I remember the day I learned my best friend from MIami, Tony died. His brother e-mailed me while I was out to sea to let me know that some Army men had knocked on their door late the afternoon before and in less than a minute his mother had screamed hysterically, fallen to the floor and suffered a nervous breakdown. Her son, a young soldier on his second tour, had died in an IED explosion in a hellish Iraqi neighborhood.
The letters Tony’s family received, the phone calls from state politicians, etc. all spoke of the honor of serving the country in a time of war, valiantly giving his life for the victory against the terrorists that was so badly needed for this nation’s peace and security.
This week, President Bush admitted to a journalist that Tony, and those like him who died in this war, died for his stubborn incompetence and patent dishonesty. This may not be news to most, but the way this bastard casually admitted he’d been deliberately lying to the military, the military families and the American people for so long should gall at least some of us.
For the first time in this war, I honestly believe it bears stunning shades of Vietnam. Our government betrayed this nation, especially its military.
Phillip Carter at Intel-Dump has the details and offers this reaction:
“All through this period, I remember the president, his senior aides and senior military commanders toeing the party line that things were going swimmingly. The dissonance between the rhetoric from Washington and our experience in Iraq was stark. WWe knew the ground truth. Being deceived by our senior political leaders certainly didn’t change that, nor did it help morale at all. If anything, it hurt morale by undermining confidence in the chain of command. Put bluntly, if you can’t trust your generals and political leaders to tell you and your families the truth, how can you trust them at all?
It’s disappointing to hear now, two years after the fact, that the president was knowingly bull—-ing us the whole time. And that he justified such dishonesty in the name of supporting the troops and protecting their morale. That’s an insult to America’s men and women in uniform (and their families), who deserve to be told the truth by their political leaders about what’s going on. It’s also an insult to us, as voters, who deserve the truth so we can make the right decisions in the voting booth.”
Earlier this month, Iraq war vet Owen West wrote a blistering piece in the NY Post condemning the State Department for betraying through pure bureaucratic ineptitude the Iraqi interpreters who have sought asylum in the United States.
Now I understand why some of my peers have established underground railroads to Jordan – sneaking their terps through like hunted slaves. They’ve lost faith in their own government.
Iraq vets and terps now call State’s paper maze the “waiting to die list” – because it requires interpreters to risk death to purchase passports and cross the border undisguised.
Congress has held hearings. Reporters have done newspaper and TV stories; there’s even a play about State’s obscene mess. Ambassador Ryan Crocker, the top US civilian in Iraq, has complained, citing “major bottlenecks” in a terse memo to State.
President Bush has a duty to intervene. The honorable remedy is to trust the US military: Let a returning brigade that wants to bring some of its interpreters home simply fill out the visa paperwork on base, then carry them along on the aircraft.
Whom should America trust more, the judgment of a Marine or Army brigade commander – or a faceless bureaucrat in Nebraska or Amman?
I wonder what it will take for the State Department to take this seriously. Does explicit legislation need to be passed authorizing American commanders to take matters into their own hands? Do we need to have a soldier bring back the tortured, mangled body of an interpreter and lay it out on a table in front of the hand-wringing State Department leadership and the war criminal George Bush on international television requesting an explanation for their inaction?
Its obvious why Bush doesn’t care; any admission that his Iraq misadventure is not going so well is tantamount to treason and aiding and abetting the enemy in his minds. Thus the interpreters who happen to risk their lives for this country’s troops get the shaft because of his pride and stubbornness. If he gave the slightest damn about these people, he could tell Condi to make this a priority. He put a political appointee way out of her depth in charge instead and the result is almost too tragic to behold.
Anti-American forces in Iraq and elsewhere would be wise to broadcast far and wide the utter contempt Bush and Condi Rice have for their “Iraqi” friends. They’re certainly sending a crystal clear message to those of us in America who have a sense of decency and honor.
A Simple Plan For Action:
Congress should immediately pass legislation* authorizing ground commanders to make asylum arrangements for interpreters. Sens. McCain, Clinton and Obama should be the leading sponsors in the Senate to forestall a likely presidential veto attempt and ensure there is no party-line voting on what is a strictly non-partisan emergency and ensure it passes with a veto-proof tally.
Few things unite the political spectrum in disgust like this utter contempt for life shown by the President and his State Department.
When Ted Kennedy, Michael Ledeen, Owen West and the uber conservative Senator James Coburn agree you’re some sort of lower life form for screwing these Iraqis over, you know this is a winning issue to make progress on.
*Costs for processing the asylum applicants can come out of the Secretary of State’s pay if necessary.
I contacted the mother of a friend who died in Iraq in 2005 and asked for her support. She’s collecting letters from other mothers of the fallen in and around Virginia and sending them to Sens. Warner & Webb and the VA House delegation demanding they step up or risk adverse media attention from the mothers in the near future. I’m hitting up the local VFWs here next month and getting signatures for a letter to the NC Congressional Delegation and the war criminal Bush. I would like to do more with IAVA on this over the year.