Category "Support Our Troops"

Whose The Greater Risk To Our Troops? Snowden or the U.S. Government?

January 12th, 2014 by Andy in Support Our Troops

Juan Cole makes some perfectly succinct points regarding the propaganda and hypocrisy of the American government, regarding its claims to the dangers that Edward Snowden’s revelations on the excesses of national surveillance by the NSA pose to U.S. soldiers in the field. This goes to the heart of some of the points we have made on numerous occasions in the past via USTV Media, about how we are becoming overtly Soviet in our behavior, how expanding state secrecy is always excused as being for your own good, and questioning it is somehow undermining “the troops,” and threatens national security.

It is truly astounding at times how repetitive these claims can be (have become), how historically similar they are to those made by practically every modern authoritarian state, and how much they continue to be swallowed by the populace at large, over and over. Elvis Costello sang about this very thing back in 1979, with his poignant and prescient raging rock number “Goon Squad”, about co-option into the system, where the apparatchiks of power are busy “thinking up the alibis that everyone’s forgotten”. I’m afraid Gore Vidal had it right, when he wrote about our living in the United States of Amnesia.

Here are just a couple of excerpts from Cole’s spot on piece…

NSA employees were given talking points in defending their trashing of the Constitution suggesting they change the conversation to terrorism, even though there is zero evidence that the massive domestic surveillance of Americans has forestalled any terrorism at all. And, that consideration is beside the point if what the NSA is doing is illegal and unconstitutional, i.e. if it is conducting warrantless searches of the papers and effects of innocent people. When police use excessive force and kill an innocent bystander, we don’t say ” that’s all right. The police keep us safe from criminals.” Breaking the law is breaking the law and there is no instrumental excuse for it.

When I was young in the Cold War, we were constantly told that Communists (they meant Stalinists) believe that the ends justify the means, whereas American traditions of law and practice insist that the ends must be reached legitimately. The Federal government has morphed into the very thing it preached against. Now they are saying that the ends justify the means, even if the means are blatantly unconstitutional.

The latest salvo in this disinformation campaign is to claim that Snowden has endangered US troops by revealing surveillance methods. That allegation is highly unlikely to be true. The enemies of the US abroad knew very well of US surveillance capabilities. Al-Qaeda in particular has been using hard copy and face to face communication for a decade. That is why they couldn’t find Usama Bin Laden all those years. Or as W. used to say, “He’s hidin’.”

But since they’re bringing up endangering US troops, here are all the ways the Washington politicians have put soldiers’ lives unnecessarily at risk in recent years:

1. Going to war on false pretenses. The invasion and occupation of Iraq, which killed over 4000 troops, wounded over 30,000 badly, and inflicted some injuries on some 100,000, was sold on the incorrect allegation that Iraq was near to having a nuclear weapon and had deadly Weapons of Mass Destruction that it might use on the US. That case was false, and most likely an outright lie. You can’t endanger US troops in a more thorough way than by sending them into a dangerous country based on false allegations.

Read the rest of Cole’s list Here

Equating Military Service With Heroism

July 28th, 2010 by Andy in Support Our Troops

Willian Astore, published on, brings some necessary discussion to the civic table with his “Our American Heroes”: Why It’s Wrong to Equate Military Service With Heroism.

When I was a kid in the 1970s, I loved reading accounts of American heroism from World War II. I remember being riveted by a book about the staunch Marine defenders of Wake Island and inspired by John F. Kennedy’s exploits saving the sailors he commanded on PT-109. Closer to home, I had an uncle - like so many vets of that war, relatively silent on his own experiences - who had been at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked on December 7, 1941, and then fought them in a brutal campaign on Guadalcanal, where he earned a Bronze Star. Such men seemed like heroes to me, so it came as something of a shock when, in 1980, I first heard Yoda’s summary of war in The Empire Strikes Back. Luke Skywalker, if you remember, tells the wizened Jedi master that he seeks ‘a great warrior.’ ‘Wars not make one great,’ Yoda replies.”


Ever since the events of 9/11, there’s been an almost religious veneration of U.S. service members as “Our American Heroes” (as a well-intentioned sign puts it at my local post office).  That a snappy uniform or even intense combat in far-off countries don’t magically transform troops into heroes seems a simple point to make, but it’s one worth making again and again, and not only to impressionable, military-worshipping teenagers.

Here, then, is what I mean by “hero”: someone who behaves selflessly, usually at considerable personal risk and sacrifice, to comfort or empower others and to make the world a better place.  Heroes, of course, come in all sizes, shapes, ages, and colors, most of them looking nothing like John Wayne or John Rambo or GI Joe (or Jane).

