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May 01, 2004

They also serve, who watch and wait...

...sometimes in vain. From my blogbuddy Rammer comes this, which deserves a wide readership.

Excerpt:

I am studying for my masters in psychology and nothing I have read or studied prepared me for this. Michael always used to tease me when we talked about different issues "what chapter is this?" he would say. Nothing or no chapter ever prepared me for losing the love of my life in war. I still remember all of the things he told me before be left and now I have to live by them, that is the only thing that gets me through this pain, and his supportive friends. I visit his grave at least three times a week … not wanting to leave him lonely. It’s a cold spooky place, but when I am there I question why he is there.

You should read the rest. To do so, go vist Rammer, here. Those soldiers discussed in the post below - whether they realize it or not - spit on this soldier's grave, and in this woman's face.

by John on May 01, 2004

On the Mistreatment of Iraqi Prisoners

In the comments to this post I am obliquely called to task by a (I assume) left-wing college student who wants to know where the outrage is over the still unfolding story about the alleged mistreatment of Iraqi prisoner by US troops. Actually, the evidence produced so far looks pretty damning to me - but I'll stick with the alleged because that's the way it works until the Courtsmartial process is done. That whole innocent before proven guilty thing.

The site linked to - a LIveJournal site run by transmigrant, has some very graphic photos that I hadn't seen. No apologies for not having seen it yet. Not being a college student, I'm working twelve hour days and running an internet charity drive. So, I'm not up on the news. Hell, dude - I haven't even been reading other people's blogs.

My response to the commenter (I don't think the commenter is the LJ site owner) was this:

Yep, you're right. It looks like an ugly thing.

As I've said elsewhere, we don't shoot enough generals. Hopefully this one will be, in the metaphorical sense. And maybe more than one, if we're lucky. And not just with a forced retirement, either.

And if the military establishment doesn't go after these people with guns blazing - they will be deserving of the scorn and abuse thrown their way.

I won't defend this, if it's what it appears to be.

But one wonders what you are expecting of me? To don sackcloth and ashes? Call for the immediate withdrawal of all the soldiers? Declare that the actions of these soldiers is a stain upon the escutcheon of all other soldiers now serving and demand the disbandment of the DoD, restoration of Saddam to power, and a written apology to Bin Laden?

Sorry. I'll be happy if the courtsmartial process works, and if they are found guilty, they come here to Leavenworth and take the long tour.

There isn't a defense for what they appear to have done. I won't offer one. That's the job of their lawyers.

I also went and submitted a comment at the site, which transmigrant posted. Actually - as of last night, when last I read through it, the comments are pretty even, given the crowd probably reading it and that fact that either through transmigrant's management or just the demographic, it hadn't descended to mindless left-right trollery-countertrollery.

I was a cop once. I liked being a cop, not for the power over people, but for the power to influence things - and the occaisional adrenaline rush, too. But as a cop I saw fellow cops who were way into the power side of it. And that was especially true of the jailers. Why am I brining this up?

Surely we don't think that what went on in that prison was policy? Rhetorical question, of course some people do. And they always will. One of the things I find amazing when dealing with people like that is they seem to think it's the norm of government and the military, and that "You know what I'm talking about." I don't. I always seemed to miss those memos from the Vast Conspiracy. I'm starting to ramble here.

Here's some pictures (about the least objectionable - if you want really bad, go see transmigrants site).

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What we have here, are some very, very, very dumb soldiers. And venal. And mindlessly pointlessly cruel. And unworthy of the uniform they wear, and the nation they represent. They would have fit in the security services of the regime we went there to replace. If (being legalistic here, I wouldn't want to be their lawyers with these pictures) they did what they appear to have done - they are no different in any meaningful sense from those who they replaced in that very same prison, Abu Ghraib.

The General commanding has no defense against an administrative destruction of her career. She may not be criminally liable, that's for the Art. 32 and a subsequent courtsmartial to determine - but at a minimum she should be retired at her permanent rank (probably LtCol). If they can show that she is criminally negligent or otherwise responsible, dismissal and a tour here at Leavenworth are also appropriate. And all of them, if convicted, should be subject to civil suits.

