even if it's a three-year-old, needs to be killed. Over." This statement reveals the real code of 'the purity of arms'.

A subsequent investigation by the officer responsible for the Gaza strip, Major General Dan Harel, concluded that the captain had "not acted unethically" but suspended him only because of "poor relations with subordinates."

A one-sided war
The Israeli human-rights group B'Tselem revealed that at least 1,656 Palestinian non-combatants have been killed during the intifada which started in September 2000.

Of these, 529 were children, 25 percent of whom were under the age of 12. To date only one soldier has been convicted of causing the death of a Palestinian.

Towards the end of November a little incident was videotaped by Jewish women peace activists. It wasn't as shocking as the pictures in an Israeli newspaper of ultra-orthodox soldiers mocking Palestinian corpses by impaling a man's head on a pole and sticking a cigarette in his mouth, but a little closer to the Jewish psyche. The video footage was of a group of soldiers forcing a Palestinian man to play his violin while ridiculing him. The latter incident prompted the most revulsion among Israelis, "not for abusing Arabs but for disgracing the Holocaust."

Another event that has not been commented upon is the fact that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered the Israeli army to hand over its 'rules of engagement' to U.S. forces.

Thus the destruction of houses of 'suspects', the wholesale detention of thousands of Iraqis without trial, the cordoning off of 'hostile' villages with razor wire, the bombardment of civilian areas by Apache helicopter gunships and tanks on the hunt for 'terrorists' are all part of the Israeli military lexicon.

In besieged cities-when it was taking heavy casualties or the number of civilians killed was becoming too shameful to sustain-the Israeli army would call a "unilateral suspension of offensive operations." It did this 11 times after it surrounded Beirut in 1982. And the American army declared a "unilateral suspension of offensive operations" around Fallujah.

No questions have been raised about the mysterious use of identical language.

A British officer was quoted as saying that part of the problem in Iraq was that American troops viewed Iraqis as untermenschen-the Nazi expression for 'sub-humans'-and were entirely unconcerned about the Iraqi civilian loss of life.

The phrase untermenschen -literally 'under-people'-was brought to prominence by Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf, published in 1925. He used the term to describe those he regarded as racially inferior: Jews, Slavs and gypsies.

Now the Americans and Israelis apply it to all poorly armed and impoverished Muslims, for the climate of impunity can only exist when you have overwhelming force.

War hero hubris
Yet every cloud has a silver lining and every war its heroes. On April 22, millions of stunned Americans mourned the death of Pat Tillman, a defensive back with the Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League, who died in combat in Taliban-infested southeastern Afghanistan. Army commanders awarded Tillman a posthumous Silver Star for valor and released a nine-paragraph account of his heroism, which recorded that Tillman fought bravely and honorably until his last breath. It took them over five weeks to admit that Tillman, aged 27, was killed by members of his own platoon.

Tillman and nearly a dozen other soldiers tried everything they could to stop the attack from their own comrades. They shouted, they waved their arms, and they even let off smoke grenades identifying themselves as American forces. It was when they thought that it was safe to relax that the incident occurred. A Humvee moved into a better firing position and sprayed them with bullets.

To the 'integral man' of the electronic age, life consists of a series of pictures on a screen of virtual reality. Mistakes can always be rectified and one invariably emerges the victor. Should the conclusion not be as anticipated then one can always re-start the game as all participants within it are immortal.

Have a merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

From Warsaw Business Journal

by Zbigniew Piekarski

Deserters Are Heroes

Today let us take the sad, sordid case of one George W. Bush. Our president. Love him or hate him, it was he and he alone who decided that our mighty armies should travel to Iraq and kill tens of thousands of people, most of whom were guilty of nothing more than being there.

Like egomaniacal rulers forever, dating back to the cave, Mr. Bush demonized the people he wanted to kill. They have "weapons of mass destruction," he asserted. Yeah, like we don't. Like India doesn't. Like Israel doesn't. Like Pakistan doesn't. Like China doesn't. Like Russia doesn't. Why don't we invade them? Or ourselves?

It turned out the Iraqis didn't have those terrible weapons. But, the Iraqis are evil, Mr. Bush asserted. Well, at least their leader was, so, by extension, they all were. And, by gosh and by golly, they might have harbored terrorists at one time or another.

Quickly now, name a country that harbored the Sept. 11 terrorists! Ah, that was too easy. You got it right away. The answer: the United States of America. That's who sheltered the 19 terrorists before their attacks on Manhattan and Washington. That's where those terrorists worked and played, ate and slept, plotted and rehearsed right up to that tragic day. The U.S. of A.

But, willing to overlook all that, and with a leader as esteemed and honest and clear-eyed as Mr. Bush, thousands of young men and women, eager to serve their country and save us from the Iraqi monsters, rushed to the recruiting offices to join up.

It's an old, old story, dating back to the first war out of the cave. Young people, eager to do what's right, end up being pawns moved around the board by older men with secret ambitions.

The young people fight heroically and die heroically, and their broken bodies are shipped back home where their next of kin try to make sense of it all and can do so only by turning to their faith in God and their faith in the good intentions of their ambitious leader, Mr. Bush.

But not all young people are eager to die for Mr. Bush. Military recruiters are having difficulty finding enough cannon fodder to fill their quotas. More significantly, men and women already in uniform are rebelling. They're refusing to fight for Mr. Bush and his secret ambitions. They're deserting by the thousands. According to "60 Minutes" last week (quoting the Pentagon), more than 5,500 servicemen have deserted since the beginning of Mr. Bush's war.

That's an amazing number. And it offers hope that perhaps not all our young people are locked into caveman mentality. At least 5,500 of them have advanced to the level of thinking demonstrated at Nuremberg, Germany, in 1945.

Nuremberg is where the Nazi war criminals of World War II were tried. Their common defense was that they were just following orders. The court refused that defense, suggesting that soldiers never have an obligation to follow illegal orders.

Aware of that thinking, at least 5,500 of our troops have decided to desert rather than take part in senseless killing.

In the eyes of many, Mr. Bush's war against the people of Iraq is absolutely illegal. When one country attacks another, destroys it, and kills its people, without overt provocation, that constitutes an illegal war.

The Geneva Conventions, of which the United States is a signatory, is absolutely clear on that.

