Sunday, September 13, 2009

Yesterday, I met a little girl named Guljumma. She's seven years old, and she lives in Kabul at a place called Helmand Refugee Camp District 5.

Guljumma talked about what happened one morning last year when she was sleeping at home in southern Afghanistan's Helmand Valley. At about 5 AM, bombs exploded. Some people in her family died. She lost an arm.

With a soft, matter-of-fact voice, Guljumma described those events. Her father, Wakil Tawos Khan, sat next to her. He took out copies of official forms that he has sent to the Afghan government.

Like the other parents who were gathered inside a crude tent in this squalid camp, Khan hasn't gotten anywhere through official channels. He's struggling to take care of his daughter. And he has additional duties because he's a representative for 100 of the families in the camp, which is little more than ditches, mud structures and ragged canvas.

Khan pointed to a plastic bag containing a few pounds of rice. It was his responsibility to divide the rice for the 100 families.

Basics like food arrive at the camp only sporadically, Khan said. Donations come from Afghan businessmen. The government of Afghanistan does very little. The United Nations doesn't help. Neither does the US government.

Khan emphasized his eagerness to work. We have the skills, he said - give us some land and just dig a well, and we'll do the rest. From the sound of his voice, hope is fraying.

You could say that the last time Guljumma and her father had meaningful contact with the US government was when it bombed them.

If rhetoric were reality, this would be a war that's about upholding humane values. But rhetoric is not reality.

The destructiveness of this war is reality for Guljumma and her father. And for hundreds of families at Helmand Refugee Camp District 5. And, in fact, for millions of Afghan people. The violence of this war - military, economic and social - keeps destroying the future. Every day and night.

Is the US government willing to really help Guljumma, who now lives each day and night in the squalor of a refugee camp? Is the government willing to spend the equivalent of the cost of a single warhead to assist her?

So far, the answer is obscenely clear. But maybe we can force a change by contacting representatives and senators in Washington and demanding action - for Guljumma, for Wakil Tawos Khan, for all the other long-suffering residents of Helmand Refugee Camp District 5 and for all the victims of war in Afghanistan.

Success for one girl or one refugee camp might be a helpful baby step toward reversing the priorities that now have the US government spending about 90 percent of its budget for Afghanistan on military efforts.

Official Washington could start a move toward decency now. Helmand Refugee Camp District 5 is easy to find. It's in the capital of Afghanistan, on Charahe Qambar Road. A government that uses satellite guidance systems to aim missiles should be able to find it.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

In the days before and after the country's landmark presidential elections on Aug. 20, Afghanistan has seen the highest level of civilian deaths since the Taliban was routed out of power in 2002. As uncertainty surrounds the final outcome of the presidential vote, fraught with low turnout and mounting accusations of election fraud, Afghan civilians are at a greater risk than ever of violent attacks, aid officials warn. "With the outcome of voting in Afghanistan unclear, the danger and insecurity facing millions of Afghans continues and in fact is higher now than ever," says Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific director.
This is a woman photographer for the Associated Press. Her diary is quite lengthy; the link to her observations is here. I have simply excerpted.

That's when I realized there was a casualty and saw the injured Marine, about 10 yards from where I'd stood, with his legs just hanging on by skin. For the second time in my life, I watched a Marine lose his. He was hit with the RPG, which blew off one of his legs and badly mangled the other. He lost consciousness a few minutes later just before they got him into the "ambulance." I hadn't seen it happen, just heard the explosion. I hit the ground and lay as flat as I could and shot what I could of the scene even though I didn't think I could use those casualty pics based on our media rules of engagement. It was also dusk at that point and very hard to shoot with such low shutter speeds. There was lots of yelling.

The injured Marine kept saying, "I can't breathe, I can't breathe." The other guys kept telling him "Bernard, you're doing fine, you're doing fine. You're gonna make it. Stay with me Bernard!" He held Bernard's head in his hands when he seemed to go limp and tried to keep him awake. A couple more ran in with a stretcher.

This whole time amidst gunfire, I lay flat on my stomach trying to brace my camera steady, but not doing very well at a 1/2 second. It was strange to be worrying about my shutter speed with all the bullets flying overhead. At the same time I kept trying to gauge whether or not to drop the camera and help the Marines with the injured man. I remember feeling that as my first instinct when we had first approached him, but saw that there were two guys with him and decided I was not needed.

