Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Rat In the State Department

A Rat in the State Department

By Stan G. Kain
1 October 2013

Security and vigilance are key issues in Washington, D.C. We're spending millions of dollars on additional security measures and the protection of our national monuments. High on the list is the U.S. State Department, where worries about Iran, Iraq, North Korea, al-Queda and even the French, are top concerns. If State Department officials don't already have enough to worry about, they have been advised of a new threat. There's a rat in the State Department.

Well, not just a lone rat, but several, according to reports. We're not talking about a rat that leaks classified information, such as the recent CIA bungle. We're talking about real rats and their smaller cousins, mice, too.

On Monday, the department sent a warning to employees in the main building. Employees were advised to be on the lookout for “increasing numbers of mice and their larger cousins.” It seems the rodents are on their annual trek to find warm lodging and food for the winter. The warning added that ongoing building renovation provides convenient pathways for rodent entry.

Employees were admonished to not leave food on their desks and to pick up any crumbs and reduce clutter in work areas. Supervisors were told to assure access for custodial workers in secure areas, so inviting morsels would be quickly removed from the building.

In typical government style, workers were told to direct all mouse sightings and questions about the pest management program to the facility management service desk. More than likely, there's a government manual on hand, offering a bureaucratic procedure for mouse removal. I wonder if a captured mouse must be debriefed before removal from classified areas within the State Department? Perhaps the captured varmints could be shipped to Cuba, rather than risking the ire of animal rights groups.

Anyway, I hope the facility management service desk at the State Department has an effective means of eliminating the begging little rodents. If the plan works, we could use the method in other areas of government. Just think about the possibilities.

If we could secure Congress, eliminating convenient pathways for lobbyists to gain entry, we're going in the right direction. Accomplishing this, we might not have lobbyists dropping scraps of cash, luxury vacations, fancy dinners and other tempting morsels for poor, unsuspecting members of congress. Having these vermin exterminated from Washington, our representatives would be free to act in the interest of voters. What a refreshing idea that would be!

A facility management service desk sounds like a good idea for every government agency. Armed with a bureaucratic manual for pest management, we might get government back to their real purpose....serving the people.

If you have questions or comments, please email Stan.

©2003 Stan G. Kain

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Letters From Iraq

Letters From Iraq

By Stan G. Kain
15 October 2003

Since the earliest days of man's recorded history, soldiers have sent letters home, telling of life on the field of batter.  In the theater of war, the need to stay in touch with family is an essential part of keeping one's focus on reality.  I remember my mother telling about letters my father sent from Iwo Jima during World War II.  Often, military censors, protecting strategic information, would virtually shred the original latter.  The remaining confetti was still reassuring that my father was alive and well.

Times have changed, as we move into the twenty-first century.  We watch battles in real-time from Iraq, compliments of satellite and embedded reporters.  Soldiers deliver lightning fast email to families and even have limited access to cellular telephones.  We're living in a different era of communications.

Recently, the Gannett News Service, owners of several newspapers around the U.S., received letters from American troops in Iraq.  The letters were sent to many of the soldier's hometown newspapers, relating their successes in the desert war.  While U.S. public opinion of the war sours, positive letters from American soldiers are newsworthy.  Gannett News Service was happy to present individual views of the common soldier.  Happy, that is, until alert Gannett editors discovered the letters were all the same.  

How, asked the Gannett staff, is it possible that several soldiers wrote an identical letter, except for the signature and sent their letter to eleven different Gannett newspapers?  Coincidence?  Could it be possible that at least eleven soldiers witnessed the same events, wrote the same letter, word for world, signed it and sent it to their hometown newspaper?  Even if you truly believe that “Miss Cleo” is a genuine psychic, you'd have trouble swallowing that story.

As a responsible news service, Gannett had no alternative but to withhold publication of the letters until they could confirm the source.  The five-paragraph letter related how military efforts are reestablishing police and fire departments and building water and sewer plants in the Iraqi city of Kirkuk.  The letter explains that, “one thousand of my fellow soldiers and I parachuted from ten jumbo jets,”  The letter states that Kirkuk is “a hot and dusty city of just over a million people.”  Each letter continues, “The fruits of all our soldiers' efforts are clearly visible in the streets of Kirkuk today.  There is very little trash in the streets, many more people in the markets and shops, and children have returned to school.”  The soldier says, “I am proud of the work we are doing here in Iraq and I hope all of your readers are, as well.”

Gannett reporters set out to locate the authors of those letters, or at the very least, family members.  The news staff managed to contact six of the troops directly, or through family members.  Interviews, while very much in support of the text of the letters, raised more questions than answers.

Sgt. Christopher Shelton said he signed the letter, after it was distributed by his platoon sergeant.  He and other members of his platoon were asked to sign the letter, if they agreed and provide the names of their hometown newspapers.

Sgt. Todd Oliver, spokesman for the 173rd Airborne Brigade, said he was told a soldier wrote the letter, but he didn't know who.  He quickly defended the brigade's public affairs unit, saying they were not involved.  Sgt. Oliver said when he asked other soldiers in his unit to sign the letter, they did.  Sgt. Oliver added, “Someone, somewhere along the way, took it upon themselves to mail it to the various editors of newspapers across the country.”

Lt. Col. Bill MacDonald, spokesmand for the 4th Infantry  Division, heading operations in north-central Iraq, denied any knowledge of the letter.  Lt. Cmdr. Nick Balice, spokesman for the U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida, echoed the denial.  

Timothy Deaconson of Beckley, WV, congratulated his son on the fine job he had done writing the letter.  Knowing his son, Mr. Deaconson didn't expect the excellent writing style.  His son responded, “What letter?”  He had no knowledge of the letter and was currently in a hospital recovering from a shrapnel wound to both legs.

The remaining contacts by Gannett News Service substantiated the claims.  Some soldiers had heard of the letter, others did not.  Some were asked to sign a form letter, which apparently was sent to hometown newspapers.  Military public affairs officers deny any knowledge of the letter.  The letter itself was a form letter of unknown origin and nothing more.

Was the letter a drafted creation of some military public affairs officer?  Did the letter originate in Iraq or possibly in the Pentagon?  Did anyone in Washington have knowledge of the letter and the distribution to several newspapers in the U.S.?  We may never have the answer to that question.

While we may never know who wrote the letter, we do know something about it.  Even if every word in the letter is true, the letter is still a lie.  The letter is propaganda.  Someone, somewhere has used American soldiers, without their consent or knowledge, to bolster support for the Bush Administration's Iraq Reconstruction Plan.  At the very least, the attempt is immoral and disgusting!

Propaganda is as old as warfare, itself.  We dropped leaflets in Afghanistan, depicting Osama bin Laden (do you remember him?) wearing a western suit.  The intent was to convince his followers that he'd sold out to the West.  In wars of the past, we've labeled our enemies as “Krauts,” “Nips,” “Gooks,” “Commies,” and numerous other derogatory terms.  Why?  There is a need to dehumanize the enemy.  Once gains far more support at home when the enemy is reduced to just a word, rather than as a fellow citizen of this planet.

