Convicted Terrorists: Your Next-Door Neighbors?

Son-in-law to Osama bin Laden, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, recently convicted of providing and conspiring to provide material support to terrorism and conspiring to kill Americans, in a federal criminal courtroom in New York City, was “the most senior Bin Laden confederate to be tried in a civilian court in the United States since September 11.”

The liberal left were unabashedly gleeful at the conviction, not because justice had been done, but that the trial took place on U.S. soil rather than by Military Commission at the U.S. military detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Location, location, location. This mantra is not lost on liberal Islamist apologists who act as though anyone ever held at Gitmo or accused of terrorism should be freed and compensated. This is similar to the 16 British nationals, including Moazzam Begg, who were awarded nearly 1 million pounds sterling each rather then be put on trial, which the British government said would have been “extremely expensive” and may have compromised “national security,” to hell with principle and true justice.

In this undated image made from video and provided by by Al-Jazeera, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, is shown. Osama bin Laden's son-in-law and spokesman still maintains that there was justification for the September 11, 2001 attacks orchestrated by al-Qaida upon the United States. (AP Photo/Al-Jazeera)

With the conviction of Abu Ghaith, we see repetitive behavior from the Obama administration with relation to giving aid and comfort to the enemy – this time in the form of a federal criminal court which could give him a light sentence and see him free to re-join his released and never caught brothers in years to come.

According to Human Rights First, the U.S. federal criminal courts have “convicted nearly 500 individuals on terrorism-related charges” since Sept. 11, 2001, yet there are only “over 300 individuals” in federal prisons on terrorism-related convictions.

My question is, where are the other nearly 200 terrorist convicts?

Were they deported? Did they go home? Did they go back to a life of jihad? Are they in your neighborhood?

We know some of the released Gitmo detainees have returned to the battlefield, such as Abu Sufian Bin Qumu, who planned and participated in the Benghazi attack which resulted in the murders of four U.S. personnel, including Ambassador to Lybia, Christopher Stevens. But the statistics on Gitmo recidivism, now at 29 percent according to the Director of National Intelligence, belie a troubling trend; releasing the enemy does not increase our safety.

Getty Images

But because “there is no defined entity responsible for convicted and released terrorists,” no one knows how many of these released federally convicted terrorists have gone back to the fight, have turned over a new leaf, or are living in your neighborhood waiting for the next call from Allah to strike.

This is the epitome of left liberal Islamist apologist Pagan humanist utilitarian sentiment towards the enemy in the Global War on Terror.

Logic says that the number of terrorists caught represents only a tiny percentage of all terrorists. Imagine then if you will that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the living of the two brothers who set off the bombs in last year’s Boston Marathon massacre, had not been caught. Let’s say he was still out there on the loose, plotting his next attack.

How “safe” would you feel if you were a Boston resident knowing this accomplished terrorist was free? How safe would you feel living ANYWHERE if Tsarnaev were free?

How do you feel about nearly 200 federally convicted terrorists that are now on the loose, legally? How about the 170-plus recidivists from the over 600 released Guantanamo Bay detainees?

In this photo of a sketch by courtroom artist Janet Hamlin and reviewed by the U.S. Department of Defense, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, right, speaks with lawyer and U.S. Marine Corps Major Derek Poteet, a member of his legal team, while wearing a camouflage vest during the third day of the Military Commissions pretrial hearing against the five Guantanamo prisoners accused of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in Cuba, Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who has told authorities he was the mastermind of the Sept. 11 hijacking plot, wore the woodland-style camouflage vest for the first time Wednesday, a clothing choice previously denied because of fears it might disrupt the court. Co-accused Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali is seen in the background, second from left. Photo Credit: Janet Hamlin/AP

Say what you want about Gitmo, or our federal prisons, but none of the Gitmo detainees or federal terrorism convicts have been executed, beheaded, hacked-to-death, blown up or dragged naked and lifeless through the streets, like those of us they have caught or targeted with planes, bombs, explosive belts, vests or long knives and meat cleavers.

The fate of the likes of Daniel Pearl, Wall Street Journal reporter beheaded by Khalid Sheik Mohammad while being filmed on video, is an example of the barbarity of the Islamists who want us all dead, and are the opposite of remorseful. In fact, they consider beheading or hacking to death of “infidels” to be a religious prerogative and duty, such as revealed in the statements made by the assailants of murdered British soldier, Lee Rigbyadmitting they were “Soldier[s] of Allah,” and that Rigby’s murder was “an eye for an eye.”

So-called human rights organizations, leftist Islamist apologists, and others who believe the U.S. must be a “beacon” for human rights don’t like to talk about the Daniel Pearl’s, the Lee Rigby’s or other victims of terror. They only want to discuss how “proud” they are that “justice” was done in the U.S. criminal courts.

They don’t care about how many convicted terrorists have been released, or about how many Gitmo detainees have been released and then have returned to the battlefield, because that would ruin their fantasies about righteous humanism, which is more devoid of moral foundation than had the September 11 terrorists.

We are not dealing with jaywalkers here, or even bank robbers. We are dealing with hard, cold, calculating murderers who have declared war on western civilization, making themselves unlawful combatants.

