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Cindy Sheehan.

Dissent in the age of Obama.

Cindy Sheehan
Dissent in the age of Obama
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Cindy Sheehan fighter against the Empire
December 6, 2005
The Posse Gathers
Bush War Crimes
By Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith
Diverse forces are assembling to bring Bush administration officials to account for war crimes.   Cindy Sheehan, Gold Star Mother for Peace, insists: "We cannot have these people pardoned.   They need to be tried on war crimes and go to jail." 1
Paul Craig Roberts, Hoover Institution senior fellow and assistant secretary of the treasury under Ronald Reagan, charges Bush with "lies and an illegal war of aggression, with outing CIA agents, with war crimes against Iraqi civilians, with the horrors of the Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo torture centers" and calls for the president's impeachment. 2
Anne-Marie Slaughter, dean of the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton and former president of the American Society of International Law, declares: "These policies make a mockery of our claim to stand for the rule of law.   [Americans] should be marching on Washington to reject inhumane techniques carried out in our name." 3
Can such disparate forces as the peace movement, conservative advocates of the rule of law, and human rights advocates join to halt high government officials demonstrably engaged in criminal enterprise?
Can they reach out and appeal to the deep but vacillating commitment of the American people to the national and international rule of law?
Or will the Bush administration divide the posse and retain for itself the mantle of defender of international law and the U.S. Constitution?
War Crimes: It's Not Just Torture
As Allied armies advanced into Germany, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill declared captured Nazi leaders outlaws subject to summary execution.
But U.S. President Harry Truman, a former small-town judge, insisted instead on formal trials with "notification to the accused of the charge, the right to be heard, and to call witnesses in his defense."
The result was the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal and the start of a revolution that, in U.S. Justice Robert Jackson's words, replaced a "system of international lawlessness" with one that made "statesmen responsible to law."
It is this revolution that may be catching up with the administration of George W. Bush.
Vietnam war crimes
During the Cold War era, Nuremberg was little more than a dimming memory.
Charges by Richard Falk, Marcus Raskin, and others that U.S. actions in Vietnam constituted war crimes helped swell opposition to the war, but U.S. officials were never held to account for their actions.
Starting in the 1990s, however, the revolutionary principle that government officials must be responsible to law became an integral part of the human rights and democratization movements that swept much of the world.
Milosevic was driven out of office and turned over to an international war crimes tribunal.   Pinochet was captured in Spain and eventually sent back to Chile to face charges as a torturer.   The International Criminal Court was established to try war crimes.
Henry Kissinger wrote in alarm in 2001 that "in less than a decade an unprecedented movement has emerged to submit international politics to judicial procedures" and has "spread with extraordinary speed." 4
International law
Critical to this unprecedented movement has been an evolved relationship between national and international law.   In the past, international law was seen as a potential infringement on national sovereignty.
(The Bush administration is trying to resuscitate that view-for example, in its attacks on the International Criminal Court.)
But today the two are increasingly intertwined and mutually reinforcing, much like state and national law in the United States.
Many new democracies see institutions like the International Criminal Court as bulwarks against the restoration of tyranny in their own countries — much as the U.S. Constitution guarantees that its member states will be republics, not monarchies.
Toward this end, many countries have incorporated aspects of international law into their national statutes — the U.S. War Crimes Act, for example, makes grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions a crime under U.S. law, punishable in some cases by death.
Supreme international crime
Several overlapping strands have coalesced into a body of law regarding war crimes.
One is the prohibition on aggressive war.   As the Nuremberg Tribunal put it, "To initiate a war of aggression" is " the supreme international crime."
A second strand is humanitarian law, which protects both combatants and civilians from unnecessary harm during war.
The devastation associated with World War II led to the recognition of "crimes against humanity," which involve acts of violence against a persecuted group.
War crimes were codified in the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and have been further developed in subsequent protocols and agreements.
The Nuremberg Tribunal was criticized on the grounds that it represented not impartial justice but "victor's justice," that it provided impunity for the bombing of civilians and other heinous acts committed by the victors, and that it prosecuted people "ex post facto" for acts that had not been declared crimes when they were committed.
These charges had considerable justification.
But today there is a body of national and international law that clearly defines war crimes and a set of procedures for applying them comparable to the procedures used to judge other crimes.
Those are the standards by which allegations of American war crimes must be judged.
Law must — and the international law of war crimes now does — provide a single standard of judgment that can be applied without discrimination to different cases.
If an act is a war crime, then it is a war crime whether it is perpetrated by Saddam Hussein or by George Bush.
American War Crimes in Iraq and Beyond
The charge that the U.S. attack on Iraq was a war crime was raised even before the war began.
No evidence Blackwater convoy came under fire directly or indirectly
Not hit even by a stone — spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh
Blackwater guards killed 17 people
23 people wounded in 16 September shooting
More than 1,000 law professors and U.S. legal institutions organized in opposition to the U.S. war crime of launching an "aggressive war in violation of the UN Charter" against Iraq.
Violation of international law was also a central theme in worldwide demonstrations against the war.
The attack on the illegality of the war has been revived by the leak of the Downing Street memo; 130 members of Congress joined Rep. John Conyers in demanding that the Bush administration come clean about the invasion — supported by a half million citizen signatures gathered in barely a week.
"Scootergate" is fundamentally about the cover-up of White House lies justifying the war.
Illegal detention and torture are also war crimes.
Starting with the exposure of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, cascading revelations have established that these cases exemplify a pattern of abuse authorized at the highest levels of government.
Human rights groups like the Center for Constitutional Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Human Rights First sued in U.S. and foreign courts against Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and others for breaching the U.S. Constitution and the Geneva Conventions.
The Senate's 90-9 vote to restore the military's traditional prohibition against torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners — prompting the Bush administration to threaten a veto — sets the stage for a major confrontation over adherence to both the Geneva Conventions and the U.S. Constitution.
Crimes against peace and crimes against humanity
Despite massive cover-ups, the evidence is emerging: the Bush administration planned an illegal war of aggression against Iraq, conned the American people and their representatives into supporting it, conducted an illegal occupation marked by massive violation of Iraqi human rights, and justified and promoted systematic torture.
Now the White House seeks opportunities for further criminal attacks against Iran, Syria, and other countries around the world, issuing threats to use death squads and nuclear weapons at will.
These acts violate American law, international law, and the basic values of the American people.
They are crimes against peace and crimes against humanity.
They are outlawed by the Geneva Conventions, the UN Charter, and treaties against torture and other human rights abuses.
Lake Tharthar
U.S. attack helicopters
Six women and nine children included in killing on October 13, 2007
They are war crimes, and those who ordered and condoned them are war criminals.
War Crimes and the Rule of Law
The Nuremberg principle that statesmen are "responsible to law" extended to international relations the principle of "government under law" already enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.
Indeed, no principle of American democracy is more fundamental or more widely accepted than the precept that no one is above the law.
But a central endeavor of the Bush administration has been to put the government, and more particularly the president, above both U.S. and international law.
So extreme
This was made clear in President Bush's refusal to apply the Geneva Conventions to prisoners of war captured during the Afghanistan War.
Soon after, the United States refused to adhere to UN Charter requirements regulating the use of force.
Then the Justice Department argued that courts would not have jurisdiction over Guantanamo detainees even if they were being summarily executed.
The Ninth Circuit Court commented, "the U.S. government has never before asserted such a grave and startling proposition," a position "so extreme that it raises the gravest concerns under both American and international law." 5
As Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman put it, the claim that the president is above the law "strikes at the very heart of our democracy.
Genuine conservatives
It was the centerpiece of President Richard Nixon's defense in Watergate — a defense that was rejected by the courts and lay at the foundation of the articles of impeachment voted against him by the House Judiciary Committee."
It is ironic that such a doctrine should emerge from a movement that calls itself "conservatism" and purports to have limitation of government as its fundamental principle.
Indeed, it is more than ironic; it is totally hypocritical.
Government crime
And this claim of unlimited presidential powers has turned many genuine conservatives — ranging from former government and military officials to the many corporate lawyers defending Guantanamo inmates — against the Bush administration.
Law entails more than an individual or social preference; it obligates individuals and institutions to act.
Describing his evolving viewpoint, Daniel Ellsberg wrote that he saw the U.S. involvement in Vietnam "first as a problem; then as a stalemate; then as a crime."
Each of these perspectives called for "a different mode of personal commitment: a problem, to help solve it; a stalemate, to extricate ourselves with grace; a crime, to expose and resist it, to try to stop it immediately, to seek moral and political change." 6
A focus on government-sponsored crime has the potential to open a discourse with those across the political spectrum — from civil rights advocates to military attorneys — who believe that government must not be exempt from the rule of law.
US troops opened fire on unarmed car
Wounding 3 people two in critical condition
It draws on a democratic, constitutionalist tradition and the powerful popular conviction that law and law enforcement are necessary and that they must apply to all, including the government and its highest officials.
Toward Convergence
Bush administration malfeasance can be described as a problem of democracy, of human rights, of usurpation, of the rule of law, of constitutionalism, or of war crimes.
These terms all point to the same fundamental problem: those in charge of the political and military apparatus of the U.S. government are using it to further a criminal enterprise in violation of national and international law.
Resistance to government criminality
Each step of this criminal behavior has been contested by different constituencies and on somewhat differing grounds.
If those constituencies could unite around a common frame, they could halt the entire Bush enterprise.
The role of the Bush administration in promoting war crimes in Iraq and beyond can provide that unifying frame.
Resistance to such government criminality can unify diverse constituencies who believe in rule of law.
Accusations of American war crimes have long been a staple of left-wing groups like ANSWER and the International Action Center.
But many mainstream peace activists have been wary.
As one well-known leader put it earlier this year:
"War-crimes talk pushes people away.   People don't want to hear it.   Polls indicate that the population says under some circumstances torture is OK, and that what's being done is not torture.
People blame bad apples.
They want to prosecute the bad apples so they can have a cleaner war.
Besides, they say, we're dealing with horrible people who cut off people's heads.
What is our end goal?
If our objective is to stop the occupation, then war crimes is not the best angle."
These are legitimate concerns.
Right and obligation of all people to hold their governments accountable
However, they imply not that the issue of war crimes shouldn't be raised but rather that it should be raised wisely with due respect for the feelings of the American people.
War crimes accusations should not be presented as anti-American but rather as an appeal to the American people to share the right and obligation of all people to hold their governments accountable.
By rejecting the Bush administration's attempt to blame torture and other abuses on "bad apples" at the bottom, accountability can be placed squarely on those at the top.
The crimes of U.S. opponents can be acknowledged without justifying those perpetrated in Washington.
Illegal detention, prisoner abuse, and torture can be presented as part of a larger pattern of war crimes.
As Justice Jackson noted at Nuremberg, a war of aggression differs from other war crimes only in that "it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."
Girl killed by US puppet — quisling soldiers
Shot and killed in village near Baquba
If the peace movement can connect with the American public's belief in the rule of law, the days of George Bush's criminal enterprise will be numbered.
Moral and religious conviction
The war crimes frame also provides the peace movement a way to reach out to Americans on the basis of moral and religious convictions.
Religious opponents of the war, such as the ecumenical Fellowship of Reconciliation and the Catholic 'St. Patrick's Four,' have frequently stressed international law as a basis for their actions.
The faith-based group Reclaiming the Prophetic Voice calls it a way to reach out to "the people in the pews."
Clean war?
Some sectors of the human rights movement have been outspoken opponents of the Iraq War from before its start.
The Center for Constitutional Rights, for example, organized lawyers nationwide to declare it illegal under national and international law.
But other human rights advocates have tried to separate torture and prisoner abuse as a "human rights issue" from the broader questions of war and occupation, leading some to portray their objective as "a clean war."
Human rights advocates need to recognize that the use and legitimation of torture by the Bush administration is just an extreme manifestation of a broader illegal enterprise.
Fallujah — Tal Afar
Both the peace and the human rights movements need to pay more attention to current and planned future war crimes.
Last year's attacks on Fallujah were condemned as war crimes around the world, but there was not much response in the United States.
The withholding of food and water to civilian populations in recent attacks on Tal Afar are clear violations of international law that would have provided a clear opportunity to raise the question of war crimes as they occurred. 7
Plans to turn targeting of U.S. air strikes over to the Iraqi military, recently revealed by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker, could be challenged as likely to greatly increase civilian casualties. 8
Nucler war crime
U.S. plans to use nuclear weapons against Iran, openly discussed by Vice President Cheney, surely constitute a war crime.
These ongoing daily events provide a target both for action and for public education.
The Bush administration's crimes of aggression, occupation, and torture are all part of one sordid story.
Father mourns for daughter
Shot and killed by quisling soldiers
That story can best be told when these actions are called by their proper name — war crimes.
Checks and Balances
There are four obvious objectives for a movement against U.S. war crimes:
Halt the crimes. This requires withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq, closing the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, releasing or immediately putting on trial all captives, and shutting down U.S.-controlled death squads all over the world.
Bring war criminals to justice. Impunity breeds crime.
The mechanisms for investigation, prosecution, and trial of criminals must be applied to anyone — from the president on down — who is responsible for war crimes.
Every agency charged with investigating governmental crimes must end its paralysis and perform its duties.
Those responsibilities should include congressional committee hearings on war crimes, a Sept. 11-style investigative commission, appointment of a special prosecutor, and an in-depth congressional investigation into whether impeachable offences have been committed.
Draw the lessons. Unchecked presidential authority and flouting of international law led the United States to a national catastrophe in Vietnam, but the obvious lessons were deliberately obscured or denied.
We are paying the price today.
Only an extensive and extended public confrontation with the implications of U.S. war crimes can lay the basis for averting similar catastrophes in the future.
Establish barriers to future war crimes. The Bush administration's war crimes were made possible by the dismantling of legal and constitutional barriers to government secrecy, deceit, manipulation, and lawlessness.
Their perpetuation has been enhanced by the dismantling of legal restrictions on presidential authority and the seduction or intimidation of those whose duty it is to enforce such restrictions.
The U.S. democratic heritage and recent experiences of many countries in eliminating dictatorships point to specific institutional arrangements — from independent prosecutors to battlefield legal supervision and from freedom-of-information laws to international courts empowered to hear war crimes charges — that can be effective in preventing war crimes in the future.
New chapter
A national repudiation of war crimes and an end to impunity for those who order them could open a new chapter in America's relations with the rest of the world.
Mother cries for daughter
Shot and killed in village near Baquba by quisling soldiers