Now, if you've been overly influenced by Mr. Bush's clever propaganda, you might declare these deserters "traitors." But if you haven't been taken in by the Bush machine, you might call them heroes in the finest tradition of the United States. They are putting their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor at stake to serve the cause of Right rather than the ambitions of the current president.

If you still think Mr. Bush's war isn't corrupt, then you didn't see a different "60 Minutes" report, this one on Dec. 5. In that report, it was revealed that our government is ordering retired servicemen and servicewomen to return to duty, years and years after the end of their terms of enlistment.

Mr. Bush, eager to keep his campaign promise of "no draft," has taken draconian measures to fill out our military ranks. One of the recalled veterans interviewed on "60 Minutes" was a 55-year-old woman, Margaret Murray, who last served during the Vietnam War. Another was a man, Rick Howell, 47, who was permanently injured in an accident during his 16 years in the Army. He can hardly walk, and he says he can't carry more than 30 or 40 pounds. He retired from the Army, or so he thought, in 1997. Now, seven years later, the Army is demanding he return.

Perhaps, in our barely civilized world, someone should inform Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld of this travesty. He thinks our troops should learn to cope with less than the best equipment. But he seems to think differently on the subject of manpower. Perhaps someone should tell him, that, when the president orders up an illegal war, "You go to [that] war with the army you have, not the army you might want."

Harley Sorensen is a longtime journalist. His column appears Mondays.

The Enemies Among Us

12/20/04 "Progressive Trail" -- The new Intelligence reform bill is a more stunning attack on the Bill of Rights than the Patriot Act. Most people have no idea how dramatically their "inalienable" rights have been savaged, or to what extent the Congress has sold them out. It's no exaggeration to say that the foundation of personal liberty, guaranteed in the law, is cracking at the base. It'll be a miracle if we can put it back together in time to pass it on to our children.

As usual, the role of the media has been pivotal in obfuscating the details of the bill. They've fed the hysteria over the establishment of a NID; (National Intelligence Director) a glamour position that has been represented as vital to stopping another 9-11. What rubbish. Teaching Condi Rice how to read a simple e-mail from bin Laden would be twice as effective.

The media has done little to expose the real nature of the conflict between the Pentagon and the 9-11 panel. That battle was a straightforward "turf war" that threatened to take a chunk of money away from Rumsfeld, who presently gets 80% of the Intelligence budget. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) defended Rumsfeld by claiming that "battlefield operations" would be endangered if the bill passed. It was nonsensical argument reflective of Hunter's indebtedness to the Defense industry (Dig around the internet and you'll find that Hunter is even more of a corporate streetwalker than most of his peers) As for Rumsfeld, he just wants his $32 billion, so that he can persist in bankrolling his clandestine detention centers, death squads and propaganda facilities (now called strategic intelligence). In reality, Rumsfeld is conducting his own secret government, and has been for some time. That takes money, and lots of it.

The creation of the NID is an appalling idea. It puts all 14 intelligence agencies UNDER A POLITICAL APPOINTEE, which is an invitation for disaster. We all know how corrupted information was before the Iraq war; imagine what it will look like after it travels through the executive sausage-making unit. It's unlikely that anything remotely resembling the truth will ever emerge from the Bush White House.

The new bill creates a new national ID card ("Let me see your papers") by federalizing driver's licenses. The plan is to establish federal guidelines in the design of licenses that can be used as a means for tracking people. These standards are unnecessary unless the government is developing a social strategy that is so heinous that it's bound to generate more enemies. The increased repression and the greater disparity in personal wealth suggest that this is the case.

Democracy Now elaborates on the new national ID: "There's all sorts of new technologies that could be incorporated into the driver's license to link it to all sorts of public and private-sector databases. And you could also imagine putting an RFID chip in the license that would allow it to be tracked remotely. So, this is something the 9/11 commission had actually recommended be done, that the driver's license should be something like an internal passport of the sort that we've seen in the Soviet Union in the past, and although the Congress wasn't willing to explicitly go that far, they have laid the groundwork for that kind of checkpoint society in the future."

Did you hear any complaints from Congress over this hallmark of fascist's regimes?

The Intel bill also creates a "Civil Liberties Board" charged with
investigating whether the new legislation adversely affects civil rights.

Regrettably, the board is a complete sham. It has no subpoena power and is subordinate to the NID, the President and the Attorney General. In other words, it's merely a public relations ploy intended to conceal the bill's harsher measures (Undoubtedly, this "Board" will be used by Bush to defend his steadfast concern for civil liberties)

The powers of the FISA court have also been seriously expanded. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act basically allows the secret court to overturn the "probable cause" provision of the 4th Amendment in the investigation of terror suspects. John Ashcroft gravely abused the statute by extending it to the surveillance of identity-theft suspects and drug traffickers (Ashcroft actually boasted to Congress about the success of using the Patriot Act to apprehend criminals who were entirely unrelated to terrorism. He obviously considered the 4th Amendment nothing more than an unnecessary nuisance) Now the law has been expanded to include a "lone wolf" provision; supposedly aimed at an individual terrorist acting without the support of a foreign government. In fact, the purpose of the new provision is to allow unlimited surveillance of any American without the hassle of having to prove even the "remotest" connection to organized terror or a foreign government. It is a "blank check" for law enforcement to eschew all privacy laws without fear of reprimand. It is the end of the 4th amendment.

More importantly, if someone is arrested (as was the case with 1200 Muslims after 9-11) as a terrorist suspect, he can be refused bail and IMPRISONED INDEFINITLY WITHOUT CHARGES. The moniker of "terrorist" trumps the underlying principle of American jurisprudence, that is, the "presumption of innocence" Now, prisoners will have to prove that they aren't guilty; a difficult prospect when there is no process in place to challenge the terms of their detention. Consider the comments of Judge Antonin Scalia in this regard: "The very core of liberty secured by our Anglo-Saxon system of separated powers has been freedom from indefinite imprisonment at the will of the Executive."

This sounds like empty rhetoric coming from Scalia, but his point is a valid one. Where arbitrary imprisonment begins, the rule of law ends. American citizens are no longer protected by "inalienable rights"; their safety depends on the discretion of the President.

