Sunday, April 29, 2007

No Tears for George Tenet

Back in Dec 2004, George Bush presented George Tenet the Presidential Medal of Freedom. This medal is the Nation's highest civil award presented by the President of the United States to persons who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

There was much discussion and derision back then with people wondering why retired General Tommy Franks, Paul Bremer and George Tenet, as the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, were honored with this medal. These men who the president said "played pivotal roles in great events and whose efforts have made our country more secure and advanced the cause of human liberty." Indeed. In 2007, we know now the pivotal role each of them played in accommodating the march into Baghdad. We also know now that our country is not more secure and the condition of human liberty worldwide has suffered.

These supposed men of honor should go directly to Section 60 in Arlington National Cemetery and place those medals at any one of those headstones, where more than 300 of our nation's best and brightest who were killed in Iraq & Afghanistan are buried. Any of those men & women will always have been more honorable than the 3 men who stood with the president that December day in 2004.

On 60 Minutes tonite, George Tenet complains that the administration used him as a scapegoat to make their case for the invasion of Iraq. He accused Andrew Card of this:

You've gone out and made me look stupid. It's the most despicable thing I've ever heard in my life. Men of honor don't do this.


You don't do this. You don't throw people overboard. You don't call do this — you don't call somebody in. You work your heart out. You show up every day. You're going to throw somebody overboard just because it's a deflection. Is that honorable? It's not honorable to me. OK and that's how I feel. Now had it happened and who orchestrated it and what happened, you know, at the end of the day the only thing that you have is trust and honor in this world. It's all you have. All you have is your reputation built on trust and your personal honor.

No one in the Bush adminstration is a man or woman of honor, period. That word is not in their dictionary. What is despicable is the devastation that this war in Iraq has caused to our country. My only child, Lt Ken Ballard and 3340+ other US soldiers have been sacrificed because Tenet and others wouldn't stand up to the President and tell the country the truth. For 3 years until Tenet signed a book contract, the truth was held close to Tenet's cold heart. How many lives could have been saved had Tenet had the courage to stand up and be the honorable man that he presents himself to be?

It was George Tenet who threw all of our military overboard when he didn't stand up before this country and tell us the truth that there was no planning. George Tenet complains about his loss of reputation, but where is his concern for the loss of life his silence caused?

Tenet, who for four years briefed the president nearly every day, acknowledges that the CIA made grievous errors in its assessment of Baghdad's alleged weapons programs, but argues that the agency was dismayed by equally disastrous mistakes that took place after the invasion."Our analysis assumed there was a plan for ensuring the peace," he writes in one section of a chapter called "Mission Not Accomplished," a pointed reference to Bush. "In fact, there was no strategy for when U.S. forces hit the ground."

In 2003, our military was sent into battle without adequate training and protection or a clear and defined mission. In the 5th year of the war, our military is still without the resources they need to complete the mission; whatever that mission may be.

George Tenet has a new tell all book out, so he's telling the truth now, spilling his guts. Where was the truth back in 2002-2003 when his conscience would have saved 3300+ US soldiers and countless Iraqi citizens? Now he tells us what he knew and when he knew it. Until the price was right, he chose to keep that to himself. He followed Paul Bremer's lead, who did the same thing when his book, My Year in Iraq was published a few years back. I have no patience for people whose conscience comes clean only when signing a book contract.

The money that George Tenet is receiving for writing this book and baring his pathetic soul is blood money, plain and clear. In California there are laws to prevent a criminal from profiting off his crimes. George Tenet should donate all of the profits from his book to support the troops and their families.