It might help the United States re-engage with Iraq and the rest of the Middle East on an entirely new basis — one cleansed of the legacy of Fallujah and Abu Ghraib.
It would evidence America's good faith if Washington utilized international law to address such genuine problems as terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.
Ending impunity for those responsible for U.S. war crimes would help restore the role of international law in constraining self-aggrandizement by any nation.
Out-of-control criminal government
After being convicted for pouring his own blood on a Lansing, NY military recruitment center, war protestor Peter DeMott declared the real crime to be that:
"Our government conspired against the American people and lied us into an illegal and immoral war.
The task is now upon us all to better understand the criminality of our government's aggression and, as citizens, to act accordingly to demand that our government adheres to international law." 9
As Cindy Sheehan put it to more than 100,000 war protesters assembled in Washington, DC, "We'll be the checks and balances on this out-of-control criminal government." 10
End Notes
1. Mike Ferner, "What One Mom Has to Say to George Bush," August 9, 2005, available at .
2. Paul Craig Roberts, "Impeach Bush Now," available at , September 3, 2005.
3. Quoted in Robert Kuttner, "Will Bush Wriggle Out of This One?" Boston Globe, September 10, 2005.
4. Henry Kissinger, "The Pitfalls of Universal Jurisdiction: Risking Judicial Tyranny," Foreign Affairs, July-August 2001.
5. See Gherebi v. Bush, Ninth Circuit, December 18, 2003.
6. Quoted in Norman Solomon, "Cindy Sheehan's Message Repudiates George Bush — and Howard Dean," Common Dreams, August 13, 2005.
7. The UN's Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food recently described the withholding of food and water by U.S. forces in Iraq as "a clear violation of international law." Eulalia Iglesias, "UN Food Expert Condemns U.S. Tactics in Iraq," Inter Press Service, 11/30/05.
8. Seymour M. Hersh, "Up in the Air: Where Is the Iraq War Headed Next?" New Yorker, December 5, 2005.
Brother cries for loss of sister
Shot and killed in village near Baquba by quisling soldiers
9. Press release, September 26, 2005.
10. "Thousands in Wash Protest War, Econ Globalization," Reuters, September 24, 2005.
Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith, with Jill Cutler, are the co-editors of In the Name of Democracy: American War Crimes in Iraq and Beyond (New York: Metropolitan/Holt, 2005) and co-founders of War Crimes Watch.
Flying Kites....
Friday, October 12, 2007
I really don't know what is going on here...
The other day was Pink and today it is Pastel colors.
Not a fitting time of the year for pastel colors.   After all, it is the beginning of Autumn, with its golden brown, rusty red and dying green...
But pastel colors have been obsessing me...ever since those pink and red taints.
Maybe because it is the Eid, the feast that marks the celebration of the end of our fasting month, Ramadan.
Painting: Iraqi female artist, Sawsan Al Sarraf. 'Immigration'
I remember the Eid in Baghdad, what used to be the Eid...
We have a tradition for the Eid, we must wear something new.   I remember young and old saving that new piece, that untouched garment, for the Eid.
I remember the little boys and girls dressed in their new clothes, laughing as they rock on their swings, as they cry with joy on their merry-go-rounds...
Eating "shaar al Banat" or "ghazl al Banat" as some may call it.
You know, that fluffy hair-like sugar, dyed in pastel colors, that feels like cotton in your mouth, wrappped around a wooden stick and glues all over your face and leaves your tongue colored in, green, blue, yellow and...white.
I also remember the conversations...
"Baba, baba, shoof, anee helwa?" — Daddy, daddy look, am I pretty? would ask a little one raising her eyes to her dad.   Showing off her new pastel colored dress and the pastel ribbons in her hair...
"Mama, mama, shofee shlon atayerhom" — Mom, mom, look how I can make it fly! would shout a little one to his mother, pointing his finger to his brand new kite made of pastel colored paper...
And the father would respond "Hadha shlon Jamal" — What beauty you are.   Or,
the mother would say "Shater, ibnee, enta shater" — Clever my son, you are clever.
I can still hear their giggles, their laughs and their shouts of excitement...
I can still see the joy in their shining innocent eyes, their funny faces, their tender smile...
I can still feel their hugs, their wet kisses smelling of candies and their warm little heads on my shoulder, when tired from too much running around...tired from too much play.
I am lucky to have such memories.   I am lucky to have witnessed them.
Today's children in Iraq are either too scarred or will not live to remember or... are already dead.
Only two days ago, 11 little ones were severly wounded by a mortar attack.   Yesterday, 9 little ones were killed in a so called counter-insurgency attack by your brave boys.   Today, at least 2 little ones were blasted away when a bomb placed in a toy cart exploded in their curious little faces...on the day of the Eid.
Our little ones are nothing but appetizers for you.   Your anti-pasti, your hors d'oeuvres... The more, the merrier...
In the name of Liberty.   In the name of Democracy.   In the name of Freedom.   In the name of the o' so civilized West that you are.
For 13 years, our little ones suffered, our little martyrs... Over half a million died as a result of your o' so civilized sanctions, while you were watching...
Thirteen fucking years and you watched, in silence, tasting your hors d'oeuvres in front of your TV screens.
Thirteen years of a deafening, utter silence.
Silence from the so called left and anti-war clowns.   Silence from the international community.   Silence from the so-called Islamic Ummah.
So silent, that the silence turned into a lullaby of agonies that you can still hear in the mass graves of our little ones.   So silent, that they have slept, never to wake up again... A murderous lullaby.
The little ones who survived, experienced their final liberation in 2003.
God damn you.   God damn you.   That is all I can repeat for now.   I will have to stop. I need to regain my composure.   Recompose what you have decomposed...
Am back... The composed, rational, polite Arab woman... I am now wearing my satin gloves, lest your sensitivities get ruffled...
But let me ask you something, are you as ruffled by an average of 40,000 little ones killed each year because of an occupation carried out in your name, with your money, under your "benevolent" eyes?
40,000 is the conservative estimate figure from the 2006 U.N Human rights report.
The real figure for 2006 is much higher.   Way higher.   And am not counting the orphans in the thousands...
Only yesterday, a new report warns of an ever-deepening humanitarian crisis, never seen before, since World War II... And I say, it is much worse than what this report states.
Come and see our overflowing morgues and find our little ones for us...
You may find them in this corner or the other, a little hand poking out, pointing out at you...
Come and search for them in the rubbles of your "surgical" air raids, you may find a little leg or a little head... pleading for your attention.   Come and see them amassed in the garbage dumps, scavenging morsels of food...
Well over half of our little ones are under nourished or dying from disease.   Cholera, disentery, infections of all sorts....
Under nourished does not mean on a diet like your fat little kids.   It means not having food to eat.   It means cannot find food to eat.   It means starved.
Come and see, come....
See them being trafficked, raped, sold and "finally" killed by your brave boys.   The "final solution."   Remember that one?   It was not so long ago... Except this time it is carried out by the "greatest Democracy on earth."
And if you are too sensitive to such scenes, and your stomach can't take it, even though your hands and pockets contribute daily to it, come and search for them in the alley ways of Damascus, Amman or Cairo...
Search for them, hiding behind walls.   Find them selling or begging in street corners.
Look for them behaving like a 40 year old adult, fending for a whole family...
Come and see...
The other day, I overheard a 6 years old saying to her mother, "I want to die."
Just in case one of your bullets does not get to her, you have ensured that she will finish it off herself...
Come and see them stutter, hear them shout at night during their sleep and see their wet beds...
This is no lost innocence.   This is a raped innocence, a murdered innocence...
Raped and murdered by you.   I will net let you off the hook that easily.   I guess you know me by now.
As for the little assholes (I guess am losing my composure again) who call me a whining Arab bitch, let me not wish the same on your children...
Because by God, if I did, you would strangle yourselves in grief and...remorse.
An article in Haaretz states that the Holocaust is still affecting the granchildren of the survivors... and that is well over 60 years, later.
How many decades, centuries would it take our surviving little ones to get over being freed by "Democracy"?
Painting: Iraqi artist, Mohanad Al-Hayali. 'Flying Kites'
In the meantime, the little survivors of your Holocaust, those who were born under your bombs, under your occupation, under your destruction, in your ghettoes, in your prisons, in your new Iraq, and who have known nothing else but you, their primal "caretaker", if they ever make it to adulthood, will bear witness on the day of Eid...
They, who have not known the Spring, Summer, of their lives.   They who have witnessed nothing but the cold of the Winter.   The coldness of Death...
They will remember, as I am doing now, the blown up cart of toys, the overflowing morgues, the rubbles of their homes, the mortars falling on their heads, the noise of explosions squatting their ears, their sisters and brothers in pieces, in front of their very eyes...
They will remember it, like some ugly melody, like some ugly lulled to them during their "liberated" childhood...
And those who have not and will not survive your "Liberation", will be flying high above like the pastel colored balloons of the Eid, like the kites made of pastel colored paper, like some white feather plucked from an innocent Dove...
Only to fall on the ground like dying, dried up, Autumn leaves...
Layla Anwar's blog — click here
'Paramedic Sattar Taha killed by American bombing Aug. 8, 2007'
March 1, 2007
The Mother of an Iraq War Vet Responds
Demoralizing the Troops?
D emoralizing the troops.
Those were the words that inspired me to challenge Orin Hatch (R-UT) in the Senate hearing a few weeks ago.
Those were the words that echoed so loudly in my mind I couldn't, no, I wouldn't stay silent.
Today I had to drop off Polly, a friend who flew out to help me this last week in DC with my occupation project (details at website ), at the Baltimore airport.
The majority of customers waiting in line where soldiers, all dressed in desert cami's.
Instantly, I thought of the days when I saw my son off to war dressed in those same cami's and tears came to my eyes.
I think the second to worse event for a mother is seeing her son off to war, unknowing if he'll return.
The worst is when he doesn't return.
But these troops were smiling, relaxed, and relieved. Sitting down for a cup of coffee before Polly's flight took off, we were mixed in a sea of beige and brown.
A conversation started about returning to family and where home is for each. One soldier was from Springfield, Missouri. "Missouri? Well, I'm from Salem," I said.
The soldier's family is from Salem, Missouri and we quickly struck up a conversation.
"Is the water tower still standing?" he asked.  "Yes, right next to the High School," I said.
He told me of his time in Afghanistan and how honored he was to be on Nancy Pelosi's guard duty when she was there a couple of months ago.
"She's so small," he said, "but a great lady."
You could see the grin on his face as he recalled stories about her: Proud to be on guard for the Speaker of the House.
When I told him why I was in D.C. and not Missouri, he hung his head low and shook it back and forth.
He told me of the year before when he was in Iraq.
He told me about a buddy who was injured in an explosion.
His friend was from Michigan and had dreamed of being a policeman, like his dad, his whole life.
Just before his dad had died of cancer, he had left him a knife.
Not an expensive knife, but one with great sentimental value.
As his fellow soldier was being evacuated, he asked him to hold on to the knife.
"You never know what's going to happen."
He wanted it safe.
He promised to return it to his brother-in-arms. . . .
He kept his promise.
When they met up, his friend couldn't move his arm from the battle injury.
He couldn't become a cop either.
"Now he's a security guard, making $10 an hour and has to pay for his own car and gas."
The VA only gave him 10% disability, $200 a month.   "What kind of life is that?" the soldier asked me.
Demoralized? You bet.
Not from photos on the Washington Post or Democrats and Republicans arguing about what direction to take.
But from one soldier seeing how a fellow brother-in-arms is being treated by their own government after they honorable serve, risking life and limb, doing everything asked of them.
Promises broken.
As Polly and I left, I told them we would keep fighting to ensure their brothers and sisters-in-arms would be taken care of and work to make sure they get the time off to spend with their families.
They smiled and thanked us.
We welcomed them home.
You see this morning I was disappointed because I was hoping to see my son on spring break.
But he had decided to go on the Veteran's for Peace Bus leaving Fayetteville N.C. on March 17, heading down to New Orleans to help with reconstruction.
I was feeling pretty useless and wasn't sure if anyone wanted to hear from me.
I'm just one voice.
But that café filled with soldiers, their thank you's and smiles that "we the people" are fighting for their rights, has given me encouragement to continue.
No matter how small the one voice is.
Because Polly's voice working in Rochester, NY to rally the youth to end the war, Chuck Smith in St. Louis driving anywhere to support a fellow soldier who chooses to become a war resister, Gael and Medea with Code Pink whose creativity inspires thousands of women throughout the world, Stacey Hafley from Columbia, MO who is holding down the fort while her events coordinator is in DC, or the Mt. Rainier Neighbors UFPJ who share their homes with strangers to anyone working for peace, or Tom Seagar and Ruth Gilmore in Rolla, Mo who lead a vigil with five or six others every week.
We are all important, bringing our different ideas, skills, talents, efforts, money and voices to end the war.
One voice alone, I would be useless.
But united with thousands across this country, makes us a force to be reckoned with.
If you haven't been to DC, come join me.
If you haven't written a letter to congress, write one.
Democracy only works if we participate.
It has been a long hard road to get us a congress that will listen.
Now is the time to speak out.
Tina Richards is the mother of Corporal Cloy Richards an Iraq War Veteran and peace activist from Missouri.
Her website is
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“I saw countless innocent lives cut short”
The daily humiliation of life in Iraq under US occupation
By Eric Ruder February 23, 2007 | Page 1 and 2
SPC. AGUSTíN Aguayo did everything by the book.   Now he faces seven years in a military prison for his troubles.   On March 6, the U.S. Army will begin court-martial proceedings against Agustín, who is currently confined at his base in Germany.
Agustín joined the military in early 2003, but before he deployed to Iraq in February 2004, he applied for conscientious objector (CO) status — after his views evolved to the point where he no longer felt he could participate in the occupation of Iraq.
While his request was being processed, Agustín went with his unit to Tikrit, Iraq, carried out his duties as a medic, and went on patrols and performed guard duty — but without ever loading his weapon.
The Army denied Agustín’s request for a CO discharge, and one appeal and two years later, the military notified Agustín that his unit would deploy again to Iraq in August 2006.   Agustín again informed his commanding officers that taking part in the war effort would violate his principles.
“In my last deployment, I witnessed how soldiers dehumanize the Iraqi people with words and actions,” Agustín wrote in his blog as he outlined the reasons he could not return to the war zone.   “I saw countless innocent lives which were shortened due to the war.   I still struggle with the senselessness of it all — Iraqi civilians losing their lives because they drove too close to a convoy or a checkpoint, soldiers being shot by mistake by their own buddies, misunderstandings (due to the language barrier) leading to death.
“This is not acceptable to me.   It makes no sense that to better the lives of these civilians, they must first endure great human loss.”
On September 1, Agustín went absent without leave (AWOL) to avoid deploying.   He turned himself in a day later to accept whatever sanctions the military might impose on him — a less-than-honorable discharge, or even a court-martial and possible prison term.
What you can do
To learn more about Agustín’s case and find out how you can support him, go to
You can make badly needed donation to his defense fund at the Courage to Resist Web site — be sure to specify the Agustín Aguayo Campaign.
Go to the Iraq Veterans Against the War Web site for news and updates about war resisters and other initiatives.
Active-duty soldiers can register their discontent by signing the Appeal for Redress.
Troops who need advice about their rights should go to GI Rights Hotline Web site or call 800-394-9544 from the U.S. or 510-465-1472 from outside the U.S.
For an excellent history of the GI rebellion during the U.S. war on Vietnam, read David Cortright’s Soldiers in Revolt, newly republished by Haymarket Books.
David Zeiger’s Sir! No Sir! is an inspiring documentary about the Vietnam soldiers’ revolt, and is available on DVD, along with many other supplemental materials.
In an interview, Agustin’s wife Helga explained that as time passed, Agustín’s opposition to the U.S. war drive against Iraq only deepened.
“One of the care packages sent to the soldiers was a book on the history of Iraq,” said Helga.   “He said that it really changed what he believed.   I mean, he was a conscientious objector, he believed that killing was wrong, but after reading that book he realized that the war in Iraq has essentially been created for the personal gain of a few people.
“What he told me was that for a few corporations, it’s in their best interests to keep the chaos going in Iraq.   And he just came to believe that killing is wrong, but this war is wrong, too, because it’s all motivated by money.”
Antiwar activists in the U.S. are organizing forums and pickets to coincide with Agustín’s court-martial.   In Germany, too, peace activists have gathered outside of Agustín’s military base to demand his release.
Like other war resisters before him, Agustín’s act of conscience has helped to highlight the injustices of the U.S. occupation of Iraq — and serve as an example that other troops can and should organize to oppose this war.
Gillian Russom contributed to this report.
US veteran mothers against war - Mary Ann MacCombie, Cindy Sheehan, Georgia Stillwell.





