Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Kerry and the Anti-war movement

This was a comment on the previous post, but I believe it deserves it's own post.

Kerry and the anti-war movement:

Many people are angry about Kerry's anti-war activities. There is intense anger among Vietnam veterans over the shabby treatment that they recieved upon returning home from combat. Bush and Swiftvets are trying to focus that anger upon Kerry. And they appear to be winning. And it is wrong.

Check this out from an interview with Gen. Tommy Franks, Bush supporter, long-time Laura Bush friend, former Centcom Commander, and Vietnam vet, when he was given "bait" to slam Kerry on the Hannity propaganda hour:

HANNITY (8/3/04): I want to play a tape of John Kerry, and I want to get your reaction to this tape.

KERRY (videotape, Dick Cavett Show, 1971): I personally didn't see personal atrocities in the sense that I saw somebody cut a head off or something like that. However, I did take part in free fire zones. I did take part in harassment interdiction fire. I did take part in search and destroy missions in which the houses of noncombatants were burned to the ground.And all of these, I find out later on—these acts are contrary to The Hague and Geneva conventions and to the laws of warfare. So, in that sense, anybody who took part in those, if you carry out the application of the Nuremberg principles, is in fact guilty.

HANNITY: What does that mean to you?

(Hannity waited for the normal party line answer that Kerry betrayed his fellow veterans. But Franks is too Army for that, so he gave an honest and informed answer)

FRANKS (continuing directly): I think we had a lot of problems in Vietnam. One was the lack of leadership of young people like in—in John Kerry's position. He was a young officer over there, and I'm not sure that, that activities like that didn't take place. In fact, quite the contrary. I'm sure that they did.

(Hannity gave him another chance to toe the party line, though)

HANNITY: I want to play you another tape of his, where he talks about what other soldiers did when he was there.

FRANKS: Right.

HANNITY: And then, I'll get your reaction to this. Roll this tape.

KERRY (videotape, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 1971): I relived the absolute horror of what this country, in a sense, made them do. They told the stories of times that they had personally raped, cut off the ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in the fashion of Genghis Khan.

HANNITY: I mean, raped, murdered, all these things. But he never told names. Does that anger you? I mean, this is the guy now that is the leading candidate for the Democrats.

(Notice the "never told names" line. The names of these soldiers were public record; Kerry didn’t have to list them and was never asked to do so. Hannity is trying misdirection tactics. But at any rate, Franks again passed on the bait. Hannity wanted the general to hammer Kerry. But once again, Franks told the truth)

FRANKS (continuing directly): I don't know. I think Vietnam was—I think Vietnam was a bad time. I think that what I've learned in my life, Sean, is that it's a heck of a lot easier to protest than it is to step up and take responsibility for the actions of a unit or for—or for your own actions. And so, I don't—I don't like what I saw. But at the same time, I wouldn't say that- (pause) The things that Senator Kerry said are undeniable about activities in Vietnam. I think that things didn't go right in, in Vietnam.


Read that again. “The things that Senator Kerry said are undeniable about activities in Vietnam.”

Sadly, everyone knows that such events did occur. And Kerry stood up and took responsibility for his actions, and demanded responsibility from our nation's leaders. He didn't betray veterans or support the North Vietnamese enemy or cast all veterans as war criminals. He tried to save 14,000 American lives because he realized that our government was lying to us.

Our government betrayed the veterans, and Kerry was out to correct that (notice how the right never speaks of Kerry's demands for better VA hospitals and chastised the administration for not taking care of the returning warriors, saying that they were "forgotten.")

How often have you heard that Kerry "slandered" veterans or that he was responsible for veterans being called "baby-killers" and spit upon, etc? ARtbyruth made a comment about a soldier that had feces flung on him when he returned home, and she thinks that Kerry was to blame for his anti-war activity. How many times have you heard "Hanoi Jane" in the same sentence with "Kerry," implying that Kerry committed or approved of the treason of Jane Fonda? Or false claims of POWs who were weakened by his testimony, or that the North Vietnamese were strengthened by it?

It isn't true. The man stood up and spoke truth to power, and he was right then and he is right now. Truth doesn't help our enemies. A govt that lies to the people does, though. It weakens us in the face of the enemy. There is NEVER a patriotic reason to go along with a lie.

But it is very, very easy to take his words out of context, present partial quotes, and twist them into a commie flag-burner working against America. And it is gutter politics to take the righteous anger of so many Vietnam warriors and direct it against the man who stood up for them and tried to save American lives. You might not agree with his politics or with his stance on the Vietnam war, but he didn't lie and he didn't betray his fellow warriors by speaking out and speaking truth. To say otherwise is to support the lies the govt told to the People during that war. To support the govt that betrayed our soldiers and sent more young kids to die in a war our leaders KNEW would end just as it did, merely for political reasons. To save face. After his 1971 testimony calling for an immediate pullout over 14,000 more US soldiers died. And we pulled out. And South Vietnam fell. And the dominoes, the entire justification for the war, did not fall.

In 1971, Kerry spoke to a Senate committee, made up of Dems and Reps alike. No one questioned the things he said, because everyone knew that his statements were accurate. Now 35 years later the insinuations begin in order to support a man who took no stand at all and made sure he was out of the line of fire.

Don't buy it.

(I shamelessly stole some of this from www.dailyhowler.com. Thanks Jamie for pointing me there.)

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Attacking Back

After four weeks of gutter politics in the form of the group Swiftvets Lying For Bush, I guess we have to counter. I don't like it, I don't think we are addressing the real issues, but it appears capable of deciding the election. I hate that because if the issues were openly and honestly discussed then I feel my candidate would win easily. It seems that the right doesn't need to be proven truthful, they seek merely to muddy the water of issues favorable to Kerry (like his heroism) and distract from issues unfavorable to Bush (like almost everything else).

So on to gutter politics. The right will claim that the left was already doing that in the form of Moveon.org, but that just shows they don't see the difference between negative, hard-hitting, "mean" ads and outright lies. Much like they can't distinguish Saddam from Osama. There are similarities so they must be the same. With us or against us. Good or evil. Republican or evil. Think like us or evil.

I don't know if this story is true or not, but the Swiftvets KNOW they are lying and they go ahead. So here is an unsubstantiated allegation which may prove true, unlike the Swiftvet's proven lies:

Ben Barnes, the former Texas Speaker of the House, personally asked the top official of the Texas Air National Guard to help George W. Bush obtain a pilot's slot in a Guard fighter squadron during the war in Vietnam. This has been denied by the Bush family for years.

Well, here is a link to a video in which Barnes says

"I got a young man named George W. Bush in the National Guard when I was Lt. Gov. of Texas and I’m not necessarily proud of that. But I did it. And I got a lot of other people into the National Guard because I thought that was what people should do, when you're in office you helped a lot of rich people. And I walked through the Vietnam Memorial the other day and I looked at the names of the people that died in Vietnam and I became more ashamed of myself than I have ever been because it was the worst thing that I did was that I helped a lot of wealthy supporters and a lot of people who had family names of importance get into the National Guard and I’m very sorry about that and I’m very ashamed and I apologize to you as voters of Texas."

Jim Moore, a reporter critical of the President, wrote in an article in Salon in July:

"During the 1994 Texas gubernatorial race between Ann Richards and George W. Bush, I was a panelist on the only televised debate between the two candidates.

The question I chose to ask Bush first was about the National Guard.

I had lost friends in Vietnam, and many of them had tried to get into the Guard. We were all told that there was a waiting list of up to five years. The Guard was the best method for getting out of combat in Vietnam. You needed connections. George W. Bush had them.

"Mr. Bush," I said. "How did you get into the Guard so easily? One hundred thousand guys our age were on the waiting list, and you say you walked in and signed up to become a pilot. Did your congressman father exercise any influence on your behalf?"

"Not that I know of, Jim," the future president told me. "I certainly didn't ask for any. And I'm sure my father didn't either. They just had an opening for a pilot and I was there at the right time."

A waiting list of 5 years, with 100,000 names, Bush scores the minimum on his aptitude test, had no prior service or ROTC, and they "just had an opening" days after Bush first decided to go into the Guard. Because, as he says, he "wanted to be a pilot," not to dodge the draft.

So maybe Kerry was just "near" Cambodia getting shot at on Xmas, instead of actually in Cambodia. He sure was a lot closer to the enemy than Bush, wasn't he? Oh, but he might have exaggerated - even lied - to make a political point about our involvement in Cambodia. That shows Kerry is unfit for office.

WMDs anyone? Oh no you say, EVERYBODY thought there were WMDs.

Please see my previous post about Mr. Scott Ritter.

And did Bush lie? Or was he "knowingly ignorant" about how he jumped 5 years and 100,000 names ahead on the list? Or was he just absolutely so stupid that he didn't know? None of them seem to make him look good, do they?

Saturday, August 28, 2004


Remember Scott Ritter? The UN Weapons Inspector and former US Marine, no friend of Saddam, who said invading Iraq would be a huge mistake?

Remember how he was discredited?

Sex scandal allegations. Allegations that he was a lousy Marine officer and was kicked out of service. Ritter was characterized as "misguided," "disloyal" and "an apologist for and a defender of Saddam Hussein." Accused of being an ally of the Iraqi regime and a disloyal traitor.

Paula Zahn told viewers Ritter had "drunk Saddam Hussein's Kool-Aid."

On MSNBC, Curtis & Kuby co-host Curtis Sliwa compared him to "a sock puppet" who "oughta turn in his passport for an Iraqi one."

Kyra Phillips of CNN interrogated him, implying that he was being paid by Iraq —and all but calling him a quisling.

Right-wing extremists like World Net Daily made even wilder accusations of jewelry and gold paid to Ritter's family, accusations that circulated widely on the internet.

Statements he made were taken out of context and twisted and turned so that he appeared an enemy of the colors he served as a military officer.

