Billions Per Month.....For What, Again?

Ex-Guantanamo inmate in Iraq suicide bombing: TV

So Iraq is the breeding ground for terrorists, huh?

Looks to me like our boys in 'Uba are doing a fine job at it as well. I wonder if we can fire off another 500 Million per month to combat the "enemy combatant combatants"........

....hmmm sounds like Jimmy Two Times from Goodfellas..."I'm gonnah get the papers, get the papers."

Can we go back a second, 500 Million per month......500 Million. Wow. I guess you really don't get what you pay for these days. I cannot even imagine what it would take to actually buy every single homeless person a home, but I bet that 500 Million bucks per month might cover that and get them all a nice wardrobe, a decent transit system that could cross a new infrastructure of tracks and bridges, as well as things like food and proper health care..... know, to make them viable candidates for all those jobs we keep shipping all over the world.

Pat Tillman Was Murdered

This explains a lot, doesn't it? It's horrific. Pat Tillman was shot by more than one soldier, with standard M16 rifles, in the head, from a distance of less than 35 feet. He was delibrately targeted and fired upon by his own men. Then superiors covered it up and even congratulated each other via e-mail for preventing a criminal investigation. And while the Tillman family was lied to, the heroic story of Pat Tillman was sold to the American public to drum-up support for the occupation of Iraq, Army enlistment, and the War on Terror.

I am not shocked much in Bushworld, but even this story has me shocked. And knowing that Tillman was a left-leaning atheist, and seeing how he affirmed it in his very last words, has me furious. He was in Afghanistan for the same reason I would have gone - to kill the guys who trained and financed those who killed our people (and nearly killed me) in 2001. He wasn't there to promote Bush's 2004 reelection, but that's how he was used in the end. It it outrageous. And since the Bush administration took steps to prevent the truth from coming out, claiming broad executive privilege, then they must be held accountable for the cover-up.

The NFL needs to shut the fuck up about how one of their stars kicked Taliban ass. The Bushies and warhawks need to shut the fuck up about how we need to enlist and fight their war. And the wingnuts just need to shut the fuck up. I want justice. The Tillmans deserve justice.

AP: New details on Tillman's death

AP National Writer
July 26, 2007

Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman's forehead and tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether the former NFL player's death amounted to a crime, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

"The medical evidence did not match up with the, with the scenario as described," a doctor who examined Tillman's body after he was killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2004 told investigators.

The doctors — whose names were blacked out — said that the bullet holes were so close together that it appeared the Army Ranger was cut down by an M-16 fired from a mere 10 yards or so away.

Ultimately, the Pentagon did conduct a criminal investigation, and asked Tillman's comrades whether he was disliked by his men and whether they had any reason to believe he was deliberately killed. The Pentagon eventually ruled that Tillman's death at the hands of his comrades was a friendly-fire accident.

The medical examiners' suspicions were outlined in 2,300 pages of testimony released to the AP this week by the Defense Department in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

Among other information contained in the documents:

• In his last words moments before he was killed, Tillman snapped at a panicky comrade under fire to shut up and stop "sniveling."

• Army attorneys sent each other congratulatory e-mails for keeping criminal investigators at bay as the Army conducted an internal friendly-fire investigation that resulted in administrative, or non-criminal, punishments.

• The three-star general who kept the truth about Tillman's death from his family and the public told investigators some 70 times that he had a bad memory and couldn't recall details of his actions.

• No evidence at all of enemy fire was found at the scene — no one was hit by enemy fire, nor was any government equipment struck.

The Pentagon and the Bush administration have been criticized in recent months for lying about the circumstances of Tillman's death. The military initially told the public and the Tillman family that he had been killed by enemy fire. Only weeks later did the Pentagon acknowledge he was gunned down by fellow Rangers.

With questions lingering about how high in the Bush administration the deception reached, Congress is preparing for yet another hearing next week.

The Pentagon is separately preparing a new round of punishments, including a stinging demotion of retired Lt. Gen. Philip R. Kensinger Jr., 60, according to military officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the punishments under consideration have not been made public.