This brief summary doesn't cover all the repressive elements of the new bill. It does, however, show how personal liberty is being sacrificed to enhance the power of the state. The Intelligence Reform legislation is 615 pages long. Not one was written by either a Senator or a Congressman. This entire campaign to strip Americans of their civil liberties is being orchestrated by private interests; the "silent partners" who wrote this legislation in its entirety. Think about that.

The document that will be signed into law next week is a frontal assault on the fundamental rights of man. Even Habeas Corpus, which goes back 600 years in English law, is struck down.

The enemies of freedom are among us, and they're moving quickly. But, don't take my word for it. Consider the meaning of these attacks on basic rights and make your own judgment.

Mike Whitney
Copyright: Progressive Trail

'Christmas is Taboo in America, But Now People Are Fighting Back'

If you think celebrations in Britain are becoming too politically correct then don't go to the US. Philip Sherwell reports

For her son's school "holiday party" last week, Julie West baked a birthday cake for the baby Jesus - a gesture of defiance both against his teachers and the growing campaign in America to remove any trace of Christmas from public life.

Six-year-old Aaron had brought home a note from his school, in Washington state, that asked parents to provide food that their family traditionally enjoyed during the holiday season.

"He asked for the cake I make at Christmas with the words 'Happy Birthday Jesus'," said Ms West. "I called the school to let them know, but a few days later the teacher phoned back to say that I couldn't bring the cake as the party was not a religious event."

Ms West, who attends a non-denominational church in Edmonds, near Seattle, was amazed. "It wasn't an attempt to impose my beliefs on anyone. It was just a cake," she said. "I think all traditions and religions should be celebrated at this time of year."

After researching the issue on the internet she contacted the Rutherford Institute, a mainstream pressure group that defends religious freedom. It assured her that even though the American constitution bans the promotion of religion by the government, simply bringing a cake iced with "Happy Birthday Jesus" into the school broke no laws. "So I took the cake in for the party on Tuesday and none of the other parents or children were offended," she said. "The only comment was how delicious it was.

"I didn't set out to make a point, but now I hope I have helped a few other people understand their rights."

Not everyone is as robust. Across the United States, celebrations for what many Americans now refer to as the "C word" have been all but restricted to churches and private homes.

In Wichita, Kansas, a local newspaper ran an apology after referring to a "Christmas tree", rather than a "community tree" at the city's Winterfest celebration. In Denver, a Christian church float was barred from the city's parade while Chinese lion dancers and German folk dancers were welcomed. In parts of Florida, fir trees have been banned this year from government-owned property.

A mayor in Massachusetts issued a formal apology to anyone offended by a press release that mistakenly described the town of Somerville's holiday party as a "Christmas party". Schools in Florida and New Jersey have banned all carols and elsewhere in Washington state a school principal banned a production of A Christmas Carol mainly because Tiny Tim prays: "God bless us, every one."

In one New Jersey school district, where the singing of Christmas carols has long been abandoned, officials have this year forbidden children's orchestras to play songs such as Silent Night because that might remind people of their Christian content.

Frosty the Snowman and Winter Wonderland have, however, been deemed acceptable as they are devoid of any religious references.

"The majority of people in the towns think that this policy is unnecessary," said William Calabrese, the town president (mayor) of South Orange. "This feels like a slap in the face to diversity, not a symbol of it. They're sterilising the school systems, taking away freedom of choice. It's a type of totalitarianism."

The fightback, however, has begun. Showdowns are taking place across the country as individuals, and conservative and religious groups, come out against the zealous interpretation of the separation of Church and state.

In Chicago, a Nativity scene has been given police protection after a life-sized model of the infant Christ was briefly stolen before being recovered earlier this month.

"This has been getting worse for years and people have finally had enough," said John Whitehead, the founder of the Rutherford Institute, which has issued its own "Twelve Rules of Christmas" setting out people's religious rights.

"Political correctness is all-pervasive here. Christmas has become a taboo in America but now people are fighting back."

In the Oklahoma City suburb of Mustang, voters angered by a school board's decision to remove a Nativity scene from a school play demonstrated their fury at the ballot box last week. They rejected the board's plans to raise $11 million (£5.7 million) by issuing bonds.

Many parents were particularly angry that the play still featured Santa Claus and a Christmas tree in addition to symbols of the Jewish festival of Hanukkah and of Kwanzaa, an African-American celebration established in 1966 as a counter to Christmas. These were deemed "cultural" rather than religious.

Also last week, a court challenge began in New York to overturn a policy that allows the Jewish menorah and Islamic crescent and star to be displayed in schools, but forbids Nativity scenes.

The Catholic League and Thomas More Law Centre are appealing against a lower court ruling that found that the Jewish and Muslim symbols have a secular dimension while the Nativity is "purely religious".

Organisations such as the Americans United (AU) for Separation of Church and State believe that the campaign to put Christ back into Christmas is being pushed by conservative Christian groups buoyed by the victory of President George W Bush and the religious Right in last month's elections. "They are emboldened," said Robert Boston, an AU spokesman.

The Chicago Nativity has been at the centre of controversy since the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Jewish Congress and the American Atheists launched a legal challenge against its location on public property.

Their case was thrown out because the scene was erected by a private group. This year, at least, other expressions of religious freedom are also being allowed in the city.

Pressure groups such as the Rutherford Institute and the Alliance Defence Fund, which hires lawyers to fight perceived anti-Christian bias, say that many teachers and public officials are confused about the law and wrongly believe that any religious displays or symbols are forbidden on government property.

Others have been cowed by a stream of complaints and are just seeking "the easy life", according to Mr Whitehead. Retailers are particularly sensitive to complaints. Several stores, including Macy's, have reportedly banned their staff from referring to Christmas in case they deter non-Christian customers, prompting a group of angry Californians to boycott its outlets.

While President Bush's holiday greetings card, posted to a record two million recipients this year, carries a line from Psalm 95 – "Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song" – there is no mention of Christmas on the White House website. Even Fox News, the conservative television network, cannot bring itself to wish a merry Christmas to its viewers. Instead, "Happy Holidays" is flashed up to the tune – but not the words – of Ding Dong Merrily on High.

