Saturday, September 30, 2006

When Soldiers Go to War, Flat Daddies Hold Their Place at Home - New York Times

September 30, 2006

When Soldiers Go to War, Flat Daddies Hold Their Place at Home

HERMON, Me. — It was the first day of school, and distance not withstanding, 9-year-old Baylee Smith wanted to take a picture with her father, Mark, who is stationed with a National Guard unit in Afghanistan. Real daddy was not available, but Sergeant Smith’s doppelgänger was.

“Where’s Flat Daddy?” an excited Baylee asked as her stepmother, Jennifer Smith, pulled a large cardboard picture of Sergeant Smith, in his uniform, out of her Chevy Blazer and propped him on the bumper. The two, along with Ms. Smith’s young sons, Alec and Derek, posed for a picture with their Flat Daddy, who promptly fell down.

“Stop it Dad, that’s not funny. It’s not a joke,” Baylee said with a laugh.

The Maine National Guard is giving life-size from-the-waist-up pictures of soldiers to the families of deployed guard members. Guard officials and families say the cutouts, known as Flat Daddies or Flat Soldiers, connect families with a relative who is thousands of miles away. The Flat Daddies are toted everywhere from soccer practice to coffee shops to weddings.

“The response has been unbelievable,” said Sgt. First Class Barbara Claudel, director of the Maine National Guard’s family unit. “The families just miss people so much when they’re gone that they try to bring their soldier everywhere.”

The Maine National Guard has given out more than 200 Flat Soldiers since January. While other guard units are recommending Flat Soldiers, and families around the country are using them, officials here say Maine’s National Guard is the only one giving one to each family that asks.

Flat Daddies have been used by military families since at least 2003, when Cindy Sorenson of Bismarck, N.D., ordered a life-size photo of her former husband, Capt. Dave Bruschwein, on a piece of foam board when he was stationed in Iraq with the North Dakota National Guard.

Ms. Sorenson heard that the children of local guard members made small cutouts of themselves modeled on the children’s book “Flat Stanley,” where the character is flattened and can travel by envelope, and then mailed the images to Iraq.

She wanted to make a similar, life-size version of Captain Bruschwein for their daughter, Sarah, who was 13 months old when her father was deployed. She took a picture of him and his jacket measurements to a local printer, who charged her $75 for Flat Dave, as he was called.

Ms. Sorenson said it helped Sarah, now 4, recognize her father when he came home on leave. “She saw him on the jetway and said, ‘Daddy, Daddy,’ ” Ms. Sorenson said. “There was no anxiety.”

Ms. Sorenson shared the idea with Elaine Dumler, a Colorado motivational speaker, who included it in a book on coping with deployment.

Ms. Dumler said National Guard families were receptive to the idea because many had never dealt with a long overseas deployment.

“It affects these families a little more,” Ms. Dumler said, “because they’re not living on a base or a post, surrounded by families who know what they’re going through. They tend to feel a little more isolated.”

That is especially true here in Maine, whose National Guard members are randomly assigned to bases throughout that large state. The National Guard tries to have parties where Flat Soldiers are invited, and family members sometimes take them to support meetings.

Cristin Gardner of Ellsworth, whose husband, Troy, is stationed in Iraq, said she often caught her 6-year-old son, Ashton, including Flat Daddy when he played with soldiers.

Rachel Austin of Colorado Springs paid $50 for a flat version of her husband, Toby, in February after hearing about them through the Colorado National Guard. Ms. Austin said Toby was at the dinner table every night with their sons, Ayden, 20 months, and Ryan, 5. Flat Toby also has been to pre-kindergarten graduation, an uncle’s 50th birthday party in Cheyenne, Wyo., and a Denver Broncos game, although he sat in the car because it was raining.

Ms. Austin said Ayden, who was 13 months old when she brought Flat Toby home, recognized his father, often taking the image off its usual chair and kissing it. Flat Toby is a real person in their house, she said.

“It’s nice to see him each day, just to remember that he’s still with us,” Ms. Austin said. “It’s one of the best things I’ve done during this deployment. I really think it’s helped us stay connected, to remember that he’s still with us.”