It’s not that the Taliban and al Qaeda can’t afford uniforms of their own, it’s that they CHOOSE to not let you see them coming. The Geneva Conventions were written to protect innocent civilians and property in time of war, not to protect those who PRETEND to be civilians in order to MURDER them. They are attacking overtly and covertly in an effort to TERRORIZE “non-believers” into accepting Sharia Law, and those who oppose them are better off dead. Simply, they are terrorists and should be tried in military commissions, not federal criminal courts.

How comforting is it to hundreds of the enemy that they are released to fight again, and to perhaps run off to a place like where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found, in your own backyard?

I am the author of “Saving Grace at Guantanamo Bay: A Memoir of a Citizen Warrior,” and three times mobilized U.S. Army Reserve Major (Retired). Twitter: @mjgranger1

Insult to Injury: Obama Desecrates Memorial for Fort Hood Fallen

Barack Hussein Obama desecrated the memorial for the most recent soldiers murdered at Fort Hood, Texas. He went there on April 9, to pay his respects and offer condolences, but in the end, his empty words of regret were regrettable and shallow, especially considering he had FIVE YEARS to do something to prevent a similar tragedy from the one that claimed 13 lives in 2009, when Maj. Nidal Hasan, a jihadi wolf in Army clothing, attacked soldiers who were in-processing and out-processing for the Global War on Terror.

The president, in his remarks mentioned that the “love” of the Fort Hood community was “tested in tragedy.” Make no mistake, what took place at Fort Hood on April 4, when Ivan Lopez, Army Specialist and War on Terror veteran, shot and killed three soldiers and left 16 wounded, was NOT a “tragedy.” Tragedies are very sad events of happenstance. What took place at Fort Hood, twice now in five years, were atrocities, pre-meditated and preventable acts with the purpose of murder and mayhem.

He went on to say:

In our open society, in advanced bases like this, we can never eliminate every risk, but as a nation, we can do more to help counsel those with mental health issues, to keep firearms out of the hands of those who are having such deep difficulties. As a military, we must continue to do everything in our power to secure our facilities and spare others this pain.

“Help counsel?” “Keep firearms out of the hands?” “Do everything in our power?”

And what exactly did you DO, Mr. President? You DID absolutely NOTHING. You’ve KNOWN about the traumatic brain injury (TBI) epidemic amongst returning War on Terror veterans, recently directly linked to post traumatic stress and post traumatic stress disorder (PTS/PTSD), and YOU DID NOTHING. You call Spc. Lopez “mentally ill,” but you don’t KNOW that. He was seen once according to reports, by an Army psychiatrist, and he was prescribed psychotropic and other drugs that we know only complicate health issues for those with PTSD, and which don’t treat the brain hurt of TBI; a physical, not a mental or psychological injury.

You’ve KNOWN about the law that keeps soldiers from carrying weapons on bases, which prevents them from being able to protect themselves in similar situations, since AT LEAST 2009, and YOU DID NOTHING.

Nowhere in the rest of his speech does the president mention ONE IOTA of practical action to prevent a Fort Hood Shooting III.

The president could have come to APOLOGIZE for dong NOTHING. He could have come to announce that instead of victims of “workplace violence,” those killed and wounded in 2009 were to be re-classified as combat casualties, victims of terror, awarded Purple Heart medals, and then made eligible for combat disability pay and benefits. He could have come to repeal the law that prevents professionally trained marksmen soldiers from carrying weapons on post. He chose instead to TALK about doing things, but what things? He didn’t say.

Talk. To this president words equal actions.

What else should we expect from someone who says, “We serve in war,” at the top of his speech, knowing full well he never did any such thing. Would never do any such thing. Could never do any such thing.

Mad? You BET I am. How DARE he PRETEND to care about soldiers and widows and orphans even one-millionth as much as his professed hero, Abraham Lincoln, who in his Second Inaugural Address said:

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

The difference is, Lincoln and his predecessor, the maligned but loyal Andrew Johnson, made good on that promise, until of course Obama came along and might have as well said, “what difference does it make?” because that’s what his actions, or lack thereof, have said loud and clear.

“Care” cannot be given when the sacrifice is denied. “Lasting peace” cannot be contrived from false representations and lies about doing unspecified things for nebulous reasons. To our current president, this is just another speech, another opportunity to check the box that says, “Been there, done that! Now can’t you see how much I care about the soldiers?”

The truth is, Obama can’t stand soldiers. Every time he looks at one they remind him of his own shortcomings as a person, and as Commander-in-Chief. His use of a Marine to hold an umbrella over his head during an outdoor press conference was the ultimate insult, and pronounced his ignorance in the proper utilization of military personnel in an example that could not have been made up, or made more plain. If ever there were a poster boy for the Peter Principle it’s him. Eventually, he was promoted to his level of incompetence, and boy, are we paying a heavy price for that.

I am the author of “Saving Grace at Guantanamo Bay: A Memoir of a Citizen Warrior,” and three times mobilized U.S. Army Reserve Major (Retired). Author web page: http://sbpra.com/montgomeryjgranger/ Twitter @mjgranger1

Fort Hood II: Negligence Beyond Atrocity

“I’m the daddy.”