Propaganda will always be a part of warfare.  We use it just as every other nation does.  We have gone too far, however, by using the names of individual soldiers to promote a plan without direction.  We've been promised evidence of weapons of mass destruction.  We've been promised that Osama bin Laden would be captured.  We've been promised that Saddam Hussein would be captured.  We've been told that Iraq was attempting to purchase uranium from Africa.  We've been told that Iraq is the threat to America, although it was a small army of Saudis who flew planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.  When  is the lying in Washington going to stop?

If you have questions or comments, please email Stan.

©2003  Stan G. Kain

Monday, December 23, 2013

Friends In High Places

Friends in High Places

By Stan G. Kain
30 September 2003

When your country has been visited by invading U.S. military forces, there's going to be a lot of cleanup to be done, once they leave. War just isn't a very orderly activity. Iraq is no exception. In fact, President Junior is calling for $20.3 billion to help rebuild the country, following the U.S.-led war against Saddam Hussein. As most of us expect, that figure will grow significantly, before Iraq is returned to a productive state.

Likewise, our government is spending about $3.9 billion a month on military operations in Iraq. Up to one-third of that money ends up in the hands of contractors, providing food, housing and other services to U.S. and coalition forces. Worldwide, contractors are gearing up to earn their share of the lucrative contracts in the battle-torn nation.

Earning a contract with the U.S. government is not a simple procedure. It's not a simple matter of presenting a bid. Contractors face mountains of forms, bureaucratic red tape and competition. The lowest bidder does not always earn the contract. The government considers many factors in awarding the highly desired jobs. In fact, employing the services of a consulting firm, familiar with such contracts, is standard procedure.

Just as the President announced estimated figures for the reconstruction effort, a new consulting firm has arrived on the scene. New Bridge Strategies, LLC, has created a website, offering consulting services for the rebuilding of Iraq. So far, that sounds like good business strategy. There is nothing sinister about starting a new business.

Let's see what New Bridge Strategies has to say about their objectives. According to their website, New Bridge Strategies says, “New Bridge Strategies, LLC, is a unique company that was created specifically with the air of assisting clients to evaluate and take advantage of business opportunities in the Middle East following the conclusion of the U.S.-led war in Iraq. It's activities will seek to expedite the creation of free and fair markets and new economic growth in Iraq, consistent with the policies of the Bush Administration. The opportunities evolving in Iraq today are of such unprecedented nature and scope that no other existing firm has the necessary skills and experience to be effective both in Washington D.C. and on the ground in Iraq.” (I have added the italics for further reference.)

According to the website information, New Bridge Strategies indicates they have some top-notch people in their employ. They have staff that understands government contracts and the in's and out's of Washington, D.C. What else does New Bridge Strategies say about their staff? The website adds that it's, “principals have years of public policy experience, have held positions in the Reagan Administration and both Bush Administrations and are particularly well suited for working with International agencies in the Executive Branch, Department of Defense and the U.S. Agency for International Development, the American rebuilding apparatus and establishing early links to Congress.”

Wait a minute! Can you spell, “nepotism?” Something sounds a little strange, here. Are we about to see another Halliburton/Cheney connection in the rebuilding of Iraq? Let's look at the top officials in New Bridge Strategies. Research here may add some details to the story. I offer you the following bios from the New Bridge Strategies website.

Joe M. Allbaugh, Chairman and Director
Joe M. Allbaugh is the CEO of the Allbaugh Company, LLC, a Washington, D.C.-based corporate strategy and counsel firm. A native of Oklahoma, Joe served as the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) under President George Bush until March 2003. Prior to moving to Washington D.C., he was Chief of Staff to then-Governor Bush of Texas and was the campaign Manager for the Bush-Cheney 2000 presidential campaign.

Ed Rogers, Vice Chairman and Director
Ed Rogers is Vice Chairman of Barbour Griffith & Rogers, Inc., the firm founded with Haley Barbour in 1991. From January of 1989 until August of 1991, Ed served as the Deputy Assistant to the President of the United States and Executive Assistant to the White House Chief of Staff. Additionally, Ed was the Senior Deputy to Bush-Quayle Campaign Manager, Lee Atwater, from February of 1987, through the general election in 1988. Ed also worked in the White House Office of Political Affairs during the Reagan Administration.

John Howland, President, CEO and Director
Prior to becoming President of New Bridge Strategies, John Howland was Executive Vice President of Crest Investment Company, of which he is a Principal. He has worked with Middle Eastern governments and companies, including Iraq (prior to 1989), for over twenty-five years in many areas including food distribution, transportation and oil and gas. John knows the politics of the Middle East and is very knowledgeable about Iraq and its future potential. During the years encompassing the Iran-Iraq war, he worked closely with the U.S. Government, providing food aid and logistical support to the Iraqi government.

Lanny Griffith
Lanny Griffith is Chief Operating Officer at Barbour Griffith & Rogers, Inc. and joined the firm as a partner in 1993. Previously, Lanny served former President George Bush as Assistant Secretary of Education for Intergovernmental and Interagency Affairs from November 1991 until January 1993. Lanny also served in the White House as Special Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and was the Southern Political Director for the 1988 Bush-Quayle presidential campaign.

Joe Allbaugh was part of President Junior's so called “Iron Triangle.” The other two members being Karl Rove and Karen Hughes. Now, Allbaugh is running an outfit that helps your company get the sweetest contracts in Iraq. Does that sound right? Do you think he'd have any special pull with the Executive Office?

I'd suggest you look at the New Bridge Strategies, LLC website at: for your own information. We've already seen the massive contracts in Iraq, awarded to Halliburton Industries. Of course, we've also been told that Vice President Cheney has divested himself from Halliburton. I'm sure we'll also be told the former Bush/Reagan staff of New Bridge Strategies has divested themselves from the White House, as well. Sure, I buy that. I also buy the story that Bill Clinton never inhaled. I buy the story that olld Bill never had sex with that woman, either. Right.

This is not a Republican issue. This is not a Democrat issue. This is just another case of how American politicians put power, influence and money ahead of the interests of the American people, who elected them to office. What will the American voter do about it? It's time to clean house, starting with the White House. American voters need to wake up and put our country ahead of political party lines. Maybe it's time to replace the professional politicians and demand real safeguards agains nepotism.

If you have questions or comments, please email Stan.

©2003 Stan G. Kain

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Biological Weapons At Discount Prices

Biological Weapons At Discount Prices

By Stan G. Kain
7 October 2003

We are all aware of the need to decimate Iraq. After all, they have weapons of mass destruction. Well, maybe they don't, or we can't find them, but they do have equipment for making such weapons. That's reason enough to flatten the country, isn't it? Don't forget the rest of the “Axis of Evil.” We don't know what sort of evil weapons North Korea and Iran might be producing. Even if they don't use these weapons, they certainly might sell them to terrorist groups who would use them.