Angela Williams, 27, of Anchorage, got a flat version of her husband, who she married three months before he was deployed to Afghanistan, through the Alaska National Guard.

Her flat husband spends most of his time in their bedroom closet, but she will occasionally take him out to show to friends or to look at herself.

“He went away so recently after we got married that sometimes I look at it and say, ‘Oh, I’m married, and he’s real and he’s gorgeous,”’ Ms. Williams said.

Parents of young deployed soldiers are also using flat soldiers. Carol Campbell of Anson, Me., got a flat version of her 24-year-old daughter, Jessica, who now sits at the family’s kitchen table. Ms. Campbell writes all of the places Jessica has visited on the back of the cutout. In June, Flat Jessica even chaperoned an after-prom party that her younger sister attended.

Ms. Campbell said that her youngest daughter thought the idea was odd at first, and that their dog, Speckles, used to bark at the Flat Soldier, but that both are now used to it.

“At first, it can take you aback, but it never did for me,” Ms. Campbell said. “I just felt like her presence is here. The Flat Soldier does provide comfort, and we’ll take it any way we can.”

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Group says video shows U.S. soldiers' bodies being burned - Group says video shows U.S. soldiers' bodies being burned: "Group says video shows U.S. soldiers' bodies being burned
Updated 9/23/2006 9:59 PM ET E-mail | Save | Print | Subscribe to stories like this Subscribe to stories like this
CAIRO (AP) — An al-Qaeda-linked group posted a Web video Saturday purporting to show the bodies of two American soldiers being dragged behind a truck, then set on fire in apparent retaliation for the alleged rape-slaying of a young Iraqi woman by U.S. troops from the same unit.

The Mujahedeen Shura Council — an umbrella organization of insurgent groups, including al-Qaeda in Iraq — posted a previous video in June showing the soldiers' mutilated bodies, and claiming it killed them. It was not clear whether Saturday's video was a continuation of that footage, or why it was released.

The new footage came hours after the posting of another al-Qaeda video, an apparent re-release of a tape showing the execution of a Turkish hostage — by the man purported to be the new leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

The images would be the first of Abu Ayyub al-Masri to be released since the group announced that he had succeeded Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed by a U.S. airstrike in Iraq on June 7.

Both videos appeared just as Sunni Arabs in Iraq began Ramadan, the Islamic holy month. "

Monday, September 18, 2006

National Priorities Project - Cost of War

National Priorities Project - Cost of War

As of right now

The War in Iraq Costs

The number is based on Congressional appropriations.

Sunday, September 17, 2006



Click here to comment on this report.

President Bush has not fired any of the architects of the Iraq war. In fact, a review of the key planners of the conflict reveals that they have been rewarded – not blamed – for their incompetence.


Role In Going To War: Wolfowitz said the U.S. would be greeted as liberators, that Iraqi oil money for pay for the reconstruction, and that Gen. Eric Shinseki’s estimate that several hundred thousand troops would be needed was “wildly off the mark.” [Washington Post, 12/8/05]

Where He Is Now: Bush promoted Wolfowitz to head the World Bank in March 2005. [Washington Post, 3/17/05]

Key Quote: “We are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction and relatively soon.” [Wolfowitz, 3/27/03]


Role In Going To War: As Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Feith spearheaded two secretive groups at the Pentagon — the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group and the Office of Special Plans — that were instrumental in drawing up documents that explained the supposed ties between Saddam and al Qaeda. The groups were “created in order to find evidence of what Wolfowitz and his boss, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, believed to be true.” Colin Powell referred to Feith’s operation as the Gestapo. In Bob Woodward’s Plan of Attack, former CentCom Commander Gen. Tommy Franks called Feith the “f***ing stupidest guy on the face of the earth.” [LAT, 1/27/05; NYT, 4/28/04; New Yorker, 5/12/03; Plan of Attack, p.281]

Where He Is Now: Feith voluntarily resigned from the Defense Department shortly after Bush’s reelection. He is co-chairman of a project at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government to write an academic book on how to fight terrorism. Feith’s secretive groups at the Pentagon are under investigation by the Pentagon and the Senate Intelligence Committee for intelligence failures. [Washington Post, 1/27/05, 11/18/05; Washington Times, 3/3/06]

