Friday, May 09, 2008

McCain Vows To Replace Secret Service With His Own Bare Fists | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

McCain Vows To Replace Secret Service With His Own Bare Fists | The Onion - America's Finest News Source: "
McCain Vows To Replace Secret Service With His Own Bare Fists"
McCain Vows To Replace Secret Service With His Own Bare Fists

43,000 deployed unfit for combat

USATODAY.com: "WASHINGTON"— More than 43,000 U.S. troops listed as medically unfit for combat in the weeks before their scheduled deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan since 2003 were sent anyway, Pentagon records show.

This reliance on troops found medically "non-deployable" is another sign of stress placed on a military that has sent 1.6 million servicemembers to the war zones, soldier advocacy groups say.

"It is a consequence of the consistent churning of our troops," said Bobby Muller, president of Veterans For America. "They are repeatedly exposed to high-intensity combat with insufficient time at home to rest and heal before redeploying."

The numbers of non-deployable soldiers are based on health assessment forms filled out by medical personnel at each military installation before a servicemember's deployment.

According to those statistics, the number of troops who doctors found non-deployable but who were still sent to Iraq or Afghanistan fluctuated from 10,854 in 2003, down to 5,397 in 2005, and back up to 9,140 in 2007.

The Pentagon records do not list what — or how serious — the health issues are, nor whether they were corrected before deployment, said Michael Kilpatrick, a deputy director for the Pentagon's Force Health Protection and Readiness Programs.

A Pentagon staffer examined 10,000 individual health records last year to determine causes for the non-deployable ratings, Kilpatrick said. Some reasons included a need for eyeglasses, dental work or allergy medicine and a small number of mental health cases, he said.

This is the first war in which this health screening process has been used, the Pentagon said.

Most of the non-deployable servicemembers are in the Army, which is doing most of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. From 5% to 7% of all active-duty, National Guard and Reserve soldiers slated for combat were found medically unfit due to health problems each year since 2003, according to statistics provided to USA TODAY.

Unit commanders make the final decision about whether a servicemember is sent into combat, although doctors can recommend against deployment because of a medical issue, Army spokeswoman Kim Waldron said.

"The commander consults with health care professionals to determine whether the treatment a soldier needs is available in theater," said Army Col. Steven Braverman of the Army Medical Command.

At Fort Carson, in Colorado, Maj. Gen. Mark Graham ordered an investigation into deployment procedures for a brigade deployed to Iraq late last year. At least 36 soldiers were found medically unfit but were still deployed, Graham told USA TODAY.

For at least seven soldiers, treatment in the war zone was inadequate and the soldiers were sent home, he said, and at least two of them should never have been deployed.

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in February, the panel's chairman, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., asked Army leaders about an e-mail from the surgeon for the Fort Carson brigade that said medically "borderline" soldiers went to war because "we have been having issues reaching deployable strength."

"That should not be happening," Army Secretary Pete Geren told the committee. "I can't tell you that it's not, but it certainly should not be happening."

Meanwhile, soldiers with medical problems have also deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan from Fort Drum in New York and Fort Stewart and Fort Benning, both in Georgia, according to Brenda Farrell, who is leading an investigation into the practice for the Government Accountability Office
.

A report from that investigation sought by members of the House Armed Services Committee is due in June.

[bth: anyone with the slightest exposure to deployed troops knows that we are short able bodied soldiers and thus scooping up those who are unfit physically or mentally for the challenge. I have a friend with 3 serious head injuries, a brain tumor and a stroke - at 24 - who was ordered to redeploy until a general finally intervened. The situation borders on nonsense but since most Americans aren't directly involved, are afraid of a draft and generally don't give a shit about the condition troops are exposed to as long as its not their kid, the situation will continue.... By the way, the 7,000 new marines we are going to send to Afghanistan ... where are we going to get them?]

Sic Semper Tyrannis 2008: End Game in Beirut?

Sic Semper Tyrannis 2008: End Game in Beirut?: "The"decisions (of the government) are tantamount to a declaration of war and the start of a war ... on behalf of the United States and Israel," a defiant Nasrallah said at a rare press conference via video link.

On Tuesday, the government launched a probe into a communications network Hezbollah has set up in Lebanon and reassigned the head of airport security over his alleged links to Hezbollah." AFP

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It should be apparent by now that Dick Cheney is touring the Middle East lately for some purpose.

In Jerusalem the Olmert government seeks an opening to settle its problem with Syria. Bashar Assad seems to want the same thing. Cheney is said to have arrived in Israel with the message that the Bush Administration rejects the conclusions of last year's NIE on Iran in favor of some mysterious and super secret "evidence" that the Israelis supposedly have that contradicts the NIE. Olmert's government is now threatened with removal. What a coincidence!

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the forces of information management are doing all they can to beat the drums for further war in the Middle Eastern region.

