Salon reports that secret recordings have been released in which one Army psychologist admits that he is under a lot of pressure not to diagnose returning service members with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). You can listen to the recording and read the details here.

But what Sgt. X wants to tell a reporter about is one doctor’s appointment at Fort Carson that his wife did not witness. When she couldn’t accompany him to an appointment with psychologist Douglas McNinch last June, Sgt. X tucked a recording device into his pocket and set it on voice-activation so it would capture what the doctor said. Sgt. X had no idea that the little machine in his pocket was about to capture recorded evidence of something wounded soldiers and their advocates have long suspected — that the military does not want Iraq veterans to be diagnosed with PTSD, a condition that obligates the military to provide expensive, intensive long-term care, including the possibility of lifetime disability payments. And, as Salon will explore in a second article Thursday, after the Army became aware of the tape, the Senate Armed Services Committee declined to investigate its implications, despite prodding from a senator who is not on the committee. The Army then conducted its own internal investigation — and cleared itself of any wrongdoing. (emphasis mine)

Just days ago, Ann Jones asked “How can we stop the epidemic of killing women and children by returning soldiers?” She notes that the young men we send to war are not the same ones returning home. She doesn’t blame them (several excerpts below, but read the entire post here).

This shouldn’t be a surprise. 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 much of that help.

All too often, the war wounds turn into violence against the servicemen’s family members.

Even in the best of times, the incidence of violence against women is much higher in the military than among civilians. After war, it’s naturally worse — as with those combat team members at Fort Carson. In 2005, one of them, Pfc. Stephen Sherwood, returned from Iraq and fatally shot his wife, then himself. In September 2008, Pvt. John Needham, who received a medical discharge after a failed suicide attempt, beat his girlfriend to death. In October 2008, Spc. Robert H. Marko raped and murdered Judilianna Lawrence, a developmentally disabled teenager he met online.

When a New York Times reporter asked a master sergeant in the Special Forces to comment on these events, he responded: “S.F.’s [Special Forces members] don’t like to talk about emotional stuff. We are Type A people who just blow things like that off…”

As it turns out, the military is not only creating the problem but covering it up.

What the task force discovered was that soldiers rarely faced any consequences for beating or raping their wives. (Girlfriends didn’t even count.) In fact, soldiers were regularly sheltered on military bases from civilian orders of protection and criminal arrest warrants. The military, in short, did a much better job of protecting servicemen from punishment than protecting their wives from harm.

It is perhaps the same flawed medical evaluation process described above that prevents the cycle of violence from being addressed.

The military does evaluate the mental health of soldiers. Three times it evaluated the mental health of Robert H. Marko (the Fort Carson infantryman who raped and murdered a girl), and each time declared him fit for combat, even though his record noted his belief that, on his twenty-first birthday, he would be transformed into the “Black Raptor,” half-man, half-dinosaur.

As the current administration talks of military escalation in Afghanistan in this time of recession, the conversation must address the military personnel coming home. Will they have jobs? Will they be given psychological support and the necessary medical attention to transition home? Or will they be left alone, brain injuries and all, to make sense of their new lives?

No society that sends its men abroad to do violence can expect them to come home and be at peace. To let world peace begin at home, you have to stop making war. (Europe has largely done it.) Short of that, you have to take better care of your soldiers and the people they once knew how to love. (Ann Jones)

Amy Goodman of ‘Democracy Now!,’ was assaulted and detained while doing her job outside the Republican National Convention.

Here are some excerpts, but you can read the whole account here (Truthdig).

I was arrested with my two colleagues, “Democracy Now!” producers Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar, while reporting on the first day of the RNC. I have been wrongly charged with a misdemeanor. My co-workers, who were simply reporting, may be charged with felony riot.

Behind all the patriotic hyperbole that accompanies the conventions, and the thousands of journalists and media workers who arrive to cover the staged events, there are serious violations of the basic right of freedom of the press. Here on the streets of St. Paul, the press is free to report on the official proceedings of the RNC, but not to report on the police violence and mass arrests directed at those who have come to petition their government, to protest.

I was at the Xcel Center on the convention floor, interviewing delegates. I had just made it to the Minnesota delegation when I got a call on my cell phone with news that Sharif and Nicole were being bloody arrested, in every sense. Filmmaker Rick Rowley of Big Noise Films and I raced on foot to the scene. Out of breath, we arrived at the parking lot. I went up to the line of riot police and asked to speak to a commanding officer, saying that they had arrested accredited journalists.