Key Quote: “I am not asserting to you that I know that the answer is — we did it right. What I am saying is it’s an extremely complex judgment to know whether the course that we chose with its pros and cons was more sensible.” [Washington Post, 7/13/05]


Role In Going To War: As then-Deputy National Security Advisor, Hadley disregarded memos from the CIA and a personal phone call from Director George Tenet warning that references to Iraq’s pursuit of uranium be dropped from Bush’s speeches. The false information ended up in Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address. [Washington Post, 7/23/03]

Where He Is Now: On January 26, 2005, Stephen Hadley was promoted to National Security Advisor. [White House bio]

Key Quote: “I should have recalled at the time of the State of the Union speech that there was controversy associated with the uranium issue. … And it is now clear to me that I failed in that responsibility in connection with the inclusion of these 16 words in the speech that he gave on the 28th of January.” [Hadley, 7/22/03]


Role In Going To War: Richard Perle, the so-called “Prince of Darkness,” was the chairman of Defense Policy Board during the run-up to the Iraq war. He suggested Iraq had a hand in 9-11. In 1996, he authored “Clean Break,” a paper that was co-signed by Douglas Feith, David Wurmser, and others that argued for regime change in Iraq. Shortly after the war began, Perle resigned from the Board because he came under fire for having relationships with businesses that stood to profit from the war. [Guardian, 9/3/02, 3/28/03; AFP, 8/9/02]

Where He Is Now: Currently, Perle is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute where he specializes in national security and defense issues. He has been investigated for ethical violations concerning war profiteering and other conflicts of interest. [Washington Post, 9/1/04]

Key Quote: “And a year from now, I’ll be very surprised if there is not some grand square in Baghdad that is named after President Bush. There is no doubt that, with the exception of a very small number of people close to a vicious regime, the people of Iraq have been liberated and they understand that they’ve been liberated. And it is getting easier every day for Iraqis to express that sense of liberation.” [Perle, 9/22/03]


Role In Going To War: Abrams was one of the defendants in the Iran-Contra Affair, and he pled guilty to two misdemeanor counts of withholding information from Congress. He was appointed Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director on the National Security Council for Near East and North African Affairs during Bush’s first term, where he served as Bush’s chief advisor on the Middle East. His name surfaced as part of the investigation into who leaked the name of a undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame. [Washington Post, 5/27/03, 2/3/05]

Where He Is Now: Abrams was promoted to deputy national security adviser in February of 2005. [Slate, 2/17/05]

Key Quote: “We recognize that military action in Iraq, if necessary, will have adverse humanitarian consequences. We have been planning over the last several months, across all relevant agencies, to limit any such consequences and provide relief quickly.” [CNN, 2/25/03]


Role In Going To War: At the time of the war, Wurmser was a special assistant to John Bolton in the State Department. Wurmser has long advocated the belief that both Syria and Iraq represented threats to the stability of the Middle East. In early 2001, Wurmser had issued a call for air strikes against Iraq and Syria. Along with Perle, he is considered a main author of “Clean Break.” [Asia Times, 4/17/03; Guardian, 9/3/02]

Where He Is Now: Wurmser was promoted to Principal Deputy Assistant to the Vice President for National Security Affairs; he is in charge of coordinating Middle East strategy. His name has been associated with the Plame Affair and with an FBI investigation into the passing of classified information to Chalabi and AIPAC. [Raw Story, 10/19/05; Washington Post, 9/4/04]

Key Quote: “Syria, Iran, Iraq, the PLO and Sudan are playing a skillful game, but have consistently worked to undermine US interests and influence in the region for years, and certainly will continue to do so now, even if they momentarily, out of fear, seem more forthcoming.” [Washington Post, 9/24/01]


Role In Going To War: Shortly after the invasion of Iraq, Andrew Natsios, then the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, went on Nightline and claimed that the U.S. contribution to the rebuilding of Iraq would be just $1.7 billion. When it became quickly apparent that Natsios’ prediction would fall woefully short of reality, the government came under fire for scrubbing his comments from the USAID Web site. [Washington Post, 12/18/03; ABC News, 4/23/03]