Photo and words: Mike Hastie
U.S. Army Medic
Vietnam 1970-71
February 10, 2007
        Photo and words: Mike Hastie         
         U.S. Army Medic         
         Vietnam 1970-71         
        February 10, 2007         
Walk the halls of Congress with Gold Star Families for Peace — Code Pink
Lets let the 110th congress know what is expected of them.
We will be insisting that an immediate exit stradegy from Iraq be implemented.
We will be insisting that hearings begin immediately into Bushco’s crimes against humanity and the lies told to the American people.
We will demand IMPEACHMENT.
Cindy Sheehan — Medea Benjamin
Code Pink
Gold Star Families for Peace
Thursday, August 3rd, 2006
Another Sleepless Night
By Georgia Stillwell /Military Families Speak Out
I am living in a nightmare.
Is all this pain and destruction ever going to end?   I am hearing all these other stories of pain and devastation of families.   The knot that lives inside my stomach since the war began is growing.   I used to be able to alleviate it somewhat by purging myself through my writing or my activism.   I can’t anymore.   There isn’t anymore relief.   I refer you to the following blog.
Military families outside the Capital for 6 weeks and hardly anyone notices....
People on a hunger strike outside the White house on their 27th day and hardly a whisper.
Many participating in acts of civil disobedience no one hears.
Mothers hugging tombstones trying to will their children back to life.
Mothers lying awake at night crying for their children who have returned home and are living in PTSD hells we can’t even fathom — I am one of these.
Families who feel like they can’t breathe while their loved one is currently in harms way... waiting for the dreaded knock on the door.
Our children injured and maimed.
Dead Iraqi Men, Women, children and babies.   More than we even know.
We cry alone and we cry together.   Embracing each other through this vile creature called war.   It has wrapped us in its arms.   I feel no escape.
How much love will it take to end this war?   My child is your child and their children are our children and we all are interconnected.   Please God end this madness.
America... AMERICA... AMERICA... America, SAVE OUR CHILDREN!!!
Am I yelling into a barren land of souls?   I am begging, I am pleading, and I am on my knees... Do whatever needs to be done.   Do whatever you can and then do even more.
I know that there are people out there doing all they can and with all my heart I thank you!
Its 3AM... another late night rambling from a soldier’s mother who can’t sleep.   My son will never be the same.   How I miss my boy… the tears streaming down my face now.   I am helpless to erase the memories.
The memories of his fellow soldier’s brains spattered on him, the face of the young boy my son killed because they thought he had a bomb, and he didn’t.   My son wounded by shrapnel, the medals he received which are in the bottom of a drawer in an old Wal-Mart plastic bag.
My last trip to Washington D.C. I met with many high officials but the biggest event was when I called home to my son and told him what I was doing and I heard the voice of my first born child say “Thanks Mom.”
I have purged myself again, though never feeling completely clean.   Maybe I’ll sleep.   Maybe I’ll dream of a world where we don’t kill each other.
And sometimes a picture says a thousand words... a picture of my son in Iraq at 19 years old.   Specialist Robert Stillwell:
Specialist Robert Stillwell

