Friday, September 17, 2004

GIs claim threat by Army

Soldiers say they were told to re-enlist or face deployment to Iraq

By Dick Foster, Rocky Mountain News
September 16, 2004

COLORADO SPRINGS - Soldiers from a Fort Carson combat unit say they have been issued an ultimatum - re-enlist for three more years or be transferred to other units expected to deploy to Iraq.

Hundreds of soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team were presented with that message and a re-enlistment form in a series of assemblies last Thursday, said two soldiers who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The effort is part of a restructuring of the Army into smaller, more flexible forces that can deploy rapidly around the world.

A Fort Carson spokesman confirmed the re-enlistment drive is under way and one of the soldiers provided the form to the Rocky Mountain News. An Army spokesmen denied, however, that soldiers who don't re-enlist with the brigade were threatened.

The form, if signed, would bind the soldier to the 3rd Brigade until Dec. 31, 2007. The two soldiers said they were told that those who did not sign would be transferred out of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team.

"They said if you refuse to re-enlist with the 3rd Brigade, we'll send you down to the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, which is going to Iraq for a year, and you can stay with them, or we'll send you to Korea, or to Fort Riley (in Kansas) where they're going to Iraq," said one of the soldiers, a sergeant.

The second soldier, an enlisted man who was interviewed separately, essentially echoed that view.

"They told us if we don't re-enlist, then we'd have to be reassigned. And where we're most needed is in units that are going back to Iraq in the next couple of months. So if you think you're getting out, you're not," he said.

The brigade's presentation outraged many soldiers who are close to fulfilling their obligation and are looking forward to civilian life, the sergeant said.

"We have a whole platoon who refuses to sign," he said.

A Fort Carson spokesman said Wednesday that 3rd Brigade recruitment officers denied threatening the soldiers with Iraq duty.

"I can only tell you what the retention officers told us: The soldiers were not being told they will go to Iraq, but they may go to Iraq," said the spokesman, who gave that explanation before being told later to direct all inquiries to the Pentagon.

Sending soldiers to Iraq with less than one year of their enlistment remaining "would not be taken lightly," Lt. Col. Gerard Healy said from the Pentagon Wednesday.

"We realize that we deal with people and with families, and that's got to be a factor," he said.

"There's probably a lot of places on post where they could put those folks (who don't re-enlist) until their time expires. But I don't want to rule out the possibility that they could go to a unit that might deploy," said Healy.

Under current Army practice, members of Iraq-bound units are "stop-lossed," meaning they could be retained in the unit for an entire year in Iraq, even if their active-duty enlistment expires.

A recruiter told the sergeant that the Army would keep them "as long as they needed us."

Extending a soldier's active duty is within Army authority, since the enlistment contract carries an eight-year obligation, even if a soldier signs for only three or four years of active duty.

The 3rd Brigade recruiting effort is part of the Army's plan to restructure large divisions of more than 10,000 soldiers into smaller, more flexible, more numerous brigade- sized "Units of Action" of about 3,500 soldiers each.

The Army envisions building each unit into a cohesive whole and staffing them with soldiers who will stay with the unit for longer periods of time, said John Pike, head of the defense analysis think tank Global Security.

"They want these units to fight together and train together. They're basically trying to keep these brigades together throughout training and deployment, so I can understand why they would want to shed anybody who was not going to be there for the whole cycle," Pike said.

But some soldiers presented with the re-enlistment message last week believe they've already done their duty and should not be penalized for choosing to leave. They deployed to Iraq for a year with the 3rd Brigade last April.

"I don't want to go back to Iraq," said the sergeant. "I went through a lot of things for the Army that weren't necessary and were risky. Iraq has changed a lot of people.''

The enlisted soldier said the recruiters' message left him troubled, unable to sleep and "filled with dread."

"For me, it wasn't about going back to Iraq. It's just the fact that I'm ready to get out of the Army," he said.

Soldiers' choice at Fort Carson


• "Elect not to extend or re-enlist and understand that the soldier will be reassigned IAW (in accordance with) the needs of the Army by Department of the Army HRC (Human Resources Command) . . . or Fort Carson G1 (Personnel Office).''


• Soldiers who sign the letter are bound to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team until Dec. 31, 2007.

• Soldiers who do not sign the letter might be transferred out of the brigade and possibly to Iraq.

