Memorial Day Makes a Vet Wonder: What Ever Happened to ‘the Buck Stops Here’?
As we celebrate Memorial Day and the opening of the W.W.II Memorial, I am distressed at the lack of character of our recent presidents who fail to take responsibility for their actions. We all know the sad tale of Bill Clinton and his infamous, I did not have sex with that woman statement. Now we have a president who neither takes responsibility himself, nor holds anyone in his administration responsible, for the bad decisions they make. I am particularly outraged that George W. Bush, supposedly the Commander and Chief, would fail to take responsibility for the torture of Iraqi prisoners and try to pass the blame on to our soldiers who had the courage to serve in Iraq.
Army Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba completed his investigation into the prison abuses in both Afghanistan and Iraq in early March, yet neither Bush nor Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld took any action until the photos of the abuses became public. We now know that orders to use harsh interrogation methods originated in the Pentagon and were approved by the White House. We also know that a handful of untrained and undermanned soldiers were assigned to guard 7,000 dangerous Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison, and performed these gross acts of abuse and torture under the loose guidance of military and civilian intelligence officials.
To now watch the spectacle of Bush and Rumsfeld sanctimoniously blaming our heroic soldiers serving in Iraq while attempting to avoid personal responsibility is very disturbing. As we celebrate Memorial Day this weekend it is a good time to look back at President Harry S. Trumans display of leadership when he said, The buck stops here. Today America needs that kind of courageous leadership to solve the problems in Iraq and get our troops home.
In your article “Opening Pandora’s Box in Iraq? Behind America’s Dubious Private Alliances” Christopher Deliso describes private security contractors in Iraq as “mercenaries” with questionable backgrounds and murky motives. In the context of this story, you used my husband’s name Andy Bradsell who was killed while protecting an American client. Your readers need to know that he was not the kind of contractor typified in your story and, in fact, was quite the opposite. He was no “Rambo wannabe” and in no way connected to the lowering of hiring standards for private contractors as was suggested in your article.
Andy was highly trained in close protection and did not direct any of his military training (he was a British Royal Marine Commando until 10 years ago) toward mercenary-type work, but rather toward security. He provided protection for at-risk individuals, was the owner and chief instructor at the International Academy for Close Protection and trained police forces in Canada.
Andy was not in Iraq for any offensive action and there was no secret as to the Olive Security contract he was working on. Olive Security is a UK based company that, for the record, treated our family very well after Andy was killed and was completely open and transparent about the events that led to his death. All the information we received was shared with the media and there was no “veil of secrecy” as far as this family is concerned.
Your readers should know that Andy was opposed to the US invasion of Iraq and was there solely as a close security specialist. He died when, during an ambush, he literally put himself between the insurgent’s gunfire and his client. This selfless act had nothing to do with politics. It was the pure expression of a man committed to protecting the lives of others. The vast majority of people, including well-meaning peace activists, could never follow through on such an act. For this heroic moment, he should be honored and not portrayed as a shadowy mercenary.
I am not necessarily in disagreement with the underlying themes of your article, but am appalled by your use of Andy’s name in such a context. It would lead one to believe that he was the very type of gung-ho yahoo whom he so disdained. War came to our home in a way few North Americans experience and it served only to deepen our desire for peace. But it also allowed us a greater understanding of the “elite brotherhood” of the best and brightest soldiers. Should they all live and die the way Andy did, there would be no cause for war.
Christopher Deliso replies:
As the author of the article in question, I am very sorry if you were offended, but please understand that I had no intent to slight your husband in any way, or associate him with “war criminals” or any immoral doings whatsoever. I believe it is clear from the fact that I do not qualify his case with any negative insinuations whatsoever that there was no attempt on my part to portray him in a negative light.
I and I’m sure our readers appreciate very much your addition to the public record, regarding your husband’s skills, bravery and moral character. In the article I could not describe these fully, partially because I was not completely aware of them, but also because the article was already far in excess of the usual length and I simply did not have the capacity to include extra descriptive details. In fact, I had to make substantial reductions in word length at every juncture of the text. I simply mentioned your husband’s case at all because I had asked Mr. Taylor to give me any specific examples of contractor deaths he had firsthand knowledge of his from his trips to Iraq. Since your husband’s was the only one he knew of, this is why I mentioned it, I thought, in a completely neutral light.