So all this is going on and as they were trying to help him, (it was just too dark to see what exactly they were doing), another RPG hit the mud wall on the other side of the street from where we were, about five yards away. It was a big BOOM, and I just lay my face in the dirt and everything went quiet for about 10 seconds. It was just silence like I was wearing noise-canceling head phones or like world peace had finally descended upon the earth. The air was white with sand.

Then I started feeling the rubble fall down around me. And I thought, "Is this what it's like to be shell-shocked? Am I all still here? I can't believe I am." One of the Marines looked my way, and I told him I was good, and he told me to head for cover of the MRAP, so I did. Alfred, the writer, was there and was relieved to see me. He said he saw me lying on the ground and was worried until he saw me move. I was fine and surprised at how calm I was and that I could actually still hear. I kept trying to shoot from behind the MRAP, wanting to move up to the wall again around the soldiers who had finally gathered there shooting.

But a freakin' Afghan soldier shot an RPG with five Marines standing behind it and almost fried them all. Plus at that point, I was not sure I wanted another round of RPGs sitting next to the wall. Those walls are pretty thick and strong, but I just couldn't be sure.

Gunfire continued for several minutes more before things finally quieted. They had already moved the injured Marine out. Alfred and I stood in a doorway of a home compound, and it was also pretty daggum dark at that point. There was still a touch of light in the sky a bit, but not enough to shoot. I tried, but it did no good. I couldn't see enough to focus and couldn't hold steady for very long. It was frustrating. I shot some video just for the sound because the APTN guy had decided to stay behind and continue shooting what he saw on the roof of our post.

When the MRAP pulled away leaving us exposed, Alfred pulled a cowering ANA guy out of the door so we could stand there. A minute later a Marine came running up to us yelling "Has this house been cleared?!" It was to their rear and could have been a good ambush point. I shrugged my shoulders and just said, "I don't know, there was an ANA guy here but I don't think he did anything." There was another one of them sitting down the street up against the wall away from all the action. He was just sitting there, legs crossed with his weapon in his lap like he was waiting to be served tea. A flare lit up the sky. I made a few frames.

Shortly after, we decided to push back to the command post. The Marines said another squad was coming to do a night sweep through the orchard.

Someone started yelling for the translator, Franky. (They have American nicknames for the 'terps, 'cause they can't pronounce the real ones.) Franky didn't answer. They walked up and down yelling for him, worried that something had happened in the chaos. Then someone realized he was sitting in the 7-ton truck. He had retreated there when the firing started. Not a good thing, because it prevented the Marines from coordinating with the ANA.

We slowly began to push back. Cpl. Jackson asked me if I wanted night vision goggles to see to make my way back. I declined. I could make out their shapes in the dark, it was enough. As we made our way back, the night squad passed us going the other way, faces masked. They seemed like phantoms moving in the dark, intensely quiet, saying nothing to us as they passed.

We made it back to the command post just as the Black Hawk medevac helicopter was taking off with Bernard inside. Later in the night, we learned that Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard had made it to the hospital at Camp Leatherneck but had died of a blood clot in his heart on the operating table.

Wednesday Aug. 19, 2009 The last few slow days have allowed me to reflect some on the events of Friday, the 14th. I did not ever formally meet Bernard. There are some 50 men in a platoon, and every day we were going out with different squads, so I have not really gotten to know the guys too well. ...

I shot images that day well aware that those images could very possibly never see the light of day. In fact I was sure of it. But I still found myself recording them. To ignore a moment like that simply because of a phrase in section 8, paragraph 1 of some 10-page form would have been wrong. I was recording his impending death, just as I had recorded his life moments before walking the point in the bazaar. Death is a part of life and most certainly a part of war. Isn't that why we're here? To document for now and for history the events of this war? We'd shot everything else thus far and even after, from feature images of a Marine talking on a SAT phone to his girlfriend, all the way to happy meetings between Marines and civilians. So shooting the image was not a question.

To publish or not is the question. The image is not the most technically sound, but his face is visible as are his wounds. Many factors come into play. There's the form we signed agreeing to how and what we would cover while embedded. It says we can photograph casualties from a respectable distance and in such a way that the person is not identifiable. Then you think about the relatives and friends of Bernard. Would you, as a parent, want that image posted for all the world to see? Or even would you want to see how your son died? You'd probably want to remember him another way. Although, it was interesting to watch the Marines from his squad flip through the images from that day on my computer (they asked to see them). They did stop when they came to that moment. But none of them complained or grew angry about it. They understood that it was what it was. They understand, despite that he was their friend, it was the reality of things.

