note: I am still working on reformatting everything.
West Point Grads Against the War
West Point Grads Against the War is a new website started by graduates of West Point to educate citizens about why even these honored military veterans oppose the U.S.
occupation of Iraq. Their main purpose is "To help reclaim the honor of the United States Of America."
"Instilled by the Cadet Honor System with a fundamental, longstanding respect for truth, we graduates of the United States Military Academy believe that honor is a basic attribute of character. That we are no longer cadets is irrelevant. We stand appalled by the deceitful behavior of the government of the United States and, in particular, its widely known malefactors. Lying, cheating, stealing, delivering evasive statements and quibbling not only has demeaned these deceivers and the United States of America, but has placed vast numbers of innocent people in deadly peril. We will not serve the lies.
For more information, visit their web site.
Coming Home Disillusioned
Christopher Sheppard, former Marine Captain writes: The war has cost the American taxpayers $250 billion and counting. The vast majority — 94 percent — of the more than 2,300 United States service members killed in Iraq have occurred since Bush's "Top Gun" proclamation. The cost in men and materiel has been far beyond what we were led to believe.
I volunteered to go back to Iraq for the fall and winter of 2004-2005. I went back out of frustration and guilt; frustration from watching Iraq unravel on the news and guilt that I wasn't there trying to stop it. Many fine Marines from my reserve battalion felt the same and volunteered to go back. I buried my mounting suspicions and mustered enough trust and faith in my civilian leadership to go back.
I returned disillusioned by what I saw. I participated in the second battle of Fallujah in November 2004. We crushed the insurgents in the city, but we only ended up scattering them throughout the province. The dumb ones stayed and died. The smart ones left town before the battle, to garner more recruits and fight another day. We were simply the little Dutch boy with our finger in the dike. In retrospect, we never had enough troops to firmly control the region; we had just enough to maintain a tenuous equilibrium.
I now know I wrongfully placed my faith and trust in a presidential administration hopelessly mired in incompetence, hubris and a lack of accountability. It planned a war based on false intelligence and unrealistic assumptions. It has strategically surrendered the condition of victory in Iraq to people who do not share our vision, values or interests. The Bush administration has proven successful at only one thing in Iraq — painting us into a corner with no feasible exit.
I will never trust any of them again.
Powell: It was all CheneyFrom Robert Scheer: On Monday, former Secretary of State Colin Powell told me that he and his department's top experts never believed that Iraq posed an imminent nuclear threat, but that the president followed the misleading advice of Vice President Dick Cheney and the CIA in making the claim. Now he tells us.
The harsh truth is that this president cherry-picked the intelligence data in making his case for invading Iraq and deliberately kept the public in the dark as to the countervailing analysis at the highest level of the intelligence community. While the president and his top Cabinet officials were fear-mongering with stark images of a "mushroom cloud" over American cities, the leading experts on nuclear weaponry at the Department of Energy (the agency in charge of the U.S. nuclear-weapons program) and the State Department thought the claim of a near-term Iraqi nuclear threat was absurd.
If polls were elections ...
Sunday's La Crosse Tribune reported that a poll of county citizens showed less support for the referendum than the city's 55% vote. This may mean the people polled do not have all the facts about Iraq. In the end, the only polls that really matter are elections (otherwise we would have a different president today.) We encourage continuing education and discussion about the issues. In light of daily revelations about pre-war information manipulation by the White House and the continuing deterioration of Iraq, by November who knows what the vote might be.
Why Iraq was a Mistake, by Lt. General Gregory Newbold, U.S. Marines (ret.)General Newbold's article appears in the April 11, 2006 issue of Time magazine.
Here is an excerpt:
I am driven to action now by the missteps and misjudgments of the White House and the Pentagon, and by my many painful visits to our military hospitals. In those places, I have been both inspired and shaken by the broken bodies but unbroken spirits of soldiers, Marines and corpsmen returning from this war. The cost of flawed leadership continues to be paid in blood. The willingness of our forces to shoulder such a load should make it a sacred obligation for civilian and military leaders to get our defense policy right. They must be absolutely sure that the commitment is for a cause as honorable as the sacrifice.
With the encouragement of some still in positions of military leadership, I offer a challenge to those still in uniform: a leader's responsibility is to give voice to those who can't--or don't have the opportunity to--speak. Enlisted members of the armed forces swear their oath to those appointed over them; an officer swears an oath not to a person but to the Constitution. The distinction is important.
LA CROSSE SAYS YES!FIFTY-FIVE percent of La Crosse voters said "YES" to the April 4 referendum, "Should the U.S. begin an immediate withdrawal of its troops starting with the National Guard and Reserve?" The final total was 3,614 yes votes and 2,983 no votes. The far south and north sides of La Crosse voted against the referendum with the central city and university area saying yes.
