Monday, May 29, 2006

Dumb as a bag of hammers

Tom DeLay Supporters

Prepare to have your mind blown. I'm serious. This one will leave you
scratching your head in bewilderment.

We all know that Tom DeLay is still in deep doo-doo over allegations of
corruption and money laundering. Fortunately for Tom, he's still got a
few supporters left who think he's not a lost cause. They've come
together to create a website called DefendDelay.com, the purpose of
which is to raise money for his legal defense. How nice.

Recently DeLay has come under fire from Robert Greenwald, the creator of
Outfoxed, who has just released a new movie called The Big Buy: Tom
DeLay's Stolen Congress. As you might imagine, it's not particularly
complimentary to the Former Hammer. So in an effort to discredit
Greenwald, DefendDelay.com has posted at the top of their home page
<http://www.defenddelay.com/site/c.fuIWLhMTJrE/b.1084881/k.BE08/Home.htm>
a video of Greenwald "crashing and burning" in an interview with...
Stephen Colbert.

Now, most people with half a brain are well aware that Stephen Colbert
isn't really a conservative, he just plays one for laughs on TV. It
seems, however, that most of DeLay's supporters have less than half a
brain and are therefore not familiar with such lofty concepts as
"satire." As you might expect, the interview is full of silly questions
like, "Who hates America more, you or Michael Moore?"

So why on earth have the brilliant minds behind DefendDelay.com posted
this joke interview at the top of their website? There are two possible
options:

1) They actually believe that this is a real interview. If they don't
know who Stephen Colbert is, they might just have fallen for his
schtick. Which would not only make them extremely dumb, but would also
demonstrate just how good Colbert's satire is. But perhaps a more
reasonable explanation is:

2) They know it's not real, but they think that anyone who wants to
donate to Tom DeLay must be an utter moron. In this scenario, the
creators of DefendDelay.com know that the Colbert Report is a comedy
show, but they also know that people who are willing to cough up ten
bucks for DeLay's defense fund will probably watch the interview and
think that Colbert is a real conservative "nailing" Greenwald.

Either way, there's some serious idiocy going on here.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Memorial Day wishes

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Shots fired in Rayburn building

Has anyone seen Dead Eye Dick Cheney? Was he at his undisclosed location?

Friday, May 26, 2006

AN OPEN LETTER TO PAT BUCHANAN

Dear Mr. Buchanan,

I shall not be renewing my subscription to your
AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE rag because I can no longer
admire your standing up to the neocons. They at least
are loyal to something. Unfortunately, you are as much
of a con as the neocons. Goldwater said: better right
than win. But you are a total phony. On the
Scarborough Country MSNBC program-- it may be
Scarborough's country but not the America I defended
and supported-- you said that "we" are going to set
the laws and choose who comes into our country, not
illegals breaking our laws. Who is "we," the Irish
potato famine" refugees who came here and raised hell
or a century?

You speak of law and order and no amnesty. But what
about the Amnesty that your "America" has requested
from the Japanese Americans and the Black Americans
who suffered racial and criminal abuse at the hands of
people like you-- should they grant your likes
amnesty?

We were both with Nixon and we were both there when
Conservatism started as a movement in the 1960s. So no
one can fool anyone. Forgiveness is what REAL
Christians do as it is what REAL Americans do-- as so
many Black and Japanese Americans forgave the likes of
you. People pay for their crimes and sins. But as an
old man you continue to be a fraud trying to cash in
on your own polemical larceny now as ever. I say that
because in all your blah-blah in support of the
Congress-passed Bill that makes it a felony for an
illegal alien to work in the US and for an American to
hire one, you never once mentioned that the felony of
hiring an illegal alien does not go into effect for
SIX MORE YEARS. That's in order to give time for the
grubby business men who hire illegals to avoid the
same catastrophic fate that befalls an illegal worker
caught working in your kind of America.

In the end you are more of a scumbag than the neocons
and a cheap old political whore, condemning Bush for
recklessly causing the deaths of American heroes in
Iraq but the supporting his re-election so he can
continue causing the death of young American heroes in
Iraq. Phonies like you need to be cut loose and
amputated from the Conservative movement, amputated
like an infected limb, before it can recover from its
own fundamental moral corruption.

