Fort Hood shooting and mental illness in the United States military


This video is called Australian Army PTSD Documentary – Casualties Of War – Part 1.

And here is Part 2.

And here is Part 3.

By Jerry White in the USA:

Ft. Hood shooting highlights mental illness crisis in US military

4 April 2014

In the latest outburst of violence in the US, an army soldier who had been deployed to Iraq and was under psychiatric care for possible post-traumatic stress shot and killed three military personnel at the Fort Hood post in Texas and wounded 16 others Wednesday before turning the gun on himself.

According to law enforcement and military sources, the gunman was 34-year-old Army Specialist Ivan Lopez. A native of Puerto Rico, Lopez was a member of the island’s National Guard from 1999 to 2008. He was deployed in 2007 as part of a multinational force in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula for 13 months before joining the active duty Army in 2008 as an infantry soldier. According to a military spokesman, Lopez was sent on his second deployment to Iraq as a truck driver for four months in 2011.

Lopez reportedly arrived at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas in February after transferring from Ft. Bliss in El Paso. He moved into an apartment with his wife and young daughter a little more than a week before the shooting.

In a press briefing Lt. Gen. Mark Milley said the soldier suffered from “mental issues,” was on medication and was being evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). “He was undergoing behavioral health, psychiatric treatment for depression and anxiety and a variety of other psychological and psychiatric issues,” Milley said. “He was not diagnosed, as of today, with PTSD, he was undergoing a diagnosis process to determine if he had PTSD. That is a lengthy process.”

Describing what was known about the shooting, Milley said at around 4 p.m. local time the gunman “walked into one of the unit buildings, opened fire, got into a vehicle, fired from [the] vehicle, got out of the vehicle, walked into another building, opened fire again and was engaged by local law enforcement here at Fort Hood.”

Milley said a female officer confronted Lopez in a parking lot near the second building. He approached the officer but stopped about 20 feet from her and put his hands up. Then, Milley said, the gunman reached into his jacket and pulled out his weapon. As the officer opened fire, the man shot himself in the head.

A soldier told local news outlet KENS 5 that Lopez fired about 20 rounds outside near the transportation motor pool and then went into the medical brigade building, where more bursts of gunshots were fired after an apparent standoff. Milley said there was no indication of an argument at the WTU, the so-called Warrior Transition Command where wounded, ill and injured soldiers are “taught resilience skills,” according to CNN.

Authorities say there is no indication that Lopez was targeting specific soldiers. The wounded include eight men and one woman, according to local news reports, ranging in ages from their early 20s to mid 40s. Most have gunshot wounds or injuries from shrapnel debris.

The military was quick to announce that Lopez did not see combat in Iraq. His records “show no wounds, no direct involvement in combat … or any injury that might lead us to further investigate battle-related TBI (traumatic brain injury),” Army Secretary John McHugh told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday. However, Lt. Gen. Milley said Lopez “self-reported” suffering a traumatic brain injury while deployed, according to a CNN report.

Fort Hood was the scene of a mass shooting in November 2009 when Army psychiatrist Major Nidal Hasan shot and killed 13 people. Hasan, the son of Palestinian immigrant parents, worked as a liaison between wounded soldiers and the psychiatric staff at the Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, DC, where he turned hostile to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He was vilified as a “terrorist” by the Obama administration and convicted and sentenced to death by a military tribunal in August.

Two years later, authorities arrested an AWOL army private, Naser Jason Abdo, after he bought gunpowder, shotgun shells and a handgun from the same gun shop outside the base where Hasan (and later Lopez) bought their weapons. The police said Abdo was plotting to attack a restaurant popular with Ft. Hood personnel.

The eruption of violence at military bases, like throughout all of American society, has become more commonplace. In September 2013, a dozen people were shot dead and at least 14 others injured when a gunman opened fire on military and civilian employees at the Washington Navy Yard, located in southeast Washington, DC. Police shot and killed the gunman, 34-year-old Aaron Alexis, a civilian contractor for the Navy from Fort Worth, Texas.

President Obama made predictable and perfunctory comments after the latest shooting, telling reporters at an impromptu appearance inside the Chicago Cut Steakhouse, “Obviously, this reopens the pain of what happened at Fort Hood five years ago,” he said. “We know these families. We know their incredible service to our country and the sacrifices that they make.”

In fact, the unceasing wars by the United States have left a large portion of the 2.2 million soldiers deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001 psychologically damaged and suffering from alcohol and drug abuse, and suicidal tendencies, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. A June 2012 NAMI report on military personnel, veterans and their families states that one in five active duty service members experienced symptoms of posttraumatic stress (PTS), depression and other mental health problems.