Cheney and Saddam


Vice President Cheney has regularly attacked the national security
credentials of Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), calling him weak on terrorism. But
according to a new report, it was Cheney who actually did business with
terrorist countries and traveled abroad to attack America's
counter-terrorism efforts in the 1990s.

As The American Prospect documents, Cheney oversaw Halliburton's effort to
do business with Iraq and Iran in the 1990s, despite American sanctions
against those countries. During his time as CEO, he oversaw Halliburton's
$73 million worth of business with Saddam Hussein.[1] This, despite his
claim that he had imposed a "firm policy"[2] of not doing business with
Iraq. Similarly, details of Halliburton's Iran business during Cheney's
tenure was so egregious, it is being investigated by authorities today.[3]
Halliburton today admits one of its subsidiaries still "performs between $30
[million] and $40 million annually in oilfield service work in Iran."[4]

On top of evading U.S. sanctions laws against terrorist countries, Cheney
actually attacked the U.S. government in a series of trips abroad, demanding
sanctions be lifted on terrorist countries so he could do business with
them. In trips to Malaysia and Canada, for instance, he insisted the Clinton
administration lift sanctions on Iran, despite that country being listed by
the U.S. State Department as a state-sponsor of terrorism.[5]

You can see the full American Prospect piece at


1. "The Greed Factor," The American Prospect, 9/15/04,
2. "Firm's Iraq Deals Greater Than Cheney Has Said," Washington Post,
3. "Halliburton probed over Iran ties,", 7/20/04,
4. "Halliburton's Work in Iran Stirs Democrats," Washington Post, 7/21/04,
5. Overview of State-Sponsored Terrorism, U.S. Department of State, 4/30/01,

Visit for more about Bush Administration distortion. »


Fearsome Facts About Bush's Service Record?

Why Bush Left Texas
By Russ Baker
The Nation

Tuesday 14 September 2004

Growing evidence suggests that George W. Bush abruptly left his Texas Air National Guard unit in 1972 for substantive reasons pertaining to his inability to continue piloting a fighter jet.

A months-long investigation, which includes examination of hundreds of government-released documents, interviews with former Guard members and officials, military experts and Bush associates, points toward the conclusion that Bush's personal behavior was causing alarm among his superior officers and would ultimately lead to his fleeing the state to avoid a physical exam he might have had difficulty passing. His failure to complete a physical exam became the official reason for his subsequent suspension from flying status.

This central issue, whether Bush did or did not complete his duty - and if not, why - has in recent days been obscured by a raging sideshow: a debate over the accuracy of documents aired on CBS's 60 Minutes. Last week CBS News reported on newly unearthed memos purportedly prepared by Bush's now-deceased commanding officer. In those documents, the officer, Lieut. Col. Jerry Killian, appeared to be establishing for the record events occurring at the time Bush abruptly left his Texas Air National Guard unit in May 1972. Among these: that Bush had failed to meet unspecified Guard standards and refused a direct order to take a physical exam, and that pressure was being applied on Killian and his superiors to whitewash whatever troubling circumstances Bush was in.

Questions have been raised about the authenticity of those memos, but the criticism of them appears at this time speculative and inconclusive, while their substance is consistent with a growing body of documentation and analysis.

If it is demonstrated that profound behavioral problems marred Bush's wartime performance and even cut short his service, it could seriously challenge Bush's essential appeal as a military steward and guardian of societal values. It could also explain the incomplete, contradictory and shifting explanations provided by the Bush camp for the President's striking invisibility from the military during the final two years of his six-year military obligation. And it would explain the savagery and rapidity of the attack on the CBS documents.

In 1972 Bush's unit activities underwent a change that could point to a degradation of his ability to fly a fighter jet. Last week, in response to a lawsuit, the White House released to the Associated Press Bush's flight logs, which show that he abruptly shifted his emphasis in February and March 1972 from his assigned F-102A fighter jet to a two-seat T-33 training jet, from which he had graduated several years earlier, and was put back onto a flight simulator. The logs also show that on two occasions he required multiple attempts to land a one-seat fighter and a fighter simulator. This after Bush had already logged more than 200 hours in the one-seat F-102A.

Military experts say that his new, apparently downgraded and accompanied training mode, which included Bush's sometimes moving into the co-pilot's seat, can, in theory, be explained a variety of ways. He could, for example, have been training for a new position that might involve carrying student pilots. But the reality is that Bush himself has never mentioned this chapter in his life, nor has he provided a credible explanation. In addition, Bush's highly detailed Officer Effectiveness Reports make no mention of this rather dramatic change.