Tenet is not the only one who betrayed this country and betrayed the troops. He's not the first one to come clean and he won't be the last. My only question is why they waited so long and the common answer is clear- money. Tenet seems to be asking for our forgiveness, but there are some things that are unforgivable.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

No one suffers more than Laura & George Bush

We would be better off without Laura Bush in the White House but if she is going to stay, she should just keep her mouth shut. Our First lady must have missed the lesson that said "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all"

Laura Bush was interviewed on the Today Show this morning and said "no one suffers more than she and her husband when it comes to watching what goes on in Iraq". Unfortunately, when I heard about this, my first thought was NOT, they must have gotten it wrong; no one would say something like that. But indeed, the current First Lady of this country has sunk as low as her mother-in-law when Barbara Bush said before the beginning of the war in Iraq: "Why should we hear about body bags and deaths? It's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?"

Let's listen in:

ANN CURRY: Do you know the American people are suffering… watching

LAURA BUSH: Oh, I know that very much, and, believe me, no suffers more
than their president and I do when we watch this. And certainly the
commander-in-chief who has asked our military to go into harm’s way.

AC: What do you think the American people need to know…

LB: Well, I hope they do know the burden of worry that’s on his
shoulders every single day for our troops. And I think they do. I think if they
don’t, they’re not seeing what the real responsibilities of our president are.

AC: It must be hard for you to watch him in this.

LB: It’s hard. Of course, it’s absolutely hard.

What is wrong with these people? How far removed can you be from reality? Oh, I forgot, they live in George's world.

Let's hear Laura say this in her own voice:

Laura Bush said that no one suffers more than Bush and Laura herself watching what's going on in Iraq.
Neither Laura or George Bush will never, ever know how hard it is to bring your son or daughter home from Iraq in a flag covered casket. They will never know because no one in the Bush family will ever fight in this war, or any war, so her opinion is disingenuous.

It's not so bad that she says what she says; we've come to expect stupidity and insensitivity from the Bush White House. To say that Laura thinks that she and her husband would know how difficult it is to bury your child is even more patronizing to those of us who have had to bury our children who were killed in George Bush's occupation of Iraq. It's worse that she truly believes what she says and that she would find my distress confusing.

Not to be real picky, but I'd like to make one little correction. Laura's husband, the Commander in Chief did not "ask" our sons and daughters to go to Iraq- he "ordered" them to participate in an illegal invasion and occupation of a sovereign country.

I really wish these Bush people would go away for a very long time. This country needs to do some serious healing and it will never happen on these ignorant people's watch.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Video Vets Project

I work with many organizations in the peace community to speak about this war and to spread the message "Bring Them Home Now and Take very good care of them when they get here". I always speak for Gold Star Families Speak Out, a chapter of Military Families Speak Out, of which I am on the national board of directors.

I have worked with AFSC, American Friends Service Committee, who sponsors Eyes Wide Open, the display of empty combat boots. I work with our local peace groups, Mountain View Voices for Peace, Los Altos Voice for Peace and Peninsula Peace & Justice. I have participated at rallies for United for Peace & Justice and many other organizations. Members and leaders of these organizations work tirelessly for peace and have all welcomed me to speak about my son and my experience.

Some organizations stray from my main message of Bring Them Home Now and I always think long and hard about what my message is and if an organization has the same message. I try to be aware of the dynamics at any rally and make sure it will be safe to tell Ken's and my story. If, when I speak, one person get's it, the cost of this war, then I have done my job. I will continue to tell our story until they all come home.

There are many good organizations and good people who are working very hard for peace and while we may not always all be totally aligned; our message is getting to Washington and even many local legislators.

With the able assistance of Videographer, Stephen Conway and his amazing talent, I recently recorded a video as part of a project for MoveOn (see below). Here's how MoveOn describes the Video Vets project:

VideoVets: Bring Our Troops Home is an important new project that will use the power of internet video to help spread the stories that folks need to hear most: the truth about how veterans and military families feel about the war and why we need to bring our troops home safely and quickly.

Every day at MoveOn we get letters from military families and veterans who’re outraged that the president hides behind the troops to justify his policy—a policy that’s leaving tens of thousands of them stranded in the middle of an unwinnable civil war. So we teamed up with our friends at to give these folks a platform to speak out.

