Was Bergdahl Addicted to Heroin? Why is he Being Sequestered? Detox?

While serving at the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as an Army Captain, and the ranking U.S. Army Medical Department officer with the Joint Detainee Operations Group, in February 2002, I was aware of a detainee we called “Wild Bill” who came to us from Afghanistan a drug addicted schizophrenic.

It took us a while to figure out what his problems were. We were distracted by his bizarre behavior: eating his flip flops, hanging objects from his genitals, making strange, random sounds, and, like many other detainees, when they got the chance, throwing urine and feces on the guards.

Once it was determined that this detainee was ill, and his story stuck, he was determined to no longer be a threat to the United States, nor of any intelligence value, so he was scheduled for release.

As it turned out, “Wild Bill,” or Abdul Razaq, admitted to me and a few of my unit mates through an interpreter while hiding from the press before delivering him to his freedom bird on the leeward side of Gitmo, that he was a heroin addict in Kandahar when the Taliban came through and offered to support his habit if he picked up an AK-47, and then fought with them against the Northern Alliance and U.S. forces in the fall of 2001.

Razaq’s bizarre behavior at Gitmo was a result of a combination of schizophrenia and cold turkey withdrawal from his heroin addiction. The Taliban had used drugs to control him.

It was weeks after he was released that we saw a picture of Razaq in an online Newsweek article written by Sami Yousafzai, picturing him on a psychiatric hospital bed in Kandahar, and telling the interviewer about how well he was treated at Gitmo.

Fast forward to 2009, and the bizarre behavior of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. He walked off his U.S. Army post in Afghanistan, and then went in search of the Taliban. It was overheard on a radio monitored by members of his unit that Bergdahl was looking for the Taliban and that a villager thought he might be “high after smoking hashish,” a concentrated hallucinogenic drug. Bergdahl subsequently spent over five years with the Taliban off shoot known as the Haqqani.

While with the Haqqani, Bergdahl was observed carrying a loaded weapon and taking target practice with the Haqqani. Other reports indicate that Bergdahl “happily” played soccer with the Haqqani, and “bounded around the soccer pitch like a mad man.”

We have seen video of Sgt. Bergdahl both when he was with the Haqqani during his absence from his unit, and upon his release, when he was handed over to U.S. Special Forces personnel. In general Bergdahl appeared in decent health, yet mentally subdued and calm. While walking from the vehicle he was brought to his release in, towards the U.S. Blackhawk helicopter that took him away, he seemed to be able to walk brusquely and on his own power. Upon his release the White House even said that he was in “good” condition.

Why then has Bergdahl been sequestered since his release to the point where he has not even been reunited or in communication with his family, namely, his parents who were trotted through the Rose Garden by President Barack Hussein Obama upon the announcement of their son’s return to U.S. custody?

The Taliban are known to sedate hostages with drugs. U.S. Senators commented after seeing a “proof of life” video of Bergdahl that he “had been drugged.” It was reported that during Bergdahl’s time with the Haqqani he escaped and then spent five days away from them, and then after his recapture spent time in a “cage.” Could his return have been due to his need for drugs?

It is possible that Bowe Bergdahl has been drugged regularly either before and/or after his recapture by the Haqqani. It is possible that one of the reasons for his being sequestered since his return, and hospitalized in “stable condition,” is because he is going through detoxification. Until this is done it is highly unlikely that he is being debriefed vigorously regarding his five years with the Haqqani, which would be the next logical step in his reintegration into western and American military culture.

It is almost certain that Bergdahl’s enlistment contract has expired. He has been passed over for automatic promotion to Staff Sergeant probably both for the circumstances surrounding his disappearance from his unit in Afghanistan, and the lack of a non-commissioned officer evaluation, which requires no “flags” on his record and certain achievements to have been accomplished. A “flag” could be applied from an unsatisfactory physical fitness test or height and weight evaluation, performance deficiencies, or misconduct.

The next step after detox and debrief could be a hearing before a military Judge Advocate General (JAG) magistrate to first determine his status. Is Bergdahl legally still in the military? Was he summarily discharged during his absence? Why was he never categorized as either a Prisoner of War (POW) or Missing in Action (MIA)? Will the United States attempt to declare Bergdahl an enemy combatant?

If the latter occurs, Bergdahl could be denied habeas corpus (due process rights) and then subject to trial by military commission. This would be the case if it were determined that he collaborated with the enemy and/or considered himself a “mujahid,” as some reports claim. It could also put him in jeopardy of being charged with treason; aiding and giving “comfort” to the enemy.

Heroin or other drugs may complicate Bergdahls status hearing. His attorney’s may argue that Bergdahl was a victim of being drugged and therefore cannot be held completely responsible for his actions. If he was summarily discharged he may be entitled to civilian representation, or either way may choose to represent himself.

It’s accurate to say there are many things we don’t know about Bowe Bergdahl and his current circumstances, but for me, based on my experiences and clues in the evidence available so far, I believe it’s possible he’s a drug addicted enemy combatant. We may only find out what the truth is when the U.S. government wants us to know. Until then, watch and listen for leaking clues to what may turn out to be the most fascinating military defection in history.

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 ID: @mjgranger1

Obama, Bergdahl and the Betrayal of America

Let’s forget for a moment that President Barack Hussein Obama negotiated with terroristsbroke the law requiring Congressional notification when releasing a detainee held at Guantanamo Bay, and by releasing five of the most dangerous enemies held at Gitmo. And let’s remember it cost American LIVES to capture those unlawful combatant Islamists in the first place

And it cost American LIVES (at least six) to look for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, for whom the Gitmo Five were released.

Honest military personnel don’t like it when their lives are taken for granted, or besmirched by a suspected deserter. It’s not good for morale to add to the already 600-plus RELEASED Gitmo detainees29 percent of whom are RECIDIVISTS. By the way, NONE of these detainees were executed, beheaded, hacked to death, blown up or dragged naked and lifeless through the streets, things our enemies did to previous captives, except for Bowe Bergdahl.