Within seconds, they grabbed me, pulled me behind the police line and forcibly twisted my arms behind my back and handcuffed me, the rigid plastic cuffs digging into my wrists. I saw Sharif, his arm bloody, his credentials hanging from his neck. I repeated we were accredited journalists, whereupon a Secret Service agent came over and ripped my convention credential from my neck. I was taken to the St. Paul police garage where cages were set up for protesters. I was charged with obstruction of a peace officer. Nicole and Sharif were taken to jail, facing riot charges.

You can read a transcript of Goodman’s arrest here and see video.  Over at FreePress you can sign a petition to drop charges against journalists who were simply doing their jobs.

What strikes me from Goodman’s article and the transcript is how violently they were treated when they asked respectful, basic questions of the officers or Secret Service personnel.  Goodman had her press pass ripped from around her neck and one of her producers, Sharif Abdel Kouddous, had the plastic cuffs tightened by a man whom he had asked to loosen them because they were hurting him.  Obviously, at a full-blown riot the whole ‘innocent until proven guilty’ standard is difficult to follow, but these were well-known, accredited journalists trying to cover the protests as part of their job.  Where is the outcry?

After CNN’s Campbell Brown grilled McCain spokesperson Tucker Bounds, the McCain camp is complaining that she “crossed the line.”  For what, asking follow-up questions?  For holding  you to the standards you set yourselves?  Watch it.

Wolf Blitzer just reported that the campaign has cancelled a scheduled interview with Larry King due to an unfriendly segment last night on CNN — the segment we flagged last night where the network’s Campbell Brown grilled McCain spokesperson Tucker Bounds over Sarah Palin’s lack of foreign policy experience. (TPM)

Guess they should have picked someone with more foreign policy experience if they want to accuse Obama of not having any.  Funny how much Bounds squirms while dodging the question, then tries to attack Campbell Brown for doing her job.

Sure, people vote based on the top of the ticket, but McCain himself said a VP should be ready to be commander-in-chief if something were to happen to the President.

P.S. Living near another country does not equal foreign policy experience.  By that logic, most European infants would have more foreign policy experience than all our candidates combined.

Do we really want another President who lives on some other imaginary planet? One who denies the troubling realities when they are not politically convenient? One who can’t admit to any mistakes…ever?

Today John McCain insisted that Iraq is a “peaceful and stable country now.”

Q: Some members of the [Iraqi] government have made it clear in the last month or two that they might want to withdraw before complete stability, before totally secure borders, before some of the completeness of victory as you described. Is there any change, do you think there is some wiggle room there because what you described with Petraeus was an end point that was rather complete – a peaceful, stable country.

MCCAIN: Its a peaceful and stable country now. (ThinkProgress)

Wow. This guy’s on the armed services committee? I can only imagine how the military servicemen and women and their families feel when they hear a statement like this.

It seems to me that at the expense of rambling and making yet another gaffe, McCain’s advisers have really muffled him. However, when sticking to short responses such as these, he comes off “prickly” and uninformed. Delusional, perhaps.

Arianna Huffington points out that while Obama was on vacation in Hawaii he should have been reading up on how to attack McCain’s horrific record on National Security. Despite the numerous blunders and inconsistencies outlined in her post, many voters still say that they trust John McCain more on issues of foreign policy and national security. People favor McCain over Obama on issues like Iraq (!) and national security, can anyone explain that to me?

Here are some of McCain’s high(low)lights Huffington notes:

McCain has been among the most ardent supporters of the war in Iraq — the most disastrous foreign policy decision in American history.

McCain falsely claims that, from the beginning of the war, he called on former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld to resign. He should have, but he didn’t.

McCain thinks it’s “not too important” when American forces come home from Iraq.

McCain has repeatedly claimed that Iran was training members of al-Qaeda in Iraq, showing a fundamental misunderstanding of the key players in the war. He doesn’t understand the difference between Shiites and Sunnis, and even after being corrected he still doesn’t get it.

McCain falsely claimed that the surge was what led to the Anbar Awakening, even though the Sunni revolt against al-Qaeda in the province began months before Bush even announced his plan to send more troops to Iraq.

McCain falsely claimed at the end of May that American troops in Iraq were down to “pre-surge levels” (brandished as proof that the surge was “succeeding”) — even though two-thirds of the additional surge troops were still in Iraq. And, when called on his mistake, he refused to acknowledge that he was wrong.

