IF YOU THOUGHT HE LEARNED A DAMN THING FROM HIS FIRST TERM, YOU WERE WRONG.
PICKING A CABINET IS JUST AS CONFUSING FOR CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O THIS GO ROUND AS IT WAS LAST.
IF WE CAN ALL SET ASIDE CONCERNS FOR THE STATE OF THE COUNTRY, WE CAN JUST SIT BACK AND LAUGH AT THE INEPTITUDE AND THE INABILITY TO LEARN FROM MISTAKES AS WE GO FROM THE GIDDY HIGH OF ONE FAILED NOMINATION TO THE NEXT.
WHO BROUGHT THE POPCORN?
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
Today is the 921st day Iraq War veteran Bradley Manning has spent in military custody. Today, he again spoke in court and we start with that because the US military has yet again demonstrated it is a culture that refuses to adapt and is so rooted in the status quo that it is responsible -- continues to be responsible -- for the deaths of its own.
Background, Monday April 5, 2010, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7, 2010, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August 2010 that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." In March, 2011, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted. The Article 32 hearing took place in December. At the start of this year, there was an Article 32 hearing and, February 3rd, it was announced that the government would be moving forward with a court-martial. Bradley has yet to enter a plea and has neither affirmed that he is the leaker nor denied it. The court-martial was supposed to begin before the election but it was postponed until after the election so that Barack wouldn't have to run on a record of his actual actions.
Bradley appeared in military court yesterday and we'll note various details about the case itself. But the most important detail is one that effects all serving and veterans who have served -- as well as their family members.
Leave it to the Associated Press to miss what's right before its own eyes: "His pretrial testimony appeared to support the military's argument that it was trying to protect Manning from harming himself by keeping him in strict isolation, taking away his clothes and shakling him when he was outside his cell." Did it?
No, it did not. AP, from time to time, exists solely to keep Dorothy Parker's adage alive: You can lead a whore to culture but you cannot make her think.
Taking away his clothes was never about his protection. And, at Third, we noted that as soon as those details became public and we pointed out that there were non-cloth items he could be provided with to wear if it really was about his safety. (And didn't the military then suddenly discover that to be true?) It was not about his protection.
Bradley being forced to sleep in the nude -- nude and on full display -- is not normal, it is not therapeutic and for the AP to suggest that it is is as offensive if they started running "She asked for it" columns on rape.
If the US military wasn't trying to punish Bradley (I believe they were trying to humiliate him, my opinion), their actions do not suddenly become 'good.' It goes to the larger issue that you have a lot of idiots who don't know what they're doing.
Forcing anyone to be on public display is humiliating and counter-productive enough, adding nudity to it?
Immediately after he was taken into military custody, Bradley was transferred from Iraq to Kuwait. He was not told what was taking place or if he would stay there or be moved. Extraordinary rendention was already well known and discussed in the press. When Jane Mayer was an actual reporter and not the partisan hack she's since morphed into, you could read all sorts of tales by her about what the US government was allowing to be done in the name of 'interrogation.'
In such a climate, a very young man, already under stress, was taken into military custody. He had no idea what would happen to him. In Kuwait, at one point he made a knoose. He's called it that in his testimony. The artist rendering of what prosecutor held up is not actually a knoose. It's a sheet with a series of knots in it.
The military prosecution is attempting to assert that this knoose or 'knoose' along with another statement is why certain measures were taken with Bradley. The AP apparently feels it is their job to make the military's case for them as opposed to being a skeptical press.
The statement? Arriving at Quantico, he was admitted. When he was being admitted into Quantico, Bradley wrote on a form, in response to a question about suicide, "always planning and never acting."
Are you telling me that the US military didn't have a follow up?
If there was a follow up verbal question, then there was a follow up verbal response. Why isn't that noted?
Because it wouldn't back the military's assertion? Possibly.
That's disturbing. More disturbing would be that there was no verbal follow up to a statement like that on a form.
To be clear, that statement is perfectly 'normal.' At different points in their lives, many Americans will consider suicide. Maybe for a few seconds each time they do, maybe in an elaborate fantasy that has actually deals with something other than suicide.
The statement is not 'troubling.' For a number of reasons. One, it is an opening to discuss a serious issue and, two, it demonstrates that the person being assessed has some comfort level discussing the issue. Someone being admitted who was planning to kill themselves and wanting to kill themselves once admitted to a facility, most likely would be close-lipped about any sucidal thoughts.
The narrative that the military prosecutor presented to the military court is that Bradley arrived back in the US and wrote during the intake assessment that he was "always planning and never acting" upon. "Planning" should have resulted in Bradley being asked to define "planning." Is that thinking, is that an abstract, is that an elaborate plan? If you were to take your own life, how would you do it? A whole string of questions were prompted by "always planning and never acting."
Where were those questions?
Was someone too uncomfortable to ask? Was a medical professional not present at intake? That seems strange considering the high-profile nature of Bradley's case even then; however, I would assume the military would train those working at Quantico or any other brig on suicide.
What it appears is that, at best, Bradley suffered because the military is not training those required to do supervision on issues like suicide.
Yesterday, the Defense Dept released the US Army's suicide numbers for last month: "20 potential suicides: five have been confirmed as suicides, and 15 remain under investigation" which is an increase of five from September's numbers. DoD notes that 2011 resulted in 165 deaths confirmed as suicides and that 2012 has seen 105 confirmed and 61 which are still being investigated. So if all under investigation currently were to be ruled suicide, October will be the month that 2012 surpassed 2011 for number of army members taking their own lives (166 is the number of suicides if the 61 under investigation end up determined to be suicides). With two months of data remaining for the calendar year, it is likely 2012 will see an increase in the number of suicides.
Quantico brig would be a natural location for potentially at-risk persons. Those working at Quantico should have a minimum level of training. That minimum level should have included staff providing direct supervision -- eyes on -- of Bradley being alarmed over what public nudity might do to the mental well being of a supposed suicide risk.
There was nothing healthy about what was done to Bradley. If the military's narrative, as presented by the prosecution, is correct, then the Defense Dept is the cause of suicides. It's not merely failing to provide assistance, it's creating an unhealthy environment that encourages and assists suicides via its own ignorance and negligence.
This is not an abstract. There is a suicide crisis in the military today.
Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. This week, she proposed that the Defense Authorization Bill be expanded so that it will "require DoD to create a comprehensive, standardized suicide prevention program."
Senator Patty Murray: Time and time again, we've lost servicemembers and veterans to suicide. But while the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs have taken important steps towards addressing this crisis, we know more must be done. We know that any solution depends upon reducing wait times and improving access to mental health care; ensuring proper diagnosis; and achieving true coordination of care and information between the Departments. This amendment would require a comprehensive, standardized suicide prevention program across the DoD. It would require the use of the best medical practices, in suicide prevention and behavioral health programs to address serious gaps in the current programs.
Murray's remarks appear in full in the November 28th snapshot. I strongly support Murray's proposal. Not only that, I hope attorneys around the country start thinking class-action lawsuit against DoD. A huge number of veterans and servicemembers have taken their own lives. They've often done so because the help they needed was not present and the people who should have seen the risks weren't trained to see the risks.
If the military is going to stand by the assertion that what Bradley experienced -- the 'diagnosis' and the 'treatment' -- was standard and humane military treatment, then it's really time for lawyers to start filing law suits against the DoD and the VA regarding suicides.