Now we have the Siniora government (the Sonora government in the Bush pronunciation) in Beirut seeking a confrontation with Hizbullah? We have come to the end of the "fiddling around" in the Lebanon? Have the Jacobins, their Israelis allies and whatever it is that Cheney is, decided to end the suspense and trigger a war on Hizbullah and maybe Syria. We live in interesting times. pl

http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5gitppiJxG2wQdk1DG2SCvgiiK92w

[bth: this is Col. Lang's assessment which is usually right. I'm less clear what's going on but something big is about to unfold.]

Babylon & Beyond : Los Angeles Times : IRAQ: The elusive Iranian weapons

Babylon & Beyond : Los Angeles Times : IRAQ: The elusive Iranian weapons: "There"was something interesting missing from Maj. Gen. Kevin Bergner's introductory remarks to journalists at his regular news briefing in Baghdad on Wednesday: the word "Iran," or any form of it. It was especially striking as Bergner, the U.S. military spokesman here, announced the extraordinary list of weapons and munitions that have been uncovered in recent weeks since fighting erupted between Iraqi and U.S. security forces and Shiite militiamen.

Among other things, Bergner cited 20,000 "items of ammunition, explosives and weapons" reported by Iraqi forces in the central city of Karbala; an additional Karbala cache containing 570 explosive devices, nine mortars, four anti-aircraft missiles, and 45 RPGs; and in the southern city of Basra alone, 39 mortar tubes, 1,800 mortars and artillery rounds, 600 rockets, and 387 roadside bombs. Read his remarks here.

Not once did Bergner point the finger at Iran for any of these weapons and munitions, which is a striking change from just a couple of weeks ago when U.S. military officials here and at the Pentagon were saying that caches found in Basra in particular had revealed Iranian-made arms manufactured as recently as this year. They say the majority of rockets being fired at U.S. bases, including Baghdad's Green Zone, are launched by militiamen receiving training, arms and other aid from Iran....

A plan to show some alleged Iranian-supplied explosives to journalists last week in Karbala and then destroy them was canceled after the United States realized none of them was from Iran. A U.S. military spokesman attributed the confusion to a misunderstanding that emerged after an Iraqi Army general in Karbala erroneously reported the items were of Iranian origin.

When U.S. explosives experts went to investigate, they discovered they were not Iranian after all.

Iran, meanwhile, continues to seethe after an Iraqi delegation went to Tehran last week to confront it with the accusations. It has denied the accusations, and it says as long as U.S. forces continue to take part in military action in Iraq's Shiite strongholds, it won't consider holding further talks with Washington on how to stabilize Iraq.

—Tina Susman in Baghdad

[bth: ok so what's going on here? One day Iran, Iran, Iran, the next day, no Iran. Bergner was a shill for the neocons transfered over from the White House last year to make sure the news was politically suitable. Somehow the politics just shifted. I doubt the facts on the ground actually changed at all. So what's going on here and why now?]

Hezbollah takes control of Sunni Beirut districts

MoneyAM - Free Share Prices, Stock Quotes, Charts, News, Level2: "BEIRUT"(Thomson Financial) - Several Sunni neighbourhoods in west Beirut considered bastions of Lebanon's ruling bloc have fallen under the control of rival Hezbollah-led militants, witnesses and AFP correspondents said on Friday.

Witnesses in the neighbourhoods of Zarif, Zokak al-Blat, Malla, Corniche al-Mazraa and Ras an-Nabaa said militants from the Shiite Muslim Hezbollah and its ally the Amal movement were out in force.

Fierce gun battles were raging in the mixed Sunni-Shiite-Christian neighbourhood of Hamra where opposition militants appeared to be gaining ground, AFP correspondents saw.

[bth: something significant has shifted in Beirut for this to happen.]

Monday, May 05, 2008

From the Frontline

From the Frontline

Militants burn down girls' school in north-west Pakistan - South Asia

Militants burn down girls' school in north-west Pakistan - South Asia: "Peshawar"A high school for girls in Pakistan's north-west Swat district was largely destroyed after militants set it ablaze in an overnight raid, police and officials said on Sunday.

Around 50 rebels entered the school in the conflict-hit Charbagh area, located some 150 kilometres from the city of Peshawar, shortly after Saturday's midnight and used petrol bombs to destroy the library and nine other rooms in the building, the police said.

'The masked men directed me to remove all the copies of Koran (the holy book of Islamic religion) and then set the school on fire,' a watchman, Toti Gul, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

The militants also planted homemade bombs in the school's science laboratory; however, they did not go off and were later defused by a bomb disposal squad, the watchman said.

A number of attacks on girls' schools have been reported in the past and these were believed to be carried out by pro-Taliban fighters commanded by a local radical cleric, Maulana Fazlullah.

Pakistani military launched a massive operation against the pro- Taliban militants in the picturesque mountain district late last year to flush Fazlullah's supporters out of several key towns and villages.

However, now there is a lull in direct clashes between the rebels and the military as the government has launched peace talks with the insurgents.