January 28 / 29, 2006
On Monday, My Husband Didn't Call
Homefront War Diary
Boy both hands amputated
US and UK Iraq war invasion, March 2003
L ast Monday my husband missed a communication time with me.
He was to be on instant messenger at my lunch hour, his night.
But he did not show up.
Tuesday, still nothing.
No email, no sign of him online.
I looked every day at and I saw that there were casualties listed in the Baghdad area.
I guessed that he could not talk because some one in his division had been killed.
I waited.
I went to work, but my heart was closed to my clients, my co-workers, my friends.
I went through each day, waiting, waiting, hoping I would hear from him and not them.
People sometimes tell me that they will pray for my husband, and I am always grateful, but I wonder about that.
Do they think that the mothers and fathers, the husbands, wives and children of the 2,238 American soldiers who have died as of today were not praying?
They were, I know it.
I also know, no matter what George Bush says about his communications with God, this death and destruction is not the will of God.
For God has clearly told us, "Thou shall not kill."
This is the will of humans, and as such, it is the will of humans that will bring it to an end.
Online I read the newly dead of the 4th Infantry Division.
One of them is just a few years older than him, and one just a baby.
As always, I thank all who are working to end this war for everything you do.
For anyone waiting for the right time, the right leader, the right something, or just waiting, I ask Tracy Chapman's question: "if not now, then when, if not today, then why make your promises, a love declared for days to come is as good as none."
What will it take, what number will be too many, what level of destruction will be too much?
I got an email from my husband yesterday afternoon, and talked to him on the phone last night.
By then, the casualties were listed.
Other families destroyed, not mine, not now.
He did not tell me why he could not call or email, and I did not tell him that I knew.
Today, I pray for the families of those who are starting their journey as gold star families, my heart is broken for them.
I beg you again to do everything you can to bring this to an end.
Tammara Rosenleaf is a member of Military Families Speak Out (MFSO), Helena Peace Seekers, Just Don't Go and the Prairie Chapel 12.
Wake Up
By Cindy Sheehan
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Monday 19 September 2005
So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.   We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now.   This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.
— Martin Luther King Jr., August 28, 1963, "I Have a Dream" speech
What Bush's Katrina shows once again is that my son died for nothing.
If you listen to Bush — and fewer and fewer are, thank goodness — we are in Iraq in part due to 9/11.
All our president has been talking about has been protecting this country since 9/11.
That's why people voted for him in the last election.
Katrina shows it's all as sham, a fraud, a disaster as large as Katrina itself.
Hundreds of billions and tens of thousands of innocent lives wasted later, what have we achieved?   Nothing.   Casey died for nothing and Bush says others have to die for those that have died already.
Enough, George!   What is disgusting is not, as the first lady says, criticism of you, but rather the crimes you've committed against this country and our sons and daughters.   Stop hiding behind your twisted idea of God and stop destroying this country.
This week I arrive in Washington DC to begin my Vigil at the White House just like I did in Texas.   But this time I'll be joined by Katrina victims as well.   In your America we are all victims.   The failed bookends of your Presidency are Iraq and Katrina.
Running our country into oblivion
It is time for all of us to stand up and be counted:  to show the media, Congress, and this inept, corrupt, and criminal administration that we mean business.
It is time to get off of our collective behinds to show the people who are running our country into oblivion that we will stand for it no longer.
That we want our country back and we want our nation's young people back home, safe and sound, on our shores to help protect America.
That it is time for a change in our country's "leadership."
That we will never go away until our dreams are reality.
US troops opened
fire on unarmed car
Wounding 3 people
two in critical condition
We have so-called leaders in our country who are waiting for the correct "politically expedient" time to speak up and out against the occupation of Iraq.
It is no sweat for our politicos to wait for the right time, because not one of them has a child in harm's way.
I don't care if the politician is a Democrat or a Republican, this is not about politics.
People are dying in Iraq every day and families are being decimated
Being a strong leader to guide our country out of the quagmire and mistake of Iraq will require people of courage and determination to stand up and say:  "I don't care if I win the next election, people are dying in Iraq every day and families are being decimated."
We, as the 62% of Americans who want our troops to begin coming home, will follow such a leader down the difficult but oh-so-rewarding path of peace with justice.
It is no longer time for the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.
It never has been the time for that.
Our "now" is so fiercely urgent.
Like my daughter, Carly, wrote in the last verse of her "A Nation Rocked to Sleep" poem:
Have you ever heard the sound of a Nation Being Rocked to Sleep?
Our leaders want to keep us numb so the pain won't be too deep,
But if we the people allow them to continue, another mother will weep,
Have you heard the sound of a Nation Being Rocked to Sleep?
Wake up.
© : t r u t h o u t 2005
                          To rebel is right, to disobey is a duty, to act is necessary !
         Cindy Sheehan Veterans for Peace              
Cindy Sheehan at the Veterans for Peace National Convention 2005
And he said, “Cindy, why didn’t I save him?   Why didn’t I knock him out, why didn’t I take him to Canada?”
And I wrote him back and I said, “You know what?   We all think that.”
I said to my son not to go.   I said, you know it’s wrong, you know you’re going over there.   You know your unit might have to kill innocent people, you know you might die.   And he says, “My buddies are going, I have to go.”
He said, “If I don’t go someone’s going to have to do my job, and my buddies will be in danger.”
So anyway that filth-spewer and warmonger, George Bush was speaking after the tragedy of the marines in Ohio...
But I don’t care, I’m goin’.   And I’m gonna tell them, “You get that evil maniac out here, cuz a Gold Star Mother, somebody who’s blood is on his hands, has some questions for him.”
Cuz, we’re not freer.   You’re taking away our freedoms.   The Iraqi people aren’t freer, they’re much worse off than before you meddled in their country.
People don’t just want to hear it, they want to know, what can we do?   What can we do to get him out of power?
And I’m gonna say the ‘I’ word.   Impeach.
And we have to have everybody impeached that lied to the American public, and that’s the executive branch, and any people in congress, and we gotta go all the way down and we might have to go all the way down to the person who picks up the dogshit in Washington because...
So anyway, I’m gonna go to Crawford tomorrow, and I’m gonna say I want to talk to him, and they say, he’s not coming out, I’m gonna set up my tent there until he comes out to talk to me.
Another thing that I’m doing is — my son was killed in 2004, so I’m not paying my taxes for 2004.   If I get a letter from the IRS, I’m gonna say, you know what, this war is illegal; this is why this war is illegal.   This war is immoral; this is why this war is immoral.   You killed my son for this.   I don’t owe you anything.   And if I live to be a million, I won’t owe you a penny.
And I want them to come after me, because unlike what you’ve been doing with the war resistance, I want to put this frickin’ war on trial.   And I want to say, “You give me my son, and I’ll pay your taxes.”
They Forced My Son to Kill
When I was a little girl and again as a young woman dreaming about having children I never, ever, even for a heartbeat imagined that I would ever be the mother of someone who had killed somebody.
But I am.
There in Iraq in the dusty, sun-baked rubble that was once the City of Mosques, Ar Ramadi, Iraq, my son repeatedly engaged an enemy, sighted down the barrel of his weapon, opened fire and ended lives.
John, now a corporal in the Marine Corp, returned from his second tour in Iraq in March.
The transition from patrolling Route Michigan, one of the most dangerous highways in the world, to visiting with his mother in Oregon was more difficult than I would have thought.
Once, while chatting about his future, his plans, his experiences, the lid of a large dumpster at a nearby building slammed shut.
John catapulted to his feet.
His instincts, his brain, ready, alert, searching, assessing, calculating.
His body was coiled and tense.
The flesh on his face flattened against his skull and a vein appeared on his forehead, pulsing.
His hands appeared to reach for a machine gun that was, thankfully, not slung over his shoulder.
      By MARY GEDDRY    September 30, 2005      
Name Withheld Pending Notification:  A Sad Mother’s Day for Some
The first thing I do in the morning after I boot up my computer is to check the DoD website to see if any more of our nations precious children were killed in this horror of a nonsensical war.
I was talking to another Gold Star Mom, Celeste Zappala, today... Celeste and I and too many other moms know what the significance of Pending Notification means:  it means that there are people in our country going through their lives right now not even knowing that they are about to be ambushed with the most devastating news of their lives — We regret to inform you...
Somewhere in America, there is a mom (I always think of the moms first) shopping for groceries, driving home from a long week of work, or maybe even planning her soldiers homecoming party.
Somewhere, here in our country there is a mother who is hoping that she will receive a Mothers Day card from her soldier, or perhaps, if she is extremely lucky, a rushed telephone call.
There is a mom out there who has been worried sick about her soldier since they arrived in the combat zone.
Maybe the mom still supports George Bush and the occupation or maybe the mom is certain if her child is killed in this abomination that her sweet baby, her soldier will have died for lies and betrayals.
In the end, and at that moment, the mom is not going to care about politics or about reasons for invasion and occupation.
She wont care if her child died for freedom and democracy, or to make some people wealthier and more powerful.
All she will see is the Grim Reaper in a uniform standing at her door before she collapses on the floor screaming for her child and pleading with the Grim Reaper to take her with him.
Somewhere there is a father in America who wont know what hit him and who won’t know whom to hit back.
There are brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, spouses, and children who are about to step on the path of unbearable pain and seemingly endless grief.
Today there are the families and friends of three wonderful human beings who never, until now, knew that the human body could produce so many tears.
Somewhere in America live our fellow citizens who never even knew that a broken heart is not theoretical or symbolic.
These most unfortunates are about to find out that a broken heart hurts far worse than a broken limb, and does not heal so readily, if ever at all.
The families of these soldiers are also departing on a long tour of banalities uttered by well-meaning, but lets face it, uninformed people.
I hear these phrases over and over again: Time heals every thing, Caseys in a better place, (oh really, I didnt know that home with his mom was such a bad place to be), Casey wants you to be happy, Casey died doing what he loved doing, (he did?), or, my favorite, Casey died defending his country.
Let me assure the reader, phrases like this do not help.
They are cliches for one thing, and for another, none of them are true.
None of them help a grieving family.
If you, the reader, is ever in the situation facing a mom who had her son brutally murdered, God forbid, I will give you hints on what does help: hugs (lots and lots), make sure she eats, make sure she drinks plenty of water (tears are dehydrating), make sure she hears wonderful things about her child, bring boxes of tissues and toilet paper, and bring yourself.
Leave your tired and impotent cliches at the door.
Of course, the most tragic thing about the 1579 is that not even one should be dead.
Our president cheerfully rushed this country into a needlessly horrendous and devastating invasion.   Our president thinks stolen elections confer a mandate.
Our Congress cheerfully relinquished their Constitutional responsibility to declare war.
If they had any courage or honor they would claim that right back and end this travesty.
I have a feeling our mis-leaders will be having a nice day with their moms or their children on Mother’s Day.
As they are eating their brunches and giving and receiving bouquets of Mother’s Day flowers, they probably never even think about the moms in this world that their insanely reckless policies have destroyed.
It never enters their wicked brains that they have ruined Mother’s Day for so many families.   This is a tragedy.
Our media was, and still is, a willing shill for the Administration and has never told the American public the truth.
Reporting about Iraq is always trumped by such as child molesters, Martha Stewart, Terri Schiavo, Scott Peterson, the American Idol, or now, Runaway Brides!
Another tragic thing about this illegal and disastrous invasion and occupation is that there are only 1579 families in this country who even have to think about Iraq.
Most Americans probably dont even know where to find Iraq on a map.
The Halliburtons, Bechtels, KBRs, and the oil oligarchs of the world, who are laughing all the way to the bank, think of Iraq with greedy glee each day.
Sorrowfully, there are 1579 families in this country who have Iraq carved on their hearts and souls for eternity.
We have sacrificed more than the $1.99 it costs to buy a Support the Troops magnet for our cars.
We have had a violent amputation.
Even if our fellow citizens dont realize it, by allowing this occupation to continue, they are also losing a very important part of themselves: their humanity.
My heart, my prayers, and my love go to the three families who are now embarking on this mournful, unnecessary journey.
We at Gold Star Families for Peace are here for them.
I hope they find comfort in what I know now seems like a comfortless world.
Love and Peace!!!
Cindy Sheehan
Casey’s Peace Page
Mother of Hero: Spc Casey Austin Sheehan KIA 04/04/04
Cofounder of Gold Star Families For Peace
They Forced My Son to Kill
Knowing I was powerless to erase the experiences and memories that led to my son's reaction, I entered the anti-war arena.
Many other things have contributed to my emergence as an opponent of this war.
My son's near brushes with death.
My belief that my son and his fellow warriors are being used as targets and security guards to allow Halliburton and similar corporations and individuals to plunder the assets of Iraq.
The anger I feel when I see the burden this war has permanently imprinted upon my son.
Knowing that the war had no basis in fact, that my son and his fellow Marines and soldiers are being used have all contributed to why I went to Washington, DC last weekend.
      By MARY GEDDRY    September 30, 2005
Mother begs for end to killing
Atlantan: 'It's too late for my son'
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 08/12/05
Mary Ann MacCombie didn't protest Vietnam.   She was in her early 20s and wasn't sure she understood that war well enough to take a stand.
And she didn't know anybody who died there.
When the United States invaded Iraq in March 2003, she was "cautiously supportive."   And when her son's Army unit joined the fight, she thought it would be like the Gulf War in 1991 — few casualties, "in and out."
In April 2004, MacCombie's son was killed in Iraq.   Suddenly the war became personal.
On Thursday, two years after the invasion of Iraq, MacCombie spoke out at an anti-war demonstration for the first time.   It took her more than a year to trust herself to talk about her son without breaking down, a year spent in a state of shock and coping with the bureaucratic details that follow death in a faraway place.
She joined about three dozen protesters who gathered in front of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Decatur to show support for Cindy Sheehan, the California mother who lost a son in Iraq and has camped out on a road leading to President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, where he is vacationing.   Sheehan has vowed to stay until he meets with her personally.  
MacCombie read a speech she wrote ahead of time because she didn't think she could speak off the cuff.   "It's too late for my son," she said, "but not for his best friend and thousands of their fellow soldiers and Marines.   Now is the right time, the right place, the right mission — to bring our troops home."
Afterward, MacCombie ad­mitted she was nervous.   She knows she shook a little during her speech.   But she thought she did OK, and she's willing to do it again.
She's thinking about going to Texas to join Sheehan.
When Sgt. Ryan Montgomery Campbell settled in for his yearlong tour of duty, MacCombie supported her son by sending video games, music CDs and a laptop computer, making sure his bills got paid, and e-mailing him regularly.
The 25-year-old swapped gossip with his mother about friends back home in Kirksville, Mo.   They talked about the intense heat of the Baghdad summer and the college classes she was taking.   Toward the end of the tour, Campbell e-mailed his mother to suggest she meet him at his base in Europe so they could see Germany and Spain together.
But a few days before he was to leave Iraq in April 2004, he e-mailed her with bad news: The Army had ordered his unit to stay for four more months.
Sgt. Ryan Campbell asked that this photo of him with an Iraqi child, be placed on his coffin if he died in the war.