Then came the allegations of him being a pedophile and a "sex fiend."

He was publicly destroyed.


Because he insisted that, if the Bush administration had evidence showing that Saddam is building nukes, then the American people have a right to see it before they sacrifice their lives.

He said "As an American citizen, I have an obligation to speak out when I feel my government is acting in a manner, which is inconsistent with the — with the principles of our founding fathers. It's the most patriotic thing I can do."

He wrote in 2002:

"Does Iraq truly threaten the existence of our nation? If one takes at face value the rhetoric emanating from the Bush administration, it would seem so. According to President Bush and his advisers, Iraq is known to possess weapons of mass destruction and is actively seeking to reconstitute the weapons production capabilities that had been eliminated by UN weapons inspectors from 1991 to 1998, while at the same time barring the resumption of such inspections.

I bear personal witness through seven years as a chief weapons inspector in Iraq for the United Nations to both the scope of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs and the effectiveness of the UN weapons inspectors in ultimately eliminating them.

While we were never able to provide 100 percent certainty regarding the disposition of Iraq's proscribed weaponry, we did ascertain a 90-95 percent level of verified disarmament. This figure takes into account the destruction or dismantling of every major factory associated with prohibited weapons manufacture, all significant items of production equipment, and the majority of the weapons and agent produced by Iraq.
With the exception of mustard agent, all chemical agent produced by Iraq prior to 1990 would have degraded within five years (the jury is still out regarding Iraq's VX nerve agent program - while inspectors have accounted for the laboratories, production equipment and most of the agent produced from 1990-91, major discrepancies in the Iraqi accounting preclude any final disposition at this time.)

The same holds true for biological agent, which would have been neutralized through natural processes within three years of manufacture. Effective monitoring inspections, fully implemented from 1994-1998 without any significant obstruction from Iraq, never once detected any evidence of retained proscribed activity or effort by Iraq to reconstitute that capability which had been eliminated through inspections.

In direct contrast to these findings, the Bush administration provides only speculation, failing to detail any factually based information to bolster its claims concerning Iraq's continued possession of or ongoing efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction. To date no one has held the Bush administration accountable for its unwillingness - or inability - to provide such evidence.

Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld notes that "the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.'' This only reinforces the fact that the case for war against Iraq fails to meet the litmus test for the defense of our national existence so eloquently phrased by President Lincoln.

War should never be undertaken lightly. Our nation's founders recognized this when they penned our Constitution, giving the authority to declare war to Congress and not to the president. Yet on the issue of war with Iraq, Congress remains disturbingly mute."

For that he was vilified, called a traitor and a coward, dragged through the mud and destroyed. He was public enemy number one.

Somebody owes Scott Ritter an apology. I think that man is George W. Bush.

But he owes all of America an apology.

No, it wasn't the CIA's "fault" that "everybody" thought Iraq and its WMDs were such a threat. Everybody didn't. I didn't either. If you think that "everybody" felt that Iraq was a threat then you are buying into the latest line you are being fed. Iraq was NOT a threat that justified invasion. The "Saddam is a bad man" and "we liberated them from oppression" is an attempt to justify a war for a different reason than was given. Saddam is a bad man. We did free the Iraqi people. But that is not and was not why we invaded Iraq.

Mr. Ritter asked that our nation hold the Bush adminstration accountable for presenting evidence before we launched a war under false pretenses. We did not. And Mr. Ritter has been shown to be 100% right.

We have an election coming up. Let's hold Bush accountable now for what we should have held him accountable for then. It wasn't the three-lettered CIA that is to blame. It was two letters less. W.

Thank you Mr. Ritter for trying. You are a patriot.

NOTE: I shamelessly plagiarized the text from "Paula Zahn" to the word "Quisling." I liked the phrasing, but it isn't my own. It was written by Antonia Zerbisias of the Toronto Star.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Dulce Et Decorum Est

War isn't glorious. Sure everybody knows that. They claim.

War is evil and ugly and at worst you see people you love in pain and dying, and at best you kill other human beings who were once cute little 3-year olds whose parents loved them too.

War is the infliction of suffering until one side says "enough." You can't take the suffering out of it for that is what war is - suffering. Sometimes, though, the alternative to not fighting is worse. That is usually rare, much less often than the number of times we've been to war.

It isn't parades and nobility - its being under fire and having to take a dump. You never see that in the movies - some guy having to take a dump.

It's being so filthy that the bugs just stop biting.

It's seeing Panamanians so happy and excited that they run into the street to give you water and thank you for kicking out Noriega - and some PDF assholes shoot down the street and a mother drops dead in front of her little kids, and they scream in horror and run out there too, and there is nothing you can do except burn in rage and hatred for such evil. And continue the mission.

It's being on a casaulty notification team and seeing a mother and father turn dead inside, aging before your very eyes, watching a man sink to his knees and a mother just stand there and say in a monotone "when will he... his body... come home?" And then seeing the news identify him as a Marine instead of a soldier and none of the civilians around you understand why you care.

And then some asshole says years later "you ever kill anybody?" or "I'd wouldn't serve because I wouldn't want to kill anybody" or WORST OF ALL "I love the military. You guys are great. I didn't serve because I had opportunities, but I always wanted to..."

Sure I'm glad Noriega is gone, so are the Panamanians. Perhaps we were right to go in - we didn't have to stay long and we turned the country over to the Panamanians quickly. And Noriega had been begging for it for some time. But the family of SPC Philip Lear, B 2/75, would gladly re-install Noreiga if it meant Butch could come home to them. He died at Rio Hato and nobody knows where that is.

Maybe it was worthwhile to the nation, especially to those who don't have to pay the price. I think it was the right thing to do. But it isn't something to be happy about. I wish there had been another way.

And then 15 years later you attend law school with people who ask you if you "ever saw any action?" Who say "we invaded Panama?" Who say "did you see Blackhawk Down? Cool, huh?" And who assume you are a Republican.

Service isn't just about war either. Serving in the military is ALWAYS honorable, including peacetime.

There was a military before 9/11, even if many people just discovered it.

Being in the military before 9/11 is having nobody know about Somalia and bloody October and then "Blackhawk Down" comes out and everybody knows about it (and seemingly half of the "vets" you meet were there) and everybody talks about it all the time, but nobody knows about El Salvador, or Honduras, or Columbia (still going on now) or the guys hurt or killed in training. Because nothing ever happened and nobody ever got hurt before Somalia and then later on 9/11.

Nobody knows about the 19-year old fuel handler, not an infantryman, who couldn't stop talking about his baby boy who was "on the way" and "my wife's ready to pop" and "my baby is going to be a genius." Then he's taking a steep desert grade and his wheels start to slide on loose rocks and his fueler slides, slides, and then rolls down the hill, rolling over and over and over and you watch the cab get crushed smaller and smaller and you know what it will look like inside before you get there. But you rush anyway, you can't help it. And his wife has to clear housing in 90 days because she isn't married to a soldier anymore. And it was on a peacetime exercise anyway.

It's being in Korea and having a driver working on an M1 turret when some dumbass powers it up and swivels, and you have to have somebody hold the guy, the body, while it swivels back in order to free what's left of his head.

It's having people on a hardship tour, who have been accepted to college and DO have other opportunities, ask you to swear them in during their re-enlistment ceremony. And that being incredibly important to you.

It's having privates who think you are a dick for chewing their ass for not following ground guide procedures, or for punishing them when they walk between moving vehicles in the motor pool, and you not giving a damn because even if they don't like you they damn sure aren't going to get killed for something stupid while you are in charge.

Serving before 9/11 is chewing the ass of an E-5 buck sergeant who dismounted his vehicle and ran up a hill chasing after a map during an exercise, while tanks and brads swarmed about at high speed, and realizing he thinks you are mad because he almost lost his stupid map. So you say "to hell with the god damned MAP dumbass, we can always get another one of those. How the hell do I get another one of YOU!? Call your parents and order another just like you and wait 25 years!?" And seeing him change as he realizes you are so mad and losing your officer "cool" because you were scared shitless he was going to die. And having him, after you finish telling him he should have his ass kicked for being a stupid fuck, say and mean it "thank you sir. I really respect you for that. I wasn't thinking." And it isn't kissass when he says it.

Serving is nothing like what Fox news portrays. In that world the president calls on units and soldiers to serve, instead of some harried and overworked personnel officer who needs some guys with a specific MOS and sends out an order to find some, and somebody does. And the president has no idea what their MOS is or does, much less that the unit was called up. But his steely gaze into the camera as he orders strangers off to war is considered brave and noble. Is it? Really?

Serving post 9/11 is the same as serving pre-9/11. We have always lived in a dangerous world, it is just that some of you didn't know it. We just have more dead soldiers now, and that's not a good thing. It might be unavoidable, but damn if I'm not 100% sure we did all we could to avoid some of it.

Of course we had to fight back - we were attacked. But did that have to mean Iraq, who didn't attack us? Did we really try to avoid it, did we really try all the options? "But we waited over a decade and Saddam" - sure, but we waited longer than that and the Soviet Union fell. Were we wrong to wait? Was that appeasement? If we knew we could wait another decade and with little threat to us then should we have waited? "But the Iraqis," you say. "The Iraqis were under the heel of a brutal dictator." True. Isn't Castro brutal, and much closer? What about Saudi Arabia, a monarchy with no democracy? What about North Korea? Even if you want to take them all on, should we have picked Iraq first?

Afghanistan I feel deserved twice or three times as much attention as it got, but I wonder if we tried as hard as we should have to avoid invading Iraq.

Of course, to the right that makes me a weakling. An appeaser. An ally of Saddam and of terrorists. They much prefer the "line in the sand" and talk of service and brave, brave Bush. Sure, we were wrong about WMD but he might have had them. He might have used them. He might have given them to our enemies. And Saddam was a bad man. Can't you see?