You watch the videos and tell us what you think. We’ll take the one you select and Academy Award winning director Oliver Stone will turn it into a TV ad—spreading this message even further. Believe us, once you get started watching these you won’t be able to stop. You have until midnight (Pacific Time), April 25th, to log your ratings.

Karen Meredith

Watch this video and vote for your favorite
Here are some of the comments that MoveOn forwarded to me:
Paul B. Buffalo, NY
Dear Karen, I was very moved by your video. I am so sorry for your loss. My son is Sgt John Bruhns, who also made a video. Your message is what has been in my heart since day one of the Iraq war. I, too was against this war from the moment it began, and I listened to your message, I so vividly remembered those nights, praying, not knowing, crying, and promising God anything to just keep my son alive. My heart is heavy with grief for you and the other mothers who lost sons and daughters. I want to thank you for your powerful and eloquent message.

Esther M. Queens NY
Thank you for that incredible video and for sharing your story. It takes great courage to speak up. I am sorry for your loss. I hope that all the military mothers can have the strength and resolve you seem to have, and tell this administration- no more.

Bonnie B. Portland, ME
Dear Karen, I am so sorry for the loss of your son. Thank you for speaking out. We lost our niece, Capt. Jen Harris, USMC, on Feb. 7, 2007. It was her third tour and she was due to finally come home the week her helicopter was shot down over Baghdad. The pain to our family, and thousands of other families, American and Iraqi, is indescribable as you well know. I can't believe what our government has done. I pray that my sister finds the strength to eventually speak out as you have done so eloquently. Peace to you, Karen, and to all of us - especially our brave and honorable soldiers.

Katherine B. Brooklyn, NY
Dear Ms. Meredith, I feel compelled to let you know how very moved I was by your remarkable grace and eloquence in telling this story. I am so very sorry for your loss, so thankful to you for sharing it.

Benjamin P., Ellicott City, MD
I really thought your video was moving. And I am really thinking a lot about your tragic loss. I hope no other mothers have to suffer like this. God bless you.

John L. Hamlet, IN
I am a former marine Sgt. who served during the Viet Nam war with honor. When i saw your video clip. it brought back so many memories of what the Viet Nam war did to our young men and women of that time area. So many young people died for a worthless war. It’s just like this war is in Iraq. I cry as i watch you kneel down by your son’s grave It reminds me of all the mothers before you who lost a son or daughter to war. This war in Iraq is so much like Viet Nam was and this government of our’s is doing the same thing all over again. We haven’t learned at all from our mistakes of the past. GOD BLESS you for standing up for what is right by bringing an end to this damn war. I am sure if your son is watching from above he’s saying thank you mom. And I as a former marine Sgt thank you for your stand to help stop the war in Iraq. I am so sorry for your loss.

Dan M. Oakland CA
Dear Karen: i watched several of these videos for moveon, and your interview is by far the most thoughtful and moving. i feel for your loss and cried for the first time since i can remember.

Ann M., Phoenicia, NY
Thank you for sharing your story—I m so sorry for your loss.

Christine K., Claremont, CA
Karen - I am extremely sorry for your loss but want to thank you for your willingness to share your story so publicly. Hopefully something better can come of that by helping to bring the troops home!

John C., Miami FL
I just watched your video. I liked it a lot and gave it a very good rating. Thanks for making it. I admire you for that (and I'm sure a lot of other people will too).

Aisha K. Lawrenceville GA God Bless You. I wish that more mothers would be as courageous as you to help end this fruitless war.

Susan B. Harrisonburg, VA
Thanks you so much for making this message to bring our troops home. I cried so hard when I heard your message. I am a mother of two sons and I cannot image what you are going through. My heart goes out to you and my prayers are with you.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

3301 US dead

Before I left the house this morning, I checked for the current number of US troops killed in Iraq, as I do everyday. By all accounts, icasualties is not the official Department of Defense count, but it is the site that I check during the day for the number that I refer to.