Family Photo
Sgt. Ryan Campbell asked that this photo of him with an Iraqi child, be placed on his coffin if he died in the war.
Morale 'at an all-time low'
The extension was a shock.   The soldiers in his unit had already packed and shipped their personal items to their home base in Germany.   Campbell dropped plans to re-enlist, intentions based on assurances that he could be stationed in Hawaii.   Now, he wrote his mother, he couldn't trust the Army to keep its word.
On April 10, 2004, he wrote:
"Well, the days are just dragging by over here ... before at least there was something to look forward to. ... I continue to hate this place.   I hate the Army."
He e-mailed his sister, Brooke Campbell, and urged her not to vote for Bush.   On April 26 he sent his sister another e-mail, noting that he was pulling 16-hour workdays providing security for an engineering unit assigned to dig up roadsides where Iraqi insurgents often hid bombs.
"My morale is at an all-time low," he wrote, "and the days are hard.   Our mission is more dangerous than ever before."
On April 28, Campbell called his mother twice, sounding very discouraged.   She didn't know how to console him.
The next day, he was killed by a suicide bomber along with seven other soldiers from his unit.
Mom's Bush ranch protest
MacCombie buried her son in Arlington National Cemetery on May 11, 2004.   The next week she moved to Atlanta to be closer to Brooke, a graduate student at Emory University.
MacCombie had remained in Kirksville so Ryan would have a home to return to.   When he died, there was no point staying there, she decided.   She dropped out of college because she didn't have the heart to go on.
She lives in a rented duplex in Virginia-Highland and drives the red Jeep Wrangler her son bought on his last two-week leave home.   At 59, she thinks she probably looks silly in "his dream car," but it makes her feel closer to her son.
MacCombie has been slower to go public with her opposition to the war than her daughter.   Brooke, 29, appeared in an anti-Bush TV ad that was aired in swing states during the 2004 election campaign.
MacCombie long ago concluded the president's stated reasons for going to war in Iraq were untrue.   One of her first steps toward protest came July 22, when Bush visited Atlanta to promote his Social Security plan and the new Medicare prescription drug benefit.   She stood silently in a black T-shirt with "Bush Lied" on the front and "They Died" on the back.   Names of U.S. troops who died in the war cover both sides of the shirt.   Her son's name runs across the middle of the B in "Bush."
She is monitoring the situation in Texas, where news reports Thursday said more than 50 war protesters had joined Sheehan.   Rumors were flying that Sheehan would be arrested.   If that happens, MacCombie is ready to take her place to show Bush that the California mother "speaks for a lot of us."
Several opinion polls show support for the war has slipped.   In a USA Today-CNN-Gallup Poll released this week, 56 percent of Americans surveyed said the war was going badly.   The same poll asked if they supported sending more troops, keeping troop levels the same, a partial pullout or a complete pullout.   The leading choice was complete withdrawal, with 33 percent favoring that option.   Twenty-three percent supported a partial withdrawal.
MacCombie rejects the idea that mothers like her endanger the troops by speaking out.   She feels they are already demoralized and nothing she says will put them in greater danger than they already face.   She also knows that many people, including some mothers who have lost children in Iraq, see her criticism as bringing dishonor to the soldiers who have died.   She said she respects their feelings and hopes they will respect hers.
She thinks about the mothers whose sons and daughters are still fighting.   More than a thousand U.S. soldiers and Marines have been killed in Iraq since her son died.   "How many is enough?" she asks.
"Maybe it's going to take more speaking out. ... It just seems to be the right time for me personally."
And, she notes sadly, she didn't speak up during Vietnam.
© 2005 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Brenda and WesNews11Alive Home
Grieving Mothers Protest War
Associated Press Writer

