Rape, murder, corruption, suicide epidemic and dumping human remains in landfills - January, 2012

Cremated remains of soldiers knowingly dumped into landfills; high crime rates amongst service members; war veterans sleeping in garbage dumpsters; large numbers of female soldiers raped during service; one of the highest military suicide rates in the world... not to mention the business-as-usual war crimes and gross embezzlement of public funds.

No, I'm not talking about Russia, I'm not taking about Iran nor am I talking about China. 

I am actually talking about the proud armed forces of the wealthiest, most powerful and the most developed nation on earth - the United States of America.

You are not aware of the corrupt state of the US armed forces today simply because of the larger than life power and influence of Washington's 24/7 propaganda machine and the total control it has over the nation's mainstream news press. Despite serious infractions right under their noses, senior officials in Washington prefer instead to inform us when a Russian or an Armenian citizen for example gets unfairly stopped by a traffic cop in Moscow or Yerevan. Washington will arrogantly call on authorities in targeted nation (e.g. China, Russia, Syria, Iran, Armenia to name only a few) to respect the rights of political protesters (despite the fact that many of them are violent) but God forbid protesters in the US look at American policemen in the wrong way.

The hypocrisy of it all is breathtaking!

Nevertheless, a powerful military that spends more on keeping its troops air-conditioned in Iraq and Afghanistan than most nations on earth spend on their armed forces has amongst the highest suicide rates in the world. But for some strange reason American mothers are not protesting the matter in the destructive way, for instance, Armenian mothers do when similar tragedies occur in the Armenian military. The US military also has amongst the highest rates of sexual abuse, but we don't see womens groups in the US taking to the streets and acting hysterical. While the Pentagon spends trillions of dollars for the acquisition of modern arms (and sometimes "misappropriates" trillions of dollars), American war veterans are increasingly finding themselves without proper housing, medical attention or employment opportunities.

Let's briefly juxtapose the above to what occurs in Armenia's military, a military who's entire yearly budget is probably much less than the cost of maintaining a single combat ready squadron of warplanes in the US Air Force.

Couple of years ago an Armenian army recruit got slapped around by one of his commanding officer during some drunken outing. The video clip of the "major incident" went absolutely viral throughout the Armenian world. We had Armenians from all walks of life, from PhDs to taxi drivers, from akhpars to rabiz, expressing severe outrage and utter indignation at the "barbaric act" in question. 

Western funded propaganda outlets in Armenia disguised as independent news sites of course picked up on the incident and featured numerous articles about it on their websites. These "independent" news domains have long become distribution centers of poisonous rhetoric and Washington-inspired propaganda against Armenia, yet many Armenians continue believing them.

Naturally, Western funded propaganda outlets take negative stories from Armenia and present them with inflammatory remarks and politically inciting language.  

These centers of psychological warfare operations disguised as news agencies create a perception that which they later cleverly use towards political ends. It's not only Western funded news/propaganda outlets that operate in this manner. Armenia also has a not-so-little army of Washington funded NGOs sounding the alarm about everything and anything under the sun in Armenia. It's constant doom and gloom with these entities. 

The result: a deeply demoralized population that is systematically losing hope in the fledgling republic that is going through very natural growing pains.

Armenia today is a tiny, poor, embattled, landlocked and a remote nation going through natural growing pains. Instead of approaching matters pertaining to Armenia sensibly, objectivity, constructively or rationally, as most civilized people do when it comes to their homelands, Armenians enthusiastically and recklessly revel in attacking their state - as Azeris and Turks watch with pleasure.

I can't blame Washington for doing what is in its geopolitical interests. I can, however, blame our self-hating and self-destructive peasantry in the Armenian homeland and in the diaspora for mindlessly and sometimes intentionally helping and abetting Washington's destructive policies in the Caucasus.

One of the Western meddling agendas in Armenia, for instance, has been to encourage feminist groups there to take-up the plight of women in the republic.
Being a father of daughters, I would love to see a lot changed in Armenia with regards to the way women are generally treated. However, according to what I have personally observed in the country and according to various statistical data I have read, violence against women in Armenia is not a widespread problem. Yes, there are a lot of Asiatic/backward mentalities prevailing in the country when it comes to women - but no widespread abuse and/or violence. In fact, abuse rates in Armenia seem to be more-or-less on the same level as many developed nations. However, with such matters there should always be more room for improvement.

Therefore, yes, let's talk about this serious problem, let's raise our voices, let us try to improve this situation by going out to the streets in protest - but let's also not get hysterical over the matter and let's not turn it political by demanding a revolution or a regime change in the country.

Armenians need to wake up and realize that chaos and revolution in Armenia is something that the Western alliance is working diligently on through whores like Raffi Hovanissian, Richard Giragosian, Paruyr Hayrikian, Vartan Oskanian and Ara Manoogian; as well as through subversive organizations like Policy Forum Armenia, Civilitas and Sardarapat, Radio Liberty, ArmeniaNow, Armenian Weekly, Asbarez, Lragir and Hetq.

If it makes the reader feel any better about Armenia (because we Armenians today are desperately in need of a more positive, healthier approach to Armenia's growing pains), allow me to just say that misogyny is actually much worst in most other nations on earth today. Moreover, let's recognize that there are many forms of misogyny today. 

In fact, many millions of women are physically abused, thrown out of their homes, forced into prostitution and drug abuse in the US alone!

As much as I hate to say this, in the big picture, an Armenian woman being oppressed by her "conservative" or "Asiatic" relatives or in-laws is much better off than an "liberated" western woman who is addicted to drugs, alcohol and promiscuity. 

When we begin to take into account the number of homeless women, teenage pregnancies, single mothers, female prostitutes, female drug addicts, female alcoholics and female convicts, we begin to see that the plight of women in the US is actually quite bad.

Just like how a woman cannot be any man's property in the East, a woman cannot be sexually exploited either in the West.  

Western "feminism" has stripped western women of all female values and has fooled women into thinking that by being deprived of their femininity and dignity they have achieved "equality" in society.

Again, I ask you all to try to put things in a proper perspective and look at Armenia's problems rationally and objectively.
Regarding violence in the Armenian military: one doesn't need to be a genius to realize that any time you put together thousands of hotblooded young men from poor families and with mediocre education - in the Caucasus of all places - not to mention overflowing "Armenian" hormones - you will have violence and disorderly conduct even under the best of circumstances!

In my opinion, Armenian parents are also at fault here. Armenian parents today (mothers in particular) are in fact one of the main obstacles actually hindering Armenia's entry into the modern world. 

Armenian parents need to stop worshiping/pampering their beloved 'sons' and realize that their brats need to grow the hell up, get self-reliant, get some discipline and learn to appreciate their homeland. They should also realize that in the process, some of their 'sons' will get hurt or die; but that is the nature of the beast. 

For their part, Armenian men need to learn that being a man has nothing to do with wearing fancy black clothing, shiny shoes, chasing whores, marrying virgins, doing "bizness", smoking cigarets all day, driving a "Benz" and growing a "chalaghaj" belly.  

Armenian men need to realize that being a man means working hard; understanding the world one lives in; being politically active; respecting women; loving one's homeland; obeying laws; acknowledging authority; having discipline; and developing a healthy body and mind... and when the time comes, protecting the homeland from enemies both foreign and domestic.

Due to its very nature, all armies on earth have problems; depending on sociopolitical and socioeconomic circumstances, some nations will just have more problems than others. For instance, violence in the Turkish military is much greater than that of Armenia's. Rapes, severe beatings and murder of young men serving in the Turkish military are fairly common, yet we never see or hear a self-respecting Turk say anything derogatory about their military. This is not because of the controlled news press in Turkey, this is because of the worship Turks have not towards their sons and daughters but towards their military and their state.  

With regards to nationalism and appreciating one's statehood, we Armenians are very backward compared to Turks: Turks are a nation of soldiers who unconditionally serve their "vatan". Armenians on the other hand are a nation of wannabe-generals and their allegiance to Armenia is strictly conditional upon how well they are living in the country.

I would like to say that I am in no way attempting to excuse or condone violence in the military. Periodic violence that occurs in the Armenian military, although normal by international standards, will gradually diminish with better education and order enforcement; which is beginning to happen today. And I remain hopeful that with more exposure to the developed world, Armenian men will gradually forget their Asiatic ways when it comes to women or life in general.

We must also realize that the thousand year old spiritual, cultural and genetic damage that Armenia was forced to endure will not be fixed in a single life time. Therefore, we need to learn to be patient.

Having said that, as far as general crime is concerned, Armenia is actually a safe-haven compared to many "developed" nations today. It is well established fact that there is a direct correlation between poverty and crime. Although a large percentage of its population lives in utter poverty, Armenia is amongst a handful of nations on earth today where people do not fear walking the streets late at night and children continue to play unsupervised in their neighborhoods. 

With healthy activism and some time, I believe Armenia's various sociological problems will begin to take care of themselves. In the meanwhile, however, all self-respecting Armenians simply need to allow Armenia to develop and evolve naturally and free of Western interference. What Armenia needs today is social and political evolution, not a Western funded or incited revolution.  

Instead of pursuing the Armenia of our personal fantasies, we Armenians need to learn to work with the Armenia that we have in reality.

January, 2011


Military Sexual Assault and Rape 'Epidemic'


"My experience reporting military sexual assault was worse than the actual assault," says Jessica (a pseudonym for her protection), a former marine officer and Iraq veteran who left the military because of her command's poor handling of her assault charges. "The command has so much power over a victim of sexual assault. They are your judge, jury, executioner and mayor: they own the law. As I saw in my case, they are able to crush you for reporting an assault." Jessica is joining a civil lawsuit bringing claims against former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, charging that under their watch the military failed to adequately and effectively investigate rapes and sexual assaults within the ranks.

The litigation, which was filed in Virginia district court in February of this year by the law office of Susan Burke, is set to go to trial in the coming months. The initial suit named 16 plaintiffs, all former or current military service members - but in recent months that number has swelled to more than 30, as more and more veterans come forward as survivors of sexual assault. These plaintiffs join the growing crescendo of veterans, military service members, spouses and their advocates speaking out against the problem of widespread sexual assault and rape in the US military.

As the war in Afghanistan passes its ten-year mark, sexual assault runs rampant within the ranks, with an estimated one in three female service members raped during their service, according to at least one peer-reviewed study. This is in a military where women comprise more 11 per cent of active duty service members deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan and more than 15 per cent of the total military, with at least 200,000 active duty women currently serving. This epidemic also affects men: 60 per cent of women serving in the National Guard and Reserve, along with 27 per cent of men, are estimated to have experienced Military Sexual Trauma (MST). Perpetrators rely on a chain of command that appears to offer virtual impunity for sexual assaults committed against lower-ranking service members.

'Re-traumatising' redress

Military reports and Congress-appointed task forces acknowledge that sexual assault within the military is widespread. While the Department of Defense (DoD) has repeatedly said it is attempting to curb the problem, the most recent evidence shows that it has failed to adequately address the spread of this outbreak.

The most significant change made by the military in the past decade was the creation of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) in 2005. This office, which encompasses the entire DoD, is responsible for oversight of sexual assault policies and the implementation of prevention and response programs. However, SAPRO is rife with problems. The primary role of the office is to track rapes and sexual assaults and release annual reports. According to the US Government Accountability Office's (GAO) own evaluation, SAPRO has failed to work with the disciplinary arm of the DoD, giving its reports and findings little muscle. Furthermore, the Report of the Defense Task Force on Sexual Assault in the Military December 2009, which was ordered by congress, found that funding of SAPRO had been "sporadic and inconsistent".

