Thursday, March 30, 2006

Americans, this is where your tax dollars are going....

U.S. deserter alleges atrocities
Mar. 30, 2006. 01:47 PM

A "trigger-happy" U.S. army squad leader shot off the foot of an unarmed Iraqi man and soldiers kicked a severed head around like a soccer ball, a U.S. war deserter told an immigration and refugee board Thursday.
Joshua Key, the first U.S. deserter with combat experience in Iraq to apply for refugee status in Canada, told the board he witnessed numerous atrocities committed by U.S. forces while serving for eight months as a combat engineer.
Key said he was never trained on the Geneva Conventions and was told in Iraq that the international law guiding humanitarian standards were "just guidelines."
"It's shoot first, ask questions later," Key told the board, which is evaluating his bid for asylum in Canada for him, his wife and four young children.
Key, 27, said he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and frequently has nightmares over what he witnessed in Iraq.
That includes one incident in which he said he saw U.S. soldiers kick two hooded and naked detainees at a holding facility while escorting them to a grassy area to relieve themselves.
Key told the hearing he joined the army for steady pay and medical coverage for his family and that he initially went to Iraq as a willing participant because he believed U.S. intelligence claims.
But Key became disillusioned with the war during his service and decided to abandon his contract with the army during a two-week leave from Iraq in November 2003.
He and his family lived on the run in Philadelphia before crossing the border at Niagara Falls, N.Y., on March 3, 2005.
The Oklahoma native now works as a welder in Fort St. John, B.C.
Key said the army deceived him when he was recruited and promised him in writing that he would not be sent overseas for combat because of the size of his family.
He and his wife Brandi have four children between the ages of seven months and six years.


Jennifer said...

By the way, check out this site.

Princess Pessimism said...

I read the first sentence, and wondered what ever happened to respect for humanity.....The U.S. has been disgraceful since they invaded 3 years ago. This is shameful......This makes me afraid for the future....Can you even imagine what people are planning to get back at Bush for all of the shit he caused?

Jennifer said...

The unfortunate thing is that Bush has the money and the security that no one will likely ever be able to get him back for the things he is personally responsible for, so, the people who will suffer the seemingly inevitable back-lash are Americans who may or may not have voted for the guy, whose only support for the war may have been that they funded the war machine by paying their taxes.

Trib said...

The Army promised him he would not be sent overseas for combat? What part of combat engineer did he not understand? *Maybe* if he were a construction engineer and had an abnormally low IQ that would make sense. I'm inclined to believe the rest although atrocity seems like kind of strong word.

Princess Pessimism said...

This is Bush's last term in let me rephrase. I feel sorry for whoever is in office after Bush.....they're going to have their work cut out for them...

*And a BIG hello goes out to the FBI agents probably reading this, as I am sure they monitor every webpage that has George Bush's name on it....Ya...I'm talking about YOU...I wonder how the FBI agents feel about the president....One of those guys should start their own blog. LOL

paul said...

trib: "atrocity" is too strong a word for shooting the foot off an unarmed man? what kind of senseless dumb motherfucker are you?

Jennifer said...

One entry found for atrocity.
Main Entry: atroc·i·ty
Pronunciation: &-'trä-s&-tE
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -ties
1 : the quality or state of being atrocious
2 : an atrocious act, object, or situation (the ... sufferings and atrocities of trench warfare -- Aldous Huxley)


One entry found for atrocious.
Main Entry: atro·cious
Pronunciation: &-'trO-sh&s
Function: adjective
Etymology: Latin atroc-, atrox gloomy, atrocious, from atr-, ater black + -oc-, -ox (akin to Greek Ops eye) -- more at EYE
1 : extremely wicked, brutal, or cruel : BARBARIC
2 : APPALLING, HORRIFYING (the atrocious weapons of modern war)
3 a : utterly revolting : ABOMINABLE (atrocious working conditions) b : of very poor quality(atrocious handwriting)
- atro·cious·ly adverb
- atro·cious·ness noun

Jennifer said...

That was the Merriam Webster Dictionary.

I think atrocity fits the bill pretty accurately.

