OK, that title’s a reach. But here goes:
- Been wondering how to tackle all those veterans becoming freelance anti-ISIS fighters, but Marine and Fallujah veteran Ross Caputi did it best: “This is seriously alarming. These vets had no understanding of what they were participating in when they enlisted, and those who are joining militias to fight ISIS now are even more confused. I find Matthew VanDyke and his Christian army the Sons of Liberty International particularly frightening, and for exactly the same reasons that the Islamic State is so scary.”
- Toxics and military bases: Did you really think the water contamination in the film Semper Fi was an isolated case? Now they’re fighting the same fight for recognition at Fort McLellan. Do you know about more?
- The news from Canada continues depressing, with more asylum claims denied.
- And then there’s this case: the Fort Hood sergeant arrested for pimping his soldiers was a sexual assault response coordinator at the base. one of those positions created in response to the MST scandal – who used his access to vulnerable young woman to re-victimize them. Sounds like commands still aren’t taking seriously their need to make careful personnel decisions. A perfect campaign, I think, for Service Women’s Action Network and Protect Our Defenders.
- For happier news: Father Philip Berrigan, WWII veteran and angelic troublemaker thereafter, gets plenty of attention in this terrific New Yorker profile of the Plowshares movement, to this day still getting arrested at US nuclear facilities.
- Speaking of trouble, VFP anti-drone activists were doing the same last week at Creech AFB, and supporting all those drone pilots voting w/their feet. In the linked piece, Brandon Bryant is (again) the most prominent voice, but I also want to give a shout (and thus the video below) to Col. Ann Wright, who’s taking Berrigan and McAllister’s example in new, powerful directions.
I know I haven’t posted one of these in a few days, but that’s not because there wasn’t much to note. Below is a full baker’s dozen, though some are echoes of stories already on our radar.
- The Toronto Star offers an elegant PTSD history, showing how “soldier’s heart” became “shell shock” became “combat fatigue” became “Vietnam syndrome and beyond.
- “Veterans for Peace” is the hed the Guardian gives to this video testimony from a former British soldier who found himself in Ireland during the Troubles.
- Nan Levinson embedded with IVAW and wrote War is Not a Game. Click here to hear her tell WBUR about the movement they built.
- Counterpunch explains in more detail why Andre Shepherd’s asylum case is important.
- After Petraeus brokered a deal with no jail time, the Daily Beast was among those pointing out that the info the general shared w.his girlfriend was just as classified as that released by whistleblowers behind bars. Others included Nonprofit Quarterly, which called Petraeus’ sentence “a sweetheart deal,” and our iconic Daniel Ellsberg, who stressed the obvious: that those whistleblowers were serving their country, not betraying it.
- Speaking of whistleblowers, Chelsea Manning was again all over the news: First, news that her attorneys have secured a major victory, with the DoD ordering that the pronouns used in all legal filings reflect her true gender. THEN, Chelsea’s own byline at the Guardian, on this piece urging international prosecution of U.S. architects of torture. “To let their horrific actions go unanswered,” she writes, “would send an awful message to the world: it is wrong to torture and mistreat people, except when those doing it have the supposed blessing of the law and with the permission of high-ranking supervisors and politicians.”
- It’s not just our friend Brandon Bryant: drone pilots are saying no by quitting. After the Air Force publishes the numbers, The Nation rounds up word from Bryant and other drone personnel, which makes those resignations less “perplexing” than inevitable.
- Also in the Hardly-Surprising Results Dept, military concussions are more damaging than those suffered by athletes.
- Speaking of combat injuries, Iraq vets may finally get redress for those burn pits that poured toxins into their lungs.
- This week’s Selma anniversary prompted this Slate piece about the riots in summer 1919, after which black veterans organized rather than accept second-class citizenship.
- And we close with the voice of Dave Cline, who until his 2007 death had been a bulwark for generations of soldier-dissent. Via the essential Vietnam Full Disclosure, here’s Cline addressing the powerful Canadian coalition Peace Has No Borders.
From Civil War women to depleted uranium, nearly all my obsessions accounted for today.
- But first, the Pentagon finally attends to the VERY 21st-century issue of those “burn pits” searing the lungs of so many Iraq troops, first exposed by the remarkable Kelly Kennedy.