SAPRO introduced a system of restricted reporting, allowing survivors of sexual assault to make confidential reports, to avoid outing themselves in a hostile environment. While this step has increased the number of reports and created avenues for survivors to seek personal care, it does not launch an investigation into the assault. "Restricted reporting allows the military to ignore criminal aspects of sexual assault and to just take care of it," says Greg Jacob, a former Marine and the current policy director for the Service Women's Action Network (SWAN), an organisation dedicated to advocacy and providing a healing community for military service women.

Military officials claim that improvements have been made since the Defense Task Force's 2009 report. "DoD has a zero tolerance policy on sexual assault," says Cynthia Smith, SAPRO press spokesperson. "Over the past two years, DoD has affirmed its commitment to preventing and effectively responding to sexual assault. The department's focus has been on reducing the stigma associated with reporting, providing sufficient training for commanders, and ensuring adequate training and resources for prosecutors and investigators."

Yet, the prosecution rates of sexual assault in the military remains at eight per cent, a dismal percentage in light of the staggering number of assaults that are believed to go unreported. This compares to a 40 per cent prosecution rate for sexual assault charges in civilian courts, which itself is considered low. For cases that do make it to trial, sexual assault conviction rates are astoundingly low. According to SAPRO's most recent annual report, in 2010, of 3,158 reports of military sexual assaults, only 529 alleged perpetrators were convicted, while 41 per cent were acquitted or had charges dismissed. Some six per cent were discharged or resigned in lieu of courts-martial, which means that they were allowed to leave their jobs in order to avoid sexual assault charges.

Some survivors of sexual assault claim that SAPRO's "zero tolerance" policy has only succeeded in creating an environment where the command has incentive to deny and cover up sexual assault. "They have all of these generic catch phrases that sound great," says Jessica. "But in reality, 'zero tolerance policy' means that when you make a complaint, it is hidden. Assault reflects badly on the command. What results is cover ups."

Furthermore, critics charge that SAPRO's educational materials are ineffective and often serve to reinforce the mentality that victims are to blame for their own assault. According to the Defense Task Force's 2009 report, "the Task Force's interactions with Service Members suggest training is only marginally effective". A sexual assault prevention poster released by SAPRO reportedly urges soldiers to "wait until she's sober" before propositioning a woman for sex. "The military believes falsely that if you eliminate alcohol you can eliminate sexual assault," says Jacob. "There is perception that it is the result of bad decision making on the part of the victim."

Critics charge that SAPRO fails to address the rape culture that permeates all aspects of military life. "Rape culture separates service members from a group of people that they can consider others, victims, weaker beings," insists Maggie Martin, Army veteran and member of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), an anti-war group comprising active duty service members and veterans who have served since September 11, 2001. "The rape culture in the military is another way that some service members reduce real life trauma to a joke that they can pretend is not real. It is a way for some to try to prove they are 'hardcore' to the point of inhumanity."

Many insist that the military, which is largely allowed to investigate itself, is still not telling the full story. A 2010 lawsuit filed by SWAN and the ACLU against the DoD and Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) was filed after the military refused requests for government records concerning rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment in the military. "When I heard about women who had accused someone of rape or sexual assault it was always framed as some personal vendetta the women were taking out on those they accused," says Martin.

Selena Coppa, a former Army Sergeant of eight years and a current member of IVAW tells of an Army Specialist who was molested by another Army Specialist while drunk and passed out. "The woman who was assaulted found out the next morning what had happened. She wanted to do something or say something. Everyone was like, what are you talking about? That is not sexual assault, only sex counts as sexual assault." According to Army policy, sexual assault includes sexual contact when the victim "does not or cannot consent." Yet, rules in the books are seemingly meaningless in an environment where sexual assault appears to go unreported and unacknowledged.

Impunity of high-ranking males

For those who do seek redress for sexual assault and rape through the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), the legal code governing military service members, many face an uphill battle in which they are pressured to drop their charges at every step along the way.

When Jessica was raped by a senior officer and his friend, she reported the assault to her command. However, she says that the ensuing investigation was nothing more than a retaliatory measure inflicted by a command that was more interested in covering up assaults and protecting their own reputations. "My command, and the [military lawyer] ordered to do it, produced not a thorough, but a voluminous - as cover ups often are - investigation that proved that I was routinely called disgusting denunciatory names by junior and senior Marines alike, but that because I wore make up and running shorts in the summer, that I therefore welcomed the harassment and subsequent assault and did not deserve protection," she says.

Jessica says she requested a deployment to Afghanistan to get away from the harassment and isolation she faced after filing her report, but when this was denied, she decided to leave the Marines, which she was able to do because of her status as an officer. Jessica joined the lawsuit against Rumsfeld and Gates because, she says: "No one right now is holding commanders accountable." Meanwhile, Jessica says that she is still pursuing charges against her alleged perpetrator through the UCMJ.

Lower enlisted service members who are raped or sexually assaulted, however, often do not have the option of leaving, with many forced to continue serving alongside their perpetrators, including in war zones. "They are putting people in a situation where they are totally dependent on their peers, and when their battle buddies rape them, their superiors are not doing anything about it, explains Johanna (Hans) Buwalda, a mental health provider who has worked with survivors of war for more than twenty years. "There is no safe place for them to go. They can't even leave the military. They have to fulfill their contract." Some researchers say that military sexual trauma compounds deployment-related traumas by excluding women from military camaraderie and fraternity.

These military sexual assaults are in addition to the countless rapes and sexual assaults that have been carried out against civilians at the 800 US military bases around the world, including within occupied populations in Iraq and Afghanistan. While there have been several high-profile scandals exposing US military rapes and slayings of Iraqi and Afghan civilians, as well as sexual assault and humiliation as a tool of torture, there is little information about overall rates of military sexual assault of civilian populations overseas. If sexual assault rates within the military are any indicator, sexual violence would seem to be endemic to the US' global military presence.

Last April, Jennifer (a pseudonym for protection), who is a civilian, reported sexual assault by her then-boyfriend after he returned from a tour in Afghanistan with the Marine Corps. Her alleged assaulter's sergeant major told her that she sounded like a "crazy ex-girlfriend" and that her sexual assault charges were not viable. Jennifer spent the next year and a half contacting everyone she could think of in hope that the military would take her charges seriously. She watched as her assault charges were ignored and dismissed by SAPRO, the NCIS, and even the Pentagon. After navigating countless meetings and phone calls with caseworkers, sexual assault survivor advocates, and even several congressional representatives, Jennifer feels that she has made little progress in her effort to get a fair process through military channels, and, to date, there is no indication that her charges will bear any consequences for her alleged assaulter. Within two months of her report, her alleged assaulter was promoted, and she says that he may be deployed any day, if he is not already.

Jennifer says that the process of attempting to press charges has been deeply traumatising. "When you have been assaulted, talking about it is hard enough," she says. "And having to wait to hear back from someone for help makes you want to give up." "I do not trust the US military at all. Their rules and regulations are nothing more than words on paper," she says. "I am a woman and a civilian, and I have been treated like nothing more than a dog."

The 1996 Federal Lautenberg Amendment, which makes it illegal for people convicted of domestic violence to carry a weapon, extends to the armed forces. With many forms of sexual assault falling under the rubric of domestic violence, assault convictions could preclude a service member from carrying a weapon. Yet, if these assaults go unreported and untried, little stands in the way of perpetrators serving in combat, sometimes alongside those they have assaulted.

Furthermore, the military often blatantly ignores this federal law and sends convicted sex offenders and domestic abusers into war in a climate where the military is overextended, from fighting two ongoing wars. Since September 11, 2001, the DoD has been granting an increasing amount of "moral waivers" which permit soldiers convicted of domestic violence and sexual assault to serve in combat.

High rates of sexual assault take a profound toll on the mental health of service members. Sexual assault is the number one predictor for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for women serving in the military, according to a study in the Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development. Yet the difficulty and stigma against reporting sexual assaults creates significant obstacles for survivors seeking care and disability benefits through the VA. A study by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America shows that approximately 40 per cent of homeless female veterans report having been sexually assaulted in the military.

Members of IVAW are drawing attention to the problem of sexual assault and rape that plagues the military. "IVAW's campaign Operation Recovery is focused on raising awareness about sexual assault and gender-based violence," explains Martin. "We are building a healing community where veterans and service members can challenge military leadership and stand up for the right to heal and the right to access the care survivors of trauma need."

"As an organiser I believe that the best way for us to combat military sexual trauma is to tell the truth about it," insists Martin. "We need to tell the truth that all types of people are sexually assaulted and that no one deserves it. We need to start looking to the perpetrators of sexual assault and the military environment for answers, not look to victims to see how they can be blamed for their own assault."

Source: http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/features/2011/09/2011916112412992221.html

Male rape survivors tackle military assault in tough-guy culture


Amid the legislation and indignation sparked by the military's sexual abuse crisis, male rape survivors are stepping forward to remind officials that men are targeted more often than women inside a tough-guy culture that, they say, routinely deems male victims as “liars and trouble makers.”

The Pentagon estimates that last year 13,900 of the 1.2 million men on active duty endured sexual assault while 12,100 of the 203,000 women in uniform experienced the same crime — or 38 men per day versus 33 women per day.

Yet the Defense Department also acknowledges “male survivors report at much lower rates than female survivors.”

“As a culture, we’ve somewhat moved past the idea that a female wanted this trauma to occur, but we haven’t moved past that for male survivors,” said Brian Lewis, a rape survivor who served in the Navy. “In a lot of areas of the military, men are still viewed as having wanted it or of being homosexual. That’s not correct at all. It’s a crime of power and control.

“But also, you’re instantly viewed as a liar and a troublemaker (when a man reports a sex crime), and there’s the notion that you have abandoned your shipmates, that you took a crap all over your shipmates, that you misconstrued their horseplay,” he added.

Lewis, who was raped by a male superior officer aboard a Navy ship in 2000, spoke Thursday at a press conference introducing a bill that seeks to strip serious sex assaults from the military’s chain of command. At that event, he said: “Too often male survivors are ignored and marginalized.”

“The biggest reasons men don’t come forward (with sex assault reports) are the fear of retaliation (from fellow troops), the fear of being viewed in a weaker light, and the fact there are very few, if any, services for male survivors,” Lewis told NBC News.

Men in the spotlight

All sexual assault response coordinators within the military are instructed to provide “gender-responsive, culturally competent and recovery-oriented” resources, said Cynthia O. Smith, a Pentagon spokeswoman. “Based on that guidance, each of the services customizes its training and implementation specific to their service,” Smith said. DOD offers a 24/7 “safe helpline” providing anonymous victim support, and its staffers “have been trained to assist male victims.”

Still, the Defense Department acknowledges it must do more to help male victims. “A focus of our prevention efforts over the next several months is specifically geared towards male survivors and will include (learning) why male survivors report at much lower rates than female survivors, and determining the unique support and assistance male survivors need,” Smith said.

The Pentagon “has reached out to organizations supporting male survivors for assistance and information to help inform our way ahead,” she added. “I applaud that stand on behalf of male survivors,” Lewis said. “However, I would be interested in hearing what organizations they are partnering with considering there are none especially geared for male survivors of military sexual trauma.”