Keep your rag, American Conservative, for you are
neither a REAL American (having evaded war service)
nor a real Conservative (having hidden from view a
Congressional Bill you peddle that makes it a
felonious crime to work but not to hire such felonious
criminals. That does not make you a
"Paleoconservative" just a crud!

Daniel E. Teodoru

Thursday, May 25, 2006

nature of the beast

Jesus is all right with me, but his fan club is frightening
By Sheila Samples

"The demonic appears most terrible when it assumes dominance in some one person. They are not always the most admirable persons, either in mind or in gifts. But a tremendous force goes out from them, and they exercise an unbelievable power over all creatures. It is in vain that the brighter part of mankind tries to throw suspicion on them as betrayers or betrayed; the masses are attracted by them." --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


America has lost its way. We are a confused nation, beset on all sides by fear and paranoia. After the orchestrated 9-11 attack on New York City and Washington, D.C., and its follow-up anthrax attack on Democratic legislators, Americans of all stripes rushed en masse to George Bush's Fools' Gate to trade their morality and compassion for empty promises of security. The consequences of that Faustian trade are unbelievable. In order to be safe we signed a pact with Decider Bush to condone any atrocity he could dream up so long as it happened in other lands to other men, other women, other children. He agreed, and further decided that no law conjured up by mere man applied to him, especially the U.S. Constitution, and demanded we sacrifice our freedoms as collateral for this evil pact.

How easily we were fooled! Fat, indolent, and full of self-righteous pus, we were ripe for harvest. We are at the mercy of The Decider, who is manipulated from behind the scenes by unelected neo-Straussian thugs lusting for the matrix of a One World Order. They are joined by Christo-fascists soiling themselves at the thought of gaining dominion over the government apparatus and realizing their dream of stoning gays and liberals to death, and by rapacious corporations intent on ransacking the universe until it is stripped of all treasure and resources.

Although their agendas differ, this greedy axis shares a single goal -- that of complete power and control -- an area where morality dies aborning. They also share one other critical attribute -- they are aggressively anti-American -- traitors contemptuous of representative democracy who will not rest until every last vestige of it is wiped from the face of the earth.

The war they are waging is on us.

We have lost much over the past five years, but nothing as profound as our spirituality. The religious among us are little more than blind sheep milling around, stumbling in single file in the direction of the loudest voice blaring from Tower of Babel churches and media ministries. They are unable to discern good from evil and incapable of recognizing the filthy hypocrisy of the religious right's fundamentalist theocracy. And there are more of them every day -- God's warriors eagerly following the divinely inspired Bush into a dark world of assassination, torture, murder and madness.

Bush is "born again." He said so himself. God talks to him. Would he do anything that was not God's will?

I wonder if there is just one true Christian who can look at what Bush has done in the last five years, and what he is threatening to do in the next three and say that Bush is "born again?" Do Christians not know their own God? Did not God warn us to be vigilant against the "Deceiver" masquerading as a messenger of light lest we fall prey to, and become a part of, the evil swirling around us? Are we not responsible for discerning the nature of the beast -- the false prophets sent out into the world?

I do not recognize this devilishly destructive, violent god of the evangelical religious right who has sent Bush on his genocidal mission. The God I am familiar with is the One to whom my mother knelt in tearful prayer each night and raised her sweet, wonderful voice in praise each day. He is the One to whom David sang in Psalms 5:4 --"For thou are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not sojourn with thee. The boastful may not stand before thy eyes; thou hatest all evildoers. Thou destroyest those who speak lies; the Lord abhors bloodthirsty and deceitful men."