DECATUR, Ga. (AP) — Her voice suddenly steadying, Mary Ann MacCombie blinked through her tears Thursday and took a very public stand against the war in Iraq that cost her son his life.
Surrounded by TV cameras and reporters, MacCombie blasted the U.S. involvement in Iraq in honor of her son, Sgt. Ryan Campbell, who was killed in April 2004 in a car bombing in south Iraq.
“It’s too late for my son, but not for his best friend and thousands of other soldiers,” said MacCombie, who was part of a procession of mothers that protested the war outside a veteran’s hospital.
“It is time to answer the call and say no more pain, no more false leadership and no more war,” said Patricia Roberts, whose son, Spc. Jamaal Rashard Addison, was killed in Iraq in March 2003.
Many in the crowd of 50 or so supporters held aloft signs proclaiming “I stand with Cindy Sheehan,” the grieving mother camped outside President Bush’s Crawford, Texas ranch whose 24-year-old son was killed last year in Sadr City.
Sheehan, 48, has been camping out along a road near President Bush’s ranch since Saturday, vowing to remain until his Texas vacation ends later this month.
Some demonstrators hoped Sheehan’s stand would further illuminate what they called an “illegal war.”
“My only wish right now is that I could be in Crawford, Texas now with Cindy,” said Howard Wolf, a Vietnam veteran and member of Veterans for Peace.
MacCombie said she’s disagreed with other mothers of soldiers in online chatrooms over her stance.
But she and other demonstrators, some who brought their toddlers, said speaking against the war is just maternal instinct.
“I think they took the only stand you can take if you’re a mother that has any conscience,” said Ronda Reynolds, a protester.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.
An Arab Woman Blues — Reflections in a sealed bottle...
Layla Anwar
December 17, 2006
A letter to an American G.I.
Painting: Iraqi Artist Mohammed Al Shammarey
When I watch pictures of your dead buddies on and I read some of your naive childlike poems, I feel sorry for you.   I honestly do.
I feel sorry for you yet at the same time I feel anger.
It is a very confusing mix of ambivalent, contradictory emotions.
On the one hand,I would love to strike you and on the other hand I say to myself, it is not really your fault.   You chose it yet you did not choose it.
From your perspective you are only "executing orders".   Yet hard facts on the battle ground tell me that you also enjoy the humiliation you inflict on these "alien" "evil" people — the Iraqis.
Despite your own neediness and your being in "it" because "it" will give you a grant, a green card and maybe the famous passport with an embossed striped eagle, you still believe you are superior, a better race, a more advanced one, a purer one.
I see the pictures of your dead buddies and I think of their mothers and fathers and the bitterness and grief they may feel.   You all look so young and in many ways so innocent.
Yet when I see you kicking young Iraqis around and beating them to death, when I see you raping little girls and burning them, when I see you making Iraqi children run miles after a plastic bottle of water or when you teach those poor little souls to say "Fuck you Iraq", just for the fun of it — I can't but have hate for you.
(I will not even mention the torture, nor the pillaging — you know all of that already)
When I see you urinating in and on sacred places and when I see you writing your degenerate graffitis on 7,000 years old archeological sites, with absolutely no respect or regard for other people's Faith, Culture and History — I can't but have contempt for you.
When I hear innombrable stories like this one:   When you stripped naked my friend — a woman with more qualifications than the whole of your army put together, 45 years old, old enough to be your own mother.   You said you wanted to make sure she is not "hiding something down there" in her undies.   Remember that one?   You did that in front of 30 of your male buddies in your "special" camp.   Then you offered her a coke so she can relax and"chill out".
She would not tell me the rest of the story, she said:   "Let sleeping dogs lie".
I want you to know that she left Iraq and everything she owned after that incident because of you.   She said to me: "I do not want to take anything with me, not even another pair of underwear.   Let them have it all."   This is how much you disgusted her with your acts.
Yes, when I hear yet another story like this one — I can't but despise you.
I admit, at times, I have empathy for you and for the life you left behind — a life you may never return to.
And sometimes I sit and wonder if you realize the amount of pain and suffering you are inflicting on an innocent people who have done NOTHING to you.
Do you actually realize the enormity and severity of your actions? Do you realize how many deep wounds and scars that may never heal, you are leaving behind you ?
And sometimes, I sit and wonder what happens when you go to sleep at night.   Can you sleep in peace? Can you close your eyes with a clean conscience ?
And sometimes, I sit and wonder when you finish your round of harassing and killing Iraqis and you deliberately leave them bloated by Death on the streets for days on end — can you still fool yourself and pretend to send "Love" letters to your family, wife or girlfriend?
I have a lot more to say to you but I feel I have said enough.   After all , I am not supposed to be engaging you.
But before I end this letter and go back to my daily angst of "living" under your occupation, I want you to know that somewhere deep down, I do care about your sorry little ass.
I care enough not because I like you or enjoy your presence — far from it — but simply because of the mere fact that we happen to belong to the same "race".   The human one.   And I still have a little faith left on that "front".   I care enough to want you to save your own Self, that Self that will undoubtedly come back to haunt you one of those days.   And by doing so, you are also saving your own Life.
You owe it to "yourself" and you can do it with one simple word:   REFUSE.
Just do it, do it NOW, do it before it's too late.
Painting : Iraqi Artist Mohammed Al Shammarey.
Child and woman killed
by U.S. bombing
Where Do I Live?
Cindy Sheehan — Wednesday 03 August 2005
One very positive aspect of my public anti-war, pro-peace stance is that it has put me in contact with so many people all over the world.
I believe that my willingness to share my heart and tragic story (and in the process, tell the truth) helps people open up to me in ways that they cannot do with others.
In the past few days, I have been bombarded with horror stories about what our government is doing to innocent Americans.
I was driving from one event to another the other day, and I got a call from an Iranian woman who is now a citizen of the United States and who has been in the US for 30 years, is married to an American, and has a 5 year old son and a brother who has been in prison for 9 months for wanting to serve America.
My new Iranian/American friend, I will call her Susie since her family is in danger of reprisal, told me that her brother signed up for the National Guard to give something back to the country that he has adopted as his own.
Police open fire
on the crowd
He was lied to by his recruiter, who said he could have his student loans paid off and become an American citizen within a year.
He also has severe learning disabilities, and his recruiter falsified his test scores and his application.
Susie's brother was told that the mistakes would be "corrected" before the application was turned in.
Like my KIA son Casey, Susie's brother naively trusted his recruiter.
One day, Susie's brother, who was at that time in training as a chemical specialist, was sitting in class when FBI agents came in and hauled him off to prison.
He was told it was because he went to Iran twice after 9/11 (his country of birth and his family's country), and because he falsified his application to get in the National Guard.
Susie's brother thought going into the National Guard was going to be a good and admirable thing, and he was deceived and betrayed.
He didn't get his student loans paid off, he didn't get citizenship, but he did get thrown in jail without proper legal representation.
Susie called her state's senators to see if they could help her and her brother, and she was told to quit making trouble or her entire family would be investigated.
Then yesterday when I was traveling from event to event again, I got another phone call from a hysterical mom, Summer, whose son had been killed in Iraq in April of this year.
Her medic son was found face down on his bunk with some morphine bottles around him.
Summer was told that he died of a drug overdose, and the report stated that her daughter-in-law and her son's battle buddies all said that he abused drugs in Iraq.
Burnt out British vehicle
Summer was devastated.
She knew her boy.
She knew her son didn't take drugs.
She finally got a hold of the reports that contradicted what she was told by the military.
All of the people interviewed said her son DID NOT abuse drugs.
She received the toxicology report 2 months after her son died and he DID NOT have any drugs in his system.
How did Summer's son die, and why is the Army trying to cover it up?
Wasn't it bad enough that this government took Summer's son and killed him in an unjust, immoral, and illegal war?
They had to lie to her, too?
This weekend, I also spent time at Kevin and Monica Benderman's house at Ft. Stewart, Georgia.
Kevin, a conscientious objector who refused to go back to Iraq with the 3rd Infantry Division and kill innocent people and participate in other war crimes, was convicted in his court-martial on July 28th of "missing movement" and was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison.
Kevin was obviously made an example to other soldiers who are also thinking of protesting this obscene occupation by refusing to kill blameless people, or die themselves.
From the testimony that was given by the prosecution at the court-martial, it is clear that witnesses lied about Kevin and documents were falsified.
I hate to see a brave, honorable, and patriotic American like Kevin railroaded to federal prison for standing up for what he knows is moral and correct.
What makes Kevin's treatment even worse is that those who are responsible for killing and maiming tens of thousands of innocent people and for the destruction of an innocent country are roaming around the world free to unleash more death and pandemonium.
For my effort in trying to awaken America to the dirty tricks and fraud of our government and for trying to call attention to the fact that thousands of people are dying and in harm's way in Iraq for the lies, I am often called a traitor, terrorist supporter, Jane Fonda, unpatriotic, etc.
I am called names that contain words that good Christian supporters of George should not even know, let alone use.
I am accused of not supporting the troops, and people tell me that Casey would be spinning in his grave on which I am alternately: spitting, pissing, or s*itting.
What has happened to America?
What has happened to our freedoms?
Where did sanity go?
Where is the due process that we have always been entitled to?
Why do people feel free to castigate the mother of a "war hero" for exercising her freedom of speech, and why does our leadership feel free to lie to mothers of "war heroes?"
Why aren't the liars being held to the same standards as the people who are trying to expose them?
U.S. soldier
returning home
Stories like those above are becoming more and more common in the USA.
The un-Patriot Act and the total disregard for the Constitution by nearly everyone who holds an elected or appointed position in our federal government is starting to hit too close to home for many people.
When will the rest of America finally come out of its coma?
When, God forbid, the jack-booted thugs come pounding on their door some midnight?
People like the Bendermans, Summer, Susie, and her brother should be defended and supported by every true American.
The injustice of what is happening to some good, hard working and honest Americans is overwhelming, unfair, and un-American.
Ben Franklin said: "Those who would sacrifice essential liberties for a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
We are rapidly becoming a nation with neither.
We should demand both, and refuse to give up any of our liberties or our security.
These things are our birthrights.
Please don't give up yours.
I am not giving up mine.
Falluja November 2004
Bombed by U.S.
Family recognized Grandparent
Body of loved one in Falluja.
Killed in house in Falluja
Loved one
Body of loved one in Falluja.

