Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Soldiers Now Denied Their Freedom To Leave

Long standing soldiers serving in the US military are being prevented from retiring. These are called "stop-loss" orders issued to prevent a "hemorrhage of personnel". According to this Washington Post article approximately 40,000 soldiers, 16,000 of these National Guard and reservists, while being eligible for retirement have been prevented from leaving. Hundreds more in the Air Force, Navy and Marines have experienced the same fate.

By prohibiting soldiers and officers from leaving the service at retirement or the expiration of their contracts, military leaders have breached the Army's manpower limit of 480,000 troops, a ceiling set by Congress. In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee last month, Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, disclosed that the number of active-duty soldiers has crept over the congressionally authorized maximum by 20,000 and now registered 500,000 as a result of stop-loss orders.

Congress approved the authority for what became known as stop-loss orders after the Vietnam war. But the authority was not used until the buildup of the Persian Gulf War in 1990 when Richard B Cheney, then secretary of defense, allowed the military services to bar most retirements and prolong enlistments indefinately. In the past two years, the Army alone as announced 11 stop-loss orders -- an average of one every 9 or 10 weeks.

The military response to griping about stop-loss is bluntly unsympathetic. "We're all soldiers. We go where were told," said Maj. Steve Stover, an Army spokesman. "Fair has nothing to do with it."

US Ignores the Terrorist Threat Within

A Texan man pleaded guilty to possession of a weapon of mass destruction last month but the case received no coverage by the national media. Yet it was described as "at the very top of all domestic terrorist arrests in the past 20 years in terms of lethality of the arsenal". The man was also in possession of a mound of white-supremacist and antigovernment literature.

The fact is, the number of domestic terrorist acts in the past five years far outweighs the number of international acts, says Mark Pitcavage of the fact-finding department at the Anti-Defamation League. "We do have home-grown hate in the United States, people who are just as ill-disposed to the American government as any international terrorist group," he says.

Levitas [author of "The Terrorist Next Door: The Militia Movement and the Radical Right."] estimates that there are approximately 25,000 right-wing extremist members and activists and some 250,000 sympathizers. The Southern Poverty Law Center counted 708 hate groups in 2002.

While Mr. Pitcavage was surprised the Krar case did not receive more attention ... [h]e points to a case he calls one of "the major terrorist plots of the 1990s" in which militia from around the country converged in central Texas allegedly to attack a military base. They were arrested at a campground near Fort Hood on the morning of July 4, 1997, with a large collection of weapons and explosives. "There was virtually no media coverage of that incident either," says Pitcavage.

When Does Reconstruction Start?

Peace protesters all over the world knew before the war started, that an American led invasion of Iraq would result in human tradgedy caused by blind greed. Now, more than 9 months since the "war" ended, basic infrastructure is still laying in ruins, people go without basic services like electricity, water and medical supplies, and there is little being done that doesn't advance the US/British occuptation agenda. Even Saddam Hussein was able to get basic infrastructure back up and running within 3 months of the first gulf war. So what gives?