Rates of PTS in veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars range from 5 to 37 percent, while rates of depression were found to be as high as 27 percent. The Veterans Administration has treated more than 400,000 of these veterans for mental health problems, but tens of thousands of others go untreated.

The current wars have involved longer and more frequent deployments than at any other time since the military became an all-volunteer force in 1973. Military suicide is a “national crisis,” the report declares, with one active duty soldier taking his or her own life every 36 hours and one veteran every 80 minutes—or more than 20 a day.

Suicide has also increased within the National Guard and Reserve, the NAMI report notes, “even among those who have never been officially ‘activated’ and are not eligible for care through the Veterans’ Administration.”

Drug abuse, including prescription drugs, increased from 5 percent in 2005 to 12 percent in 2008. Drug or alcohol abuse was involved in one-third of the Army suicide deaths from 2003 to 2009, the report notes.

These and other malignant problems in the US military, including domestic violence and sexual abuse, are inevitable given the horrors that soldiers have witnessed or participated in. There is a vast gulf between the government and media promotion of soldiers as selfless heroes and liberators and the daily realities of the colonial-style wars and occupations, in which they are involved in the bloody suppression of hostile populations.

The mayhem at Ft. Hood is the latest and tragically will not be the last example of the collateral damage inflicted by American imperialism, which has not only perpetrated unspeakable crimes on the people of Afghanistan and Iraq but left American society itself deeply scarred.

The author also recommends:

Sexual violence and abuse in the US military
[22 March 2014]

Why the Fort Hood shooter was able to purchase a gun despite serious mental health issues: here.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Coral reef discovery in Iraqi waters


This video is called ♥♥ Coral Reef Fish (3 hours).

From Nature:

Discovery of a living coral reef in the coastal waters of Iraq

Thomas Pohl, Sameh W. Al-Muqdadi, Malik H. Ali, Nadia Al-Mudaffar Fawzi, Hermann Ehrlich & Broder Merkel

06 March 2014

Until now, it has been well-established that coral complex in the Arabian/Persian Gulf only exist in the coastal regions of Bahrain, Iran, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates and it was thought that there are no coral reefs in Iraq.

However, here for the first time we show the existence of a living 28 km2 large coral reef in this country. These corals are adapted to one of the most extreme coral-bearing environments on earth: the seawater temperature in this area ranges between 14 and 34°C. The discovery of the unique coral reef oasis in the turbid coastal waters of Iraq will stimulate the interest of governmental agencies, environmental organizations, as well as of the international scientific community working on the fundamental understanding of coral marine ecosystems and global climate today.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Sexual assault case against United States Army general


This video from the USA says about itself:

USA Army General Sodomizes USA Soldier

22 Dec 2012

‘My husband has been home just five years out of the last 11′: Wife of general accused of multiple sexual misconduct charges blames war for adultery in the military

The wife of a U.S. Army general facing adultery and sex charges said military marriages have suffered from the extended U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and described infidelity as an emotional war wound that gets overlooked.

Rebecca Sinclair said she was hurt to learn of her husband Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair’s affair with a subordinate, which led to charges against him for more than two dozen military law violations.

But as the conduct of other U.S. generals is called into question – including that of retired Army General David Petraeus, who on November 9 quit his CIA director’s post over an affair – Rebecca Sinclair said she felt compelled to speak out.

Her husband has been deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere five times since the Sept. 11 terror attacks, spending a total of six of the past 11 years away from his wife and two children — the eldest, a sixth-grader, has attended six schools so far, Rebecca Sinclair said.

Many military wives know their husbands are unfaithful but stay silent to preserve their families or their financial security, especially because their spouses’ own careers can be hampered by frequent moves, said Rebecca Sinclair, who has taught business at various community colleges during her 27-year marriage.

Her husband’s affair and the fallout ‘is very painful for me, very hurtful, but I just really feel that this is something I need to talk about,’ she said. ‘Because it’s not an isolated case.’

The wife of an Army general facing sexual misconduct charges in North Carolina has written an opinion piece in support of her husband, claiming that the stresses of a decade of war contributed to recent high-profile military scandals.

Rebecca Sinclair’s husband, Fort Bragg-based Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, faces a long list of charges including forcible sodomy, wrongful sexual conduct, violating orders, engaging in inappropriate relationships and adultery.

Sinclair is accused of forcing women to have sex with him during combat tours and threatening at least one victim’s life, as well as her career and the lives of her relatives if she told anyone about his actions.

Prosecutors allege that the married general committed sex crimes against five women including four military subordinates and [a] civilian between 2007 and 2012 in places like Iraq, Afghanistan and Germany.