“I am the daddy,” he said again as he strode into the large group instruction room at the Army Medical Department (AMEDD) facility at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. The speaker was a strapping African American Army major, wearing a flight suit, and about to teach a class on leadership to AMEDD officer basic students, several hundred of us.

“And you all are my children,” he continued.

The major explained that as a leader in the United States Army one of your primary duties was to “care for your soldiers.” The foundation of Army teamwork is the buddy team, you and one other soldier, always aware of each other’s status and state of mind.

The larger picture was that from the command point of view, commanders have ultimate responsibility for their troops. This is a sacred duty, and one that deserved the analogy presented by the major, that while in command he looked after his troops as if they were his own children.

FORT HOOD, TX - APRIL 2, 2014: General Mark Milley, III Corps and Fort Hood Commanding General, speaks to media during a press conference about a shooting that occurred earlier in the day at Fort Hood Military Base on April 2, 2014 in Fort Hood, Texas. Milley confirmed that four people were dead in the shooting, including the gunman himself. Drew Anthony Smith/Getty Images

Imagine the frustration – probably beyond comprehension if it’s not you – of a commander, or a parent, who is unable to properly care for or protect their troops or children, not because they don’t want to, or don’t have the means at their disposal, but because of political protocols manifest as anti-gun laws on military bases.

The newest active shooter incident at Fort Hood, Texas, where four are dead and 16 wounded, should renew our efforts to tell Congress to pass H.R. 3199, the Safe Military Bases Act, introduced by Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) in September 2013. The bill was in response to the Washington Navy Yard shooting which took the lives of 12 Department of Defense personnel on Sept. 13, and the first Fort Hood shooting on Nov. 5, 2009, when 13 lives were taken.

Said Stockman, “The Safe Military Bases Act would allow trained soldiers on bases to carry weapons in case of a terrorist attack, to prevent further tragedies like Fort Hood and Navy Yard from happening again.”

He added that the sites are especially “vulnerable” targets for terrorists.

A nation at war cannot afford to leave its most valuable asset, its soldiers, unprotected. Even in peacetime there should be better security for those who might fall victim to a rogue shooter intent on revenge or terror. The world we live in today is a dangerous one, and to turn one’s attention away from obvious risk is negligent at best, and at worst immoral.

Soldiers are trained in the safe care and use of firearms, and in a combat zone carry their weapons and ammunition wherever they go. Doing so on military bases would be a no-brainer if practical and caring commanders were allowed to make that call.

Vehicles are checked outside of the Bernie Beck Gate, Wednesday, April 2, 2014, in Fort Hood, Texas. At least one person was killed and 14 injured in a shooting at Fort Hood, and officials at the base said the shooter is believed to be dead. (AP Photo/American-Statesman, Deborah Cannon)

In an active shooter situation, seconds matter, and it takes minutes for armed law enforcement to arrive on the scene, often too late to prevent an atrocity. And make no mistake, what happened twice now at Fort Hood and at the Washington Navy Yard were not mere tragedies. Far beyond sad accidents, they were deliberate acts that were predictable and preventable. Therefore, those ultimately responsible for the health, safety and welfare of those killed and injured are negligent.

Barack Hussein Obama is the Commander in Chief of all military forces of the United States, and therefore bears full and undeniable responsibility for the newest atrocity.

He failed to properly protect and defend our protectors, not just once, but many times, and not just here on U.S. soil. He clearly does not see himself as “the daddy.” He, his wife and two daughters enjoy around the clock armed security with the Secret Service, and rightly so, but how much less valuable are the men and women who wrote us all a blank check for everything up to and including their lives, that he would ignore incidents of violence against them when they are most vulnerable?

Until or unless all Islamists are dead, or no longer have the means or will to kill us, we must be vigilant and use all means necessary to defend and protect ourselves. That means the passage of H.R. 3199 as at least a start.

Now let’s talk about the shooter’s reported condition prior to the shooting. As facts become available we are learning that the shooter, Army Spc. Ivan Lopez, was being evaluated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and treated for “depression, anxiety and sleep disturbances.”

US Army Secretary John McHugh (L) listens while Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno speaks during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill April 3, 2014 in Washington, DC. Sec. McHugh and General Odierno appeared before the committee to speak about fiscal year 2015 budget but also addressed yesterday's shooting at Fort Hood,Texas where 3 people were killed in addition to the shooter who took his own life. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI

Secretary of the Army John McHugh stated that Lopez was taking “a number of drugs,” including Ambien to help treat his symptoms, and that the special was seeing a military psychologist.

Lopez drove a truck in Iraq in 2011 and was not reported to have been involved with any combat in that tour. Lopez had a previous tour in Iraq, in 2008, but sources did not elaborate on any details from that deployment. Fort Hood base commander, Lt. Gen. Mike Milly said that Lopez had recently complained of symptoms relating to traumatic brain injury (TBI), but did not elaborate.