In any case, please accept my apologies for any insensitivities perceived. I understand your concerns that the general public might have a negative opinion of your husband from reading my article, and for the record would like to say that he seems, from your testimony, to have been the exact opposite of the type of contractors about which the piece was partially about.
Regarding Charley Reese’s comments, it may be difficult to know whether Bush is lying or confused, but he is certainly confusing. Compare, for example, this bit of fuzzy grammar from the Yale graduate: “We need a transfer of full sovereignty to an Iraqi government, an Iraqi government which will be provided at request from this new Iraqi government.” I defy anyone to parse that second phrase. Is the government going to request itself? Or is it going to “request” yet another government, one which we have been told is to be the result of an election and not of a request?
It is a question of semantics, of course, as well. What is meant by “sovereignty”? Many would interpret this as supreme power and jurisdiction over one’s own affairs. If this is its meaning, then it is not susceptible of degrees: either you have it or you don’t. In that respect it is like pregnancy: you can’t be a little bit pregnant.
The whole thing reminds me of a dispute I once had with my father, who was helping me to install some new paneling for my shower stall. He wanted to depart from the instructions, while I (always a stickler for obeying orders) insisted we should stick to the rules. This soon developed into a heated argument and eventually a shouting match, which ended only when Dad finally said in exasperation, “Okay, we’ll do it your way.” We proceeded back to the bathroom where he proceeded to do it his way. “I thought we were going to do it my way?” I complained. “Oh,” said Dad, “I only said that so you’d calm down.”
Full sovereignty? Bush only said that so we’d calm down.
Justin Raimondo should undoubtedly share the Pulitzer Prize with Seymour Hersh on his continuing investigation of the Chalabi Affair or Chalabi Gate. I would only suggest that he broaden that topic to include all of the wrongdoings of Richard Perle who perhaps has perpetrated greater malfeasance and infamy on US foreign policy than Ken Lay of Enron fame did on corporate America. And continues to do so with his continuing White House access/ carte blanche. Congratulations Mr. Raimondo I thank God for your very existence and freedom of the press.
Excellent job of connecting the dots on the spies in the Pentagon. From the back story found in this report, “Neo-Cons, Israel and the Bush Administration.” The activities of Dr. Stephen Bryen associate of Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz should be scrutinized for espionage as well.
All I can say is thank God for George Tenet. What the CIA and the other anti-neocons in the Bush administration are trying to do is flush the neocon crazies and spies from the government. This is the larger purpose of Chalabi-gate, Plame-gate, torture-gate (see also this report), and this report by Carl Cameron and this report Christopher Ketcham. As you note at the end of your article, there seems to be some sort of neocon counterattack underway. The antiwar movement should pull out all stops to support the CIA’s efforts to flush the neocons.
Also, this Salon article by John Dizard reports that Paul Wolfowitz is being looked at as a possible replacement for George Tenet at the CIA. Say what you want about Tenet, the man is sane and patriotic. I am not so sure the same can be said of Mr. Wolfowitz. It would be a very, very bad development for the US and the world if Wolfowitz was allowed to neoconize the CIA like he done to the Pentagon.
Mortal enemies like Israel and Iran teaming up to carve up another state? Well it has happened before. The infamous Corporal of W.W.I and dear old uncle Joe did just that with Poland and the Baltic states while secretly planning to finish each other off later.
It remains to be seen whether Israel or Iran is the long run big winner over Iraq’s soon to be carved-up carcass. However America was always the preselected loser when Congress foolishly preauthorized the President to start a needless and easily avoided preemptive war.
Foreign intrigue is just not America’s long suit which explains why our elected leaders seem totally oblivious of and susceptible to manipulation by foreign agents and their useful American fools or traitors. Add to the manipulation the always reliable effect of appealing to our narcissistic preoccupation with American Exceptionalism and bingo! We not only do we proudly do things counter productive to our own national interests but we feel good about it in the process at least until reality finally becomes unavoidable.