Where He Is Now: Natsios stepped down as the head of USAID in January and is currently teaching at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh’s School of Foreign Service as a Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy and Advisor on International Development. [AP, 2/20/06; Georgetown, 12/2/05]

Key Quote: “[T]he American part of this will be $1.7 billion. We have no plans for any further-on funding for this.” [Nightline, 4/23/03]


Role In Going To War: Dan Bartlett was the White House Communications Director at the time of the war and was a mouthpiece in hyping the Iraq threat. Bartlett was also a regular participant in the weekly meetings of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG). The main purpose of the group was the systematic coordination of the “marketing” of going to war with Iraq as well as selling the war here at home. [Washington Post, 8/10/03]

Where He Is Now: Bartlett was promoted to Counselor to the President on January 5, 2005, and is responsible for the formulation of policy and implementation of the President’s agenda. [White House]

Key Quote: “President Bush understands that the need to disarm Saddam Hussein is necessary. He has made that case to the United Nations Security Council. He’s made that case to the United States Congress. The entire world rallied behind this resolution that gives him one last chance. He has that chance, but time is running out.” [CNN, 1/26/03]


Role In Going To War: Mitch Daniels was the director of the Office of Management and Budget from January 2001 through June of 2003. In this capacity, he was responsible for releasing the initial budget estimates for the Iraq War which he pegged at $50 to $60 billion. The estimated cost of the war, including the full economic ramifications, is approaching $1 trillion. [MSNBC, 3/17/06]

Where He Is Now: In 2004, Daniels was elected Governor of Indiana. [USA Today, 11/3/04]

Key Quote: Mitch Daniels had said the war would be an “affordable endeavor” and rejected an estimate by the chief White House economic adviser that the war would cost between $100 billion and $200 billion as “very, very high.” [Christian Science Monitor, 1/10/06]


Role In Going To War: As CIA Director, Tenet was responsible for gathering information on Iraq and the potential threat posted by Saddam Hussein. According to author Bob Woodward, Tenet told President Bush before the war that there was a “slam dunk case” that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction. Tenet remained publicly silent while the Bush administration made pre-war statements on Iraq’s supposed nuclear program and ties to al Qaeda that were contrary to the CIA’s judgments. Tenet issued a statement in July 2003, drafted by Karl Rove and Scooter Libby, taking responsibility for Bush’s false statements in his State of the Union address. [CNN, 4/19/04; NYT, 7/22/05]

Where He Is Now: Tenet voluntarily resigned from the administration on June 3, 2004. He was later awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom. [Washington Post, 6/3/04]

Key Quote: “It’s a slam dunk case.” [CNN, 4/19/04]


Role In Going To War: Despite stating in Feb. 2001 that Saddam had not developed “any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction,” Powell made the case in front of the United Nations for a United States-led invasion of Iraq, stating that, “There can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more. And he has the ability to dispense these lethal poisons and diseases in ways that can cause massive death and destruction.” [Powell, 2/5/03; Powell, 2/24/01]

Where He Is Now: Shortly after Bush won reelection in 2004, Powell resigned from the administration. Powell now sits on numerous corporate boards. He is poised to succeed Henry Kissinger in May as Chairman of the Eisenhower Fellowship Program at the City College of New York. In September 2005, Powell said of his U.N. speech that it was a “blot” on his record. He went on to say, “It will always be a part of my record. It was painful. It’s painful now.” [ABC News, 9/9/05]

Key Quote:
“‘You are going to be the proud owner of 25 million people,’ he told the president. ‘You will own all their hopes, aspirations, and problems. You’ll own it all.’ Privately, Powell and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage called this the Pottery Barn rule: You break it, you own it.” [Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack]


