“We have an epidemic here,” [Rep. Jane Harman] said. “Women serving in the U.S. military today are more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire in Iraq.”

That was 2008, yet little has changed.

Kori Cioca, 25, of Wilmington, Ohio, tells about how she was raped while serving in the U.S. Coast Guard.

Long story short, I was raped.

When I told my command they waited. They didn’t do anything to help me. It’s like they didn’t care. It wasn’t important. I wasn’t important.

The coast guard’s a lifesaving service yet they didn’t save mine.

Military doctors say that 40% of women at veterans’ hospitals report being sexually assaulted during their service.

[Rep. John] Tierney said, “what’s at stake here goes to the very core of the values of the military and the nation itself.

“When our sons and daughters put their lives on the line to defend the rest of us, the last thing they should fear is being attacked by one of our own.”

Will we kick the can down the road on this, as victims of sexual assault in our own military suffer in silence? Will we continue to hold hearings and listen to the military say it takes these issues seriously, while the evidence in these cases proves the opposite to be true. We must listen to these women’s stories. We must believe and trust them. And we must demand justice.

Please check out the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) for more information and ways to get involved.

This Mother’s Day, let’s remember the true intentions behind this holiday.

“Arise then…women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts! From the bosom of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with Our own. It says: Disarm! Disarm!” Julia Ward Howe, Mother’s Day Proclamation, 1870

In honor of the peaceful sentiment of this day, mothers who have lost children in Iraq and Afghanistan will be holding a 24-hour vigil in front of the White House.

This Mothers Day (May 10), thousands of mothers will mark this occasion with tremendous loss mothers whose children have been killed or wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan. Mothers from all over the country will gather in front of the White House for a 24-hour-vigil to honor the war dead and demand an end to the wars.

What can you do? Send a Mothers Day rose to Washington, D.C., and let the mothers of the fallen and wounded soldiers know that you stand with them against war. Roses will be presented to the mothers and tied to the fence outside the White House as a memorial to the dead and a call for peace.

For just $3, thanks to CREDO, you can join the anti-war efforts by sending a rose. Wage peace!

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)

This morning on Meet the Press, former Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama.

While I lost nearly all respect for Powell when he lied to the UN in the push for the Iraq War, I gained some back today for his comments about Muslims.

I’m also troubled by what members of the party say, and is permitted to be said, such things as, “Well you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.”Well, the correct answer is, ‘He is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian, he’s always been a Christian.’

But the really right answer is, ‘What if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?’

The answer is ‘No, that’s not America.’
Is there something wrong with some 7-year-old Muslim American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion he’s a Muslim and he might be associated with terrorists. This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

Thank you, Colin Powell, for using your voice to say what is right and what is true. And while conservatives are already spinning your words, that you endorsed Obama because of race or because McCain didn’t select you for VP, you did the right thing by using your access to the press to say something that has been needing to be said (Campbell Brown did her part, too). There truly is no other response to the demonizing of Muslims in this country than to stop doing it. Spin away, Fox News and John McCain, but you know that Powell is right when it comes to Kareem Ushad Sultan Khan and his service to this country you claim to love. So just stop it.

Platon

Photograph: Platon

Update: Powell talked to reporters outside his interview on Meet the Press and added some more good points. Steve Benen has video; here’s a highlight:

He went on to express his disgust for Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-Minn.) neo-McCarthyism. “We have got to stop this kind of nonsense,” Powell said, “pull ourselves together, and remember that our great strength is in our unity and in our diversity.”

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?

OpenSecrets.org, 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?

John McCain, you do not speak for me. I consider it very presumptuous for anyone to ever claim to speak for “every American.”

Your view that the use of force is the best option in many situations, and your promises of more wars, are not what I want in a President, nor even a Congressman.

Your posturing on the war between George and Russia disgusts me. It has given us a glimpse into how you would lead. I see that your decisions will not be based on measured reactions to intelligence or reflections on history. You consistently promote the use of force over diplomacy, and we’ve seen the damage caused by that approach during these last eight years.

UPDATE: And McCain can’t make up his mind from one day to the next if countries in this century invade each other (like he voted for us to do in Iraq).

I can think of a few people who would disagree, but apparently John McCain thinks bringing the troops home is not that important. Steve Benen at The Carpetbagger Report notes that:

After over a year of campaigning, you’d think John McCain would have a sense about how to talk about the war in Iraq. His support for the president’s policy, and his deeply held desire to stay the course, is, after all, his signature campaign issue.

And yet, McCain still doesn’t get it.

For those who can’t watch clips online, McCain appeared on the “Today” show this morning, and Matt Lauer noted, “A lot of people now say the surge is working.” McCain immediately interjected, “Anyone who knows the facts on the ground say that.” Lauer responded by asking, “If it’s working, senator, do you now have a better estimate of when American forces can come home from Iraq?”

McCain said, “No, but that’s not too important. What’s important is the casualties in Iraq. Americans are in South Korea. Americans are in Japan. American troops are in Germany. That’s all fine.”

To be sure, McCain has made comments like these before, most notably in response to questions about his stated willingness to keep U.S. troops in Iraq for 100 years. He frequently emphasizes his belief that as long as Americans are not being killed or seriously injured in Iraq, he doesn’t much care when we leave.

But he’s usually not this clumsy and politically tone deaf. Bringing the troops home is “not too important”? For thousands of Americans in uniform and their families, nothing is more important.

…And yet, there’s John McCain, absolutely convinced that the withdrawal of U.S. troops is “not too important.

Update: The McCain campaign is responding to the controversy by arguing that McCain wasn’t talking about the act of troop withdraw as being not important, rather he said when they withdraw is not important.

This reminds me of when he didn’t know how many troops were in Iraq, and then tried to say his critics were being nit-picky about his verb tenses. Too bad there’s no verb to blame in “not that important.”

Bush lied. Can we please start calling it that now? This is not new or surprising to most of us, yet the press continues to dance around the word “lie.” Check out this article, in which Jill Hussein C describes the language used instead, such as “overstated,” “misused,” and “exaggerated.”

For a collection of Bush’s lies, check out Bush Lies, Bush Lied Again, and Impeach Bush.

Bush Lies

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