War: March 2004 Archives

If gays in the military are such a bad thing, why does the number of dismissals fall when we're at war?

As the United States military continues to wage war in Iraq and Afghanistan, discharges of lesbian and gay military personnel plummeted 17% in FY2003, according to a new report from Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN).

Conduct Unbecoming, an annual review of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, finds that gay-related discharges fell to 787 last year, down from 906 in 2002. The 2003 figures mark a 39% decrease in discharges since 2001, the year before current conflicts in the Middle East began. The number also represents the fewest gay discharges since 1995.

“Gay discharge numbers have dropped every time America has entered a war,” the report says, “from Korea to Vietnam to the Persian Gulf to present conflicts.” It goes on to note that “more of our allies have dropped their bans, and our American troops are fighting alongside openly lesbian, gay and bisexual allied personnel in the war on terrorism.”

If our military leaders are so concerned about homos serving, they should be consistent and refuse to work with most of our allies. According to SLDN, the United States and Turkey are the only two NATO countries that do not allow openly gay soldiers.

I was struck by the huge range of ages, ethnicities, and types of people in the demonstration today.

This is how the NY Times presents that diversity:

The protesters were middle-aged mothers, tongue-pierced students, veterans and bearded professional dissenters, who all came together in what organizers described as a broad-based protest of the Bush administration's foreign policy not just in Iraq, but in Haiti and Israel.

This is what the Washington Post, not particularly good on coverage of the Iraq War, had to say:

The crowd along Madison Avenue represented an array of professions, ages and backgrounds from the East Coast. They arrived by bus, caravan and subway.

Look at the photos that James took of the people we saw today. The Times is becoming Fox-like in its approach to news.

Right now, the NY Times home page has no mention of the anti-war demonstration here in NYC (we just got back but it's not finished yet). Instead they have a photo of G.W. Bush at a rally in Florida. The Times doesn't want to acknowledge that such as thing is happening in the city, but it's hard to ignore 100,000 marchers.

There is a small link lower down on the page under another Iraq story about worldwide demonstrations, but if fails to mention the New York one.


Newsday has an AP story, which is where I got the 100,000 number. Also, on the page with the story is a link to a photo gallery.

James now has a photo gallery of his own up.

Of course, that won't happen while the GOP is in charge of Congress. War and terrorism threats are useful tools to hold onto power, not things our country should actually do anything about.

They wanted to bomb Iraq after 9/11, even though they new it had nothing to do with it -- dead Iraqis for "revenge."

Frankly, I don't understand right-wingers at this point. Do they honestly believe what this administration is doing will make us (or anyone else) safer?

See you all tomorrow!

From an article that TBOGG pointed out:

In truth, however, September 11 became a political football on September 11. Conservative columnist Andrew Sullivan, in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, blamed the Clinton administration. "The decision to get down and dirty with the terrorists, to take their threat seriously and counter them aggressively, was simply never taken," wrote Sullivan. Senator Orrin Hatch referred in 1996 to the terrorist threats, threats which compelled Clinton to attempt the passage of a comprehensive anti-terrorism bill that would have gone a long way to stopping 9/11, as "Phony threats." After September 11, he joined the 'Blame Clinton' chorus.

During his administration, Clinton offered legislation that would give the Treasury Secretary broad powers to ban foreign nations and banks from accessing American financial markets unless they cooperated with money-laundering investigations that would expose and terminate terrorist cash flows. The legislation was killed by Texas Republican Senator Phil Gramm, who was chairman of the Banking Committee. At the time, he called the bill "totalitarian." It was revealed later, of course, that Gramm killed the bill because it would have blocked Enron officers from laundering stolen stockholder money through the same offshore conduits the terrorists were using. Gramm, from Texas, was beholden to Enron, and killed the bill at their behest. Of course, he joined the 'Blame Clinton' chorus after the attacks, and never mind the facts.


The Bush administration received a blizzard of warnings before September 11 that something huge was about to happen. The security agencies of Germany, Israel, Egypt and Russia delivered specific warnings about airplanes being used as bombs against prominent American targets. FBI agents were raising alarms in Minnesota and Arizona. Donald Kerrick was a deputy National Security Advisor in the late Clinton administration. He stayed on into the Bush administration. He was a three-star General, and absolutely not political. He has reported that when the Bush people came in, he wrote a memo about terrorism, al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. The memo said, "We will be struck again." As a result of writing that memo, he was not invited to any more meetings. No one responded to his memo. He felt that, from what he could see from inside the National Security Council, terrorism was demoted.

Richard Clarke was Director of Counter-Terrorism in the National Security Council. He has since left. Clarke urgently tried to draw the attention of the Bush administration to the threat of al Qaeda. Richard Clarke was panicked about the alarms he was hearing regarding potential attacks. Clarke is at the center of what has since become a burning controversy: What happened on August 6, 2001? It was on this day that George W. Bush received his last, and one of the few, briefings on terrorism. According to reports, the briefing stated bluntly that Osama bin Laden intended to attack America soon, and contained the word "hijacking." Bush responded to the warning by heading to Texas for a month-long vacation. It is this briefing that the Bush administration has refused to divulge to the committee investigating the attacks.

Regarding Clarke, this was a non-partisan anti-terrorism professional and member of the National Security Council. His latest revelations are that the Bush administration wanted to bomb Iraq on 9/12, even though they knew it had nothing to do with 9/11:

A former White House anti-terrorism advisor says the Bush administration considered bombing Iraq in retaliation after Sept. 11, 2001 even though it was clear al Qaeda had carried out the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Richard Clarke, who headed a cybersecurity board that gleaned intelligence from the Internet, told CBS "60 Minutes" in an interview to be aired on Sunday he was surprised administration officials turned immediately toward Iraq instead of al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.

