Thursday, January 06, 2011







The New KPFA Morning Show airs on KPFA from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. PST Mondays through Fridays. The show has a rotating set of hosts and Thursdays it's Project Censored. Today's show saw Project Censored's Mickey Huff speak with a number of guests about under-the-radar stories. We'll note this section between Huff and Dave Lindorff.
Mickey Huff: We have a few minutes left in this segment, Dave, and earlier you had mentioned the Church Committee and COINTELPRO and, of course, we could do whole shows on those. The Church Committee, Senator Frank Church, came in after Watergate and did a lot of investigating about these types of counterintelligence programs and infilitratration of groups. And this is exactly the kind of thing you're talking about, we've had this massive return. And I don't know how familiar you are with this but one of Obama's appointees to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, a Harvard law professor named Cass Sunstein, is calling for a return to infiltrating groups, disrupting groups --
Dave Lindorff: Yeah, he's horrible. He's horrible.
Mickey Huff: It's funny that you don't hear much though. During the Bush years, you heard a lot of the rattling on the left among progressives about this kind of officious behavior and this -- Really it's been legal since the Patriot Act I suppose although it seems fiercely unconstitutional. But do you have something to say about Sunstein or maybe the silence of progressives about people like Sustein?
Dave Lindorff: Well, yeah. I mean actually, I'm working on getting a contract for a bookto do a Case for Impeachment II and make the argument that this administration is committing the same crimes and some new ones that were impeachable under Bush and are now impeachable under Obama. [Laughing] It's hard to get a publisher, frankly.
Mickey Huff: Yeah and that's my -- and that's sad given how much evidence there is to continue that saga from that book. I mean it's just Part II of all of that. And I know a lot of people -- a lot of progressives and people on the left -- don't want to deal with that and they want to say 'Well it's the lesser of two evils' or 'It's better than not' and so forth. And I suppose that's understandable given what Americans went through for eight years. But we can't turn a blind eye to this and, I mean, the media is just disappeared. There's almost no coverage of this whatsoever. They have one faux controversy after another -- whether it's the birth certificate or whether Obama's a Socialist. And here we have things going on right under our noses -- this cognitive infiltraton problem in particular that you mentioned that we have here with Sunstein. And so there's definitely a lot of work to be done and a lot of things that we should be dealing with
Dave Lindorff: Yeah, I know. I mean, people have to realize this isn't a Democrat or a Republican issue. This is the corporate state that is militarized and it is looking at the American public as the enemy. And I think that's the way that we have to view it. And it's not a matter of you know "Do we not do something because this is a Republican or a Democratic administration so it will be better" -- and it's not better. And every -- We're actually in a ratcheting up with every administration of more and more invasiveness into our lives and more monitoring of our activities.
In Tuesday's snapshot, I mentioned this post by Ruth but there was no link -- Ruth's been covering various KPFA issues this week -- also see here and here.
Turning to military suicides, Jim Turpin (The Rag Blog) reported last October:
Even with the spin from the current administration that the "war is over" in Iraq, it is well known that 50,000 combat-ready troops remain in the country. Add to that a recent deployment of 2,000 troops from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment from Fort Hood in Texas. At present almost 100,000 troops remain in Afghanistan.
With the total number of U.S. military personnel cycling through both Afghanistan and Iraq at almost 1.8 million, and with the RAND corporation estimating that 18% have PTSD (which is deemed low by some experts), this would put the returning numbers with PTSD at 324,000.

A recent article in The New York Times confirms what the organizers of the Killeen-based GI coffeehouse Under the Hood Café have been battling at Fort Hood for the last year and a half: suicides are at the highest point since 2008, with 14 confirmed suicides since the beginning of 2010. In one recent weekend, there were three suicides and one murder-suicide at Fort Hood.
With the population at Fort Hood ranging from 46,000 to 50,000 soldiers at any given time, the rate of suicide is four times the national average, based on Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates of 11.5 suicides per 100,000 people.