(Please note that George Bush won his election in November 2004, the one that supposedly gives him a mandate to continue the occupation of Iraq indefinitely, with 50.7% of the vote.)
Over 30 Wisconsin communities voted on some form of the referendum. Amery, Mt. Horeb, Whitefish Bay and Edgewater all voted "yes" with margins in the 52-54% range. Shorewood's yes vote was 70% of the total. Some communities turned down the advisory referendum. [to be updated]
Many supporters of the La Crosse referendum felt a victory had been achieved before the vote took place. More people are now discussing the Iraq occupation and the administration's and Congress' role in its continuation. More are aware of the tremendous costs of the continuing
occupation - to military members and their families and to communities around the country. More have seen that many Iraqis do not feel safe, do not feel as if they have a democracy and believe the United States will occupy their country for decades into the future. The local news
media have stepped up in the past three weeks to provide more and better coverage of the issues and we hope they will continue reporting real facts about Iraq and the local impact of the occupation.
The relatively low voter turnout was a big disappointment. About 21% of eligible voters cast ballots in this election, a bit but not much higher than the normal for spring primaries. Nearly 80% of eligible voters stayed home.
The second disappointment is that even though La Crosse voters said, "Stop this war and start bringing our troops home," tomorrow, another $250 million will be spent on bullets, bombs, bribes and who knows what else. Tomorrow more Iraqis will be kidnapped, killed and
injured in the "school for terrorists" the U.S. invasion has created in their country. Tomorrow more military men and women will be put in harm's way.
It's a bittersweet victory, winning an advisory referendum. Our fervent hope is that Representative Ron Kind will take note and work to end this occupation. We hope he will demand accountability of funds already appropriated and say no to more off budget,
borrowed-money requests for continuing war. We hope that he will work strongly against any attempts by the Bush administration to justify attacking Iran. And we sincerely hope that his colleagues in the U.S. Senate will revive the bill defeated by Republicans last fall to demand a timetable and real plan for quick withdrawal from Iraq.
have expressed interest in bringing the debate to their citizens. Bring Them Home - La Crosse is considering a May workshop for other
community leaders. More information about this will be posted as plans are finalized.
In the meantime, those who would like to consider a November referendum should:
- Investigate proper wording of their referendum. Check with your city or municipal clerk. Note that including the word "immediate" may cause more debate. What does "immediate" mean? What does "BEGIN and immediate withdrawal" mean? Some people, even though this is an advisory referendum, just can't get past that word.
- Ensure you are using the correct petition format for your referendum. Your petitions should say "Petition for Direct Legislation" at the top and your referendum should be in the form of a statement. Check with your city or community clerk's office to make sure you are using the correct format.
- Find your target number - How many signatures do you need? "a number of electors equal to at least 15 percent of the votes cast for governor at the last general election in their city or village."
- You will have up to 60 days to collect petition signatures. It is recommended that you plan to collect at least 10% more signatures than you need. Some of the signatures will probably be dropped when the petition is certified.
- Train your petition gatherers well. They should understand that they must collect signatures face-to-face, they must sign and certify the petition AFTER all signatures are collected. Signatures should be legible and each entry should be complete.
- Time your campaign to present your referendum to your governing body in July (at the latest) If your governing body fails to pass the referendum, it must go on the November ballot
- Plan many events during October to help people focus on the costs, the reasons, the consequences. We hope to list some resources here in future weeks.
- The main goal is education, attention and action. Troops will not come home even if your referendum passes. But the more people who learn more about the issue, the better.
Check back next week for more information.
Educational programs for La Crosse referendumSeveral programs during March and early April let citizens get more information about the troop withdrawal referendum . Please see below and here for more information on written and web sources.
- The Dreams of Sparrows, the first IraqEye collaboration between Iraqi and
American filmmakers. (Please email if you'd like to borrow it.)
- Canvassing by students and others to help identify supporters.
- Two talks by Mr. Sami Rasouli whose powerful description of his personal experience returning to Iraq to help clean up after the
attacks on Fallujah helped bring the message that many Iraqis do not want the United States as a "babysitter."
- A forum on Iraq, hosted by the La Crosse Tribune and News Channel 8 WKBT at UW-L. Speaking in favor of the resolution were Ryan
Schryver and Bruce Jones.
- A soapbox forum at the public library. Mark Tayler or Round River Institute represented the "vote yes" side.
- A special vigil by Women in Black at the downtown post office.
- A student forum at UW-L on the first day of Peace Week.