The Rutherford Institute despairs. "This is not a Left-Right, Republican-Democrat issue," said Mr Whitehead. "It's about everyone's right to celebrate their religious beliefs as they want. We should be including all religions, not excluding one."

Not Ignorant...Just Plain Stupid!

Arnold Schwarzenegger Called Ignorant for Suggestion that Republicans Embrace Abortion

SACRAMENTO, December 20, 2004 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Bodybuilder turned actor, turned politician, Arnold Schwarzenegger made statements in a German magazine, published over the weekend, that the Republican Party should move to the left and embrace both gay marriage and abortion. "I would like the Republican Party to cross this line, move a little further left and place more weight on the center," said Schwarzenegger. "This would immediately give the party 5% more votes without it losing anything elsewhere."

"Schwarzenegger's statements that the GOP party would not lose its base if it embraces gay marriage and abortion rights shows extreme arrogance and total ignorance concerning the values and dedication of the party's core constituents," said Karen England of the Capitol Resource Institute, a pro-family public policy organization in California. "Schwarzenegger has spent too much time in Hollywood. He needs to start mingling more with mainstream Californians."

"We are outraged that Schwarzenegger has the audacity to misspeak for the millions of Republicans in this country who believe that abortion is murder and that the life of a child should come before the mere convenience of a woman," said England.

Schwarzenegger seems to have exhibited "extreme arrogance" in more than politics, according to his interview with the Sueddeutsche Zeitung Saturday. While remaining coy about his Presidential ambitions, the former actor made comments reminiscent of Al Gore's claim to have invented the Internet. Arnold indicated he believes himself responsible for the whole action film genre. "I brought bodybuilding from nothing, I made the action film a genre, and the same goes for politics - I want to do things that no one believed possible," he said.

Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America commented to LifeSiteNews.com about Schwarzenegger saying, "What film stage is Arnold living in? Californians along with Americans across the country have voted to protect marriage from homosexual distortions. The last election indisputably exhibited the socially conservative sensibilities of voters. Democratic strategists are recognizing that their liberal polemics drove voters away from their candidates. Yet Arnold's advice is for the winning team to forego what people want - the moral high ground - to champion losing causes. Arnold may be good on stage, but sensible strategists should view his political advice as steroids that would destroy us internally."

England concluded, "If Schwarzenegger thinks that the majority of the GOP base will stick with the Republican Party on fiscal issues alone, then he has a lot to learn about the makeup of his own party."

Schwarzenegger failed to mention one 'claim to fame' in the interview - his mainstreaming of male pornography. Years ago Time magazine pointed out that now-Governor Schwarzenegger brought the nude male photo into the mainstream of Western culture. Nude frontals of the Governor currently litter the Internet.


Non-Delusional Reality for Douglas Feith

Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith is the neocon who was tasked
with cooking up the false "intelligence" that President Bush used to
deceive the US public into supporting an illegal invasion of Iraq. With the
US military now trapped in the Iraqi quagmire, Feith wants the US to
attack Iran.

President Bush falsely claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass
destruction, that Iraq was linked to the terrorist attack on the World Trade
Center, and that Iraq would give weapons of mass destruction to
anti-American terrorists. Senior members of the Bush administration terrified the
US public with prospects of mushroom clouds going up over US cities.

Having been proved 100% wrong about Iraq, the Bush administration now
claims that the nonexistent WMD are in Iran, or maybe Syria. During
recent weeks the Bush administration worked overtime to terrify the US
public into believing that Iran is building nuclear weapons and missiles
with which to destroy American cities.

To ward off yet another gratuitous and illegal US attack on a Muslim
country, Europe, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and US experts
such as Gordon Prather have exposed the Bush administration’s false
claims. But the Bush administration ignores factual truth. Bush has his own
"truth," a delusional "truth" independent of all evidence.

Israel’s rightwing Likud Party regards Feith as one of its own. The
Jerusalem Post described Feith as "a staunch supporter of Israel" (Dec.
12). In an exclusive interview Feith told that paper that despite the
intercession of Britain, France, Germany and the IAEA against a US attack
on Iran, the Bush administration has not ruled out taking military
action against Iran.

In other words, the neocon Bush administration has already decided to
attack Iran and Syria. The only question is what kind of lie can Bush
use to get away with it.

But first Bush has to take over the IAEA, which has steadfastly refused
to go along with Bush’s propaganda against Iran. According to the
Washington Post (Dec. 12), the Bush administration has been tapping the
telephones of the head of the IAEA, M. ElBaradei, hoping to find damaging
information with which to frame, blackmail, or taint him as an Iranian

Unable to find or to manufacture any evidence against ElBaradei, the
Bush administration is using an orchestrated campaign of anonymous
accusations in an effort to oust the IAEA director and to replace him with a
US puppet. The problem is that ElBaradei is more highly regarded than
any member of the tainted Bush administration, including President Bush
himself. So far Bush cannot find anyone anywhere in the world,
including our British puppet, who is willing to be associated with the Bush
administration’s disgraceful intentions.

The important unanswered question is: why do the neocons with their
proven record of duplicity and delusion still hold the reigns of power in
the Bush administration? Why isn’t Feith in prison? Martha Stewart is
in prison for "lying" about a noncrime. Feith’s lies have killed
thousands. The Iraq war is based entirely on neocon lies. The war is costing
the US a fortune it does not have. The war is producing US casualties
comparable to those of the Vietnam war and has killed a minimum of tens
of thousands of Iraqi civilians.

The neocons have destroyed Iraq’s infrastructure, alienated the entire
Muslim world and made the US the most hated country on the planet.

What does Douglas Feith think the effect would be on Shi’ite Iraq of a
US attack on Shi’ite Iran? The only reason the US army in Iraq has not
been totally destroyed is the wait-and-see attitude of the majority
Shi’ites, who expect to take control of Iraq once there is an election. If
the US attacks Iran, the Iraqi Shi’ite clerics will not be able to
maintain their neutrality toward the US occupation of Iraq.

The current Iraqi insurgency is drawn from Sunni ranks. Sunnis comprise
only 20% of Iraq’s population. Yet, Sunnis have tied down 8 US
divisions while inflicting horrendous casualties on US troops. If Bush
escalates US aggression in the Middle East, he will create a larger insurgency.