I have friends that are absolutely convinced that we were right to invade Iraq - but they still aren't happy about it. They've seen the dead kids too.

Maybe they are right. I don't agree. But why can't our nation debate it rationally? And should we respect those that either cut off the debate with "unpatriotic hippies" or "warmongering fascists?" Why are the extremists on both sides driving the middle?

I'm not sure the President tried as hard as he should have to avoid this war with Iraq. That doesn't mean I want to lose in Iraq - that for damn sure wouldn't leave us better off. But why can't we, in the midst of a Presidential election, honestly discuss whether this President was wise to invade Iraq without accusations of appeasement, betrayal of our soldiers, accusations of ignoring the "lessons" of 9/11? Did the President make a wise and careful decision, and was he right after all? Many say "of course he was."

If the Army War College and the Chief of Staff of the Army on 9/11 thought it a big mistake, and predicted EXACTLY how it would turn out so far, why isn't that discussed? Does it matter what national security professionals who aren't aligned with any one political party say?

War is the most important decision our nation faces. Why did we leave it to one man to make for us? That isn't how the Founders wanted it. Congress abdicated, writing a blank check. Why aren't we pissed about that too?

What is wrong with never going to war unless Congress formally declares war? That doesn't mean we can't deploy troops to hotspots - it means a war that takes six months or more to deploy for, that everybody calls an invasion or a war, should be treated differently than a deployment to Haiti. It should be treated as a war. We invaded Panama and nobody calls that a war. Everybody calls the invasion of Iraq a war. Would there be any more national prestige or committment on the line in Iraq if Congress had formally declared war? "But that would tie the President's hands" you say. Yes. And? So? Isn't that exactly what our Founding Fathers had in mind?

Why, if war is so terrible (and it is), is it politically easier to vote for it instead of against it? And why, if voting against it is political suicide, are those Congressmen and Senators who question it or vote against it called weak or cowardly?

Why can't we separate the war on terror from the decision to invade Iraq? I'm not saying there isn't a link (although I don't believe there is). I'm saying invading Afghanistan and going after AQ and the Taliban was a no-brainer. 3rd graders knew we had to do that. Not doing that would have invited more attacks, as well as letting those that attacked us on 9/11 get away with it. There is no reasonable debate there about this - shoot at me I shoot at you. If you are a pacifist then there is never a justification good enough for you, so debating is pointless. I'm talking to the vast majority who believe it better to defend ourselves and punish those that attack us.

But was invading Iraq the right thing for us to do? Isn't right now, before we decide to choose the next president, the right time to judge whether this president made good choices? Why is that considered weak or of comfort to the enemy?

Before we have more families get the knock on the door that my friend SPC Lear's family got, shouldn't we be able to honestly say "we tried our best to avoid this, but there was no other way. It was the best thing for us to do. And the right thing." I don't know how Butch's family feels, I haven't talked to them in over a decade. They probably support Bush and the war in Iraq. That doesn't change my point.

War seems exciting on TV, but it is actually us spending our kids lives. It is math with human lives. It is the same as taking a stadium-full of people and saying "we have a choice. We can draw lots and 1,000 of you will die, and Saddam will fall, or you can all go home safely." Well, if you believed that your friends at home would face more danger if you didn't take the risk, then you might stay for the drawing. If not you would get the hell out. But wouldn't you want to know ALL the details?

Sure you would. But what if you weren't in the stadium, and none of your friends were, or family members? Would you care as much?

Before you answer, name me five possibly hostile countries that we know have WMDs - the information is freely available on the web. You don't know off the top of your head? Then how can you be sure that we were right to invade Iraq? You didn't look into it, you trusted your president.

Fine. I actually don't have a problem with that because we have a representative democracy and our lawmakers and President make those decisions, not us.

But now decision-time is approaching for us. Before you decide you don't "like" Kerry or that he is "worse" than Bush, don't you think you should really investigate if he was right to invade Iraq? Not based on Instapundit or Fox News or NPR or the Kerry Campaign. Based on balanced assessments? And shouldn't you know how your congressional representative and your Senators voted? How many of you know? How many of you know who your Congressional Representative is?

If you can honestly say that Bush was right then you should be comforted. I can't, and it doesn't reassure me that those that disagree with me question my committment to our nation and our national security when I want to debate it. Especially after all those years I spent showing my committment not with words, but with action.

I hate war but accept it as sometimes the only option. It should be the last option, though, used only when we are sure there is no other way to defend ourselves. That doesn't mean sit by and get attacked first. It means that the burden of proof should be very, very high before we attack. That there should be very little doubt about the need for it. Very little.

Anybody that lowers that bar for war is not fit to lead our nation, however steely a gaze they have or how determined they seem. And we should at least be debating it without soundbites and simplistic, opportunistic conclusions.

We should defend ourselves while trying very, very hard to avoid dead soldiers and dead kids. Are we so sure we tried as hard as we could have to avoid this one?

Here are some sources that I wish all voters would read (non-partisan sources with a national security background, all from the Army War College):

Bounding the Global War on Terrorism found at http://www.carlisle.army.mil/ssi/pubs/pubresult.cfm?pubid=207.

IRAQ AND VIETNAM: DIFFERENCES, SIMILARITIES, AND INSIGHTS at http://www.carlisle.army.mil/ssi/pubs/pubresult.cfm?pubid=377. It notes that most comparisons overplay the similarities and understate the differences.

Strategic Consequences of the Iraq War: U.S. Security Interests in Central Asia Reassessed at http://www.carlisle.army.mil/ssi/pubs/pubresult.cfm?pubid=383.


I started this out as a comment, but it was too good to pass up. For those who don't know already, one of the best writers I have ever read is a kid in Iraq with an infantry unit. He amazed everyone with his ability to relate what he is going through with passion and skill but his blog has been taken down, possibly for operational security reasons. Some of my online friends have been looking to see if there is anyone else out there like that, a talented writer relating life from the sharp end. We found the exact opposite. Here is the comment that got it started:

vrangel said...
On the other hand here is a lame milblogger with nothing to worry about.


He posted today that his highers told him they love his stuff and he should continue.


HERE is my reply:
Thanks Vrangel. I checked it out.

He's a knob-polisher for sure.

I looked at his bio - he actually wrote about himself in the third person.

What an ass.

"TWD, slightly upset at himself for not taking Vrangel's word for it that the guy was 10 up and 2 down, chuckles as he imagines how much of a ass one would have to be to write an autobiography in the third person."

Seriously folks, the guy even ends his bio with:

"In the midst of his term, his unit, the 319th Signal Battalion was called to service by the President to support the war effort in Operation Iraqi Freedom. It is here where the greatest changes to his life are yet to come..."

Good God. Did you hear the theme music?

Check out his pic on the site too - he is staring bravely off in the distance, rifle in hand... hoping some rifleman doesn't come by and make fun of him for looking like a dork. He's signal corps for crap's sake. Jeez.

I didn't add the ellipses (the ...) - that was him. Can you believe it?

God how I miss being an infantryman sometimes. Guys like this twerp were SOOOOO fun to find and fuck with. They always read Soldier of Fortune, always had more than one class A uniform (usually had dress blues when they were SPCs) and rarely, if ever, got dirty. I read SOF to laugh at the ads in the back and how wrong the articles often are, had a class A uniform I wore when they made me, and made it through over a decade of infantry life, including being enlisted, a sergeant, and an officer, without ever wearing a dress blue cap. I HATE guys like this guy.

Look at this blog and try to picture chucklehead on a patrol. No f'ing way. Now imagine him telling a war story to a civilian. Oh, yeah, I can see that.

He writes about the combat soldier whose blog was just taken down:

"Of course, we have taken a much different approach in our writing and the subject matter we cover, primarily because of our different roles in Operation Iraqi Freedom. His personal recitations of battles and encounters with terrorists are gripping and fascinating to read. As you all know, my approach tends to focus much more on the feelings soldiers go through as well as the peripheral political issues that surround America’s War on Terrorism, and in this, I rarely reveal anything that has to do with my security situation or the intricacies of my MOS in communications. I am no front line soldier, but rather, in my support MOS I open a window into the thoughts of soldiers and the issues we deal with."

NO you aren't a front-line soldier. But did you hear any respect for the infantry in that paragraph, or did you detect an attitude of condescension?

He's a tool that can't write very well. A power tool. And his sucking up to his chain of command is just icky. The combat guy wrote about meeting his Battalion Commander and how impressive a warrior he was, and there was no element of suck-up in it. None. Every time this guy writes about his leaders you just know he's hoping they read it and give him a pat on the head.

Here is another great quote:

"I believe America's fighting men and women are the fists of American power, while the families and folks back home who provide so much support truly are the backbone of American strength."

Isn't there some kind of contest for writing like this?

Others should check out the blog. Make sure you read his bio. Vets will find it fucking hilarious. I mean it - he's a riot. He has no idea how sucky he is. He actually believes he's pretty cool. Man.

He makes me feel better about my writing. I suck but I would have to work really hard to be that bad.

The Real Issue - Bush is Incompetent

By Richard Reeves

NEW YORK -- President Bush (news - web sites) is coming to town. You better watch out, you better not shout -- unless you're a certified delegate inside Madison Square Garden. With protesters somewhere out of sight, the Republican National Convention will be a celebration of the ideology, values and interests served by this second Bush presidency.

Whether you agree or disagree with the words pouring from the podium over Americans who see reflections of themselves in George W. Bush, the real issue of this election will not be mentioned. The core issue is this: Our president is incompetent. He is not a good president.

Let me count the ways:

(1) He has divided the country; we are all part of a vicious little hissing match. We were united and humbled on Sept. 12, 2001. We are divided and humiliated now, telling lies about each other.

(2) He has divided the world. "We are all Americans now," headlined Le Monde on that Sept. 12. Now there are days when it seems as if they are all anti-Americans.