Then there's the journalism side of things, which is what I am and why I'm here. We are allowed to report the name of the casualty as soon as next of kin has been notified. It is necessary and good to recognize those who die in times of war. But to me, a name on a piece of paper barely touches personalizing casualties. An image brings it home so much closer. An image personalizes that death and makes people see what it really means to have young men die in combat. It may be shocking to see, and while I'm not trying to force anything down anyone's throat, I think it is necessary for people to see the good, the bad and the ugly in order to reflect upon ourselves as human beings. It is necessary to be bothered from time to time. It is too easy to sit at Starbuck's far away across the sea and read about the casualty and then move on without much of another thought about it. It's not as easy to see an image of that casualty and NOT think about it. I never expect to change the world or stop war with one picture, but only hope that I make some people THINK beyond their comfort zones and hope that a few of them will be moved into some kind of action, be it joining a protest, or sending that care package they've put off for weeks, or writing that letter they keep meaning to write, or donating money to some worthy NGO, or just remembering to say I love you to someone at home. Something. I believe that is why I decided to send the photo in to the NY desk despite what the media rules of engagement said, to start some conversation about it and hope that it will move out there. It bothered me too much not to have at least some discussion about it. And with great respect and understanding to all the opposing arguments to publication, I feel that as journalists it is our social responsibility to record AND publish such images. We have no restrictions to shoot or publish casualties from opposition forces, or even civilian casualties. Are those people less human than American or other NATO soldiers? So, debate amongst yourselves or maybe just to yourself. Send me your thoughts if you like. Enlighten me if you disagree.

Thursday, Aug. 20, 2009 Today was election day. One civilian showed up to vote around 3:30 p.m. The other voters were all the Afghan soldiers and police from here. There was a suicide bomb threat. The streets were pretty empty all over as far as I heard from some police who had gone out. The polling place was delayed opening because the ballots delivered were lacking the presidential ballots. So the Marines had to fly them in from another town in the province. Other than that, and a couple mortars that hit a ways from here, all's quiet.

(c) 2009 The Associated Press.
Injured CBS correspondent to be flown to US
(AP) – 2 days ago

FRANKFURT — A CBS Radio News correspondent wounded in eastern Afghanistan will be flown to the United States from a military hospital in Germany, possibly as early as Tuesday, her employer said.

Cami McCormick will be transferred from the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center some time this week to Walter Reed Army Medical Center near Washington to undergo further treatment, CBS said in a statement Monday.

She was flown from Afghanistan to Landstuhl on Sunday after she was wounded last Friday when the Army vehicle she was in struck a roadside bomb in Logar province. CBS said McCormick suffered multiple injuries, including fractures to her arms and legs.

McCormick is an award-winning New York-based correspondent who has worked for CBS since 1998.

The Afghan Taliban's increasing use of roadside bombs has increased the risk to Western troops and to journalists traveling with them.

Two Associated Press journalists were wounded this month near Spin Boldak in southern Afghanistan.

Journalists have sometimes been brought to Landstuhl for treatment in the past. Among them was CBS News journalist Kimberly Dozier, who was injured in 2006 when a Baghdad car bomb exploded, killing two of her colleagues and a U.S. Army captain.
Pakistan forces kill 35 militants in Khyber raids
By RIAZ KHAN (AP) – 2 days ago

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Government forces destroyed four militant bases and killed more than 35 insurgents Tuesday in battles near Pakistan's famed Khyber Pass, the main route for supplies to NATO troops in Afghanistan, the military said.

Elsewhere in the northwest, the army claimed that 105 Pakistani Taliban fighters had surrendered to the military in the Swat Valley, where a suicide bombing over the weekend prompted a security crackdown that has left scores of militants dead.

Eight of them are close aides to Swat Taliban chieftain Maulana Fazlullah, said Brig. Salman Akbar, the army commander of Kabal town in the valley.

The United States has been urging Pakistan to fight the Taliban who operate mostly in lawless tribal areas near the border, which Washington sees as another front in the Afghan war.