- A strong letter-writing campaign from many La Crosse residents.
- This web site which has provided links to many news and opinion articles and information for voters.
- Yard signs provided by our friends in Madison.
Now it is time to vote. Even a strong "yes" vote will not make the war end, or the killing stop, or the Iraqi people safe in their homes and neighborhoods. But, like the first few steps in a journey of one thousand miles, it will get us a little closer to our goal and, we hope, send a message to our elected representatives that they must start paying attention and stop playing politics with people's lives and futures.
Questions from the Forum
Some important questions asked at Monday night's forum did not receive full answers. We take this opportunity
to provide more information and will update as possible through the week.
Q: What about the effects of Depleted Uranium on the troops?
A: As reported by Juan Gonzales in the New York
Daily News troops from the current invasion and occupation of Iraq have been found to be contaminated by radiation. Veterans for Common Sense
point out that many troops were not tested as they should have been by law, and many returning troops were not receiving mandatory medical
screening. The Christian Science Monitor reported that "The
remains of toxic bullets litter Iraq." Mr. Sami Rasouli reported that Iraqis must now import all their fruits and vegetables because the depleted
uranium weaponry used by the United States and Great Britain have contaminated the soil. Sites
contaminated during the first (1991) invasion of Iraq remain "a toxic wasteland" and are blamed for Iraqi cancers and birth defects. Dr. Doug Rokke,
who helped assess the DU problems of the First Gulf War, says,
"They arrogantly refuse to comply with their own regulations, orders, and directives that require United States Department of Defense
officials to provide prompt and effective medical care 'all' exposed individuals." In addition,
contaminated armaments returning from Iraq are now being shipped by train across the country, unencapsulated. Read about
radioactive tanks in Kansas.
Q: Will we need a draft?
A: For several months in 2005, the military was
not meeting its recruitment goals. Their response was to lower
their goals and double signing bonuses. In addition, they
have lowered their standards, granting waivers to an increasing
number of recruits with criminal records. In fact, several recruiters have come under fire for
lying, falsifying records and using illegal tactics. Many people believe that an economic
draft has been in existence for several years, as college funds like Pell grants and low-interest loans dry up and recruiters target low-income
and minority teens with bonuses for signing and money for college,
Thousands have been forced to remain in the military beyond their expected separation date through
"Stop loss" orders.
In addition, the army is promoting far
more officers than in previous years leading many to believe the quality of leaders will deteriorate.
Should the occupation continue for many more years, as George Bush has
implied, the military will need to do something different and drastic to maintain troop levels for an occupation and rotations.
Q: Was there a terrorist training camp in Iraq?
A: Many media reported a terrorist training camp in Iraq in 2002. However, Michael
Chossudovsky of the Centre for Research on Globalisation in Canada, says, "Secretary of State Powell in his February 5  address to the
United Nations Security Council accused Saddam Hussein of collaborating with Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda. Powell accused Baghdad of
supporting Ansar al-Islam, a 'deadly terrorist network' based in the ethnic Kurd controlled region of Northern Iraq. ... [But] Baghdad has no jurisdiction
in the ethnic Kurd controlled region of Northern Iraq. In fact, the region is in the US sphere of influence." The media watchdog organization,
Media Matters for American, founded by the former
Republican consultant, David Brock, reports that as late as November of 2005, "Fox News host Bill O'Reilly repeated his previously
debunked claim that former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had 'allowed Ansar Al-Islam, an Al Qaeda affiliate, to exist in northern Iraq.'
In fact, as Media Matters for America has documented, northeastern Iraq, where Ansar Al-Islam operated, was 'outside of Saddam's control
before the war' [Associated Press, 1/23/04], and the terrorist group's pre-war ties to Al Qaeda were tenuous."
Even more puzzling is prize-winning investigative reporter, Seymour Hersh's report in his article
The Getaway that,
in November 2001, American bombing in Afghanistan had forced "thousands of Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters to retreat inside the northern hill town of
Kunduz. Trapped with them were Pakistani Army officers, intelligence advisers, and volunteers who were fighting alongside the Taliban. ...
Surrender negotiations began immediately, but the Bush Administration heatedly—and successfully—opposed them. ... Northern Alliance officials ...
claimed that Pakistani airplanes had flown into Kunduz to evacuate the Pakistanis there." Hersh says that US and Pakistani officials denied
the reports, but "In interviews ... American intelligence officials and high-ranking military officers said that Pakistanis
were indeed flown to safety, in a series of nighttime airlifts that were approved by the Bush Administration. The Americans also said that
what was supposed to be a limited evacuation apparently slipped out of control, and, as an unintended consequence, an unknown number of
Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters managed to join in the exodus."