In more than four hours of questioning by the Pentagon inspector general's office in December 2006, Kensinger repeatedly contradicted other officers' testimony, and sometimes his own. He said on some 70 occasions that he did not recall something.

At one point, he said: "You've got me really scared about my brain right now. I'm really having a problem."

Tillman's mother, Mary Tillman, who has long suggested that her son was deliberately killed by his comrades, said she is still looking for answers and looks forward to the congressional hearings next week.

"Nothing is going to bring Pat back. It's about justice for Pat and justice for other soldiers. The nation has been deceived," she said.

The documents show that a doctor who autopsied Tillman's body was suspicious of the three gunshot wounds to the forehead. The doctor said he took the unusual step of calling the Army's Human Resources Command and was rebuffed. He then asked an official at the Army's Criminal Investigation Division if the CID would consider opening a criminal case.

"He said he talked to his higher headquarters and they had said no," the doctor testified.

Also according to the documents, investigators pressed officers and soldiers on a question Mrs. Tillman has been asking all along.

"Have you, at any time since this incident occurred back on April 22, 2004, have you ever received any information even rumor that Cpl. Tillman was killed by anybody within his own unit intentionally?" an investigator asked then-Capt. Richard Scott.

Scott, and others who were asked, said they were certain the shooting was accidental.

Investigators also asked soldiers and commanders whether Tillman was disliked, whether anyone was jealous of his celebrity, or if he was considered arrogant. They said Tillman was respected, admired and well-liked.

The documents also shed new light on Tillman's last moments.

It has been widely reported by the AP and others that Spc. Bryan O'Neal, who was at Tillman's side as he was killed, told investigators that Tillman was waving his arms shouting "Cease fire, friendlies, I am Pat (expletive) Tillman, damn it!" again and again.

But the latest documents give a different account from a chaplain who debriefed the entire unit days after Tillman was killed.

The chaplain said that O'Neal told him he was hugging the ground at Tillman's side, "crying out to God, help us. And Tillman says to him, `Would you shut your (expletive) mouth? God's not going to help you; you need to do something for yourself, you sniveling ..."


Associated Press reporters Scott Lindlaw in Las Vegas and Lolita C. Baldor in Washington contributed to this story.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press.

John Walker Lindh Sent to Supermax in Colorado

This is old news, but it is worth posting. I will always be puzzled and angry that John Walker Lindh was imprisoned for 20 years for being foolish and reckless enough to engage in the Afghan civil war. Note that at no point was he involved with al Qaeda. He thought he was helping the Taliban fight the rival Northern Alliance for control of Afghanistan. Now engaging in a civil war aside, simply living with the Taliban was risky and stupid, but as far as I know, it did not violate US treaties or laws when he moved there. In fact the US was sending the Taliban modest amounts of aid. I think the Feds would have had a stronger case against Lindh had he been found living in Cuba. Again, living with the Taliban does not make him an al Qaeda supporter. I loved it how the Administration blended al Qaeda and the Taliban together in the weeks following 9/11. We now know that the Taliban were not protecting bin Laden at the time the President demanded that the Taliban hand him over. They gave him a safe haven, sure, and for that they are accomplices in 9/11. But that does not make John Walker Lindh an accomplice in the largest terrorist attack ever.

And most important, when he was captured (and miraculously spared by the Northern Alliance), he was held in a basement of a makeshift prison building with dead bodies, while American CIA agent, Mike Spann was killed in an armed prisoner uprising. Lindh was questioned by Spann hours earlier, but the argument that Lindh had knowledge of a pending firefight is pure nonsense. The Feds never charged Lindh with conspiracy to kill Agent Spann, no matter how much his family wanted vengeance.

An interesting fact, however: The USA (US Attorney) who prosecuted Lindh, was Paul J. McNulty, the former Deputy Attorney General, who was involved in the termination of eight USAs uder Alberto Gonzales last year. We haven't heard the last from McNulty in that matter.

