"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety" - Benjamin Franklin
Saturday, January 21, 2006
My Lai Massacre
least we forget, not all who serve, serve with honor
Recently, the second of three of our greatest war heroes passed away.
The three were helicopter crew involved in war efforts of the villages of central Vietnam known collectively as My Lai that have been stamped by history as places of horrific acts of war. Many women and children , the estimates are 300 to 500, were slaughtered by American G.I.s on March 16, 1968.
As a "search and destroy" mission unfolded it soon degenerated into the massacre of apparently unarmed civilians including women, children, and the elderly. Charlie Company, a unit of the US Eleventh Light Infantry Brigade, was ordered into combat by Captain Ernest Medina. The average age of soldiers in Charlie Company was twenty years old. The 150 soldiers, led by Lt. William Calley, stormed into the hamlet, and four hours later many civilians -- unarmed women, children, and old men -- were dead. Charlie Company had not encountered a single enemy soldier, and only three weapons were confiscated. The only American casualty was a soldier who shot himself in the foot.
Charlie Company met no resistance; there were no Viet Cong soldiers at My Lai. Calley then ordered the slaughter of the civilians. People were rounded up into ditches and machine-gunned. They lay five feet deep in the ditches; any survivors trying to escape were immediately shot. When Calley spotted a baby crawling away from a ditch, he grabbed her, threw her back into the ditch, and opened fire. Some of the dead were mutilated by having "C Company" carved into their chests; some were disemboweled. One GI would later say, "You didn't have to look for people to kill, they were just there. I cut their throats, cut off their hands, cut out their tongues, scalped them. I did it. A lot of people were doing it and I just followed. I just lost all sense of direction."
Flying high above the slaughter was helicopter pilot Hugh Thompson, our hero.
Sickened by what he was witnessing, Thompson set down his aircraft and began to rescue the Vietnamese survivors. He ordered his machine gunner to open fire on any American soldiers who continued to shoot villagers. In one ditch, Thompson pulled out a three-year-old child, almost smothered in blood, but not injured. After he radioed for help from other helicopters, an enraged Thompson reported to his section leader and in graphic detail told of what he had seen. Soon afterward, Charlie Company was ordered to stop killing civilians.
Cover up of the massacre began immediately. Reports on the My Lai operation stated that it was a stunning combat victory against a Viet Cong stronghold. Stars and Stripes, the army newspaper, ran a feature story applauding the courage of the American soldiers who had risked their lives. Even General William Westmoreland sent a personal congratulatory note to Charlie Company. An initial investigation into My Lai was swift and definitive: My Lai was a combat operation in which twenty civilians had accidentally been killed.
Two separate investigations uncovered the horror of My Lai. The soldiers of Charlie Company were extensively interviewed. An army photographer, who had been at My Lai, produced pictures of the carnage. In addition, it was learned that hundreds of civilians had also been killed by other army units, at My Khe and Co Luy. Details of the investigations were leaked to the press, and an interview with William Calley, by freelance reporter Seymour Hersch, put My Lai on the front pages of American newspapers.
Eighty soldiers were initially under investigation for the My Lai massacre. Twenty-five officers and enlisted men, including Lt. Calley and his superior officer Capt. Medina, were eventually charged with crimes. Only six cases were ever tried. In some cases, the evidence was overwhelming; some of the defendants admitted killing the civilians. But only one soldier, William Calley, was found guilty of murder. Calley's life sentence was subsequently reduced to twenty years, then reduced again to ten years. In 1974 he was paroled after serving three years under house arrest.
However, all that seems to have been forgotten.
I believe a small acknowledgement to the three-man crew of the helicopter that intervened - would be a good post as a memorial and tribute of the death of the second crew-member.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Lai_massacre Hugh Thompson, Jr.
- Warrant Officer (recently passed away on January 6th 2006) Lawrence Colburn
- Helicopter Gunner Glenn Andreotta
- Helicopter Crew Chief (died 1968)
Just an idea.
In these arduous times the one universal message we hear is 'support the troops'. Often in our zeal to show support we forget that those troops are human beings. Human beings subject to the same feelings and emotions as the rest of us. People capable of great acts of heroism or great acts of folly. Much depends on their leaders, and much depends on the morals and values of the people from which they come.
I wish I could say I can't imagine my own sons evesuccumbingng to the 'peer pressure' that would lead any one of them to participate in such an atrocity as occurred at My Lai, but I can't. I've seen what can happen to people, especially young people, when they are caught up in the heat and the passion of rightous indignation. Lives can be forever altered. Even destroyed. Even the best of men can be led down the path to ineqity. The strength must lie with those who lead.