                          To rebel is right, to disobey is a duty, to act is necessary !
         Military Families Denied Meeting with              
Tuesday 25th January 2005:
Military Families Denied Meeting with Rumsfeld
The Dangerous Gold Star Families
by Cindy Sheehan
Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld continues to astound us Gold Star Families with his heartlessness, callousness and disrespect in the faces of our children who are being killed in the mindless invasion and occupation of Iraq.
I am one of the founding members of a group called Gold Star Families for Peace.
Some of us families who have lost loved ones in this illegal and immoral war in Iraq have organized to use our collective voices to bring the tragedy of war to the fore front of America’s hearts and souls like it so tragically is in ours.
We families are amazed that so few of our fellow citizens are touched by the horrors of the invasion and occupation of a sovereign country.
It seems to us like the only people who are asked to sacrifice anything for the war effort are our brave young men and women fighting this so-called war and their families.
There are some families in our nation like us, that have paid the ultimate price for the lies and betrayals of this current administration.
I, and some other Gold Star Families, have been writing and calling the Department of Defense for over three weeks.
We were all meeting in DC to protest the inauguration and we thought it would be a good time to meet with Donald Rumsfeld.
We have many questions to ask him about our loved ones’ deaths and we deserve to have some answers.
I think it is our right as Americans and grieving families to have these answers.
For example, why were the children of this country sent to fight a war without the proper training, equipment or armor?  Why were our children sent to fight a war that had no basis in reality?
Why are American children still over there fighting a war, and dying in a war, when all the reasons for the war have been proven false?
When is this administration going to bring the rest of our children home before it’s too late for their families?
If we were granted an audience with him, we didn’t really expect Mr. Rumsfeld to be truthful with us or even polite to us considering his past history of being so sarcastically untruthful and blatantly rude.
The real reason I wanted to meet with Rumsfeld was so he could see the face of my son, Spc Casey Sheehan, who was killed in Sadr City on 04/04/04.
I wanted him to look me in the face and see my red swollen eyes and to see all the lines that grief has etched.
I wanted him to see the unbearable pain his ignorance and arrogance has caused me and my family.
I wanted him to know that his actions have terrible consequences.
Our letters, phone calls, faxes, and e-mails to the Pentagon were to no avail: we received no response.
So in conjunction with Military Families Speak Out (MFSO) we decided to go to the Pentagon and try and meet with someone, anyone.
We were met at the parking lot by a couple of dozen of police officers blocking our way.
We were told that we weren’t allowed to go into the Pentagon because we didn’t go through the proper protocol to request a meeting!!
I find it so ironic that with all the tight security for the events in DC this week that enough time and energy was mustered to stop families in mourning so forcefully at the Pentagon.
I also find it ironic that if I were a wealthy Republican who had donated large sums of money for the "re"-election of the President, I could have had access to all the big wigs at the lavish parties — but I, whose son paid the ultimate price of his precious life to this country, can’t even get within a half of a mile from the man who sent him to die.
We Gold Star Families for Peace are not giving up the fight to hold someone in this administration accountable for the quagmire in Iraq and the more important struggle to bring the rest of our children home from this devastating occupation now.
It takes most of our energy just to get out of our beds in the morning and mourn our horrific losses.
We need all Americans to wake up and start lobbying their elected officials for an end to this immorality in Iraq and to join our voices in protest.
by : Cindy Sheehan
Tuesday 25th January 2005
                          To rebel is right, to disobey is a duty, to act is necessary !
         Larry King — bumps military mom              
Wednesday 2nd February 2005
Larry King bumps military mom from show
— Are the "news" networks afraid of the truth?
Was it worth it?
I was supposed to be on the Larry King Live show last night.
I was asked to be on the show to offer my opinion on the election in Iraq from the perspective of a mom whose son was killed in the war prior to the elections.
One of the questions I was going to be asked was: Do I think my son sacrifice was worth it?
Well, I didn’t get a chance to be on the show last night, because I was bumped for something that is really important: The Michael Jackson Trial.
If I was allowed to go on Larry King Live last night and give my opinion about the elections and about my son’s sacrifice, this is what I would have told Mr. King and his viewers:
My son, Spc. Casey Austin Sheehan (KIA, Sadr City, 04/04/04) enlisted in the Army to protect America and give something back to our country.
He didn’t enlist to be used and misused by a reckless Commander-in-Chief who sent his troops to preemptively attack and occupy a country that was no imminent threat (or any threat) to our country.
Casey was sent to die in a war that was based on the imagination of some Neo-Cons who love to fill our lives with fear.
Casey didn’t agree with the Mission but being the courageous and honorable man that he was he knew he had to go to this mistake of a war to support his buddies.
Casey also wondered aloud many times why precious troops and resources were being diverted from the real war on terror.
Casey was told that he would be welcomed to Iraq as a liberator with chocolates and rose petals strewn in front of his unarmored Humvee.
He was in Iraq for two short weeks when the Shiite rebel welcome wagon welcomed him to Baghdad with bullets and RPGs, which took his young and beautiful life.
I think my son’s helmet and Viet Nam era flak jacket would have protected him better from the chocolates and flower petals.
Casey was killed after George Bush proclaimed Mission Accomplished on May 1, 2003.
He was also killed after Saddam was captured in December of that same year.
Casey was killed before the transfer of power in June of 2004 and before these elections.
Four marines were tragically killed after the election, yesterday.
By my count about five dozen Iraqis and coalition troops were killed on Election Day, is that the definition of Catastrophic Success?
But is that a good day in Iraq?
Hundreds of our young people and thousands of Iraqis have been needlessly and senselessly murdered since George Bush triumphantly announced an end to major combat almost 2 years ago now.
All of the above events have been heralded by this administration as turning points in the war on terror or as wonderful events in the march of democracy.
I don’t think, judging by very recent history, that the elections will stop the bloodshed and destruction.
I would have asked Mr. King if he would want to sacrifice one of his children for sham elections in Iraq.
Would he or George Bush send their children to be killed, or maimed for life, for a series of lies, mistakes and miscalculations?
Now that every lie has been exposed to the light for the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
Why are our sons and daughters still there?
This war was sold to the American people by a slimy leadership with a maniacal zeal and phony sincerity that would have impressed snake oil salesmen a century ago.
The average American needs to hear from people who have been devastated by the arrogance and ignorance of an administration that doesn’t even have the decency or compassion to sign our death letters.
I don’t think anyone can do it with a straight face.
In the interest of being a fair and balanced (oops, wrong network), I would have been pitted against a parent who still agrees with the Mission and the President.
Although, I grieve for that parent’s loss and I respect that parent’s opinion, I would have defied Mr. King, or that parent to explain the Mission to me.
I don’t think anyone can do it with a straight face.
The President has also stated that we need to keep our troops in Iraq to honor our sacrifices by completing this elusive and ever changing Mission.
My response to him is Just because it is too late for Casey and the Sheehan family, why would we want another innocent life taken, in the name of this chameleon of a Mission?
Well, I was bumped from the show anyway.
Now that Scott Peterson has been convicted and sentenced for his crimes and Laci and Connor’s families have the justice they deserve, we have the new trial of the century to keep our minds off of the nasty and annoying fact that we are waging an immoral war in Iraq.
We can fill our TV screens and homes with the glorified images of the Michael Jackson molestation trial.
We can fill our lives with outrage over victims and hope they get justice; not even questioning the fact that George Bush, his dishonest cabinet, and their misguided policies aren’t even brought to the court of public opinion.
We won’t have to confront ourselves with the fact that the leaders of our country and their lies are responsible for the deaths of 1438 brave Americans, tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis, and the loss of our Nation’s credibility throughout the world.
That might mean we would have to turn off our television sets and do something about it.
Oh yeah.  In answer to the original question Larry:  No it wasn’t worth it!!
Casey’s Peace Page
Co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace:
by : Cindy Sheehan
Wednesday 2nd February 2005
Gold Star Families for Peace: www.GSFP.orgCindy
Video: slideshow of atrocities in Iraq 5mb
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With audio soundtrack of the lies that led us into this illegal immoral war
Published on Friday, January 28, 2005 by the National Catholic Reporter
What the Rest of the World Watched on Inauguration Day
by Joan Chittister
Dublin, on U.S.  Inauguration Day, didn't seem to notice.   Oh, they played a few clips that night of the American president saying, "The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands."
But that was not their lead story.
The picture on the front page of The Irish Times was a large four-color picture of a small Iraqi girl.  
Her little body was a coil of steel.
She sat knees up, cowering, screaming madly into the dark night.
Her white clothes and spread hands and small tight face were blood-spattered.
The blood was the blood of her father and mother, shot through the car window in Tal Afar by American soldiers while she sat beside her parents in the car, her four brothers and sisters in the back seat.
A series of pictures of the incident played on the inside page, as well.
A 12-year-old brother, wounded in the fray, falls face down out of the car when the car door opens, the pictures show.  
In another, a soldier decked out in battle gear, holds a large automatic weapon on the four children, all potential enemies, all possible suicide bombers, apparently, as they cling traumatized to one another in the back seat and the child on the ground goes on screaming in her parent's blood.
No promise of "freedom" rings in the cutline on this picture.
No joy of liberty underlies the terror on these faces here.
I found myself closing my eyes over and over again as I stared at the story, maybe to crush the tears forming there, maybe in the hope that the whole scene would simply disappear.
I watched, while Inauguration Day dawned across the Atlantic, as the Irish up and down the aisle on the train from Killarney to Dublin, narrowed their eyes at the picture, shook their heads silently and slowly over it, and then sat back heavily in their seats, too stunned into reality to go back to business as usual — the real estate section, the sports section, the life-style section of the paper.  
But no, like the photo of a naked little girl bathed in napalm and running down a road in Vietnam served to crystallize the situation there for the rest of the world, I knew that this picture of a screaming, angry, helpless, orphaned child could do the same.
The soldiers standing in the dusk had called "halt," the story said, but no one did.
Maybe the soldiers' accents were bad.
Maybe the car motor was unduly noisy.
Maybe the children were laughing loudly — the way children do on family trips.
Whatever the case, the car did not stop, the soldiers shot with deadly accuracy, seven lives changed in an instant: two died in body, five died in soul.
BBC news announced that the picture was spreading across Europe like a brushfire that morning, featured from one major newspaper to another, served with coffee and Danish from kitchen table to kitchen table in one country after another.  
I watched, while Inauguration Day dawned across the Atlantic, as the Irish up and down the aisle on the train from Killarney to Dublin, narrowed their eyes at the picture, shook their heads silently and slowly over it, and then sat back heavily in their seats, too stunned into reality to go back to business as usual — the real estate section, the sports section, the life-style section of the paper.
Here was the other side of the inauguration story.
No military bands played for this one.
No bulletproof viewing stands could stop the impact of this insight into the glory of force.
Here was an America they could no longer understand.
The contrast rang cruelly everywhere.  
I sat back and looked out the train window myself.
Would anybody in the United States be seeing this picture today?
Would the United States ever see it, in fact?
And if it is printed in the United States, will it also cross the country like wildfire and would people hear the unwritten story under it?
There are 54 million people in Iraq.
Over half of them are under the age of 15.
Of the over 100,000 civilians dead in this war, then, over half of them are children.
We are killing children.
The children are our enemy.
And we are defeating them.
"I'll tell you why I voted for George Bush," a friend of mine said.
"I voted for George Bush because he had the courage to do what Al Gore and John Kerry would never have done."
I've been thinking about that one.
Osama Bin Laden is still alive.   Sadam Hussein is still alive.   Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is still alive.   Baghdad, Mosul and Fallujah are burning.
But my government has the courage to kill children or their parents.   And I'm supposed to be impressed.
That's an unfair assessment, of course.   A lot of young soldiers have died, too.   A lot of weekend soldiers are maimed for life.   A lot of our kids went into the military only to get a college education and are now shattered in soul by what they had to do to other bodies.
A lot of adult civilians have been blasted out of their homes and their neighborhoods and their cars.
More and more every day.
According to U.N.  Development Fund for Women, 15 percent of wartime casualties in World War I were civilians.
In World War II, 65 percent were civilians.
By the mid '90s, over 75 percent of wartime casualties were civilians.
In Iraq, for every dead U.S.  soldier, there are 14 other deaths, 93 percent of them are civilian.
But those things happen in war, the story says.
It's all for a greater good, we have to remember.
It's all to free them.
It's all being done to spread "liberty."
From where I stand, the only question now is who or what will free us from the 21st century's new definition of bravery.
Who will free us from the notion that killing children or their civilian parents takes courage?
A Benedictine Sister of Erie, Sister Joan is a best-selling author and well-known international lecturer.   She is founder and executive director of Benetvision: A Resource and Research Center for Contemporary Spirituality, and past president of the Conference of American Benedictine Prioresses and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.   Sister Joan has been recognized by universities and national organizations for her work for justice, peace and equality for women in the Church and society.   She is an active member of the International Peace Council.
Common Dreams © 1997-2005
                          To rebel is right, to disobey is a duty, to act is necessary !
Mother and Father — killed at US checkpoint
Friday 21st January 2005:
Iraqi Freedom: Mother and Father Shot in front of children
It was a routine foot patrol.  As we made our way up a broad boulevard, in the distance I could see a car making its way toward us.
As a defence against potential car bombs, it is now standard practice for foot patrols to stop oncoming vehicles, particularly after dark.
"We have a car coming," someone called out, as we entered an intersection.
We could see the car about 100 metres away.
It kept coming; I could hear its engine now, a high whine that sounded more like acceleration than slowing down.
It was maybe 50 yards away now.
"Stop that car!" someone shouted out, seemingly simultaneously with someone firing what sounded like warning shots — a staccato measured burst.
The car continued coming. 

And then, perhaps less than a second later, a cacophony of fire, shots rattling off in a chaotic overlapping din.

The car entered the intersection on its momentum and still shots were penetrating it and slicing it.

Finally the shooting stopped, the car drifted listlessly, clearly no longer being steered, and came to a rest on a kerb.

Soldiers began to approach it warily.

The sound of children crying came from the car.

I walked up to the car and a teenaged girl with her head covered emerged from the back, wailing and gesturing wildly.  After her came a boy, tumbling on to the ground from the seat, already leaving a pool of blood.

US veteran mothers against war - Mary Ann MacCombie, Cindy Sheehan, Georgia Stillwell.
The car continued coming.
And then, perhaps less than a second later, a cacophony of fire, shots rattling off in a chaotic overlapping din.
The car entered the intersection on its momentum and still shots were penetrating it and slicing it.
Finally the shooting stopped, the car drifted listlessly, clearly no longer being steered, and came to a rest on a kerb.
Soldiers began to approach it warily.
The sound of children crying came from the car.
I walked up to the car and a teenaged girl with her head covered emerged from the back, wailing and gesturing wildly.
After her came a boy, tumbling on to the ground from the seat, already leaving a pool of blood.
"Civilians!" someone shouted, and soldiers ran up.
More children — it ended up being six all told — started emerging, crying, their faces mottled with blood in long streaks.
The troops carried them all off to a nearby sidewalk.
It was by now almost completely dark.
There, working only by lights mounted on ends of their rifles, an Army medic began assessing the children’s injuries, running his hands up and down their bodies, looking for wounds.
Incredibly, the only injuries were to a girl who suffered a cut hand and a boy with a superficial gash in the small of his back that was bleeding heavily but was not life-threatening.
The medic immediately began to bind it, while the boy crouched against a wall.
From the pavement I could see into the bullet-mottled windshield more clearly, the driver of the car, a man, was penetrated by so many bullets that his skull had collapsed, leaving his body grotesquely disfigured.
A woman also lay dead in the front, still covered in her Muslim clothing and harder to see.
Meanwhile, the children continued to wail and scream, huddled against a wall, sandwiched between soldiers either binding their wounds or trying to comfort them.

The Army’s translator later told me that this was a Turkoman family and that the teenaged girl kept shouting, 'Why did they shoot us?   We have no weapons!   We were just going home!'   After a delay in getting the armoured vehicles lined up and ready, the convoy moved to the main Tal Afar hospital.

The young children were carried in by soldiers and by their teenaged sister.

Only the boy with the gash on his back needed any further medical attention, and the Army medic and an Iraqi doctor quickly chatted over his prognosis, deciding that his wound would be easily repaired.