(3) He is leaving no child or grandchild without debt. He has taken the government from surplus into deficit in the name of national security and increased private investment. We can pay the debt in two ways: with more government revenues (taxation) or by borrowing -- against the sweat and income of new generations. The president has chosen to borrow.

(4) He campaigns as a champion of smaller government, but is greatly increasing the size and role of government. Ideological conservatism, it turns out, costs just as much or more than ideological liberalism. Conservative and liberal politicians are both for increasing the reach and power of government. The difference between them is which parts and functions of the state are to be empowered and financed. The choice is between military measures and order, or more redistribution of income. Money is power.

(5) He is diminishing the military of which he is so proud now as commander in chief. The invasion and occupation of Iraq (news - web sites) have obviously not worked out the way he imagined -- naked torture was not the goal. But the far greater problem for the future is that our proud commander has revealed the hollowness behind the unilateral superpower. From the top down, we have not been able to win Iraq, much less the world. And going into Iraq has compromised or crippled the war on terror he declared himself.

(6) He is diminishing scientific progress, the great engine of the 20th century. Only the truly ignorant can believe that the proper role of government is to hinder medical research and environmental study in the name of God.

(7) He is diminishing the Constitution of the United States. Cheesy tricks like amending the great text of freedom to attack homosexuality can be dismissed as wedge politics. But it is worse to preach against an activist judiciary while appointing more activist judges who happen to hold different beliefs, particularly the idea that civil liberties are the enemies of patriotism, security and freedom itself.

(8) He has surrounded himself with other incompetents. The secretary of state is presiding over the rape of diplomacy and its alliances. The secretary of defense has sent our young men and women into situations they were never meant or trained to handle, and now they are being ordered into battle by an appointed minister in a faraway land. The national security adviser does not seem to know that her job description includes coordinating defense and diplomacy. And then there was our $340,000-a-month local hire, Ahmed Chalabi, sitting in the gallery of our House.

(9) He has been unable or unwilling to deal with declining employment and the rising medical costs of becoming an older nation.

(10) He is, as if by design, destroying the credibility of the United States as a force for peace in the world -- an honest broker -- particularly in the Middle East.

The list is longer, miscalculation after miscalculation. President Bush has not been able to function effectively at this pay grade. He may mean well, but this has been a difficult time, and he is in over his head. We and our kids will pay the price for his blundering, blunderbuss adventure in Washington. He has been tested in a difficult time -- and, unhappily for all of us and the world, he has not been up to the job.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

CBFTW is no longer posting

Sad but true. I'm sure there were good reasons for it. All of his posts are gone. :( I sure hope he saved them (or somebody saved them) and all of the great comments.

I understand OPSEC but it still seems pretty extreme. I wonder if he was ordered to or if he just got pissed and did it himself.

I also wonder if, somewhere in the chain of command above common sense, some asshole made a call that his CO, BN CO, BDE CO, and others did not make - that he had to stop and the posts had to go.

I hope he did it himself. I would be disappointed in my Army if the Army ordered the site taken down.

He sure left with style, though - quoting:

Ever Get the Feeling You've Been Cheated?"- last words Johnny Rotten spit on stage at the Sex Pistols last gig in 1978.

FUCK EMI was a Sex Pistols song too. Maybe we should drop the "E" - I don't mean the branch, I mean the decision to take it down.

Good luck CB - I sure hope we hear more from you, and soon. You have real talent.

Rummy has to go

Although I don't usually agree with LTC Peters I think he hit the nail right on the head with this one. I've never seen or heard of such vehement hatred for a SecDef. Friends of mine tell me that he is the most despised man in the Pentagon. Bush says he is doing a "great job." I think both Bush and Rummy need to go before they do our national security even more damage.

Why The Troops Don't Trust Rummy
By: Ralph Peters
New York Post

May 14, 2004 -- ACCORDING to his handlers, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld went to Baghdad to "boost troop morale." The best way the SecDef could improve morale would be to resign.

In Operation Iraqi Freedom, Rumsfeld and his apparatchiks boldly defended Washington while our troops fought overseas. Now that the battle's shifted to Capitol Hill in the wake of the Abu Ghraib scandal, the SecDef's in Iraq.

It's like all those press briefings in which he answers the questions when things are going well, but defers to those in uniform when things are going badly.

Should Rumsfeld resign over the prisoner abuse by rogue MPs? No. He should resign for the good of our military and our country. Those twisted photos are only one symptom of how badly the Rumsfeld era has derailed our military.

Rumsfeld has maintained a positive image with much of America because he controls information fanatically and tolerates no deviation from the party line. Differing opinions are punished in today's Pentagon - and every field general who has spoken plainly of the deficiencies of either the non-plan for the occupation of Iraq, the lack of sufficient troops (in Iraq or overall) or any aspect of Rumsfeld's "transformation" plan has seen his career ended.

It isn't treason to tell the truth in wartime. But it verges on treason to lie. And Rumsfeld lies.

Our military needs vigorous, continual internal debate. Contrary to popular myth, our officer corps has a long tradition of dissenting opinions. And the grave new world in which we find ourselves is not susceptible to party-line solutions.

It's especially noteworthy that the officers who respectfully differed from the views of the Rumsfeld cabal turned out to be right. Consider former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki, who was right about the need for more troops and even right about the kind of vehicles we'd need in Iraq. For his service to our country, he was treated dismissively and mocked publicly.
What of that much-touted transformation so beloved of the neocons? In fact, it's just a plain old con, with nothing neo about it. The Office of the Secretary of Defense hasn't canceled one of the real budget-buster weapons systems designed for the Cold War and kept alive by lobbyists. Only the low-end Crusader artillery piece went to the chopping block as a token (the Army itself decided to cancel the Comanche helicopter).

Rumsfeld's "vision" was to lavish money on the defense industry and administration-friendly contractors, while sending too few troops to war, with too little battlefield equipment, inadequate supplies and no long-range plan. As one Army colonel put it in the heat of battle, "We're winning this despite OSD (Office of the Secretary of Defense)"

Contractors grow rich. The Army grows exhausted. And every single prediction about the future of warfare made by the Rumsfeld gang proved incorrect. Airpower doesn't win wars on its own. Technology doesn't trump courage, guts and skill. Both war and its aftermath still require adequate numbers of well-trained, disciplined troops. And serious planning.
We need a bigger Army. We got a bigger budget - but the money is going to CEOs, not to G.I. Joe.

Outsourcing? We see now where that gets us. In Rumsfeld's military, you even outsource leadership. As we did at Abu Ghraib prison.
Even if none of the above mattered, Rumsfeld needs to go because he has utterly lost the trust of the officer corps. He isn't a leader. He's an arrogant ideologue unfit to serve our democracy.

On camera, in a Pentagon briefing room or at a carefully orchestrated, neo-Soviet visit to the troops he so despises, Rumsfeld surrounds himself with yes-men and sycophants. But just ask the combat generals in private what they think of Donald Rumsfeld.

I'm privileged to spend a good bit of time with our military officers, from generals to new lieutenants. And I have never seen such distrust of a public official in the senior ranks. Not even of Bill Clinton. Rumsfeld & Co. have trashed our ground forces every way they could. Only the quality of those in uniform saved us from a debacle in Iraq.

Of course, those in uniform don't get to pick the SecDef. And they continue, as they always will, to loyally carry out their orders to the letter. But to be effective, a SecDef must be respected. He doesn't have to be liked. But, especially in wartime, he must be trusted.

Rumsfeld has failed the most important test of all.

Clinging to power isn't a mark of strength, but of weakness, arrogance and brute obstinacy. Rumsfeld has wounded our military and sent our troops to die for harebrained schemes. In place of sound plans, he substituted political prejudices. Election year or not, he has to go.

It's time to bring integrity, mutual respect and a focus on the realities of warfare back to the Pentagon. The White House has Sen. McCain's phone number.

Ralph Peters is a retired military officer and a regular Post contributor.

No excuse for this - NONE

Apparently it isn't just the Army that is suffering these days. Money for tax cuts but not for ammo. Less time for training. That's BS. It leads to higher casualties. And with the House, Senate, and Presidency under the control of one party it sure as hell isn't the Democrats that are at fault.

I wonder how many of you even heard this story? Probably not many. And you accuse the media of "liberal" bias.

Marines slash final combat training in half
By: David Wood
Star-Ledger - New Jersey