'The militants were bold enough to stay at the school for at least 20 minutes to see the building burn out,' Gul said.

The attack came at a time when the annual examinations in the whole of Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) are in progress, and it is feared that hundreds of girl students would not be able to sit them, as the school was the only one in Charbagh.

Fazlullah used to broadcast radio transmissions through his illegal FM stations based in Imam Dheri village, discouraging the local population from educating girls and getting children immunized against polio, saying the UN-sponsored vaccination drive aimed at causing sexual impotence.

Authorities in Swat said though the government had reached a peace agreement with the militants in the valley that was once a haven for tourists, violence was again on the rise, particularly after the release of a firebrand cleric detained in Peshwar.

Maulana Sufi Mohammed, who is the chief of a banned religious organization - Tehrik Nifaz-e-Shariat Mohammedi (Movement for the Enforcement of Mohammedan Law) - was released by the NWFP's new political government that decided to negotiate with the militants, instead of using military means.

Pakistan saw a surge in militancy and violence, especially against its armed forces, after government troops cracked down on militants holed up in the Red Mosque in capital Islamabad. More than 110 people were killed in the commando raid.

Hezbollah Trains Iraqis in Iran, Officials Say - New York Times

Hezbollah Trains Iraqis in Iran, Officials Say - New York Times: "Militants"from the Lebanese group Hezbollah have been training Iraqi militia fighters at a camp near Tehran, according to American interrogation reports that the United States has supplied to the Iraqi government.

An American official said the account of Hezbollah’s role was provided by four Shiite militia members who were captured in Iraq late last year and questioned separately.

The United States has long charged that the Iranians were training Iraqi militia fighters in Iran, which Iran has consistently denied, and there have been previous reports about Hezbollah operatives in Iraq.

But the Americans say the reports of Hezbollah’s role at the Iranian camp offer important details about Iranian assistance to the militias, including efforts Iran appears to be making to train the fighters in unobtrusive ways.

Material from the interrogations was given to the Iraqi government, along with other data about captured Iranian arms, before it sent a delegation to Tehran last week to discuss allegations of Iranian aid to militia groups.

It is not known if the delegation confronted its Iranian hosts with the information, or how the Iranians responded.

Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s government announced Sunday that it would conduct its own inquiry into accusations of Iranian intervention in Iraq and document any interference.

“We have experienced in the past that Iran interfered and has special groups in Iraq, but Iran also had evidence that they were participating in positive ways in security,” Ali al-Dabbagh, a senior Iraqi government spokesman, said in an interview.

“We would like the Iranians to keep their commitment, the commitments they made in meetings with the prime minister and with other groups that have visited them,” he said. “They had made the promise that Iran would be playing a supportive role...

[bth: note how no US sources are actually named.]

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Sic Semper Tyrannis 2008: A Tale of Two Incompetents (Bush and Rumsfeld)

Sic Semper Tyrannis 2008: A Tale of Two Incompetents (Bush and Rumsfeld): "''"Yes, sir. Our report validated everything you told us — that Franks issued the orders to discard the original twelve-to-eighteen-month occupation deployment, that the forces were drawing down, that we were walking away from the mission, and that everybody knew about it. And let me tell you, the Secretary did not like that one bit. After we went in to brief him, he just shut us down. 'This is not going anywhere,' he said. 'Oh, and by the way, leave all the copies right here and don't talk to anybody about it.'"

"You mean he embargoed all the copies of the report?" I asked.

"Yes, sir, he did." " Time

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This is the characteristic Rumsfeld style; cruel, manipulative, unconcerned with the truth, eager to escape responsibility for failure. He knows these generals are completely self-serving careerists and that they can be made to do anything that is desired by the implied or direct promise of reward or the threat of punishment. These modern generals have been cultivatd like plants to have the reactions of people on the way up in the business world where the war of "all against all" is the underlying psychological paragdigm. The inappropriateness of this mind set in the military world where cooperation and self sacrifice are called for completely escapes Rumsfeld. For the blind, selfish narrowmindedness that leads to that fatal incomprehension, Rumsfeld must be judged incompetent. pl

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1736831-3,00.html

""What's probably counterintuitive to you is that this has been a great experience for our family. I've lived in the White House now for seven and a half years, and the furniture is interesting but it's like a museum," he said, the crowd laughing.

"And there's love in that White House, thanks to a good wife," Mr. Bush said of first lady Laura Bush, as the crowd applauded. "She's great ... which is one of the reasons this has been a fabulous experience."" Washtimes

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It is a far, far better place that he goes to... and the sooner the better. He says he might be a talk show host? Yes. He can do an afternoon radio show from Crawford, something akin to the radio fandango in "Tuna, Texas." The grotesque buffoonery of this man offends the eye and the soul. "A fabulous experience?" History will judge him. A true incompetent. pl

http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080503/NATION/120439342/1001

[bth: that my son died serving these self centered fools is indeed a bitter pill]

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