It's a dangerous world we live in, especially when one thinks about the horrors of biological and chemical weapons. Most of these weapons of war are banned by United Nations treaty. Certainly, any nation producing or selling these weapons deserves the same fate as Iraq. U.N. inspectors must go into these nations, find the weapons and manufacturing equipment and see that it's destroyed. When we finish with Iraq, what country should be next?

You might be surprised to learn that our very own United States of America should be added to the list of “terrorist” nations. We not only produce the equipment necessary to build biological weapons, we sell it at discount, no less and we don't really care who buys it. That's right, we're in the same business as those nations President “Junior,” loves to call, “The Axis of Evil.”

Have you ever heard of the General Accounting Office? That is the investigative arm of Congress, right here in the United States of America. The GAO is a branch of our own government, not some left-wing Democrat device created by Bill Clinton, as hawks will suspect. The GAO has been around long before Bill Clinton chased women, smoked but didn't inhale, or even entered grade school.. So, what does the GAO have to say about our own government and biological weapons? Prepare yourself for a shock.

A GAO draft report, presented to Congress, states, “Many items needed to establish a laboratory for making biological warfare agents, were being sold on the Internet to the public from DOD's (Department of Defense) excess property inventory, for pennies on the dollar, making them both easy and economical to obtain.”

The report adds, “As requested, GAO established a fictitious company and purchased, over the Internet, key excess DOD biological equipment items and related protective clothing, necessary to product and disseminate biological warfare agents.”

What's going on here? What is the General Accounting Office trying to tell Congress? How did this happen? Congress, American citizens and the rest of the world deserve an explanation. How dare we invade and threaten other nations for allegedly doing the very same thing we're doing? Is it any wonder we aren't the most popular nation with our world neighbors?

The GAO investigation was requested by the House Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations. This group is a unit of the Government Reform Committee.

The GAO admits that much of the equipment they purchased from the DOD is available to the public at full price on the open market. The DOD, however, makes the purchase easy and inexpensive, certainly to the joy of terrorists, everywhere. The fictitious GAO company bought an evaporator, incubator and centrifuge equipment, which are used to produce biological warfare agents. They also purchased related protective clothing, necessary to produce and disseminate biological warfare agents. The front company purchased the items for a little over $4,000, or pennies on the dollar. The Defense Department had spent $46,000 when they purchased the same items, selling them at less than ten percent of the purchase price.

The situation gets worse. According to the GAO, there are poor controls in the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service. That's the agency responsible for the sale of excess DOD property to the public. The GAO adds, “there is little assurance excess (chemical/biological) equipment has not already fallen into the wrong hands.” The DOD doesn't seem to care who purchases their excess weapons equipment.

And, the situation grows even worse. The GAO front company found a problem with the 300 -400 chemical/biological protective suits they purchased. Some of the suits had previously been identified by the DOD as “defective,” but were still circulating in the surplus supply chain. In fact, an unknown number of the defective suits have been issued to state and local law enforcement agencies, before being returned to the Defense Department, where they were supposed to be destroyed. Yes, our own Department of Defense not only has sold dangerous equipment to unknown sources, but also has endangered our own public safety workers by supplying faulty equipment. A Congressional source said the suits should not have been resold under any circumstances.

What is Congress doing about the situation? A subcommittee will hold a hearing today, with testimony from Pentagon officials, GAO investigators and a chemical-biological weapons expert. I'm sure every effort will be made to “sanitize” the DOD sales.

We should be concerned not only with the indiscriminate sales of chemical/biological weapons equipment. We should be as concerned that our government has so much of the equipment that it hits the surplus sales market.
How can we condemn any nation for possessing chemical and biological weapons and the manufacturing equipment when we have stores of these weapons all over the United States? How can we condemn any nation when we have so much lab equipment that we sell the surplus, for pennies on the dollar, to any buyer?

We can justify our biological and chemical weapons program in any way we wish. Whatever justification we use, may be used by any other nation, as well. Stockpiles of these weapons and the labs for manufacturing them must be destroyed by all nations, including the United States, immediately. I say destroyed, not sold at surplus sales to unknown buyers. Our world cannot afford any nation to possess these weapons. Perhaps David Kay, the U.S. weapons inspector needs to have his team working right here in America, before they scour the desert of Iraq, trying to justify President Junior's excuse for war.

If we ever hope to earn the trust and respect of the United Nations, we need to clean up our own back yard, first. If I were a small nation with chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, I would also hesitate to destroy my stockpile. I would be fearful of the United States, with far larger stockpiles of the same weapons and considering diplomacy as sending in the United States military. While my small nation was being called a “nuclear threat,” I'd remember there is only one country in the world that's used a nuclear weapon in war. Not just one such weapon, but two.

If you have any questions or comments, please email Stan.

©2003 Stan G. Kain

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Nation of Sheep

A Nation of Sheep

By Stan G. Kain
18 September 2003

Having worked in the media for several years, I suppose I'd have to say I'm a “news junkie.” I'm usually up early in the morning and the first thing I do is scan several online news sources, from around the world. Two or three articles usually catch my eye and beg for further reading. Often, I sit there, wondering what has happened to the power of our people. Are we just complacent? Are we lazy? Do we just accept the course of our nation, as our leaders tell us what's best for us? Do we question the motive of those in power? Are we just so comfortable, we're not willing to make small sacrifices to protect our freedoms?

I think about the sacrifices made by our Founding Fathers of this nation. Do we still have individuals willing to stand up to the power of government and big business, or are we just a nation of sheep? Three recent articles have caught my attention and serve as examples of what I'm saying.

We've heard a lot of controversy about the price of prescription drugs in America. Many Americans, forced to choose between buying prescription medication or food, have chosen an alternative. These Americans are purchasing their drugs from Canadian pharmacies. Are they saving money? You bet they are!

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, from New York, directed a survey on the price of FDA-approved prescription drugs, comparing prices in Canada with prices in New York. Purchasing Allegra, New Yorkers save $85.00 each year, making the purchase from Canada. They saved $371.00 each year on Lipitor, $182.00 on Norvasc and a whipping $976.00 on Prevacid.

Currently, name brand drug companies in the U.S. charge whatever they wish for their products. They are able to do so, because they face little competition from generic or other alternatives. Prescription drugs in Canada are priced 38% lower than in the U.S., on average.

In the Senate, a bill introduced by Senator Byron Dorgan (D-NM), was signed into law. The law, known as the “MEDS Act,” allows re-importation from a group of industrialized countries, but has never been implemented. Why? Because the law leaves ultimate control over drug re-importation to the federal Health and Human Services Secretary. Both the U.S. and Canada have similar processes for reviewing and approving pharmaceuticals, including compliance with standard practices and labeling of medicines. Yet, the Health and Human Service Secretary and some U.S. politicians are taking measures to block Americans from purchasing drugs from lower price sources in Canada. Why? Opponents claim that drugs purchased from Canada may not be safe. They argue that medication may be mislabeled, out of date or not full strength. The real reason? Have you ever heard of pharmaceutical lobbyists?