Princess Pessimism said...

I Agree....atrocious is a good word to summarize these acts.

However, everyone has to understand that Trib is American, and is part of the military *sorry Trib if I cant remember what exactly*. He also comes from the states, and ganging up on him as Canadians isnt going to solve this.

I Disagree with Trib. This is horrifying what happened, but we also have to remember that we were raised totally different than he was, and have different ideas of patriotism. However, Although I disagree with him, I wont sit here and attack him for his judgement....Name calling doesnt ever solve anything.

So the worst that happens is that you talk to someone with different political views than you. Jennifers blog is a hot bed for debate. She posts a lot of controversial things. I enjoy the discussions, and feel that they are long overdue here...

Paul, isnt it worth it to at least find out discuss this further before you call someone a "senseless dumb motherfucker"?

paul said...


anybody who questions calling kicking a head around like a soccer ball and shooting someone's foot off anything less than an atrocity has no excuses of 'patriotism' or anything else. it means they're not capabable of the emotional maturity to make having an intelligent debate with them either possible or worthwhile.

there are lots of arguments that can be made, but that one is rather shocking.

Trib said...

Deep breath, Paul, deep breath. Now what the article says is that a "trigger-happy" squad leader shot the foot off a man. Trigger happy to me means that you shoot first think later, we do not know the circumstances surrounding the shooting except that the man was unarmed. That leaves a huge questionmark. What the article does not say is that the squad leader was sadistic or malacious or anything that could really give us an idea of intent. As for the soccer and kicking, disgraceful to be sure and stuff like that jeopardizes our whole mission, but if you use "atrocity" what do you use when you see something worse?
If you've already blown your strong words, what do you use? Similarly, if an elderly person dies in their sleep. I don't call it a tragedy, I save that word. Or senseless dumb motherfucker? Now when you actually meet a senseless dumb motherfucker, what are you going to call them?

And then let's not forget the source: somebody that goes to jail if they get sent back to the US. Would it be in their interest to cast things in a certain light?

So, if one takes all these things into consideration and feels that on the scale of bad things that people can do to eachother this is like a 9 which is where I would use atrocity then you are certainly free to. As for me, I will politely decline.

You don't even need to apologize for the personal attack, Paul, I know you're sorry.

paul said...

ah, trib, I understand now. the link makes it perfectly clear what your opinion is on these things. it's only an atrocity when it's a white guy. good for you.

interesting that kipling in The Man Who Would Be King used playing sports (polo in his case) with the severed head of an enemy as way of proving that the people were savages who needed outside intervention. just a thought.

AirForceFun said...

We don't kick severed heads around like soccer balls. The FBI doesn't give a shit about your post. And the tax dollers that feed and cloth me and my family are put to good use. Anyone who applied for refugee status in Canada is obviously confused and cannot be trusted to speak any truth. lol Actually the entire article is bogus, but keep dreaming, it's always good to know there is a BIG BAD WOLF out there. And Big Brother is Watching... ok, I'm off to sleep. I have to go earn some more tax dollars in the morning, pitty there are no severed heads to kick around at the office...

Trib said...

Paul, you've cut me to the quick. Looking past all of my pretenses, you've seen me for what I truly am: a racist. You, sir, are truly a worthy competitor.

paul said...

why thank you.

you still miss my whole point.

Trib said...

I miss nutzing! Oh no, I'm letting my latent nazism out! You're saying that I think Nick Berg's death is worse than shooting off someone's foot because he's white. I think that it should be beyond obvious why sawing someone's head off while their hands are tied behind their back and they kick and gurgle is worse. Further, I think that Kipling adds nothing to this discussion.
Or should I look at the deeper issue: that I disagree with you. Your entire argument has been based around what a shitty, unenlightened person I am, and now you're pretending like you had a valid point that I simply missed. So, in conclusion, I missed nutzing.

paul said...

give me a break. you claimed something grossly appalling wasn't an atrocity and I leapt on you for it. I think that you, and many others, do not give due weight to the suffering of people outside north america, because the media publicize white people being killed much more personally than they do dark-skinned foreigners. the fact that there's a severed head around in the first place means that there was an act of horrific violence. and no, I'm not willing to call one incident more of an atrocity than the other -- and frankly, nor should anyone.

