Soldier files a racism complaint about his superiors
By Marisa Demarco
Adam Jarrell has wanted to be in the military since he was a kid. So his treatment in Afghanistan came as quite a shock, he says. During his yearlong deployment, he was subject to racial slurs and threats of physical violence, according to a complaint. Jarrell says someone even hung a noose outside his sleeping quarters.
What if, instead of celebrating the news, President Adams sat in the darkness of his study, amid his books and papers, and considered that despite the news, the military occupations would continue unabated?
President Obama announced tonight that al Qaeda's former leader was killed after a firefight with Navy Seals. He confirmed Internet rumors that Osama bin Laden's body was in U.S. possession. Many Americans are rejoicing, especially at Ground Zero.
The president said killing bin Laden was among his first directives:
" ... Shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle and defeat his network."
And he reminded viewers that the United States is not at war with Islam:
"I've made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own."
If you missed it, the full text of the president's speech is online.
Meet the man who may be in charge: Bin Laden's second in command, Ayman al-Zawahri, is a surgeon who was born in Egypt.
Estimates suggest the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will produce more than 1 million veterans.
In this week’s news section, I highlighted the lack of media coverage on veteran’s issues. I spoke with local members of Iraq Veterans Against the War in January after Kenneth Ellis III, who was being treated at the VA Medical Center for PTSD, was killed by Albuquerque police. He was pulled over for bad plates, and stepped out of the car with a gun to his head.
Romeo Rocha, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, said he hoped Ellis’ death would give PTSD more media attention. "It's still showing up, but it's not making headlines anymore,” he told the Alibi in January.
Even if American media isn’t focused on the issue right now, an Italian documentary at the Venice Film Festival follows three veterans who served in Iraq and how they were treated by the military. It’s called Ward 54, so named for the psychiatric ward of Walter Reed Army Medical Center. In 2005, Mark Benjamin penned a piece for Salon.com that shined a light on the hospital’s neglect of PTSD patients.
“... the entire time that they’re at Walter Reed, the Army seems to be more bent on trying to determine that their problems were not, in fact, caused by the war and that, in fact, these soldiers were just crazy of their own accord.”
Though, as the AP story on Ward 54 points out, a report to Congress last month shows that these wars have produced significantly high rates of suicides for the U.S. military. More than 1,100 service members killed themselves between 2005 and 2009. The suicide rate is only going up in 2010.
By now, pretty much all of us who are going to read the Rolling Stone article that caused General McCrystal to resign his post at the helm of the Afghanistan war have done so. The writer, Michael Hastings, is unlikely to write another piece like it for some time. He's just been denied an embed by the Department of Defense.
Luckily, journalists Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger (the guy who wrote The Perfect Storm) had a 10 month embed in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley back in 2008. They took with them video equipment and have directed a powerful war documentary, Restrepo.
I realize, a lot of people head to the movies to escape and Restrepo doesn't allow for that. Sure, it's in an unfamiliar world and about experiences that aren't, for most of us, everyday. But its story of a small group of soldiers who engage in gunfights every day and who, on more than one occasion, lose a member of their team is too real to ignore. One could easily say that of course it's too real, it's a documentary, but so was The King of Kong, and that sucker doesn't feel real at all. What makes Restrepo so powerful is that the filmmakers don't judge their subjects from a healthy distance. Instead, they climb into the foxhole with them as the same bullets whizz by their rolling cameras.
Restrepo opens tonight at the Century 14 Downtown and, because it's the downer flick of the year, probably won't be around all that long. That's a damn shame though. This movie is amazing and demonstrates, through a first hand account, of just how many resources are being wasted in Afghanistan. Despite having spent more than a trillion dollars on the almost decade old war, the troops in Restrepo don't have a lot of resources. (By the way, they're also not being paid all that great either.)
Whether you're for the war or against it, Restrepo, named after the base at which the troops are stationed (which, in turn, was named for one of those killed in the valley), gives a view of war most of us wouldn't want to see first hand.
This Friday marks the 65th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, with the anniversary of Nagasaki's bombing on Monday. To protest the continued procurement of nuclear weapons, Think Outside the Bomb are camping near Los Alamos. Their website, thinkoutsidethebomb.org has directions to the camp if anyone out there is looking to make their weekend in the woods more politically active.
If you're not real outdoorsy, check out John Hersey's Hiroshima. It's an amazing book, which appeared as an article in the New Yorker's August 31, 1946 issue. In fact, it was such a powerful story, editors dedicated the entire issue to it, forgoing their cartoons or any other articles.
Another of my faves about the aftermath of World War II is John W. Dower's Embracing Defeat. It's not an uplifting book but it creates a vivid post-war world in your mind.
Of course, 65 is often cited as retirement age (though that's not exactly true these days), which gives Think Outside the Bomb's protest a little more of a "Happy Retirement Fat Man and Little Boy" feel.
General Petraeus swapped for General McChrystal in Afghanistan
By Alex E. Limkin
The names of the countries in which we are fighting no longer matter. This is what happens when war drags on interminably. It becomes enough to refer to the conflicts solely by the passage of time during which the dead and the bereft have multiplied insensibly.
And across the country, protesters are gathering. Today at 11 a.m., demonstrators will rally at Civic Plaza to urge the United States to withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan. If you know of related events, feel free to add them as comments to this blog.
Don’t worry, Middle America. In the effort to thwart the threat to national security posed by Islamic extremism (the greatest threat to our way of life since communism swept like a hot summer breeze into Indochina), no draft will be forthcoming. All fighting will be conducted by the indentured underclass that has nothing better to do than grind out multiple tours in the warm, inviting climes of Iraq and Afghanistan for the sake of indifferent countrymen.