Pharmaceutical manufacturers use many of those dollars paid by patients to lobbyists in Washington. Lobbyists line the pockets of politicians to make sure the interests of their bosses are protected. We're not talking about protecting American patients. We're talking about protecting the profits of manufacturers.

Have you ever heard of Canadians dropping dead outside Canadian pharmacies, due to lack of quality control in their prescriptions? Of course not! We're talking about quality control in Canada, a nation as advanced as our own, not about a back street vendor in Bangladesh. If I were Canadian, I'd consider this argument an insult!

What is the solution to the price of prescription medications in the U.S.? Should Americans be allowed to continue purchasing medication from a licensed Canadian pharmacy? As an interim measure, yes. As a long range solution, Americans should demand checks and balances with lobbyist activities. We need to stand behind people like Senator Shumer. Consider the time to send a letter to your elected representatives as an investment in your future. Demand an accounting of lobbyists money. Demand pharmaceutical prices at least equal to those in Canada, or at least the option of purchasing the same medication from a Canadian source. Don't just be a sheep and accept statements from agencies, such as Health and Human Services. Demand to see facts and figures for Canadian pharmaceutical standards.

Have you noticed a drop in the price of gasoline, recently? Of course not! Do you know that oil prices in London hit a four-month low on Wednesday? Crude oil fell 29 cents in London, while U.S. light crude fell 44 cents, just off a four-month low. In fact, crude oil prices have fallen fourteen percent this month. Supplies are up, as well. The U.S. government's Energy Information Administration reported weekly crude stocks had risen by 3.1 million barrels, to 279.3 million barrels. Oil prices have slide so low, OPEC is meeting next Wednesday to review their output policy.

So, why are we still paying $1.77 per gallon for gasoline? The answer is simple enough. Because we're willing to pay it. Do you think the oil companies mind making the additional profit? Of course not! Oil companies will charge whatever the market will bear. How many Americans are willing to cut back consumption, in an effort to restore fair prices? This calls for some sacrifice. How much gasoline could each American save, if short trips were consolidated? Is this trip really necessary? Could I walk to do this errand? Could I use public transportation? If each of us could reduce our gasoline consumption by even five gallons a week, oil companies would take notice. Prices would drop. Of course, every American would have to participate in the protest. There is power in numbers. Oh, and Americans should remember they sent oil company supporters to the White House. Remember that at election time.

What about consumer privacy? Do you think a retailer or manufacturer has the right to track your purchases? The technology is here and tracking is at your front door. Consumer goods companies and retailers have announced a replacement for the well known barcode on products. Many firms will be upgrading to the new radio frequency identification (RFID) system. The nearly invisible device, embedded in products, will broadcast information about the product, including the location and serial number.

Supporters of the RFID technology claim retailers will be able to take an accurate inventory, with a quick scan, cutting labor costs. In reality, the RFID chips can be used to secretly identify you and the things you are carrying – right through your clothing, wallet, backpack or purse, or through the walls of your home. RFID chips, combined with user membership or discount cards, will allow retailers to track your purchasing pattern. As technology advances, additional data may be gathered about individual consumers. CASPIAN and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have been fighting implementation of the new technology. Only a small number of legislators in the U.S. have acknowledged their concerns.

The Auto-ID Center, having developed the chip, has refused to publish its plan for protecting the privacy of consumers. They have proposed that retailers can disable the RFID tags, upon purchase, but suggests this be done only when requested by the shopper. CASPIAN member, Katherine Albrecht says, “We are not aware of any cases in which the chips are being killed at checkout.” Retailers who have been testing the RFID technology in the U.S. and Europe are not disabling the tags.

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, will require that it's suppliers tag their warehouse pallets and containers with RFID tags, giving it's largest suppliers until 2005 to comply, with others to follow by 2006. Hannaford's has made the decision not to have a shopper registration program, at this time, to help protect consumers. However, the supermarket chain was purchased by Food Lion in 1999. Food Lion promotes cards in its other stores.

Do you want every manufacturer and retailer to know your purchase history? Are you not concerned about how far the technology will go in the future? As with a disease, it is much easier to treat the problem in the beginning stages. How much effort would it take to learn which retailers and manufacturers are implementing the RFID chip in their products? CASPIAN maintains a database, accessible via the Internet, of supermarket policies relating to shopper registration. Learning about these stores is a beginning. Demand to know RFID policies at stores where you shop. Sure, you might have to change your shopping pattern, but advise store managers that you will not purchase items or from stores using the RFID technology. When the profits fall, the RFID chip will go the way of the Edsel. Remember, with retailers and manufacturers, the bottom line is profit.

I've discussed the power of the boycott and the vote. I've mentioned the need for small personal sacrifice, all for the good of the American consumer. Each of us has the power to change the course of our nation. Change would require little, compared to what our founders gave to give us freedom. Like our Founding Fathers, we can't wait for someone else to make the sacrifice. Change begins with each and every one of us. We have the power to improve our quality of life and protect our freedoms.

We have allowed our government to spend billions of dollars, unsuccessfully chasing Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein across the desert. We've given up our right to privacy, in exchange for a false sense of freedom from terrorists. We've allowed corporations to lie, cheat and steal from us, while making huge profits. Like sheep – no, like neutered sheep – we've just followed along, waiting for someone else to save us from the wolves. Rather than wait for a leader to do something, it's time for each and every American to take action. Each and every American as the power to show corporations we've had enough. Each of us has the power to put our politicians on notice that will will no longer tolerate lobbyists lining their pockets at our expense. Takeing action, like the wolf, might give you a better feeling than just being one of the sheep and hiding in the flock.

If you have questions or comments, email Stan.

©2003 Stan G. Kain

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


Heroism, or Something Else

By Stan G. Kain
28 October 2003

Do you remember U.S. Army Private Jessica Lynch, the supply clerk, rescued from an Iraqi hospital? Do you remember Mohammed al-Rehaief, the Iraqi attorney who purportedly implemented her rescue? If you don't remember Mohammed, don't feel too badly. Jessica seems to have forgotten her debt to him, as well.

Pentagon press releases told how Jessica suffered capture by the Iraqi's, after her unit was lost during the first days of the Iraq war. Pentagon reports expounded on how Jessica suffered stab wounds, bullet wounds and was slapped about on her hospital bed by interrogators. Proudly, the Pentagon related how Army Rangers and Navy Seals stormed the hospital in Nassiriya, rescuing Jessica from her captors.

U.S. military night vision cameras captured the entire scenario, as American troops shot their way into the hospital. Public relations officers at the Pentagon could ask for little more in bolstering support for the war. Jessica became an American hero for the U.S. Army. She returned home, was honored with medals, a medical discharge, a book contract telling her story and a hero's welcome in her West Virginia hometown.