Imagine the US casualty rate if the Iraqi insurgency was drawn from 80%
of the population. The temporary Shi’ite insurgency of the minor
cleric, Al Sadr, caused tremendous US consternation. What would be the US
casualty rate if, instead of sitting on their hands, all the Shi’ites had
joined the insurgency?

Iran covers almost four times the area of Iraq and has more than 2.5
times the population. If Bush attacks Iran, he will create an insurgency
there as well, one that could spill over into Pakistan, Jordan, Saudi
Arabia, and Egypt.

Bush’s war is achieving a Shi’ite unity that will redraw Middle Eastern
boundaries and eliminate secular Muslim governments. Shi’ite unity will
merge with the anti-American terrorists and drive all Western
expatriates out of the Middle East. Indeed, the departures are already underway.
Israel will be isolated, exposed to the consequences of its aggression
against the Palestinians.

Fox "News" and right-wing talk radio crazies misinform us that we are
kicking terrorist butt, but in non-delusional reality, we are unifying
Islam and ending forever Western influence in the Middle East.

December 14, 2004

Dr. Roberts [send him mail] is John M. Olin Fellow at the Institute for
Political Economy and Research Fellow at the Independent Institute. He
is a former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, former
contributing editor for National Review, and a former assistant secretary of
the U.S. Treasury. He is the co-author of The Tyranny of Good

Copyright © 2004 Creators Syndicate

Paul Craig Roberts Archives

White House: We Knew About Kerik, Didn't Care, We Wanted His Nomination To Go Forward

Saturday, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card admitted that White House investigators and aides knew of Bernard Kerik's flaws unearthed by the media when the administration put forth his nomination. 'Many of the questions that have been raised in the media were well understood by the White House when they considered Bernie Kerik,' he said. Despite this admission, Monday, President Bush said , 'I was disappointed that the nomination of Bernard Kerik did not go forward'.

This event is best understood in the context of history. This administration came to power in 2001 after running on a platform of 'Restoring Honor and Dignity to the White House', ostensibly because President Clinton having an affair tarnished its honor and dignity. If that is true, why did the Bush administration allow and put forward the nomination of an individual who:

1 - Was accused of having simultaneous extramarital affairs with two women

2 - Was accused of having connections with individuals suspected of doing business with organized crime figures

3 - Did not complete the required background form when, in 2000, Giuliani nominated him as police commissioner

4 - Admitted that he had employed an illegal alien as a nanny and failed to submit required Social Security payments.

If Clinton's conduct, according to House Republicans in the late 1990's, constituted the high crimes and misdemeanors worthy of impeachment, how should the country view nominating someone who has done the same and more, to a law enforcement/security position in the cabinet?

Steven Leser, stevenleser@walla.com

FBI E-Mail Refers to Presidential Order Authorizing Inhumane Interrogation Techniques

Newly Obtained FBI Records Call Defense Department’s Methods "Torture," Express Concerns Over "Cover-Up" That May Leave FBI "Holding the Bag" for Abuses

December 20, 2004

Contact: media@aclu.org

NEW YORK -- A document released for the first time today by the American Civil Liberties Union suggests that President Bush issued an Executive Order authorizing the use of inhumane interrogation methods against detainees in Iraq. Also released by the ACLU today are a slew of other records including a December 2003 FBI e-mail that characterizes methods used by the Defense Department as "torture" and a June 2004 "Urgent Report" to the Director of the FBI that raises concerns that abuse of detainees is being covered up.

"These documents raise grave questions about where the blame for widespread detainee abuse ultimately rests," said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. "Top government officials can no longer hide from public scrutiny by pointing the finger at a few low-ranking soldiers."

The documents were obtained after the ACLU and other public interest organizations filed a lawsuit against the government for failing to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request.

The two-page e-mail that references an Executive Order states that the President directly authorized interrogation techniques including sleep deprivation, stress positions, the use of military dogs, and "sensory deprivation through the use of hoods, etc." The ACLU is urging the White House to confirm or deny the existence of such an order and immediately to release the order if it exists. The FBI e-mail, which was sent in May 2004 from "On Scene Commander--Baghdad" to a handful of senior FBI officials, notes that the FBI has prohibited its agents from employing the techniques that the President is said to have authorized.

Another e-mail, dated December 2003, describes an incident in which Defense Department interrogators at Guantánamo Bay impersonated FBI agents while using "torture techniques" against a detainee. The e-mail concludes "If this detainee is ever released or his story made public in any way, DOD interrogators will not be held accountable because these torture techniques were done [sic] the ‘FBI’ interrogators. The FBI will [sic] left holding the bag before the public."

The document also says that no "intelligence of a threat neutralization nature" was garnered by the "FBI" interrogation, and that the FBI’s Criminal Investigation Task Force (CITF) believes that the Defense Department’s actions have destroyed any chance of prosecuting the detainee. The e-mail’s author writes that he or she is documenting the incident "in order to protect the FBI."

"The methods that the Defense Department has adopted are illegal, immoral, and counterproductive," said ACLU staff attorney Jameel Jaffer. "It is astounding that these methods appear to have been adopted as a matter of policy by the highest levels of government."

The June 2004 "Urgent Report" addressed to the FBI Director is heavily redacted. The legible portions of the document appear to describe an account given to the FBI’s Sacramento Field Office by an FBI agent who had "observed numerous physical abuse incidents of Iraqi civilian detainees," including "strangulation, beatings, [and] placement of lit cigarettes into the detainees ear openings." The document states that "[redacted] was providing this account to the FBI based on his knowledge that [redacted] were engaged in a cover-up of these abuses."

The release of these documents follows a federal court order that directed government agencies to comply with a year-old request under the Freedom of Information Act filed by the ACLU, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Physicians for Human Rights, Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans for Peace. The New York Civil Liberties Union is co-counsel in the case.