Founder and president of the Resurrecting Lives Foundation, Dr. Chrisanne Gordon, states on her website that TBI is the “hallmark” injury of the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that only 36 percent of the estimated 400,000-plus soldiers affected get treatment for TBI at Veterans Administration medical facilities, although all are eligible.

I spoke with Dr. Gordon on the phone regarding the recent incident with Spc. Lopez, and she reminded me that TBI is a “brain hurt,” not a “mind hurt,” and that treating the physical damage of TBI with psychotropic drugs only makes the situation worse.

ivan

We have a duty to protect those who are vulnerable to attack, but we also have an obligation to take care of those who protect us.

Spc. Lopez was hurting, and in Dr. Gordon’s opinion probably “fell through the cracks” of the military medical system, which will never be an excuse for what he did, but when soldiers complain of symptoms associated with service-related injuries, they need to be properly diagnosed and then treated. The practice of throwing drugs at potential PTSD patients and TBI sufferers must end. Dr. Gordon and her colleagues need your help to continue the fight for the proper diagnosis and treatment of nearly half a million returning veterans from the War on Terror.

Please contact your congressional representatives and let them know you want H.R. 3199 passed NOW, and that you want them to do everything they can to support the proper diagnosis and care of those in the military who suffer from TBI and PTS/PTSD. We all have a responsibility to defend and care for those who defend our freedom and liberty.

NOTE: It was important to Dr. Gordon to tell me that she didn’t want her comments on TBI to be misconstrued as promoting allowing soldiers to carry weapons on military bases.

I am the author of “Saving Grace at Guantanamo Bay: A Memoir of a Citizen Warrior,” and three times mobilized U.S. Army Reserve Major (Retired). Twitter @mjgranger1

Obama’s Trust in Our Enemies Could Kill Us

Punish Syria for using chemical weapons, President Barack Hussein Obama cried. Any resolution in Syria must include the removal of Assad, he insisted. Supporting the opposition was his strategy.

If blathering were a sport, the president would be world champion. And if using thoughtful common sense were a prerequisite for being Commander in Chief of the only world super power, Obama has failed out of the gate.

Instead of punishment, Vladimir Putin came to Assad’s aid with regard to Obama’s threats of military action, and now 49 percent of raw materials for chemical weapons in Syria have been removed. Had Obama had his way and perpetrated a military strike, there would be blood and bone strewn about and all chemical weapons materials would still be in Syria.

If the U.S. had armed and then trained the Syrian opposition there would be a very good likelihood that our recent Al Qaeda enemies, some fresh from Club Gitmo, would have been the beneficiaries. Now they just get logistical support from us.

Fighters of al-Qaeda linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant carry their weapons during a parade at the Syrian town of Tel Abyad, near the border with Turkey January 2, 2014. Picture taken January 2, 2014.     REUTERS/Yaser Al-Khodor

Insisting upon the removal of a sovereign head-of-state while he deals with a civil war smacks of neo-colonialism. At least in Iraq the U.S. enjoyed a unanimous United Nations Security Council Resolution and 39 countries signed on to go in with us. Syria could well have been President Obama’s Bay of Pigs, with his “red line” nonsense, especially considering Syria is supported by Russia, Iran and China.

Remembering that in the First Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm) Assad provided the Coalition with the Syrian 9th Armored Division and a Special Forces Regiment to oppose Saddam Hussein in the liberation of Kuwait is far from Obama’s recollections, as well as from the memories of the mainstream media and most Americans. How soon we forget who our friends and allies were now that public opinion, shaped by the liberal media and an even more liberal Obama administration, has swung against the military and political actions of said Syrian former ally.

If we look at the slew of Arab teammates who helped perpetrate war against the rogue Hussein (Saddam, not Barack for those of you keeping score), we find Saudi Arabia (Islamist misogynists), Kuwait (same), Qatar (yup), United Arab Emirates (uh, huh), Oman (yes), and Egypt (not so much), all gave blood and treasure to oust Saddam Hussein from Kuwait in 1991.

Where are they now when the fire is again in their back yard, or at least in their neighbor’s back yard? Perhaps they are doing what we should be doing – letting the Islamists in Syria attrition themselves into extinction. And then, when there’s nothing left, do business again with Assad, their brother.

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, meets Russian deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, left, in Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013. The Russian ITAR-Tass news agency on Wednesday quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying that Syria told Russian officials the material it handed over shows "rebels participating in the chemical attack" but that Russia has not yet drawn any conclusions. Syria has turned over materials to Russia which aim to show that a chemical weapons attack last month was carried out by rebels, a top Russian diplomat visiting Damascus and a Syrian official said Wednesday. Credit: AP

There is an old Arab saying: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Not in the case of Syria if Assad is our enemy. And if Assad is our enemy, what (or who) changed that between 1991 and 2011?

Islamists engaged in the Syrian conflict against Assad are not much different than Al Qaeda in Iraq; opportunistic “foreigners” trying to score credibility points by taking out “bad boy” Assad. It’s a bit cannibalistic, but leave no doubt that for us to get involved with any of the opposition factions is tantamount to playing the amphibian to the Islamist arachnida in the old proverb, “The Scorpion and the Frog:”

A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The frog asks, “How do I know you won’t sting me?” The scorpion says, “Because if I do, I will die too.”