British journalists and Iraqi hospital staff tell another story. In my journalism experience, British reporters are quite reliable, especially in reporting non-British news. I think we still consider them as allies in the Iraq matter, too. British reports substantiated one large part of the Iraqi hospital story. One story; two versions. In the words of British Army spokesman, Group Captain Al Lockwood, “In reality, we had two different styles of news media management. I feel fortunate to have been part of the U.K. one.”

Iraqi hospital staff explained that Jessica suffered no bullet or stab wounds. In fact, she suffered from a broken arm, broken thigh and a dislocated ankle.. The wounds were typical for the road accident she suffered. Iraqi doctors assigned one of the two remaining nurses on the floor to Jessica, giving her the only specialist bed in the hospital. They also gave Jessica three bottles of blood, two donated by hospital staff, since there was a blood shortage in the city.

One Iraqi doctor explains how he even attempted to return Jessica to the Americans, risking his own life. He put her in an ambulance and tried to drive her to an American military checkpoint. Nearing the checkpoint, American soldiers began to fire, causing the ambulance to make a hasty retreat, with Jessica still in Iraqi hands.

Iraqi military forces had fled the hospital a day before the Americans staged their heroic rescue. An Iraqi waiter had told American troops there were no guards at the hospital. In Hollywood style, U.S. troops rushed the hospital, helicopters overhead, shooting their way through the doors, even after being offered the keys. Iraqi doctors and even a patient were handcuffed to the beds, during the raid.

The Pentagon claimed that Mohammed al-Rehaief, the Iraqi attorney, provided the whereabouts of Jessica Lynch, which was instrumental in her rescue. Mr. al-Rehaief lost an eye, after a bomb exploded during his escape. The American government rewarded Mr. al-Rehaief and his family with asylum in the U.S. The al-Rehaief family received another honor this week. They were invited to Palestine, West Virginia, home of former Army Private Jessica Lynch.

The al-Rehaief's receieved a four day tour of the town, including a trip to see a garden planted in their honor. The State of West Virgina gave the family a reception and gifts, including an “Almost Heaven, West Virginia,” lapel pin. I'm sure they were pleased with the attention. There is something they didn't receive, though. They didn't get to meet with Jessica Lynch.

The Lynch family attorney said Jessica was too busy with five-day-a-week rehabilitation from her injuries and commitments related to next month's release of her book. Can you imagine that? Jessica Lynch was too busy, although the family was in her hometown for four days, to spend five minutes with the man who allegedly saved her life? As an American, I'm embarrassed for the treatment given the al-Rehaief family by Jessica Lynch.

Jessica Lynch may be many things, but a hero is not one of those things. Jessica Lynch is the victim of a vehicle accident. Jessica Lynch is a part to Pentagon propaganda, or a victim of the same, if she truly doesn't remember the incident, as she says. Yes, I know about heroes. There were heroes with my father on Iwo Jima, during World War II. There were heroes on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. There were heroes in the rice fields of Vietnam. The al-Rehaief's are heroes, maintaining their composure after being snubbed by Jessica Lynch. There are heroes each and every day right here in in America. Jessica Lynch did nothing to share a place of honor with these people.

I am sure Jessica Lynch is very busy with her new book. I'm wondering how long it will take to write this piece of fiction, considering that Jessica claims she can't remember anything of the Iraq incident. If she cannot remember, is the story going to be a fantasy tale written by Pentagon public relations officials? Possibly so.

I would suggest that before she writes a book, Jessica Lynch should read a book. She might begin with something written by “Miss Manners.” Jessica Lynch needs to be reminded that nothing in her busy schedule should be more important than personally thanking a man, considered to be the enemy, for saving her life. Thanking a man who saved her life, if you choose to accept the Pentagon story of her rescue.

If you have questions or comments, please email Stan.

©2003 Stan G. Kain

Supporting Our Troops

Supporting Our Troops

By Stan G. Kain
6 December 2003

War has a way of generating conflict on the home front, as well as the battlefield. Administrations battle to justify their actions. Congress battles to provide an adequate budget to maintain our soldiers. Citizens line up either supporting the war or voicing opposition to it. The lingering battle in Iraq is no exception.

Anti-war supporters are often accused of lacking patriotism or harming the morale of our troops on the front line. Many hawkish members of society and the Bush Administration do not believe one can be patriotic and supportive of our soldiers, without supporting the war in Iraq. For many pro-war advocates, the line is drawn in black and white. Demanding a speedy return to civilian rule in Iraq and a return of our troops is not viewed as “support.”

The Bush Administration has taken the stance, both at home and around the world, as “You're either with us, or against us.” Again, there is no middle ground. I've lost count of the number of press conferences and photo shoots where President Bush is dressed in one or another piece of military clothing. He's the Commander in Chief and certainly in full support of our soldiers and veterans. Or is he?

The old adage states, “Action speaks louder than words.” Or, in another sense, “You can talk the talk, but do you walk the walk?” Let's look at some measures the Bush Administration has taken, or attempted to take, in support of our armed forces and veterans. Let's examine whether he “walks the walk, or just talks the talk.”

Kevlar body armor offers a significant measure of protection from small arms fire. Most police officers wear Kevlar vests and many are still alive, thanks to the properties of the bullet-resistant material. Right now, more than 40,000 American troops in Iraq wand and need Kevlar body armor. The White House has refused to provide it to them. This has been called a cost-savings move. The families of many soldiers, understanding the value of Kevlar, have forked out their own hard-earned money to provide Kevlar vests to their loved ones. Vietnam veteran, Colonel David Hackworth, says the extra costs for “extraordinary security” for Bush's recent trip to Asia, “would cover a vest for every soldier..”

What about our troops who are injured in Iraq? Most of the injured are returned to Fort Stewart, GA, for medical treatment. The Bush Administration charged the returning injured soldiers $8.00 per day for food, while receiving medical care. Outraged family and friends protest4ed this policy until the Administration was forced to halt the practice.

Military personnel serving in battle zones have always received additional financial compensation. Our 130,000 troops in Iraq receive and additional $75.00 per month for serving in a combat area. That's not much compensation for dodging bullets. Likewise, personnel serving overseas receive an additional $150.oo per month in family separation allowance. This money helps compensate for their absence from home. The Bush Administration, calling these allowances “wasteful and unnecessary,” attempted to cut them out of the budget. Due to a large number of Democratic votes in Congress, the cuts were blocked this year.

Support for our troops also means support for their families. Yet, in mid-October, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld announced the closing of 19 military commissaries. The commissaries are military-run stores, discounting food and other items for military families. Mr. Rumsfeld is considering the closure of another 19 commissaries. This is not what low-paid enlisted soldiers want to hear.

Military families are not only being shut out of discount shopping, but also facing a loss of military-run schools. The Pentagon is considering the closure of 58 military-run schools at 14 military installations.

The White House is not only ignoring our active duty personnel. Veterans are also targeted for budget cuts. This year, the White House budget for Veteran's Affairs cut $3 billion from Veteran's Administration hospitals. As Vietnam vets are aging, requiring more care and with 9,000 casualties from Iraqi conflicts, veterans are being ignored. Today, the Veteran's Administration is spending $2,800 less per patient than they did nine years ago.

