Tag Archives: military

ASVAB Bill passes in MD

Pat Elder sent this out today:


The Maryland Senate narrowly approved a measure today that will prohibit the automatic release of ASVAB test results to military recruiters by public schools.  The vote was 24-23. 

Opponents charged the bill was unpatriotic and anti-military, particularly in a "time of war."   Currently, thousands of Maryland high school students are tested by the Pentagon during school hours without parental knowledge or consent. The Maryland House of Delegates passed the same measure 102-37.  Governor O’Malley is expected to sign the bill into law.  Maryland could become the first state to challenge military testing in the public schools. Last year, the California Assembly passed a similar measure but it was vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger.

To listen to today’s proceedings click here, select the Wednesday, March 24th session and go to 33:48.  The debate is 14 minutes long.  http://mlis.state.md.us/asp/listen.asp

Gaza 2009: We Will Never Forget

Omer Goldman and the Israeli Military

Ed Asner on Huffington Post

I’ve been around this world for awhile, and it’s pretty hard to leave me speechless. But when I learned about Omer Goldman – well, her story got me.

If you haven’t heard the name Omer Goldman yet, have a seat and grab your Kleenex. Her courage, and the courage of the other "Shministim" in Israel is utterly humbling. And amazing. I don’t use those words lightly.

As you can see from the photo, she’s young and lovely. 19 years old. She’s already served two terms in an Israeli military jail, where she had to wear an American military uniform (a gift to the Israelis) or face solitary confinement. Now, she’s out of jail for medical reasons. But as you read this, many of her young friends are in an Israeli prison for refusing to serve in the military there.

This new generation of young Israeli kids is standing up to the government – they call ’em "Shministim." The Shministim- all about ages 17, 18, 19 and in the 12th grade – are taking a stand. They believe in a better, more peaceful future for themselves and for Israelis and Palestinians, and they are refusing to join the Israeli army. They’re in jail, holding strong against immense pressure from family, friends and the Israeli government. They need our support and they need it today.

In her own words:

Send a letter to the
Israeli Minister of Defense.

I am Omer Goldman.
I am one of the Shministim.
I need your help.

I first went to prison on September 23 and served 35 days. I am lucky, after 2 times in jail, I got a medical discharge, but I’m the only one. By the time you read this, many of my friends will be in prison too: in for three weeks, out for one, and then back in, over and over, until they are 21. The reason? We refuse to do military service for the Israeli army because of the occupation.

I grew up with the army. My father was deputy head of Mossad and I saw my sister, who is eight years older than me, do her military service. As a young girl, I wanted to be a soldier. The military was such a part of my life that I never even questioned it.

Earlier this year, I went to a peace demonstration in Palestine. I had always been told that the Israeli army was there to defend me, but during that demonstration Israeli soldiers opened fire on me and my friends with rubber bullets and tear-gas grenades. I was shocked and scared. I saw the truth. I saw the reality. I saw for the first time that the most dangerous thing in Palestine is the Israeli soldiers, the very people who are supposed to be on my side.

When I came back to Israel, I knew I had changed. And so, I have joined with a number of other young people who are refusing to serve – they call us the Shministim. On December 18th, we are holding a Day of Action in Israel, and we are determined to show Israelis and the world that there is wide support for stopping a culture of war. Will you join us? Please, just sign a letter. That’s all it takes.

So, there you go. Omer Goldman. Now that you’ve met her, I’ll bet you won’t forget her. Better yet, damn it, do something for her, for the Shministim, for peace. Jewish Voice for Peace is the U.S. group heading things up for them. Here’s the link.

One more thing – I know that this can be a tough subject for many of us Jews. But, I find it hard to believe than anyone can look Omer in the eye and tell her that she has to risk her life and her future for Israel whether she wants to or not. It’s just not right. Especially during this time of year, when many of us are getting ready to celebrate a holiday about freedom- well, take a good long look at that photo. You’re celebrating her.

Thanks for reading and send your letter here.