I have started to hear the moonbats bark, however. Saying this is really just the way the services, and this government, is. News dudes. If Al Gore had sent us on this operation, this would have happened. This isn't an issue of policy. This is an issue of command malfeasance, and a failure of discipline. What these soldiers appear to have done is wrong morally and legally. It's the same thing that happens in US prisons - abuse of authority under the color of law. And should be dealt with accordingly.

And if DoD can't deal with it - then I will join with people from whatever political position in heaping scorn upon the leadership. That said - you have to remember that Rumsfeld and Co. have to be careful in what they say - or they will hand a defense to these soldier's lawyers - unlawful command influence. There's a lot that will happen behind the scenes, that you will never see. But it's happening. I have one other grump with this - DoD, no matter who sits in the White House, always sits on crap like this until it comes out in the papers. And looks stupid and venal for doing so. When are the bureacrats (and senior leaders) ever going to learn that you can never keep this shit quiet and you might as well go ugly early?

What's the other story here? Those soldiers will have their day in court. And, if found guilty, will hopefully have an unhappy passel of years following. And they're always going to be facing those pictures. But while their behavior mirrors the behavior of Saddam's thugs who ran that prison - the other thing to note is that none of those soldiers has an ID card with the job title of State Rapist, and similar job descriptions. Those people are most likely going to jail. And the same Army that put their predecessors out of business put them out of business. The previous management of that prison would have given them raises.

But there's no excuse, or defense, for that behavior. But running away from Iraq isn't the answer, either. If anything, show the Iraqis what the 'rule of law' means.

As for where are the right-wing bloggers on this? Smash. Misha. Kim. Reynolds. Michele. Kevin. Balloon Juice. Brain Fertilizer. Baldilocks. Outside the Beltway. Blogospherics. Brain Shavings.

That's what I found in a quick stroll around the blogosphere. I haven't found any major names doing anything other than condemn - and Juliette's for shooting the bastards. If anything, I'm the softest of the bunch.

UPDATE: I also address this issue here and here.

Ooo. First troll. Articulate as ever. And, as always, anonymous. Thank you for sharing this useful piece of opinion.

F*CK USA army, they're allredy f*cked all over IRAQ....and they will be F*CKED all over the WORLD

One can only hope you will be among those who try to do so. Thank you for your interest in national defense.

by John on May 01, 2004 | Global War on Terror (GWOT)
» Extreme Psychosis links with: ~ Sunday Psychosis ~
» Mind of Mog links with: Court Marshall The Bastards
» The Cool Blue Blog links with: The fallout

April 30, 2004

Now that SOA is over...

I think we could use a moment of Zen. Gun Zen, that is. So, reflect on this.

by John on Apr 30, 2004 | Machine Guns
» Practical Penumbra links with: They're not bad, they're just drawn that way
» Les Jones Blog links with: Thursday Gun Links #16

April 28, 2004

Ever wanted a Real Cluebat™?

We have another premium on offer. Ever had your hands itch for a Cluebat™?

Of course you have. Misha has one. A real one. It looks like this:

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Now you can have one. A Castle Argghhh! Cluebat, direct from the Imperial Armory's woodshop and the Armorer's Carpenter! TacJammer is accepting bids as you read!

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by John on Apr 28, 2004

April 27, 2004

To hell with all that.

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I can't honor them all individually. It doesn't mean I don't feel the same way about all my brothers and sisters in arms.

This is why I support Spirit of America.

This is why, in my time, I fought.

Fuck Indymedia. If you don't, or won't understand, I don't have the words to help you understand.

This We'll Defend.

Once again, at Castle Argghhh!, we dance. In memoriam.

Semper Fi, Private First Class Phelps.

Thanks, Walt. You too, Matty. And you too, LtCol Strobl.

Sorry to borrow your fouled anchor, Eric.

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April 26, 2004

A reminder.

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That Coast Guardsmen are warriors too. Not that I have ever forgotten it.

Sometimes the Transportation Department, which owns the Coast Guard in times of peace, does forget.

Now comes the first Coast Guard fatal casualty of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Semper Paratus, Damage Controlman Third Class Nathan B. Bruckenthal.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance. In Memoriam.