Meanwhile, a federal judge awarded damages to a group of servicemen who sued the Iraqi government for torture during the 1991 Gulf conflict. The Bush Administration is attempting to block the award, claiming the money from confiscated Iraqi assets should be used for the country's reconstruction.

Congress has attempted to address the issue of medical care for the growing number of aging veterans and those with service-connected disabilities. A bipartisan attempt to add $1.3 billion to Veteran's Administration hospital funding was beaten back by the Bush Administration.

Veteran's Administration hospitals have traditionally treated “Priority 8” veterans. Priority 8 veterans are those people needing medical treatment for non-service related illnesses. Many of these veterans cannot afford private medical care. The White House has proposed charging all Priority 8 veterans a $250.00 annual fee for treatment and exclude from treatment, all those earning $26,000 or more annually.

If actions such as the ones shown, represent the attitude of the Bush Administration toward armed service personnel and veterans, one must wonder about the slogan, “Support our troops.” Perhaps the real supporters of our troops are the ones calling for their return home.

An editorial in the “Army Times,,” read by military personnel around the world, summed up White House policy. “President Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress have missed no opportunity to heap richly deserved praise on the military. But talk is cheap and getting cheaper by the day, judging by the nickel-and-dime treatment the troops are getting lately.”

Even the conservative American Legion has blasted the Bush Administration. Ronald Conley, Commander of the American Legion says, “This is a raw deal for veterans, no matter how you cut it.. The administration is sending a message that these vets are not a priority at all.”

I, for one, do not support the war in Iraq. As a veteran and an American, I do support our military forces. I support their being supplied with the equipment necessary to protect their own lives and support services both while on active duty and as veterans. I believe a continuing effort urging Congress to remember the needs of those who served this nation is far more patriotic than standing in front of television cameras, dressed in military clothing, whole “talking the talk.” Let's demand that the Bush Administration also, “walk the walk.”

If you have questions or comments, please email Stan.

© 2003 Stan G. Kain

Life and Legislation

Life, Death and Legislation

By Stan G. Kain
Oct 27, 2003


Few news events of this week have sparked as much emotional and legal controversy as that surrounding Terri Schiavo. The 39-year-old Florida woman has been in what doctors call a, “persistent vegetative state,” since 1990. The condition was brought on from heart failure, starving the brain of sufficient oxygen. While Terri’s eyes remain open, doctors say she has no consciousness.

Michael Schiavo, Terri’s husband, has battled to remove feeding tubes, saying Terri expressed her wishes prior to the illness, not to be kept alive by machines. Michael obtained a court order to remove the tubes, against her parent’s wishes. Seeking to block the court, Terri’s parents enlisted public support and that of the Florida Legislature. Passing a special bill, the Florida Legislature granted Governor Bush the authority to order the feeding tubes re-inserted. This legislative challenge now heads for the higher courts.

While emotions race wildly in this particular case, there is a serious need to examine the matter from a legal aspect. What did the Florida legislature actually do? Enactment applies to cases in which the patient leaves no living will, is in a persistent vegetative state and has had nutrition and hydration tubes removed, and where a family member has challenged the removal. In such cases, the Governor has been given the authority to overrule the courts decision.

Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Gerald Kogan says, “They seem to believe that the governor and the Legislature can do whatever they want and the courts should not interfere and that’s not right.” Governor Bush and the Legislature have a reputation for clashing with the courts, specifically in matters of the death penalty and abortion.

One can quickly opt to defend the life of a comatose woman, unable to make her own decisions. We must explore more far-reaching issues here, before emotions prevail. As many legal experts argue, the Florida Legislature has violated the Constitutional law, separating the powers of the Legislative, Judicial and Executive branches of government. In reality, the Legislature has said they have the authority to overrule the decisions of the court. This sets a dangerous precedence.

The Florida legislation is also retroactive in nature, applying narrowly and only to specific individuals. Once again, Florida opted to violate U.S. Constitutional guarantees. Opponents of the Florida measure are looking beyond the matter of Terri Schiavo, as must be done. Establishing in precedence in law has serious implications for the future of the state and the nation. Enactment such as that by the Florida legislature opens the door for the abuse of individual rights.

Consider the potential for abuse, when we surrender separation of powers in government. For example, let’s examine a case of mental competence.  Under law, we have a procedure to determine the mental competence of an individual. The first step requires mental health professionals to examine the individual, submitting a report to the court. The court examines the reports and permits a judge to question the individual in court. The court will then rule on that person’s ability to act on his or her own behalf. Should we have a legal system, where someone in the legislature, not accepting the court ruling, authors a law allowing a Governor to then rule on that person’s competency? This opens the door to serious abuse. As far-fetched as this appears to a rational person, imagine a government declaring a strong political adversary to be incompetent. The Soviet Union used mental institutions to neutralize political opponents. To those who argue, “It can’t happen here,” I say, “No,” because we have Constitutional guarantees of judicial independence.

Let’s explore another example of separation of powers. Suppose we have a defendant charged with a high-profile crime. That person faces a trial in criminal court. Imagine, for a moment, that the majority of the public believes the accused is guilty. Now, imagine that a well-executed defense obtains a “not guilty” verdict. Should we allow the legislature to pass a law, granting the Governor power to overrule the jury verdict, convict the accused and impose a prison sentence? This is the precedence Florida is setting. The O.J. Simpson case comes to mind. Most people, myself included, did not like the verdict of the jury. Yet, I’d rather accept that verdict than surrender our judicial system to another branch of government.

I don’t know how Terri Schiavo feels about being kept alive by artificial means. Her husband expresses one opinion and her parents, yet another. I do know that if Terri believes in the right to refuse medical treatment and the right to die, the Florida Legislature has violated her rights.
Each person has the right to make a choice in respect to medical treatment and life support. There is a lesson to be learned for each of us in the Terri Schiavo case. Make your choices known through a “living will.” Disaster doesn’t respect age. Each and every one of us could be in a situation like Terri Schiavo. While the living will is not legally binding, most courts respect your choices. The family is not subjected to the mental anguish Terri’s family now endures.

Terri’s family says she responds to them. Medical experts say it is not cognizance but merely reflex. Michael Schiavo says he merely wants to respect his wife’s wishes, conveyed to him prior to her illness. The Florida Legislature and Governor Bush support public opinion. Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe says, “I’ve never seen a case in which the state legislature treats someone’s life as a political football in quite the way this is being done.”

While not a popular opinion, we must leave such matters to medical professionals and courts to decide. This is the accepted legal and medical manner in which we must handle the issue. We cannot allow Terri Schiavo to suffer physical pain. Her fate must not rest with emotional decisions, or the Florida Legislature. For the future good of our nation, we must continue to separate branches of government and uphold the Constitution.