I'm not saying that you, yourself, personally are a capital 'R' Racist. I'm not saying that you go around in white sheets burning churches. good god no. I'm saying that you are not giving due weight to the stark horrifying violence of the incidents mentioned by questioning whether or not to label it an atrocity. there is a certain racism involved, but that is not personal on your or anyone else's part but is more systemic in the kinds of media coverage of individual deaths being given differing priorities and backstories.

as much as your original statement pissed me off, and your current self-righteous horseshit adds to it, the fact that you tried to get me to watch a fucking video of someone being executed is beyond the fucking pale. a news story would have sufficed. and it's that that lets me write you off completely.

Trib said...

Finally you've said something reasonably intelligent!
I still don't think that grossly appalling is the same as atrocity, but I've left you the room to disagree. In real terms I don't (nor do you) give full weight to the death of anyone outside of our friends and family. It's unreasonable to expect one to value someone they don't know to the same degree as someone they do. Also it's necessary to understand that some things are worse than others. The most basic reason being that it's awfully hard to have a system of morality if you just say 'good or bad.' Our language reflects this. Notice that you're using things like "horrifying" rather than "bad." Hence you are drawing distinctions, just not as finely as I prefer.
I happen to agree that there is racial bias in mass media. I took your comment to be directed at me as opposed to the media, because it was directed at me as opposed to the media.
As far as the Berg video goes, it was just a matter of time before you asked if this isn't an atrocity, what is? You have your answer. If this were a research paper, I would consider that a primary source. For good data, you always want to go to the source.
As far as being smug and self-righteous goes, it's very easy when the other person immediately flips out, immediately resorts to personal attacks, denies that you have a right to your own opinion, and only belatedly comes up with something of any worth. So for future reference:

Don't get angry.
Come up with a coherent argument.
Keep your comments within the scope of the discussion.
Recognize that the other person doesn't have to agree with you.

I'm almost appalled at my own hubris, but I recognize that I'll eat my words sooner or later.

Jennifer said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jennifer said...

know I'm likely causing myself a shitstorm by weighing in on this, but here goes. (Oh god - why am I doing this?!)

If there's any situation where the horrifying death of one person is more tragic than the horrifying death of another - then the more horrifying death is that of the private citzen, or unarmed civilian of a country that has been illegally invaded and illegally occupied - not the soldier who went there by choice, not the 'contractor'/mercenary, nor the vulture capitalists, who are there to funnel all the money out of the country and sell off all its resources and assets, natural and otherwise.
Now, when I say that the soldiers have a choice in being there I mean that they can not join the military (although I understand that many underpriviledged young people in the US have only one career option, and that's becoming cannon-fodder), and even if they have joined the military they can leave, they can claim refugee status in another country, they can go to jail rather than commit atrocities, or actions that are against international law. I'm not saying that my deepest wish is to have thousands and thousands of Americans flooding across the border into Canada claiming refugee status (although, all the Vietnam war draft dodgers I know are good folks, and I'm glad they came here). My deepest wish is that America would stop invading other countries. Stay home, spend your tax dollars improving your patchy education system (so that young people can get jobs as something else, rather than being cannon-fodder), spend the money on health care for everyone.

Trib said...

I would also place a much higher premium on injuries to civilians. That's on a moral ground, but when it comes to triage, it'll be my duty to take soldiers first. It goes US soldiers, friendly soldiers, civillians, enemy soldiers. To me at this point none of the discussions of WMDs, legality/illegality really matter in terms of Iraq. We're there and we have to figure out a way to get out of there. Hopefully we've learned enough from this experience to not end up in another situation like this, but I'm not entirely sure. Probably the biggest reason we'll have to learn from this is that we're totally broke. That's something hopefully even DC understands. Only 15% of US Army soldiers in the history of the army have been involved in a war and so I think we're due in for some peace. Personally if I were a fully qualified doctor (I've been leaning toward ENT, so let's go with that) and I were over there, top on my priority list would be to liason with some of the local docs so that if they had a kid who needed their face put back on they could just send them over, you know breed a little good-will, make the world a little better. When it comes to Iraq, though, someone would probably just cut the kid's face back off to teach them not to deal with the Americans.
Let's put those saved dollars towards education, we already spend too much on healthcare.