This morning the number was 3299. I've been out and about for a few hours and now the number is 3301. The numbers keep increasing- tick tock, Knock Knock. Those uniformed members of the military, the notification team has yet to notify 6 families. Those families think their life is still normal. They may be sitting down to Sunday dinner, holding close to the fact that there is an empty seat at the table, but just for the deployment, not for ever. They may be washing the dishes, or letting the dog out for the evening when that dreaded knock on the door comes. Knock, Knock. We regret to inform you....

In April so far there have been 4.15 deaths per day, more than most months- even since the invasion in March 2003. Since George Bush announced the surge in January, 300 soldiers have died. How's that surge working for you now, George? The only promise that this president has kept is when he told us that there will be hard times, difficult times in his Global War on Terror. But he doesn't know the meaning of difficult as it relates to burying a child. As much as I would like to have this president know the pain, really understand what it means to bury your only child; I don't think he, or other members of his PNAC infested administration have the emotional wiring to feel the pain of losing a child in a war you do not support. If I thought they would be profoundly changed by the experience; if I thought they were capable of having any empathy, I would gladly share my grief, but it would be wasted and they wouldn't know what to do with human feelings anyway. The lot of them, Karl Rove, Paul Wolfowitz, Doug Feith or Richard Perle, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleeza Rice, or Dick Cheney; not one of them has a soul. They only care for themselves, their egos & greed and I suspect, they don't really care that much for their families, despite what it may look like. They just don't know how.

I guess my feelings of melancholy, or bitterness or anger- you choose which, I'll just wallow in it, come from this weekend. On Saturday, I attended the memorial of Spc James Coon Walnut Creek, CA. Even in the cool, rainy weather, hundreds of people attended and honored Jimmy's life. Jimmy was only 22 and while the ceremony was lovely and you just knew he was the kind of child that loved and was loved, I had to keep asking WHY? Why did Jimmy have to die and leave his family with such a big hole in their hearts. On my way home, I stopped by the memorial crosses that sprouted up on a hillside in Lafayette, CA last winter. A cross had been labeled with Jimmy's name already; I left flowers for him and for Ken & Patrick McCaffrey. With 3289 crosses (they update the number on Sundays) organically placed, remembering and honoring the US dead in George Bush's Iraq adventure, all I can think is WHY? Why did they have to die?

This afternoon, I attended a reunion of Gold Star families who had taken part in a project called Stories of Service sponsored by the Digital clubhouse in San Jose, CA. Since the summer of 2005, about 20 digital stories have been written, narrated and documented by family members of soldiers and Marines who were killed in Iraq. None of the stories have been political, they've all been about the little boys who grew up to serve their country. This is a time to honor our sons & daughters, husbands and wives. I've seen Ken's story dozens of times, heck, I wrote the danged thing, but it sill makes me cry. Imagine watching a dozen of these stories in one sitting, which we did today. I was the project leader on the most of the stories to date and I am grateful that each Gold Star family took that leap of faith and painfully went through photos and music so their story would represent their loved ones just so. The loss of these young men was so unnecessary, I kept asking myself WHY they had to die?

None of the Sunday evening news shows mentioned the new milestone number that passed 3300 sometime this afternoon our time. I guess it's not news anymore; I guess it's not important to most people. But I promise you, every Gold Star family feels the pain for each new casualty as the numbers keep mounting, tick tock; knock, knock.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The "E" word

Extension. The rumors had been flying for weeks. No one knew just how deeply and directly it would affect every member of the military who is now or will be doing time in Iraq or Afghanistan (oh, and don't think Afghanistan is any better than Iraq). It is the latest move by the Pentagon to cope with the strains of fighting two wars simultaneously and maintaining a higher troop level in Iraq as part of President Bush's revised strategy for stabilizing Baghdad. What good does a high troop level do if they are demoralized, devastated and just plain exhausted from their expected 12 month deployment?