Other documents released by the ACLU today include:

An FBI email regarding DOD personnel impersonating FBI officials during interrogations. The e-mail refers to a "ruse" and notes that "all of those [techniques] used in these scenarios" were approved by the Deputy Secretary of Defense. (Jan. 21, 2004)
Another FBI agent’s account of interrogations at Guantánamo in which detainees were shackled hand and foot in a fetal position on the floor. The agent states that the detainees were kept in that position for 18 to 24 hours at a time and most had "urinated or defacated [sic]" on themselves. On one occasion, the agent reports having seen a detainee left in an unventilated, non-air conditioned room at a temperature "probably well over a hundred degrees." The agent notes: "The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his own hair out throughout the night." (Aug. 2, 2004)

An e-mail stating that an Army lawyer "worked hard to cwrite [sic] a legal justification for the type of interrogations they (the Army) want to conduct" at Guantánamo Bay. (Dec. 9, 2002)

An e-mail noting the initiation of an FBI investigation into the alleged rape of a juvenile male detainee at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. (July 28, 2004)

An FBI agent’s account of an interrogation at Guantánamo - an interrogation apparently conducted by Defense Department personnel - in which a detainee was wrapped in an Israeli flag and bombarded with loud music and strobe lights. (July 30, 2004)

The ACLU and its allies are scheduled to go to court again this afternoon, where they will seek an order compelling the CIA to turn over records related to an internal investigation into detainee abuse. Although the ACLU has received more than 9,000 documents from other agencies, the CIA refuses to confirm or deny even the existence of many of the records that the ACLU and other plaintiffs have requested. The CIA is reported to have been involved in abusing detainees in Iraq and at secret CIA detention facilities around the globe.

The lawsuit is being handled by Lawrence Lustberg and Megan Lewis of the New Jersey-based law firm Gibbons, Del Deo, Dolan, Griffinger & Vecchione, P.C. Other attorneys in the case are Jaffer, Amrit Singh and Judy Rabinovitz of the ACLU; Art Eisenberg and Beth Haroules of the NYCLU; and Barbara Olshansky and Jeff Fogel of CCR.

The documents referenced above can be found at: http://www.aclu.org/torturefoia/released/fbi.html.

More on the lawsuit can be found at: http://www.aclu.org/torturefoia

The New Military Life: Heading Back to the War

MANHATTAN, Kan., Dec. 15 - Earlier this year, as Sgt. Alexander Garcia's plane took off for home after his tense year of duty in Iraq, he remembered watching the receding desert sand and thinking, I will never see this place again.

Never lasted about 10 months for Sergeant Garcia, a cavalry scout with the First Armored Division who finished his first stint in Iraq in March and is now preparing to return.

He and the rest of his combat brigade at Fort Riley, the Army base a few miles from this town, have been working for weeks, late into the frigid prairie nights, cleaning and packing gear and vehicles for the trip back to Baghdad after the New Year.

"I figured that the Army was big enough that one unit would not have to go back again before this thing was over," said Sergeant Garcia, 20. "It's my job and it's my country, and I don't have any regrets. But I kind of feel like I did my part. Just as I was readjusting to life back home, just as I was starting to feel normal again, this kind of throws me back into the waves."

No one is feeling normal anymore at Fort Riley and other bases across the country, where military life is undergoing a radical change. They are stoic here, and many point out, as Sergeant Garcia does, that they signed up for this.

Still, in decades past, troops had gotten used to a predictable rhythm to their deployments. Even during Desert Storm and Vietnam, most soldiers could expect to take just one trip into harm's way.

But with the military stretched thin in Iraq and in Afghanistan, some soldiers and marines are being sent to war zones repeatedly, for longer stretches in some cases, and with far less time at home between deployments than they say they have ever experienced before.

Here in Kansas, the base and the small towns nearby have begun to resemble an enormous machine in an endless cycle: bringing soldiers home with late-night celebrations in gymnasiums and screaming roadside banners, and then sending them off again, with fresh uniforms, new DVD players and snapshots, and formal farewells.

The motion is constant, whirring along, even as the world beyond Fort Riley's churning slows down for the holidays. Next month, a brigade of 3,500 Fort Riley soldiers will begin returning to Iraq for a second time; a few days ago, 3,500 others, many of whom arrived home to their quiet Midwestern post this fall, learned they would be headed back to Iraq as early as the middle of next year.

This frenzied pace is swiftly becoming the norm. Nearly a third of the 950,000 people from all branches of the armed forces who have been sent to Iraq or Afghanistan since those conflicts began have already been sent a second time. Part-time soldiers - Army national guardsmen and reservists - who often have handled support roles, not frontline combat roles, are slightly more likely to have served more than one deployment to the conflict zones than regular Army members.

And, of the nearly 1,300 troops who have died in Iraq since the war began, more than 100 of them were on second tours.

The change is leaving its emotional mark on thousands of military families. Some family members say the repeated separations have been like some awful waking dream, holding their breath for their soldiers to make it home safely, only to watch them leave once more. Some families who have lost loved ones on repeat tours of duty said they felt a particular ache - a sense that the second trip pushed fate too hard.

Among some of the soldiers themselves, the thought of returning to Iraq carries one puzzling quality: Unlike so many parts of life, in which the second try at anything feels easier than the first, these soldiers say that heading to Iraq is actually more overwhelming the second time around.

"The first time, I didn't know anything," Sergeant Garcia said. "But this time I know what I'm getting into, so it's harder. You know what you're going to do. You know how bad you're going to be feeling."

During peacetime, marines have usually been deployed for six months, then stationed at home for 18 months, said Capt. Dan McSweeney, a Marine Corps spokesman. For now, Captain McSweeney said, the pace for some is closer to seven months away and seven months home. About half of the 32,000 marines now stationed in Iraq are serving second tours, he said.

The Army's goal is that fulltime soldiers can expect deployments one year of every three, and reservists expect to go away far less, one year of every six, said Lt. Col. Christopher Rodney, an Army spokesman. At the moment, though, Colonel Rodney said, some soldiers are leaving for a year and coming home for a year, though some tours have stretched longer, some stays at home shorter.

Army officials said they were seeking ways to make repeated deployments easier on soldiers and their families, as the Army is shifted to create more brigades and to spread the burdens. Colonel Rodney said that the military was also trying to give troops as much advance warning about deployments as possible. The Army's chaplains, too, said they were offering more extensive relationship counseling for military families as one way to ease the strains.

"This is a completely new and completely different kind of animal," said Sgt. First Class Tom Ogden, a member of an Army aviation unit from Fort Carson, Colo., who has spent nearly 20 years in the military.