Anyone quoting from Yoda can’t be too far off the mark (place goofy smiley emoticon here). Seriously, this is one of the best columns I’ve seen yet that dares broach into this topic, mixing the highly personal with the historical.

Read the rest of this column from military veteran and historian William Astore Here.

This earlier one from Astore on the American military’s German fetish, titled as an “American Blitzkrieg” is another well worth attention (for those of you concerned about the state of the American military today, and the trajectory it seems to be on.)

US Navy Veterans Continue to Seek Justice for Israeli Attack

June 8th, 2010 by Andy in Support Our Troops

Much of the world is upset over Israel attacking defenseless ships in international waters and killing those on board. Unfortunately, there’s nothing really new about that. Here, journalist Dahr Jamail sheds more long-overdue light upon this disturbing and forcibly neglected lynchpin event in the history of American-Israeli relations.

On June 8, 1967, while sailing in international waters, the US Navy intelligence ship USS Liberty was attacked by air and naval forces of the state of Israel. Of the Liberty’s crew of 294, more than half were killed or wounded. More than 40 years later, survivors are still seeking justice.

The Israeli forces attacked with full knowledge that the Liberty was an American ship, yet survivors have been forbidden to tell their story under oath to the American public.

Joe Meadors was on the Liberty during the attack.


Meadors said he and his group, the USS Liberty Veterans Association, believe that Rear Adm. Lawrence Geis, the Sixth Fleet carrier division commander at the time of the attack, was following orders from Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, who called off the Navy’s rescue mission for the USS Liberty.

Meadors, along with other survivors of the attack, have been engaged in what has evolved into a more than 40-year struggle to find justice.

“The most frustrating thing has been a lack of reaction from the US government,” Meadors explained, “On June 8, 2005 we filed a war crimes report, and they [the US Government] are required to investigate these allegations. They’ve created reports about our mission, but they never did conduct an actual investigation of the attack itself.”

Meadors and the other veterans he works with to bring about a governmental investigation of the attack take the position that they should not have to force the government to do this.

In 2003, an independent commission of highly regarded experts was created to look into the matter. The Moorer Commission, named after its chairman, included Adm. Thomas H. Moorer, United States Navy (Ret.), former chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff and Gen. Raymond G. Davis, United States Marine Corps and former assistant commandant of the Marine Corps.

Findings of this commission included: “Israel launched a two-hour air and naval attack against USS Liberty … Israeli torpedo boats later returned to machine-gun at close range three of the Liberty’s life rafts that had been lowered into the water by survivors to rescue the most seriously wounded … Israel’s attack was a deliberate attempt to destroy an American ship and kill her entire crew.”

Ray McGovern is a senior CIA analyst who served under seven presidents - from John Kennedy to George H. W. Bush.

McGovern is clear about why he believes the US government continues to refuse to launch an investigation. “For the same reason that President Johnson called back the fighter/bombers; i.e., so as not to embarrass our friend Israel,” McGovern explained to Truthout, “It is my view that the killing of 34 USS Liberty crew and wounded more than 170 others and the fact that the US Navy, Congress, executive branch not only prohibited the survivors to speak about it, but also launched faux ‘inquiries,’ is the poster child for what is wrong with the US relationship with Israel, showing the penchant of senior US officials to sacrifice honesty, justice, and US servicemen on the sacral altar of “compassionate attachment” to Israel.”

McGovern added that, in his view, the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty is “the archetypical example of how Israel was given convincing affirmation of its belief that it can get away with murder, literally, and the US Gulliver would be bound to ignore it … or even mount ‘official’ inquiries to explain it away.”

A friend once imparted to me some wisdom I have found to be true: “secrets make you sick.” Evidence for this is none more apparant than with the moral corrosion that has been taking place within the nature of the relationship between America and Israel over the past four plus decades. This corrosion very well began to take full root from the time of this incident.

It is high time justice for justice to be served for those who suffered over these many years from this aggression and the resultant cover up, as well as for those who executed this crime. Most of all, it is important for the historical record to be brought to full clarity, and the issues which underly what the true purposes were for it, aand all of the resultant effects over the many years because of it.

Read The Full Article

In this article, first published in the Houston Chronicle, former US Navy Admiral Thomas Moorer goes into more detail about the betrayal behind the cover up of the Israeli attack on the Liberty.

Visit the official USS Liberty Veterans Association website, and learn more about the surviving crew’s efforts to bring the true light of justice forward.