The hard, ugly truth is that these soldiers will be staying in Iraq for 15 months, not the 12 months on their orders. They say, 15 months "in country" to assure that they will have 12 months with their families when they get home. Yeah, right, if there is a family left still waiting. Divorce rates are soaring among military families; who can sustain a relationship, married or not if the deal is you keep having to go through that revolving door to Iraq, back home, only to return to Iraq. It is obscene that this administration thinks that 15 months in the hell hole that is Iraq is okay. No big deal, it's just 3 months longer than they were expected to serve. No big deal.

The administration says this country is at war; there have to be sacrifices, but I wonder why it has to be the same 1% who are bearing those sacrifices? No, this country is not at war; our military is, and Bush should just stop saying that.

That many service members heard the news of the extension via email from their spouses or family members just shows how little regard this administration has for the military they lead. There was no advanced notice from the Department of Defense to the families so they could process this tough news. There was no consistent, timely message from their commanders to the troops in the field so that all who were affected would find out at the same time. They can find out from the news media, just like everyone else. What does it matter? They all volunteered.

Back in April 2004 when my son, Lt Ken Ballard was still alive and the 1st Armored Division was extended for 120 days, the families were devastated. When Ken called to tell me of the extension, I put on a good face for him, but I just wanted to scream and howl! He should have heard me 11 timezones away; a sound that no wounded animal could make, a sound that I did not recognize coming from me and a sound that I would soon become familiar with. My heart was fragile already and with this news it nearly broke into a million pieces. If only I knew what another phone call would reveal in 6 weeks. If only I knew what a broken heart really felt like.

During the 384 days that Ken served in Iraq, we frequently talked about conditions, the mental status of Ken and his guys. I told him that they could do anything for a finite period of time; as long as they knew the end date. What could I say when we found out he would have to be there for 120 more days when they had already turned in their weapons, only to have them reissued? What could I say when I knew they had sent their personal possessions home and were literally counting the days in single digits to marching out of Baghdad? How could the Army keep moving that date, the day that they all lived for, focused on getting the hell out of Iraq and coming home? And how could they extend the date when all of the soldiers of 2-37 had survived that year in hell? Calculating the luck to time ratio was not spoken, but I did it and I'm sure Ken did, too. But, Ken explained, they had not completed their mission and when they did, they would come home. Ken apparently completed his mission on 5.30.04 when he was killed in Najaf and that's how he was able to come home.

This extension is get another way to use and abuse the troops and their families. The new speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi said, "The Bush Administration has failed to create a plan to fully equip and train our troops, bring them home safely and soon, and provide our veterans with the quality care they deserve," "Extending the tours of all active-duty Army personnel is an unacceptable price for our troops and their families to pay."

Hey George, who supports the troops?

Friday, April 13, 2007

My bad!

My bad- We deleted 5 million emails even though it is against Federal law.

The White House email policy reads "Federal law requires the preservation of electronic communications sent or received by White House staff," All staffers are given the handbook and are expected to read and comply with these policies.

Dana Perino, the Valley Girl who's filling in as the White House spokesperson told reporters that the e-mails from those accounts should have been saved, but said policy has not kept pace with technology. She said computer experts were trying to retrieve any records that have been deleted. "We screwed up, and we're trying to fix it," she told reporters. Ya think?

And don't think this is destruction of electronic communications is news to members of this administration. Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, recently wrote a letter to Jack Fitzgerald, the special investigator into the Valerie Plame leak saying, "It looks like Karl Rove may well have destroyed evidence that implicated him in the White House's orchestrated efforts to leak Valerie Plame Wilson's covert identity to the press in retaliation against her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson," Sloan said. "Special Counsel Fitzgerald should immediately reopen his investigation into whether Rove took part in the leak, as well as whether he obstructed justice in the ensuing leak investigation." I think this is called a pattern.

My bad- I called the women of the Rutgers basketball team "nappy headed ho's".

Don Imus offered a seemingly heartfelt apology for his comments and said "I'm not a bad person. I'm a good person, but I said a bad thing". But this isn't the first time he "misspoke" and how many times do we have let racism be brushed off as humor?