Ed Asner

“Happy” Veterans Day

Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans Join The Homeless


Ethan Kreutzer joined the Army at the age of 17 and fought with the 19th Airborne in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. When he retuned home, he had no money, no education and no civilian job experience. He soon became homeless. He slept in an alley off Haight Street, behind two trash cans.

June Moss drove from Kuwait to Iraq as an Army engineer in a truck convoy. When she returned to the United States, she lost her home, and drove her two young children from hotel to hotel across Northern California.

Sean McKeen, a hardy, broad-shouldered 21-year-old with a wide smile, went to Iraq to clear land mines, and to get money for college. When he returned home, he became homeless in less than a week. He found himself sleeping in a cot in a crowded homeless shelter in San Francisco.

They are all part of a growing trend of homelessness among returning war on terrorism veterans.

Read More


Army combat unit to deploy within U.S. – Martial Law Experiment

Army combat unit to deploy within U.S.

The First Raiders will spend 2009 as the first active-duty military unit attached to the U.S. Northern Command since it was created. They will be based in Fort Stewart, Georgia, and focus primarily on logistics and support for local police and rescue personnel, the Army says. The plan is drawing skepticism from some observers who are concerned that the unit has been training with equipment generally used in law enforcement, including beanbag bullets, Tasers, spike strips and roadblocks.

That kind of training seems a bit out of line for the unit’s designated role as Northern Command’s CCMRF (Sea Smurf), or CBRNE Consequence Management Response Force. CBRNE stands for chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosive incidents.

According to Northern Command‘s Web site, the CBRNE Consequence Management Response Force is a team that will ultimately number about 4,700 personnel from the different military branches that would deploy as the Department of Defense’s initial response force.

Its capabilities include search and rescue, decontamination, medical, aviation, communications and logistical support. Each CCMRF will be composed of three functional task forces — Task Force Operations, Task Force Medical and Task Force Aviation — that have individual operational focus and mission skills, the Web site says.

This comment is quite disturbing to me, quoted in the article:
“We need a lot more in our toolbox in order to deal with angry people on the street,” said Col. Barry Johnson of U.S. Army North.

Read the entire article

The Army says the unit would be deployed to help local, state or federal agencies deal with such incidents, not take the lead. The law enforcement-type training is not connected to its new mission, it says.

Use of active-duty military as a domestic police force has been severely limited since passage of the Posse Comitatus Act following the Civil War.

The New Generation of College Republicans

On The Seventh Anniversary of 9/11

This came across my email desk from the group Peaceful Tomorrows, a group of families of victims in the World Trade Center Bombings on September 11, 2001, that formed just after that horrific tragedy to turn their grief into action.  Here is there message today on teh 7th anniversary of that incident:

September 11, 2008

Dear Members, Friends and Supporters of Peaceful Tomorrows,

The experience of yet another anniversary of 9/11 provides an occasion to reflect upon the hopes and beliefs that brought the members of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows together. In response to the terrorist attacks that killed our family members, we never wanted wars of retaliation that would cause the deaths of innocent civilians in other nations. We never wanted hunger for revenge to lead America to violate international law, abandon Constitutional rights, or engage in torture.

We united to turn our grief into action for peace, believing that it is possible to break the cycles of violence caused by terrorism and war.  And over the past months, from Capitol Hill to Iraqi Kurdistan and beyond we have raised our voices in support of nonviolence, human rights and the rule of law.

Guantanamo Bay Detention Center

In July, Peaceful Tomorrows members traveled to DC to lobby Congress about the need to end the abuses at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center and rededicate the U.S. to principles of international justice. We are currently working with human rights allies at Witness Against Torture and Center for Constitutional Rights to craft a multi-faceted campaign to shut down Guantánamo within the first 100 days of the new administration.  We believe it can be done!

Perhaps the most hopeful work we are doing is our campaign to support the courageous and inspiring Iraqi peace and nonviolence activists of LaOnf.  LaOnf (which roughly translates as "nonviolence" in Arabic) is a network of over 100 Iraqi civil society organizations working to promote "nonviolence as the most effective way to struggle for an independent, democratic, and peaceful Iraq."