Nice article on Doc Martin. I have known him for 40 years and he lived in my house for the last 20 years My son and I looked after him after he was bedridden. Doc would be very happy about the article you did.
I want to thank you for the article on Cyprus problem and the Annan plan. I am a Greek Cypriot but I currently live in the USA and I must say that Americans tried to show to the world that Cypriots don’t want unification with the Turkish Cypriots because we rejected the plan.
My mother is a refugee but I have nothing against Turkish Cypriots and I believe no one does. Before 1974 we all used to live together in peace as with the other minorities such as Armenians.
It hurts to know that the Turkish Cypriots that did suffer as much as we did don’t get to be with us when we enter the EU, but we rejected the plan not because we don’t want a solution to this problem but because the plan did not favor us nor the Turkish Cypriots.
What the @#$@? You’re comparing the spirit that drives Bush’s administration to Nazi-Germany! You keep talking about all these spirits and mysterious sounding forces. And no, you can’t tell me that you know for a fact that Bush is trying to infuse the Jacobin spirit into Americans. Does he even know who the Jacobins are? No, it’s much simpler than that. Bush is a moron. He’s led by an administration that’s power hungry and that has been fueled by the lies of Ahmed Chalabi.
Americans aren’t buying into the idea that Iraqis must succumb to American values. Americans have NO idea what to think about this controversial war. Our troops feel proud that they’ve brought freedom to Iraq. And no, it is no surprise that some of our soldiers have been caught abusing Iraqi prisoners (especially since they’ve been doing all the picture taking). What’s putting us into a police state is FEAR. And to a certain extent it may even be justifiable. But you are now using the same tactics to convey your point.
We are not claiming ourselves to be the master race like the Nazis. That was a very lose connection that you made with the Bush administration and the Nazis. Considering that we’ve disdained our soldiers who have been involved with abusing Iraqi prisoners, I don’t see us having Iraqi concentration camps anytime in the near future (at least those that are government led). It’s always easy to use the Nazis as an example to convey your point, isn’t it? Maybe that has to do with the fact that everyone ALWAYS uses the Nazis to make their point. Nazis this, Nazis that. Nazis blah blah blah.
Paul Craig Roberts replies:
I cannot tell what Stephen Hoskins’ point is, other than he cannot read very well and is uninformed about the Jacobin spirit of the neocons in charge of Bush administration policy. On the latter, Hoskins would benefit from reading Claes Ryn’s new book, America the Virtuous. The Nazis claimed dominance over others based on their claim to be the master race. The neocons claim America’s right to dominance on what they assert is America’s superior virtue. The claim to dominance is the same, although the basis for the claim differs. It can’t be put any clearer than I wrote it.
Up until about four weeks ago, the words Abu Ghraib weren’t a regular part of my vocabulary. Then, of course, came the horrendous photos of the US abuse of the Iraqi prisoners there. Suddenly, I was reading, hearing, and speaking the words Abu Ghraib many times a day.
As evidenced by his “speech to the nation” on May 24, 2004, how can it be that President Bush doesn’t know how to pronounce Abu Ghraib? Bush referred to the prison by name three times, pronouncing it nearly correctly only once and very seriously mangling it the other two times.
Haven’t the words Abu Ghraib been spoken, over and over, in the Oval Office all these weeks? Hasn’t Bush been reading reports or documents or something anything! containing these two words? Hasn’t he been hearing these two words repeatedly, like the rest of us? Hasn’t he himself spoken them in conversation regularly?
Given the serious stumble over these two words on Monday, one can only presume the answer is “no,” and be absolutely flabbergasted at what could possibly be going on there at 1500 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Senator Hollings’ comments about Israel’s security being the casus belli for the war, and Justin Raimondo’s defense of them, prove how the outright hatred of Israel can blur the logic of even supposedly intelligent people.