The frog is satisfied, and they set out. But in midstream, the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown, but has just enough time to gasp “Why?”

Replies the scorpion: “It’s my nature…”

It is the nature of Al Qaeda and other Islamists to sting the frog, killing them both if necessary, for, according to one version of the parable the scorpion replies after the drowning frog protests, “it is better that we both should perish than that my enemy should live.” This is the common sense reason why we should never ally ourselves with those who would just as soon kill us as look at us.

Why then cannot the scorpions fight the king scorpion, Assad? Why involve the frog at all? Because the frog is prey.

Obama is being devoured by his own naïveté, and now by the wolves (Russia and Iran) as well as the Syrian opposition scorpions. And heck, all he did was offer them a ride across the stream, right? Ever hear Leo Durocher say, “Nice guys finish last?” Obama apparently has not.

(Photo credit: MAXIM SHIPENKOV/AFP/Getty Images)

So, Putin has his way with Crimea and Egypt (signed an arms deal with Egypt while the world – and Obama – were distracted by the Olympics), the Mullahs have their way with nukes in Iran, and Assad plays carrot with Weapons of Mass Destruction.

In the mean time, Assad waits him out, watching as the opposition scorpions keep trying to convince Obama to take them across the stream. Assad is supported by the Russians, who havemore reason than ever to thumb their nose at the U.S. (economic sanctions over the Crimea/Ukraine situation). Assad is supported by Hezbollah and the Iranians, and still apparently enjoys some gravitas from Arab neighbors due to Assad’s ganging up on fellow Ba’athist Saddam Hussein in Desert Storm.

Assad played that card to prevent Israel from taking advantage of Iraq’s instability and invading Syria during Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Assad eventually gained approval from Syrians for that move, and bought himself twenty years of relative peace.

If he’s not careful, in the end, which is neigh, Obama will be left drowning in the middle of a stream, asking “why?” as his muscles turn to stone and his lungs fill with water. My question is, if that happens, where does it leave the rest of us?

I am the author of “Saving Grace at Guantanamo Bay: A Memoir of a Citizen Warrior,” and three times mobilized U.S. Army Reserve Major (Retired). Twitter @mjgranger1

 

Chemical Exposure and Gulf War Syndrome: Forgotten Illnesses, Forgotten Warriors?

I remember ramping up for the First Gulf War as a combat medic with the 102nd Medical Battalion, “Fighting” 69th Infantry Regiment, 42nd “Rainbow” Infantry Division, New York Army National Guard out of Manhattan, N.Y., back in 1990-1991.

I was helping teach a Combat Lifesaver course to the non-medical personnel in my unit and from other 69th units. The supply weenies (endearing term) were taking our measurements for “popcorn” desert camouflage uniforms, and our vehicles were being painted sand colors from their woodland camouflage pallet of black, green and brown.

Everyone thought there would be a protracted war with the Iraqis. They had entrenched themselves along the Saudi Arabian and Kuwaiti borders and were holding their elite combat units in reserve. A classic, conventional defense that would prove a tough nut to crack, or so we thought. We were preparing for a drawn out and bloody trench war. Also, since Saddam Hussein had used chemical weapons against the Iranians in the nearly decade long Iran-Iraq War (1980-88) and against his own Iraqi Kurds, we trained heavily and seriously for chemical warfare, including treatment and care of chemical casualties and decontamination techniques.

U.S. soldiers pose in their chemical suits. Photo Credit: Veterans Today.

U.S. soldiers pose in their chemical suits. Photo Credit: Veterans Today.

Before my unit got orders for mobilization, the war had begun and then ended 10 days later. Victory was swift and decisive, with few U.S. casualties that weren’t self-inflicted.

It took months and then years for stories of strange illnesses, later tagged as Gulf War Syndrome, to filter into the conversations of the reserve military medical circles I ran in. Several soldiers and officers I later served with in the 356th Field Hospital and then the 4220th U.S. Army Hospital (U.S. Army Reserve units) out of Rocky Point, Long Island, N.Y., who served in the Gulf War, talked about symptoms of unexplained headaches, body aches, lack of concentration, nausea, and gastrointestinal problems.

I remember reading about a hypothesis in a study in the Military Surgeon’s periodical that said the syndrome could have been caused by the consumption of diet cola sweetened with aspartame – heated above 84 degrees Fahrenheit in storage facilities prior to being served to troops, turning the artificial sweetener into formaldehyde. Formaldehyde poisoning was the guess. By the way, your body turns the aspartame into formaldehyde as well, which binds to some bodily tissues.

I read other studies and reports that pointed to exposure to nerve agent spread from demolition of an Iraqi chemical weapons plant proximate to U.S. troops, and destruction of a chemical weapons storage facility by U.S. troops. Still other guesses included biological infestations, exposure to mysterious airborne desert particles and smoke from the over 700 burning oil wells, set fire by retreating Iraqi forces.

U.S. Marines walk near burning oil fields in Iraq. Photo Credit: U.S. Marines Space Corps.