Whether there was or wasn't a terrorist training camp in Iraq before March 2003, there are plenty of them now. In fact, "Iraq has replaced
Afghanistan as the training ground for the next generation of 'professionalized' terrorists, according to a report released [January 13, 2005]
by the National Intelligence Council, the CIA director's think tank." Read the article here.
Q: What's your assessment of the war in Iraq?
A: Utter debacle. But it had to be from the very first. The reasons were wrong. The reasons of this administration
for taking this nation to war were not what they stated. (Army Gen.) Tommy Franks was brow-beaten and ... pursued
warfare that he knew strategically was wrong in the long term. That's why he retired immediately afterward.
His own staff could tell him what was going to happen afterward.
We have fomented civil war in Iraq. We have probably fomented internecine war in the Muslim world between the
Shias and the Sunnis, and I think Bush may well have started the third world war, all for their own personal
Q: What is the cost to our country?
A: For the first thing, our credibility is utterly zero. So we destroyed whatever credibility we
... And I say "we," because the American public went along with this. They voted for a second Bush administration
out of fear, so fear is what they're going to have from now on.
Our military is completely consumed, so were there a real threat - thankfully, there is no real threat to the U.S.
in the world, but were there one, we couldn't confront it. Right now, that may not be a bad thing, because that
keeps Bush from trying something with Iran or with Venezuela.
The harm that has been done is irreparable. There are more than 2,000 American kids that have been killed.
Tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis have been killed in which no one in the U.S. really cares about those people,
do they? I never hear anybody lament that fact. It has been a horror, and this administration has worked overtime
to divert the American public's attention from it. Their lies are coming home to roost now, and it's gonna fall
apart. But somebody's gonna have to clear up the aftermath and the harm that it's done just to what America stands
for. It may be two or three generations in repairing.
Read the interview here.
Q: We've been talking grand policy. The then director of the CIA, George Tenent, Vice President Cheney's
deputy Libby, told you that the intelligence that was the basis of going to war was rock solid. Given what you now
know, how does that make you feel?
A: It makes me feel terrible. I've said in other places that it was-- constitutes the lowest point in my
professional life. My participation in that presentation at the UN constitutes the lowest point in my professional
I participated in a hoax on the American people, the international community and the United Nations Security
Council. How do you think that makes me feel? Thirty-one years in the United States Army and I more or less end
my career with that kind of a blot on my record? That's not a very comforting thing.
Q: A hoax? That's quite a word.
A: Well, let's face it, it was. It was not a hoax that the Secretary in any way was complicit in.
In fact he did his best-- I watched him work. Two AM in the morning on the DCI and the Deputy DCI,
And to try and hone the presentation down to what was, in the DCI's own words, a slam dunk. Firm. Iron clad.
We threw many things out. We threw the script that Scooter Libby had given the-- Secretary of State.
Forty-eight page script on WMD. We threw that out the first day.
And we turned to the National Intelligence estimate as part of the recommendation of George Tenent and my
agreement with. But even that turned out to be, in its substantive parts-- that is stockpiles of
chemicals, biologicals and production capability that was hot and so forth, and an active nuclear program.
The three most essential parts of that presentation turned out to be absolutely false.
Read the interview here.
Major General Paul D. Eaton, U.S. Army (ret.)
"During World War II, American soldiers en route to Britain before D-Day were given a pamphlet on how to behave while awaiting the invasion.
The most important quote in it was this: 'It is impolite to criticize your host; it is militarily stupid to criticize your allies.'
"By that rule, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is not competent to lead our armed forces. First, his failure to build coalitions with our
allies from what he dismissively called "old Europe" has imposed far greater demands and risks on our soldiers in Iraq than necessary.
Second, he alienated his allies in our own military, ignoring the advice of seasoned officers and denying subordinates any chance for input.
"In sum, he has shown himself incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically, and is far more than anyone else responsible for what
has happened to our important mission in Iraq. Mr. Rumsfeld must step down."
Read General Eaton's editorial
in the New York Times. He does not indicate whether or not he supports a redeployment or withdrawal of troops but he does make it clear that
Rumsfeld has been a disaster on all fronts and that "Congress must assert itself. ... Congress should remember it still has the power of the purse ..."
Lieutenant General William E. Odom, U.S. Army (Ret.)
Lieutenant General William E. Odom, U.S. Army (Ret.), is a Senior Fellow with Hudson Institute and a professor at Yale University. He was
Director of the National Security Agency from 1985 to 1988. From 1981 to 1985, he served as Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence,
the Army's senior intelligence officer. From 1977 to 1981, he was Military Assistant to the President's Assistant for National Security
Affairs, Zbigniew Brzezinski. Read the whole paper here.