In August Peaceful Tomorrows members Terry Rockefeller and Adele Welty met with LaOnf members in Erbil, Kurdistan as they planned activities for their 2008 Week of Nonviolence.  In support of LaOnf’s efforts, Peaceful Tomorrows has launched a public education campaign to inform American citizens and policymakers about these Iraqi women and men who have endured repression, invasion and occupation yet remain committed to nonviolence. In October, Peaceful Tomorrows will help communities across the U.S. to show solidarity with the LaOnf activists.  You can find out more at www.peacefultomorrows.org, where you can sign up to organize or attend a screening of a documentary about LaOnf in your area.

Military Commissions

Peaceful Tomorrows members have been featured in news stories about the controversy surrounding the U.S. government’s prosecution of 9/11 suspects in military tribunals. As a partner in the American Civil Liberties Union’s John Adams Project, Peaceful Tomorrows supports fair trials for all people, regardless of the charges they face. We will continue to speak out against the military commissions, making clear how they embody a legal process that has been compromised by political interference and stripped of the minimum of defendants’ rights and protections that define fair trials.

As support for war in Iraq decreases, there are disturbing calls to increase U.S. troops to Afghanistan. Peaceful Tomorrows is categorically opposed to the idea that we can win a "War on Terror." War IS terror. We need instead to invest in programs that address the root causes of violence and terrorism. Peaceful Tomorrows has been actively working to bring Afghanistan to the forefront of the U.S. peace movement. With our allies at United for Peace and Justice, we are developing web-based materials that will prepare U.S. peace activists to effectively challenge the calls for increased military engagement in Afghanistan.

As we prepare ourselves for the work ahead, we are grateful for your loyal support.  Please help us to continue our work by making a generous donation to Peaceful Tomorrows today.  You can donate online at this link.

And please, go to our website at http://www.peacefultomorrows.org where you will find more information about the projects of  Peaceful Tomorrows and our members, including a link to the newly launched website of the International Network for Peace, a global network of victims of terrorism, genocide, atomic weapons, occupation and war who have chosen to work for nonviolent solutions to conflict.

We look forward to hearing from you.

In peace and hope,

September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows

Comparisons between Obama and McKinney on Key Issues

Comparisons between Obama and McKinney on Key Issues

(Compiled by Bruce Gagnon, member of Maine Greens and Mainers For Cynthia McKinney Committee.)

Impeachment: Cass Sunstein, an adviser to Barack Obama from the University of Chicago Law School, says that prosecuting criminal conduct from the Bush Administration. risks a “cycle” of criminalizing public service and Democrats should avoid replicating retributive efforts like the impeachment of President Clinton–or even the “slight appearance” of it. Cynthia McKinney, before leaving the Congress in 2006 introduced impeachment resolution against George W. Bush.

Afghanistan: Obama says we must add 10,000 troops and win in Afghanistan because it is the “right war.” McKinney is opposed to the Afghanistan war and wants us out right away.

FISA Bill: Sen. Obama voted in favor of the Bush FISA surveillance bill. Former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney was opposed to the bill.

Experience in Congress: Cynthia McKinney served 12 years in the US Congress. Barack Obama has been in Congress for 3.5 years. They both served in their state legislatures in their respective states.

Iraq: McKinney calls for a “quick and orderly” withdrawal of all U.S. forces and mercenaries now occupying Iraq. While in Congress she opposed funding for the occupation. Obama calls for a “responsible” and “honorable” withdrawal and has recently changed his withdrawal timeline to 16 months after elected. Obama also uses the term “redeploy” which means move many troops onto the big US permanent bases in Iraq and also move many to bases in nearby Kuwait so they can be sent back into Iraq when needed. Obama voted for most Iraq occupation appropriations.

Military Spending: Obama calls for increasing the military by at least 92,000 troops and supports increases in military spending. McKinney has long been an opponent of increased military spending and while in Congress often took on former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in House hearings demanding answers to her questions about what happened to the $2 trillion the Pentagon lost.

Public Financing of Elections: Obama recently changed his position and now refuses to participate in public financing of the national election. McKinney supports public financing.