"They were talking about Iraq on 9/11. They were talking about it on 9/12," Clarke says.

Clarke said he was briefing President Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld among other top officials in the aftermath of the devastating attacks.

"Rumsfeld was saying we needed to bomb Iraq. ... We all said, 'but no, no. Al Qaeda is in Afghanistan ," recounts Clarke, "and Rumsfeld said, 'There aren't any good targets in Afghanistan and there are lots of good targets in Iraq."'

A quote from a Time article, via Pandagon:

Administration sources tell TIME that employees at the Department of Homeland Security have been asked to keep their eyes open for opportunities to pose the President in settings that might highlight the Administration's efforts to make the nation safer. The goal, they are being told, is to provide Bush with one homeland-security photo-op a month.

The Center for American Progress has a report on the things we are NOT doing to make us safer.

After 9/11, we attended demonstrations to say that we wanted justice for the awful attacks of that day, but we did not want innocent people killed as the USA lashed out in anger. There is a difference between combating terrorism and killing innocent people to make (some of) us feel better. I remember "patriotic" New Yorkers screaming awful things at us during these demonstrations.

Those who argue that dealing with terrorism as a crime is somehow appeasement are arguing that American lives are worth more than the civilians we kill when we drop bombs from 30,000 feet in revenge. We still haven't caught the people responsible for 9/11, but we have killed tens of thousands of people in Afghanistan. It is as if Italy chose to deal with the mafia by carpet-bombing Palermo with cluster bombs.

We diverted resources to attacking Iraq rather than chase after Al Qaeda, even though Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. We have now killed at least 10,000 civilians in Iraq.

I'm saying all of these things because I was just looking at photos of the anti-terrorism demonstrations in Spain. Our country is ready to descend into barbarism over the War on Terrorism. Spain is saying they want justice for the attacks, but they do not want innocents killed in the vain hope of making them safer from attack. At least 11 million people demonstrated around the country on Friday.


Spanish people holding posters saying 'Peace' protest over lack of information on Thursday's bombings on trains outside the ruling Popular Party's headquarters in the center of Madrid, Saturday March 13, 2004. Some 3,000 people chanted accusations that Spain's government is hiding the truth about bombings that killed 200 people. (AP Photo/Denis Doyle)


Barcelona's Brazilian player Ronaldinho, second right, and Luis Garcia, second left, wear shirts with, No to Terrorism, Yes to Peace, on them before a first division soccer match against Murica in Murcia, Spain, Sunday March 14, 2004. The shirts are a protest against the Madrid bomb attacks on trains last Thursday that killed 200 and injured another 1,500. The other two Murcia players are unidentified. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)


Barcelona's Dutch player Edgar Davids, second right, protects a fan from a security policeman after the fan ran on to the pitch with the words No to Terrorism, and Peace written on his chest during a first division soccer match between Murcia and Barcelona in Murcia, Spain, Sunday March 14, 2004. The fan was refering to the bomb attacks on Madrid trains last Thursday that killed 200 people and injured another 1, 500. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)


A girl gets out of her car to applaude as she sits in a traffic jam waiting for several thousand demonstrators to pass by as they march through the center of Madrid, Spain, early Sunday morning March 14, 2004. Later Sunday the Spanish population will vote for general elections, but demonstrators took to the streets protesting the government's failure to link the Thursday March 12th bombings which claimed the lives of 200 people in coordinated attacks on commuter trains, to al-Qaida. Sign at rightreads 'Peace'. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)


A hand written sign in Spanish saying 'peace' is seen on one of the windows at Madrid's railway station Atocha, Saturday, March 13, 2004. Powerful explosions rocked three Madrid train stations, including Atocha on Thursday, March 11, 2004, killing 200 rush-hour commuters and wounding more than 1, 240 in Spain's worst terrorist attack ever. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)


We put up a cross at the WTC after 9/11 (and it's still there). Can you imagine someone painting a peace sign there?

This column from Mark Weisbrot provides some interesting background on the situation in Haiti. A sample:

The latest coup is in many ways a repeat of the military coup that overthrew Aristide in 1991. Although many Americans know that President Clinton sent 20,000 troops to restore Aristide to the presidency in 1994, they do not about Washington's role prior to that.

The United States, which occupied Haiti militarily from 1915-1934 and had plenty of support for the murderous Duvaliers who ruled the country from 1956-1986, had a problem when Haiti held the first democratic election in its history.

Aristide, a populist priest who preached liberation theology, was elected by a landslide in 1990.  After serving seven months in office, he was overthrown by the military. The officers who led the military coup were, as later reported by the New York Times, on the payroll of the CIA. But the Washington connection did not end there.

A death squad organization known by the French acronym F.R.A.P.H was formed, and murdered at least 3000 of Aristide's supporters over the next three years. The founder of the organization, Emanuel Constant, stated in an interview on CBS' 60 minutes that he was paid by the CIA to create and maintain the organization during the dictatorship. He now lives in New York.

Constant's second in command, convicted murderer Louis-Jodel Chamblain, was one of the leaders of last week's insurrection. The New York Times report on Tuesday summed up the situation after the coup: "These men, whom Mr. Powell characterized last week as "thugs," and a few hundred of their followers are for now the domestic face of national security in Haiti.

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