Two militant commanders were among those killed in the raids in the Bara area of northwestern Khyber region, a statement from Pakistan's paramilitary Frontier Corps said.

It said more than 35 insurgents were killed — a death toll that could not be independently confirmed. The statement added 40 suspected militants were captured in the operation, which started at dawn and continued through the day.

The new fighting came days after another suicide bombing — this one at the main Khyber border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan — killed 19 guards. The attack at the Torkham crossing was blamed on Taliban militants.

Pakistan's military has this year intensified its fight against the Taliban, who are believed to shelter al-Qaida leaders in areas they control, where the government has only nominal control. The Taliban also help mount attacks against Western troops across the Afghan border.

The two suicide bombings in Swat and at Torkham follow militant vows to avenge the death last month of their leader, Baitullah Mehsud, in a U.S. missile strike in South Waziristan and for the army operation in Swat, where the extremists had imposed their harsh interpretation of Islam on residents.

The reported surrender of 105 militants in Swat gives a boost to army efforts to pacify the region, where pockets of resistance remain and the atmosphere is still tense. After Sunday's suicide bombing at a police station that killed 17 cadets training in Swat's main town, the army said sweeps by security forces left at least 45 militants dead Monday.

Akbar said the Taliban fighters' surrender reflects their weakening hold in the valley as residents provide more intelligence to the military.

"There is a local uprising against the Taliban, that is why militants are surrendering," he said, adding the fighters would be tried in local courts. He urged other extremists to turn themselves in.

Human rights activists have accused security forces of executing captured militants and dumping their bodies, but the military denies it.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
The wounded were brought in on a motorbike trailer. The sun was up and the heat and pain had thrown a sheen of sweat on their faces. One was missing a leg at the knee; the other three had suffered the wicked injuries of shrapnel to their lower limbs. Such wounds would guarantee a British soldier immediate evacuation from the war zone, followed by lengthy medical rehabilitation in Britain. But these were Afghan children — three siblings and a cousin — dull-eyed and mute with trauma. The oldest was aged 10, the youngest 4.

They had just returned to one of the areas of Helmand province in which the fighting is most intense — the very one in which they had recently been wounded, their family torn apart — in the desperate hope of receiving further treatment from British soldiers in Sangin.

The medics cut the old dressings from the children’s wounds, and were outraged. They had treated the same children nearly three weeks ago and had expected them to be recovering in an Afghan hospital, not returning with suppurating infections, including gangrene.

“This is the most disgusting thing I’ve seen here,” said Captain Rob Wise, 26, Sangin’s medical liaison officer. “The IED [roadside bomb] wounds we see are terrible, but what we expect. But this? The complete disregard for these children’s care is abhorrent.”

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Pictures: Afghanistan
The children were part of an impoverished farming family living in the fertile area along the Helmand river, just south of Sangin. On August 10 the Taleban attacked a nearby patrol base manned by Afghan and British troops. There was a brief firefight. It is uncertain who caused the explosion that tore through the yard of the family compound. The family blames the Afghan National Army.

Three small boys, none more than 4 years old, were killed instantly by the blast. Five other children and two women were seriously wounded. Without assistance from either side, survivors carried the wounded in wheelbarrows to the main British base, Forward Operating Base Jackson, in Sangin. They were given immediate treatment there, and within an hour were evacuated by helicopter to the British-run hospital in Camp Bastion for surgery.

There, one of the women, hit in the stomach by shrapnel, lost her unborn baby. The same woman’s daughter, aged 3, also died of her wounds.

At this point, owing to the pressures and confusions of the war in southern Afghanistan and the vagaries of the local health system, their care started to fall apart.

At the moment, two thirds of the beds in Camp Bastion’s military hospital are taken by Afghan civilians. The hospital excels in trauma care but has to move casualties out for subsequent treatment as soon as possible so that it can deal with the fresh numbers of incoming wounded, of whom there are many. The rate of Nato casualties last month exceeded that of any month since Western troops arrived in Afghanistan eight years ago.

Thus only two days after the survivors were operated on, the four children — three of whom require skin grafts — were moved to Kandahar where they were handed to the care of the local general hospital. Their wounded mother remained separated from them, in a military hospital in Helmand. What happened next remains unclear. Hospital records in Kandahar prove that three of the four children were admitted to the government-run Mirwais hospital on August 12. The fourth, a boy aged 4, with serious groin and leg injuries, somehow made it to Kabul, an eight-hour drive to the north.