McCain falsely claimed that the war in Iraq was “the first major conflict since 9/11″ — either forgetting about the war in Afghanistan or deeming it not major enough. This is not all that surprising, since McCain’s policies on Afghanistan — the real central front in the war on terror — have been all over the map. Indeed, McCain first attacked Obama’s policy on Afghanistan, then adopted it for himself.

McCain has a long history of paying lip service to supporting America’s troops but voting against their interests. His handling of the new GI bill was the latest example of his hypocrisy: he consistently and vocally worked to defeat it, then, once it passed, tried to take credit for it.

Need more proof of why McCain is not “ready to lead”? Do you want a president who thinks there is an “Iraq/Pakistan border”? Who believes Darfur is in Somalia? And that Czechoslovakia is still a country?

Someone please help me understand who would elect this man. That may seem rhetorical, but I’m serious. Why doesn’t the evidence above send people fleeing from McCain’s candidacy?

Maybe someone should make a YouTube video of all of these gaffes strung together. Would that make the message more clear?, which tracks money in U.S. politics, reports that contributions from deployed troops are six times greater for Obama than they are for McCain.

During World War II, soldiers crouching in foxholes penned letters assuring their sweethearts that they’d be home soon. Now, between firefights in the Iraqi desert, some infantrymen have been sending a different kind of mail stateside: two or three hundred dollars — or whatever they can spare — towards a presidential election that could very well determine just how soon they come home.

Though McCain touts his reputation with military personnel, this popularity is not reflected by campaign donations.

Army Specialist Jay Navas contributed $250 while deployed in Iraq, but it wasn’t over the Internet. “It took some effort to get that check. I had my mom send me my checkbook and I walked to the post office in Camp Liberty in Baghdad with an envelope addressed to Barack Obama in Chicago, Illinois,” he said. “He was right on Iraq long when others were jumping into the sea like lemmings, and that’s hard to do. We’re soldiers and we respect courage.”

Navas anecdotally confirmed that soldiers are often conservative but that many are making an exception in the presidential race. “Most of my friends are conservative Republicans and they say, ‘I’m voting for Barack.’ McCain does not have a lock on the military vote, that’s for sure,” he said. “We’ll complete our duty — I’m deploying next year — because it’s a commitment I made to the nation, not to a president. But we all know that Iraq was a big mistake.”

Despite the fact that “money talks,” McCain will continue to lie and say that he has support from all the veterans groups. He consistently disregards facts for whatever is convenient at the moment. He may continue to brag about the success of the surge, saying that Obama’s judgment on Iraq was faulty despite the fact that he did not support the war in the first place. Perhaps the troops also know that Obama supported the new GI bill, while McCain did not.

It has nothing to do with cameras or basketball. I think they just want to come home.

UPDATE: Contrast the post above with this one, from ThinkProgress, noting that top CEOs donate more to McCain 10:1.  Which candidate has your best interests in mind — the one  the troops favor or the one the CEOs of big corporations favor?  Which is more likely to have your financial interests in mind?

Today the Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs held an oversight hearing on sexual assault in the military. The head of the sexual assault prevention office was subpoenaed, yet forbidden from attending by her superior at the Pentagon. Smells of a cover up.

The Pentagon’s No. 2 personnel and readiness official was admonished and dismissed from a House subcommittee hearing on sexual assault in the military Thursday after admitting that he had directed a key subordinate not to appear.

‘Mr. Dominguez, I notice that Dr. Kaye Whitley is not in her chair,’ said Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass., and chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s national security and foreign affairs panel. ‘Is it under your direction that she has not shown for testimony this morning?’

‘Ah, yes sir,’ replied Michael Dominguez, principal deputy under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness.

‘Mr. Dominguez, this is an oversight hearing,’ Tierney said. ‘It’s an oversight hearing on sexual assault in the military. As such, we thought it was proper to hear from the director of the Defense Department’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. … Inexplicably, the Defense Department — and you, apparently — have resisted.’

Tierney said Whitley would be subpoenaed and that Dominguez’s decision showed disrespect to the two women who had testified moments earleir — one a rape victim, one a rape/murder victim’s mother — as well as other victims and the subcommittee itself.

When Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., the full committee chairman, asked for an explanation, Dominguez said that the decision was made ‘in consultation with the department’s leadership’ — the assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs and the Defense Department general counsel.

Whitley ‘is available to the Congress … unfettered, unmuzzled by us,’ and had previously appeared, Dominguez said.

But he added that ‘in this hearing format, we wanted to ensure and make the point’ that he and his boss, Pentagon personnel chief David S.C. Chu, ‘are the senior policy officials, accountable to Secretary [Robert] Gates and to the Congress for the department’s sexual assault and prevention policies and programs.’