The leaders of men failed that miserable day in March of 1968. Our country failed to recognize and punish the horrors that were perpetrated by our own countrymen.
You might think we learned a lesson that day. Clearly we have not.
Any person who steps over that line, be he/she a soldier, Marine, or whatever branch of military they represent, should be held accountable. From the lowest ranking soldier all the way to the TOP
The next time someone talks to you of innocent lives
being taken by terrorist, remember that day in March and remember, at one time "WE" were the terrorist.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
there is a place where the right meets the left
For the past few weeks FOX News's Bill O'Reilly has been on a crusade to force the state of Vermont to deal with what he calls a "outrage". I have to say, I hope he succeeds.
Earlier this month Judge Edward Cashman sentenced 34-year-old Mark Hulett to 60 days in prison for raping a six-year old girl over a four year period. Hulett is set to get out March 4th. It was only recently discovered that Hulett's best friend is also accused of abusing the little girl. 33-year old Derek Kimball has been charged with sexual assault. No trial date has been set. So, not only did Hulett rape the girl himself, but it appears he set up another man to do the same thing. And Hulett gets 60 days.
SIXTY DAYS? You have to be kidding me.
While he (O'Reilly) says this is not a liberal versus conservative issue he points out that Vermont House Speaker Gaye Symington, is
a democrat. In all fairness he did also mention that the judge himself is a registered republican and the governor of Vermont, Jim Douglas, is also a republican. As is Judge Amy Davidson, who is Cashman's superior and whom has the power to remove Cashman from criminal cases and place him in civil court. Which would certainly be appropriate considering Judge Cashman said he no longer believes in punishment as a solution to this type of crime.
There aren't a lot issues on which I would agree with O'Reilly*, but this is most definitely one of them. The idea that a man could rape and molest a child for four years and walk out of jail in 60 days stuns and disgusts me. What human being could ever believe such a sentence is 'justice'?
Like O'Reilly (dear God did I really
just write that) I am sick and tired of child abusers, child molesters, and child rapist getting away with their crimes and being allowed right back out on the streets to further pursue potential victims. Frankly I don't give a damn about them being 'treated'. I want them locked up
. For a long time.
I sincerely hope that O'Reilly is successful in his quest. But I have my doubts. I guess this is one of those good news/bad news scenario's. The good news is O'Reilly has dug his heels in an doesn't appear to be giving up anytime soon. The bad news is the state of Vermont doesn't seem to give a damn what O'Reilly thinks. The superior Judge in the case has taken no action to remove Cashman. The Vermont legislature has taken no action to impeach Cashman, and while the Governor has asked for Cashman to resign, he's taken no action to expedite that request. Depending on your point of view this could also be good news. At least for those who don't like O'Reilly. The sad fact is while this may be a prime example of the total lack of power that O'Reilly wields, it's also a horrible miscarriage of justice.
Like O'Reilly I believe every state should adopt and enforce Jessica's Law
. We as a people and a nation must act to protect our young, and to insure that those who abuse them are punished to the full extent of the law. _____________
Editors note: I share Mr. O'Reilly's view on border control and on the ongoing contraversy over the spying authorized by the President and carried out by the NSA.
To quote Mr. Selfaggrandizing himself, "many Americans [also] want the president to obey the law. And the fact is the Bush administration could have had their cake, their taps, and listen, too, if they had applied for warrants within 72 hours after the surveillance. So I'm kind of glad the ACLU has filed a lawsuit because I think that the country should have this debate."
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Freedom or Security
"Most people want security in this world, not liberty" H.L. Mencken, Minority Report, 1956 "This is no time for men who oppose [this administrations*] Senator McCarthy's methods to keep silent, or for those who approve. We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities. As a nation we have come into our full inheritance at a tender age. We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom, wherever it continues to exist in the world, but we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.
The actions of the [current administration*] junior Senator from Wisconsin have caused alarm and dismay amongst our allies abroad, and given considerable comfort to our enemies. And whose fault is that? Not really his. He (they*)didn't create this situation of fear; he (they*) merely exploited it — and rather successfully. Cassius was right. "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves."
Good night, and good luck."