Medical officials involved with Mirwais hospital insist that the children were seen there by doctors but that their family had them discharged against medical advice. The family denies this.

“I would rather see these children die here than get the treatment they got in Kandahar,” said Qarim Dad, 70, the children’s great-uncle, as the medics in Sangin cut the dressings from limbs. “In Kandahar hospital they lay for eight days before a doctor even looked at them. Now their wounds are all infected — worse than they were before.”

Whatever the case, by the time the children reappeared in Sangin, having been driven more than a hundred miles through the war zone in a taxi, their wounds had begun to rot. One young girl, Razia, may lose one of her legs to infection as a result.

If the family hoped that the children could be readmitted into a hospital run by Isaf (Nato) personnel they hoped in vain.

“The Isaf hospitals are full of Afghan civilians and we have to leave space for Isaf soldiers,” Captain Jennie Johnston, 30, the medical officer in Sangin, told a relative of the children as she examined their injuries. “It breaks my heart, but these are the rules — we have to get them back into the local care system.”

Had Sangin’s own development managed to progress much beyond the narrow swath of land around the British camp in the past three years then its healthcare system may have met the children’s short-term requirements.

But the Afghan Health Ministry has not staffed or equipped either of Sangin’s two clinics, one of which was refurbished with British funds. Neither of them functions. If you are poor and wounded in Sangin this summer, your options are thin.

“Who could tolerate seeing their children like this?” murmured Qarim Dad, turning away, his eyes briefly filling with tears, as the wounds were revealed. “It’s our curse that we have no money and that local doctors cannot aid us. I don’t want to take them back to a local hospital. Nothing will be done there. They will be at more risk.”

The medics did what they could. They removed the embedded skin staples and old stitches, sterilised the children’s wounds and gave them fresh dressings. They advised their uncle to take them 45 miles to Helmand’s provincial capital, Lashkar Gah, and seek treatment there at the Italian-run Emergency Hospital.

They gave him $150 (£90) — on top of the $200 handout the family were originally given from British funds to help to deal with their five dead and six seriously wounded — to cover the travel fares. They helped to load the children, who uttered barely a word throughout, back into the motorcycle cart, along with their medical documents, a supply of antibiotics and morphine. They said goodbye. They watched them drive away into the feral badlands of the Upper Sangin Valley and wondered what would become of them.

They may wonder still. By Sunday night, three days later, there was still no record of four wounded children having ever arrived at the Emergency Hospital in Lashkar Gah.
JALALABAD (Afghanistan) - FLASH floods in Afghanistan washed away homes and farmland, leaving up to 11 people feared dead a day after a suicide attack in the same province, an official said Thursday.

Triggered by unseasonal downpours overnight, the floods destroyed three mud-brick houses and damaged many others in a valley in Alingar district of Laghman province, said Sayed Ahmad Safi, spokesman for the provincial governor.

'Eleven people, including nine from one family, are missing. We have found five bodies so far and are still searching for others,' he told AFP.

The victims included women and children, he said.

The floods also killed dozens of animals and washed away around 60 hectares of farmland.

Following several years of drought, Afghanistan has had good rain and snow in the past two years, causing spring and summer floods.
THE family of a soldier killed in Afghanistan said last night that their son had been proud to fight there.

Sergeant Stuart "Gus" Miller, 40, died alongside Private Kevin Elliot in an explosion in southern Helmand.

At the family home in Inverness, Stuart's dad Gus Sr. said: "We're very proud of what he did. He was proud of the regiment and he was proud to serve his country.

"They believed in doing the job that they were there to do and they took it seriously."

Stuart and Kevin both served with the Black Watch. They died in an explosion while on foot patrol on Monday.

Former train driver Stuart was married to Jillian. They lived in Inverness with daughter Grace, two.

Stuart joined the Army in 2000 and also served in Iraq, Northern Ireland, the Falklands and Cyprus.
Out today.

Two US soldiers were killed Monday by roadside bombs in southern Afghanistan, as NATO’s top commander in the country, US General Stanley McChrystal, called for a revised strategy in the war against terrorism.

The soldiers were killed in two separate blasts in the volatile southern region, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement.

With 47 US soldiers killed in August, this month has been the deadliest for US forces since their invasion in late 2001 toppled the Taliban government.