A White House spokesman explained to AP that the heavy training in this more elementary capacity came at a time when Bush was trying to generate more hours in anticipation of a six-month leave to work on a political campaign. But, in fact, this scenario is implausible. For one thing, Guard regulations did not permit him to log additional hours in that manner as a substitute for missing six months of duty later on. As significantly, there is no sign that Bush even considered going to work on that campaign until shortly before he departed - nor that campaign officials had any inkling at all that Bush might join them in several months' time.

Bush told his commanding officers that he was going to Alabama for an opportunity with a political campaign. (His Texas Air National Guard supervisors - presumably relying on what Bush told them - would write in a report the following year, "A civilian occupation made it necessary for him to move to Montgomery, Alabama.") But the timing of Bush's decision to leave and his departure - about the same time that he failed to take a mandatory annual physical exam - indicate that the two may have been related.

Campaign staff members say they knew nothing of Bush's interest in participating until days before he arrived in Montgomery. Indeed, not one of numerous Bush friends from those days even recalls Bush talking about going to Alabama at any point before he took off.

Bush's behavior in Alabama suggests that he viewed Alabama not as an important career opportunity but as a kind of necessary evil.

Although his role in the campaign has been represented as substantial (in some newspaper accounts, he has been described as the assistant campaign manager), numerous campaign staffers say Bush's role was negligible, low level and that he routinely arrived at the campaign offices in the afternoon hours, bragging of drinking feats from the night before.

According to friends of his, he kept his Houston apartment during this period and, based on their recollections, may have been coming back into town repeatedly during the time he was supposedly working full-time on the Alabama campaign. Absences from the campaign have been explained as due to his responsibilities to travel to the further reaches of Alabama, but several staffers told me that organizing those counties was not Bush's de facto responsibility.

Even more significantly, in a July interview, Linda Allison, the widow of Jimmy Allison, the Alabama campaign manager and a close friend of Bush's father, revealed to me for the first time that Bush had come to Alabama not because the job had appeal or because his presence was required but because he needed to get out of Texas. "Well, you have to know Georgie," Allison said. "He really was a totally irresponsible person. Big George [George H.W. Bush] called Jimmy, and said, he's killing us in Houston, take him down there and let him work on that campaign.... The tenor of that was, Georgie is in and out of trouble seven days a week down here, and would you take him up there with you."

Allison said that the younger Bush's drinking problem was apparent. She also said that her husband, a circumspect man who did not gossip and held his cards closely, indicated to her that some use of drugs was involved. "I had the impression that he knew that Georgie was using pot, certainly, and perhaps cocaine," she said.

Now-prominent, established Texas figures in the military, arts, business and political worlds, some of them Republicans and Bush supporters, talk about Bush's alleged use of marijuana and cocaine based on what they say they have heard from trusted friends. One middle-aged woman whose general veracity could be confirmed told me that she met Bush in 1968 at Hemisphere 68, a fair in San Antonio, at which he tried to pick her up and offered her a white powder he was inhaling. She was then a teenager; Bush would have just graduated from Yale and have been starting the National Guard then. "He was getting really aggressive with me," she said. "I told him I'd call a policeman, and he laughed, and asked who would believe me." (Although cocaine was not a widespread phenomenon until the 1970s, US authorities were struggling more than a decade earlier to stanch the flow from Latin America; in 1967 border seizures amounted to twenty-six pounds.)

Bush himself has publicly admitted to being somewhat wild in his younger years, without offering any details. He has not explicitly denied charges of drug use; generally he has hedged. He has said that he could have passed the same security screening his father underwent upon his inauguration in 1989, which certifies no illegal drug use during the fifteen preceding years. In other words, George W. Bush seemed to be saying that if he had used drugs, that was before 1974 or during the period in which he left his Guard unit.

The family that rented Bush a house in Montgomery, Alabama, during that period told me that Bush did extensive, inexplicable damage to their property, including smashing a chandelier, and that they unsuccessfully billed him twice for the damage - which amounted to approximately $900, a considerable sum in 1972. Two unconnected close friends and acquaintances of a well-known Montgomery socialite, now deceased, told me that the socialite in question told them that he and Bush had been partying that evening at the Montgomery Country Club, combining drinking with use of illicit drugs, and that Bush, complaining about the brightness, had climbed on a table and smashed the chandelier when the duo stopped at his home briefly so Bush could change clothes before they headed out again.