Jennifer said...

But Trib, If the US was capable of learning that lesson, then wouldn't they have called it quits on unprovoked invasions of sovereign countries after Vietnam?

What's ENT?

The reason you guys spend so much on healthcare is that they system sucks, overhaul that system and you'd save a bundle. But let's not muddy the waters with that one, I'll post an article about how the US healthcare system needs fixing soon enough and we can talk about that then.

Trib said...

Maybe it'll be another thirty years then before we do it again. It seems like kind of a strange thing to say, though. We do have a dynamic society, we've gone from isolationist to socialist (FDR) to neo-con. To characterize us as one dimensional and incapable of changing really isn't accurate or helpful.

Ear nose and throat, otolaryngology, head and neck surgery.

Trib said...

Here's a thing that's not really on topic, but I thought it was kind of interesting.

Jennifer said...

I never said that American society was one dimensional or unchanging - I wouldn't waste my time having this conversation if I thought that American society was unchanging or one dimensional. But one thing seems to have remained constant for the last 50 years (some might even argue more) - that's the war-mongering. It's not acceptable to me that a country should go into a bloody, merit-less (if there can ever be a war with merit is another argument) and self-serving war every 30 years and then claim that they had learned their lesson only to repeat the act.
If American society is capable of giving up it's aggression towards other countries, then let's see it, go for it, no one would be happier to see that happen than me.

Jennifer said...

Actually, when I said no one would be happier than me, I wasn't thinking of the people of Iran and Syria, and the rest of Canada, and probably Venezuela too. Oh and all the little countries who need America's financial support who get forced into participating too.
I guess a lot of people would be happy.

Jennifer said...

Oh and I need a little more background on this link you put up before I'm prepared to look at it at work - I got burned once by Berly and that tub girl thing, I'm not blindly clicking on links that people bill as interesting any more.

Trib said...

Tubgirl hahaha! Actually it's a link to a LA Times. It's about transporting wounded. Pretty safe.
Anyhow, so you only meant the eagerness to fight, alright. I don't really know where that comes from, but it really has become part of the national identity. But we do serve a purpose on a world scale. We're the only Western nation that still has the capability of fighting a real war. All of the diplomacy of the UN would be worth nothing if it weren't backed up with the threat of violence. When you tell somebody to knock it off or they'll be referred to the security council, where does the threat lie? That said, I'm really not comfortable with this acting unilaterally thing. France may be only in it for France, but they help keep us out of trouble. So, yes, we're always ready for a fight, and we really do need to obey international law (as much for our sake as everyone else) even if Gonzalez disagrees, but I think it's better that the superpower be a western democracy. Hugo Chavez would disagree, but he's not really down with the western democratic agenda. Bosnia on the other hand is very glad that we're willing to show up and bomb things. Unfortunately the human cost is tremendous.
Luckily, war is down 40% in the last 13years and down 80% in terms of the most deadly conflicts. I won't even begin to take credit for that, but it is nice to know that things are improving.

tokyo tintin said...

while we're on the topic of people who've been at the brunt end of american militarist policy, lets not forget the countless people who suffered or died in america's covert "dirty" wars in latin america (as well as the numerous full-scale invasions).

let's see... since 1950:
'54 Guatemala
'61-3 Ecuador
'61-2 Cuba
'62 Dominican Republic
'63-4 Guyana
'64 Brazil
'65 Dominican Republic
'67 Bolivia
'73 Chile
'76 Argentina
'79-89 Nicaragua
'81-92 El Salvador
'83 Grenada
'86 Bolivia
'88-90 Panama
'90 Colombia

oh, there's probably more, but i don't have any latin america books over here with me.

Jennifer said...

Too true, TT!