The 27-year Army veteran was deputy commander in charge of logistics and support for the 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan before being abruptly relieved in May.

Rebecca Sinclair’s piece was published just days after retired Gen. David Petraeus admitted having an affair with his biographer and resigned as director of the CIA. Rebecca Sinclair has spoken out about what she sees as the toll of a decade of war on military couples, many of whom have found themselves in a repeated pattern of deployments, homecomings and moves. Her husband – Jeffrey Sinclair is accused of sodomy, forcing women to send him naked photos and threatening violence against a subordinate. Prosecutors say Sinclair threatened one victim’s life, as well as her career and the lives of her relatives if she exposed him.

By Gabriel Black in the USA:

Sexual assault case against US Army general begins

8 March 2014

Opening arguments began in a court martial case Friday in which a US Army general is accused of sexually assaulting a female US Army captain. The case comes as a procedural vote in the US Senate killed a bill, deeply opposed by the Pentagon, which would have removed the prosecution of sexual assault cases from the military commanders of the accused and put them in the hands of independent military prosecutors.

The Army prosecution has charged General Jeffrey Sinclair with sexual assault in addition to five other crimes. Sinclair is the highest-ranking military officer in the United States ever to be court-martialed on sexual assault charges.

According to AP News, prosecutors argued that Sinclair “used his authority to intimidate and coerce a female officer nearly 20 years his junior into sex.” Sinclair and the alleged victim, who, per AP News rules, remains unknown, had an affair for three years while she served under his command in Afghanistan.

The US Army Captain took the stand and described being forced to perform oral sex on the General after heated arguments they had in his office, and, another time, her own. “He grabbed me by the back of the neck and pushed me down. I tried to pull back, and he put his other hand on my shoulder… It felt disgusting. It felt like I had no control over my body.”

The captain broke into tears as she told the court that, after a discussion with the General about his wife and how the captain would like to meet her, “he told me that if I ever told her or anyone else about he and I, he would kill me and then he would kill my family.” She added, “and he would do it in a way no one would ever know.”

The general has pleaded not guilty to the charge of sexual assault. …

While denying having sexually assaulted the Captain, a charge that could lead to life-imprisonment, the General has pled guilty to “conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman,” “inappropriate relationships,” adultery, impeding an investigation, and possession of pornography.

He admits asking two women, one civilian one not, for nude photos of themselves, having sexual relations with three women and attempting to have one with another. These are military crimes that could put him in prison for 15 years.

The Associated Press reports that the General’s “lawyers are hoping the plea will limit some of the salacious evidence and reduce the case to his word against hers.”

Whatever the outcome of the case the incidence of sexual assaults in the military are endemic. In the 2012 fiscal year, 2,434 cases were reported, in 2013, 3,553 were. It is estimated that only one in ten cases are reported due to fear of demotion, intimidation and violence. The last 12 years of unending wars, military occupations and colonial-style subjugation has encouraged the most brutal and backward sentiments in the military as witnessed by the sadistic sexual abuse of detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

In late February, in response to reports of sexual assault and alcohol abuse, the Army removed 588 soldiers from “positions of trust,” including posts as recruiters and sexual assault response coordinators.

In 2010, the Department of Defense estimated that 19,300 sexual assaults occurred, with more than half of the estimated victims being men. While combat trauma is the leading cause of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in male veterans, rape and sexual violence is the leading cause among female veterans.

In an expression of its general disdain for the constitutional principle of civilian control over the military the Pentagon brass—and its supporters in the US Senate–have steadfastly opposed any measures concerning sexual abuse that would interfere with the military’s “chain of command.” On Thursday, a bill by Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, that would put the prosecution of such cases in the jurisdiction of independent military prosecutors failed by five votes.

Both the Pentagon and the leadership of the House Armed Services Committee opposed the measure. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who has the closest ties to the military, warned any fellow Republicans considering a run for the 2016 presidential race that a vote for the Gillibrand proposal would wreck their chances.

“People wanting to run for president on our side, I will remind you of this vote. You want to be commander in chief? You told me a lot today about who you are as commander in chief,” Graham said. “You were willing to fire every commander in the military for reasons I don’t quite understand. So we will have a good conversation as to whether or not you understand how the military actually works.”

Opposition to the bill ran across party lines. Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin—Democrat of Michigan—claimed there would be more sexual abuse if “we undermine the authority of the very commanders who must be at the heart of the solution. Powerful evidence should lead us to the conclusion that we should not remove the authority of commanders to prosecute these cases.”