The Army told me that it would probably launch a full investigation.
Meanwhile, the children continued to wail and scream, huddled against a wall, sandwiched between soldiers either binding their wounds or trying to comfort them.
The Army’s translator later told me that this was a Turkoman family and that the teenaged girl kept shouting, "Why did they shoot us?   We have no weapons!   We were just going home!"
After a delay in getting the armoured vehicles lined up and ready, the convoy moved to the main Tal Afar hospital.
The young children were carried in by soldiers and by their teenaged sister.
Only the boy with the gash on his back needed any further medical attention, and the Army medic and an Iraqi doctor quickly chatted over his prognosis, deciding that his wound would be easily repaired.
The Army told me that it would probably launch a full investigation.
Chris Hondros is a photographer with Getty Images and is embedded with US troops
Published on Friday, January 28, 2005 by
Why the Children in Iraq Make No Sound When They Fall
by Bernard Chazelle
No one said that dying had to be dull.
"Screaming with fear, paralyzed children at a shelter for the physically disabled and mentally ill in Galle, Sri Lanka, lay helplessly in their beds as seawater surged around them."
The CNN report read like the screenplay of a horror film.
A crippled girl grows up destitute in a home for the deaf, the blind, the insane, and, for good measure, the disabled elderly. (what more could a kid wish for?)
At the end of a short life spent wondering why no one ever looked out for her, the child reaches the final punctuation mark of her blessed existence and drowns glued to a wheelchair.
Tragedy should not be too clever.
Mourning embraces the solemnity of death but recoils at an overzealous script.
When fate appears to cross the thin line between cruelty and sadism, grief turns to anger.
We expect the church organist at the funeral mass to interrupt Bach in mid-measure, look up to the sky, and shout "Come on!"
Voltaire had his "come on" moment in the wake of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, suggesting that God's supreme goodness perhaps was not all it was cracked up to be.
Religious irreverence is not much in fashion these days.
But piety was not always so docile.
History has been improbably kind to all sorts of figures who've had cross words with the Almighty.
Think of Job, Jonah, Jeremiah, and Jesus on the cross—and that's only for the J's.
Once or twice, the dispute even got out of hand: Nietzsche killed God; and Richard Rubenstein saw in Auschwitz confirmation of his death.
Admittedly, to reconcile the Holocaust with a just and omnipotent god is an interesting variation on squaring the circle—or, since Mikl?s Laczkovich actually succeeded in doing just that [1], let us say, merely a reminder that gods may die but theological debates just never do.
My own reaction to the CNN report was not nearly as elevated.
"Why would God behave like Don Rumsfeld?" I wondered.
As the crippled child writhed in agony, I pictured God murmuring "Stuff happens."
Woe unto me.
To compare God to Rumsfeld
To compare God to Rummy is worse than blasphemous: It's unfair.
After all, God did not cow the media into decorating our TV screens with the beatific smiles of preening peacocks reassuring us that smart waves drowned the terrorists, spared the innocent, amused the children, and provided much needed water to drought-prone regions.
God gets accused of many things, including being dead, but lying is rarely one of them.
Mendacity, on the other hand, is the reserve currency of this administration.
Its marketing hook: "You give us your votes; we give you our lies."
From the fictitious Saddam-al Qaeda axis to the rosy updates on the Switzerlandization of Iraq, from the bogus tales of WMD to the assurance that democracy is the future of the region (and always will be, would add the cynics), the giving has been, shall we say, generous.
After all, God did not cow the media into decorating our TV screens with the beatific smiles of preening peacocks reassuring us that smart waves drowned the terrorists, spared the innocent, amused the children, and provided much needed water to drought-prone regions.
The taking has been no less effusive.
Although the hysterical rantings of prowar voices rarely exceeded, in dignity, the yapping of a chihuahua attacking a meatball, they met only the meekest resistance from an oleaginous mainstream media.
The war hawks found powerful enablers in The New York Times, which was more than happy to echo the delusory yarn spun by the White House and pimp for Judith Miller's Best Little Whorehouse in Babylon (where bling bling spells WMD).
Pimping being the fickle business that it is, it won't be long before the In-Bush-We-Trust media gets in touch with its inner peacenik and points an accusing finger at the posse of visionary mediocrities who gave us a nasty case of Iraq syndrome.
No doubt some of the neocons will balk at going to their graves with the word "loser" carved on a brass coffin plate; so watch for them to pull a McNamara on us and humbly beg for forgiveness.
Being good souls, ie, suckers for smarmy group hugs, naturally we'll oblige.
Were it so simple.
The abject surrender of the media fed a slew of illusions to the public, none more craven than the belief that he whom we kill must be killed.
Yeah, yeah, we occasionally obliterate the wrong house and incinerate its occupants, but that's just "friendly fire."
(A lovely phrase if there's one: Let's hear the surgeon who amputates the wrong leg inform his patient of his "friendly amputation.")
Minus the friendliness, however, our whiz-bang weapon wizardry never fails to separate the wheat from the chaff, the nursing mother from the crazed beheader.
So goes the creed, anyway.
The Lancet—that well-known freedom hating rag—begs to differ.
It estimates that our high-IQ, mensa-schmensa bombs have killed 100,000 civilians [2].
Iraq Body Count, which plays the lowballing game by shunning projections, reports the deaths of 600 non-combatants during our latest goodwill tour of Fallujah (by now primed to be renamed Grozny on the Euphrates) [3].
And then there is the Iraqi girl, hands soaked in her dead father's blood, whose little brother does not yet understand that his childhood has just come to an end.
Fearing for their lives, US soldiers killed the parents in the front seat of the family car.
Demons will likely haunt their nights.
Stuff happens.
Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, bless their souls, will sleep well tonight.
Wars never fail to produce their share of pithy lines.
Tommy Franks made sure this one would be no exception.
"We don't do body counts," crowed the general, who really meant to say that he does not do "dark-skinned body counts" (he counts the others just fine).
Lucky for us that he doesn't run a Swedish newspaper, or it would have splashed the headline: "Tsunami kills 2,000 Swedes—and a few locals."
To be fair, Franks remembered the last time he did body counts, Vietnam, and how well that ended.
But today's tactical thinking packs a wallop of self-righteous denial.
We don't tally the children we kill for the same reason monsters don't buy mirrors: That's how they go through life thinking they're angels.
We've snuffed out innocent lives in numbers that insurgents and terrorists could only dream of.
But we avert our eyes.
We bury our heads in the sand and turn a blind eye to our moral cowardice, thus pulling off the amazing feat of being ostriches and chickens all at once.
We owe this marvel of ornithology to the inexorable fragility of human illusions.
To quote James Carroll, "we avert our eyes because the war is a moral abyss. If we dare to look, as Nietzsche said, the abyss stares back."
George Bush, the philosopher, has updated Berkeley's riddle:
Do Iraqi children scream when the bombs fall if there is no one in the White House to hear them?
The celebrity of the month, the tsunami victim, has hogged newspaper headlines nationwide with stomach-churning photo spreads of wailing mothers and floating cadavers.
Like his unsung Iraqi brethren, the victim has reminded us that calamity always strikes the poor, the sick, and the helpless first.
It's invariably those with the least to lose who lose the most.
At the great banquet of cataclysms, rich Westerners get served last.
Bush would have us believe that we've suffered so much from terrorism the world owes us undying compassion.
In truth, our induction into the Misery Hall of Fame is still a long way off.
With our sustained assistance, however (coddling Saddam while he was gassing Iranians, slapping sanctions that killed half a million children, and fighting two wars in twelve years), Iraq made it on the first ballot.
Who ever said that we didn't have a big heart?
Not Condoleezza Rice: "I do agree that the tsunami was a wonderful opportunity to show not just the US government, but the heart of the American people, and I think it has paid great dividends for us" [4].
And I just can't wait for the next one, our top diplomat might have added.
While watching Colin Powell, pocket calculator in hand, add up the geopolitical benefits of our generosity and tell us how shocked, shocked he was by the tsunami's devastation, I could almost hear the Beatitudes from The Gospel According to Dubya:
"Blessed are the children whom the sea swallows, for they shall tug at our heartstrings.
Cursed are the children whom our bombs blow up, for they shall roam the dark alleys of our indifference."
We've been Iraq's tsunami.
But expect no charity drive, no minute of silence, no flag at half-staff: nothing that would allow shame to rear its ugly face.
With Bush's reelection, America now has the president it deserves.
And should you find that Lady Liberty, all dolled up with the latest in fashion from Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, looks a bit like a used up hooker, you won't need to ask who hired her pimp: We did.
The liberation of Iraq began with smart flying bombs crashing over Baghdad.
We should have known better.
Liberations that start with a reenactment of 9/11 rarely end well.
Common Dreams © 1997-2005
US destroyed Fallujah as it tries to destroy the rest of Iraq
Published on Monday, July 4, 2005 by
by Sheldon Drobny
Justice O'Connor's decision in Bush v. Gore led to the current Bush administration's execution of war crimes and atrocities in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places in the Middle East that are as egregious as those committed by the Third Reich and other evil governments in human history.
The lesson is clear.
Those people who may be honorable and distinguished in their chosen profession should always make decisions based upon good rather than evil no matter where their nominal allegiances may rest.
Justice O'Connor was quoted to have said something to the affect that she abhorred the thought of Bush losing the 2000 election to Gore.
She was known to have wanted to retire after the 2000 election for same reason she is now retiring.
She wanted to spend more time with her sick husband.
Unfortunately, she tarnished her distinguished career with the deciding vote in Bush v. Gore by going along with the partisan majority of the Court to interfere with a democratic election that she and the majority feared would be lost in an honest recount.
She dishonored herself and the Supreme Court by succumbing to party allegiances and not The Constitution to which she swore to uphold.
And the constitutional argument she and the majority used to justify their decision was the Equal Protection Clause.
The Equal Protection Clause was the ultimate basis for the decision, but the majority essentially admitted (what was obvious in any event) that it was not basing its conclusion on any general view of what equal protection requires.
The decision in Bush v Gore was not dictated by the law in any sense—either the law found through research, or the law as reflected in the kind of intuitive sense that comes from immersion in the legal culture.
The Equal Protection clause is generally used in matters concerning civil rights.
The majority ignored their basic conservative views supporting federalism and states' rights in order to justify their decision.
History will haunt these justices down for their utter lack of justice and the hypocrisy associated with this decision.
Sheldon Drobny is Co-founder of Air America Radio.
Unspeakable grief and horror
                        ...and the circus of deception continues...
— 2018
— 2017
— 2016
— 2015
— 2014
— 2013
— 2012
— 2011
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— 2003
Circus of Torture   2003 — now
He says, "You are quite mad, Kewe"
And of course I am.
Why, I don't believe any of it — not the bloody body, not the bloody mind, not even the bloody Universe, or is it bloody multiverse.
"It's all illusion," I say.   "Don't you know, my lad, my lassie.   The game!   The game, me girl, me boy!   Takes on interest, don't you know.   T'is me sport, till doest find a better!"
Pssssst — but all this stuff is happening down here
Let's change it!
To say hello:     hello[the at marker]
For Kewe's spiritual and metaphysical pages — click here
Mother her two babies killed by US
More than Fifteen million
US dollars given by US taxpayers to Israel each day for their military use
4 billion US dollars per year
Nanci Pelosi — U.S. House Democratic leader — Congresswoman California, 8th District
Speaking at the AIPAC agenda   May 26, 2005
There are those who contend that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is all about Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.   This is absolute nonsense.
In truth, the history of the conflict is not over occupation, and never has been:  it is over the fundamental right of Israel to exist.
The greatest threat to Israel's right to exist, with the prospect of devastating violence, now comes from Iran.
For too long, leaders of both political parties in the United States have not done nearly enough to confront the Russians and the Chinese, who have supplied Iran as it has plowed ahead with its nuclear and missile technology....
In the words of Isaiah, we will make ourselves to Israel 'as hiding places from the winds and shelters from the tempests; as rivers of water in dry places; as shadows of a great rock in a weary land.'
  Afghanistan — Western Terror States: Canada, US, UK, France, Germany, Italy      
       Photos of Afghanistan people being killed and injured by NATO      
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