KATHMANDU (AFP) — Retired British Gurkha soldiers in Nepal on Friday hailed as “historic” a British announcement that the veterans can settle in Britain.
The British government said on Thursday all of the Nepalese fighters who retired before 1997 and had served at least four years with the British army could now apply for residency.
“This is a historic achievement for all Gurkhas,” Jit Bahadur Rai, treasurer of the Gurkha Army Ex-Servicemen?s Organisation, told AFP.
Gurkhas who retired after 1997 — when their base was moved from Hong Kong following the territory’s return to China — already had the right to settle in Britain and more than 6,000 have done so….
George J. Tenet, the C.I.A. director who insisted that the agency had thoroughly researched its proposal and pressed it on other officials, did not examine the history of the most shocking method, the near-drowning technique known as waterboarding.
The top officials he briefed did not learn that waterboarding had been prosecuted by the United States in war-crimes trials after World War II and was a well-documented favorite of despotic governments since the Spanish Inquisition; one waterboard used under Pol Pot was even on display at the genocide museum in Cambodia.
They did not know that some veteran trainers from the SERE program itself had warned in internal memorandums that, morality aside, the methods were ineffective. Nor were most of the officials aware that the former military psychologist who played a central role in persuading C.I.A. officials to use the harsh methods had never conducted a real interrogation, or that the Justice Department lawyer most responsible for declaring the methods legal had idiosyncratic ideas that even the Bush Justice Department would later renounce.
The process was “a perfect storm of ignorance and enthusiasm,” a former C.I.A. official said.
And, of course, no one volunteered to try them out.
Men sent to Iraq or Afghanistan for two, three, or four tours of duty return to wives who find them “changed” and children they barely know. Tens of thousands return to inadequate, underfunded veterans’ services with appalling physical injuries, crippling post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and suck-it-up sergeants who hold to the belief that no good soldier seeks help. That, by the way, is a mighty convenient belief for the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, which have been notoriously slow to offer [or pay for] much of that help….
…by relying heavily on numbers and press releases as a way of covering both conflicts, the public has been rendered incapable of experiencing or feeling any dramatic element associated with the devastation. It’s a sad truth that the average person is unable to accurately say how many U.S. soldiers have been killed and wounded since the wars began (4,257 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq, more than 31,000 wounded, 320,000 diagnosed with brain injuries)[sic].
Dead babies, mothers weeping on their children’s graves, a gun aimed at a child and bombed-out mosques – these are a few examples of the images Israel Defense Forces soldiers design these days to print on shirts they order to mark the end of training, or of field duty. The slogans accompanying the drawings are not exactly anemic either: A T-shirt for infantry snipers bears the inscription “Better use Durex,” next to a picture of a dead Palestinian baby, with his weeping mother and a teddy bear beside him. A sharpshooter’s T-shirt from the Givati Brigade’s Shaked battalion shows a pregnant Palestinian woman with a bull’s-eye superimposed on her belly, with the slogan, in English, “1 shot, 2 kills.”
Under a relentless equatorial sun and the gaze of her Zimbabwean instructor, Juliet Kituye quickly reassembles her AK-47. Next to her, a young man in a ripped red T-shirt discharges imaginary rounds at an invisible target.On a disused soccer pitch in the suburbs of the Ugandan capital, Kampala, 300 hopefuls are being put through rudimentary firearms training. Many of the recruits are raw and their drills occasionally lurch towards slapstick. One trainee lets the magazine slip out of his automatic rifle and onto the red earth, someone else about turns right instead of left. All of them share the same dream, however: going to Iraq.
Pictures of casualties have long played into the politics of a war — most notably in Vietnam, dubbed the “living-room war” for its extensive television coverage, including footage of coffins rolling off planes at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii as if off a conveyor belt. Indeed, starting in the 1990s, politicians and generals used the term “the Dover test” to describe the public’s tolerance for troop casualties.
Between 2003 and 2007 — as many military families dealt with long war deployments and increased numbers of home foreclosures — Army Emergency Relief grew into a $345 million behemoth. During those years, the charity packed away $117 million into its own reserves while spending just $64 million on direct aid, according to an AP analysis of its tax records.
This story is no longer just about lack of medical care. It’s far worse than sighting mold and mouse droppings in the barracks. Late last month the Army released data showing the highest suicide rate among soldiers in three decades. At least 128 soldiers committed suicide in 2008. Another 15 deaths are still under investigation as potential suicides. “Why do the numbers keep going up?” Army Secretary Pete Geren said at a Jan. 29 Pentagon news conference. “We can’t tell you.” On Feb. 5, the Army announced it suspects 24 soldiers killed themselves last month, more than died in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.
But suicide is only one manifestation of the unaddressed madness and despair coming home with U.S. troops. …
In the first hours of his presidency, President Obama directed an immediate halt to the Bush administration’s military commissions system for prosecuting detainees at the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Notice of the decision came in a legal filing in Guantanamo by military prosecutors just before midnight Tuesday. The decision, which had been expected as part of Mr. Obama’s pledge to close the detention camp, was described as a pause in all war-crimes proceedings there so that the new administration can evaluate how to proceed with prosecutions.
ZURICH (Reuters) – Switzerland is ready to consider taking in detainees from the U.S. prison for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba if that helps to shut it down, the Swiss government said on Wednesday.
“For Switzerland, the detention of people in Guantanamo is in conflict with international law. Switzerland is ready to consider how it can contribute to the solution of the Guantanamo problem,” the government said in a statement.
Doe, who was diagnosed with HIV in 2000, served his country for 20 years until his retirement from the Army in September 2001. From 2004 to 2005, he worked for Defense Department contractors in Iraq, where he led security teams on military bases. In each of these jobs, the government was aware that Doe had HIV, and had no problem with him performing the jobs in war zones in Iraq. Like many people with HIV, Doe remains healthy with an undetectable viral load. Doe is currently working in construction, earning much less than his promised salary with Triple Canopy, and making it difficult for his family to make ends meet.
…their yellow ribbon patriotism and shallow concern fade quickly to apathy and indifference. The living refuse of war that returns are heroes no longer, but outcasts and derelicts, and burdens on the economy. The dead, they mythologize with memorials and speeches of past and future suffering and loss. Inspiring and prophetic words by those who sanction the slaughter to those who know nothing of sacrifice. …
Religion and the rule of law teach us that life is sacred and inviolable That is, that human beings possess an inalienable right to life. Correlative to this right is the moral and legal obligation not to kill another human being, i.e., not to violate this right in others. This inalienable right to life is the basis of the Just War principle that requires innocents to be discriminated and afforded immunity, that they not be attacked, injured or killed in war. t r u t h o u t | A Crisis of Conscience
This interesting Tricycle article comes via Wildmind’s excellent blog.
The $85,000 hall, situated in the Air Force Academy Chapel’s basement, was built with donations from Friends of Zen, a nonprofit that supports the development of Rinzai Zen sanghas, and from the Frederick P. Lenz Foundation for American Buddhism. The space features a meticulous attention to detail: matte green walls, recessed lighting, a beautiful and intricate altar, and on the floor and walls the hand-planed finish of rare Port Orford Cedar (actually a misnomer since the tree is a cypress belonging to the same family as Japanese Hinoki, used in many Japanese temples). It’s hard to believe that only three months ago this same room was so aesthetically unpleasant that the door was kept locked so visitors to the chapel would not see it.