FILE - This file image provided by IntelCenter on Wednesday Dec. 8, 2010 shows a frame grab from a video released by the Taliban containing footage of a man believed to be Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, left. The nearly five-year effort to free the only American soldier held captive in Afghanistan is scattered among numerous federal agencies with a loosely organized group of people working on it mostly part time, according to two members of Congress and military officials involved in the effort. An ever-shrinking U.S. military presence in Afghanistan has re-focused attention on efforts to bring home Bergdahl, who has been held by the Taliban since June 30, 2009. (AP Photo/IntelCenter, File) MANDATORY CREDIT: INTELCENTER; NO SALES; EDS NOTE: "INTELCENTER" AT LEFT TOP CORNER ADDED BY SOURCE

Among other ethos, the Soldier’s Creed insists that a U.S. Army soldier, “will always put the mission first,” “will never accept defeat,” and “will never quit.”

After just a few short days after his release, U.S. Army Sgt. (promoted in absentia from private during his captivity) Bowe Bergdahl’s warrior ethos is in question.

The circumstances surrounding his disappearance from his unit while serving in Afghanistan are suspect at best. In fact, there are no reports of him being taken by force by the Taliban. Sources contend that he left his post, walking away without his weapon, body armor or ammunition. Reports say he took only water, a compass, digital camera, personal diary and a knife.

From Wikileaks to those who say they served with Bergdahl, it appears that he just up and left his unit. In military terms, that’s called desertion, an offense punishable by death according to Article 85 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Furthermore, he may be suspected of committing treason, a Constitutional offense, also punishable by death, for providing “aid and comfort” to the enemy. This is something he may have done when questioned by his Taliban captors in relation to his unit’s strength, size and movements.

Reports also indicate that in the subsequent months, while his unit and others searched for Bowe,at least six U.S. soldiers died at the hands of the Taliban.

On Aug. 18, 2009, Staff Sgt. Clayton Bowen and Pfc. Morris Walker were killed by an improvised explosive device in the search for Bergdahl. Staff Sgt. Kurt Curtiss was killed on August 26; 2nd Lt. Darryn Andrews and Pfc. Matthew Michael Martinek were killed after being attacked in Yahya Khail District on September 4; Staff Sgt. Michael Murphrey was killed September 5 by an IED at the Forward Operating Base, Sharana.

This undated image provided by the U.S. Army shows Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. The Taliban proposed a deal in which they would free the U.S. soldier held captive since 2009 in exchange for five of their most senior operatives at Guantanamo Bay, while Afghan President Hamid Karzai eased his opposition Thursday June 20, 2013 to joining planned peace talks. Credit: AP

His former unit mates indicate that after Bergdahl’s disappearance patterns developed in their searches for him, patterns that were immediately exploited by the enemy in increased IED attacks and base assaults when troops left to search for the missing American.

There are some who call for calm and empathy towards Bergdahl, including Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, who said, “We will give him all the support he needs to help him recover from this ordeal.”

He also justified the exchange of five former detainees who were held at Gitmo, by saying, “Sgt. Bergdahl’s return is a powerful reminder of the enduring, sacred commitment our nation makes to all those who serve in uniform.”

This “sacred commitment” included the release of probably the highest-ranking enemies held at Gitmo who were not currently on trial for war crimes. The Long War Journal lists these detainees backgrounds and associations, but briefly they are:

  • Abdul Haq Wasiq, former Taliban intelligence official, central to the Taliban’s efforts to form alliances with other Islamic fundamentalist groups to fight alongside the Taliban against U.S. and Coalition forces after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
  • Mullah Norullah Noori, senior Taliban military commander who was engaged in hostilities against U.S. and Coalition forces in late 2001.
  • Mullah Mohammad Fazl, one of the Taliban’s most experienced commanders prior to his capture in November 2001. Gitmo officials warned in a February 2008 memo that is Fazl was released “he would likely rejoin the Taliban and establish ties with [Anti-Coalition Militia] elements participating in hostilities against U.S. and Coalition forces in Afghanistan.”
  • Mullah Kairullah Khairkhwa was one of Mullah Omar’s closest confidantes, and directly connected to Osama bin Laden prior to his capture. He represented the Taliban during meetings with Iranian officials seeking to support hostilities against U.S. and Coalition Forces.
  • Mohammad Nabi Omari, senior Taliban official who served in multiple leadership roles, member of a joint Al Qaeda/Taliban Anti-Coalition Militia cell in Khowst, Afghanistan, and was involved in attacks against U.S. and Coalition forces. Also maintained weapons caches and facilitated the smuggling of fighters and weapons.

 

Mullah Omar, the spiritual leader of the Taliban, has called the release of the Gitmo Five a “great victory,” which aligns well with Sgt. Bergdahl’s father, Robert Bergdahl’s, Tweet: “I am working to free all Guantanamo prisoners.”

Bob Bergdahl, father of captive U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, speaks at the "Bring Bowe Back" celebration held to honor Sgt. Bergdahl in Hailey, Idaho, Saturday, June 22, 2013. Hundreds of activists for missing service members gathered in a small Idaho town Saturday to hear the parents of the only known U.S. prisoner of war speak just days after his Taliban captors announced they want to exchange him for prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay. Credit: AP

President Barack Hussein Obama seems to be on the same team. Exchanging one dubiously loyal captured American for five of the most dangerous Gitmo detainees seems like the deal of the century, if you’re Taliban.

With this exchange, Obama has continued to nail the coffin shut on the War on Global Terror. He closed the lid when he withdrew all U.S. forces from Iraq and failed to obtain an agreement for a residual U.S. force to remain there.

Obama continues to deny we are at war with an enemy – that is gaining strength and shows no sign of weakness – through promises of ending U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan by 2016, and now the release of five high ranking Taliban officials.

What right-minded person could deny Obama’s complicity in handing Mullah Omar and the Taliban aid and comfort by the release of the Gitmo Five?

The nagging question is, “what now?”

What now shall we do to stem the tide of foreign policy contraction and near literal surrender to the forces of evil and death that flew planes loaded with innocent Americans into buildings full of more innocent victims, and into a field in Pennsylvania? These actions killed more Americans in one day than died at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, or on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944.

In the conflict that included those two days of infamy we finished the job, concluding World War II with the unconditional surrender of both Germany and Japan. But then afterwards created a road to redemption for both countries and others with our Marshall Plan of aid and infrastructure reconstruction, as well as military defense subsidies with our own troops and materiel. It was this and Ronald Reagan’s steadfast determination not to let the Soviet Union dictate global terms that won the Cold War.

US President Barack Obama attends a military briefing with General Joseph Dunfore, Commander of ISAF and US Forces Afghanistan, at Bagram Air Field, north of Kabul, in Afghanistan, May 25, 2014, during a surprise trip to visit US troops prior to the Memorial Day holiday. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

With U.S. forces currently in over 150 countries world wide, to claim the Global War on Terror is over is pure folly, but Obama doesn’t even mention the global war, or terrorists, or the enemy. To him our presence overseas is a burden to other nations rather than a way to project power and influence to maintain security and to defend our interests and foreign policy goals.

In fact in May, 2013, Obama declared the war “over.” Only he forgot to tell the Taliban and Al Qaeda, who continue to this day to try and kill us.

In other words, the man who is Commander in Chief of the armed forces of the United States of America has abdicated his ultimate responsibility to defend this nation against all enemies – foreign and domestic.

Obama has defiled any semblance of following the Soldier’s Creed himself: he is not putting the “mission first,” has accepted “defeat,” and has “quit,” on his soldiers and on his fellow Americans.

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

The Best Way to Honor Those Who Never Came Home: Take Care of Those Who Did

Michelle Obama, in her Open Letter to Veterans, published on Sept. 30, 2013, says, “If you are a veteran who is uninsured and hasn’t applied for [Veteran's Administration] coverage, you may be eligible for [Obama] care through the VA.”

Yet the VA states if you have non-service related ailments or injuries, you don’t qualify for free coverage with the VA, fees and co-pays would apply.

The HealthCare.gov website Mrs. Obama recommends veterans go to stipulates that veterans who are enrolled in the VA system are considered “covered” and therefore do not qualify for care under the new health care law. Similarly, veterans who may be enrolled in Tri-Care, the military health care system, do not qualify to use the new Health Insurance Marketplace.

It’s no secret that “there are an estimated 1.3 million uninsured veterans,” according to Mrs. Obama’s letter. What may be a secret are the estimated 400,000 veterans suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) – a leading cause of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which can lead to social, physical, mental and emotional health complications, including suicide – which claims the lives of 22 veterans every day based on the VA’s own data reported by 21 states from 1999 through 2011. That’s one veteran every 65 minutes.

Mrs. Obama doesn’t even mention these two devastating conditions for veterans, their families and loved ones. The VA backlog and ill-equipped and trained VA service providers barely make a dent in helping those afflicted with TBI and PTSD.

What is the best way to honor our fallen heroes?

“Take care of those who came home,” is the answer given by Dr. Chrisanne Gordon, founder and chairwoman of the Resurrecting Lives Foundation and physical and rehabilitation physician. Who could disagree with making sure veterans, our most noble of citizens, who write a blank check to every man, woman and child in America for everything up to and including their lives, are cared for when they make it home alive?

Dr. Gordon, on her website, states that, “It is estimated that only 36 percent of the veterans returning from the Iraq & Afghanistan wars actually receive treatment through the Veterans Administration, although all are eligible.”

That’s only 792,000 out of 2.2 million returning veterans.

How will the Affordable Care Act provide relief for veterans if the VA can’t do it? How can Obamacare hope to even scratch the surface of treating ailments the government already can’t get out of its own way on?

The HealthCare.gov website claims that if a veteran can’t afford private health care coverage they “may be eligible for Medicaid.” The website also says that “if you’re a veteran who isn’t enrolled in VA benefits or other veteran’s health coverage, you can get coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.”

But is the Marketplace ready for these special needs patients? And if they are, can the veteran not enrolled in VA health care afford it?

“Getting coverage,” means “paying” for coverage through the Obama Care Marketplace. Why would a veteran, who qualifies for VA coverage, not go to the VA? It doesn’t make sense.

It’s as if Michelle Obama is trying to get “caring for veterans” points with a health care merry-go-round that will deposit the veteran exactly where s/he got on!

Veterans need to be directed to the VA, and then some need to have their hands held to even get them to sign up. Medicaid should cover the non-service related costs should the poor veteran not be able to afford these costs, however, because the Supreme Court ruled last year it would be up to the states to decide whether or not to implement Medicaid expansion, an estimated 284,000 poor veterans, who would have qualified for Medicaid under the expansion, will not be able to access it.

Obamacare has NOTHING for the veteran, nor should it. But why the smoke and mirrors towards those who already are faced with a daunting, bureaucratic labyrinth and well deserved mistrust of the efficiency of a government program?

It’s a shame that in this age of returning veterans with complex health care issues we can’t find a better way to address their needs than with just a confusing “open letter” to them about something that can do nothing for them.

What we need is to allow veterans to seek out treatment at any municipal health care facility, just like Medicaid patients can do. Restricting care for veterans only through the ridiculous bottleneck of Veterans Administration facilities, which are inaccessible to most veterans who tend to live far from these facilities, for an estimated 400,000 suffering the effects of service-related TBI alone, is trite, myopic, unnecessary and a dishonor to their sacrifice.

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

Force-Feeding Gitmo Detainees is Legal, Moral and Ethical

Recently, U.S. Federal District Court Judge, Gladys Kessler, found in favor of a motion filed by attorney’s for Gitmo detainee Abu Wa’el Dhiab who asked that the intubation to keep him healthy and alive be stopped.

Why? The detainee’s attorney and liberal left, Islamist apologists say that force-feeding violates international law and “could amount to torture.” Although the judge stopped short of using the “T” word, she described force-feeding as “a painful, humiliating and degrading process.”

I was present when the very first two detainees at the military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba were force-fed back in early 2002.

Not only weren’t these self-starving unlawful combatants not eating, they were also not drinking anything. A person can go for several weeks without eating before killing themselves or causing irreparable organ damage, but if a person were to go without drinking for just a few days there would be no turning back once vital organs, such as the kidneys or liver, shut down.

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 24:  Supporters of closing the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base detention facility hold signs and pictures of prisoners being held at the facility while sitting in the audience during a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee July 24, 2013 in Washington, DC. The committee heard testimony from a panel of witnesses on 'Closing Guantanamo: The National Security, Fiscal, and Human Rights Implications.' Credit: Getty Images

The military medical Standard Operating Procedures at Gitmo (which I helped write for the detainee mission) mentioned nothing about thirst strikes. We hadn’t thought about it. We only had protocols in place for a hunger strike. So when two hunger strikers were identified as having not had anything to drink for two days we performed an intervention, Gitmo style.

No, we didn’t waterboard them and say “suck it in!”

We appealed to their sense of religion first, if they had any. The detainees claimed to be Muslims, so we approached them with the Navy Muslim chaplain assigned to detainee operations, who spoke with the detainees through an interpreter about Allah’s instructions through the Quran that they should not willfully harm themselves.

The truth is most detainees were only pretending to be Muslims, their murderous and hateful values were acquired through Al Qaeda, the Taliban or other Islamists. In fact, the new official name for self-starvation at Gitmo is “Long Term Non-Religious Fasts.”

That failed to get the desired response, so we told them we would have to give them fluids intravenously. One detainee resisted to the point of physical refusal. We strapped him to a litter and then pushed fluids.

GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA - JUNE 27:  (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been reviewed by the U.S. Military prior to transmission. ) A Public Affairs Officer escorts media through the currently closed Camp X-Ray which was the first detention facility to hold 'enemy combatants' at the U.S. Naval Station on June 27, 2013 in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, houses the American detention center for 'enemy combatants'. President Barack Obama has recently spoken again about closing the prison which has been used to hold prisoners from the invasion of Afghanistan and the war on terror since early 2002. Credit: Getty Images

After several more days they were still not eating and refused to drink. We kept pushing the intravenous fluids, but it was becoming clear that we were going to have to intubate them and force nutrition into their stomachs before permanent organ damage, and then death occurred.

You see there are no military medical protocols that allow detainees to harm themselves, including self-starvation. The procedure for intubation, or forced feeding, is unpleasant, to be sure, but slowly dying because your body is feeding off of itself to the point of organ failure would probably be just a bit more uncomfortable, even torturous.

I pray you THINK about that for a moment. Is it absurd to tell someone to stop saving someone else’s life because it is potentially torturous to do so? We KNOW what happens to the body when it is not fed and nourished properly – it feeds on itself and then shuts down.

I know what you’re probably thinking: “So let the damn bastards starve themselves! It’ll save us taxpayers money and the bloodthirsty Islamists will get what they deserve – a painful and agonizing death! Remember Sept. 11! Remember Benghazi! Death to Akbar!”

A hooded demonstrator is seen at a protest calling for the closure of the Guntanamo Bay detention facility infront of the White House on May 18, 2013 in Washington, DC. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

We need to take a step back and then remember our values. We are the good guys. No matter what anyone else tells you, especially the left liberal, Islamist apologist uber-politically correct crowd who only want to manipulate American political will via self-starving unlawful combatant detainees, we have ethics and morals to uphold, even in the face of absurdity.

U.S. military personnel are trained to care for, and to treat with respect and dignity, any unlawful combatant that we detain, including those who wish to slowly and painfully off themselves. The majority of the U.S. military personnel working at Gitmo are professional, hard working, loyal and trustworthy individuals, who will never, ever disobey their orders to care for the detainees appropriately.

Because of this commitment to honor and integrity, International Committee of the Red Cross physicians with whom I worked at Gitmo and in Iraq told me, “Nobody does [detention operations] better than the United States.”

The Gitmo detainees are LUCKY to be ALIVE, as any or all of them could have been legally killed on the battlefield. They are even LUCKIER to have been captured by the U.S. rather than some other group with far less compassion and humanity (i.e. Al Qaeda, Taliban, or other Islamists); one that might, say, behead them, hack them to death, blow them up or drag them naked and lifeless through the streets, like they did to Daniel Pearl and Lee Rigby.

In this photo reviewed by US military officials, two feeding tubes and cans of Ensure are seen in the US Detention Center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, March 29, 2010. Detainees on hunger strikes or not eating are given enhanced nutrition via the tube. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

The irony drips, in thick globs, as our sworn enemy insists on being slowly and painfully allowed to die because the method being used to keep him alive is tantamount to TORTURE.

I wonder what George Orwell would say about this? I wonder what someone in a coma would say if they could, about being forcibly fed while medical science sorts out the cause of their coma? Did you know they also intubate premature infants? Ever hear that called torture?

Of course not! The act of self-starvation is a CONSCIOUS DECISION made for POLITICAL reasons by a desperate person, in this case an illegal combatant detainee.

Judge Kessler has ordered a temporary cease and desist to the forced feeding of Abu Wa’el Dhiab, and has forbidden his forced removal from his cell at Gitmo for that purpose.

I’d like to see her medical professional credentials, or her crystal ball, which she can guarantee no permanent or life-threatening damage will be done to the detainee during the time the restraint is in effect. The appellate court that sent the original appeal to end the force-feeding back to the District Court mentioned that the force-feeding procedure would “probably be allowed if it is just to prevent injury or death.”

People dress in orange jumpsuits and black hoods as activists demand the closing of the US military's detention facility in Guantanamo during a protest, part of the Nationwide for Guantanamo Day of Action, April 11, 2013 in New York's Times Square. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

It used to be that courts never interfered with military procedures, policies or laws. Gitmo has risen to a level of incalculable interference by the federal court system because President Barack Hussein Obama mentioned, bathed in both pre- and post-election naïveté, that he would CLOSE Gitmo within a year?

Could it be that he and U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder re-wrote the Military Commissions Act of 2006, to include rights and privileges for unlawful combatant detainees virtually identical to what you or I would enjoy in a U.S. Federal court of law?

Back to the intubation: We had the Navy Muslim chaplains and interpreter bedside with the two self-starving detainees before going ahead with the procedure, done in a private section of the detainee medical facility (an integrated and climate controlled tent system called Deployable Medical System), with low lighting and near whispering conversation.

The Muslim Navy chaplain, through the interpreter, tried to convince the detainees that their self-starvation was against Allah’s wishes, and that it would not be pleasant, and would they please reconsider.

They quietly and timidly refused, and then the Navy nurses, assisted by corpsmen, with a physician standing by, gently placed the feeding tubes through the detainee’s nostrils and then down their throats into their stomachs.

The detainees moaned slightly, winced some, and then opened their eyes wide when the nutritional liquid was slowly poured into them. So tell me, what exactly is inhumane, unethical or immoral about 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). Twitter @mjgranger1

Congress Reacts to Military Mental and Brain Health Issues: Will You?

When U.S. senators from two political parties come together to introduce legislation, without argument or hesitation, one should take notice.

In the current climate, when political opposites attract one might think money, prestige, or influence are involved, but in the case of the bill to improve military mental health evaluations for service members, Sen.s Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), no such benefits await them. They appear to have only altruistic and patriotic motivation for seeing that our heroes receive the comprehensive medical attention they need and deserve.

The Medical Evaluations Parity for Service Members Act of 2014 (S. 2231 or MEPS Act,) states that before anyone can become enlisted or receive a commission in the armed forces of the United States they shall receive a “mental health assessment” that will be a “baseline for any subsequent mental health evaluations.”

Alex Burgess gets emotional while visiting the gravesite of an old friend who was killed in Iraq, in section 60 at Arlington Cemetery, May 27, 2013 in Arlington, Virginia. For Memorial Day President Obama layed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns, paying tribute to military veterans past and present who have served and sacrificed their lives for their country.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

This would bring mental health and “brain health” issues to parity with the physical evaluations conducted prior to admittance into the military.

If passed, the law would also include a comprehensive physical and mental and brain health evaluation when the service member comes off of at least 180 days of active duty or separates from the service. This would include screening for Traumatic Brain Injury, recently found to cause most instances of Post Traumatic Stress, which could lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. TBI is a “brain hurt” as opposed to a “mind hurt” issue that is more physiologic than mental.

We are finally addressing TBI issues, the signature issues of our returning heroes. Brain injury is not synonymous with “mental illness,” and the treatments for mental illness are often detrimental to TBI, hence the distinction is very important.

It is estimated that over 400,000 Global War on Terror veterans suffer from TBI, and most go undiagnosed and untreated, which leads to PTS and then possible PTSD.

AP photo.

Veteran and former U.S. Army Military Police non-commissioned officer, Curtis Armstrong was given a routine exit physical which didn’t connect the dots between his symptoms of memory loss, headaches, and thought process problems, since identified as being associated with TBI.

We can all imagine that if you’re not looking for something, and don’t know what it looks like even if you were, you’re not going to find anything. That’s exactly what happened to Curtis, and hundreds of thousands of his comrades.

The Resurrecting Lives Foundation, founded by Dr. Chrisanne Gordon, has been trying to gain the attention of politicians in Washington, D.C., for several years now. They have a panel of experts and have been advocating for the establishment of proper screening and treatment for veterans with TBI. Moving forward, the most encouraging event to date has been the MEPS Act introduction in the Senate.

When I inquired as to the catalyst for Sen. Portman’s introduction of the MEPS bill his staff replied:

“[T]he MEPS Act is a response to the clear need for better monitoring and assessing of service members’ mental health. While recent tragedies like the shootings at Fort Hood and the Navy Yard raised the profile of these issues, the need to address it has been apparent for far too long…Last summer, Senator Portman’s [Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee] subcommittee held a hearing on improving access to health care, including mental health care, for rural veterans. To help correct this, Sen. Portman introduced an amendment to the FY14 defense authorization bill requiring [the Department of Defense] to report on the current status of telehealth initiatives within [the Department of Defense] and plans to integrate them into the military health care system. Sen. Portman and Sen. Rockefeller also attempted to introduce language requiring mental health screenings for exiting service members. This language is now included as part of the MEPS Act.”

At the risk of seeming too giddy about these latest developments, which bring not just mental health, but “brain health” issues of military personnel into a broader light, it has been far too long that these issues have stayed in the shadows.

Soldiers like Curtis deserve better, and we as a country need to pay close attention to how we can help. Encouraging our own legislators, local, state and national, to support and pass the MEPS Act is just a start; there needs to be more resources allocated to ensuring our best and brightest are also well cared for, especially after their deployment service has ended.

AP

Among the several professional organizations endorsing this bill is the Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. According to Dr. Gordon, rehabilitation specialists would be included in the evaluations and in the program of reintegration.

“Sen. Portman did that, inviting collaboration with the private sector – the way to solve the TBI epidemic,” she said.

We can’t afford a legacy of forgotten warriors. We cannot endure the nightmare of neglected veterans. We are better than that. We, each of us, have an obligation to care for those we depended on to protect our ideals and us. Nothing less than a full accounting of every suffering veteran should be acceptable.

The Veterans Administration can be a hero here instead of the villian. If Secretary of Veterans Affairs retired general Eric Shinseki would pay attention to what’s going on in Congress, he could beat legislators to the punch: He could ask for funds to implement the essence of the MEPS Act within VA policy and practice.

Beginning with the new fiscal year in October 2014, he could seize the initiative in the war against mental and brain health issues in the military. You could suggest this to your legislators when you encourage them to sign on as co-sponsors and then pass the MEPS Act.

It’s important to remember that enshrining mental health evaluations for military personnel in law would ensure implementation in a timely manner, but if the MEPS Act gets held up in committee or is defeated, having the VA move forward with policy and practice changes through budgetary requests for fiscal year 2015 would honor the commitment our heroes deserve and should expect.

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

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?

TO DRONE OR NOT TO DRONE: DOES CITIZENSHIP MATTER?

Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese military genius once said: “The military seeks not conquest but victory.”

Militarily, using drones to eliminate enemies is economical. It conforms to the “economy of force” tenant of battle, whereby one seeks to eliminate a threat with the minimum amount of force necessary, preserving heavier resources for heavier tasks. The military would rather subdue the enemy without battle, thereby achieving victory with the least possible cost to personnel, materiel, and collateral.

Politically however, the “cost” is measured in unhappy allies and American supporters.

We saw in Vietnam that militarily, after the Tet Offensive of Jan. 30, 1968, the Vietcong and North Vietnamese Army over-committed themselves by attacking and then briefly taking all South Vietnamese provincial capitals, but at great cost. The U.S. counter attacked and within days or weeks successfully won back every single gain the North had realized, and then had the bad guys on the run.

FILE - In this Nov. 8, 2011 file photo, a Predator B unmanned aircraft taxis at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas. Two U.S. drone strikes killed a total of nine suspected al-Qaida militants Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013, a Yemeni military official said, the sixth and seventh such attacks in less than two weeks as the Arab nation is on high alert against terrorism. Credit: AP

In this Nov. 8, 2011 file photo, a Predator B unmanned aircraft taxis at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas. Credit: AP 

 

Unfortunately, Walter Cronkite, the undisputed media voice for the American people, decided otherwise and told audiences in February 1968, that the war was “mired in stalemate,” and called for “negotiations.” From then on the U.S. looked for ways out of the conflict, eventually pulling out all U.S. troops in August 1973.

Recently, the Defense Department has identified an American al Qaeda operative overseas, who is, in the words of an anonymous source within the department, “actively planning attacks against Americans overseas.

The problem is, after the last targeted killing of an American overseas (al Qaeda operative and Virginia resident Anwar al-Awlaki, killed by a U.S. CIA drone in Yemen in 2011) there was an international and domestic uproar, especially by supporters of the president. This struck a nerve that could not be ignored, so Barack Hussein Obama fashioned new policies that somewhat quieted the crowd, but also tied our hands when seeking to eliminate known threats.

FILE - This Oct. 2008 file photo shows Imam Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike. A public backlash is starting to grow in Yemen over civilians killed by American drones as the U.S. dramatically steps up its strikes against al-Qaida s branch here the past year. Relatives of those killed say the missile blasts hitting their towns only turn Yemenis against the U.S. campaign to crush militants. The drone strikes have taken out high-level targets in Yemen such as American-born cleric al-Awlaki, believed to have been a powerful tool for al-Qaida s recruiting in the West. Most, however, appear to target midlevel operatives. Credit: AP

This Oct. 2008 file photo shows Imam Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2011. Credit: AP 

 

The new drone policy preferred the Department of Defense, and not the CIA, using drones, and any American targeted needed to have substantial provable evidence against them, or proof of imminent danger before a mission could be green-lighted. Another complication, now part of the policy, is that we can no longer send a drone into airspace over a country that doesn’t want us conducting such an operation, unless that country is determined to be rogue.

Let’s go back to Sun Tzu for a moment. Remember that militarily, victory is the number one concern of any mission. That is the objective. If you want us to “win,” we need to be able to use every available asset to achieve victory.

If you want us to “win,” we need to be able to use every available asset to achieve victory.

Otherwise, you compromise your effectiveness and therefore your psychological advantage over your enemy. Once the enemy is emboldened by thinking you will not use your weapons effectively against him he becomes even more dangerous than when you were hunting him down like the rabid, running yellow dog he is.

The yin and yang of war is that whatever you fail to employ against your enemy’s weakness, becomes his strength. Whoever employs his weapons most effectively wins.

We were not defeated militarily in Vietnam, nor could we have been. Neither were we ever fully committed militarily. We limited our bombing of North Vietnam. We never effectively mined or blockaded Haiphong Harbor, the main route of shipping supplies to the North. And we never properly pursued the enemy after pushing him out of the cities and towns he took during Tet. We allowed Communist China to intimidate our commitment, let politicians limit our commitment, and then bent to public opinion and media sabotage of our military efforts.

Remembering also that the main objective of politicians is to get re-elected and then preserve a legacy for themselves, military victory is easily explained away as unnecessary conquest. As long as the enemy does not invade the United States or incite insurrection, all is well.

Pakistani protesters gather beside a burning US flag during a demonstration in Multan on May 25, 2012 against the US drone attacks in Pakistani tribal belt. A US drone strike on May 24, killed eight militants in a Taliban stronghold of Pakistan's tribal belt, bringing the death toll from such strikes to 12 in two days, Pakistani officials said. Pakistani-US relations went into free fall last year, starting when a CIA contractor shot dead two Pakistanis, then over the American raid that killed bin Laden on May 2 and lastly over US air strikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November.Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Pakistani protesters gather beside a burning US flag during a demonstration in Multan on May 25, 2012 against the US drone attacks in Pakistani tribal belt. The US is allegedly considering a drone strike on an American terrorism suspect in Pakistan. Credit: AFP/Getty Images 

 

Sept. 11, 2001 changed all that. Or so we thought. My orders for activation after Sept. 11 stated that I was being ordered to military duty “in support of the Global War on Terror,” which sends our forces to more than 150 countries world wide today.

So, which is it, a War on Terror, or unfortunate little conquests we have no business perpetrating on others in the first place? Do we limit our engagement, thereby emboldening our enemy, or do we strike when necessary to save lives from potential (planned) attacks?

What we have now is legislated indecision. Advantage al Qaeda.

Prior to Awlaki’s demise, both the CIA and Department of Defense conducted drone operations. Now only the Department of Defense is authorized to do so, but actions by both houses of Congress have resisted making funds available for the transfer of CIA drones to the Army. Great hand wringing and gnashing of teeth is going on amongst our elected cowards, uh, I mean officials. They can’t see the War on Terror forest for the terrorist trees!

In the old days, prior to Awlaki’s killing, having the CIA and military  conduct targeted drone attacks kept the enemy unbalanced and unsure about where the threat was coming from. With only the military authorized to use drones we are “playing by the rules,” and tipping our intentions and take-off sites.

Advantage al Qaeda.

Does it matter if the enemy combatant is American or not? Should it?

In past conflicts Americans who were caught as traitors were summarily executed. Un-uniformed, or improperly uniformed spies can be lawfully shot on the battlefield in a hot war. Does it matter whether or not it’s from a field grade officer’s 9mm handgun or a drone?

Whether or not to use a drone may come down to whether or not you seek victory, with the only caveat being whether or not the target is more valuable dead or alive and at what cost you are willing to risk going and getting him.

LIBERAL HOLLYWOOD TAKES ON GUANTANAMO BAY

Question: What’s green and tan and red all over?

Answer: Kristen Steward (better known as KStew) in Army fatigues making a Gitmo movie!

Why “red all over?” Because when the whole story comes out about her new film, “Camp X-Ray,” premiering Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, at the Sundance Film Festival, Kristen should be ashamed.

It’s not that I think that her acting will be bad; it’s the fact that the story and images will be hyped media caricatures of our military from a liberal Islamist apologist point of view.

What’s been made available publicly about the movie is slim, but there’s enough to see that the plot and portrayals will be brutal for the Army and for Americans.

Liberal Hollywood Takes on Guantanamo Bay

The synopsis reads:

A young soldier escapes her suffocating small town by joining the military, only to find that she isn’t going for a tour of duty in Iraq as she hoped. Instead, she’s sent to Guantanamo. Met with hatred and abuse from the Muslim men in her charge, she forges an odd friendship with a young man who has been imprisoned at Gitmo for eight years. While serving her country to the best of her abilities at Bravo Block, she is also subject to the attempted affections of her superior officer, Sergeant Randy without any action or sympathy from Commanding Officer Colonel Drummond at Gitmo.

There’s also a revealing interview with actor Lane Garrison, who plays KStew’s supervisor, Sgt. Randy in the film. In a radio interview, with host Artie Lang, Garrison describes his character as “a real seedy guard,” and says, “my character believes [the detainees are] all guilty of Sept. 11 and they should all rot [at Guantanamo Bay].”

Garrison also talks about how his character “sexually assaults” KStew’s character using graphic language, mentioning it took “four hours” to film the sexual assault scene. The film description suggests that KStew’s character gets no sympathy from her good ol’ boy commander, Col. Drummond, played by John Carroll Lynch.

Lang asks Garrison if his character “tortures” detainees, to which Garrison responds “Yeah, I get hard core with it, and it’s a really dark piece and Kristen’s phenomenal in it.”

Waterboarding is also mentioned, and Garrison confirms that he does that in the film, to which Lang says, “You really go into the torture thing?” And Garrison answers, “Yeah, we explore that, and we go into what happens when that one person is innocent, that’s down there, and he doesn’t get any trial.”

The film plays up myths from the imaginations of the left to the hardships of serving at Gitmo

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It is clear from Garrison’s responses that the film plays up myths and false assumptions from the minds and imaginations of those insensitive to the challenges and hardships of being a soldier on duty at Guantanamo Bay.

The Army has never authorized enhanced interrogation techniques on anyone, ever. That job is left to the CIA, who did waterboard a “’handful’ of detainees [at Gitmo], which saved many lives,” according to George W. Bush in his autobiography, “Decision Points.” Waterboarding, at the time it was performed, was an authorized “enhanced interrogation technique,” and not considered torture, even by international standards, according to Donald Rumsfeld in his autobiography, “Known and Unknown.”

As for “innocent” detainees, there are none.

Though over 600 Gitmo detainees have been released, none of those were found “innocent” or “not guilty” of anything because they were never charged with war crimes. The unlawful combatants held legally at Gitmo do not have to be charged with anything according to the Geneva Conventions and the Law of Land Warfare (Army Field Manual (FM) 27-10) even lawful combatant Prisoners of War may be held without charge “until the end of hostilities.”

Liberal Hollywood Takes on Guantanamo Bay

So, until all Islamists are dead, or no longer have the means or will to kill Americans, we can legally, morally and ethically hold them at Gitmo – it’s just not politically correct or expedient to say so.

In the meantime, the U.S. has not executed, beheaded, hacked to death, blown up or dragged a detainee naked and lifeless through the streets since detention operations have begun at Gitmo (despite the current recidivist rate among released Gitmo detainees of nearly 29 percent); these are all things our enemy has done to us and innocent others, including Christopher Stevens, U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Benghazi in part by released Gitmo detainee Sufian bin Qumu, who planned the attack.

Garrison sums up the film this way: “[The movie] is going to cause a lot of controversy; people are going to be talking about it.”

And what exactly are people going to be saying? Probably things like: “I KNEW it! I just KNEW they tortured those innocent people down there!” and, “those dirty bastards raped her, too! Sexual assault in the military is out of control!”

Appearing in the opening credits to Academy Award winning best film, “The Hurt Locker,” from Chris Hedges book, “War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning,” is this quote:

The rush of battle is often a potent and lethal addiction, for war is a drug.

The adrenaline rush one might experience in a war zone produces the fight or flight instinct that soldiers are supposed to be able to control. A person trained to cope with situations in a combat environment may not be able to easily adjust to peaceful civilian life upon their return home, but that doesn’t mean Hollywood should emphasize it, or make it appear to be the rule and not the exception.

War films, for all their glorious effort, tend to create exaggerated images of reality. War is not fun, and taking care of unlawful combatant Islamist extremists who want to kill us is securely in the “totally messed up” job category.

Liberal Hollywood Takes on Guantanamo Bay

It seems like we will get that portrayal in “Camp X-Ray,” and it appears we will also get the stereotypical politically correct soldier as victim routine, led by Kristen Stewart’s portrayal of an innocent girl thrust unknowingly into a situation she finds confusing, abusive and overwhelming, perhaps a-la “Private Benjamin,” in which Goldie Hawn forlornly asks her drill sergeant, “where are the condos?”

Soldiers pick their jobs, but not their missions. Civilian recruits dream of battlefield heroics that don’t measure up to the generally mundane hurry-up-and-wait reality of most military occupational specialties, and being a Military Police soldier can find one in myriad situations, from directing traffic to front gate security, and from personal security detail to detention operations. The latter scenario requires additional training, and has its own designation in the Army, which is the only military branch that trains for detention missions.

There are bound to be anachronisms in “Camp X-Ray,” like the misnomer title. The real Camp X-Ray was asolitary confinement detention facility hastily cleaned up from the 1990s Haitian boat crisis. The inside looked like dog kennels, with concrete slabs and six-by-eight-foot chain linked boxes. It existed as a functioning detention facility for approximately four months, from December 2001 to April 2002.

Since the synopsis available for “Camp X-Ray” the movie says that KStew’s character “forges an odd friendship” with a detainee who’s been there for eight years, I’m going to assume they either took artistic license and have Camp X-Ray still open, or they are confused about where the majority of detainees actually are today (it’s a separate camp the U.S. began constructing immediately upon getting to Gitmo, called Camp Delta).

Liberal Hollywood Takes on Guantanamo Bay

For the record, U.S. Army Military Police lived in austere conditions during that time, having set up a tent city on higher ground above Camp X-Ray. When the detainees were moved to Camp Delta, U.S. personnel also got an upgrade to living in Sea Huts, or plywood dwellings with air conditioning, in a place called Camp America, which was adjacent to the detention facilities.

“Camp X-Ray” the movie probably won’t go into much detail about the oath Army recruits and officers take upon enlistment and commissioning that requires them to follow all lawful orders of those appointed over them, or the fact that all troops assigned to Gitmo are NEVER to fraternize with detainees.

So if KStew’s character has a relationship with a detainee, she is breaking her oath and is violating the regulations and committing a crime. I doubt that will be stressed. She will be sexually assaulted, which will further portray her as a victim, and she will get no sympathy from her superiors, which will make her character even more hurt puppy-like, and make the Army seem more the villain.

In the end, we will be getting a point of view shared by the majority of citizens at large from the images and sound bites spoon fed by a liberal media for consumption by those who already see the male dominated military as unfair, brutal and sexist.

That is not what your military is all about: 99.99 percent of those who serve do so with loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage. Every American can be proud of all but a very few who serve at Gitmo.

The few who broke their oaths and fraternized with the detainees? They are out there, and apparently KStew is now one of them.

 

DEBATING IRAQ: HINDSIGHT VS. REALITIES – RESPECT FOR VETERANS

Lane Filler, in his opinion piece in the January 8, Newsday titled, “The tragedy of Iraq, a decade later,” attempts to extract a pound of flesh even from his own belief that going into Iraq in April of 2003 was the right thing to do. Regarding weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein had everyone fooled on that, including the U.N. Security Council and 86 countries that supported going into Iraq; Saddam had used chemical weapons in Iraq’s war with Iran and against his own people (thousands of Iraqi Kurds in March, 1988). Fuller lists numbers of people killed. What about the people saved, which can never be measured?

Saddam harbored terrorists (Abu Abbas, highjacker of an Italian cruise liner resulting in the death of American Leon Klinghoffer, found in a Baghdad suburb in 2003), trained, supported and financed international terrorists, and murdered an estimated 250,000 of his own people with his paramilitary Fedayeen Saddam. He invaded Kuwait, attacked Saudi Arabia and Israel during the First Gulf War, and had chemical warhead artillery ammunition ready to fire against U.S. Troops.

The only thing wrong with our military operation in Iraq is that we left. We’re still in countries we defeated in WWII, and Germany (chemical decontamination unit), Japan (transportation unit) and Italy (support troops) all supported the Iraq operation, continue to allow U.S. military bases, and are among the world’s economic leaders. Our relationship with these countries allows us to better protect our friends, and ourselves and to project our power and influence around the world.

Barack Hussein Obama’s quitting Iraq had the effect of destabilizing the Middle East and creating a security vacuum that is now exacerbated by the influence of Iran, Russia and China. Al Qaeda has re-invaded Fallujah and Ramadi, and Iraq is precipitously on the brink of destabilization; a festering sore in Obama’s failed Middle East policies and practices.

As a Global War on Terror veteran who served in Iraq in 2004-2005, I am appalled and offended by Lane Fuller’s ignorance about the geopolitical significance of Iraq, and his insensitivity towards those who served and gave their lives and livelihoods there in order to keep this great nation safe.