U.S. Marines walk near burning oil fields in Iraq. Photo Credit: U.S. Marines Space Corps.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs now lists over a dozen potential causes of illnesses associated with service in the First Gulf War. The VA offers a “free Gulf War Registry health examfor possible long-term health problems related to Gulf War service.”

Now I read that “medical experts cannot agree on a definition of the illness,” which adds to the stigma associated with complaints from nearly one third of all who served in that war.

The skepticism surrounding the illness has waned, but a definitive treatment is elusive due to the varying symptoms and lack of concrete evidence pointing to a cause. My gut instinct from stories I’ve heard and personal conversations with those who served in the First Gulf War is exposure to chemical nerve agent, which affects the central nervous system. These agents are persistent, which means they are oil based and therefore can be absorbed into human tissue. These symptoms can manifest as an allergic reaction, either mild or severe.

There is legislation pending in the U.S. House of Representatives, H.R. 2510, which would address chemical exposure in veterans from burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan, but since it was introduced in Congress last June it has not been brought to a vote.

U.S. Army soldiers watch garbage burn in a pit at Forward Operating Base Azzizulah in Afghanistan Feb. 4. A judge recently dismissed 57 lawsuits filed by military personnel who said they were injured by toxic fumes from the pits. Photo Credit: Reuters

U.S. Army soldiers watch garbage burn in a pit at Forward Operating Base Azzizulah in Afghanistan Feb. 4. A judge recently dismissed 57 lawsuits filed by military personnel who said they were injured by toxic fumes from the pits. Photo Credit: Reuters

The bill instructs the Department of Defense to “create three burn pit centers of excellence to research, diagnose, and treat veterans who have been exposed to these toxins.” Thousands of veterans, who dutifully established and maintained burn pits under orders, are suffering, some need lung transplants. But the Veterans Administration and Department of Defense are denying long-term care for these dedicated and loyal military servicemen and women.

Please sign the petition and let House Majority Leader, Eric CantorSpeaker of the House John Boehner, and your representatives know you want those who made it home to have every bit of care they deserve, whether or not what ails them can be easily diagnosed. It is all of our responsibility to care for our wounded warriors.

When they wrote a blank check to their country, they didn’t ask if it would be easy, they knew it could cost them their lives, but no one ever told them if it didn’t they would be ignored.

I am the author of “Saving Grace at Guantanamo Bay: A Memoir of a Citizen Warrior,” and three times mobilized U.S. Army Reserve Major (Retired). Twitter @mjgranger1

BARACK vs VLADIMIR: AN UNFAIR MATCH

Not long after President Barack “empty chair” Obama warned Russian President Vladimir Putin NOT to intervene militarily in the Ukraine, and then Russia invaded anyway, our buffoon Secretary of State John Kerry called it an “incredible act of aggression.”

Really? How? No one was killed or even arrested when Russia blockaded the Ukrainian army and navy and seized important airports in the Crimea.

The move was rather stealthy, but should have been expected. A week before the incursion our intelligence service alerted the Obama administration that action on Russia’s part in the Ukrainewas “imminent.”

In this June 17, 2013, file photo, President Barack Obama meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. Photo Credit: Evan Vucci/AP

In this June 17, 2013, file photo, President Barack Obama meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. Photo Credit: Evan Vucci/AP

 

But even so, what could a weakened U.S. do about it? And therein lies the rub – doing something about anything. Obama has so weakened our posture overseas that of course Russia will do whatever Russia wants to do, especially in its own sphere of influence.

It wasn’t that long ago that the former Soviet Union included the Ukraine and the Crimea, a decidedly Russian province, which holds the key to Russia’s influence in the central Asian and southern seas: the warm water port of Sevastopol. For without that outlet, Russia would be forced to send ships (and influence) from high on the eastern Baltic Sea at St. Petersburg.

The knee jerk reaction Putin exhibited when elected pro-Russian Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych fled the Ukraine for Moscow, was that of a mama bear defending its cub. The history of Crimea is decidedly pro-Russian, and Putin is happy at any opportunity to expand mother Russia’s influence and resources.

What is the Obama response so far? Impose sanctions on “individiuals and entities” responsible for Russia’s military takeover,authorized but not implemented travel bans and the freezing of assetssix F-15s in Lithuania, 12 F-16s and 300 troops in Poland, and a destroyer in the Black Sea; all that in response to Russia’s deployment of 30,000 troops.Ahem.

The ancient Chinese military genius Sun Tzu once said, regarding the employment of the military: “If it is not advantageous, do not act. If it is not attainable, do not employ troops. If it is not in danger, do not do battle.”

Cartoon.

Cartoon.

The Obama administration’s tough talk on Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine is not backed by virtually anything other than tough talk.

It would be profoundly unfair to law-abiding Russian citizens, many of whom have embraced democracy and capitalism quite successfully since 1991, to damage Russian Banks with western economic sanctions in an attempt to hurt Putin. And make no mistake, Obama’s current strategy is all about hurting Putin, his opponent, and with whom he is strikingly under matched.

Vladimir is playing chess while Barack is playing checkers. They might as well play tennis, where, presumably, the president may have a fighting chance because currently he is not merely outmatched; he is in another time zone, physically and figuratively.