The basis for Senator Hollings’ whole argument is that Mossad knew that Iraq had no WMDs, so this was just a ruse to get us into the war. And, since every other intelligence agency in the world believed that Iraq did have the WMDs, the Mossad was alone in this knowledge. And what evidence does Hollings present to support his case? Why they “HAD” to know! They just HAD to know. Don’t those sly, shrewd, conniving bastards know (and control) everything? They KNEW and THEY KEPT IT TO THEMSELVES!
But wait a minute. The whole point of Senator Hollings’s argument was that BUSH knew! Those sly, shrewd, conniving bastards didn’t trick Bush into thinking there were WMDs, they ACTUALLY TOLD HIM ABOUT IT, and he went to war anyway JUST TO GET THE JEWISH VOTE. (Or according to Mr. Raimondo, the evangelical vote.) But wait just another minute. All polls that I saw showed that Jews were split on the war to the same degree as the rest of the country. And whom did Mr. Raimondo think most evangelical Christians were going to vote for if there was no war Ralph Nader?
Perhaps Mr. Raimondo is correct, the ADL does overreact to some things. But the insinuations and implications in Mr. Hollings article (and Mr. Raimondo’s) are so transparent that Mr. Foxman would be doing a major disservice to his organization if he kept silent about them.
Justin Raimondo replies:
Okay, so there were no WMD, no links to Al Qaeda, and none of the ostensible reasons for Bush’s war turned out to be true. Now we’re attacking Israel’s enemies one by one, first Iraq, and then Syria and I wonder who’s next. Lebanon? Wake up and smell the coffee, and don’t think for a minute that the President can count on the evangelical vote: they don’t have to vote for Nader. They could just stay home. As for whether the Mossad knew about the complete lack of WMD whatever the truth of it, certain high officials in the administration certainly knew it, and they were pushing for an invasion anyway. These are the same gang that wrote a policy paper for then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for the Realm,” in which an invasion of Iraq was posited as the one way to get to Syria. The road to Damascus, they told Netanyahu, runs through Baghdad. And so it does….
Its like a double tax. First we pay $2.00 a gallon for gas, then Bush wants another $25,000,000,000 for Iraq. Pay me now and pay me later. I, for one, have had enough!
The cost of the war in Iraq just keeps going up and up, this time in a $25 billion chunk, with another $50 to $100 billion needed for 2005. Thats about $400 dollars more from every man, woman, and child in America. In my family of five, thats 2000 bucks out of my wallet and over to Iraq. Thats one big tax increase.
Gasoline also keeps going up and up, and now costs over $2.00 a gallon. Theres talk it may reach $3.00 next year. Making and selling gas costs the same, so the billions in windfall profits are split between the oil producing countries like Iraq and the oil millionaires. It seems at these prices Iraq would have a bucketful of oil money to pay for its own rebuilding. Thats what Bush said would happen before the war, so let the oil dollars pay now. I, for one, cannot afford this double tax increase.
The family of Nick berg can speak for themselves, they do not need reporters to speak for them. Moreover, reporters want to sell news so they ride on any occasion they have. Instead of looking for reasons and stories, they should report on Nick’s killers. You probably know someone that knows someone, etc., who knows the killers, so expose them instead looking for a political score.
Anthony Gregory replies:
I wasn’t trying to speak for Nick Berg’s mourning family. I invoked quotes by Nick’s father and brother, but I hardly put words in their mouths. I always speak for myself.
The media certainly do want to “sell news,” but I don’t think they’ve focused too much on Berg’s family. It seems that Berg’s father and brother wanted to be quoted.
A “political score”? I don’t even know exactly what that means. As far as my allegedly knowing someone who knows someone who knows the killers, I don’t know how to respond. Would Kevin Bacon be somewhere in the mix?
Recent Job Advertisement from the Virginia Employment Commission, USA
While looking for employment opportunities in a northern Virginia job bank, I came across an interesting highly compensated position with paid travel and benefits.