"I've never seen anything like it," he said. "And what everybody is starting to know now is that this is going to be what's going on for the foreseeable future."

Sergeant Ogden, 37, returned home to his wife, Rene, and their 7-year-old twins in April. His unit is to leave again, he said, in March. "For me, this one will be harder," he said. "The last time, we thought there was an off-chance we would see some stuff. But things have escalated, and now we know we will."

At Fort Riley, soldiers and their families said they had wrestled with the new, faster pace. Some spouses said they worried about managing so much of life alone - children, bills, cars and home repairs.

"I think this is the new norm," said Sandra Horton, whose husband, Staff Sgt. T. J. Horton, is to leave Fort Riley for Iraq, once again, in January.

The Hortons have been through the stresses and loneliness of deployments many times in Sergeant Horton's 17 years in the service, and they said they would manage just fine this time, too. Again and again, they both said that this was simply his job, even if it meant that Ta'Von, 6, grew many more inches before his father saw him again.

Still, in a quiet moment, Ms. Horton acknowledged: "It feels never-ending now. We feel like he's always gone. But what can we do?"

For Specialist James Webb, a younger soldier here at Fort Riley, the family stresses seem overwhelming. "I feel like I'm in a no-win situation," he said.

Specialist Webb, 28, lives alone in a one-bedroom apartment off the base. He talks on the telephone for hours to his wife, who lives in Georgia. He said he was lonely, struggling with depression and being treated for post-traumatic stress from the roadside bombs and rocket-propelled grenades he saw as a gunner on the top of a Humvee.

He returned this fall, but has not been able to reunite permanently with his wife and three stepdaughters because he cannot find them on-base housing. His wife moved home, to Georgia, during his deployment, and now there is talk of another deployment as quickly as next year.

"There's been some distance," he said somberly of his wife, whom he married in October 2002, not long before his first deployment. "She's really not liking the military lifestyle at all. She tells me things would be better if I just moved back to Georgia."

Still, Specialist Webb said he hoped to remain a soldier for his career, though he said he worried about losing his family."At the same time, this is my job," he said. "I signed on the dotted line. And this is a small thing I can do for my country, to protect my wife and stepdaughters."

No one can be certain how the pace of deployment may affect the military in the years ahead: Will soldiers finish their enlistments and leave? Will fewer recruits agree to sign up? Two studies based on data before the 2001 terrorist attacks suggested that service members who had one or two deployments were more likely to re-enlist than those who had had no deployments, but the pace and danger levels of deployments have shifted since then.

Cpl. Kenneth Epperson, a Fort Riley soldier, said that he and his wife, Amanda, were fine with the pace of deployment. His daughter, Nikki, was born while he was in Iraq, and he has spent many weeks since he returned in April away from his family again, getting special training in California and Georgia.

"I joined the Army to be a soldier," said Corporal Epperson, who is 21 and headed back to Iraq in a few weeks. "I expected this."

Others were surprised.

At Camp LeJeune, in North Carolina, Lance Cpl. Peter Kirby said he probably would not re-enlist in the Marines when his contract ends in 16 months. He had thought about the military as a career, Corporal Kirby said, but was now leaning toward being a police officer or a park service worker.

"This isn't the life I'd like to lead," he said, adding that he was getting married in a few weeks. "If I'm going to start a family, I don't want to be absent in my kids' lives."

In Tucson, Elena Zurheide is preparing Christmas for her 7-and-a-half-month-old son, Robert III. "I hate Christmas," Ms. Zurheide said. "I hate holidays. I hate everything right now."

Her husband, Robert Jr., was a lance corporal in the Marines. He was killed in Falluja this spring, a few weeks before their son was born. He was on his second tour to Iraq.

"I never wanted him to go a second time," she said. "I just started having the feeling that we were pushing our luck too far, and he thought so, too."

She said she wrote to Corporal Zurheide's commander before he left, asking that her huband be permitted to stay behind - or that he at least be allowed to wait for the birth of their son. She said she never heard back.

"I should have broken his arm to keep him here," she said. "I knew it was too much to go again."

Her son, Ms. Zurheide said, looks just like his father.

Published: December 20, 2004

GI Dissent Shakes Up the Pentagon

A series of events in early December signaled a major shift in political consciousness within the U.S. Armed Forces. Together they struck fear in the hearts of the general staff.

A sailor, a soldier, a Marine, and two National Guard soldiers committed acts of courage. They killed no Iraqis, nor did they rescue wounded comrades under fire. This kind of courage took a different form for each GI, from refusing to kill to confronting the unpopular secretary of defense.

Just say 'no'

Petty Officer Third Class Pablo Paredes had received orders to ship out on the USS Bonhomme Richard and carry 3,000 Marines to Iraq. On a pier in San Diego on Dec. 6, Paredes said "no" to these orders.

Paredes, who grew up in the Bronx borough of New York City, knew he would be pretty safe stationed on the ship. He knew he would probably go to prison for refusing. But he also knew at least 100 of the 3,000 Marines wouldn't come back. And he objected to the unjustified loss of human life in Iraq.

In 2000, Paredes had signed up at age 17 for a six-year stint in the Navy. Now, as he refused his orders, he said, "I'd rather do military prison time than 6 months of dirty work for a war that I and many others do not support. War should be an absolute last resort and even then must be considered thoroughly."

His immigrant family and his wife are 100-percent behind him. Paredes has his own web site where readers can find his

position in full. (SwiftSmartVeterans.com)

Three hundred people cheered and applauded Victor Paredes when he spoke of his brother's determination to refuse to go to Iraq on Dec. 11 at an anti-war meeting of veterans' groups and military families in New York. The Navy backed off from arresting Paredes on Dec.6 with media present. Now, charged with desertion, he is arranging his legal defense to prepare for turning himself in.

Asylum in Canada

Army Pfc. Jeremy Hinzman faced Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) in Toronto for an asylum hearing the same week. He had left Ft. Bragg, N.C., months before when his paratrooper unit in the 82nd Airborne Division was ordered to Iraq. For Hinzman, the war in Iraq is illegal, and if he participates he will be a war criminal.

The young paratrooper believes he deserves no punishment for taking this stand. "Serving even one day in prison for refusing to comply with an illegal order is too long."