Update: I'm getting old and senility is setting in. The Coast Guard now belongs to the Department of Homeland Defense. I knew that, but my typing fingers didn't (the slap upside the head from the Coastie helped!)

Awwww. Gotta love 'Murican soldiers. Unless yer Indymedia, of course - then Saddamite thugs are preferable..


Pfc. Hammer Finds a Home
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 24, 2004 - A tiger-striped Iraqi kitten that wiggled its way into the hearts of a U.S. Army unit has made its way to the United States, thanks to a host of volunteers and two animal welfare groups.

Pfc. Hammer, an Iraq-born cat that befriended soldiers of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, during their deployment in Iraq, arrives in San Francisco, Calif., enroute to his new home in Colorado. Courtesy photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image); high-resolution image available.

Soldiers with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, dubbed the tiny ball of fur that wandered into their tent early last fall "Pfc. Hammer."

"He was born at the site," said Staff Sgt. Rick Bousfield. "There were two other kittens in the litter, but they ran away. He stayed and kept mice out of our living quarters and out of our dining facility."

Adopted by the troops, the young cat provided warmth and companionship in an otherwise hostile environment. When the unit was attacked by mortar fire, Hammer ran to the bunkers, where the nearest soldier scooped him inside his body armor to wait out the attack.

"He was like our stress therapist over there," Bousfield recalled. "You'd come in off raids where we'd been kicking in doors and guys would be sitting outside by themselves. He'd come over and take their minds off the war."

When Bousfield learned the unit was leaving Iraq to return to Fort Carson, Colo., he sent an e-mail asking for help to Alley Cat Allies, a national nonprofit clearinghouse for information on feral and stray cats, in Washington, D.C. The sergeant said he wanted to ensure his whole unit came home together, and that included Pfc. Hammer.

Hammer "has been quite a morale booster for us, because we consider him one of our troops," Bousfield wrote. "If there was a way that ACA could help get Hammer back to the States, it would be a wonderful boost for the men to see the cat who has won their hearts free - like the Iraqi people."

Bousfield's plea "brought the war home for us," said ACA national director Becky Robinson. "This was a soldier in Iraq writing us. How could we say no to a soldier in Iraq fighting for freedom?"

"His e-mail was so moving we felt like we couldn't say no," she said. "We had never done anything like this, but the moment we finished reading it, it was a given that we were going to figure out how to do this."

Hundreds of people sent e-mails and made donations to help get the cat to the States after ACA posted Hammer's plight on on the organization's web site, said Lynne Cummings, ACA director of gift planning.

"Alley Cat Allies doesn't usually get asked to do things in wartime," she said. "It was a really nice thing for us to be able to do to show our support to Rick and his unit. We didn't really care if we raised any money to help defray the costs."

ACA joined forces with Military Mascots, a grassroots all-volunteer effort dedicated to helping U.S. deployed service members who have befriended a canine mascot on foreign soil. Supporters' donations, combined with money from ACA's Compassion Fund, paid for Hammer's medical and travel expenses, Cummings said.

Working with a veterinary hospital in Kuwait, they arranged an international flight for Hammer. Prior to leaving the region, the cat was neutered and given a clean bill of health.

Bousfield returned from Iraq in early April. It took a week or so longer for Pfc. Hammer.

An ACA volunteer met up with Hammer when he arrived in San Francisco and accompanied the cat on a domestic flight to his new home outside of Denver. Bousfield and his daughter Tiffany, 15, along with another company member, Sgt. Robert Scott, were waiting for Hammer when he arrived at Denver International Airport.

The ACA volunteer who accompanied the cat said he started purring and kneading her arm as soon as he heard Bousfield's voice. The wartime bond formed thousands of miles away had not been forgotten.

Back at Fort Carson, Bousfield reunited Hammer with his former cohorts. "We all met at the same time to sign out on block leave so I took him in on his leash," Bousfield said. "They were happy to see him."

Hammer now lives with Bousfield's family - and five other cats. Bousfield said they all get along now that they've gotten "the pecking order straight."

"We kept him in a room by himself for a week," he said. "Little by little we let him out. He roams around all he wants to now. He runs around. He's fast. The vet says he's an Egyptian Mau."