Under growing pressure to ship Marines to Iraq, the Marine Corps is cutting in half the rigorous field combat training it gives units preparing to deploy, senior officers say.
The Marines hope to make up the time by intensifying this final, pre-deployment training and focusing it on skills needed to survive and prevail in Iraq's brutal combat conditions. This means practicing more nighttime operations, ambushes, city fighting and guarding of convoys.
The exercise, called a CAX in Marine lingo, has been shortened from 23 to 11 days, Col. Blake Crowe, operations officer for the Marine Corps Training Command at Quantico, Va., said in an interview.
This was done, Crowe said, to "get more battalions through" in a shorter period of time. Until now, the Marine Corps trained 10 battalions in CAX every six months. Under the accelerated schedule, it will train eight battalions in two months.
The intense course, to begin this fall at the Marine desert training base at Twentynine Palms, Calif., will for the first time include thousands of Marines who hold traditionally noncombat jobs such as truck driver, intelligence analyst and jet aircraft technician.
Increasingly, these "noninfantry" Marines are deploying into combat zones where they find themselves suddenly under fire and unprepared. Commanders in Iraq report that some Marines, pressed into the fight from their truck cabs and computer consoles, have not had combat training in a decade.
"This is a high priority, identified in after-action reports" from commanders in Afghanistan and Iraq, Crowe said.
All Marines get some entry-level combat training. New infantrymen get 50 days of hard schooling in weapons handling and combat tactics. In contrast, those headed into noninfantry jobs get just 16 days in the muddy, mosquito-swarmed woods of Camp Lejeune in coastal North Carolina. Then they depart for schools in technical specialties ranging from food management to logistics planning and helicopter flight crews.
Once units are alerted for duty in Iraq, they will be cycled through the training at Twentynine Palms -- infantrymen and clerks, cooks and truck drivers alike.
Approximately 31,000 Marines are in Iraq -- almost 20 percent of the active-duty force that also deploys to Afghanistan, Okinawa and the major anti-terrorist base in Djibouti, on the Red Sea.
Across the Marine Corps, the unanticipated and unbudgeted requirements of rotating fresh, well-trained troops through Iraq have forced dramatic and sometimes painful adjustments and compromises.
The new, noninfantry Marines who show up for their crash course in combat at Camp Lejeune each year are well aware of the building pressure. They literally run from one event to the next, and in their final field exercise they work around the clock, snatching 20 or 30 minutes of sleep when they can.
"I wish we did have more time," said Capt. Dan Snyder, who oversees the teaching of 54 specific combat skills. "It's difficult to do in the time we have."
That's incentive for Camp Lejeune's instructors -- many of them veterans of combat in Iraq -- to bear down hard during the 16 days in the field.
"You have a 70 percent chance of going into combat, a 5 percent chance of getting killed or wounded -- pay attention!" Staff Sgt. Charles Kilgore, a combat instructor, barked at a formation of exhausted Marines in sodden, sweat-stained fatigues and muddy boots.
"I've definitely seen a ramp-up in intensity here," said Capt. Mark Reid, who oversees combat instructors. "This is not, 'Let us entertain you on your way to jet mechanics school.' What they're learning here they will be doing in Iraq or Afghanistan."
"It's demanding," admitted Pvt. Daniel Sanabria-Morales, 22, of North Plainfield, N.J. "In boot camp they tell you how to do everything. Here you gotta be thinking. And we're constantly on the move."
The Marines are tested on each of the 54 specific skills they must master, answering questions on written tests and demonstrating proficiency in front of an instructor. Those who fail are retaught until they can pass.
But money is short, and so is time.
Staff Sgt. Don Allen, a combat instructor, said his trainees watch demonstrations of the M203 grenade launcher, the Squad Automatic Weapon and the .50-caliber machine gun, but not everyone gets to actually fire the weapons.
"It's financial," said Allen, a combat engineer who fought in Iraq last year with the 8th Marines. "I wish I had the money for them to shoot actual rounds. When I went through this training in 1995, we all shot every weapon."
The final 36 hours of Camp Lejeune's 16-day course begins at 5 a.m. and ends with a 15-kilometer march with full combat loads. In between are back-to-back classes and field exercises.
"It's not that stressful; it's more fun," said Pvt. Rosalind Sanchez of Menifee, Calif. "This is why I joined."
"They give you too much information, class after class," said Pfc. Christopher Schneider, a 20-year-old from Longwood, Fla., who will train as an aircraft airframe mechanic. "But if I went to Iraq, I'd definitely feel confident."

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

NOW we know what CB stands for in CBFTW

For those who read CB's blog in Iraq, he was on NPR this morning. His name is [I'm changing this because NPR has taken down his name from their site. I guess he didn't want it posted so I will take it down here as well]. Here is part of the story:

Military officials are cracking down on blogs written by soldiers and Marines in Iraq, saying some of them reveal sensitive information. Critics say it's an attempt to suppress unflattering truths about the U.S. occupation. NPR's Eric Niiler reports.

Army [name and rank removed], stationed near Mosul with the [infantry unit designation removed], says he began his My War Web log to help combat boredom. "I'm just writing about my experiences," [Removed] says. "I'm pretty much putting my diary on the Internet -- that's all it is."

[Removed] says he has avoided describing sensitive information, such as U.S. weapons capabilities, weaknesses and scheduling. But earlier this month, [Removed] was lectured by commanders about violating operational security. Two other popular blogs run by soldiers have been shut down recently.

Lt. Col. Paul Hastings, a spokesman for [Removed]'s unit, said [Removed]'s blog now has to be reviewed by his platoon sergeant and a superior officer. In an e-mail to NPR, Hastings said the popularity of blogging has increased the chance that soldiers may inadvertently give away information to Internet-savvy enemies.

But some critics worry that military officials are trying to muffle dissent from troops in the field. "I really think it has much less to do with operational security and classified secrets and more to do with American politics and how the war is seen by a public that is getting increasingly shaky about the overall venture," says Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

BTW: FTW probably (certainly) means F$%@ the war. And Michael O'Hanlon can kiss my ass because he's an idiot.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

More on how to be a Republican

We never attack John Kerry's combat heroism personally; that's what we pay crackpot Kerry-hating veterans group to do.

It was wrong for Moveon.org to host a 30-second never-broadcast web-only immediately-removed and apologized-for spot that compared Bush to Hitler and that Sen. Kerry condemned. It is right for the Swiftvets to engage in a coordinated and well-financed campaign of deception and there is no need for the Bush campaign to condemn it.

War is a "family value."

If senior citizens want cheaper drug prices from Canada, they should move to Canada. Traitors.

Major oil corporations should shape American energy policy. Even if it means highest gasoline prices ever.

Donald Rumsfeld is doing a terrific job as Pentagon boss -- if you ignore his being suckered by turncoat Ahmed Chalabi who said grateful Iraqis would welcome American liberators. Ignore his insistence on a smaller number of soldiers deployed to Iraq in the first crucial weeks and months following the fall of Hussein. If you ignore 953 US soldiers dead and 5,976 wounded in a conflict already "accomplished"; and 12,000 Iraq civilians killed. Ignore Abu Ghraib prison abuses. And ignore that troops going to Iraq had to buy own costly body armor, then weld scrap metal onto thin-skinned Humvees. Because the Republicans support the troops.

Dick Cheney was right to ridicule John Kerry for saying he'd be "sensitive" in fighting war. Cheney was also right same day when he said on radio that battle in Najaf "is obviously a sensitive area, and we are very much aware of its sensitivity."

Kerry betrayed the troops by not voting for the $87 billion needed to give them what they needed. Republicans did not betray the troops by first voting against Kerry's bill providing the exact same support to the troops but with provisions to pay for it now rather than borrow from our children, and passing their own bill instead immediately thereafter.

The CIA was wrong when the right attacked them for not insisting there were WMDs in Iraq, and is to blame for later convincing Bush, who had already ordered troops to deploy, that WMDs were in Iraq.

Protestors and those who don't agree with the invasion of Iraq don't support the
"war on terror." The fact that few people protested our deployment to Afghanistan and many people argue that the resources spent on Iraq could have been better spent in fighting Al Queda is a trick.

Firing American workers and sending their jobs to India is unavoidable economic dislocation. Laid-off manufacturing workers don't mind asking, "Would you like fries with that?"

Courts should not write new rights into Constitution. But rewriting the Constitution to deny the rights of gay Americans is OK.

It could take years before stem cell research will help with Alzheimer's, MS, and Parkinson's. So Why start now? (Thanks, "Daily Show.")

Republicans don't wince at Bushisms like these:

"I'm honored to shake the hand of a brave Iraqi citizen who had his hand cut off by Saddam Hussein." -- Washington, D.C., May 25, 2004. (Let's give him a hand.)

"So thank you for reminding me about the importance of being a good mom and a great volunteer as well." -- St. Louis, Jan. 5, 2004. (So that's where some of Laura's clothes went.)

"I'm the master of low expectations." -- Air Force One, June 4, 2003. (Any lower and we're talking chimpanzee.)

"There's an old saying in Tennessee -- I know it's in Texas -- that says, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me -- you can't get fooled again." -- Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2002.

Those of us who spent time in the agricultural sector and in the heartland, we understand how unfair the death penalty is." -- Omaha, Neb., Feb. 28, 2001. (What's the kill switch on this tractor do?)

"Do you have blacks, too?" to Brazilian President Cardoso. -- Washington, D.C., Nov. 8, 2001. (Wow, they're everywhere.)

"You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test." -- Townsend, Tenn., Feb. 21, 2001. (Let's start with "My Pet Goat.")

"I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family." -- Nashua, N.H., Jan. 27, 2000. (Kids, don't try this at home.)

"They misunderestimated me." -- Bentonville, Ark., Nov. 6, 2000. (Not this time, W.)

Now Reuters and a Chicago Tribune Reporter

Navy Commander, Journalist, Backs Kerry on Vietnam

By Carol Giacomo

PITTSBURGH (Reuters) - An American journalist who commanded a boat alongside John Kerry (news - web sites) in Vietnam broke a 35-year silence on Saturday and defended the Democratic presidential candidate against Republican critics of his military service.

Weighing in on what has become the most bitterly divisive issue of the 2004 campaign for the White House, William Rood of the Chicago Tribune said the tales told by Kerry's detractors are untrue.

"There were three swift boats on the river that day in Vietnam more than 35 years ago -- three officers and 15 crew members. Only two of those officers remain to talk about what happened on February 28, 1969," he wrote in a story that appeared on the newspaper's Web site on Saturday.

"One is John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate who won a Silver Star for what happened on that date. I am the other."

Before now, wanting to put memories of war and killing behind him, Rood had refused all requests for interviews on the subject, including from his own newspaper. "But Kerry's critics, armed with stories I know to be untrue, have charged that the accounts of what happened were overblown." he wrote.

"The critics have taken pains to say they're not trying to cast doubts on the merit of what others did, but their version of events has splashed doubt on all of us.

"It's gotten harder and harder for those of us who were there to listen to accounts we know to be untrue, especially when they come from people who were not there," he added.