Ted Rall wrote a wonderful essay on John Walker Lindh's plea deal back in July 2002. It is more relevant now that we know that a similar westerner, the 'Australian Taliban', David Hicks, will soon be released after being convicted for essentially the same crime as Lindh. Ted asks the same questions that have been bugging me for five years. Why didn't Lindh fight the charges? Why didn't he sue the US government for being tortured? Sure an American jury might have come down hard on him, but the Federal case against him was very weak. Ans weak cases need to be shot down. Of course that is easy for me to say.

Ted Rall's essay from 2002:

The Railroading of John Walker Lindh
By Ted Rall

NEW YORK-On July 15, American Taliban soldier John Walker Lindh plead guilty to two reduced charges: fighting for the Taliban and carrying explosives (hand grenades). In October, a federal judge is expected to sentence him to 20 years in prison, which could be reduced to 17 years with good behavior.

What was the man the media dubbed "Taliboy" thinking?

Lindh, 21, had also been charged with involvement in the murder of Johnny Michael Spann, a CIA agent killed in the November 25 Taliban POW uprising in Mazar-e-Sharif. Prosecutors dropped eight counts, including three felonies, in exchange for the right to consider him an "enemy combatant" for the rest of his life, a promise to tell investigators everything he knows about the Taliban and Lindh's pledge not to discuss his treatment at the hands of American soldiers (more on this later).

"Twenty years is a period of time almost as long as he's been alive. It's a major sentence," noted U.S. Attorney Paul McNulty. That's undeniable. Compare it to these recent sentences handed down by American courts:

· Four years in prison for second-degree murder in the case of a San Francisco white supremacist whose 110-pound attack dogs, despite warnings that the beasts were dangerous, mauled her neighbor to death. With credit for good behavior and time served, she could be released in 14 months.

· Three years, four months for a Florida man who, while blind drunk, accidentally shot his best friend to death, supposedly while reenacting a scene in a film. The judge reduced the sentence from the usual nine years because of the defendant's statements of remorse and clean record.

· Ten years for a former USA Boxing head/U.S. Olympic Committee member, age 62, convicted in Oregon of four counts of criminal sex abuse against children, including an 8-year-old.
And that's just American jurisprudence. My favorite recent instance of wimp-out international justice went down in Germany on July 5. Former SS Major Friedrich Engel, 93, had been convicted of the 1944 mass murder of 59 Italian POWs in Genoa. Although a lower court sentenced the ex-Nazi to seven years in prison, the Hamburg State Court decided to let him walk away a free man because of his age.

Now let's consider the case of John Walker Lindh, who so far as we know killed no one yet got 20 years-and that with a plea bargain! "I provided my services as a soldier to the Taliban last year from about August to November," he said as part of the plea arrangement. "During the course of doing so I carried a rifle and two grenades." Technically, this was a crime; President Clinton had signed a little-known 1999 executive order linking the Taliban to Al Qaeda, a terrorist organization. However, both Clinton and George W. Bush violated such executive orders themselves by dealing with the Taliban-and by providing them with financing and arms in attempts to bribe their way to an oil pipeline deal and reduce heroin production. So why aren't those two criminals chanting morning prayers in Guantánamo? Shouldn't they have to cut a deal too?

Prosecutors never disputed Lindh's assertion that he never even fired his rifle, much less fought against American troops. In effect, Lindh was charged with sympathies-stupid, incomprehensible, wannabe sympathies that became politically inconvenient after the U.S. began bombing the Taliban in October.

Lindh didn't go to Afghanistan to fight the United States-an act that would have made him a traitor had war ever been declared. He joined one side in the Afghan civil war between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance. During that conflict, from 1996 to 2001, the U.S. assiduously avoided favoring one side over another.

At Mazar he was captured by the Northern Alliance, not the U.S. The fact that CIA agent Spann traveled with Alliance forces and interrogated prisoners doesn't change that reality, and the government offered no evidence that Lindh attacked or offered resistance to U.S. personnel. The United States never declared war against the Taliban-therefore, there was no legal basis for charges against Lindh.