‘That’s a ridiculous answer,’ Waxman replied. ‘What is it you’re trying to hide? She’s the one in charge of dealing with this problem. We wanted to hear from her.’

Waxman said the Pentagon ‘has a history of trying to cover up sexual offense problems … I don’t know what you’re trying to cover up here, but we’re not going to allow it. I don’t know who you think elected you to defy the Congress of the United States. This is an unacceptable, absolutely unacceptable position for the department to take.’ (AirForce Times)

Some numbers:

41 percent of female veterans seen by military doctors say they were victims of sexual assault while in the military and 29 percent reported being raped during their military service, said Rep. Jane Harman (D-Cali.). According to Department of Defense reports, in 2006 2,947 sexual assaults were reported, 73 percent more than in 2004. Since the creation of the SAPRO, the DoD has initiated training and improved reporting of rapes and sexual assaults but has inexplicably failed to track prosecution rates or how victims are faring within the military service, Harman said.

‘Women serving in the U.S. military are more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire in Iraq,’ Harman said. (TalkRadio News)

While the military has come a long way since the days of the Tailhook scandal 15 years ago — which is credited with creating a safer environment for female service members — Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., said there remains an ‘epidemic of assault and rape against women in our military.’ (ABC News)

As we are reminded by the tragic LaVena Johnson case that has resurfaced in the news, military servicemen and private contractors in Iraq are rarely brought to justice for their sexual assault of women. Take a moment and sign the ColorofChange petition which calls for an investigation and full disclosure of the events surrounding LaVena Johnson’s death.

UPDATE: Watch the video of part of the hearing at ThinkProgress.  Waxman’s on a rampage!  Let’s hope he keeps it up.

In case you hadn’t noticed, the conservative talking heads have decided that promoting McCain’s support of the surge is their best bet at winning this election. Amazingly, they continue to repeat how McCain was right and Obama was wrong on this one, completely disregarding the fact that Obama was against the WAR in the first place. If people had listened to him then, we wouldn’t have needed a surge. How hard is that to figure out?

This video reminds me of the way Bush and Friends repeated the words “9/11″ and “Iraq” in the same sentence as often as possible, eventually creating an imaginary connection in the minds of the American people. If you say it out loud often enough, it becomes true.

In a slightly different version of history, there’s this clip about the surge. (TPM)

For so many reasons, but I’d like to add this one to the list.

Joe Klein (TIME) points out:

John McCain said this today in Rochester, New Hampshire:

This is a clear choice that the American people have. I had the courage and the judgment to say I would rather lose a political campaign than lose a war. It seems to me that Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign.

This is the ninth presidential campaign I’ve covered. I can’t remember a more scurrilous statement by a major party candidate. It smacks of desperation. It renews questions about whether McCain has the right temperament for the presidency. How sad.

Scurrility Update: Readers should note that I said that I can’t remember a more scurrilous statement by a major party candidate. Smart politicians leave the scurrilous stuff to their aides; in fact, a McCain spokesman expressed these words almost exactly on July 14. There is a reason why politicians who want to be President don’t say these sort of things: It isn’t presidential.

As Obama’s trip gets positive media attention at home and abroad, McCain has upped his attacks on Obama’s stance on the Iraq war. McCain claims that Obama was wrong about the surge, and that McCain was willing to do what was less popular politically (because most Americans are against the war in Iraq), in order to ‘win’ the war in Iraq.

Headlines read:

‘Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign’ (FOX News)

‘We will withdraw. The fact is, is whether we withdraw in victory or whether we withdraw in defeat’ (MSNBC)

‘Lieberman: Obama choosing the lose Iraq war’ (CNN)

Interestingly, General Petraeus advises against using the phrases ‘we’re winning’ and ‘victory in Iraq.’ Yet McCain continues to repeat soundbites about the success of the surge, despite the fact that many experts agree that progress in Iraq was in motion well before the official ‘surge.’ Many also note that voters don’t care about the surge, they care about ending the war. Another fact McCain is ignoring, less than half of Americans think the U.S. can win in Iraq.

As a proponent of a war that the vast majority of Americans oppose, that is helping to ruin our economy with each passing day, one would think McCain would want to distance himself from Bush’s war in Iraq, not embrace it.

UPDATE: Wow…if this is going to be his big issue, he should probably get the facts straight. Check out: ‘Not a gaffe: A fundamental misunderstanding of Iraq’ over at HuffPo.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.