Trade Issues: Obama’s economic adviser, Austan Goolsbee from the University of Chicago, last February urged the rightwing Canadian government not to pay too much attention to Obama’s campaign critiques of NAFTA, explaining that the candidate’s rhetoric was “more reflective of political maneuvering than policy.” McKinney opposes NAFTA, CAFTA and all the rest of the so-called “free trade” agreements, which are “anti-union” and institutionalize corporate profits and priorities.

Africa: Obama supports the creation of the new Pentagon Africa Command (AFRICOM) saying that the command will “facilitate” fighting terrorism on the continent. McKinney opposes the new command saying “the last thing Africa needs is AFRICOM, U.S. soldiers, or a School of the Americas-type relationship with Africa.”

Paid for by Mainers for Cynthia McKinney

Memorial Day: How the U.S. treats its veterans

Memorial Day

by: Bill Moyers and Michael Winship, truthout

We honor our war dead this Memorial Day weekend. The greatest respect we could pay them would be to pledge no more wars for erroneous and misleading reasons; no more killing and wounding except for the defense of our country and our freedoms.

    We also could honor our dead by caring for the living, and do better at it than we are right now.

There has been a flurry of allegations concerning neglect, malpractice and corner-cutting at the Veterans Administration, especially for those suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – PTSD – or major depression, brought on by combat.

    A report released by the Rand Corporation last month indicates that approximately 300,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans suffer PTSD or major depression. That’s one of every five military men and women who have served over there.

Read more….

Congressman Wexler on Petraeus

Here are examples of things I like about Robert Wexler’s voting record:
(info obtained from ON THE ISSUES)

  • Voted YES on funding for alternative sentencing instead of more prisons. (Jun 2000)
  • Voted NO on Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage. (Sep 2004)
  • Voted NO on making the PATRIOT Act permanent. (Dec 2005)
  • Voted NO on Constitutionally defining marriage as one-man-one-woman. (Jul 2006)
  • Voted YES on barring website promoting Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump. (May 2006)
  • Voted NO on declaring Iraq part of War on Terror with no exit date. (Jun 2006)
  • Voted YES on restricting employer interference in union organizing. (Mar 2007)

Here are examples of t things I don’t like about Robert Wexler’s voting record:

  • Voted YES on authorizing military force in Iraq. (Oct 2002)
  • Voted YES on emergency $78B for war in Iraq & Afghanistan. (Apr 2003)
  • Voted YES on allowing Courts to decide on “God” in Pledge of Allegiance. (Jul 2006)
  • Voted YES on building a fence along the Mexican border. (Sep 2006)

But recently, a colleague of mine forwarded a letter she received from Congressman Robert Wexler, D-FL, who is also up for re-election, regarding the Petraeus Hearings.  Here is his response, which I am pleased to see:

I want to thank you for the overwhelming response we received to my request for questions for General Petraeus. Thousands of emails poured in from all over the nation. My staff and I examined every suggested question and we were truly impressed with the passion, sophistication, and knowledge of the submissions. Choosing a few questions out of so many excellent entries was an extraordinarily difficult task.

One of the most commonly suggested questions centered on how General Petraeus defines victory in Iraq. This question struck a chord with me – as it no doubt did with so many of you – because it demands that the Administration actually define its goals (which, as you’ll see below, are totally unrealistic).

Underscoring the tragedy of the Administration’s failed policy, one of my constituents died in an attack on the Green Zone on Monday. I spoke with his parents yesterday, and they asked me to ask General Petraeus a simple question: For what? For what had they lost their son?

I asked him this question, and then asked him to define “victory.”

I did not expect General Petraeus to answer either directly, but he did.

He stated that we were fighting for national interest, including region’s “importance to the global economy.” (In my mind, a stunning admission of the true motives behind this war.)

He stated that they were trying to achieve a country that is “at peace with itself and its neighbors,” “could defend itself” that was “reasonably representative of and broadly responsive to its citizens.”

These are not reasonable objectives. Half the countries around the world are not able to defend themselves. Many have internal and external conflict – and few – including our own, are broadly responsive to its citizens.