Stan G. Kain is a freelance writer and syndicated columnist living in central Maine. Stan was a journalist in southern Africa for several years. If you have questions, comments or would like to see “The Other Side of the Story” in your local newspaper, please contact Stan.

© Copyright 2003 by Stan G. Kain


Making Choices
Stan G. Kain
Nov 10, 2003

Life is full of choices. Just go to the drive-thru window at McDonald's and order a “fat-burger.” You think you know what to order, until the voice on the magic intercom begins asking questions. “Super-size your order?” “What size drink do you want?” “Would you like an apple pie for dessert?” Suddenly, you don’t know what you want. Smugly driving away, you reach in the bag, pull out a compressed fish-parts sandwich instead of a fat-burger. The magic intercom still got it wrong. A trip to McDonald's is a lesson on the meaning of life.
When I arrived in southern Africa, after growing up in America, I learned a lot about choices. I’d go to a grocery store to buy breakfast cereal. Looking at the selection, I’d usually pick cornflakes. Why? I like cornflakes and besides, that was the only selection on the shelves. We were at war in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and the entire world had imposed sanctions against us. Grocery shopping trips where quick and simple. You’d buy what you found available. Most of those choices were fresh, healthy and free of preservatives and chemicals.
Television was simple in Africa, too. We had one channel. Programming began at 6 o’clock in the evening and ended at 10 o’clock. Take it or leave it. If you didn't like the evening fare, you could always do something really different, such as have a conversation with family or friends. Actually, this activity was usually more entertaining, educational and stimulating. Life was simple.
I could cite dozens of examples of how different life was in Africa, but that’s not my point. I’m talking about making choices. After thirteen years of simple living, I found myself back in America, confronted with an entirely new set of choices. Enter the term, “Culture Shock.”
When I left America, we had thirteen television channels. I came back to 50 cable channels. Now, I have the choice of flipping through five religious programs, an equal number of sports channels (I’m not a sports fan – I don’t know the difference between a baseball goal post and a football bat), a couple of home shopping channels and non-descript local programming. I still can’t find anything I want to watch. The cable company understands human behavior. If I’m busy channel surfing, I won’t recognize my true second option. Cancel their service. I’m part of an endangered species, remembering life before television. If we’d all exercise the cancel service option, we’d have decent programming. See? We only need two options. It’s just a matter of exercising them. Keep life simple. Exit your comfort zone and watch a DVD.
Back here in America, I can go to the grocery store and spend hours in the cereal aisle. There’s more reading on a cereal package than I find at the library. Low fat, low salt, single-serving statistics and a dozen brands of corn flakes. In most instances, I still end up with a box of cornflakes, but I spend a lot more time selecting them. Oh yes, I still end up with something tasting the same as when I had no choices.

That’s enough about my personal state of confusion. Let’s get back to making choices. It seems to me, we’re often bombarded with so many choices we don’t always make intelligent decisions. We merely succumb to input overload, finally grabbing something, whether it’s the best choice or not. We practice this in most aspects of life.

How often do we actually listen to an intelligent debate between political candidates? Are we so busy that we merely rely upon a political endorsement, newspaper editorial or succumb to campaign mudslinging? How often, rather than voting FOR a candidate, do we vote AGAINST a candidate? I’m guilty of that, myself. I've voted for the candidate I believed would do the least amount of damage, rather than for a candidate I thought would actually improve our town or nation. I needed an option for, “None of the above.” Locally, a “Meet the Candidates” forum drew 20 residents from a town of over 5,000 people. Did voters actually want to make an intelligent choice, or did we see another example of, “Don’t confuse me with the facts; my mind’s made up?”
In one resolution, voters were given three options from which to choose. None of the choices carried enough votes to pass. Now, voters will opt for a “Yes” or “No” on one of those options in the upcoming election. The field of choice was narrowed to one, thanks to the lack of a real preference. Is this yet another example of having too many choices? Perhaps it is.
We take pride in having so much freedom in all we do. Making choices is an integral part of freedom, if we actually take time to intelligently study choices, before deciding. Unfortunately, most people are too busy earning a living, raising a family and living their daily routine. As such, we allow others to make choices for us through advertising gimmicks, sound bites and slogans. Often, we make our choices based on name recognition, not considering which is the best selection. Confronted with numerous long-distance carrier options for my telephone service, I chose the one with a familiar name. Was it the best option? I don’t know, because I didn't research the others. I opted for name recognition.

In many instances, we may just have too many choices. We may “think” we have a choice. I didn't choose the cable television channels I’m offered. Someone else chose them and I can only pick from their selection. If I don’t examine my true options, I’m going to live with the selections of someone else.

Making choices is important, in all aspects of life. Since we have so many opportunities, I think we often fail to intelligently evaluate our options. Sometimes, we’re given too much input to make a fair decision. I’m not a nutritionist; so most of that information on the cornflakes box is worthless to me. I yearn for simpler times. I’d be much happier with quality of choice, rather than quantity. This goes equally for cable television, cornflakes and political candidates.

Stan G. Kain is a freelance writer, and syndicated columnist living in central Maine. Stan was a journalist in southern Africa for several years. If you have questions, comments or would like to see “The Other Side of the Story” in your local newspaper, please Stan through this publication.

© Copyright 2003 by Stan G. Kain

The Other Side

The Other Side of the Story

By Stan G. Kain
Oct 16, 2003

Yesterday I discussed letters received by hometown newspapers from American soldiers in Iraq. The Gannett Newspaper Group had received an identical letter, signed by several different soldiers, at eleven of their publications. Concerned that all of the letters consisted of five paragraphs, identical in content, Gannett did not publish the work. Instead, Gannett set out to locate the authors. Investigation revealed that some soldiers had been given the letters to sign by superior officers. Other soldiers were unfamiliar with the letters, while others only knew a letter was published with their signature, after hearing about it from family members at home.

Contacting military authorities, Gannett was unable to find any military public information officer willing to acknowledge the source of the letters. For now, the origin of the apparent form letter remains a mystery. I suspect we will never know the origin. The possibility remains that the letter originated at a military public information office, the Pentagon, an intelligence office or even from Bush Administration spin-doctors. We do know the letter did not originate with those whose signatures appeared on the letters.

The highly publicized letter depicted a glowing picture of our military efforts to rebuild Iraq. The unknown author praised the high morale of American troops in Iraq and related how proud the soldier was to be there. There are other letters from soldiers in Iraq and their families, as well. These are not form letters. These are actual letters from 3rd Infantry Division soldiers to their families. Family members have verified the source of the letters and incorporated the thoughts of their sons, daughters, fathers and mothers in letters to Congress. Here are two such letters, telling the other side of the story.

Here is a letter written by family members of the 3rd Infantry Division, 2nd Brigade Soldiers:
To Whom it May Concern,
We are writing to you today about the 3rd Infantry Division. These soldiers have had redeployments held out to them and then snatched away from them repeatedly. If simply being there contributes to the defeat of morale, what must the denied hope of homecoming bring?