Iraq through the prism of Viet Nam
"Phase One in Vietnam lasted from 1961 until the Congress passed the Tonkin Gulf Resolution in March 1965, authorizing deployment of large U.S.
combat forces in South Vietnam. It began with hesitation and a gross misreading of American strategic interests. It concluded with the U.S.
use of phony intelligence that made it seem that North Vietnamese patrol boats had attacked U.S. ships in the Tonkin Gulf without provocation."
"Phase One in Iraq, the run-up to the invasion, looks remarkably similar. Broodings about the 'necessity' to overthrow Saddam's regime were heard
earlier, but signs of action appeared in January 2002, when President Bush proclaimed his 'axis of evil' thesis about Iraq, Iran, and North Korea,
countries he accused of acquiring 'weapons of mass destruction' and supporting terrorists against the United States. This became the cornerstone
of his rationale for invading Iraq, and it was no less ill-conceived than the strategic purpose for President Johnson's war in Vietnam. It better
served the interests of Iran and Osama bin Laden."
Please read General Odom's other pieces about Iraq, too, including What's
Wrong with Cutting and Running?, published in August 2005 and Want
Stability in the Middle East? Get out of Iraq!, published on Veterans' Day, 2005.
Withdraw from Iraq
by former Senator George McGovern and Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) (excerpt) Read entire piece here.
We were early opponents of the US invasion of Iraq. Nonetheless, once American forces were committed, we hoped that our concerns would be proven wrong. That has
not been the case. The United States must now begin an orderly withdrawal of our forces from this mistaken foreign venture.
The justification for the war was based on false or falsified information. What had been initially characterized by the Bush administration as an uncomplicated military
operation has turned into a violent quagmire. Our leaders underestimated not only the insurgency, but also the deep-rooted ethnic divisions in Iraqi society.
There are no clear answers from the administration or the Congress on how long our forces will need to stay in Iraq, what the anticipated costs in human life and
treasure will be, or even what would constitute success.
Instead, many of our policymakers seem resigned to an open-ended occupation. Former Defense Undersecretary Paul Wolfowitz has told Congress that we will be there
for at least another 10 years. It is common to hear even some who voted against the war say, ''now that we're there, we have no choice but to stay."
We very much disagree. Calls to maintain the status quo echo the same rationale used to keep us in Vietnam. To those who contend that we would weaken our credibility
if we withdraw, we believe that the nation's standing would greatly improve if we demonstrate the judgment to terminate an unwise course.
Our continuing presence in Iraq feeds the insurgency and gives the insurgents a certain legitimacy in the eyes of much of the world. We know from our own history that
armies of occupation are seldom welcome.
There have been elections in Iraq, and yet it remains unclear whether the different political, ethnic, and religious factions want to work together.
One thing, however, is clear: Washington cannot determine Iraq's destiny. It doesn't matter how many times Condoleezza Rice or Donald Rumsfeld visit. It doesn't matter
how many soldiers we deploy. The myriad factions in Iraq themselves must display the political will to demand a system of government that respects the diversity that
exists in their country.
Plan for Withdrawal
by Erik Leaver, Research fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and the policy outreach director for the Foreign Policy In Focus Project (excerpt -
read all here.)
Despite the real obligations Americans feel they owe the Iraqi people, the lessons of the last three years provide ample evidence that the United States isn't
even upholding the Hippocratic oath of "First do no harm." Bringing the troops home surely will not cure all of Iraq's ailments. But given that Bush's goals are
unreachable, the only option is to change course and bring the troops home now.
What about the LAW
The Geneva Conventions which are international law and the
law of the United States, say
- An occupying power has a duty to restore and ensure public order and safety in the territory under its authority.
- All parties must be prepared to respect the protection of war correspondents under international law
- The occupying power must be prepared to provide all guarantees of a fair trial, including the right to counsel of the defendant's choice.
- Dual-use targets that are essential to the survival of the civilian population must not be attacked.
- Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture are prohibited
- Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment are prohibited
- Vehicles exclusively employed for the removal of wounded and sick civilians, the infirm and maternity cases, or for the transport of medical personnel and equipment, shall not be attacked
- The occupying power shall assure that people shall not willfully be left without medical assistance and care, nor shall conditions exposing them to contagion or infection be allowed.
SUPPORT HR 543
A bi-partisan resolution was introduced in the House of Representatives in December which would allow for 17 hours of debate on the U.S.
course in Iraq. A good summary is here. Please call Rep.
Ron Kind (in La Crosse at 782-2558) and strongly urge him to sign on to this resolution.
Know the Facts,