Source: http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/05/16/18301723-male-rape-survivors-tackle-military-assault-in-tough-guy-culture?lite

US Military Suicide Rate at Record High


American troops are taking their own lives in the largest numbers since records began to be kept in 1980. In 2008, there were 128 confirmed suicides by serving army personnel and 41 by serving marines. Another 15 army deaths are still being investigated. The toll is another of the terrible consequences that have flowed from Washington's neo-colonial wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The army suicide rate is now higher than that among the general American population. The rate has been calculated as 20.2 per 100,000 soldiers, compared with 19.5 per 100,000 civilians. This is a shocking statistic, as soldiers theoretically are screened for mental illnesses before enlistment and have access to counselling and health services that millions of ordinary people cannot afford.

As there is an average of 10 failed suicide attempts for each actual loss of life, the figures suggest that more than 1,600 serving army and marine personnel tried to kill themselves last year. Army Secretary Pete Geren told the Associated Press that "we cannot tell you" why the number of military suicides was rising. It is indisputable, however, that it is linked to the stresses on soldiers caused by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2002, the army suicide rate was just 9.8 per 100,000. The last time it exceeded the civilian rate was in the late 1960s, at the highpoint of the US war in Vietnam. An estimated 30 percent of soldiers who took their own lives in 2008 did so while on deployment. Another 35 percent committed suicide after returning from a tour of duty. In one reported case, a highly regarded marine pilot hanged himself just one month before he was scheduled to return to Iraq.

Dozens of men and women who have left the armed forces since serving in Afghanistan or Iraq also committed suicide in 2008. The Department of Veterans Affairs recorded 144 such cases. The suicide rate among veterans aged 20 to 24 was 22.9 per 100,000 in 2007—four times higher than non-veterans in the same age bracket. A hotline for veterans has received over 85,000 calls since mid-2007 and arranged some 2,100 suicide prevention interventions.

The rise in army suicides was registered despite an information campaign in the US military intended to end stigmas over seeking medical health for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depression—psychological conditions that afflict tens of thousands of Afghanistan and Iraq veterans and in severe cases can trigger suicidal tendencies.

Veterans Affairs (VA) reported in January that 178,483 veterans of the two wars had been diagnosed with one or more mental illnesses between 2002 and September 2008. The conditions diagnosed included 92,998 cases of possible PTSD; 63,009 possible depressive disorders; 50,569 neurotic disorders; 35,937 cases of affective psychoses; 27,246 cases of drug abuse and 16,217 cases of alcohol dependency.

VA deputy director for mental health services, Antonette Zeiss, told the Air Force Times: "Most of these conditions would not have been present prior to being in the military. In VA, we assume that these are veterans coming to us who have had significant stresses as a result of their involvement with the military and the war." The "significant stresses" would include killing; repeated exposure to scenes of death and injury; the constant threat of death or injury; and the dehumanising policing operations that American soldiers have been ordered to conduct against civilian populations. No-one who has taken part in the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq could have returned completely unscathed by the experience.

The true extent of mental illness among war veterans is believed to be far worse than VA's figures. It has only treated around 400,000 of the 1.7 million men and women who have served. "We know there are guys who desperately need help who aren't coming to us," a spokesman told the Air Force Times. A Rand Corporation study last year estimated that 20 percent of Afghanistan and Iraq veterans—some 350,000 people—were suffering from PTSD.

As many as 18 veterans of American wars take their own lives in the United States every day—more than 6,500 per year. Vietnam veteran advocates have estimated that suicide ultimately killed more of the soldiers who fought in that conflict than the actual war itself. The same trend is now surfacing among the veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq. A recent case was the suicide of Specialist Larry Applegate on January 16. After an argument with his wife, during which shots were fired, Applegate barricaded himself inside his Colorado Springs home. Shortly after, he killed himself with a bullet to the head.

The Army Times reported that the 27-year-old soldier, who served in Iraq during 2006, had been under the supervision of a Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) since February 2008 for an undisclosed condition. WTUs were established in June 2007 after the exposure of substandard treatment of wounded troops at the Walter Reed Medical Centre. There are currently some 9,000 soldiers assigned to 36 WTUs across the US. A total of 68 soldiers had died under WTU care by October 2008. More than half the deaths were ruled to have resulted from natural causes, but nine were determined to be suicides. Six others were classified as accidental deaths caused by "combined lethal drug toxicity".

Source: http://www.wsws.org/articles/2009/feb2009/suic-f04.shtml

In suicide epidemic, military wrestles with prosecuting troops who attempt it


Marine Corps Pvt. Lazzaric T. Caldwell slit his wrists and spurred a legal debate that’s consuming the Pentagon, as well as the nation’s top military appeals court. On Tuesday, the court wrestled with the wisdom of prosecuting Caldwell after his January 2010 suicide attempt. Though Caldwell pleaded guilty, he and his attorneys now question his original plea and the broader military law that makes “self-injury” a potential criminal offense. The questions resonate amid what Pentagon leaders have called an “epidemic” of military suicides.

“If suicide is indeed the worst enemy the armed forces have,” Senior Judge Walter T. Cox III said, “then why should we criminalize it when it fails?”

For 40 minutes Tuesday morning, Cox and the four other members of the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces sounded deeply ambivalent about the complexities involved in prosecuting members of the military who try to kill themselves. While several judges sounded skeptical about the government’s claim that Caldwell’s actions brought discredit to the Marine Corps, judges also sounded hesitant about ruling out prosecution altogether.

“I question whether it’s up to us to say that under no circumstance can someone be prosecuted,” Judge Scott W. Stucky said. “Isn’t that up to Congress?”

Congress and the White House might, in fact, get into the act. Earlier this year, Defense Department General Counsel Jeh Johnson asked a Pentagon advisory committee to consider recommendations revising the Manual for Courts-Martial so that a “genuine attempt at suicide” may not require disciplinary action. The Joint Service Committee on Military Justice will make a suggestion eventually. Everyone agrees there’s a problem.

Last year, the 301 known military suicides accounted for 20 percent of U.S. military deaths. From 2001 to August 2012, the U.S. military counted 2,676 suicides. It’s also becoming more common among veterans. Though timely numbers are elusive, the Department of Veterans Affairs reported that 3,871 veterans who were enrolled in VA care killed themselves in 2008 and 2009.

Active-duty members of the military who succeed in killing themselves are treated as having died honorably. Active-duty members who try and fail may be prosecuted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice if the suicide attempt is deemed conduct that causes “prejudice to good order and discipline” or has a “tendency to bring the service into disrepute.”

“You don’t think people will think less well of the military if people are killing themselves?” Judge Margaret A. Ryan asked rhetorically.

The Marine Corps recorded 163 suicide attempts last year and 157 attempts so far this year, according to the service’s Suicide Prevention Program. Statistics for other branches weren’t immediately available. Prosecutions are infrequent, but they do occur. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Darren Evans faces murder charges in the death of his roommate at Camp Pendleton in California. Prosecutors also have charged Evans with self-injury because he subsequently threw himself from the third story of his barracks.

On the other hand, Medal of Honor recipient and Marine Corps veteran Dakota Meyer recounts in his 2012 memoir that he once put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger in a moment of post-combat distress. The gun wasn’t loaded, and Meyer was neither caught nor prosecuted.

Now a civilian resident of Oceanside, Calif., Caldwell was a 23-year-old Marine private in January 2010. He’d been diagnosed with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder after suffering through other personal problems. After Caldwell was told he was being sent to the brig over the alleged theft of a belt, he slit his wrists with a razor in the barracks at Camp Schwab, Okinawa.

“The public today views suicide attempts like this as an illness,” Caldwell’s appellate attorney, Navy Lt. Michael B. Hanzel, told judges Tuesday.

Caldwell eventually pleaded guilty to self-injury and received a bad conduct discharge after being convicted of larceny, driving without a license and possessing the drug known as “spice.”

“This case is not about prosecuting suicide or attempted suicide,” Marine Corps Maj. David N. Roberts said Tuesday. “It’s about prosecuting an act that was prejudicial to good order and discipline.”

Roberts conceded under questioning, though, that even the trial judge thought self-injury was an “odd charge” for military prosecutors to levy. Pressing the point, Chief Judge James E. Baker asked skeptically whether the military would charge someone who’d developed post-traumatic stress after five combat tours.

Hanzel suggested one potential solution: telling judges they could set a rule that once a reasonable case had been made that a suicide attempt was genuine, the burden would shift to the government to prove otherwise. It might require an additional policy change, from military and political leaders, to treat suicide attempts as something other than a crime.

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/11/27/175710/in-suicide-epidemic-military-wrestles.html#storylink=cpy

Soaring Army Suicide Rates Hit Another New Record in July


Military Blames It On Troops 'Spending More Time at Home'

There are plenty of metrics in the assorted US wars that just seem to get worse and worse, but none is more glaring than this: in July, the US Army lost 38 people to suicides, the highest number for a single month in history. Grim figures about increasing suicide rates have been coming for years, and each time the military has sought a new excuse, recently trying to blame the problem on “drug abuse” and insisting the wars have very little to do with it. Today’s figures came with another new excuse, and one perhaps even more galling than the efforts to make it nothing about the war. Army analyst Bruce Shahbaz suggested the troops are killing themselves because they’re not being sent to war as much anymore. “With the draw-down of troops from combat, soldiers are spending more time at home and the emotional adjustments have become a struggle,” the argument goes. Interestingly the figures are dramatically higher than pre-2001, when the bulk of the military was spending virtually all of its time at home.

Source: http://news.antiwar.com/2012/08/16/soaring-army-suicide-rates-hit-another-new-record-in-july/

Slain Troops Dumped in Landfill, Air Force Admits


One day after the Office of Special Counsel’s report on the “gross mismanagement” of human remains by the Dover Air Force Base mortuary, the Air Force, which heretofore insisted there was no evidence any rule had been broken, is suddenly coming out with all sorts of new information. The verdict is even more grim than we thought. Lt. Gen. Darrell Jones, the deputy chief of personnel, confirmed that the Air Force had been cremating remains and dumping them in a nearby landfill. Lt. Gen. Jones insists its not that big of a deal though.

“That was the common practice at the time and since then our practices have improved,” Jones said, adding that they only did this in cases when bodies (or parts) were “unidentified” or when the families of the slain told the military to dispose of them. The previous report confirmed that the Air Force had lost and mixed body parts sometimes, and that in one case they sawed off a slain Marine’s arm so he’d fit in the casket better. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta praised the Air Force for its “thoroughness” in the investigation.

Source: http://news.antiwar.com/2011/11/09/slain-troops-dumped-in-landfill-air-force-admits/

Why Wounded Warriors Sleep in Dumpsters


A group of desperate homeless veterans became plaintiffs yesterday in a suit, Valentini v. Shinseki, filed in U.S. district court against the federal officials responsible for their plight. There are roughly 107,000 homeless veterans in America. Many of them are chronically condemned to wander our streets because the trauma they suffered serving our country has left them profoundly brain-damaged or disabled with terrible psychiatric conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder and paranoid schizophrenia. These wounds of war are physically invisible, but they are no less life-threatening.

When military service renders our returning soldiers unable to resume their civilian lives—by holding down jobs, continuing their education, or sustaining family relationships—our duty is to come to their aid. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires us to provide those veterans with therapeutic, supportive housing. Study after study shows that without secure housing, these vets simply cannot benefit from the psychiatric and other medical services to which our laws entitle them. Instead, they live and die in dumpsters or under freeway overpasses.