Kerry, a former Navy lieutenant, is a highly decorated Vietnam veteran, and his war service is essential to his ability to challenge President Bush (news - web sites) on issues of national security and leadership in the face of the Iraq (news - web sites) war and terrorism threats.
Increasingly, veterans opposed to Kerry and allied with Bush -- led by a group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth -- have tried to undermine Kerry's service record and credibility and the justification for his medals.

In the face of a new CBS poll showing Kerry's support among veterans has slipped since the Democratic convention, the Massachusetts senator has launched an aggressive counterattack.

nyt is pravda? ok, then, how about this:

Some have dismissed the previous post because it came from the NYT. Ok. Then how about that bastion of leftist liberalism (NOT) the Boston Globe? http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2004/04/14/kerry_faces_questions_over_purple_heart/

It says in part: A review by the Globe of Kerry's war record in preparation for a forthcoming book, "John F. Kerry: The Complete Biography," found that the young Navy officer acted heroically under fire, in one case saving the life of an Army lieutenant. But the examination also found that Kerry's commanding officer at the time questioned Kerry's first Purple Heart, which he earned for a wound received just two weeks after arriving in Vietnam.

"He had a little scratch on his forearm, and he was holding a piece of shrapnel," recalled Kerry's commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Grant Hibbard. "People in the office were saying, `I don't think we got any fire,' and there is a guy holding a little piece of shrapnel in his palm." Hibbard said he couldn't be certain whether Kerry actually came under fire on Dec. 2, 1968, the date in question and that is why he said he asked Kerry questions about the matter.

The article continues:

Kerry went on to earn another two Purple Hearts and he led more than two dozen missions in which he often faced enemy fire. He won the Silver Star for an action in which he killed an enemy soldier who carried a loaded rocket launcher that could have destroyed Kerry's six-man patrol boat, and he won a Bronze Star for rescuing an Army lieutenant who was thrown overboard and under fire.

One reason that Kerry has long divided Vietnam veterans is because of the way he led a group called Vietnam Veterans Against the War after he returned to the United States. While in Vietnam, Kerry began to question the policy of "free-fire zones," which permitted sailors to open fire on rivers where Vietnamese were violating nighttime curfews. He said in a 1971 appearance on "Meet the Press": "There are all kinds of atrocities, and I would have to say that, yes, yes, I committed the same kind of atrocities as thousands of other soldiers have committed, in that I took part in shootings in free-fire zones."

Thirty-three years later, that statement still rankles some veterans, apparently including those who have formed a group called Vietnam Veterans Against John Kerry, which has a website devoted to what it calls Kerry's association with the "radical pro-communist" antiwar movement.

The statements of that group have been circulated widely over the Internet and picked up on conservative radio talk shows.

But some historians said Kerry is being unfairly criticized over his antiwar effort, which is best remembered for his Senate testimony in which he asked why soldiers should be asked to die for a mistake. "Thirty-three years later, his testimony has really proved to be prescient," said historian Stanley Karnow, author of "Vietnam: A History." "The war was a mistake. Nobody knew better that the war was a mistake than the poor grunts out there fighting it."

Indeed, some of Kerry's crewmates who were aghast that Kerry had led them into battle and then came home to protest the war now say Kerry was ahead of his time in seeing the mistaken policy. Crewmate James Wasser, who originally felt "betrayed" by Kerry's antiwar leadership, said, "Knowing what I know now, I would have totally agreed with him."

Friday, August 20, 2004

Friendly Fire

For you, ALa71 (Tom will probably conclude this supports Swiftvets - take your meds Tom):

August 20, 2004 - the New York Times:

Friendly Fire: The Birth of an Anti-Kerry Ad

After weeks of taking fire over veterans' accusations that he had lied about his Vietnam service record to win medals and build a political career, Senator John Kerry shot back yesterday, calling those statements categorically false and branding the people behind them tools of the Bush campaign.

His decision to take on the group directly was a measure of how the group that calls itself Swift Boat Veterans for Truth has catapulted itself to the forefront of the presidential campaign. It has advanced its cause in a book, in a television advertisement and on cable news and talk radio shows, all in an attempt to discredit Mr. Kerry's war record, a pillar of his campaign.

How the group came into existence is a story of how veterans with longstanding anger about Mr. Kerry's antiwar statements in the early 1970's allied themselves with Texas Republicans.
Mr. Kerry called them "a front for the Bush campaign" - a charge the campaign denied.

A series of interviews and a review of documents show a web of connections to the Bush family, high-profile Texas political figures and President Bush's chief political aide, Karl Rove.

Records show that the group received the bulk of its initial financing from two men with ties to the president and his family - one a longtime political associate of Mr. Rove's, the other a trustee of the foundation for Mr. Bush's father's presidential library. A Texas publicist who once helped prepare Mr. Bush's father for his debate when he was running for vice president provided them with strategic advice. And the group's television commercial was produced by the same team that made the devastating ad mocking Michael S. Dukakis in an oversized tank helmet when he and Mr. Bush's father faced off in the 1988 presidential election.

The strategy the veterans devised would ultimately paint John Kerry the war hero as John Kerry the "baby killer" and the fabricator of the events that resulted in his war medals. But on close examination, the accounts of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth' prove to be riddled with inconsistencies. In many cases, material offered as proof by these veterans is undercut by official Navy records and the men's own statements.

Several of those now declaring Mr. Kerry "unfit" had lavished praise on him, some as recently as last year.

In an unpublished interview in March 2003 with Mr. Kerry's authorized biographer, Douglas Brinkley, provided by Mr. Brinkley to The New York Times, Roy F. Hoffmann, a retired rear admiral and a leader of the group, allowed that he had disagreed with Mr. Kerry's antiwar positions but said, "I am not going to say anything negative about him." He added, "He's a good man."

In a profile of the candidate that ran in The Boston Globe in June 2003, Mr. Hoffmann approvingly recalled the actions that led to Mr. Kerry's Silver Star: "It took guts, and I admire that."

George Elliott, one of the Vietnam veterans in the group, flew from his home in Delaware to Boston in 1996 to stand up for Mr. Kerry during a tough re-election fight, declaring at a news conference that the action that won Mr. Kerry a Silver Star was "an act of courage." At that same event, Adrian L. Lonsdale, another Vietnam veteran now speaking out against Mr. Kerry, supported him with a statement about the "bravado and courage of the young officers that ran the Swift boats."

"Senator Kerry was no exception," Mr. Lonsdale told the reporters and cameras assembled at the Charlestown Navy Yard. "He was among the finest of those Swift boat drivers."

Those comments echoed the official record. In an evaluation of Mr. Kerry in 1969, Mr. Elliott, who was one of his commanders, ranked him as "not exceeded" in 11 categories, including moral courage, judgment and decisiveness, and "one of the top few" - the second-highest distinction - in the remaining five. In written comments, he called Mr. Kerry "unsurpassed," "beyond reproach" and "the acknowledged leader in his peer group."

The Admiral Calls

It all began last winter, as Mr. Kerry was wrapping up the Democratic nomination. Mr. Lonsdale received a call at his Massachusetts home from his old commander in Vietnam, Mr. Hoffmann, asking if he had seen the new biography of the man who would be president.

Mr. Hoffmann had commanded the Swift boats during the war from a base in Cam Ranh Bay and advocated a search-and-destroy campaign against the Vietcong - the kind of tactic Mr. Kerry criticized when he was a spokesman for Vietnam Veterans Against the War in 1971. Shortly after leaving the Navy in 1978, he was issued a letter of censure for exercising undue influence on cases in the military justice system.

Both Mr. Hoffmann and Mr. Lonsdale had publicly lauded Mr. Kerry in the past. But the book, Mr. Brinkley's "Tour of Duty," while it burnished Mr. Kerry's reputation, portrayed the two men as reckless leaders whose military approach had led to the deaths of countless sailors and innocent civilians. Several Swift boat veterans compared Mr. Hoffmann to the bloodthirsty colonel in the film "Apocalypse Now" - the one who loves the smell of Napalm in the morning.
The two men were determined to set the record, as they saw it, straight.

"It was the admiral who started it and got the rest of us into it," Mr. Lonsdale said.

Mr. Hoffmann's phone calls led them to Texas and to John E. O'Neill, who at one point commanded the same Swift boat in Vietnam, and whose mission against him dated to 1971, when he had been recruited by the Nixon administration to debate Mr. Kerry on "The Dick Cavett Show."

Mr. O'Neill, who pressed his charges against Mr. Kerry in numerous television appearances Thursday, had spent the 33 years since he debated Mr. Kerry building a successful law practice in Houston, intermingling with some of the state's most powerful Republicans and building an impressive client list. Among the companies he represented was Falcon Seaboard, the energy firm founded by the current lieutenant governor of Texas, David Dewhurst, a central player in the Texas redistricting plan that has positioned state Republicans to win more Congressional seats this fall.

Mr. O'Neill said during one of several interviews that he had come to know two of his biggest donors, Harlan Crow and Bob J. Perry, through longtime social and business contacts.
Mr. Perry, who has given $200,000 to the group, is the top donor to Republicans in the state, according to Texans for Public Justice, a nonpartisan group that tracks political donations. He donated $46,000 to President Bush's campaigns for governor in 1994 and 1998. In the 2002 election, the group said, he donated nearly $4 million to Texas candidates and political committees.

Mr. Rove, Mr. Bush's top political aide, recently said through a spokeswoman that he and Mr. Perry were longtime friends, though he said they had not spoken for at least a year. Mr. Rove and Mr. Perry have been associates since at least 1986, when they both worked on the gubernatorial campaign of Bill Clements.

Mr. O'Neill said he had known Mr. Perry for 30 years. "I've represented many of his friends,'' Mr. O'Neill said. Mr. Perry did not respond to requests for comment.