Paul Rieckhoff, IAVA: ‘Chasing Ghosts’

November 11th, 2009 by Andy in Support Our Troops, Video

UnCommon Sense TV - “Paul Rieckhoff, IAVA: ‘Chasing Ghosts’ “ Iraq war veteran and the founder & executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America talks about his book “Chasing Ghosts”, which details his experiences in Iraq. Rieckhoff also elaborates on the needs and concerns of our military veterans and how they are being overlooked. This includes both how our nation apportions social and economic support for them, as well as how current political debate on Iraq policy is sorely missing the inclusion of more voices of experience from those who have actually served on the ground there.
Joining the discussion is Paul Hackett, fellow Iraq war veteran and former candidate for U.S. Congress, who weighs in with his own observations and commentary regarding the politics of the Iraq war.

Tomas Young of “Body of War”

June 18th, 2008 by Andy in Support Our Troops

On April 4, 2004 Tomas Young was shot and paralyzed in Iraq in an unarmored Humvee. He came home to become an outspoken anti-war activist, transforming his anger at the Bush administration into action. Tomas’ fight to bring the troops home is deeply personal. His brother Nathan is currently in Iraq, having been stop-lossed (he served the required time of his contract and was then re-deployed). For Tomas, who cannot walk and who struggles daily with basic bodily functions, protesting the war has given his life purpose. Our film, “Body of War”, has been described as a searingly honest portrait of his journey, both personal and political. Tomas has roused people from their complacency and spurred many to follow in his activist footsteps.

Tomas is a bright light in a dark time.

On May 23 last month Tomas Young suffered a pulmonary embolism in the middle of the night and was found in his home the next day– in a coma. He has been struggling to get better ever since, and is still able to infuse humor into the scariest and darkest moments.

When Tomas emerged from the coma, he asked to see a doctor. He took a long pause and muttered “Dr. Cornell West or Dr. Dre, please.” Then he slipped off to sleep again.

Tomas served as Executive Producer the film’s companion album, “Body of War: Songs That Inspired an Iraq War Veteran”, featuring 23 songs chosen by Tomas, including songs by Eddie Vedder, Ben Harper, Tom Morello, Michael Franti, Bright Eyes, Lupe Fiasco, Tori Amos, Public Enemy and Serj Tankian. Tomas designated the Iraq Veterans Against the War to receive the profits from this album.

Tomas and his family have been on a medical rollercoaster ride, in an out of the I.C.U., with rapid improvements followed by sudden set-backs. Tomas began to improve and was talking and cracking more jokes when he was struck with an infection that left him back in an unresponsive state in intensive care. When he emerged yet again, he struggled to identify the people in the room. His mom started playing his i-pod and Tomas began to sing. Tomas could barely speak, and his short-term memory was out-of-whack, but he could sing! Hooked up to oxygen, heart monitors and an IV, Tomas sang all the lyrics to Franti’s “Light up Ya Lighter” and Vedder’s “No More”. He also conjured up some Rod Stewart singing “if you like my body and you think I’m sexy, come on baby let me know

While Tomas was in intensive care getting his musical memory back and making nurses laugh their heads off, dozens of Kansas City activists held an anti-war protest in his honor. One protester held a sign that read “We Cherish Tomas Young, a true patriot. Our thoughts are with you. George W. Bush, a mass murderer, we are thinking about you, too!”

When Body of War screened in Los Angeles, Ron Kovic, the Vietnam veteran whose life was the basis for the movie Born on the Fourth of July, stood before the crowd and said

“It was Martin Luther King who once said ‘a time comes when silence is betrayal.’ A time comes when silence is betrayal…We’re not going to be silent anymore in this country. Because of heroic people like Tomas Young. Tomas Young is a hero. Give Tomas your support, give him your love. Give your love and support to every young man and woman who comes home from this war. We support our troops, but we want our troops home now! Bring the troops home now. Keep fighting for peace. Tomas Young is my hero.”

Tomas Young is OUR hero, too.

To help Tomas in his healing process, go to b>, click on Take Action and do something in honor of Tomas to bring the troops home, including Tomas’ younger brother Nathan.

Please write to Tomas and tell him what you did in his honor :
St. Luke’s Hospital, 4401 Wornall, Kansas City, MO 64111

With hope and optimism,
Ellen Spiro and Phil Donahue

Thoughts of an Ex-Marine Officer Turned Peace Activist

March 20th, 2008 by Andy in Support Our Troops

One of the better missives from a veteran on the current corrupting policies of the whole misbegotten venture in Iraq, and for pursuing a different course for our society.