Facilities for housing these profoundly wounded vets are often readily available. For example, in Los Angeles—a place some call the nation's "capital of veteran homelessness"—there is a 387-acre parcel of land, the West Los Angeles VA Campus. That property is not just theoretically suited to therapeutic housing: It was donated to the government in 1888 by a U.S. senator and a private benefactor for the specific purpose of permanently maintaining a soldiers' home. For 80 years, it operated as such. But during the Vietnam War, when some Americans turned their backs on our soldiers, the government put buildings and land formerly dedicated to veterans' therapeutic housing to other, more lucrative uses.

Today, where the disabled homeless vets of Los Angeles should find a home, they'll instead find a car-rental business, a private swimming pool, a dog run, an oil well, an 18-hole golf course, and a unit that launders linen for nearby luxury hotels. Valentini v. Shinseki, which we helped these disabled veterans file, asks only that the government keep the solemn promise it made when it accepted the land as a charitable gift: provide the housing. Among the plaintiffs in this lawsuit is Greg Valentini. A private in the 101st Airborne, he took part in the initial invasion of Afghanistan. There, he participated in the assault on Tora Bora that sought Osama bin Laden. He was redeployed to Iraq, where he again experienced heavy combat. He received six decorations for his service.

After his honorable discharge, Mr. Valentini attended college, planning to become a police officer. But his combat experience made it difficult for him to control his emotions. He grew paranoid about his surroundings, experienced harrowing nightmares, and repeatedly considered suicide. He left college and soon found himself sleeping on the streets.

Mr. Valentini is one of some 8,200 homeless veterans in Los Angeles. Another, who wishes to be identified only as Jane Doe, had been raped repeatedly by her fellow soldiers during her service as an Army military radio operator. A third, Adrian Moraru, is a Marine who took part in the initial ground invasion of Iraq and ended up with violent seizures, spending his days and nights pacing Wilshire Boulevard. A fourth, Chris Romine, served twice in Iraq where his unit was responsible for "cleaning up" the body parts that remained after roadside bomb attacks on American forces.

These veterans, like many others, all suffer from severe cases of post-traumatic stress disorder. It is difficult to help a veteran cope with severe mental illness incurred on the battlefield even under the best of conditions; it is impossible to do so while the veteran is sleeping on the streets. By failing to provide safe and stable living conditions that are within its power to provide, the government denies veterans with mental disabilities meaningful access to its medical programs.

Unfortunately, efforts to rectify this outrageous treatment outside of court have been unsuccessful. We have therefore joined forces with the Southern California ACLU, and with several law firms acting pro bono. On behalf of this group of wounded veterans, we are asking the government to reveal its deals with the commercial users of the campus land; to use the profits of those deals to assist homeless veterans in obtaining the housing they need; and, above all, to fulfill the original purpose of the West Los Angeles Campus by dedicating it to the disabled veterans who could be helped by finding supportive housing there.

President Obama said in March 2009 that our veterans "have a home. It's the country they served, the United States of America, and until we reach a day when not a single veteran sleeps on our nation's streets, our work remains unfinished." Many soldiers who have returned from war have since died. If the Department of Veterans Affairs simply keeps the pledge made in 1888 when it accepted the gift of land, it will have taken a modest first step in turning the president's dream of securing every veteran a home into reality.

Source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304432304576371591562510516.html

360,000 Veterans May Have Brain Injuries


Pentagon officials estimated for the first time Wednesday that up to 360,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans may have suffered brain injuries. Among them are 45,000 to 90,000 veterans whose symptoms persist and warrant specialized care. Army Brig. Gen. Loree Sutton provided the estimate during a news conference about March as Brain Injury Awareness Month. She heads the Pentagon's Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury.

Pentagon officials have been reluctant to estimate the number of potential brain-injury casualties among the 1.8 million troops who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sutton based her estimate upon military health-screening programs showing that 10% to 20% of returning troops have suffered at least a mild concussion. Among them are 3% to 5% with persistent symptoms that require specialists such as an ophthalmologist to deal with vision problems. Sutton's estimate is similar to a RAND Corp. study last year that said 320,000 may have suffered a brain injury.

Following direction from Congress, the U.S. military began to screen all troops returning from the war zones for brain injury last year. Persistent symptoms can range from headaches and sleep disorders to memory, balance and vision difficulties, said Lt. Col. Lynne Lowe, the Army's program manager for traumatic brain injury. Research suggests the vast majority of these troops recover, said James Kelly, director of the National Intrepid Center of Excellence, a Pentagon treatment center for traumatic brain injury and psychological health. Kelly said scientists are trying to understand the severity and extent of brain injury caused by exposure to a blast. Many of the wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan were hurt by roadside bombs.

The science is so new that it remains unclear whether symptoms attributed to brain injury are actually the result of post-traumatic stress disorder caused by the same combat incident — a roadside bomb blast, for example — that caused the brain injury, Lowe said. The Pentagon's official figure for U.S. military war casualties of all kinds in Iraq and Afghanistan is about 33,000. Sutton said at least 9,100 troops have been diagnosed with brain injuries since the war began.

The Department of Veterans Affairs reports that it has treated about 8,000 former service members for brain injury after their return from Iraq and Afghanistan. The rest of those who may require care have problems that can be treated by a family physician — issues such as headaches and sleep disorders, Kelly said. "It's not unusually complicated care." Hotline phone numbers available for troops concerned about symptoms that might be related to a brain injury are, at the Centers of Excellence, 866-966-1020; and at the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, 800-870-9244.

Source: http://www.usatoday.com/news/military/2009-03-04-braininjuries_N.htm

Iraq War vet pens ‘last letter’ to Bush and Cheney


An Iraq War veteran who joined the U.S. Army two days after 9/11 has written a powerful open letter to former President George W. Bush and ex-Vice President Dick Cheney accusing them of war crimes, "plunder" and "the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole." Tomas Young, who was shot and paralyzed during an insurgent attack in Sadr City in 2004, five days into his first deployment, penned the letter from his Kansas City, Mo., home, where he's under hospice care.

"I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney," Young wrote in the letter published on Truthdig.com. "I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole."

The 33-year-old, who was the subject of Phil Donahue's 2007 documentary "Body of War," continued:
I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the United States. I did not join the Army to “liberate” Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called “democracy” in Baghdad and the Middle East. I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues.
Young believes he was injured fighting the wrong war:
I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.
"When Tomas Young saw President Bush on television speaking from the ruins of the Twin Towers, his life changed," his bio on the "Body of War" website reads. "As his basic training began at Ft. Hood, he assumed that he would be shipped off to Afghanistan where the terrorist camps were based, routing out Al Qaeda and Taliban warriors. But soon, Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq."

In an interview with Truthdig.com, Young—who suffered an anoxic brain injury in 2008—said he had been contemplating "conventional" suicide, but decided to go on hospice care, "stop feeding and fade away." He said, "This way, instead of committing the conventional suicide and I am out of the picture, people have a way to stop by or call and say their goodbyes," Young said. "I felt this was a fairer way to treat people than to just go out with a note."

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/iraq-war-vet-letter-bush-cheney-tomas-young-154541674.html

US Loses $6 Billion of Iraq's Money


For years, the US Dept of Defense has claimed it could find Iraq’s missing 6.6 billion dollars if given enough time. Now, it appears Federal auditors are giving up the search. While no official announcement has been made yet, key figures are quickly making public remarks and claiming the legal high ground. In numerous instances of profiteering and fraud involving US efforts in Iraq, a number of American officials are already serving time in prison. Those crimes were nothing compared to the 6.6 billion dollar heist. And it’s got some powerful people nervous.

The missing $6.6 billion dollars is above and beyond the $61 billion America has already spent rebuilding Iraq. But it represents a whopping ten percent of the overall 8-year Iraqi reconstruction cost. And unlike the $61 billion that came from the US taxpayers, the $6.6 billion was Iraq’s money to begin with. The money was located in a special account created by the Federal Reserve and called the Development Fund for Iraq. While Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was under devastating economic sanctions and its international funds were seized by the US, the money was held in a trust for the Iraqi people.

Money was added to the account after the sale of Saddam Hussein’s personal assets, as well as the money left over in the scandal-plagued UN Oil for Food Program. Basically a trust fund for Iraq’s state revenues, even the proceeds from the sale of Iraq’s oil were added. Arguing that the Iraqi national government couldn’t handle the responsibility of managing itself, the Coalition Provisional Authority was created to do it for them. Led by L. Paul Bremer, the US imposed national government was immediately hampered by internal conflict and mismanagement. Replaced after only one month, Lt. Gen. Jay Garner had publically stated his intention was to give the Iraqi’s full control and responsibility of their own assets, security and infrastructure as soon as possible.

Within a year, Iraq seemed to be a free-for-all. The Coalition Provisional Authority was disbanded and the US went from spending $4.6 billion on Iraqi reconstruction in 2003 to $19.5 billion in 2004. That amount is double 2007 and four-times every other year before or since. With President Bush pouring every cent he could find into Iraq, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld took possession of the Iraqi trust fund and had delivered in cash. Carried by tractor trailer from the Federal Reserve in New York to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, it was then flown directly to Baghdad.

Once in Baghdad, the $6.6 billion was divided up between a handful of Defense Department officials and stored at numerous secret sites, including military bases and former Presidential Palaces. Surprisingly, the funds were well organized and kept track of at this point. For along with them, the White House was sending truck loads of cash, literally.

Pentagon officials have since described the days in May 2004 when $12 billion dollars in cash was air-lifted from the US Treasury directly to Iraq. C-130 Hercules cargo planes were used on the 20-plus missions. In what became the largest international cash air-lift in history, the giant aircraft were stuffed full bags and crates full of cold hard cash. Uniformly bundled in shrink-wrapped bricks of $100 dollar bills, the money was packed into anything and everything the military could find to carry it.

Fortunately for the Iraqi’s, their $6.6 billion arrived just fine and appears to be accounted for. It was the next step in the process where the nation’s funds suddenly vanish. Insisting on maintaining control over key infrastructure and the new Iraqi interim government, Defense Department officials on the ground in Iraq were charged with funding the countries various Ministries.

Defense and US military officials appear to be on file withdrawing the money, but no records can be found of them actually handing it over to the Iraqis in charge of paying the country’s municipal employees, police, sanitation, food and other necessary services. American officials insist the money was indeed handed over to the Iraqi Ministers. The Iraqis however, charge they were never given the money and the facts show that the US has absolutely no documentation to show it was ever handed over to them.

US officials in Baghdad argue that the Iraqi Ministries were so corrupt, the money had to be lost in the vacuum of kick-backs and bribes. One example cited by the CPA was the Iraqi government’s hiring and payroll practices. In only one of the Ministries, the US was sending paychecks to 8,206 Iraqi security guards. When audited however, only 603 people were actually employed.

Certainly, the vision of thousands of Americans and Iraqis running around Baghdad and the outer reaches of Iraq with satchels full of millions of dollars in US greenbacks would explain the confusion. But the fact remains, Iraq wants their money and according to US officials, the American taxpayer is going to have to come up with it, again.
The Chicago Tribune quotes Stuart Bowen, Congress’ Inspector General for the Iraq reconstruction effort as saying the $6.6 billion may mark “the largest theft of funds in national history”. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) was quoted by the Tribune being a little less understanding, “Congress is not looking forward to having to spend billions of our money to make up for billions of their money that we can’t account for and can’t seem to find”.

Only months after the money was lost, a host of US Senators sent a letter to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld concerning the outrageous details describing the method of transfer. The letter read, “The CPA apparently transferred this staggering sum of money with no written rules or guidelines for ensuring adequate managerial, financial or contractual controls over the funds. Such enormous discrepancies raise very serious questions about potential fraud, waste and abuse".