- On depleted uranium, still poisoning Gulf War I and OIF vets, some possible good news: no use of DU against Daesh, I’d still like to see confirmation of same.
- At my old shop Women’s Voices for change, word of Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy, a book tracing 4 Civil War gender-dissenters.
- At Mother Jones, a reminder that the intriguing basic training protocols designed to prevent sexual assault still don’t resolve the still-rigged military justice barriers for victims.
- First photos from Oliver Stone’s Snowden show the Vietnam-vet director going right where I do, with a helmeted Joseph Gordon-Levitt as SOF recruit Snowden. I’ll write more about this later.
- Between the Occupy Farms folks I met at the Manning trial and this from NPR, could Iraq vets be reclaiming America by farming?
You can likely guess the “not quite.” (I think I’ll use Alex’ image as the standard-bearer for these news roundups….)
- First and foremost, there’s hope for Andre Shepherd, and a possible higher profile: Wall Street Journal: “Now German officials must decideWall Street Journal f whether Mr. Shepherd qualifies as a refugee under European Union law as outlined by the court. That sets up a potential clash between American and European law in such sensitive areas as the Iraq war and military desertions, although U.S. officials have to this point not been heavily engaged in the case.” I’ll write more about this in a full post later: I want to talk to his lawyers first.
- Gizmodo on DOJ completely redacting their own supposed proof of harm done by Snowden. Reading the headline, at first I thought this item (via VICE) was actually about that doubletalking DOJ attorney you see in Citizen Four, trying to persuade a San Francisco courtroom that the NSA shouldn’t be accountable to judicial review.
- “At the VA they hand out opiates like candy.” I’ve heard that a lot, and it was good to see MSNBC’s Ronan Farrow highlight the issue, working with Aaron Glant – who in addition to his work with the Center for Investigative Reporting, wrote for Haymarket’s the iconic book on Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan.
- I’ve said often that I didn’t want to write about Bowe Bergdahl without talking to him or his attorneys – something that never stops partisan media from speculating. Now The Hill has chimed in with “news” that a decision about Bergdahl is coming “in the near future.” Looks like all you need is ONE quote from the Army secretary and then pack in all the partisan backstory. and Presto – file and get paid. Journalism? I’m not sure.
WIRED has just released the full transcripts of the conversations between Manning and that snake Adrian Lamo – meaning that everyone that cares about Manning, thinks him hero or traitor, has no way of not knowing about the gender issues. They’re mesmerizing reading, though I agree with Gawker that Lamo turns out to be even more unethical than we knew before (and as much of a scumbag as Glenn Greenwald has said all along.)
And here I just got my letter from David Coombs, basically refusing to discuss it – and I was trying to figure out if that was a coded request to honor what was left of his client’s privacy. Now, I feel that writing about this respectfully is the only way to show that respect. What do you think?
More later when I’ve finished reading the transcripts: comments sorely requested. Was it Hemingway who said, “The writer’s job is to find out the truth and then write it. But that can be very difficult.”?
But today’s the official one, apparently. Whatever name one gives combat trauma – there are many that hate the term “disorder” – it’s been with us since our first armies, from “nostalgia” to “soldier’s heart” to “battle fatigue,” which may be my favorite. (Above, the beginning of the movie John Huston made about the latter, after the Battle of San Pietro left him screaming.) Nowadays mostly we just use the initials — as in a T-shirt I found at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn, PTSD: DON’T LEAVE IRAQ WITHOUT IT.
For today, we’re asked to post links to PTSD resources, such as the official one from the Defense Centers of Excellence. Of course, I’m much more inclined to promote the unequalled Healing Combat Trauma, and for women, Susan Avila-Smith’s powerful VetWow or Service Women’s Action Network. What’s most essential is that anyone reading this reach out, and keep reaching out. If your local Veterans Administration seems unresponsive, keep going. It’s your latest and most important mission.
Yeah, those guys in the fancy non-uniforms and big paychecks and company names that sound like something out of “Caprica.” I’d guessed this was coming; now, see ProPublica’s new investigation of the issue here.
I also commented on their study at my new Alternet blog. From now on, the current-affairs stuff here will often originate there, and vice versa. But only here can you see bits and pieces of the book in process, and tell me what I’m doing wrong.