It is notable that in 1972, the military was in the process of introducing widespread drug testing as part of the annual physical exams that pilots would undergo.

For years, military buffs and retired officers have speculated about the real reasons that Bush left his unit two years before his flying obligation was up. Bush and his staff have muddied the issue by not providing a clear, comprehensive and consistent explanation of his departure from the unit. And, peculiarly, the President has not made himself available to describe in detail what did take place at that time. Instead, the White House has adopted a policy of offering obscure explanations by officials who clearly do not know the specifics of what went on, and the periodic release of large numbers of confusing or inconclusive documents - particularly at the start of weekends and holiday periods, when attention is elsewhere.

In addition, the Bush camp has offered over the past few years a shifting panoply of explanations that subsequently failed to pass muster. One was that Bush had stopped flying his F-102A jet because it was being phased out (the plane continued to be used for at least another year). Another explanation was that he failed to take his physical exam in 1972 because his family doctor was unavailable. (Guard regulations require that physicals be conducted by doctors on the base, and would have been easily arranged either on a base in Texas or, after he left the state, in Alabama.)

One of the difficulties in getting to the truth about what really took place during this period is the frequently expressed fear of retribution from the Bush organization. Many sources refuse to speak on the record, or even to have their knowledge communicated publicly in any way. One source who did publicly evince doubts about Bush's activities in 1972 was Dean Roome, who flew formations often with Bush and was his roommate for a time. "You wonder if you know who George Bush is," Roome told USA Today in a little-appreciated interview back in 2002. "I think he digressed after awhile," he said. "In the first half, he was gung-ho. Where George failed was to fulfill his obligation as a pilot. It was an irrational time in his life." Yet in subsequent years, Roome has revised his comments to a firm insistence that nothing out of the ordinary took place at that time, and after one interview he e-mailed me material raising questions about John Kerry's military career. Roome, who operates a curio shop in a Texas hamlet, told me that Bush aides, including communications adviser Karen Hughes, and even the President himself stay in touch with him.

Several Bush associates from that period say that the Bush camp has argued strenuously about the importance of sources backing the President up on his military service, citing patriotism, personal loyalty and even the claim that he lacks friends in Washington and must count on those from early in his life.

In 1971 Bush took his annual physical exam in May. It's reasonable to conclude that he would also take his 1972 physical in the same month. Yet according to official Guard documents, Bush "cleared the base" on May 15 without doing so. Fellow Guard members uniformly agree that Bush should and could have easily taken the exam with unit doctors at Ellington Air Force Base before leaving town. (It is interesting to note that if the Killian memos released by CBS do hold up, one of them, dated May 4, 1972, orders Bush to report for his physical by May 14 - one day before he took off.)

Bush has indicated that he departed from Ellington Air Force Base and his Guard unit because he had been offered an important employment opportunity with a political campaign in Alabama. The overwhelming evidence suggests, however, that the Alabama campaign was a convenient excuse for Bush to rapidly exit stage left from a Guard unit that found him and his behavior a growing problem. If that's not the case, now would be an excellent time for a President famed for his superlative memory to sit down and explain what really happened in that period.


Jump to TO Features for Friday September 17, 2004
Today's TO Features -------------- U.S. Intelligence: Iraq Future Bleak Edwards: No Military Draft if Democrats Win 17,000 Short: Press Lowballs Reports on U.S. Casualties Kofi Annan: Iraq War was Illegal, Breached U.N. Charter Washington Post Reveals Leaker Identity in CIA Agent Case Army Defends Baghdad Battle that Left 16 Dead Kelpie Wilson | Bush Bites the Biscuit Patrick Sabatier | Lessons Mary Jacoby | The Dunce Jonathan Turley | Soldiers of Fortune - at What Price? On Death Row, a Battle over the Fatal Cocktail Adbusters: Going after Nike Why Bush Left Texas Guard U.S. Military Running Out of Guard, Reserve Troops Two Americans, Briton Abducted in Iraq Military Leaders: "Bush's War is Already Lost" Kerry: Bush Lying to America about Iraq t r u t h o u t Home

Men Who Cook - Mark Morford

What Whips Your Spinach?
What's it mean when the men do all the cooking and the women sit back and talk about God?