On a day when US Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) was refused entry into Iraq for publicly suggesting the people of Iraq should repay the American taxpayers for their financial loss, Iraq’s Chief Auditor announced that his government was prepared to go to court to recoup the missing $6.6 billion. “Clearly, Iraq has an interest in looking after its assets and protecting them” said Abdul Basit Turki Saeed.

Associated Press reports Iraqi lawmakers weren’t as tactful regarding Rep. Rohrabacher’s suggestion of Iraqi reparations. “We as a government reject such statements and we have informed the American embassy that these congressmen are not welcome in Iraq" said government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh yesterday. Another lawmaker, Etab al-Douri, called the suggestion a “humiliation”. "We are the ones who should ask for compensation and not them, and we demand the occupiers to withdraw now" she finished.

Source: http://blog.transparency.org/2011/06/23/the-true-cost-of-defence-corruption/

Rumsfeld Buries Admission of Missing 2+ Trillion Dollars in 9/10/01 Press Conference


On September 10, 2001, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld held a press conference to disclose that over $2,000,000,000,000 in Pentagon funds could not be accounted for. Rumsfeld stated: "According to some estimates we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions." According to a report by the Inspector General, the Pentagon cannot account for 25 percent of what it spends. 1 2

Such a disclosure normally might have sparked a huge scandal. However, the commencement of the attack on New York City and Washington in the morning would assure that the story remained buried. To the trillions already missing from the coffers, an obedient Congress terrorized by anthrax attacks would add billions more in appropriations to fight the "War on Terror."

The Comptroller of the Pentagon at the time of the attack was Dov Zakheim, who was appointed in May of 2001. Before becoming the Pentagon's money-manager, he was an executive at System Planning Corporation, a defense contractor specializing in electronic warfare technologies including remote-controlled aircraft systems. 3 4 Zakheim is a member of the Project for a New American Century and participated in the creation of its 2000 position paper Rebuilding America's Defenses which called for "a New Pearl Harbor." 5

Estimates of the sums of money missing vary wildly. A 2003 report put the amount missing at "more than a trillion dollars." 6

Source: http://911research.wtc7.net/sept11/trillions.html

Military Towns Are Among the Country's Most Dangerous

Military bases and the neighborhoods surrounding them often seem like the ultimate refuge of middle-American values. Run with military efficiency and discipline, the well-trimmed yards, cleanly-paved roads and orderly layouts convey an ideal image of life as it should be: safe, peaceful and friendly.

However, as the horrific shootings in Fort Hood demonstrate, this perception of structure and normalcy may be deceptive. According to a study by NeighborhoodScout, which offers neighborhood-by-neighborhood crime analyses, some of America's military towns have crime levels that place them among the country's most dangerous neighborhoods. While the danger in these areas is much more heavily skewed toward property crimes like vandalism and theft than violent crimes like murder or rape, the statistics are startling.

Topping the list of America's ten worst military neighborhoods is Hawaii's Schofield Barracks. The area has an estimated 759 property crimes per 1,000 people -- more than 20 times the national average of 34 per 1,000 residents and fifteen times Hawaii's average. As a result, NeighborhoodScout ranks it as one of the worst neighborhoods in the country. Yet, Schofield Barracks's crime wave is largely comprised of property crimes, not violent crimes. While its property crime rate is more than twenty times the national average, its violent crime rate is (a comparatively minor) 49% higher than the median. This suggests that the large crime jumps in the area are more likely to involve robbery, theft, and motor vehicle theft.

Similarly, the second-ranked neighborhood, the Patton Road area near Alabama's Redstone Arsenal, has an estimated property crime rate of 691 per 1,000 residents. The remaining eight military neighborhoods -- Indiana's Grissom Joint Air Reserve Base, an area near Texas' Lackland AFB, Mississippi's Meridian Naval Air Station, California's Presidio of Monterey, Washington's Ault Field, and Hawaii's Kaneohe Station -- range between 410 and 155 property crimes per 1,000 residents.

So why do these ten neighborhoods have such high crime rates? According to Andrew Schiller, founder and president of NeighborhoodScout, the answer may lie in the demographics of the American military. Military bases tend to have high concentrations of young, single men living together in very close quarters. Schiller has also found similar property crime spikes in other areas -- like college student neighborhoods -- that have large concentrations of single males living together. One possible explanation for these surges in crime rates could be that young men, separated from their parents, wives, families and communities, may feel more temptation to commit certain types of crimes.

Ironically, NeighborhoodScout reports that military neighborhoods as a whole tend to be considerably safer than most of the country. America has 300 neighborhoods in which at least 20% of the population is in the military. In these areas, the median property crime rate is 32 per 1,000 residents, which is 7% below the national average. The violent crime rate is even more striking: at 1.55 crimes per 1,000 residents, it is an impressive 67% lower than the average.

Source: http://www.dailyfinance.com/2009/11/16/most-dangerous-military-towns/

Maltreated and hazed, one soldier is driven to take his own life


For Army Spc. Brushaun Anderson, there was no escaping his torment. The senior noncommissioned officers who ruled his life at a remote patrol base in Iraq ordered him to wear a plastic trash bag because they said he was “dirty.” They forced him to perform excessive physical exercises in his body armor over and over again. They made him build a sandbag wall that served no military purpose.

Anderson seemed to take it all in stride. Until New Year’s Day 2010, when the once-eager 20-year-old soldier locked himself inside a portable toilet, picked up his M4 rifle, aimed the barrel at his forehead and pulled the trigger. Anderson left behind a note lamenting his failures in the military, and some soldiers in his unit immediately said that Anderson had been driven to kill himself by leaders bent on humiliating him.

“No matter what Spc. Anderson did, no matter how big or small the incident was, his punishment was always extremely harsh, [and] a lot of the time demeaning,” one corporal later told Army investigators. “Spc. Anderson’s punishments were not like anyone else’s in the platoon,” another corporal said. “Spc. Anderson was singled out.”

The U.S. Army is confronting an unprecedented suicide crisis. Since the start of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, more than 1,100 soldiers have taken their own lives, with the numbers escalating each year for the last six years. Last year alone, 301 soldiers committed suicide — a new record. Army officials often profess bafflement over the causes of the suicide epidemic, and they have spent more than $75 million on studies to try to understand the problem and reverse the devastating trend.

In Anderson’s case, at least, there was little mystery. An Army investigation into Anderson’s unit following his suicide concluded that he had been hazed on multiple occasions and subjected to “cruel, abusive and oppressive treatment.” Anderson’s battery commander, first sergeant, platoon sergeant and squad leader were found responsible for his maltreatment, according to documents obtained by Stars and Stripes.

But the Army didn’t hold them criminally culpable, and they weren’t made to leave the service. Instead, all four superiors are moving ahead with their careers in leadership positions, entrusted with molding the Army’s next generation. This is the story of one soldier’s humiliation — and the Army’s decision to avert its gaze. It is based on interviews with Anderson’s family and soldiers who witnessed his mistreatment and more than 500 pages of Army documents, including sworn statements from members of his unit and the conclusions of two Army investigators.

Rocky deployment

Brushaun Anderson had been raised by his great aunt in a modest community in Columbus, Ga., and had joined the military for the same reason many low-income recruits do: He saw it as his chance to get ahead. He was an inexperienced soldier, with only two years in the Army, and on his first deployment. He dreamed of joining Special Forces, perhaps becoming a sniper. He could rattle off details of the Army’s weapons systems and obsessively cleaned his rifle. He also wanted to recruit, because he liked to teach and talk and “he loved what he was doing in the Army,” said his great aunt,Phyllis Eason.

In the beginning, Anderson saw success. Capt. William Fisher, Battery A’s commander, praised him in Army documents, calling him “an impressive soldier with the highly sought after ‘self-starter’ quality,” and the battalion made him Soldier of the Quarter the month before they deployed. Anderson was then given the honor of carrying the battalion’s colors at the pre-deployment ceremony at Fort Drum, N.Y., and promoted to specialist not long after.

Yet, in Iraq, Anderson found himself something of an outsider. He was an infantryman, not a field artillery soldier. He and a few other young infantrymen had been added to 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment for the deployment. He was also one of the few black soldiers in the battery. Anderson received only mediocre performance reviews. He wasn’t meeting expectations in many regards, including his attitude.

He had lapses in judgment and a hygiene problem that hurt his reputation among some of Battery A’s leadership, even though one lieutenant said much of his behavior was typical of young soldiers. He thought Anderson simply needed more guidance from his direct leadership to help him develop as a soldier. That wouldn’t happen at Patrol Base Babil.

The base in eastern Baghdad was remote and austere. There was no running water, no amenities like Internet access and, for a while, no portable toilets. Battery A’s 2nd Platoon and an attached squad lived sparsely in a tight square of tents next to Iraqi Security Forces. Their battalion was based at the larger Joint Security Station Zafaraniyah about 20 minutes away, so the 40 or so soldiers at Babil were largely isolated from the rest of the unit.

The platoon’s top enlisted man, Sgt. 1st Class Phillip Devos, was granted wide leeway to run the show, and he reveled in the power, declaring himself “Supreme Allied Commander¬–Babil,” noncomissioned officers told Stars and Stripes. He had the backing of Fisher, the battery’s commander, and then-Sgt. 1st Class Stephen Amaral, the battery’s first sergeant, both of whom encouraged a domineering spirit among the NCOs and emphasized punishment as a primary means of leadership, the NCOs said.

With this shared philosophy, the three leaders were close knit, the soldiers said. The leaders were eager for the deployment to turn into something big, itching for combat at a time when the mission in Iraq had shrunk to conducting courtesy patrols with the Iraqi Security Forces. In December 2009, Devos got a new soldier to command when Anderson was moved from 1st Platoon to Babil. Devos and the squad leader, Staff Sgt. Charles Bruckner, immediately pounced on Anderson’s minor mistakes.

Soldiers said once Bruckner and Devos identified Anderson as a soldier they could pick on, they never let up. They called him names and told him he wasn’t good enough for their platoon, that he was a “shit-bag soldier.” They encouraged the other NCOs to find it funny and “release the dogs” on Anderson, a sergeant later wrote in his sworn statement. Bruckner and Devos lacked even a “hint of moral capacity or professionalism,” another soldier wrote.

According to one sergeant, Devos was known for his “belittlement, cruelty and his verbal abuse.” Another soldier stated that Devos called Anderson stupid and sneered that the specialist must have cheated on his recruitment test because the Army doesn’t accept “retards.” Anderson was also punished for “unreasonably long periods,” a soldier wrote, often for violations of rules that no one else had to abide by. “Spc. Anderson was not a perfect soldier and he knew he made mistakes,” the soldier continued, “but no one deserved to get smoked like he did.”
Harsh punishment

For Christmas, the entire battery squeezed in at Babil to celebrate together. Anderson was pulling guard duty in the predawn hours while most of the battery slept. As the sun began to rise, he lit a cigarette while sitting in the truck. That was technically against the rules, but it was common practice at Babil. Fisher asked him if he was smoking. “Yeah, roger,” Anderson replied.

Fisher and Amaral weren’t pleased with the response. Both men demanded not just respect but total deference, soldiers said. They had Bruckner and Anderson’s team leader counsel the specialist for disrespecting a senior officer and violating a lawful order for smoking in the truck. Both NCOs then recommended that Anderson get a company-grade Article 15, a nonjudicial punishment through the Uniformed Code of Military Justice.