The vote coincided with a damning exposure of the military’s in-house treatment of abuse with revelations that a Lieutenant Colonel, responsible for training military prosecutors working on sexual abuse cases in the Army, is, himself, being investigated for sexually assaulting a female Army lawyer.

On Thursday an anonymous officer told the Stars and Stripes that it was investigating allegations that Lt. Col. Joseph Morse attempted to kiss and grope a female Army lawyer against her will at a training conference. Lt. Col. Morse’s job is to train lawyers in the military who handle sexual and physical abuse cases.

Military judge won’t dismiss sexual assault charges against Army general: here.

UK military allowed to investigate sexual assaults without involving police: here.

Enhanced by Zemanta

United States military spying on pro-peace groups


This video from the USA is called Exclusive: Inside the Army Spy Ring & Attempted Entrapment of Peace Activists, Iraq Vets, Anarchists.

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

Documents confirm US military spying on antiwar groups

1 March 2014

Newly released documents confirm that the US Army was the prime mover of the surveillance and infiltration of antiwar groups on the West Coast. The documents shed light on the circumstances surrounding a protracted lawsuit against federal government spying on antiwar activists.

The lawsuit, Panagacos v. Towery, was filed in 2010 by Julianne Panagacos and six other antiwar activists against a government spy, John Towery, who infiltrated at least four different organizations in the Puget Sound, Washington area: Port Militarization Resistance, Students for a Democratic Society, the Industrial Workers of the World, and Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Towery was identified in 2009 as the man who, under the pseudonym John Jacob, became active in all these groups. He supplied information to the Washington State Fusion Center, which links federal state and local police agencies, including the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Until now, however, Towery had always denied that he was acting at the behest of the US military, even though he was a member of the Force Protection Service at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, a huge military base in Tacoma, Washington. Domestic spying by the armed forces is illegal under the Posse Comitatus law and has been officially banned—while continuing in secret—since the exposure of Pentagon spying on the 1960s movement against the Vietnam War.

The new documents came to light as the result of a Public Records Act request in a separate case, involving a member of Port Militarization Resistance who was framed up on charges of assaulting a policeman during an antiwar march.

One of the newly released documents is a 2007 email from Towery, using his military account, to the FBI and police departments in Everett and Spokane, Washington, Portland and Eugene, Oregon, and Los Angeles. He proposes that they form a cross-agency group for intelligence sharing on “leftist/anarchist” activists.

Larry Hildes, the National Lawyers Guild attorney who filed the lawsuit, said in a press statement issued February 24, “The latest revelations show how the Army not only engaged in illegal spying on political dissidents, it led the charge and tried to expand the counterintelligence network targeting leftists and anarchists. By targeting activists without probable cause, based on their ideology and the perceived political threat they represent, the Army clearly broke the law and must be held accountable.”

Towery attended a Domestic Terrorism Conference in 2007 at which “domestic terrorist” dossiers on antiwar and left-wing activists were distributed for police review. These individuals could later be targeted for state repression ranging from preventing them from boarding airplanes (if they were placed on the federal “no-fly” list) to preventive detention in the event of a mass roundup of supposed “terrorists.”

In addition to Towery, other named defendants include his supervisor Thomas Rudd, the US Army, Navy and Coast Guard, military officers in each of these services, and dozens of local police departments and individual officers in Washington state.

The Obama administration has sought to have the Panagacos lawsuit dismissed, as well as demanding that all documents in the case be sealed. In December 2012, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the allegations of government violations of the First and Fourth Amendments to the US Constitution were “plausible,” and the case is now in the discovery phase, with trial scheduled for June 2014.

The administration’s official posture is that Towery was not working for the Army when he infiltrated the antiwar groups, but working “off-hours” for the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department. However, the email was sent from his desk at Lewis-McChord during business hours, using his military email address and identifying himself by military rank.

Attorney Hildes and one of the seven plaintiffs in the Panagacos suit, Glenn Crespo, were interviewed Tuesday on the NPR program Democracy Now. Crespo described how Towery had sought to entrap him by persuading him to buy guns and learn how to shoot.

After seeming to befriend Crespo while attending antiwar meetings, Towery at one point visited him at home and showed him a gun and how to load and unload it. Later, he showed Crespo documents about military tactics and suggested making use of them in “our actions.” Subsequently, he gave Crespo a copy of a proposed article written from the perspective of the 9/11 hijackers. Fortunately, Crespo’s reaction to these approaches—which he described as “the weirdest thing in the world”—was to keep his distance.