While Obama was still asking who the heck Edward Snowden was, Putin was cutting deals with the American traitor. While Obama was in Washington watching Bob Costas’ eyes turn red in Sochi, Putin was back in Moscow negotiating an arms deal with the Egyptians. Check, check, and double-check! One more move and it’s going to be check mate!

At the risk of grossly oversimplifying this situation, imagine if you would, a game of Risk. Would you ever, even in your wildest imagination, GIVE BACK territory to your opponent while seriously trying to win the game? Of course not! Why then does Barack Hussein Obama think he can win the geopolitical game of risk he’s playing now after apologizing for us, having given away Iraq, promising to give away Afghanistan, balking at enforcing a “red line” in Syria, allowing four Americans to be slaughtered in Benghazi, removing tanks from Europe, and proposing budget cuts to the military?

CAMP PENDLETON, CA - AUGUST 07:  U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks during his visit at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base with troops and their families to thank them for their service on August 7, 2013 in Camp Pendleton, California. Obama announced today that he canceled a planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow amid tensions over National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden and other issues. Credit: Getty Images

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks during his visit at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base with troops and their families to thank them for their service on August 7, 2013 in Camp Pendleton, California. Obama announced today that he canceled a planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow amid tensions over National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden and other issues. Credit: Getty Images

 

Obama’s actions as Commander in Chief would be laughable if they didn’t make you cry! All the while, Putin is toying with his prey like a tiger with a mouse!

“Easy to criticize, harder to come up with a plan that will work,” you say? How about this: first, turn back the clock and elect Mitt Romney. Remember him, the guy who said during the election debates that our most formidable geopolitical foe was Russia? Yeah, that’s the guy. Remember how Obama mocked him?

“The 1980′s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back?”

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin warned about Russia as well and was completely trashed in the liberal media for it.

Second, it’s the Cold War all over again apparently, with Russia supporting Syria and basically everyone else that we are politically allergic to. Then there’s China, testing limits to their east with disputes over Taiwan; Japanese waters and islands.

Then of course there’s Iran, you know, the country we used to have sandwiched between Iraq and Afghanistan? A strong presence in Iraq, Afghanistan and the western pacific would send the message that expansionist ideas would be dealt with swiftly and decisively.

President Obama with Russian President Vladimir Putin

President Obama with Russian President Vladimir Putin

 

Without power projection platforms in countries near disputed lands and a serious presence on the seas, we can’t influence diddly squat. Obama has us in retreat in every possible capacity. The chess game is lost. Risk is now unwinnable. Tennis anyone?

And that brings us full circle.

Whatever anemic things Obama comes up with at this point (the Crimean government is holding a referendum on joining the Russian Federation later this month, will probably have adopted the Russian Ruble by then as well, and undoubtedly have already kissed their cousins, nieces and nephews in the Ukraine!), will be completely inconsequential.

The European Union does NOT have the stomach to make any meaningful retaliatory moves (certainly none militarily), so Russia is free to explore their options, which at this point appear to be UNLIMITED, courtesy of the man of the hour, Barack Hussein Obama.

I am the author of “Saving Grace at Guantanamo Bay: A Memoir of a Citizen Warrior,” and am a three times mobilized U.S. Army Reserve Major (Retired). Follow me on Twitter @mjgranger1.

OBAMA’S ATTEMPT TO DISARM AND DISABLE THE US MILITARY

Barack Hussein Obama seeks to use the teachings of ancient Chinese military genius Sun Tzu, as described in his famous quote: “One hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the most skillful, subduing the enemy’s military without battle is the most skillful.”

The question is: Are we going to let him?

Recently, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced that he is proposing huge cutbacks in the military, especially with regard to Army personnel . The set-up for this fall included prematurely withdrawing from Iraq and announcing that all U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan would end by December 2014.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon, Wednesday, July 31, 2013. Hagel warned that the Pentagon may have to mothball up to three Navy aircraft carriers and order more sharp reductions in the size of the Army and Marine Corps if Congress does not act to avoid massive budget cuts beginning in 2014. Credit: AP

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon, Wednesday, July 31, 2013.  Credit: AP 

 

We still have troops in Germany, Japan and Italy over 68 years after the end of World War II, although Obama removed the last of our Abrams M1-A2 main battle tanks from Germany last spring. The effect of removing troops from Afghanistan would be a reduction in our capability to project our power and influence in defense of our country and our best interests in the Middle East. That is a void none of our friends or allies will fill, and the vacuum created by our withdrawal will collect only those who can and will do us harm.

The most recent proposed cuts announced by Hagel amount to a gutting of an operational force to a level that would take at least a decade to rebuild, if that. I say “if that,” because the proposed cuts to future soldier benefits will help discourage the best and brightest from giving a damn about joining. If they survive their tour they might have to end up living on food stamps, like thousands of Army privates with families do today, or, if they don’t survive, their families and spouses will have crumbs to live on from reduced death benefits.

The danger of electing a president with no military experience, or respect for those who do serve, is coming home to roost. Obama hates the military and takes every opportunity to humiliate and endanger U.S. forces, especially our elite marines and Navy SEALs, and now is striking at the heart of our forces: The Army.