More than 300 foreign troops have lost their lives this year, more than in any other year since the invasion.
Five Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers were killed on Thursday as their vehicle hit a roadside bomb in Paktia province of eastern Afghanistan, an ANA spokesman in the province said.

"The incident occurred at around 9 a.m. local time in Barmali district when ANA unit was on routine patrol by their vehicle," Sahatgul Hotak told Xinhua.

Hotak added that another soldier got wounded in the incident.

In another two incidents in neighboring Khost province, two Taliban fighters were killed and three more were injured.

The spokesman for Khost provincial administration, Kochai Nasiri, told Xinhua that two militants were killed and one of them got wounded by police as the militants attack a police checkpoint in Sabari district on Thursday.
Excerpt from today's Toronto Star

Afghan security chief slain

A man is prepared for burial after a suicide attack in Mehterlam, the capital of Laghman province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2009. Email

Election costly, but worth it

Sep 03, 2009 04:30 AM
M. Karim Faiez
Laura King

KABUL–A suicide bomber yesterday killed Afghanistan's deputy intelligence chief and at least 22 other people in the most serious strike at the country's security apparatus since presidential elections two weeks ago.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

This article appeared today in a Sudbury, Ontario newspaper.

Skierszkan helped elect St. Laurent in '53
SUPPORTER: Ignatieff greets 93-year-old Grit
Posted 16 hours ago

Peter Skierszkan recalls with pride the first time he helped elect a Liberal prime minister.

"It was (Louis) St. Laurent ... in 1953. That was the first time I voted," Skierszkan said.

In the ensuing 56 years, the Latvian immigrant hasn't missed an election, always voting for the Liberal party that captivated him when he first set foot in the Canada.

"In my old country there was dictatorship; I didn't like dictatorship, of any kind," he said. "When I came to Canada, the government -- the Liberal government -- asked, 'what can you do?' They did not care what language you spoke or what religion you had or what country you were from. They treated you equally."

Skierszkan, who spent most of his working life at the former CIL acid plant in Sudbury, was recognized Tuesday by federal Liberals for his decades of support to the party.

The 93-year-old was singled out during a campaign-style rally attended by Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and the party's national caucus of MPs and senators.

Following the rally, Ignatieff sought out Skierszkan for a brief chat and photo opportunity and presented the pensioner with a signed copy of his book,True Patriot Love.

Following the meeting, Skierszkan noted that while he has been a lifelong Liberal, he has openly opposed party policies or positions he could not countenance.

The latest is the country's participation in the war in Afghanistan.

"I have two grandsons in the army and I support the army," he said.

"But I'm against the Liberals supporting the Afghanistan war. We have no business being there. I don't agree with going to war to try to change people. People will change themselves."

Skierszkan did not say if he took Ignatieff to task Tuesday for the Liberals' support of Canada's role in Afghanistan.
Article ID# 1726160
Martin: Torture isn't right

The justice department is starting to examine some occasions of murder and torture the CIA committed, and worse yet, some they outsourced.

Outsourcing torture and assassinations is similar to hiring a hit man from the Mafia. Just claiming it's for a good cause doesn't make it right.

I could hire a mobster to kill someone, and even though everyone may agree with me the person deserves to die, it's still not right.

Reasons for not engaging in torture of our "enemies" are like those preventing us from using the World War I mustard gas and phosgene, or the World War II atomic bombs. (They were weapons of mass destruction, WMDs.)

They may be sometimes effective and help us "win," but we recognize there are lines we mustn't cross, if we are to claim we're a moral, or even a Christian, nation.

To "win," first we must deserve to win.

The low-level CIA people who committed the acts of torture and murder may have been under orders from higher up. How high? I remember reading a quote from George W. Bush before our attack on Iraq, that he wholeheartedly approved of torture. He may not have ordered it, but if you work at a company, and the boss announces that coming in late is no big deal, how many people will start doing just that?

"I vas chuste following orderz" was discredited at the Nuremburg trials. When I was in the Army, we were trained what we could, and couldn't, do with prisoners.

The "twin" attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan - were they to avenge attacks by a few individuals on our "twin" towers? So far (and it's not over yet) these wars killed more U.S.'ers than 9-11, and almost a million Middle Easterners, most of them innocent of any wrongdoing.

A. Martin,