By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist
Wednesday, September 15, 2004


And then, as he was happily consuming his baby greens 'n' goat cheese salad, one of the youngish men at the dinner party I just attended just so happened to mention the unbridled glory that is the salad spinner, and the night was never the same again.
Immediately, all three males at the table (myself included) nodded and swooned and cheered and extolled the virtues of this most amazing and elegant and mandatory plastic cooking gadget that whips rinsed wet raw spinach or lettuce or kale or chard or whatever around in a wicked-fast hurricane of insta-dry perfection.

We three immediately agreed: It is a device that, despite its landfill-ready synthetic wastefulness, is actually one of humankind's finest contributions to the culinary universe, and the three of us swapped knowing glances and approving manly nods as if we were tossing around the stats of the Raiders defensive line.

As meanwhile the three women at the table looked at us as if we were utterly insane, each of them rolling her eyes and holding on her face a totally baffled and amazed expression born of the fact that, as it turned out, not a single one of them knows how to cook and not one of them had ever really used a salad spinner before and one of them hadn't even heard of the thing until very recently.

A fact that was, to the men, both bizarre and wrong and very nearly incomprehensible, like saying you've never seen a cheese grater before, or a garlic roller, or a car, because oh my God salad spinners are just so obvious and brilliant and indelible proof of progress of the human animal, at which point it suddenly became stunningly clear: Oh my God we are so not in 1958 anymore. Or 1978, even.

My S.O. does not know how to cook. None of her female friends knows how to cook. None of the three 30-ish women at the dinner party knew how to cook, and, when I think about it, very few of my female friends overall (ages ranging from 25 to 45) know how to cook, yet all three men at our table and most of the boyfriends/husbands of the above-mentioned females know how to cook -- and very well, at that. Which is, in its microcosmic way, a bit surreal and humorous and, you know, illuminating.

Something has happened. Some significant modal change has occurred (and, verily, is still occurring) when the straight men do all the cooking and are fluent in cookware and take all the cooking classes and are into spices and flavors and delicate plum/duck reduction sauces, whereas the women are into, well, something else entirely, something we weren't quite clear on and about which they were all sort of evasive and coy, which makes me think it must be related to space travel and quantum physics and transcendental orgasms. You know how women can be.

But no matter how you slice it, something has shifted, some weird hybrid mutant amalgam of feminism and modernity and rebellion and just plain role reversal has appeared such that it is now -- at least in the cities, at least among us painfully confessed metrosexuals and wickedly educated urban femme fatales -- perfectly OK to switch gender roles and "traditional" functions while still maintaining every semblance of our respective gender's most delicious and desirable attributes. Embrace the salad spinner, pal. You'll be OK.

Was it one of those "only in S.F." conversations? Was it one of those exchanges that would get you beat up in Butte and strung up in Crawford because gul-dangit a man is supposed to be out shootin' stuff and wearin' his baseball hat backwards and whoopin' it up at NASCAR while the wimmin stay home vacuuming the prefab's salmon-colored carpet and makin' sloppy joes for the rug rats? Maybe.

Or, maybe, as many pinched right-wing readers of this column regularly suggest, I and all those like me here in the City are just way, way out of touch with the "real" America, where if the men talk about food it's about which part of which large animal they just grilled to a bloody crispy slab on the monster Weber last weekend while the women are off comparing Brad Pitt's hunky sword in "Troy" to Orlando Bloom's luscious quiver of stiff arrows in "The Lord of the Rings." That, they tell me, is the "real" America.

Then again, maybe it's a little deeper than that, and more interesting. After all, roles change and energies shift and men and women swap slices of identity all the time despite ourselves and despite the culture's rampant stereotyping and despite the regressive sexist homophobic Christian Right's attempts to strip women of their power and keep 'em in their place. We inhabit each other's aspects all the time; we just don't always want to admit it.

Maybe the salad-spinner episode is simply another tiny indicator that the labels we normally associate with the genders are becoming much more fluid and silly and irrelevant, and that it is, in fact, a sign of progress and maturation and pride on the part of both sexes that we can defy stereotypes and repressive cages of identity at will, that such labels hold less sway, that who the hell says God is a man and women are weak and life is this conservative rigid hunk of tedious angry gender captivity, anyway? I mean, besides the church. And the government. And the media. And the textbooks. And the corporations. And history.

Maybe, after all, this is the grand question. Forget war and insipid foreign policy and Karl Rove's shriveled soul. Can you move like liquid laughter between the genders? Can you grin in the face of what you think it's all supposed to mean? Can you, in short, be proud of your salad-spinner acumen?


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