MSNBC Host says Pentagon War Decisions Influenced by Military Contractors

MSNBC host Cenk Uygur speaks with Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Democratic Strategist Bob Schrum and former Bush advisor Mark McKinnon about President Obama's upcoming speech on withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.

 

Dozens of Father's days; Decades of Grief

 

by Walter Brasch

 

Christopher Kenneth Frison is seven months old.

He's too young to understand Father's Day.

And he's certainly far too young to be able to get an allowance or a job to buy a card and a nice gift.

He isn't too young to be able to hug his father.

But he won't ever be able to do that again. Not today. Not next year. Not ever.

His father, 1st Lt. Demetrius M. Frison, a parachutist and infantry officer, was killed in Khost province, Afghanistan, May 10. He was 26 years old.

His widow, Mikki, told the Lancaster New Era that she and Demetrius first met in Middle School in Philadelphia, attended different high schools, and then went to Millersville University in 2003. Both graduated with degrees in psychology. They married in March 2009, a month before he joined the Army. Christopher was born November 17, 2010. At that time, Frison, who had trained at Fort Benning, Ga., was stationed at Fort Knox, Ky.

The last time Frison saw his son was shortly before his first deployment to Afghanistan in January. Four months later, he was dead.

Christopher Kenneth Frison isn't the only one who won't be able to celebrate Father's Day. There are thousands, a few who never had a chance to meet their fathers, many who are now young adults.

1st Lt. Demetrius M. Frison is one of 264 Pennsylvanians, one of 6,082 American troops killed in what are now America's longest wars. In Afghanistan and Iraq, 54,609 Americans have been wounded, thousands who have permanent physical injuries, all of whom are likely to develop levels of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The Department of Defense estimates that 78,000 soldiers have developed PTSD in the past decade; the Veterans Administration believes the number is closer to 800,000. Those numbers don't even include the soldiers who served in dozens of wars and military actions since World War II.

 1st Lt. Frison, who had earned four service ribbons in his two years in the Army, received three more in May. The Army posthumously awarded him the NATO, Bronze Star, and Purple Heart medals.  But not one medal is worth the life of a soldier who never saw his first Father's Day with his son, nor the son who will have dozens of them without his father.

          

          [Contributing were Rosemary R. Brasch, the Fort Knox public affairs office, the Philadelphia Tribune, and the Lancaster Intelligencer-Journal.]

 

 

 

 

Memorial Day 2011: Two Names That Matter

 

by Walter Brasch

 

Unless you were in a coma the past few years, you probably know who Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan, and Paris Hilton are.

You heard about them on radio, saw them on television.

You read about them in newspapers and magazines, on Facebook, Twitter, and every social medium known to mankind.

 Because of extensive media coverage, you also know who dozens of singers and professional athletes are.

Here are two names you probably never heard of. Sergeant First Class Clifford E. Beattie and Private First Class Ramon Mora Jr.

They didn't get into drug and alcohol scandals. They didn't become pop singers or make their careers from hitting baseballs or throwing footballs. They were soldiers.

Both died together this past week from roadside bombs near Baghdad.

Sgt. 1st Class Beattie, from the small rural suburb of Medical Lake, Wash., spent 17 years in the Army, and was in his third tour of duty in Iraq. On the day he was killed, according to the Spokane Spokesman–Review, he had participated in a run to honor fallen soldiers. Sgt. Beattie was 37 years old. He leaves two children, one of whom was three weeks from graduating from high school; four sisters, a brother, and his parents.

PFC Mora, from Ontario, Calif., a city of about 170,000 near Los Angeles, was in his first tour in combat. He was 19 years old. "He was a very serious student, and education was important to him," Carole Hodnick, Mora's English teacher and advisor, told the Ontario Daily Bulletin. Hodnick also remembers him as having "a charisma about him, and the students just fell in line with him."

Clifford E. Beatttie and Ramon Mora Jr. were just two of the 6,049 Americans killed and 43,418 wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan in war the past decade, the longest wars in American history.

You can't know or remember all of their names. But you can remember two.

Clifford E. Beattie. Ramon Mora Jr. 

Two Americans. One near the end of his Army career. One not long out of Basic Training. A White Caucasian and a Hispanic. Two different lives. Two different cultures. Two Americans.

Clifford E. Beattie. Ramon Mora Jr. Killed together more than 7,000 miles from their homes.

As you prepare for Memorial Day barbeques, surrounded by celebrity-laden news, remember the names of Clifford E. Beattie and Ramon Mora Jr., and all they stood for. Theirs are the names that matter.

 

[Walter Brasch is a social issues columnist and author. His next book is Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution, available at amazon.com and other stores after June 20. For more details, see YouTube.]

 

 

Abu Ghraib Torture Victims Deserve Compensation

Abu Ghraib. Eight years ago the Iraqi prison was the site of physical and psychological torture, rape, sodomy and murder of Iraqi prisoners committed by Americans under the authority of Americans. While 11 soldiers were convicted on detainee abuse charges and Army investigations implicated at least 5 private contractors in similar crimes, no contractor was ever even charged.

But what about the victims?

There's more...

Bin Laden's Death Sparks Rethinking of US Policy in Afghanistan

The death of Osama bin Laden last week is prompting the Obama Administration, members of Congress and the American public to re-think the war in Afghanistan, and to wonder how the demise of the world's most famous terrorist might hasten its end.

That's as it should be. But for now, there are still 100,000 troops on the ground in Afghanistan, and some 1700 prisoners that the U.S. is detaining there indefinitely without charge or trial. That's ten times the number of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and almost triple the number imprisoned in Afghanistan when President Obama took office. As I wrote in a new report released today by Human Rights First, based on research in Afghanistan and observation of U.S. military practices there, the United States is not providing its prisoners there even the minimum level of due process required by international law. And that's ultimately undermining the United States' ability to put an end to the war there quickly and responsibly.

There's more...

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