Mr. O'Neill said he had also known Mr. Crow for 30 years, through mutual friends. Mr. Crow, the seventh-largest donor to Republicans in the state according to the Texans for Public Justice, has donated nowhere near as much money as Mr. Perry to the Swift boat group. His family owns one of the largest diversified commercial real estate companies in the nation, the Trammell Crow Company, and has given money to Mr. Bush and his father throughout their careers. He is listed as a trustee of the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation.

One of his law partners, Margaret Wilson, became Mr. Bush's general counsel when he was governor of Texas and followed him to the White House as deputy counsel for the Department of Commerce, according to her biography on the law firm's Web site.

Another partner, Tex Lezar, ran on the Republican ticket with Mr. Bush in 1994, as lieutenant governor. They were two years apart at Yale, and Mr. Lezar worked for the attorney general's office in the Reagan administration. Mr. Lezar, who died last year, was married to Merrie Spaeth, a powerful public relations executive who has helped coordinate the efforts of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

In 2000, Ms. Spaeth was spokeswoman for a group that ran $2 million worth of ads attacking Senator John McCain's environmental record and lauding Mr. Bush's in crucial states during their fierce primary battle. The group, calling itself Republicans for Clean Air, was founded by a prominent Texas supporter of Mr. Bush, Sam Wyly.

Ms. Spaeth had been a communications official in the Reagan White House, where the president's aides had enough confidence in her to invite her to help prepare George Bush for his vice-presidential debate in 1984. She says she is also a close friend of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, a client of Mr. Rove's. Ms. Spaeth said in an interview that the one time she had ever spoken to Mr. Rove was when Ms. Hutchison was running for the Texas treasurer's office in 1990.

When asked if she had ever visited the White House during Mr. Bush's tenure, Ms. Spaeth initially said that she had been there only once, in 2002, when Kenneth Starr gave her a personal tour. But this week Ms. Spaeth acknowledged that she had spent an hour in the Old Executive Office Building, part of the White House complex, in the spring of 2003, giving Mr. Bush's chief economic adviser, Stephen Friedman, public speaking advice. Asked if it was possible that she had worked with other administration officials, Ms. Spaeth said, "The answer is 'no,' unless you refresh my memory.''

"Is the White House directing this?" Ms. Spaeth said of the organization. "Absolutely not.''

Another participant is the political advertising agency that made the group's television commercial: Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm, based in Alexandria, Va. The agency worked for Senator McCain in 2000 and for Mr. Bush's father in 1988, when it created the "tank" advertisement mocking Mr. Dukakis. A spokesman for the Swift boat veterans said the organization decided to hire the agency after a member saw one of its partners speaking on television.

About 10 veterans met in Ms. Spaeth's office in Dallas in April to share outrage and plot their campaign against Mr. Kerry, she and others said. Mr. Lonsdale, who did not attend, said the meeting had been planned as "an indoctrination session."

What might have been loose impressions about Mr. Kerry began to harden.

"That was an awakening experience," Ms. Spaeth said. "Not just for me, but for many of them who had not heard each other's stories."

The group decided to hire a private investigator to investigate Mr. Brinkley's account of the war - to find "some neutral way of actually questioning people involved in these incidents,'' Mr. O'Neill said.

But the investigator's questions did not seem neutral to some.

Patrick Runyon, who served on a mission with Mr. Kerry, said he initially thought the caller was from a pro-Kerry group, and happily gave a statement about the night Mr. Kerry won his first Purple Heart. The investigator said he would send it to him by e-mail for his signature. Mr. Runyon said the edited version was stripped of all references to enemy combat, making it look like just another night in the Mekong Delta.

"It made it sound like I didn't believe we got any returned fire," he said. "He made it sound like it was a normal operation. It was the scariest night of my life."

By May, the group had the money that Mr. O'Neill had collected as well as additional veterans rallied by Mr. O'Neill, Mr. Hoffmann and others. The expanded group gathered in Washington to record the veterans' stories for a television commercial.

Each veteran's statement was written down as an affidavit and sent to him to sign and have notarized. But the validity of those affidavits soon came into question.

Mr. Elliott, who recommended Mr. Kerry for the Silver Star, had signed one affidavit saying Mr. Kerry "was not forthright" in the statements that had led to the award. Two weeks ago, The Boston Globe quoted him as saying that he felt he should not have signed the affidavit. He then signed a second affidavit that reaffirmed his first, which the Swift Boat Veterans gave to reporters. Mr. Elliott has refused to speak publicly since then.

The Questions

The book outlining the veterans' charges, "Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against Kerry," has also come under fire. It is published by Regnery, a conservative company that has published numerous books critical of Democrats, and written by Mr. O'Neill and Jerome R. Corsi, who was identified on the book jacket as a Harvard Ph.D. and the author of many books and articles. But Mr. Corsi also acknowledged that he has been a contributor of anti-Catholic, anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic comments to a right-wing Web site. He said he regretted those comments.

The group's arguments have foundered on other contradictions. In the television commercial, Dr. Louis Letson looks into the camera and declares, "I know John Kerry is lying about his first Purple Heart because I treated him for that injury." Dr. Letson does not dispute the wound - a piece of shrapnel above Mr. Kerry's left elbow - but he and others in the group argue that it was minor and self-inflicted.

Yet Dr. Letson's name does not appear on any of the medical records for Mr. Kerry. Under "person administering treatment" for the injury, the form is signed by a medic, J. C. Carreon, who died several years ago. Dr. Letson said it was common for medics to treat sailors with the kind of injury that Mr. Kerry had and to fill out paperwork when doctors did the treatment.
Asked in an interview if there was any way to confirm he had treated Mr. Kerry, Dr. Letson said, "I guess you'll have to take my word for it."

The group also offers the account of William L. Schachte Jr., a retired rear admiral who says in the book that he had been on the small skimmer on which Mr. Kerry was injured that night in December 1968. He contends that Mr. Kerry wounded himself while firing a grenade.
But the two other men who acknowledged that they had been with Mr. Kerry, Bill Zaladonis and Mr. Runyon, say they cannot recall a third crew member. "Me and Bill aren't the smartest, but we can count to three," Mr. Runyon said in an interview. And even Dr. Letson said he had not recalled Mr. Schachte until he had a conversation with another veteran earlier this year and received a subsequent phone call from Mr. Schachte himself.

Mr. Schachte did not return a telephone call, and a spokesman for the group said he would not comment.

The Silver Star was awarded after Mr. Kerry's boat came under heavy fire from shore during a mission in February 1969. According to Navy records, he turned the boat to charge the Vietcong position. An enemy solider sprang from the shore about 10 feet in front of the boat. Mr. Kerry leaped onto the shore, chased the soldier behind a small hut and killed him, seizing a B-40 rocket launcher with a round in the chamber.

Swift Boat Veterans for Truth describes the man Mr. Kerry killed as a solitary wounded teenager "in a loincloth," who may or may not have been armed. They say the charge to the beach was planned the night before and, citing a report from one crew member on a different boat, maintain that the sailors even schemed about who would win which medals.

The group says Mr. Kerry himself wrote the reports that led to the medal. But Mr. Elliott and Mr. Lonsdale, who handled reports going up the line for recognition, have previously said that a medal would be awarded only if there was corroboration from others and that they had thoroughly corroborated the accounts.

"Witness reports were reviewed; battle reports were reviewed," Mr. Lonsdale said at the 1996 news conference, adding, "It was a very complete and carefully orchestrated procedure." In his statements Mr. Elliott described the action that day as "intense" and "unusual."

According to a citation for Mr. Kerry's Bronze Star, a group of Swift boats was leaving the Bay Hap river when several mines detonated, disabling one boat and knocking a soldier named Jim Rassmann overboard. In a hail of enemy fire, Mr. Kerry turned the boat around to pull Mr. Rassmann from the water.

Mr. Rassmann, who says he is a Republican, reappeared during the Iowa caucuses this year to tell his story and support Mr. Kerry, and is widely credited with helping to revive Mr. Kerry's campaign.

But the group says that there was no enemy fire, and that while Mr. Kerry did rescue Mr. Rassmann, the action was what anyone would have expected of a sailor, and hardly heroic. Asked why Mr. Rassmann recalled that he was dodging enemy bullets, a member of the group, Jack Chenoweth, said, "He's lying."

"If that's what we have to say," Mr. Chenoweth added, "that's how it was."

Several veterans insist that Mr. Kerry wrote his own reports, pointing to the initials K. J. W. on one of the reports and saying they are Mr. Kerry's. "What's the W for, I cannot answer," said Larry Thurlow, who said his boat was 50 to 60 yards from Mr. Kerry's. Mr. Kerry's middle initial is F, and a Navy official said the initials refer to the person who had received the report at headquarters, not the author.

A damage report to Mr. Thurlow's boat shows that it received three bullet holes, suggesting enemy fire, and later intelligence reports indicate that one Vietcong was killed in action and five others wounded, reaffirming the presence of an enemy. Mr. Thurlow said the boat was hit the day before. He also received a Bronze Star for the day, a fact left out of "Unfit for Command."
Asked about the award, Mr. Thurlow said that he did not recall what the citation said but that he believed it had commended him for saving the lives of sailors on a boat hit by a mine. If it did mention enemy fire, he said, that was based on Mr. Kerry's false reports. The actual citation, Mr. Thurlow said, was with an ex-wife with whom he no longer has contact, and he declined to authorize the Navy to release a copy. But a copy obtained by The New York Times indicates "enemy small arms," "automatic weapons fire" and "enemy bullets flying about him." The citation was first reported by The Washington Post on Thursday.

Standing Their Ground

As serious questions about its claims have arisen, the group has remained steadfast and adaptable.

This week, as its leaders spoke with reporters, they have focused primarily on the one allegation in the book that Mr. Kerry's campaign has not been able to put to rest: that he was not in Cambodia at Christmas in 1968, as he declared in a statement to the Senate in 1986. Even Mr. Brinkley, who has emerged as a defender of Mr. Kerry, said in an interview that it was unlikely that Mr. Kerry's Swift boat ventured into Cambodia at Christmas, though he said he believed that Mr. Kerry was probably there shortly afterward.