Today Bob Grotenhuis (KTSM) reports that there were 22 suicides or suspected suicides at Fort Hood in 2010, "double the number of suicides from 2009 and nearly two-and-a-half times the national average for the same age group." Gregg Zoroya (USA Today) broke the news on the story this morning and noted the record number came "despite a mental health effort aimed at reversing the trend" and, of Fort Hood's population, "Many of the 46,500 soldiers at Fort Hood have returned from war zone or are on their way to them." Fort Hood, in a review of the year 2010 published today, notes, "Deployments, the continual coming and going of military members to and from Fort Hood, remained the 'new normal' at the Great Place in 2010. Just two weeks after the 1st Cavalry Division uncased its colors on Cooper Field announcing the division's return from its third tour of duty in Iraq, III Corps cased its colors Feb. 2 as it became the nucleus of United States Forces - Iraq." On suicide, the year-in-review notes:
Suicide prevention, likewise, remained an important issue for the Army in 2010, as well as here in Central Texas. The key to suicide prevention is engaged leadership, according to senior leaders here.
"We use this term of 'engaged leadership,' in some cases, it requires intrusive leadership to break through some of these little points of insularity that we're finding in our Soldiers and certainly in society," Grimsley told media members at the Resiliency Campus Sept. 29.
"I tell you that every one of these is tragic," he said of the suicides committed in 2010. "The rate is higher than any of us, anybody in a leadership position in the Army wants," he stressed. Grimsley said Fort Hood remains dedicated to the well-being of its force and their families.
"I think we have extraordinary resources at Fort Hood," he said, noting family life onsultants, chaplains, behavioral health specialists and Army Community Services counselors available to Soldiers, civilians and their families, dedicated to the well-being of body, mind and soul.
"The point is," he said, "there are an awful lot of people who are committed to do the right thing."
The Marines also have suicide news this week. Gretel C. Kovach (San Diego Union Tribune) reports, "The number of suicides among active-duty Marines dropped last year for the first time since 2006, plunging 29 percent below 2009's record high, according to preliminary figures released by the Marine Corps. In 2010, 37 Marines committed suicide, compared to 52 in 2009. The latest numbers include nine suspected yet to be confirmed by the Armed Forces Medical Examiner." While the number of suicides has gone down, the Marines saw an increase in 2010 in the number of attempted suicides. The Defense Dept notes, "The military suicide rate has increased steadily over the past five years, exceeding the national average of 11.1 suicides per 100,000 people. The military last year averaged 12.5 suicides per 100,000 according [to] DOD reports." James Coogan (WSWS) offers:
American military personnel are continuing to take their own lives in unprecedented numbers, as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq drag on. By late November, at least 334 members of the armed forces had committed suicide in 2009, more than the 319 who were killed in Afghanistan or the 150 who died in Iraq. While a final figure is not available, the toll of military suicides last year was the worst since records began to be kept in 1980.
The Army, National Guard and Army Reserve lost at least 211 personnel to suicide. More than half of those who took their lives had served in either Iraq or Afghanistan. The Army suicide rate of 20.2 per 100,000 personnel is higher than that registered among males aged 19 to 29, the gender age bracket with the highest rate among the general population. Before 2001, the Army rarely suffered 10 suicides per 100,000 soldiers.
The Navy lost at least 47 active duty personnel in 2009, the Air Force 34 and the Marine Corp, which has been flung into some of the bloodiest fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, 42. The Marine suicide rate has soared since 2001 from 12 to at least 19.5 per 100,000.
For every death, at least five members of the armed forces were hospitalised for attempting to take their life. According to the Navy Times, 2 percent of Army; 2.3 percent of Marines and 3 percent of Navy respondents to the military's own survey of 28,536 members from all branches reported they had attempted suicide at some point. The "Defense Survey of Health-Related Behaviors" also found "dangerous levels" of alcohol abuse and the illicit use of drugs such as pain killers by 12 percent of personnel.
Many soldiers, servicemembers and veterans are not receiving the help they need. Many are taking public stands to highlight the issue. Clare Bayard (ZNET) notes:

They also included the public surrender of an injured AWOL soldier, Army Specialist Jeff Hanks, at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. Hanks went AWOL to resist redeployment to Afghanistan last fall after the military refused to treat him for severe PTSD. Supported by military and civilian allies alike, Hanks and other veterans testified about the military's negligent and often abusive treatment of severely traumatized soldiers seeking care. Hanks decided he wanted to turn himself in publicly to draw attention to these widespread practices. If he is court-martialed, he could face up to two years in prison and a lifetime felony conviction on his record. The Army could also attempt to forcibly deploy him again. At the gates of Ft. Campbell, 25 supporters stood with Hanks as he told his story to reporters. Another AWOL soldier from his unit traveled to join the rally, disclosing similar experiences. One supporter explained that her husband, who is currently deployed, was sent against medical advice.

In the weeks following the November 11 actions, a number of other soldiers gone AWOL from the 101st due to mental health struggles have reached out to Operation Recovery for support.

Visibility and support are important factors influencing not only the morale of traumatized troops and their families, but also the military's treatment of people who go public. Aaron Hughes of IVAW shared with supporters that, "Jeff's command was extremely hostile when he turned himself in on Veterans Day, but after the CBS story aired on Friday, they changed their tune" (Hanks was interviewed by Katie Couric).

Click here for one CBS story (text and video) with links to other CBS coverage of Jeff Hanks. And, like Elaine, let's pair that with an upcoming event by Iraq Veterans Against the War:

February 25, 2011 9:30 - 10:30 am Busboys & Poets, Langston room 14th & V st NW Washington DC This report back will be to answer questions from media and the peace movement about the recent trip back to Iraq by members of Iraq Veterans Against the War. The war is not over but it is not the same as it was in years past. What is the humanitarian situation in Iraq? How can we do reparations and reconciliation work? Speakers are all returning from this delegation and include: Geoff Millard (IVAW) Hart Viges (IVAW) Haider Al-Saedy (Iraqi Health Now)
Richard Rowely (
Big Noise Films)

That's next month and will hopefully help get across that the Iraq War continues.
Sunday, 2 US soldiers were killed in Iraq. Today, DoD released the following: "The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation New Dawn. They died Jan. 2 in Taji, Iraq, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device. They were assigned to the 1013th Engineer (Sapper) Company of the Pureto Rico Army National Guard, Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. Killed were: Sgt. Jose M. Cintron Rosado, 38, of Vega Alta, Puerto Rico; and Spc. Jose A. Delgado Arroyo, 41, of San Juan, Puerto Rico. For more information, media may contact the Puerto Rico National Guard at 787-289-1474." The deaths bring the total number for US military deaths in the ongoing Iraq War to [PDF format warning] 4435.

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