Fisher and Amaral decided against that. Instead, Anderson was ordered to perform hours of corrective training. Fisher, in fact, never approved an Article 15 during the entire deployment, setting him apart from the other battery commanders in the battalion. He and the rest of the battery and platoon leadership portrayed this as if they were doing the soldiers a favor. It was better to keep these things in-house with corrective training than to go through the UCMJ, the rationale went. Some of the soldiers in the battery agreed.

Fisher told Stars and Stripes there was a simple explanation for it: Nothing rose to the level of an Article 15 while his battery was deployed. The Army specifically states that corrective training isn’t supposed to be punitive. It’s intended to teach a soldier how to improve and to instill discipline, and it should directly relate to a soldier’s weakness. But in Battery A, corrective training was a euphemism for whatever punishment the leadership chose that day.

For Anderson on Christmas, that meant he would get little rest. After his night shift on guard, he had to pull two more hours of the duty. Then he was ordered to don full body armor for an hour of strenuous physical exercise with his rifle: sprints, push-ups, lunges while holding his rifle over his head and mountain climbers. A lieutenant with the battery was on his way to start his shift serving the enlisted men their holiday meal when he saw Anderson sweating through the exercise.

He went to find Fisher to see whether the captain was aware of what was going on. “I’m a firm believer in disciplining soldiers,” Fisher replied, according to the lieutenant’s sworn statement. The lieutenant “questioned the weight of the punishment” and “made it known” that he “did not agree [Anderson] should have to suffer that long for such an easy correction, especially on Christmas morning.”

Fisher, who was old for a captain as a prior enlisted soldier, replied that Anderson’s punishment was his decision and it needed to be done. The lieutenant was unimpressed. “Personally, I believe there are more important things to focus on rather than demanding respect from subordinates,” the lieutenant wrote in his statement. He walked away from his talk with Fisher concerned that Anderson was the only one being held accountable for smoking on guard duty while more concerning infractions by other soldiers, such as urinating near the sleeping tents, went ignored.

As part of the corrective training, Anderson’s squad was also roused out of bed and told that because Anderson had messed up, they all had to start filling sandbags for what was called the “Wall of Shame” or the “Wall of Discipline.”

The construction of the random wall, which had no legitimate military purpose, had become routine punishment for Anderson and the junior soldiers in his squad. There was even a wooden sign reading “Wall of Discipline.” One private first class, though, said it was just a joke and no one took it too seriously.

Anderson was instructed to join his squad once he was done with his hour of physical training. While the young soldiers labored on the wall with “a clearly broken spirit,” one sergeant said, Fisher and Amaral stood by laughing. Devos joked that the soldiers looked like refugees.

Deriding mental help

Anderson started spending more time by himself. At Babil, he often paced around the small patrol base or stood alone by the campfire. A private first class asked him whether he was OK one night, and Anderson said he just wanted to be alone to think. Friends said Anderson, the happy guy who made jokes and was always willing to help out, seemed to shrug off his treatment at the hands of Bruckner and Devos.

“If he was humiliated he never really showed it,” a specialist in the platoon said in a sworn statement, “and if it bothered him he never said it did.”

Some of the soldiers in the battery said Anderson brought things on himself by being lazy and repeatedly making stupid mistakes. The trouble wasn’t the platoon or battery leadership, a few said in their sworn statements, it was his lack of discipline. One soldier wrote: “He wasn’t singled out. He did dumb [stuff] and got in trouble for it.” Two days after Christmas, when most of the battery had been up for at least 36 hours, Anderson failed a room inspection at Zafaraniyah. The platoon rotated through that base to get showers and a break from Babil.

Bruckner told him his room was a “disgrace” with “trash on the floor, leftover meals in trays, flies, empty soda cans, dirty laundry and military equipment strewn all over the floor,” according to a formal counseling statement that Bruckner prepared. “Once again this shows the unit you have no discipline.” Amaral was livid. He started throwing Anderson’s stuff around in his room, saying, “I’ll show you NCOs how to toss a room,” according to one sergeant.

The NCOs had Anderson put on his body armor and remove everything from his room, wipe down the walls and floor and then move everything back in. Then Bruckner, who soldiers said tried hard to impress Devos, told Anderson to pack up his stuff because he was being exiled back to the spartan Babil permanently. That was a threat Devos often held over the heads of soldiers, one sergeant said.

One of Anderson’s friends, another specialist, saw him afterward and asked whether he planned on doing anything stupid. “No, I’m fine,” Anderson told him. “I just need to settle down and slow down.” Back at Babil, the platoon’s leaders didn’t relent. They yelled at Anderson for not keeping up with proper hygiene. They told him he smelled bad and called him dirty, and then they forced him to wear a garbage bag at all times, according to sworn statements.

That type of demeaning treatment of soldiers wasn’t new for Devos, and it wasn’t unknown to the Army. The spring before the unit deployed, Devos was admonished by a military judge. During a court-martial of one of Devos’ soldiers, it came to light that Devos had called out the accused in formation, made threatening remarks and generally acted in a “manner designed to humiliate, punish and degrade” the soldier, the judge said.

He was so “gravely concerned” about Devos’ “inappropriate and unprofessional” behavior that his actions ended up being a “significant mitigating factor” in sentencing the soldier. Less than a year later, Devos — or “Big Time” as soldiers said he liked to call himself — was back at it in Iraq.

He had the encouragement of Amaral, a close friend. To Amaral, everything was a game, a sergeant who served with Anderson told Stars and Stripes. He molded the battery’s NCOs into the kind of leaders who hound junior enlisted soldiers, lecturing them that “soldiers have no rights” and if “you aren’t yelling at soldiers, you aren’t doing your job,” several soldiers said.

The first sergeant often boasted of how he took his personal frustrations out on soldiers by yelling at them or making fun of them. Amaral called the practice “Joe Time,” referencing the common nickname for soldiers. Neither he nor Devos had much tolerance for the Army’s new spotlight on soldier care and they mocked the emphasis of mental health. In fact, Devos subjected his soldiers to exactly the kind of stigma the Army claims it’s trying to eliminate from the ranks.

If a soldier went to the “wizard,” as Devos derisively termed mental health counselors, that soldier was considered weak, the sergeant told Stars and Stripes. “He said it so frequently that everyone knew,” the sergeant continued, asserting that promotions were also withheld for anyone who sought mental health care. Devos often turned suicide into a punch line. Before working his soldiers hard, for example, he’d tell them they’d better get their ACE cards ready, referring to the laminated pocket guide for suicide intervention that soldiers carry.

When Babil got three portable toilets, the sergeant told Stars and Stripes, Devos joked that no soldier should use one as place to kill himself because he didn’t want to have to clean up the mess.
Tired and defeated

On Jan. 1, 2010, soldiers at Babil didn’t get out of bed until around 1 p.m. They had spent the night before out on patrol and arrived back early in the morning. Anderson had fallen asleep in the turret during the mission — a serious violation — and so would spend the first day of the new year working on the “Wall of Discipline.” Before he could get started, Anderson was caught for another infraction, this time for uniform standards. He was wearing an unauthorized pair of eyewear with headphones.

Those type of standards were mostly nonexistent at Babil, and it was the kind of infraction that was commonly ignored, several soldiers said. But Anderson was nabbed for the violation and promptly made to do mountain climbers in full body armor with his rifle. Amaral put an end to the exercise around 10 minutes later. Soon after, wearing a trash bag, Anderson started filling sandbags for the “Wall of Discipline.” Soldiers described him as looking tired and defeated.

Anderson headed to the bathroom and, on his way, he ran into a friend, a private first class who asked him what he was doing. “Taking a break,” he said, before going into the middle of three portable toilets. About 15 minutes later, a gunshot brought the soldiers running to the latrines. The first soldier there knocked and called out “Hello?” before yanking the door open. He saw an M4 rifle in a pool of blood and Anderson slumped over on the seat.

In his journal by his bunk, Anderson had written what appeared to be a suicide note. “I really don’t know what to say in a note like this. I just don’t feel good about what I’ve accomplished in my life. I feel like a faliuer (sic). I feel like I’ve failed. And theirs (sic) no hope of improving. I’ve been a couple of places in the Army and it’s all been pretty much the same.”

Source: http://www.stripes.com/news/special-reports/suicide-in-the-military/maltreated-and-hazed-one-soldier-is-driven-to-take-his-own-life-1.145941

8 Soldiers Charged in Death of Fellow Serviceman


Eight U.S. soldiers have been charged in connection with the October death of a fellow soldier in Afghanistan, the Army said Wednesday. Pvt. Danny Chen, 19, was found dead in a guard tower, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Chen's family says that until they see the autopsy results themselves, they cannot confirm or deny it was suicide.

The eight officers and enlisted servicemen face various charges, including dereliction of duty, making false statements, maltreatment and involuntary manslaughter, the Army said in a statement. The Army did not specify what alleged acts by the soldiers resulted in the charges, which were filed Wednesday. But in correspondence with his family before his death, Chen complained of harassment by his fellow soldiers.

At a candlelight vigil for Chen held in Manhattan last week, his brother, Banny Chen, read from a letter the soldier had sent to his family. "They ask if I'm from China a few times a day. They also called out my name, 'Chen,' in a goat-like voice sometimes for no reason. No idea how it started, but it's just best to ignore it."

The Chen family told The New York Times in October that officials said that Chen had suffered physical abuse and ethnic slurs by superiors, including an incident in which he was dragged out of bed and across the floor for failing to turn off a water heater after showering. In its announcement, the Army makes no mention of the harassment allegations, but states, "As the legal process continues, further information will be published as it becomes available."

The charges stem from "conduct that occurred in the time leading up to (Chen's) death," an Army official familiar with details of the investigation told CNN. He declined to be identified because the military criminal investigation remains ongoing. The Army official said the soldiers are essentially charged with hazing and abusing Chen in the weeks and days before he apparently killed himself. But the case remains open and other charges could be filed, the official said.

The soldiers facing charges were identified as 1st Lt. Daniel J. Schwartz, Staff Sgt. Blaine G. Dugas, Staff Sgt. Andrew J. Van Bockel, Sgt. Adam M. Holcomb, Sgt. Jeffrey T. Hurst, Spc. Thomas P. Curtis, Spc. Ryan J. Offutt and Sgt. Travis F. Carden. All the soldiers belonged to C Company, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 1st Styker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, the Army said.

Schwartz, the only officer charged, faces eight counts of dereliction of duty. The enlisted soldiers face more serious charges, including dereliction of duty but also maltreatment, assault, involuntary manslaughter and negligent homicide. The eight men charged have been moved to a different base in southern Afghanistan and remain under restriction. They are not permitted to leave the base, the Army official said.

"We feel some comfort and relief to know the Army is taking it seriously," Chen's mother, Su Zhan Chen, said through a translator at a news conference Wednesday. "We are cautiously optimistic because of today's news," said Elizabeth Ou Yang, president of the Asian-American group OCA-NY, who spoke as a representative of the family.

But, she added, the family hopes that those responsible will be not just charged, but convicted. "They must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Yang added. Rep. Nydia Velazquez, D-New York, who was also present with the family at the conference, said that she has requested the autopsy results and asked the inspector general of the Army to conduct a separate investigation. "We are here today to demand answers... and that begins with a full accounting of all the facts," she said.

In a similar case earlier this year, three Marines were charged with beating and hazing a fellow Marine, Harry Lew, after Lew fell asleep on watch duty. The Marine was beaten and forced to do exercises and to dig a hole until the early morning. When the punishment was over, he climbed into the hole he had just dug and shot himself, said Rep. Judy Chu of California, Lew's aunt.