The group said it would introduce a new advertisement against Mr. Kerry on Friday. What drives the veterans, they acknowledge, is less what Mr. Kerry did during his time in Vietnam than what he said after. Their affidavits and their television commercial focus mostly on those antiwar statements. Most members of the group object to his using the word "atrocities" to describe what happened in Vietnam when he returned and became an antiwar activist. And they are offended, they say, by the gall of his running for president as a hero of that war.

"I went to university and was called a baby killer and a murderer because of guys like Kerry and what he was saying," said Van Odell, who appears in the first advertisement, accusing Mr. Kerry of lying to get his Bronze Star. "Not once did I participate in the atrocities he said were happening."

As Mr. Lonsdale explained it: "We won the battle. Kerry went home and lost the war for us.
"He called us rapers and killers and that's not true," he continued. "If he expects our loyalty, we should expect loyalty from him."

Thursday, August 19, 2004

ror, I mean, lol

An oldie but goodie. It hasn't been updated since Sep. 22nd, 2003, but if you haven't seen it sit down or you will hurt yourself when you fall from laughing so hard.


It is an IM chat between George Bush and Kim Jong Il (supposedly). Reading from the 1st entry is funniest so backtrack to that by going to "previous post" and then scrolling down once you're at the start page.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Insane in the membrane (got no brain, going insane)

This was a question on another post which was getting too long, and it seemed a really good one, so I decided to give it its own post. Here is the question:

ALa71 said...
TWD: I actually have a law question (or B & M)...you say because OJ got off does that mean the legal system is flawed --and I say yes! Why can't the family hire a prosecutor...this has never made sense to me. This means a rich guy/gal contemplating a murder need only commit it in some backwater town with police Dept/Prosecutor that have never handled that kind of case/publicity/media swarm and hire a 'dream team' and they're off. If the 'bad guy' gets to have 'the best' shouldn't the victims family also have that option (and don't say they do in civil court -because like OJ they won't spend a day in jail or pay a dime)Also, why isn't there a 'guilty by reason of insanity' charge --why are they not guilty because they are insane...they still did it. Another blogger raised a good point -what if someone kills a bunch of kids & gets 'not guilty by reason of insanity' then when she applies to teach Sunday School and fills out the 'have you ever been convicted of a crime' so can say 'no'....seems pretty flawed to me (the layman).

Ala71: These questions go to the heart of our legal system and are very important. Many (most?) people feel the same as you do.

To start off with, my answer is only my opinion, and not based on my legal experience since I am not yet a lawyer but only a law school graduate. Here goes:

The reason the family can't hire a prosecutor is basically because the family is not considered a party to the case. Sounds strange but it really isn't. Before our legal system took shape there was a thing called a "blood debt" - if you kill my kinsman I can either kill you (or a kinsman of yours) and we are even or you can pay me off with, oh, let's say 10 sheep and 5 cows. As a result of that system, which at first seems emotionally satisfying, either another possibly innocent party is killed or murderers can buy their way out. And of course if my clan is more powerful than yours you might not be able to collect anything. The result was usually that murders were either ignored, paid off, or clan warfare resulted. This was considered justice. The entire system was based around revenge.

Our system replaces the "blood debt" by substituing the state in for the kinsmen of the victim. The state represents society, a society which has been wronged by the murder and seeks to restore order and prevent more murders, but doesn't seek revenge. The system recognizes that the victim's family can never be made whole, that there is no way to make up for their loss. It also recognizes that murdering with impunity encourages more murders. Finally there must be buy-in from the members of society. Murderers must be punished to satisfy our natural inclination toward an eye-for-an-eye or society won't support the system - it won't seem "just." Most importantly of all, it seeks to avoid punishing the innocent. Next of kin can't be relied upon to think rationally or fairly - they are too emotionally impacted by the murder. The state can.

This is all a long-drawn out way to say our society simply replaces revenge killings and clan warfare with legal procedure. It might not be what is best in the opinion of the victim's family but it is probably best for society as a whole since we don't have clan warfare and revenge killings as often as we used to. Gang warfare where the crips and the bloods constantly get back at one another by drive-by revenge killings that never stop is an example of the old system. It is better for all of us that the next of kin are removed from the process.

A rich guy does have access to better lawyers, and sometimes a court doesn't function properly as with OJ. That doesn't mean the system is flawed but indicates those charged with running the system have dropped the ball. The surprising thing is that in talking to defense lawyers, prosecutors, judges, and law professors, most of the time juries get it right. The system isn't perfect. It makes mistakes. But it usually works better than the alternative - drivebys. That doesn't mean it can't be improved though. That would cost money and the money isn't there. The system creaks along and we seem to be much safer than we were 100 years ago.

Do the rich get away with more? Yes. Should they? No. However the system works better than it used to, and much better than the blood debt days, and OJ cases are the exception to the rule, not the rule.

Now on to the insanity defense - probably the most misunderstood aspect of our legal process.

First of all, any defense lawyer will tell you that pleading insanity is a measure of desperation. Defense lawyers don't plead it unless they have absolutely no other options. Why? Because it almost never, ever, ever works. Most of the time juries simply tune out as soon as they hear the plea. They think exactly like you do - "the bastard won't try that crap with me." Every layman thinks that such pleas happen all the time, that murderers simply fake it and then walk free. It is instead rarely pled but every time it is the papers report it. Few follow up to see how the case turns out. In those cases where it is pled it usually fails. It almost always happens that way - those that plead not guilty by reason of insanity are found guilty. Is that good? No, and I'll tell you why.

Assume we have a defendant that kills somebody. They are totally crazy, and they choke what they think is a werewolf attacking them. The "werewolf" is a postman. Our system understands that a "guilty mind" is required before punishment. If an airplane loses power and crashes to the ground through no fault of the pilot, killing two people on the ground, we don't prosecute the pilot. Why? He didn't do anything to kill them. If your steering wheel fails and you careen onto a sidewalk and kill a pedestrian, you haven't committed murder. Mechanical failure is at fault. If you kill an attacker that is trying to stab you, you haven't committed murder either. Society views the death of your attacker as a positive good. Why? A six-year old that fires a gun thinking it is a toy and kills somebody - do we put them away (not talking about the people who left the gun out, I'm talking about the kid)? Of course not. Why?

In each case there was no intent to kill and no reckless disregard for the safety of others. Society can't point to anything that anybody did wrong. So what about the guy fighting the "werewolf" in his mind? What purpose would punishing him serve? It wouldn't. It would send the message that we shouldn't choke werewolves that are trying to kill us. What good would that do? It would punish the crazy guy who would never have harmed the postman if he understood what was going on. True. But to him it would be punishing him for choking a werewolf, not for killing the mailman. It doesn't seem right. He didn't even know the mailman was there.

Sadly, what probably happens is that the insane person will plead insanity and the jury will tune out and convict him. He will go to jail where he will not get the medication and therapy he needs. He will either be victimized in prison by the other inmates, or he will attack them and kill them. It is easy to say "well, inmates deserve what they get" but it could be a relative of yours in jail for smoking dope, or forgetting to file income taxes, or a 16-year old who does something stupid like steal a car and go joyriding. It could be your 16-year old who killed because he is schizophrenic, only you didn't know it until the incident and he is otherwise a great kid who simply needs chemicals for his brain to operate normally. Instead he gets raped and brutalized in prison, or he doesn't get the help he needs and goes on to kill again. Maybe he gets killed by the werewolf guy. Do all these people deserve punishment? Sure, they've broken the law. Do they deserve the death penalty or prison rape? Death for failure to file? No, but that is what they might get. Is that justice? I say no.

Worse yet, let's say that the werewolf killer is sentenced to 25 years. He behaves in prison (because maybe he is forced to take his meds) and gets paroled in 12. He is now out on the street where he stops taking his medicine, and pretty soon he is at the bus stop looking at you funny, muttering about the moon. Oops, system failure. Wish the jury had listened better while he chokes you.

If instead he were found "not guilty by reason of insanity" (which makes sense becasue he didn't have a guilty mind, just a deranged one) he doesn't walk out the door a free man. He will be institutionalized for a certain minimum period of time, and after that he will remain institutionalized until his doctors decide he no longer presents a threat to society. Notice that this is a power jail wardens don't have. The guy can tell his prison guards "I'm going to kill all those werewolves who hang out at the elementary school when I get out" and they have to let him go. The doctors don't - most people institutionalized in such a way stay in mental hospitals longer than they would have stayed in prison. They also get the help they need. And it is usually cheaper to the state to house them where they get treatment than to put them into the prison system.

Note that if a deranged person understands right from wrong and kills somebody for a reason having nothing to do with their illness then they are guilty - no insanity plea because it isn't relevant. If I think I am Blorgon of the planet Dworbula and that the govt is reading my mind with microwaves but I kill you for your wallet because I want your money, then my insanity isn't relevant to the killing and I go to jail, not a mental hospital.

But if I think I am killing a raging bear when I am shooting the old lady across the street then I don't have any guilt - I was killing a raging bear in my mind. Society shouldn't seek to punish me but should seek to protect itself from further harm. Convicting me is the worst option for doing that. Putting me in the rubber room and keeping me there until I don't present a threat is much better for me and for society.

So the "kills a bunch of kids and gets not guilty by reason of insanity" won't be teaching sunday school, at least not anytime soon. They will be in an institution until they don't present a threat anymore, in which case they don't present a threat and the kids are ok. Unless they are convicted, in which case they might be out while they are still young enough to kill again and hang around the playground waiting for an opportunity to strike.

The sad fact is that most of the people who plead insanity are insane but get convicted anyway. Society isn't safer and the insane person is punished for actions they weren't responsible for.