(I find that last objective sadly ironic, as the Bush Administration, by continuing this misguided war, is broadly unresponsive to American citizens.)

I was out of time before I could ask a follow up… but if you read between the lines, his answer is vast in its scope. Clearly, their goals for Iraq and interpretation of “national interest” are wholly at odds with a swift redeployment of forces.

It has been a year and a half since the 2006 elections – more than enough time for us to have required, through provisions attached to funding, a phased withdrawal. At the least, we could have forced a genuine showdown with President Bush that would have forced him to defend his policies.

There is no excuse for even one more American casualty in Iraq.
Our troops must be redeployed. The Bush/Petraeus policy that denies reality must not carry the day.

I urge you to remain active and steadfast in your opposition to this open-ended, vaguely guided war.

Please read my exchange with General Petraeus below.

Congressman Robert Wexler



Congressman Wexler:

Thank you.  General Petraeus, last week in anticipation of this hearing I sent an urgent e-mail asking my constituents and other Americans: if they were serving on this committee, what is the one question they would pose to you.

There was an extraordinary response, with more than five thousand questions submitted, these e-mails and phone calls expressed deeply held frustrations about the war in Iraq, and reflect the concerns of millions across the nation who feel their opinions and concerns were cast aside by the Bush Administration.

I want to thank everyone who responded and submitted a question for today’s hearings. While many of the respondents rightfully-highlighted the bravery of our troops, a majority of the e-mails expressed a strong desire to see withdrawal of American soldiers from Iraq, and an end to this five year war, that has cost our nation so dearly.

Most of the question! s boiled down to this: General we often hear President Bush and Senator McCain say we must win in Iraq. What is the definition of winning? What would a military victory look like, that was sufficient enough, to allow us to begin leaving?

Then, in a horrific turn of events, two of my constituents: Hester and Linn Wolfer of Boca Raton Florida, learned that this past Sunday their son had been killed for this war. Major Stuart Wolfer was a thirty six year reservist on his second tour. He was married with three young children ages five, three, and twenty months. His family was relieved that he was in the green zone, for they hoped he would be safe there. He was not.

I spoke to Mr. Wolfer yesterday last night, who asked me to ask you, simply: For What, for what had he lost his son? So allow me to combine if you will, the questions from the people that responded to me and Mr. Wolfer: What has all this been for? And please, respectfully, don’t tell us as you told Senator Warner yesterday: to remove a brutal dictator. That’s not good enough.

There are many dictators in the world. For what did Stuart Wolfer and the other four thousand and twenty four sons and daughters die for? And how will we define victory, so we can bring this never ending war to a close?

And if I will, when Mr. Burton asks for a definition of what is failure, we get a litany of items. But when Mr. Ackerman asks what is the definition of victory, we get little. Please tell us General, What is winning?

General Petraeus:  First of all, Congress, let me tell you that what we are fighting for is national interest.

It is interest that as I stated have to do with Al Qaeda, a sworn enemy of the United States and the free world, has to do with the possible spread of sectarian conflict in Iraq, conflict that had engulfed that country and had it on the brink of Civil War.

It has to do with regional stability, a region that is of critical importance to the global economy, and it has to do with certainly the influence of Iran, another obviously very important element, in that region.

In terms of what it is that we are trying to achieve, I think simply it is a country that is at peace with itself and its neighbors, it is a country that can defend itself, that has a government that is reasonably representative and broadly responsive to its citizens, and a country that is involved in and engaged in, again the global economy.

Ambassador Crocker and I, for what it’s worth, have typically seen ourselves as minimalists, we’re not after the Holy Grail in Iraq and we’re not after Jeffersonian Democracy.

We’re after conditions that would allow our soldiers to disengage, and that is in fact what we are doing. As we achieve progress, as we have with the Surge, and that is what is indeed allowing us to withdraw the Surge forces, again well over one quarter of our ground combat power five of 20 brigade combat teams plus two marine battalions and the marine expeditionary unit by the end of July.

Congressman Wexler: Thank you.