Source: http://www.cnn.com/2011/12/21/justice/soldiers-charged/index.html?hpt=hp_t3

US Army Apologizes for Horrific Photos from Afghanistan

Photo Gallery: The 'Kill Team' in Afghanistan

The images are repulsive. A group of rogue US Army soldiers in Afghanistan killed innocent civilians and then posed with their bodies. On Monday, SPIEGEL published some of the photos -- and the US military responded promptly with an apology. Still, NATO fears that reactions in Afghanistan could be violent.

For reasons of data protection and privacy, your IP address will only be stored if you are a registered user of Facebook and you are currently logged in to the service. For more detailed information, please click on the "i" symbol. The United States and NATO are concerned that reactions could be intense to the publication of images documenting killings committed by US soldiers in Afghanistan. The images appeared in the most recent edition of SPIEGEL, which hit the newsstands on Monday.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has already telephoned with her Afghan counterpart to discuss the situation. National Security Advisor Tom Donilon has likewise made contact with officials in Kabul. The case threatens to strain already fragile US-Afghan relations at a time when the two countries are negotiating over the establishment of permanent US military bases in Afghanistan.

In a statement released by Colonel Thomas Collins, the US Army, which is currently preparing a court martial to try a total of 12 suspects in connection with the killings, apologized for the suffering the photos have caused. The actions depicted in the photos, the statement read, are "repugnant to us as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the United States."

The suspected perpetrators are part of a group of US soldiers accused of several killings. Their court martials are expected to start soon. The photos, the army statement said, stand "in stark contrast to the discipline, professionalism and respect that have characterized our soldiers' performance during nearly 10 years of sustained operations."

Major Public Backlash

At NATO headquarters, there are fears that the coming days could see angry protests in Afghanistan or even potential attacks against NATO units. "The images have an enormous potential here in Afghanistan," one NATO general told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "Experience shows that it might take a couple of days, but then people's anger will be vented."

NATO, under the leadership of the US Army, has been preparing for possible publication of the photos for close to 100 days. In dozens of high-level talks with their Afghan partners, military leaders have sought to pursue the same strategy used by the US diplomatic corps in the case of the sensitive diplomatic cables released late last year by WikiLeaks. They warned those most directly affected and made preparations for the photos' appearance in the public sphere. This "strategic communication" was aimed at preventing a major public backlash.

The high ranks of those involved in the talks show just how seriously Washington has taken the problem. US Vice President Joe Biden recently spoke about the case with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The head of all NATO troops in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, likewise met with Karzai. By apologizing and by promising that those responsible will be prosecuted, the US is hoping to prevent Karzai from making any angry public statements on the case.

Whether the effort will ultimately be successful remains to be seen. On Tuesday, Karzai is scheduled to address his country to talk about the transfer of responsibility for his country's security from NATO to Afghanistan. With him will be members of the NATO leadership and the US ambassador to Afghanistan. Karzai's address contains no mention of the so-called "kill team," but the Afghan president is notorious for being unpredictable.

Political Conflict with the US

Observers say the fact that there hasn't been any serious reaction or demonstrations so far doesn't mean the danger has passed. One fact could be that Monday is a holiday in Afghanistan. A high-ranking official in the Afghan Foreign Ministry, who is close to President Karzai, said he believed the development would trigger a serious political conflict with the US.

"I assume we won't see the full effect of this matter until tomorrow, at the very soonest, when people return to work. Many people have Monday off," he told SPIEGEL ONLINE. He said the incidents had been "too outrageous" not to spark protests. "That this is engaging people can be seen by the fact that it is already being discussed on the Internet," he added.

In neighboring Pakistan, where relations with the United States are likewise strained, officials are also watching the matter closely. "We are acknowledging it, but for now it is a matter for the Afghan government to make any charges," a spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad said. The release of CIA employee Raymond Davis, who shot two men at the end of January and was let go after paying blood money, as well as the increase in US drone attacks in the western part of the country, triggered angry protests in Pakistan.

The SPIEGEL story printed on Monday includes new details about a series of murders of innocent Afghans committed by a group of US soldiers. One of the accused, Corporal Jeremy Morlock, 22, confessed to the murders three months ago. Morlock is scheduled to face a general court-martial on Thursday. In total, 12 US soldiers who were allegedly part of what has been described as a "kill team" in Afghanistan are expected to go on trial soon.

'They Mowed Him Down'

The piece in SPIEGEL reconstructs some of the atrocities and includes three previously unknown photographs. Among other things, they show two of the suspected killers posing next to a corpse. The victim in the image is Gul Mudin, an Afghan man killed on Jan. 15, 2010 in the village of La Mohammed Kalay. In total, SPIEGEL and SPIEGEL TV has obtained a significant number of photos and videos.

The suspects are accused of having killed civilians for no reason and then of trying to make it look as though the killings had been acts of self-defense. Some of the accused have said the acts had been tightly scripted.

In one incident, which has been reconstructed based on documents from the investigation, the soldiers themselves detonate a hand grenade in order to make it look like they were the subjects of an attack before killing a man. One of those who allegedly participated, Adam Winfield, 21, described the incident to his father in a chat on the social networking site Facebook. "They made it look like the guy threw a grenade at them and mowed him down," SPIEGEL quotes Winfield as having written in the chat.

In a second incident on Feb. 22, 2010, one of the members of the "kill team" who had been carrying an old Russian Kalashnikov, fired it before pulling out another gun and shooting 22-year-old Afghan Marach Agha. In a third incident on May 2, 2010, it appears that a hand grenade attack was again staged before the shooting and killing of Mullah Allah Dad.

The 12 men are also facing further charges of desecration of corpses, illegal possession of photos of corpses, drug abuse and acts of bodily injury against comrades.

Source: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,752310,00.html

Junkyard Gives Up Secret Accounts of Massacre in Iraq


One by one, the Marines sat down, swore to tell the truth and began to give secret interviews discussing one of the most horrific episodes of America’s time in Iraq: the 2005 massacre by Marines of Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha. “I mean, whether it’s a result of our action or other action, you know, discovering 20 bodies, throats slit, 20 bodies, you know, beheaded, 20 bodies here, 20 bodies there,” Col. Thomas Cariker, a commander in Anbar Province at the time, told investigators as he described the chaos of Iraq. At times, he said, deaths were caused by “grenade attacks on a checkpoint and, you know, collateral with civilians.”

The 400 pages of interrogations, once closely guarded as secrets of war, were supposed to have been destroyed as the last American troops prepare to leave Iraq. Instead, they were discovered along with reams of other classified documents, including military maps showing helicopter routes and radar capabilities, by a reporter for The New York Times at a junkyard outside Baghdad. An attendant was burning them as fuel to cook a dinner of smoked carp.

The documents — many marked secret — form part of the military’s internal investigation, and confirm much of what happened at Haditha, a Euphrates River town where Marines killed 24 Iraqis, including a 76-year-old man in a wheelchair, women and children, some just toddlers. Haditha became a defining moment of the war, helping cement an enduring Iraqi distrust of the United States and a resentment that not one Marine has been convicted.

But the accounts are just as striking for what they reveal about the extraordinary strains on the soldiers who were assigned here, their frustrations and their frequently painful encounters with a population they did not understand. In their own words, the report documents the dehumanizing nature of this war, where Marines came to view 20 dead civilians as not “remarkable,” but as routine. Iraqi civilians were being killed all the time. Maj. Gen. Steve Johnson, the commander of American forces in Anbar, in his own testimony, described it as “a cost of doing business.”

The stress of combat left some soldiers paralyzed, the testimony shows. Troops, traumatized by the rising violence and feeling constantly under siege, grew increasingly twitchy, killing more and more civilians in accidental encounters. Others became so desensitized and inured to the killing that they fired on Iraqi civilians deliberately while their fellow soldiers snapped pictures, and were court-martialed. The bodies piled up at a time when the war had gone horribly wrong.

Charges were dropped against six of the accused Marines in the Haditha episode, one was acquitted and the last remaining case against one Marine is scheduled to go to trial next year. That sense of American impunity ultimately poisoned any chance for American forces to remain in Iraq, because the Iraqis would not let them stay without being subject to Iraqi laws and courts, a condition the White House could not accept.

Told about the documents that had been found, Col. Barry Johnson, a spokesman for the United States military in Iraq, said that many of the documents remained classified and should have been destroyed. “Despite the way in which they were improperly discarded and came into your possession, we are not at liberty to discuss classified information,” he said.

He added: “We take any breach of classified information as an extremely serious matter. In this case, the documents are being reviewed to determine whether an investigation is warranted.” The military said it did not know from which investigation the documents had come, but the papers appear to be from an inquiry by Maj. Gen. Eldon Bargewell into the events in Haditha. The documents ultimately led to a report that concluded that the Marine Corps’s chain of command engaged in “willful negligence” in failing to investigate the episode and that Marine commanders were far too willing to tolerate civilian casualties. That report, however, did not include the transcripts.

Under Pressure

Many of those testifying at bases in Iraq or the United States were clearly under scrutiny for not investigating an atrocity and may have tried to shape their statements to dispel any notion that they had sought to cover up the events. But the accounts also show the consternation of the Marines as they struggled to control an unfamiliar land and its people in what amounted to a constant state of siege from fighters who were nearly indistinguishable from noncombatants.

Some, feeling they were under attack constantly, decided to use force first and ask questions later. If Marines took fire from a building, they would often level it. Drivers who approached checkpoints without stopping were assumed to be suicide bombers. “When a car doesn’t stop, it crosses the trigger line, Marines engage and, yes, sir, there are people inside the car that are killed that have nothing to do with it,” Sgt. Maj. Edward T. Sax, the battalion’s senior noncommissioned officer, testified.

He added, “I had Marines shoot children in cars and deal with the Marines individually one on one about it because they have a hard time dealing with that.” Sergeant Major Sax said he would ask the Marines responsible if they had known there had been children in the car. When they said no, he said he would tell them they were not at fault. He said he felt for the Marines who had fired the shots, saying they would carry a lifelong burden.

“It is one thing to kill an insurgent in a head-on fight,” Sergeant Major Sax testified. “It is a whole different thing — and I hate to say it, the way we are raised in America — to injure a female or injure a child or in the worse case, kill a female or kill a child.”

They could not understand why so many Iraqis just did not stop at checkpoints and speculated that it was because of illiteracy or poor eyesight. “They don’t have glasses and stuff,” Col. John Ledoux said. “It really makes you wonder because some of the things that they would do just to keep coming. You know, it’s hard to imagine they would just keep coming, but sometimes they do.”

Such was the environment in 2005, when the Marines from Company K of the Third Battalion, First Marine Regiment from Camp Pendleton, Calif., arrived in Anbar Province, where Haditha is located, many for their second or third tours in Iraq. The province had become a stronghold for disenfranchised Sunnis and foreign fighters who wanted to expel the United States from Iraq, or just kill as many Americans as possible. Of the 4,483 American deaths in Iraq, 1,335 happened in Anbar.

In 2004, four Blackwater contractors were gunned down and dragged through the streets of Falluja, their bodies burned and hung on a bridge over the Euphrates. Days later, the United States military moved into the city, and chaos ensued in Anbar Province for the next two years as the Americans tried to fight off the insurgents. The stress of combat soon bore down. A legal adviser to the Marine unit stopped taking his medication for obsessive-compulsive disorder and stopped functioning.

“We had the one where Marines had photographed themselves taking shots at people,” Col. R. Kelly testified, saying that they immediately called the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and “confiscated their little camera.” He said the soldiers involved received a court-martial. All of this set the stage for what happened in Haditha on Nov. 19, 2005.