My bad- John McCain said, "General Petraeus goes out there (into Baghdad) almost every day in an unarmed Humvee." and "There are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods today."

Was it really that safe? When questioned why his stroll through the Baghdad market required wearing body armor, dozens of armed US soldiers and snipers plus Apache helicopters flying overhead, "Of course I'm going to misspeak and I've done it on numerous occasions and I probably will do in the future. I regret that when I divert attention to something that I've said from my message but you know that's just life, and I'm happy frankly with the way I operate, otherwise it would be a lot less fun," McCain said. Sounds a little too much like something the 43rd president would say and who wants 4 more years of that?

McCain and his fellow shoppers used the US military as a backdrop to their little adventure to show how well things are going in Iraq. How little they think of the troops who were put at unnecessary risk as the photo op took place so that a video postcard could be sent to the folks back at home telling them how well things are progressing in Iraq. wink, wink

It's been a bad week! Why is it when something incredibly stupid is said, some people think the acceptable response is "my bad". Where is the personal responsibility and integrity? Where is the civilized tone? We deserve better than this and we should continue to demand it.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Oh no he didn't!

Senator Barack Obama told the Associated Press in an interview on Sunday that if President Bush vetoes an Iraq war spending bill as promised, Congress quickly will provide the money without the withdrawal timeline the White House objects to because no lawmaker "wants to play chicken with our troops,"

Say it ain't so! Obama is trying to show that he is different than Hillary Clinton when it comes to the war in Iraq. Hilary says she would end the war if elected and won't apologize for her vote to attack Iraq back in 2002. She said she understands the the frustration and outrage people are feeling about the lack of progress in Congress to end this war. Obama says that he was against the Iraq invasion from the beginning.

It seems to me that both of them have given up on bringing the troops home during the next 2 years until one of them gets into the White House.

I understand there is a narrowly divided Senate. I understand when both the House and the Senate say the resolutions they put forward were the best they could do, although I don't agree. It is not time to throw their hands up and say "My bad, I'll end it when I am president". It is not time to abandon the troops and support them by letting them sit in this undefined mission until *they* get elected as president.

With 9 months until the first primary in 2008, I am already tired of the campaign for president. I am tired of the campaign overshadowing the issues the took them to Washington. And I am really tired of them asking me for money. They aren't doing what I asked; *they* are not bringing the troops home. Why would I send them back to DC again for the next term if they didn't do the job I sent them there to do in the first place. If Obama & Clinton, especially, are courting the American people for their vote, they need to listen to the people. If this is the best leadership that the Democrats can offer this country, then we are in sad shape.

Leadership is setting the record straight and making sure people know that the appropriations money that remains from the last supplemental will last into July and will not undermine U.S. troops and the war in Iraq if it did not approve approximately $100 billion within weeks.

According to a Congressional Research Service memo dated March 28 and sent to the Senate Budget Committee, "The Army could finance the O&M (operations and maintenance) of both its baseline and war program ... through most of July 2007" by shifting around money in existing accounts.

Leadership is making it very clear to George Bush that he is the one that is undermining the US troops. Leadership is standing up to the president and letting him know that he is no longer the "decider" and that Congress holds the purse strings now and they will use them. Leadership is letting the president know that the he and his warmongering cronies *will* be held accountable of the mismanagement of this war, because this Congress will hold them accountable. Leadership is telling the 43rd president of these United States NO. No more troops, no more money.

Another presidential hopeful, John Edwards said "Silence is a betrayal" "It is a betrayal not to stop this president's plan to escalate the war when we have the responsibility, the power and the ability to stop it. We cannot be satisfied with passing nonbinding resolutions that we know this president will ignore."

We can do better for the troops. Obama is ceding his responsibility as a member of the US Senate when he says no one "wants to play chicken with our troops," Of course no one does, but by giving unnecessary and continuing power to the president, Obama is turning his back on the troops and buying in to the presidents false claims just as Karl Rove planned. How dare he?