According to the Virginia Employment Commission, an unnamed contractor is looking for DEBRIEFERS. Based on the listed requirements, two years of college and a certificate from the Department of Defense’s Strategic Debriefing Course gets you $77,000 per year, a first class ticket to Iraq and chance to unleash some aggression on suspected terrorists (i.e. INNOCENT CIVILIANS). It should be noted that the advertisement does not require an applicant to have foreign language training in Arabic, Kurdish, Turkomen or Farsi, or, for that matter, English. I guess all you really need is a big long dog leash and a BAD ASS ATTITUDE.
Who said the George Bush’s economy is not looking up? With one billion Muslims, the US government has a lot of DEBRIEFING to do!
U.S. CITIZENS, DEBRIEFING OPERATIONS IN BAGDAD, IRAQ. HUM INT OPERATIONS ON A 6-12 MONTH CONTRACT/ TOUR. HIGHLY COMPENSATED, PAID TRAVEL & BENEFITS. SUBJECT TO SECURITY CLEARANCE/ BACKGROUND CHECK PRIOR TO BEING HIRED. GRADUATES OF DEPT OF DEFENSE STRATEGIC DEBRIEFER’S COURSE, CLEAN POLICE RECORDS. FAX OR EMAIL RESUME.
By the way, if we are going to OWN a foreign country, we should at least learn how to spell the name of the capital city OPERATIONS IN BAGDAD, IRAQ It’s Baghdad!
Israel and Germany
Perhaps someone can explain it to me. The Germans slaughtered the Jews in World War II. The Allies defeated the Germans. Why didn’t the Allies give the Jews part of Germany as their homeland? I am all for the Jews having an independent homeland. I just think that it should have been part of Germany. At the very least the Jews should have been given the option of taking a piece of Germany. Was this done? Did the Jews refuse and opt for Palestine instead? Why does no one even discuss this?
Mr. Solomon is confusing “left” with “liberal.” NPR liberals aren’t the left wing of anything, except of the corporate center. I have no doubt that the journalists at NPR, like mainstream journalists elsewhere, are “liberal” in the sense that they favor gun control and “a woman’s right to choose.” But they are not at all left-wing in the traditional sense of presenting a principled critique of the existing system of power. They, and their “conservative” counterparts a half-inch to the right of center, ARE the system of power. They agree on eighty percent of issues affecting the structure of the corporate state and its foreign policy.
Libertarians, populists, and decentralists, of both left and right (in other words, what the media professionals who create consensus reality call “extremists”) have more in common with each other, than either has with the kinds of “liberals” and “conservatives” who appear on Crossfire.
~ Kevin Carson, Mutualist.org
Earlier today I suggested to the gentleman at WRH.com that he renew a link to the above article and if I may I would like to suggest the same for your readers. This diatribe from February 1901 is one of Mr. Twain’s finer productions from his “dark period,” in my opinion, and is worth another read.
Mr. Twain excoriates both British and American Imperialism as represented by the “Master of the Game” (McKinley) and “Pushful Joe” Chamberlain. Pushful Joe was our own Mr. Donald Rumsfeld, in frock-coat, monocle and carnation. Cecil Rhodes fulfilled the neocon-osp-Chalabi role in the run-up to the Boer War. Yes, we Brits did it first, but we did it for gold and diamonds, not that other stuff.
Now that the American branch of the “Blessings-of-Civilization Trust” has assumed gargantuan proportions it may be instructive to review Mr. Twain’s commentary on its humble beginnings.
As the elderly Mr. John D Rockefeller remarked (apropos Standard Oil) “we never dreamed of the later expansion.”
Kudos on another incisive expose of John Ashcroft. His “terror warnings” and grand standing are always conveniently timed to deflect some controversy. I wonder if you could write about not only this latest episode but the fact that just as the Valery Plame-CIA outing was to be investigated it was preempted by a couple of days by the announcement that there was an elaborate American Muslim conspiracy at Gitmo. The evidence produced against Yee, Halabi, and virtually all serving Muslim personnel there has proven to be fabricated and yet was sensationalized at the highest levels by this bigot and his minions. Please look into this and the central role Ashcroft played in orchestrating the witch hunt. A professor at the UC Berkeley has also noted the very suspicious timing.