“The Army was expressly paying him to monitor, disrupt and destroy these folks’ activism and their lives,” Hildes said. “People would get busted over and over and over. Towery was attending their personal parties, their birthday parties, their going-away parties, and taking these vicious notes and passing them on about how to undermine these folks, how to undermine their activities, how to destroy their lives.”

Enhanced by Zemanta

New poetry books reviewed


This video from Britain says about itself:

13 January 2014

Dannie Abse reads from Speak, Old Parrot at the T S Eliot Prize Readings, held at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall.

Dannie Abse is a poet, author, doctor and playwright. He has written and edited more than sixteen books of poetry, as well as fiction and a range of other publications, in a long and varied writing life. His most recent novel, The Strange Case of Dr Simmonds & Dr Glas (Robson Books, 2002), was long-listed for the Booker Prize and his diaries, The Presence (Vintage, 2008), won the Wales Book of the Year Award. He is president of the Welsh Academy of Letters and was awarded a CBE in 2012.

By Andy Croft in Britain:

Words of wisdom as old parrot speaks out

Thursday 27th February 2014

Andy Croft reviews some of the latest poetry

Dannie Abse has published over 30 books but few as satisfying or as enjoyable as Speak Old Parrot (Hutchinson, £15).

Now in his 90th year, Abse is naturally concerned with the passage of time: “profligate, I wasted time/- those yawning postponements on rainy days,/those paperhat hours of benign frivolity./Now time wastes me.”

There are some great poems here about the comedy of ageing, like The Old Gods – Trident has lost his trident, Saturn has time on his hands and Bacchus has cirrhosis of the liver – and some fine poems about youth and memory like Cricket Bat, Moonbright and Sunbright.

But best of all is the brilliant Winged Back, in which Abse recalls the “recurring decimal of calamity” of our age: “Famine. Murder. Pollinating fires./When they stubbed one out another flared./Statesmen lit their cigars from the embers./They still do. With every enrichment/an injury. They bicker and banquet,/confer and dally, pull on cigars that glow/with blood-light. And all my years,/like the arson of Troy, are elsewhere. Ashes.”

Rob Hindle’s Yoke And Arrows (Smokestack, £8.95) takes its title from “el yugo y las flechas,” the emblem of the 15th-century Catholic monarchs who expelled the Moors and Jews from Spain.

It was also the symbol of the falange militia who murdered the radical poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca in the first weeks of the Spanish civil war. Here is one of these Black Squads listening to the singing of the prisoners about to be executed: “The night goes quietly./In the stove’s red cowl the fire collapses/a little: a brief yellow light jumps into the room,/shocking the men’s faces, glistening teeth/and tongues. Through the floorboards come/voices like the voices of the damned, singing/lullabies and songs of the country.”

Kevin Powers served in the US army in Iraq. At the heart of his first book of poems, Letter Composed During A Lull In The Fighting (Sceptre, £12.99), is a series of meditations on the loneliness of the soldier in a strange landscape – “the unending sun, the bite of sweat in eyes” – and in a meaningless conflict: “war is just us/making little pieces of metal/pass through each other.”

There are no issues on a battlefield except survival: “for one day at least I don’t have to decide/between dying and shooting a little boy.” And Powers knows that there can be no survivors: “how scared I am still, alone/in bars these three years later.”

The strongest poems in the book, like Death Mother And Child and the Extraordinary Improvised Explosive Device are about the necessity – and the impossibility – of writing about the experience: “If this poem had fragments/of metal coming out of it, if these words were your best friend’s leg,/dangling… If this poem had wires for words,/you would want someone to pay./If this poem had wires coming out of it,/you wouldn’t read it./If these words were made of metal/they could kill us all. But these/are only words. Go on,/they are safe to fold and put into your pocket./Even better, they are safe/to be forgotten.”

The New York-Puerto Rican poet Martin Espada has worked as a bouncer, a door-to-door encyclopaedia salesman, a petrol attendant and a tenant lawyer. His new collection, The Meaning Of The Shovel (Smokestack, £8.95), is a celebration of work, of the emotional and often invisible landscape of labour, “the rude Mechanicals: the tailor, the weaver, the tinker, the bellows-mender.”

It is by turns grim, cynical, funny – and revolutionary. Here is Espada digging latrines in Nicaragua: “I dig because yesterday/I saw four walls of photographs:/the faces of volunteers/in high school uniforms/who taught campesinos to read,/bringing an alphabet/sandwiched in notebooks/to places where the mist never rises/from the trees… I dig because I have hauled garbage/and pumped gas and cut paper/and sold encyclopaedias door to door./I dig, digging until the passport in my back pocket saturates with dirt,/because here I work for nothing/and for everything.”

Enhanced by Zemanta