Role In Going To War: Prior to the war, Rumsfeld repeatedly suggested the war in Iraq would be short and swift. He said, “The Gulf War in the 1990s lasted five days on the ground. I can’t tell you if the use of force in Iraq today would last five days, or five weeks, or five months, but it certainly isn’t going to last any longer than that.” He also said, “It is unknowable how long that conflict will last. It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.” [Rumsfeld, 11/14/02; USA Today, 4/1/03]

Where He Is Now: Despite increased calls for his resignation, Donald Rumsfeld continues to be the most vocal supporter of staying the course in Iraq. Recently, he claimed that an early U.S. pullout would be the equivalent of leaving Germany in the hands of Nazis. [Bill Kristol, Washington Post, 12/15/04; Reuters, 3/19/06]

Key Quote: “You go to war with the Army you have. They’re not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time.” [CNN, 12/9/04]


Role In Going To War: As National Security Adviser, Rice disregarded at least two CIA memos and a personal phone call from Director George Tenet stating that the evidence behind Iraq’s supposed uranium acquisition was weak. She urged the necessity of war because “we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” [Washington Post, 7/27/03; CNN, 9/8/02]

Where She Is Now: In December of 2004, Condoleezza Rice was promoted to Secretary of State and is being widely-mentioned as a possible presidential candidate. [ABC News, 11/16/04]

Key Quote: “We did not know at the time – maybe someone knew down in the bowels of the agency – but no one in our circles knew that there were doubts and suspicions that this might be a forgery. Of course it was information that was mistaken.” [Meet the Press, 6/8/03]


Role In Going To War: Among a host of false pre-war statements, Cheney claimed that Iraq may have had a role in 9/11, stating that it was “pretty well confirmed” that 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta met with Iraqi intelligence officials. Cheney also claimed that Saddam was “in fact reconstituting his nuclear program” and that the U.S. would be “greeted as liberators.” [Meet the Press, 12/9/01, 3/16/03]

Where He Is Now: Cheney earned another four years in power when Bush won re-election in 2004. Despite recent calls from conservatives calling for him to be replaced, Cheney has said, “I’ve now been elected to a second term; I’ll serve out my term.” [CBS Face the Nation, 3/19/06]

Key Quote: “I think they’re in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.” [Larry King Live, 6/20/05]


Role In Going To War: Emphasizing Saddam Hussein’s supposed stockpile of weapons of mass destruction, supposed ties to al Qaeda, and supposed nuclear weapons program, Bush led the effort to build public support for an invasion of Iraq. [State of the Union, 1/28/03]

Where He Is Now: In November 2004, Bush won re-election. Since that time, popular support for the war and the President have reached a low point. [Washington Post, 3/7/06]

Key Quote: “Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof — the smoking gun — that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.” [Bush, 10/7/02]

Friday, September 15, 2006

Video: Bush on Torture - Press confrence and anaylisis

Countdown with Olbermann: White House defends their "program" to degrade, torture and sentence people to death on a mere whim of thought, in their all-time arrogant quest to bypass the safeguards in Article 3 of thejavascript:void(0)
Publish Geneva Conventions.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Iraq and Sept. 11th - Bush Lied

To justify the war, Bush informed Congress on March 19, 2003 that acting against Iraq was consistent with “continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.”

As ThinkProgress has repeatedly documented, Vice President Cheney cited “evidence” cooked up by Douglas Feith and others to claim it was “pretty well confirmed” that Iraq had contacts with 9/11 hijackers.

More generally, in the lead-up to the war in Iraq, the administration encouraged the false impression that Saddam had a role in 9/11. Bush never stated then, as he does now, that Iraq had “nothing” to do with 9/11. Only after the Iraq war began did Bush candidly acknowledge that Iraq was not operationally linked to 9/11.

Digg It!

Full transcript:

BUSH: The terrorists attacked us and killed 3,000 of our citizens before we started the freedom agenda in the Middle East.

QUESTION: What did Iraq have to do with it?

BUSH: What did Iraq have to do with what?

QUESTION: The attack on the World Trade Center.

BUSH: Nothing. Except it’s part of — and nobody has suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack. Iraq was a — Iraq — the lesson of September 11th is take threats before they fully materialize, Ken. Nobody’s ever suggested that the attacks of September the 11th were ordered by Iraq.

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