President’s Speech on May 24
Is it just me or is anyone else completely outraged with the President’s choice of venues and billboard-ad backdrop for his globally televised speech? The US Army War College? Does this really send the kind of peace-oriented message that desperately needs to be sent to the world right now? More soapbox arrogance from the pied piper to his rat followers if you ask me. America please wake up.
Juan Cole seems usually to be very well informed, but apparently not about Lebanese politics. In his latest piece, A Shi’ite International?, he implies that Hizbullah have not quite transformed themselves into a parliamentary political party, while Amal have. In fact, Hizbullah hold the largest single block of seats in the Lebanese parliament and continue to gain ground against Amal, as in the recent municipal elections in the Bekka and the southern suburbs of Beirut. That should not be cause for alarm. Hizbullah’s domestic politics are inclusive, pluralistic, representativein short, democratic. This is clearly stated in their publications and on their satellite television station al-Manar.
We should all guard against the gut-level reaction against the name so carefully cultivated in us by propagandists. Hizbullah’s anti-American and anti-Zionist stance is not the absolute evil it is made out to be. The fact is, America and Israel have styled themselves as enemies of Lebanon. What else should the reaction of a band of Lebanese patriots be?
~ David Wilmsen, Ph.D. Arabic language and linguistics
Director, Arabic and Translation Studies
The American University in Cairo
Contributing Editor, Transnational Broadcasting Studies
It does make the Marines look bad. It makes America look multitudes worse. We should have declared a war, as they have, and fought a complete war. The ONLY thing that the people in that region respect is force. Period. We are wrong to be there NOW. We should have finished the job in the first Gulf War. Then the WMD, and everything else would not have had time to disappear and everything would have shown its true colors. Bring our guys home. Bring ALL American aid home, from EVERYONE. When Iraq wants something back, send them an ICBM. Their tune will change quickly.
The War Against Insurgency
I just want to bring something up. The usage of the word, in the context of the Iraqi fighting, insurgent(s) is, in my opinion, incorrect.
Insurgents, by definition, fight against civil authority. There is, at this time, no civil authority in Iraq. The fighters fight against military authority quite another matter, especially in the legal sense. Therefore this usage seems to be a rhetorical attempt to imply a lower and illegal status to Iraqis fighting against the occupation than they actually enjoy. In point of fact the fighters have legitimate legal status as a militia resistance.
Sam Koritz replies:
Mr. Dampier might be on to something. On Saturday (a few days after we received his email), Sec Def Rumsfeld, giving a speech at West Point, said, “…We are closer to the beginning of this struggle with global insurgency than to its end.”
Quite a few web sites all over the web refer to Bills S 89, and HR 163 and their being put before Congress in Spring of 2005 shortly after the elections.
Can you please comment on or substantiate this very serious issue?
Eric Garris replies:
We have run a number of stories about this.
The bills are currently in the “hopper,” but analysts believe that they won’t get anywhere this year. The theory that they will be reintroduced seriously next year is probably correct, but it is only speculation. There is no way to actually schedule bills to come up next year.
So far, the main supporters of these bills are liberals (like Charles Rangel) who are not really for the draft, they are just trying to make a point. However, it seems clear that the Pentagon will be unable to continue their current foreign adventurism without a draft. Even Kerry has now called for major increases in the US military.
“Reports have emerged that Iraqi women held at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison were raped by both US and Iraqi jailers, according to human rights groups, following the reports of abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US troops there.
“However coalition spokesman Brigadier-General Mark Kimmitt said the prisons department is unaware of any such reports at Abu Ghraib, and the reports have not been confirmed.”
I‘m just wondering, what are they showing on this page: http://aztlan.net/iraqi_women_raped.htm? Maybe I’m seeing something they’re not?
Eric Garris replies:
The photos on Aztlan.net are screen captures from a porno movie called “Baghdad Babes” which is sold on the website, sexinwar.com.
The people at Aztlan.net have been informed many times about the origin of these photos. They have continued to present them as authentic, and you can guess their motivations. They are either so greedy for the hits that they don’t care about the truth, or they are a deliberate disinformation operation.