Edward R. Murrow (March 9, 1954)*******
It is simply an insult to those who came before us and sacrificed so much on our behalf to imply that we have more to be fearful of than they. Yet they faithfully protected our freedoms and now it is up to us to do the same. Al Gore 2006**
We on this continent should never forget that men first crossed the Atlantic not to find soil for their ploughs but to secure liberty for their souls. ~Robert J. McCracken
Men fight for freedom, then they begin to accumulate laws to take it away from themselves. ~Author Unknown
Liberty has never come from the government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of it. The history of liberty is a history of resistance. ~Woodrow Wilson
They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. ~Benjamin Franklin,
I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. ~James Madison, speech, Virginia Convention, 1788
We have enjoyed so much freedom for so long that we are perhaps in danger of forgetting how much blood it cost to establish the Bill of Rights. ~Felix Frankfurter
Men fight for liberty and win it with hard knocks. Their children, brought up easy, let it slip away again, poor fools. And their grandchildren are once more slaves. ~D.H. Lawrence, Classical American Literature, 1922******
This is not the first time our nation has faced the threat of those "who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety,..."
There have always been men who would use whatever threats (fabricated or real) they could capitalize on in order to garner their own power. Few have been so bold and arrogant as this administration and the leaders of the current Republican Party. Their insatiable appetite for power continues to exhibit itself at every turn. If ever there was a time we needed a hero (or heroes) it is now. The spirits of our forefathers cry out for men and women who will step up and defend that they fought so valiently for. It is imparitive that we remember "We cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home."
Al Gore's speech today at the Constitution Hall in Washington D. C., was I believe a call to arms for those who will take up the cause and stand and fight. I implore all who have a love for freedom, liberty and domcracy to join this fight. We must use whatever means available to us. Even if your only weapon is a blog and your amunition only words on a page. It is up to "WE" the people to answer this call.
Freedom is that moment between when someone tells you what to do or what to think, and when you decide how to respond. ____________
* [my words]
** Thanks to Andante
for this quote. You can find a link on her site for the speech in it's entirity.
Sunday, January 15, 2006
A Series of Unfortunate Events
or an intelligence community mired in mishaps and failure
Late Friday evening the media started broadcasting that Al-Qaeda's number two man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, had been killed in an CIA-operated attack upon the village of Damadola in the Bajaur area in northwest Pakistan.
I woke up this morning to find Airstrike misses Al-Qaeda chief
"Four Hellfire missiles at a mud-walled compound. Three houses were razed to the ground and 22 people died."
As the dead were buried yesterday amid angry scenes, villagers confirmed that their Eid guests had included four men who had come from Afghanistan. But they insisted that the four were not high-level Al-Qaeda officials as claimed. "We live on the border and all have friends and relatives on both sides," said one villager.
"US officials said the raid was based on "good reporting" of ZawahiriÂ's presence in the village at a dinner celebrating the Muslim Eid holiday."
Wasn't it just a little over a week ago that this US air strike hits Iraqi family
, occurred? " US military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Barry Johnson said the men, who ran into the house after digging a hole, were assessedd as a threat to civilians and military forces. But he did not confirm the number of casualties or whether a roadside bomb has been found. "
"Local police chief Colonel Sufyan Mustafa said he believed there were no anti-US insurgents present in the house.
"Even if there had been, why didn't they surround the area and detain the terrorists instead?"
It seems to me this war has been nothing if not a series of unfortunate events.
Events apparently precipitatedd by faulty intelligence. "We know Saddam has weapons of mass destruction and intends to use them..." "We know Saddam is seeking to acquire yellow cake uranium...""The insurgency is in it's last throes..."
I understand that in war there is collateral damage
(unintentional harm to persons or property as the result of military action), but frankly I'm starting to wonder, what the devil is up with our intelligence community? Are the people we're relying on to provide the intelligence to win this 'war on terrorism', with us, or against us?
Because they're really starting to make us (primarily our troops) look like a bunch of careless, clueless, idiots.
Is this steady stream of bumbling mishaps a symptom that the intelligence community needs a massive overhaul? Wait, wasn't that supposed to have ALREADY been done? Weren't there medals given out to the leaders of this community for their 'great work'?
I'm a firm believer in the theory that an army is only as good as it's leader. No matter how you slice it (or spin it) we all know where the buck stops. Surely even the 'right' understands if we're going to win this 'war' we've got to start getting it right. A lot more often.
Until they do, how do we know we can take these claims seriously?Iran's Leader Shrugs Off Sanctions Threat Iran's Leader threatens retaliation if the US and EU continue to try to block nuclear programe
Can we really contemplate yet another war based on what might well be even more faulty intelligence? ******
By the way, just in case anyone should think "I" don't notice when someone on the left makes an ass ofthemselvesf (a la Pat Roberston style). I think Harry Belafonte (Belafonte Says Bush Is 'Greatest Terrorist in the World,
) should be locked in a room with Pat Robertson and let them have at each other. This just goes to show both sides have their idiots suffering from hoof-IN-mouth disease.