A Tragedy Ensues

That morning, a military convoy of four vehicles was heading to an outpost in Haditha when one of the vehicles was hit by a roadside bomb. Several Marines got out to attend to the wounded, including one who eventually died, while others looked for insurgents who might have set off the bomb. Within a few hours 24 Iraqis — including a 76-year-old man and children between the ages of 3 and 15 — were killed, many inside their homes.

Townspeople contended that the Marines overreacted to the attack and shot civilians, only one of whom was armed. The Marines said they thought they were under attack. When the initial reports arrived saying more than 20 civilians had been killed in Haditha, the Marines receiving them said they were not surprised by the high civilian death toll. Chief Warrant Officer K. R. Norwood, who received reports from the field on the day of the killings and briefed commanders on them, testified that 20 dead civilians was not unusual.

“I meant, it wasn’t remarkable, based off of the area I wouldn’t say remarkable, sir,” Mr. Norwood said. “And that is just my definition. Not that I think one life is not remarkable, it’s just —” An investigator asked the officer: “I mean remarkable or noteworthy in terms of something that would have caught your attention where you would have immediately said, ‘Got to have more information on that. That is a lot of casualties.’ ” “Not at the time, sir,” the officer testified.

General Johnson, the commander of American forces in Anbar Province, said he did not feel compelled to go back and examine the events because they were part of a continuing pattern of civilian deaths. “It happened all the time, not necessarily in MNF-West all the time, but throughout the whole country,” General Johnson testified, using a military abbreviation for allied forces in western Iraq.

“So, you know, maybe — I guess maybe if I was sitting here at Quantico and heard that 15 civilians were killed I would have been surprised and shocked and gone — done more to look into it,” he testified, referring to Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia. “But at that point in time, I felt that was — had been, for whatever reason, part of that engagement and felt that it was just a cost of doing business on that particular engagement.”

When Marines arrived on the scene to assess the number of dead bodies, at least one Marine thought it would be a good time to take pictures for his own keeping. “I know I had one Marine who was taking pictures just to take pictures and I told him to delete all those pictures,” testified a first lieutenant identified as M. D. Frank.

The documents uncovered by The Times — which include handwritten notes from soldiers, waivers by Marines of their right against self-incrimination, diagrams of where dead women and children were found, and pictures of the site where the Marine was killed by a roadside bomb on the day of the massacre — remain classified. In a meeting with journalists in October, before the military had been told about the discovery of the documents, the American commander in charge of the logistics of the withdrawal said that files from the bases were either transferred to other parts of the military or incinerated.

“We don’t put official paperwork in the trash,” said the commander, Maj. Gen. Thomas Richardson, at the meeting at the American Embassy in Baghdad. The documents were piled in military trailers and hauled to the junkyard by an Iraqi contractor who was trying to sell off the surplus from American bases, the junkyard attendant said. The attendant said he had no idea what any of the documents were about, only that they were important to the Americans.

He said that over the course of several weeks he had burned dozens and dozens of binders, turning more untold stories about the war into ash. “What can we do with them?” the attendant said. “These things are worthless to us, but we understand they are important and it is better to burn them to protect the Americans. If they are leaving, it must mean their work here is done.”

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/15/world/middleeast/united-states-marines-haditha-interviews-found-in-iraq-junkyard.html

U.S. Soldiers Confined to Base Over Missing Equipment


About 100 U.S. soldiers have been confined to their barracks at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington, as Army officials investigate the apparent theft of sensitive military equipment, base spokesmen said on Sunday. The infantry unit was placed on "lockdown" on Wednesday after the weapons accessories were reported missing from a supply area, said Major Chris Ophardt, a spokesman for the U.S. Army's I Corps at the base.

The missing equipment included laser-targeting gun sights, night-vision goggles, and weapons scopes with a "high-dollar value" in the "six-figure range," said Lieutenant Colonel Gary Dangerfield, another base spokesman. He said the items in question were deemed "sensitive" but were not considered dangerous by themselves. The Army did not say how many individual pieces of equipment were missing, but Ophardt said missing gear was "definitely stolen." He added that no actual weapons were missing, and there was no danger to the public.

Lewis-McChord, located about 9 miles south of Tacoma, also is the home base of a group of soldiers convicted of assaulting and murdering unarmed Afghan civilians while on patrol as part of a combat unit formerly known as the 5th Stryker Brigade. A staff sergeant from that unit was found guilty by court-martial on most of the charges against him in November, becoming the 11th soldier convicted in connection with the widest-ranging prosecution of U.S. military atrocities and other misconduct during 10 years of war in Afghanistan.

A 12th soldier, one of five originally charged with murder, still faces a court-martial. A lockdown means the soldiers are confined to barracks and office areas of the unit, so the troops are not permitted to go home if they have families residing outside the barracks, the Army said. On Saturday, the restrictions were loosened to allow soldiers' families to visit them in confinement, Ophardt said. A criminal investigation has been launched, and a $10,000 reward offered. Members of the unit under investigation have been home from Iraq since September 2010.

(Additional reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Peter Bohan)

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/u-soldiers-confined-over-missing-equipment-031617284.html

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Survey: 1 in 4 women attacked by intimate partner


It's a startling number: 1 in 4 women surveyed by the government say they were violently attacked by their husbands or boyfriends. Experts in domestic violence don't find it too surprising, although some aspects of the survey may have led to higher numbers than are sometimes reported. Even so, a government official who oversaw the research called the results "astounding." "It's the first time we've had this kind of estimate" on the prevalence of intimate partner violence, said Linda Degutis of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The survey, released by the CDC Wednesday, marks the beginning of a new annual project to look at how many women say they've been abused. One expert called the new report's estimate on rape and attempted rape "extremely high" — with 1 in 5 women saying they were victims. About half of those cases involved intimate partners. No documentation was sought to verify the women's claims, which were made anonymously. But advocates say the new rape numbers are plausible.

"It's a major problem that often is underestimated and overlooked," said Linda James, director of health for Futures Without Violence, a San Francisco-based organization that advocates against domestic abuse. The CDC report is based on a randomized telephone survey of about 9,000 women and 7,400 men.

Among the findings:

— As many as 29 million women say they have suffered severe and frightening physical violence from a boyfriend, spouse or other intimate partner. That includes being choked, beaten, stabbed, shot, punched, slammed against something or hurt by hair-pulling.
— That number grows to 36 million if slapping, pushing and shoving are counted.
— Almost half of the women who reported rape or attempted rape said it happened when they were 17 or younger.
—As many as 1 in 3 women have experienced rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetimes, compared to about 1 in 10 men.
—Both men and women who had been menaced or attacked in these ways reported more health problems. Female victims, in particular, had significantly higher rates of irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, frequent headaches and difficulty sleeping.
—Certain states seemed to have higher reports of sexual violence than others. Alaska, Oregon and Nevada were among the highest in rapes and attempted rapes of women, and Virginia and Tennessee were among the lowest.

Several of the CDC numbers are higher than those of other sources. For example, the CDC study suggests that 1.3 million women have suffered rape, attempted rape or had sex forced on them in the previous year. That statistic is more than seven times greater than what was reported by a Department of Justice household survey conducted last year. The CDC rape numbers seem "extremely high," but there may be several reasons for the differences, including how the surveys were done, who chose to participate and how "rape" and other types of assault were defined or interpreted, said Shannan Catalano, a statistician with the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

"It is an evolving field, and everyone is striving to get a handle on what's the best estimate," Catalano said. The CDC's numbers don't seem surprising to people who work with abused women. "I think that the awareness is growing," said Kim Frndak, community educator for the Women's Rescue Center to End Domestic Violence, which operates a shelter on the outskirts of Atlanta. "More and more people are really saying, 'Oh, this is something that we need to pay attention to as well,' because it's your sister, it's your mother, it's your daughter, it's your son, it's your brother. Someone in your own circle is being affected by domestic violence, and the effects can be devastating," she said.

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/survey-1-4-women-attacked-intimate-partner-225334654.html

1 comment:

  1. Τι περιμενετε από τον πιό αμόρφωτο και χωρίς κανέναν πολιτισμό, λαό του κόσμου. Δεν είναι έθνος αλλά συνοθύλευμα εθνών και φυλών. Επόμενο είναι να κυριαρχεί το απόλυτο κακό,ως πιστό αντίγραφο της παγκόσμιας σατανικής κυριαρχίας του αντίχριστου.


Dear reader,

Arevordi will be taking a sabbatical to tend to personal matters. New blog commentaries will henceforth be posted on an irregular basis. Please note that the comments board however will continue to be moderated on a regular basis.

The last 20 years has helped me see the Russian nation as the last front on earth against the scourges of Westernization, Americanization, Globalism, Zionism, Islamic extremism and pan-Turkism. I have also come to see Russia as the last hope humanity has for the preservation of classical western/European civilization, Apostolic Christianity and the traditional nation-state. These sobering realizations compelled me to create this blog in 2010. Immediately, this blog became one of the very few voices in the vastness of Cyberia that dared to preach about the dangers of Globalism and the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance, and perhaps the only voice preaching about the strategic importance of Armenia's close ties to the Russian nation. From about 2010 to 2015, I did monthly, at times weekly, commentaries about Russian-Armenian relations and Eurasian geopolitics in general. It was very difficult for me as I had no assistance in this endeavor. The time I put into this blog therefore came at the expense of work and family. But a powerful feeling, dare I say voice, inside me urged me to keep going; and I did.

When Armenia finally joined the EEU and fully integrated its armed forces into Russia's military structures a couple of years ago, I finally felt a deep sense of satisfaction and relief, as if a very heavy burden was lifted off my shoulders. I finally felt that my personal mission was accomplished. I therefore felt I could take a step back, as I really needed the rest. Simply put: I have lived to see the institutionalization of Russian-Armenian alliance. Also, I feel more confident now that generally speaking Armenians are collectively recognizing the vital/strategic importance of Armenia's ties with the Russian nation. Today, no man, no political party is capable of driving a wedge between Armenia and Russia. That danger has passed. Anglo-American-Jewish agenda in Armenia failed. As a result, I feel a strong sense of mission accomplished. I feel satisfied knowing that, at least on a subatomic level, I had a hand in the outcome. I therefore no longer have the urge to continue as in the past. In other words, the motivational force that had propelled me in previous years has been gradually dissipating because I feel that this blog has lived to see the realization of its stated goal.

Going forward, I do not want to write merely for the sake of writing. Also, I do not want to say anything if I have nothing important to say. I feel like I have said everything I needed to say. Henceforth, I will post seasonal commentaries about topics I find important.

To limit clutter in the comments section, I kindly ask all participants of this blog to please keep comments coherent and strictly relevant to the featured topic of discussion. Moreover, please realize that when there are several "anonymous" visitors posting comments simultaneously, it becomes very confusing (not to mention extremely annoying) trying to figure out who is who and who said what. Therefore, if you are here to engage in conversation, make an observation, express an idea or simply insult/attack me, I ask you to at least use a moniker to identify yourself. Moreover, please appreciate the fact that I have put an enormous amount of information into this blog. In my opinion, most of my blog commentaries and articles, some going back ten-plus years, are in varying degrees relevant to this day and will remain so for a long time to come. Articles in this blog can therefore be revisited by longtime readers and new comers alike. I therefore ask the reader to treat this blog as a historical record and a depository of important information relating to Eurasian geopolitics, Russian-Armenian relations and humanity's historic fight against the evils of Globalism and Westernization.

Thank you as always for reading.