My respect for the military convinces me that the lives and well-being of our young men and women are not automatically forfeit upon enlistment, relegating them to the status of cannon fodder. Sending inadequately prepared National Guard troops into combat and then failing to provide them with body and vehicle armor is unconscionable and criminally negligent. Repeated combat tours and insufficient time for rest and rehabilitation between deployments increase the likelihood and inevitability of psychological, emotional and moral injury that is devastating and life-altering. Finally, the “stop-loss” provision that prevents our servicemen and women from leaving the military once their term of service has been completed is disingenuous and a violation of contract. I am pro military. I support the troops.

It is apparent that the burden of this war is not being shared fairly by all Americans. Only a fraction of our citizenry is directly affected, while the vast majority go about their consumption-driven lives as usual, oblivious to the sacrifices of our soldiers, sailors and Marines and to the death and destruction being prosecuted in their names. It is not support, therefore, nor is it patriotic, to remain silent when our troops are placed in harm’s way unnecessarily, to kill and be killed subject to the whims and ineptitudes of our political leaders.”

War is over (If you want it).

Read The Full Essay

Gen. Pace: Worst Head of Joint Chiefs In Memory

March 15th, 2007 by Andy in Support Our Troops

The comments by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace regarding the ‘immorality’ of being gay proves to me that only a nut-job like Rumsfeld would have promoted a nut-job like Pace to CJCS. He’s the worst CJCS I can ever remember. An ideological nut-job, a bigot, and a gutless yes-man who has spent his entire career kissing up to those in power. He is not an impressive, independent-minded Marine general like Newbold or Zinni. As a graduate of the US Naval Academy, I’m ashamed to admit that he went to the same college as me.

Here former Republican Senator Alan Simpson makes some good points regarding the sad absurdity of this situation in an op-ed in The Washington Post.

- Posted by A.V., USNA Graduate, for USTV Media

Support Our Troops, Support The Geneva Conventions

October 27th, 2006 by Andy in Support Our Troops

Paul Rieckoff of IAVA lays out this piece of why if you really want to ’support the troops’, you need to support the Geneva Conventions and America’s adherence to them.

In 2002, I attended the Infantry Officer Basic Course at Fort Benning, Ga. At “the Schoolhouse,” every new Army infantry officer spent six months studying the basics of his craft, including the rules of war.

I remember a seasoned senior officer explaining the importance of the Geneva Conventions. He said, “When an enemy fighter knows he’ll be treated well by United States forces if he is captured, he is more likely to give up.”

A year later on the streets of Baghdad, I saw countless insurgents surrender when faced with the prospect of a hot meal, a pack of cigarettes and air-conditioning. America’s moral integrity was the single most important weapon my platoon had on the streets of Iraq. It saved innumerable lives, encouraged cooperation with our allies and deterred Iraqis from joining the growing insurgency.

But those days are over. America’s moral standing has eroded, thanks to its flawed rationale for war and scandals like Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo and Haditha. The last thing we can afford now is to leave Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions open to reinterpretation, as President Bush proposed to do and can still do under the compromise bill that emerged last week.

Read The Complete Post from Paul Rieckhoff

Who Supports The Troops? Looks Like Democrats

October 27th, 2006 by Andy in Support Our Troops

The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, a strictly non-partisan organization, recently did a survey of members of Congress in order to better ‘grade’ their records of support for our soldiers in the field and veterans of our nation’s conflicts. The results are interesting, and display a distinctly partisan divide.

Read The IAVA Report

Here is a list of Senators in order of rankings based on the IAVA study. Very interesting, and quite striking in the discrepancies it reveals in regards to political party support for our nation’s armed forces and it’s veterans. Guess yellow car magnets don’t count towards the IAVA rankings.

And if you are looking for some more commentary in regards to this study, you can read some of the postings on the subject to The Daily Kos Here

A Father Remembers a Fallen Marine’s Last Days

September 15th, 2006 by Andy in Support Our Troops

One of the toughest, saddest, yet most courageous stories I’ve read about the true cost of the debacle in Iraq.

“In the four months since the death of my son, Sgt. Matthew J. Fenton, from injuries suffered in Iraq, I have stated many times the horror of what I saw in the National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland.” says John Fenton, “I believe that the time has arrived to tell the whole story of his death and the carnage that was inflicted on some of his fellow Marines. I do not find this easy to do, but as the death toll and injured number continues to climb, I cannot sit silently.”

Read The Full Essay

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