Lindh, on the other hand, could easily have sued the American military for torture and hideous violations of the Geneva Conventions. "A courtroom battle could have been embarrassing for the government," reported David Johnston of The New York Times on July 16. "Mr. Lindh's lawyers planned to present evidence of how after his capture Mr. Lindh was not given adequate medical care and was denied access to a lawyer when he made admissions about his activities with the Taliban. One person involved in the negotiations that led to the plea bargain said that the government wanted a quick resolution before evidence surfaced of Mr. Lindh's treatment."

Lindh, shot in the leg during the retaking of the Kala Jangi fortress on December 1, was turned over to U.S. forces at Camp Rhino near Kandahar. He was stripped nude and handcuffed, his bare skin covered with duct tape to fasten him to a stretcher, and thrown into a metal shipping container in the desert along with other captured Talibs, some of whom died from similar abuse. For the next two or three days, his wounds went untreated and he received minimal food and water. He was denied access to his lawyer. American Marines wrote "shithead" in big block letters across his duct-tape blindfold, kicked and punched their helpless prisoner. They even posed for souvenir photos next to him while they threatened to murder him.

Those "soldiers," whose ethics lean closer those of the sadistic Sturmbannführer Engel those of the vast majority of Americans, ought to be the ones looking at 20 years in prison. Lindh didn't shoot anyone. He never shot at anyone. So why is he facing a longer prison term than a typical child molester?

"Our goal, frankly, was to try to give him some kind of future in the chaos," Lindh attorney James Brosnahan explained after the plea was announced. "He was pretty conscious of how public opinion was turning." Attorney General John Ashcroft did everything possible to trash Lindh's right to an impartial jury trial, including spewing outrageously inflammatory rhetoric ("We may never know why he turned his back on our country and our values, but we cannot ignore that he did. Youth is not absolution for treachery...") and having the venue moved to Virginia despite the fact that Lindh resided near San Francisco. A fair trial would have resulted in acquittal, but Lindh-more victim than perpetrator-would probably have received life imprisonment if hauled up before an Ashcroft kangaroo tribunal.

Despite the long odds, one wishes that Lindh had held out for his day in court. His case stood to establish important precedents in the prosecution of accused enemies of the state, and would have exposed the despicable behavior of terrorists in our own military. "The U.S. government should not be able to plea out of its obligation under international law to protect those in U.S. custody from ill treatment. All allegations of abuse in custody should be investigated and the use of such methods should be strongly condemned," says Vienna Colucci, International Justice Specialist for Amnesty International.

I wish Lindh had chosen to stand up and fight for himself; he didn't do anything wrong, much less illegal. The evidence against him came from his confession, which was coerced under torture. And there's an excellent chance that, even had a jury imposed a life sentence, a fairer-minded president would eventually have pardoned him. In any case, surely it's better to spend the rest of your life behind bars with your integrity intact than to yield to torture and an unfairly manipulated court system in exchange for a lousy deal.

Then again, that's easier for a free man to say than a broken man-and at Camp Rhino Marines broke John Walker Lindh. And here in the United States, Ashcroft sucker-punched him. Rather than risk losing the rest of his life, Lindh surrendered a big chunk of it. He chose the easier way out, and these days, that makes this young jihadi as American as apple pie.

©2007 uclick, LLC

Robert Gates: Army Tours to be Extended to 15 Months in Iraq & Afghanistan

I actually thought the tours were already more than a year. But this makes it official, effective immediately.

Now I'm not naive enough to think that this will turn more Americans against the occupation of Iraq. But I do think that those Americans who stop and think about this will realize that extending tours is another sign that Bush is breaking our army. He's breaking it. Watch Joe Biden address this during a brilliant moment of rage from March 14th:

Update: I was right.
"Some units had already been extended beyond 12 months by varying amounts. The new policy will make deployments more equitable and more predictable for soldiers and for their families, Gates said."

Predictable? If you mean that families now know to lower their expectations of seeing their loved ones soon, then yes, it makes things more predictable. The comments at the BBC are piling up, and the families posting comments sound pretty damn pissed.