As you know, the United States Army has always frowned upon ‘negative publicity’ and family members have always been told to keep quiet for the sake of not making the most ‘powerful Army in the world’ look bad. Well, contrary to what we have been told, a few months ago, when we had heard of them being delayed due to a ‘follow on mission’ to Fallujah, a group of spouses, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and friends began writing to members of Congress. Senators and even the Commander in Chief in hopes that the situation would be reviewed. We have contacted the news and print media and told our stories to the public. When the news media investigated our allegations of our troops not having enough ammunition, supplies and food, they were simply told by the commanding officer that it was being ‘taken care of’ and the story was left at that. For weeks after, our husbands called home to tell us they were drinking unsanitary water, their equipment was broken down and their morale was horribly low. I ask you Congressman, who should the family members believe? An Army commanding officer who does not want the Army to sustain ‘negative publicity’ or their husbands, brothers and sons who are actually there in the situation and experiencing it first hand?

We feel that the Americans’ voices on this matter have been stifled, that the soldiers’ voices on this matter have been altogether ignored. The following are quotes DIRECTLY from the mouths of 3rd ID soldiers. The first is from a member of an armored division who has been deployed since September 2002, the other is a letter from an unnamed soldier from the 3rd ID/2nd BCT who felt he should remain anonymous for fear of reprimand from his commanding officers. These letters are DIRECTLY from the men in Iraq, in their own words doubting their faith in this country.

I’m always the one who’s positive, but I’ll tell you it’s hard sometimes. At times, I can’t rationalize why we are still here and that is what makes me mad. Pretty much it confirms my belief that I am just part of a bar graph on a power point presentation to a ‘suit’ in Washington. My life is a percentage of ‘well, we have X amount of soldiers in theater’…you really get the feeling that the government has abandoned you, left you to rot, with no mission and no return date. But most days, I remember I’m here for my guys and it’s my duty to make sure they’re okay even if the higher-ups are messing up.”

Here’s yet another letter from soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division, 2nd Brigade:

To Whom it May Concern:

When you hear about ‘heroes,’ you think of people whom you would envy. None of us asked to be called heroes, or anything else. For the past 9 months we have lived a hard life. We trained for nearly 6 months before the war started, were the first U.S. forces into Iraq on March 20th, and were responsible for the daring strike into Baghdad on April 7th and 8th that virtually ended the war.

We are the forgotten and betrayed soldiers of 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, also known as the ‘Send Me’ Brigade. Our Task Force motto is ‘Can Do’, and we have been living true to those words – for a very long time.

We are also the unit that is sitting in the city of Al Fallujah, as we enter the month of July. Our men and women have completed every mission we have been given, even when that mission kept us from coming home on time. We have received the occasional newspaper, each one showing us that the rest of the armed forces are returning home…even as we are getting orders for our next mission. We also read the letters that our Commanding General (Major General Buford Blount) writes in our local newspaper. Each time we read his words our desperation grows deeper, because we know that most of our countrymen are hearing his lies about our situation here.

Our morale is not high or even low. Our morale is non-existent. We have been told twice that we were going home, and twice we have received a stop movement to stay in Iraq. Where is the honor and integrity the army preaches to soldiers in Basic Training? The closer you get to the front lines, the worse the soldiers get treated. Every single one of my men has diarrhea, because none of us on the front lines have had a single fresh vegetable in over a month. Meanwhile, Major General Blount and his cronies are enjoying Burger King at Baghdad International Airport (which we captured). The 3rd Infantry Division soldiers feel betrayed, and forgotten. Many of our brothers in arms have paid the ultimate price to help liberate this country.

Every one of us has made sacrifices, and what is our reward? Being treated like farm animals. We have had more support from the press, who were embedded with us throughout the fight, than we have ever received from our chain of command.

Our troops, and our equipment are worn out. Many of our troops have been through some truly terrible experiences. They have been told by mental health professionals that hey need to get out of this environment. They however, either don’t care about those of us out here on the front lines or they have been lied to by their subordinates and have passed those lies on to the rest of the world.

In closing, all I am really trying to ask for is your help. Please send this letter on to your representatives in congress and to your local media, and ask them to get the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division home. Our men and women deserve to be treated like the heroes they are, not like neighborhood mongrels. Our men and women deserve to see their loved ones again and deserve to come home. Thank you for your attention.

The Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade, 3rd ID”

The following letter from family of the 3rd Infantry Division, 2nd Brigade soldiers says it all:

These letters are NOT the only ones of their kind, many other family members have received such letters, but didn't feel appropriate to go public with them for fear that they might get their husbands in trouble.

It may be easy for you to encourage our troops in the Third to stay strong, to increase their morale, and to keep smiling as their friends and colleagues are attacked every day. But it’s also easy to see that you are not there with the troops. In this day and age, with the American forces being the largest and most sophisticated on earth, why must one division bear the brunt of a large part of the war in Iraq? Are we so short-handed that one division’s morale must sink to rock-bottom, there to disappear altogether? Why must the American people pay, not only with billions of dollars per month, but more importantly with the lives of men and women that may be too tired to fight effectively? This is illogical. This is wasteful. This impacts negatively on our efforts in Iraq and on our efforts at home.

The re-enlistment rate of returning soldiers has decreased DRAMATICALLY since this effort began. Does this send a message to the government that the soldiers feel abandoned by their country?? That they have lost their faith in the government they’ve worked so hard to defend?? The soldiers and their families will have their say in the 2004 elections and THEN will make their voices heard.

In closing, we would like to say that these men and women of the 3rd Infantry Division, 2nd Brigade have done their job and done it well. They are mentally, physically AND emotionally exhausted. These men have had their promise of re-deployment ripped out from under them numerous times, and it’s because of that, their morale is non-existent. We NEED to send these heroes home for a much needed and deserved break.

As the saying goes: ‘If not for the Home of the Brave, There would be no Land of the Free.’ What makes our nation so great is our ability and constitutional right to have a government for the people, by the people. These brave men and women and the people who love them have a choice, and our voices will be heard. If not now, in the 2004 elections.

The wives, mothers, brothers, sisters, fathers, sons, daughters and family members of the 3rd Infantry Division, 2nd Brigade Soldiers.”

There you have it, readers. The other side of the story. You have a choice. You may listen to the actual letters of soldiers and their families, or you may listen to the voices of a form letter, signed and sent without the knowledge or consent of soldiers in Iraq. Many will choose to believe the form letter, as they only wish to hear words of approval for this war. Others will hear the voice of real soldiers and families, finding more reality there than in a power-hungry President doing a photo op on a carrier deck. Ask any former member of the military about speaking out against “policy.” Not unlike speaking out against this Administration, speaking out in the military is also “unpatriotic.” True patriotism demands that we speak out against lies.

One of our readers has just informed me of an email, resolving the origin of the form letter which was delivered to several newspapers. Lt. Col. Dominic Caraccilo of the U.S. Army emailed ABC World News, stating that his staff drafted the letter, which was passed along to soldiers under his command.

Stan G. Kain