Original article and more pics are here.


PS: PFC Hammer sez: Donate to Spirit of America!

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SGT Hook's Birthday is coming up!

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And since the Hook is in the 'Stan, some blogger babes have decided to keep his morale high and have created an Internet Birthday Card for Sgt Hook.

So, go here, and send the Hook a greeting while he Flies for Freedom!

And while you're at it - go say something nice to Tammi for helping set it all up!

April 25, 2004

Oh bugger, Mates! ANZAC DAY! I almost forgot!

...and since Australia and New Zealand are ahead of us as far as time is concerned... I effectively did forget.

My apologies.

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Today is ANZAC Day - on 25 April, 1915, the Australia-New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) waded ashore at Gallipoli - and into the history books.

It is a Day of Remembrance for all the ANZAC fallen in all the conflicts that ANZAC soldiers have carried the flag. Usually commemorated at a Dawn Service.

At times, at the request of the local ANZAC officers and staff at the Command and General Staff College, the Imperial Arsenal at Castle Argghhh! has provided our Vickers machinegun (ex-Turkish, and by s/n a possible Gallipoli vet) and Lithgow-built Enfields are used in the proceedings. As are the two Turkish mausers in the collection that are probably Gallipoli veterans. They are fitted with two SMLE bayonets, modified by the Turks to fit the Mauser - that are guaranteed Gallipoli veterans, but that I don't have good pictures of, sorry.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance. In Memoriam.

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There's more in the extended post.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

Food for thought.

As far as I have been able to track this back, it seems genuine. Doesn't mean it won't eventually end up on Snopes with a red button - but the names and other identifying stuff I snipped all check out.

-----Original Message----- From: Someone in Iraq. Sent: Saturday, April 24, 2004 12:07 AM Subject: FW: Letter from a Marine First Lieutenant in Iraq

To All,
First, to those who have been so gracious with sending me e-mails - please forgive me for not promptly returning them. Since 9 April my life has taken a very dramatic turn based on a series of events that quite frankly will change me forever! As I'm sure many of you have heard by know the tragic events associated with the attacks on a number of contractor vehicles operating in Iraq - the company name is Kellogg, Brown & Root -or- KBR for short. {snip}, one of my major tasks is working with KBR ensuring the variety of critical service support KBR provides is delivered properly and on time IOT to the over 120,000+ Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines in theater. These guys (both civilian and military alike) were my responsibility to watch over! We lost quite a number of contractors and soldiers in the attack! We've been able to recover most of the remains ... but we still have a fair number to find. By now, you've seen the pictures of the hostages - where these thugs have made these men a "public spectacle" - it tears us up! Our days have been long since 9 April and the natives have been a bit "restless" to say the least ... Victory Camp has been a favorite target - but we've weathered the storm pretty well. No causalities, but it's only going to be a matter of time .... This is a very different enemy that what we faced just about a year ago! But all that said, I can tell you the spirit of every man and women stationed here is *high* and all believe we're doing the Lord's work by being here, doing what we're doing.
Many of you have asked how you can support the men & women over here ... well here's a way. Read the letter I've attached from a young Marine First Lieutenant with I MEF over here in Fallujah -- this young kid has hit the mark! Our enemy isn't here -- it's back home and they're living under the protection of their First Amendment Right! The Right to say anything they'd like' any time, any where ... regardless of the facts surrounding their absurd statements! If you want to know what *burns* every service man and woman - it's the crap we hear and read coming for the news media every day. Our patience wears thin! This is tough duty - the locals love us and don't want us to leave - but you don't hear about that! About 90 percent of the country lives in poverty! Middle Eastern Politics prevents us from doing our Job! But don't despair, you can help .... Read the letter and see if you agree with the Lt!
(snip}
Location: Deployed, Victory Camp, Baghdad, Iraq (ed note: the link is not from the letter, I inserted it in case you were interested in Victory Camp, Iraq)

"We will fight the enemy on our terms. May God help them when we're done with them,"
Maj. Gen. James Mattis, Commanding General, 1st Marine Division.
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The Lieutenant's letter is in the extended post.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »