Washington Implodes

| Mon Oct. 6, 2003 2:00 AM EDT


    "While the [75th] Exploitation Task Force [the first postwar US group to search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq] worked out of an abandoned palace and the servants' housing quarters near Baghdad airport and remained short of vehicles, air support, computers and even electricity during the initial months of the weapons hunt, the Iraq Survey Group spent its first weeks installing air-conditioned trailers, a new dining facility, state-of-the-art software and even a sprinkler system for a new lawn, according to officials and experts who worked with the group this summer.

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'They kept unloading crates and crates of new Dell laptops,' said one Pentagon official who complained that the exploitation force lacked resources."

- From an article by New York Times reporters James Risen and Judith Miller, headlined 'Officials Say Bush Seeks $600 Million to Hunt Iraq Arms'. Note that Miller, who is now regularly paired with another reporter, almost single-handedly perpetrated the myth of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction in the postwar period -- to the delight of the administration. On the matter of Miller's feckless reporting, check out William E. Jackson, Jr.'s piece, 'Miller's Star Fades [Slightly] at NY Times,' in Editor & Publisher)

Guarding Your Tax Dollars in Iraq

    "We are usually quiet individuals, expressing little about world events and politics, etc. However, we have to stand up and say something now. Our son-in-law is in the Army, serving our country for several months in Iraq. He was recently authorized to return home for two weeks. We are all grateful for this news! However, there is one catch -- he has to pay for the journey!

    How can the government expect him to pay his own airfare? It seems unfair the government won't foot the bill to send troops home, after they risk their lives for our country. They have had to leave their families struggling emotionally and some financially. Then when they do have the opportunity to come home briefly, they are expected to pay their own way."

- From a letter from Randy and Pam Forcier that appeared in the Spokane Spokesman Review.

So Washington is imploding. We've evidently reached something like the tipping point. This has been building for what seems forever. Suddenly, the press -- even the front-page of my hometown newspaper -- has burst forth with what increasingly looks like the unvarnished news. Prime-time TV news shows are now litanies of bad tidings for the Bush administration. Charlie Rose, whose range of elite political guests for most of the last year extended from those who thought we should bash France to those who thought we should be slightly nicer to the French but ignore their opinions, actually had a full hour of oppositional talk about Iraq. The economist Jeffrey Sachs (who has clearly had a brain transplant since trying to privatize Russia single-handedly) directly stated that this had been an oil war and insisted that we should simply get out in short order. (Hardly weeks before, I heard Charlie Rose assure his audience that no figure of significance had called for or would call for the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq.)

And last week, Ted Koppel, whose war coverage gave government-line new meaning (and who managed night after night from Iraq to look like Michael Dukakis without the tank), pulled off a trifecta plus one on Nightline. He (and his colleagues) conducted lengthy interviews with a critical General Anthony Zinni, with ex-ambassador Joseph Wilson, with five CIA agents (four retired) defending Wilson's wife (on which more below), and also offered a devastating rundown on what that $87 billion dollar request to Congress actually means.

Are we talking change in the zeitgeist here? You bet. And don't confine it to the "liberal" media or, for that matter, the Democratic Party whose candidates, Dean and Kucinich aside, are still scrambling to catch up in their denunciations of the Bush administration, attacks on its wartime policies, and calls for a special prosecutor in the Wilson case (though -- and here's that sign that they're still avoiding the hard questions -- not calling for serious reconsideration of that $66 billion in military money destined to bolster military occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan until the end of time).

Take Robert Novak, the conservative columnist who outed CIA agent Valerie Plame, ex-Ambassador Wilson's wife. He's now moved on, at least temporarily, to outing the administration itself. In a column entitled, George W in Trouble, he writes:

    "Replacing the old mantra that there is no way for Bush to lose, panicky Republicans studying the electoral map wonder whether there is any way that they can win. Dramatic deterioration in the outlook over the last two weeks is reflected in the experience by a Republican businessman in Milwaukee trying to sell $2,000 tickets for Bush's only appearance this year in Wisconsin Oct. 3. In contrast to money flowing easily into the Bush war chest everywhere until now, he encountered stiff resistance. Well-heeled conservative businessmen offered to write a check for $100 or $200, but not $2,000. They gave one reason: Iraq.

    ...

    Another domestic issue is continuing loss of industrial jobs, and that does not ease Republican anxiety. It causes hard analysis of electoral maps that poses difficult questions.... No wonder the arrogance quotient at the White House is diminishing. Reporters regularly on that beat say they have been getting their telephone calls returned the last two weeks."

Boston Globe columnist Robert Kuttner noticed the same thing. Commenting on recent GOP Congressional votes, he seconded Novak's analysis:

    "Why this shift [in Republican congressional voting patterns]? Suddenly Bush's own reelection is seen as at risk, and Republican legislators are more worried about saving their own seats. They have walked the plank for Bush one time too many.

    Until recently Republican control of Congress in the 2004 election was seen as a sure thing. Now, however, it looks as though both chambers are up for grabs, especially if Bush's own reelection is in jeopardy. Congressmen and senators are keen detectors of shifts in voter sentiment since their own survival depends on it. Bush's reversal of fortune is occurring on multiple fronts... Finally, the press has stopped giving Bush a free ride, and 9/11 no longer serves as a mantra to turn aside all challenges... Those days are simply gone. Nothing succeeds like success. And nothing fails like failure."

Someday, scholars are going to have a field day studying exactly how this transformation came about. In the meantime, this -- if you'll excuse an analogy from the Neolithic age -- feels a bit like the moment after the Tet Offensive in the Vietnam War, yet it only took six months and there was no offensive. Explain it as you will (and I'll offer a few provisional thoughts of my own below), there's something new in the air -- and in the very style in which pieces are now being written. Have you noticed that something about the moment almost calls for a bit of heated imagery?

Here are just two examples. Derrick Z. Jackson, Boston Globe columnist, began a recent column, largely on job loss and the strip-mining of our society by this administration, with the following paragraph:

    "It is October and the harvest from the spring's planting of troops remains a grapeless vine, withering into winter compost. Without weapons of mass destruction, Tikrit has given way to Texas, Fallujah is fading into Florida, and the idiocy of another $87 billion for Iraq is rapidly becoming apparent in the latest news from Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa. In the season of pumpkins, Bush is turning into one, with millions of Americans feeling like Cinderella after the ballyhoo of violent, vengeful patriotism. Bush hoped he could sneak back into the White House in 2004 before the clock struck midnight. It is too late. The original support for the war is waning as Americans realize that they have also waged war against themselves."

The ordinarily sober reporter Jim Lobe launched a recent piece this way -- and perhaps it's exactly what it does feel like in Washington right now:

    "To say that there's blood in the water and the sharks are circling around the Bush administration's Iraq policy would be understatement at this point. It's more like a blood bank that's been dropped into the water, the sharks have taken the first bites, and Amazonian piranhas are clamoring for visas on an expedited basis."

In the same piece, Lobe sums up the new atmosphere in our capital thusly:

    "With the exception of practicing extramarital sex in the Oval Office, Bush and his Iraq policy are now being charged with violating just about every imaginable tenet - from deceit and corruption, to incompetence and betrayal - of what has come to be called 'good governance.' That many of these charges have moved in just the past few weeks from the alternative to the mainstream media and from grassroots activist groups to Capitol Hill indicates the seriousness of the situation faced by Bush."

The Wilson Affair

In the context of the collapse of every explanation for the war in Iraq (other than the obvious strategic ones which were never expressed by the administration or discussed in the media), the looting of Iraq, the looting of this country, and the peril we find ourselves in, the outing of Joseph Wilson's wife certainly should have been a minor matter. And some Republicans, both inside and outside the administration, while fiercely attacking Wilson, have indeed tried to make light of it. Dana Milbank and Mike Allen of The Washington Post, for instance, report that "aides to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (Tex.) distributed paper sacks labeled 'Leak Hyperventilation Bags.'"

But of course neither loosing the attack dogs, nor brushing the matter off has shown the slightest sign of working, and the burgeoning scandal hasn't been eclipsed by other breaking scandals either -- from intelligence failures to a secret $20 million "slush fund" the Pentagon created by padding the budget of the U.S. Special Operations Command, a scandal reported this week by The St. Peterburg Times. ("It is unclear what the Pentagon intended to do with the $20-million, or what became of the money.")

The story broke on July 6, when Joseph Wilson wrote his New York Times op-ed outing the administration on the Niger uranium story. Thanks to those senior officials, Novak then outed Wilson's wife on July 14th. Why did the administration do this? I include below the most interesting explanation I've seen because it indicates how consistent this administration's actions have been, whether in dealing with enemies abroad or at home. Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst and a founding member of VIPS (Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity), writes in a piece on Tompaine.com and reproduced on TomDispatch.com thanks to him:

    "Was it another preemptive attack, which-like the attack on Iraq-seemed to the White House a good idea at the time? It certainly fits that pattern, inasmuch as little thought seems to have been given to the implications, consequences, and post-attack planning... There are, after all, hundreds of people in US intelligence and foreign service circles who know about the lies-the non-existent weapons of mass destruction, the non-existent ties between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. Worse still from the White House's point of view, some are about to retire and escape the constraints that come of being on the inside. And, more often than not, the chicanery that took place can be exposed without divulging classified information."

David Corn of The Nation, reading the Novak column, realized that Plame's outing was a potentially criminal act and soon after wrote 'A White House Smear,' a piece I missed. ("This is not only a possible breach of national security; it is a potential violation of law. Under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982, it is a crime for anyone who has access to classified information to disclose intentionally information identifying a covert agent.") But the story gained no traction (except at the fringes) for almost two and a half months. It's interesting to look back at Corn's piece now, not only because he had a fine eye for a story, but because almost the whole story as we now know it was basically in place months ago (as was no less true, for instance, of the fraudulent Niger uranium story, almost all the pieces of which were available well before the war). But the question perhaps shouldn't be, why wasn't the Plame story picked up, but why, undealt with, didn't it go away? And, of course, why now?

Probably the first factor to consider is the individual one. Unlike most significant figures in the Democratic Party (and on endless issues, most of the mainstream media as well), when ex-ambassador Wilson was first ignored and then attacked, he didn't go silent. Quite the opposite. Obviously angered - as who wouldn't have been - he grew ever louder. For two and a half months, his voice never rested and his charges only strengthened in the face of an escalating administration smear campaign. He made himself harder to ignore, a brave act.

More important certainly, in the days between the Times op-ed and the Novak column, the administration tried to saddle CIA Director George Tenet with responsibility for those sixteen little words on Niger uranium in the President's State of the Union speech and then tip him over the side of the already slightly listing ship of state. He was clearly to be the fall guy. And he fell a small way - but only onto a sword he had already carefully blunted. In a subtly crafted, Byzantine statement of "responsibility" on July 11, he implicitly pointed a finger (I won't say which one, though it's now quite obvious) at the administration). Then after the Plame outing occurred, he unsheathed a well sharpened knife and, with a request to investigate sent to the Justice Department, stuck it rather elegantly between the administration's ribs.

As James Pinkerton, conservative columnist for Newsday, commented recently:

    "[N]ow Tenet, who bungled the intelligence-gathering on Iraq, is safe in his job. Why? Because if President George W. Bush fired him, it would look as if the White House were retaliating, even cover-upping. And so the CIA chief can sit in his Langley, Va., office, serene and secure, despite his incompetence, as scandal-cancer eats his masters across the Potomac River at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave."

Job security. In the present market, no one should knock it.

Next, we need to remember that many in the larger intelligence "community" were steaming over their treatment, especially by the Vice-president's office, as various screws were turned by administration neocons and hawks to try to get the "intelligence" they needed to justify the war they not only wanted but had already decided upon. So, as McGovern indicates, lots of knives inside the national security bureaucracy are now being unsheathed. The operative word, used in a recent Christian Science Monitor report, was undoubtedly "revenge."

To take the intelligence pulse of the moment, consider, for instance, this comment by Larry Johnson, a former CIA officer, who once trained with Valerie Plame, pulled from a Julian Borger piece in The Guardian: "I'm a registered Republican and I'm sickened by this," he added. "I've spoken with four colleagues who have since left the agency who worked with her. And they are livid."

Or check out a livid piece by former agent Jim Marcinkowski in the op-ed pages of the Los Angeles Times. Or, for those of you who watched, consider Friday night's Nightline, in which four ex-agents (all "registered Republicans") and a CIA agent still in the field ("Jane Doe", a voice-altered, Darth-Vader-like blotch on the screen) denounced the Bush administration for outing Plame with the sort of venom that's usually reserved for shock-jock talk radio.

So -- and here, I suspect, may be the true Watergate analogy -- you have an intragovernmental fight that's only beginning, and such internecine battles, once they break into the open, are not only fair game for the media, but provide patriotic cover for criticism. It's usually not reporters but angry insiders who drive such scandals. Then, of course, you have the opposition party finally beginning to act somewhat oppositional. This is obviously a poll-driven phenomenon -- polls being the living, breathing political evidence of who's vulnerable -- and we all know where the polls have been heading in the last months.

Again, the media is generally willing to move to the edge of wherever the mainstream opposition may be (another form of patriotic cover, as Mark Hertsgaard pointed out years ago in On Bended Knee, his book the Age of Reagan media). Of course, for most of the last year -- a few marginalized Democrats like Kucinich, Byrd, Dean, and Waxman aside -- there was no edge to move to. This, of course, adds up to the very opposite of Profiles in Courage.

Now, our high-handed, unbelievably arrogant, deeply secretive, extremist administration is clearly about to be hoist on its own national security petard and there have to be a lot of people licking their chops. Add to this, the arrogance embedded in the relative openness of the act itself. (It was, after all, meant as a warning, so it wasn't supposed to be completely hidden.) There have to be lots of people -- journalists, administration officials, and those they've told (and people have obviously been yakking) -- who know fully well where this outing came from.

Although Karl Rove may indeed have been at the other end of at least some of the calls to reporters, suspicions seem to be pointing toward Dick Cheney's office and his close aide (and fierce neocon) I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. (See, for instance, columnist Justin Raimondo's recent piece for antiwar.com, Cheney's Chief-of-Staff Named as Spy-gate Leaker -- and then check out, Lobe's fine recent portrait of Cheney and his associates.)

But none of this, of course, makes sense if you leave out Iraq. Our fundamentalist leaders made a genuine pact with the Devil (and I'm not talking about the Great Satan Saddam here). They sold their souls for a Middle East of their dreams and for control over the great global oil spigot, rolled the dice, had their moment, and now when the Devil's come to collect, they've left themselves no way out. (That's the real Iraqi "quagmire.") And so, instead of driving their foes before them, they are being driven; and, in the end, what's driving them are the acts of resistance of undoubtedly relatively small numbers of increasingly better organized Iraqis -- angered urbanites, farmers who have lost kin, Baathist hardliners, embittered, discharged army veterans, Islamicist extremists (both homebred and foreign), unknown numbers of them brutes, thugs, fanatics, and criminals. Remarkably enough - and this is just the truth of the matter - they now hold the fate of the Bush administration in their hands.

The Wilson affair may be minor in itself, but what's been unleashed around it isn't, and were it to disappear tomorrow, the new atmosphere would have many other things to attach itself to. It may be that this administration won't come clean on Valerie Plame. After all, it's hard to throw one of your own to the dogs when court-time, if not jail time, looms. They've already seen what happened when they tried with Tenet.

On the other hand, stonewalling isn't likely to work either, nor is hanging on to the investigation for dear life. From Danny Schechter's always valuable news dissector e-bulletin, came the following on October 3:

    "What will the FBI find out? It is not altogether reassuring to learn that John Dion is heading the investigation. Dion is widely known in intelligence circles as one who does not feel he can go to the bathroom without first asking the Justice Department for permission. Sadly, we can expect the kind of 'full and thorough investigation' that Richard Nixon ordered then-Attorney General John Mitchell to conduct into Watergate."

But I suspect it's already too late. Today, Walter Pincus and Mike Allen offered clear evidence in The Washington Post of how the damage is spreading.

    "The leak of a CIA operative's name has also exposed the identity of a CIA front company, potentially expanding the damage caused by the original disclosure, Bush administration officials said yesterday. The company's identity, Brewster-Jennings & Associates, became public because it appeared in Federal Election Commission records on a form filled out in 1999 by Valerie Plame, the case officer at the center of the controversy, when she contributed $1,000 to Al Gore's presidential primary campaign.

    After the name of the company was broadcast yesterday, administration officials confirmed that it was a CIA front....A former diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity said yesterday that every foreign intelligence service would run Plame's name through its databases within hours of its publication to determine if she had visited their country and to reconstruct her activities."

Pincus and Allen then offer this little preview of events to come:

    "Wilson and his wife have hired Washington lawyer Christopher Wolf to represent them in the matter. The couple has directed him to take a preliminary look at claims they might be able to make against people they believe have impugned their character"

Investigations and lawsuits, the bane of any administration's existence. Check out below Ira Chernus's most recent CommonDreams piece on the scandals we notice and the ones we don't.

Plundering Iraq:

Derrick Jackson, in the column mentioned above, writes: "The original support for the war is waning as Americans realize that they have also waged war against themselves." As a bald man, I feel particularly free to say that, in Saddam-racked, sanctions-tossed, war-ruined Iraq, things can be seen more baldly than in the U.S., where the lights still work almost all the time and the rising unemployment rate is at 6.1% (higher if you include those who have given up looking for work), not 70-80%. But here's the thing, both places are now being run by a lootocracy. (I'm stealing the word from someone. I no longer remember whom exactly, but write in and I'll give you full credit.)

A huge story, the looting of Iraq, like the Wilson affair, has lingered at the media sidelines for months. First reported, possibly, in the National Journal, and followed at places like TomDispatch.com and here on MotherJones.com, it's suddenly burst into the mainstream media in a big way just in the last week or two. Some of the Halliburton story surfaced earlier, of course, thanks in part to the ongoing efforts of Congressman Henry Waxman. But the extent of crony capitalism in Iraq was largely ignored or barely reported. Even the decision only two weeks ago to turn the country into a vast fire sale was badly under-reported.

And yet, Iraq (like our own country for those who care to look) has been turned over to Bush administration cronies as a kind of private preserve. As things have gone ever more wrong, the preparations for plunder seem to have grown more frantic. Our putative global free traders have, in fact, turned crushed Iraq into a zone of protectionism. We may not protect our own industries but we're protecting whatever there is in Iraq for us - and, to an almost staggering extent, us alone. Whether the "bidding" for contracts is competitive or not seems largely beside the point. The contracts are almost all going to American companies.

The best piece I've seen on this recently is the piece by Mother Jones Washington correspondent Michael Scherer, 'K Street on the Tigris'. He writes in part:

    "'What you see on the surface is not really what is going on,' says Timothy Mills, a partner at Patton Boggs, one of several K Street firms that have launched a practice dedicated to Iraq. Mills advises clients to look beyond the continuing violence in Iraq and toward the long-term payoff for multinational corporations. 'Western companies, if they make the right connections early enough,' he says, 'have the potential of being swept into the mainstream of Iraqi commerce.'

    At least for now, those connections begin stateside. 'The way to Baghdad is through Washington,' says Bart Fisher, a lawyer at the firm Dorsey & Whitney and co-founder of the U.S. Iraq Business Council.

    ...

    At the Department of Agriculture, for example, a flood of lawyers and former government officials has been working the hallways, seeking markets in Iraq for everything from grain to excess chicken parts... This summer, the U.S. authority allowed bidders for the contract to use a wireless system licensed by the California firm Qualcomm, even though every other Middle East cell-phone company uses a rival technology. The bid specifications also placed limits on government ownership and required international experience, shutting out many of the Middle East's mobile-phone providers."

Don't miss the piece. Scherer names names -- and they're not just from the Bush administration. No wonder, General Zinni, Centcom commander in the Clinton years, is so worried about things going badly in Iraq. He "has signed up as an adviser at the firm Akin Gump," one of many competitors for Iraqi business. We're talking Sutter's Fort -- a gold rush here -- with big names fronting for every two-bit corporate chiseler in sight. This is an administration of thieves.

I recommend a piece by Filipino journalist Renato Redentor Constantino, "Imperial Democracy and Self-Rule," on just exactly how venal our occupation of Iraq looks elsewhere in the world. ("The empire distrusts democracy and fears empowered people. Filipinos should know.") It's bracing to be reminded that our view of ourselves, even our critical view of ourselves, isn't the only context within which we might be viewed.

Covering American casualties:

Another less-than-well-covered story that will nonetheless continue to drive this administration toward ruin has to do with American casualties. While we hear daily reports on American deaths, the wounded have been largely ignored. Christian Science Monitor journalist Brad Knickerbocker reports that on average 8 Americans are being wounded a day in Iraq. If accurate, that would result in well over 2,500 wounded this year. But these figures, as far as I can tell, have been under-reported. I've already mentioned in previous dispatches that, even weeks ago, 6,000 Americans had reportedly been flown out of Iraq for one medical reason or another. Now, David Isenberg of Asia Times points out one reason it's been so hard to get inside news on casualty figures from this war:

    "As was recently evidenced in the recovery of well-known former US prisoner of war Jessica Lynch, hospital employees are told not to talk about numbers or types of injuries. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, which went into effect last October, states health care personnel can go to prison and/or be fined astronomical amounts for even talking to other health professionals or family members about the condition and/or treatment of anyone in health care in the US at this time."

And knowing this administration's policies -- as long as the leakers don't come from inside the White House or the Pentagon -- you'd hesitate to speak out too.

Another almost completely uncovered story -- other than on veterans' websites at least -- concerns the longer term effect on American troops of this war. Gulf War Syndrome sank beneath the waves as our second Iraqi war bore down on us. Just about no one in the mainstream seems even to have considered the possibility of massive long-term casualties -- or future "syndromes" -- from this war too. An exception has been the Christian Science Monitor which, throughout this period, has continued, for instance, to cover the much debated question of the dangers of uranium-depleted weaponry. Here, for instance, is another paragraph from Knickerbocker's piece:

    "The war in Iraq (and in the other theaters of the war on terrorism around the world) is likely to produce other longer-term costs as well. For example, the impact of this conflict in Iraq could mean more instances of Gulf War Syndrome than the 100-hour ground war of 1991, due to much longer periods of exposure to chemicals, depleted uranium, and other toxic substances. (It may already be showing up in the form of more than 100 recent instances of respiratory illness among US soldiers in Iraq.)"

And you might ponder the following from the Glasgow Herald by Ian Bruce, appearing under the headline 'Unknown Illness Sweeps US Troops':

    "The outbreak of pneumonia-like symptoms in US troops serving in Iraq could be the harbinger of a new and potentially enormous wave of Gulf war syndrome cases, according to American veterans' organisations and defence analysts. The groups are also braced for a huge rise in post-traumatic stress disorder casualties as a result of the daily exposure of soldiers to guerrilla attacks and the stress of round-the-clock living in a threat-filled environment.

    More than 100 soldiers have succumbed to severe and as yet unexplained respiratory complaints. At least two fit, otherwise healthy men have died from complications. Veterans' groups claim the numbers affected by debilitating symptoms could easily outstrip the estimated 160,000 American and 5000 British troops who complained of illness after the 1991 Gulf conflict."

Why We Should Leave:

I'll save my own thoughts about the necessity of a quick departure from Iraq for another dispatch. Recently, Nancy Lessin, founder of Military Families Speak Out (www.mfso.org/), whose 25-year-old son served in the Marine Corps in the Persian Gulf, had this to say on Amy Goodman's Democracy Now!:

    "[My husband and I] could not help believing that if the greatest natural resource in Iraq was olive oil, the leaders of this country would not have been talking about launching a virtually unilateral, preemptive war of aggression against another sovereign nation. The sign my husband and I made one year ago this month had Joe's picture on it, and it said, "Our son is a Marine -- Don't send him to war for oil!"

She then quoted the following letter from Jane Bright, Mother of Sgt. Evan Ashcraft. (By the way, I've noted many brave acts over the last year, but I happen to consider a statement like this the bravest of all and the most painful to read.):

    "My son, Sgt. Evan Ashcraft, was killed July 24, 2003 at 2:30 in the morning on a lonely road near Mosul, Iraq. He was 24 years old. He died alone, no family nearby, no one to hold his hand or pray over him as he left this world.

    Evan was a gifted student, musician and athlete. He started college courses in mathematics and computer science when he was 13 years old. He played classical piano. He had hopes and dreams. He and his soul mate, Ashley, had big plans. Evan planned to get his college degree after he left the Army. Evan and Ashley had been married 3 years. Evan was one of the best and the brightest. He was a leader, his team loved him and he them.

    The young men and women who are dying in Iraq are our future generation of leaders. They are the future of America. They represent the best that America has to offer. Those who survive Iraq will undoubtedly face years of anguish over what they have witnessed in this immoral war, all in the name of oil. In the meantime we, the American public, sit by, mute, as we watch our young die. We must halt this unconscionable action in Iraq immediately and bring our young people home.

    It's too late for my son, but it's not too late for the many tens of thousands still in Iraq. Bring them home now!"

Additional contributions from Tom Engelhardt can be found throughout the week at TomDispatch.com, a weblog of The Nation Institute.