Imagine you are an enemy of the United States, and you are observing the behavior of our president, taking close note of even the most subtle gestures of disdain and contempt for his military, such as a Marine holding an umbrella, the famous “crotch salute,” and calling an admitted Islamists massacre of U.S. personnel and soldiers at Fort Hood “workplace violence,” denying those killed and wounded and their families the benefits and recognition they deserve.

You would begin to salivate and plan our ultimate destruction, gaining confidence with every marginalizing act.

Photo credit: Washington Post

Photo credit: Washington Post

Far from fantasy, this is the reality we see today, playing out before our very eyes. The saddest part of the military retraction is the complicity of those who obey unlawful orders to weaken the force, whose survival and our survival, depends upon its viability and strength.

Although the proposed cuts, which would take effect in 2016, slash and burn nearly across the board, Special Forces are strengthened with the rationale that a lighter more flexible force is required for future threats. What the civilians in charge of our military don’t get is that those forces require about six non-combat troops to support every one of them. Logistics is what keeps these elite fighters effective. Without bases and supplies, and people to run them, every elite soldier would fall flat on their face.

The main fallacy in this internal attack on our ability to defend ourselves is the left’s assumption that the “two major wars” in Iraq and Afghanistan are over. These were/are in fact “operations” in the Global War on Terror (Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom, respectively). This is the major rationale behind the cuts, and the biggest lie of all. Liberals are so desperate to turn a blind eye to those who want us dead that they are willing to perpetrate this fantasy on the rest of us, at great peril.

Today we have troops in over 150 countries worldwide, defending our country and our interests 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Two US soldiers walk at the site of a suicide attack On the Kabul Jalalabad road, in Kabul on December 27, 2013. A Taliban suicide attacker detonated an explosives-packed car next to a NATO military convoy in Kabul, killing three NATO personnel and injuring at least four civilian passers-by, officials said. The blast in the Afghan capital left the twisted remains of the attacker's car spread across the scene along with several other badly-damaged vehicles, including a NATO sports utility vehicle, witnesses said. (AFP/Noorullah Shirzada)

Two US soldiers walk at the site of a suicide attack On the Kabul Jalalabad road, in Kabul on December 27, 2013. A Taliban suicide attacker detonated an explosives-packed car next to a NATO military convoy in Kabul, killing three NATO personnel and injuring at least four civilian passers-by, officials said. The blast in the Afghan capital left the twisted remains of the attacker’s car spread across the scene along with several other badly-damaged vehicles, including a NATO sports utility vehicle, witnesses said. (AFP/Noorullah Shirzada) 

 

In today’s most dangerous world, where Islamists pray to their god for our death and demise, we MUST defend ourselves until all Islamists are dead or no longer have the means or will to kill us. That’s not a would be or a could be or a should be, it is a MUST BE.

We MUST be willing to stand up to this infringement on the most sacred trust the American people have with their president, to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. The security of the people must not be marginalized or traded off for campaign promises and re-election gimmicks.

If we allow this president to continue unchallenged we will be the first (and last) generation to live under the powerful protection of the greatest military civilization has ever known, a military that liberates rather than occupies; a military that rebuilds rather than destroys; a military that seeks victory, not conquest.

Members of the US Army's 3rd Infantry Regiment 'The Old Guard' carry the casket of US Army Captain Andrew Pederson-Keel during a burial service for Pederson-Keel in Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, March 27, 2013. Pederson-Keel, 28, was killed March 11 during an attack on a police station in Afghanistan. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Members of the US Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment ‘The Old Guard’ carry the casket of US Army Captain Andrew Pederson-Keel during a burial service for Pederson-Keel in Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, March 27, 2013. Pederson-Keel, 28, was killed March 11 during an attack on a police station in Afghanistan. Credit: AFP/Getty Images 

 

The liberal media, progressives, socialists and leftists all conspire to destroy our military dominance while at once pronouncing their “support” of the troops, but in reality they know nothing about us. We are mission oriented, trained to seize the objective, to never quit, and to never leave our buddy behind. These people claim they want all the troops to come home, but even though in their heart every soldier longs to be home, and safe, we know too, that it is our DUTY to COMPLETE THE MISSION FIRST.

The Global War on Terror rages on, even though we can’t see it, or taste it, or smell it every day, it is there, lurking in the shadows, and caves, and sick deeds and minds of our enemies. While it rages on if we do not continue to STRENGTHEN our military and CONTINUE to out think & plan, and out produce & perform our foes, we will be destroyed. And don’t think for one iota of a second that “our foes” do not include the president, his cabinet and compliant military and civilian appointees.

The morality of war is measured in the survival of those who are most adept at perpetrating it. Whether by battle or by subterfuge, we need to remain the best at staying several steps ahead of our enemies, lest we fall victim to the illusions of a peaceful state, perpetrated by our highest federal officials; sadly, those who swore to protect us.

Contact your elected representatives NOW and let them know how you feel about a reduced and weakened military. Tell them what you want our military to be able to do and that you expect them to make sure it happens.

If not us, who? If not now, when?