Hinzman had said on CBS' "60 Min utes" program, "I was told in basic train ing that if I'm given an illegal or immoral order, it is my duty to disobey it, and I feel that invading and occupying Iraq is an illegal and immoral thing to do."

Hinzman is in Toronto with his Viet namese-born wife and 2-year-old son. He is the first in court of three U.S. troops now in Canada who are publicly appealing for official asylum. The Canadian government, which has refused to join the "coalition of the willing" in Iraq, is under pressure from Washington to reject U.S. military resisters.

Presiding IRB member Brian Goodman says the legality or illegality of the war will not be an issue in his ruling, to be made by February 2005. It will be based, said Goodman, only on whether Hinzman has a reasonable fear of persecution for his religious or political beliefs, or faces the risk of cruel and unusual punishment if he returns to the U.S.

Confession of war crimes

Despite Goodman's statement, Hinz man made a strong political case. Marine Staff Sgt. Jimmy Massey, a 12-year veteran, was at the Toronto hearing Dec. 8 testifying on Hinzman's behalf. Massey, who spent three months in Iraq, told how his unit--the 7th Marines weapons company -- killed more than 30 Iraqi civilians in one 48-hour period at a checkpoint in the Rashid neighborhood in southern Baghdad.

"I know in my heart that these vehicles that came up, that they were civilians," he said. "But I had to act on my orders. It's a struggle within my heart." He said that Hinzman would likely be forced to commit atrocities that violate the Geneva Con ventions if he goes to Iraq.

A large majority of Canadians and Que becois oppose the war on Iraq. In addition, there are over 30,000 former U.S. citizens who took asylum in Canada during the Vietnam War who side with Hinzman, including Hinzman's attorney, Jeffry House. (SoldierSayNo.org)

'Shock and awe' for Rumsfeld

Spec. Thomas Wilson is with the 278th Regimental Combat Team, composed mainly of members of the Tennessee Army National Guard. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld spoke to 2,300 of these Guard members in a hangar in Kuwait before television cameras.

Rumsfeld asked the troops to pose some "tough questions." He must have expected them to remain humble before his authority. Instead of being held in awe, Rumsfeld got shocked.

Wilson brought up the unarmored Humvees that the resistance regularly blows up in Iraq. He asked Rumsfeld why do "we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles?"

The 2,300 troops applauded and cheered him. Rumsfeld looked stunned. His quick answer failed to hide his indifference toward the fate of the ordinary GIs: "You go to war with the Army you have," blustered the Pentagon boss. "They're not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time."

He looked like he wished he had an army of robots. Rumsfeld hustled off to his armored car and left. His answer to the troops became the butt of late-night comedy routines. It was another nail in the coffin of the Rumsfeld Doctrine that planned for a cost-effective, high-tech world conquest.

The defense secretary was the architect of the war. He had rushed into it prepared only for a quick, brutal victory over Iraq. Along with the neocons in the Bush administration and the bulk of the U.S. ruling class, Rumsfeld had completely underestimated the courage and determination of the Iraqi people to fight for their sovereignty.

The Bush administration tried to spin Rumsfeld's televised disaster to show that the troops were pro-war but wanted the best weapons. Bush said he agreed with the troops' desire for armor.

Yet the clash was in an imperialist army, not a debating society. Troops are forbidden to sass their lieutenant, let alone embarrass the Pentagon CEO. The Kuwait meeting with Rumsfeld was supposed to be a pro-war public relations ploy. It turned instead into an exercise in insubordination in a war zone.

Sue the *#%@*&@$

National Guard Spec. David Qualls from Arkansas went beyond questioning the Pentagon brass. On Dec. 6, Qualls and seven still unnamed U.S. soldiers sued the government to challenge its "stop loss" policy that has forced thousands of soldiers to remain in the military beyond their scheduled retirement.

Qualls had been in Iraq since last March, in a combat zone north of Baghdad. After five years of active duty, Qualls had signed up for a one-year stint in the Guard. His year was up, but the military forced an extension on him.

The court ruled against Qualls' request for a restraining order to stop him from being sent back. As of Dec. 14, Qualls was in a hospital in Arkansas, suffering from distress. According to media reports, he fears retribution from the military in Iraq.

The Pentagon generals can still intimidate the troops, but they have shown signs of their own fear. They recently decided to use only non-judicial Article 15s to punish the 23 members of the 343rd Quartermaster Company who refused to drive their unarmored trucks on what they considered a "suicide mission" across Iraq last October.

The punishments for Article 15s are loss of rank and pay, but no jail time and no loss of honorable discharge. If the Penta gon brass wanted to avoid court-martialing these troops, it's because they feared a massive rush of support for what under different circumstances the officers might call "mutiny."

Support from anti-war movement

People active in GI organizing in 1968 would probably agree that the mood among the troops now is even more anti-war than it was then. All the symptoms of big problems in the military are there.

The Pentagon reports 5,500 deserters. Only 50 percent of troops are re-enlisting. As many as one-third of the Inactive Reserve, called now to unexpected duty, are failing to show up. Even the news that Iraqi war veterans are already beginning to show up among the homeless, many suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, is a reminder of the Vietnam days.

The International Action Center (IAC), with the youth group FIST and the GI support group SNAFU, on Dec. 4 devoted an afternoon session to GI organizing and support work. The 300 mostly young people present were enthusiastic both about stopping any draft and about supporting GIs and anti-war veterans.

On Dec. 11 a similar sized but somewhat older gathering pulled together by Veterans for Peace, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out and others spent over three hours on the problems and conflicts of anti-war GIs and veterans during the current occupation of Iraq.

Master Sgt. Stan Goff, a Special Ops veteran and anti-war activist, told the Dec. 11 crowd that it was time to "delegitimize, disobey and disrupt" the military. (BringThemHomeNow.org)

Tom Barton, who has been publishing the web newsletter GI Special for over a year, read aloud letters from troops in Iraq who have been pasting up anti-war stickers on battle ruins. (militaryproject.org)

Dustin Langley of SNAFU reported his group's web site had recently doubled its "hits," and repeated his message to resisting GIs and civilian supporters: "We've got to show the troops we have their back." (join-snafu.org)

John Catalinotto
New York

Catalinotto was an organizer with the American Servicemen's Union from 1967-1970