Do not be deceived. Emerson says that virtue or vice emit a breath every moment, and each breath Bush, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and the hypocritical Republican Christo-fascist machine emit are putrid blasts of evil lies. As Carolyn Baker writes so succinctly . . ." The religious right of twenty-first century America is anti-American, inherently violent, and a cruel, tyrannical, punitive, force of death and destruction. "

Baker says the "unredeemed, the unbelievers, the poor, the feminists, the gay and lesbian, the disabled, the homeless, the mentally ill, the addicted, and those who are conscientiously following divergent spiritual paths of their choice, are suffering in the wake of Christian fundamentalism’s devastation of the economy, the earth, and the human race." She says adult human lives do not matter to these people and, unless we follow their tenets, we deserve to "burn in hell for all of eternity. Hence, we are expendable, inconsequential, and a force to be conquered, broken, imprisoned, or killed."

How easily these creatures who have never served their country in uniform send others to be maimed, broken and killed in an endless "war on terror," which is nothing but an abstraction whose reality lies in the mind of the beholder. Day after weary day, the bodies pile up at the feet of the stubborn, mean-spirited Bush and the beast he has unleashed upon the world whose thirst for blood cannot be quenched. There have been 2,474 Americans slaughtered because of the shameful lies told by Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld and others -- and especially by the dishonorable Colin Powell who carried the beast's water all the way to the United Nations. Hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi and Afghan men, women and children have perished on the altar of Bush's god, who is even now panting to bury his fangs in the throat of Iran.

The present-day "religion" has little to do with Christianity. It is all bloody politics. The Republican Party is little more than a fascist religious cult whose goal is to take over this republic and rule it by the cold compassion of the Old Testament God. For those who doubt that consolidating power and controlling politics is far more important to the religious right than saving souls, Katherine Yurica reports in her The New Messiahs excerpts that Pat Robertson announced publicly on his 700 Club, at a time when the religious right was gaining dominance, “We have enough votes to run the country -- and when the people say, ‘we’ve had enough,’ we’re going to take over the country.”

Yurica said there was never any doubt of the ultimate goal of not only Robertson, but Jerry Falwell, Tim LaHaye and many others. "What is dominion?" Pat Robertson asked his television audience, “Well," he said, "dominion is lordship, to reign and rule."

And kill. The scent of innocent blood sends these guys into nearly as wild a frenzy as it does Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld. Falwell recently announced in trembling excitement, “You’ve got to kill the terrorists before the killing stops. And I’m for the president to chase them all over the world. If it takes 10 years, blow them all away in the name of the Lord.”

Robertson has called on his followers to pray for the deaths of Supreme Court justices. He has called for the assassination of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez no less than three times. Both Falwell and Robertson openly blamed the attacks of 9-11 on gays, lesbians and pagan liberals. If Robertson weren't so dangerous, the blasphemous "chats" he claims to have, wherein he trivializes, demeans and ridicules the Creator of the entire Universe, would be hilarious. Just last week Robertson babbled that God gave him a heavenly weather report. "If I heard the Lord right," he said, "storms and possibly a tsunami would hit US coasts this year."

And, in April, God helped him cure a woman of her asthma. Robertson described her, while assuring us that he had his wife with him -- "this haunting woman . . . very attractive -- striking brunette, 45 years old, you know thin, 5'8" kinda thing . . ." Robertson said he prayed, "Lord, what's wrong with her?" And God said, "Ask her about her sex life." Robertson and God argued for a bit before Robertson asked her about her marriage, which she said was "wonderful." Robertson then turned back to God, reminding us again that he had his wife with him, and asked, "Lord, what's the matter?" God insisted, "Ask her about her sex life." So, as soon as ol' Pat asked her about her sex life and she said she didn't have any, God cured her of her asthma.

The beasts who would destroy us -- will destroy us, if we are not vigilant -- walk among us not as the hideous demons they are, but hide their true nature behind the masks of their twisted ethos, disguised as bumbling, arrogant fools. Thanks to them, America is no longer a Beacon of Freedom to the rest of the world, but a flickering ray of shame and derision. Thanks to them, God has become a symbol of hate and terror. Because of their lust, the American flag is now America's funeral shroud.

Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma writer and a former civilian US Army Public Information Officer. She is a regular contributor for a variety of Internet sites. Contact her at: rsamples@sirinet.net . © 2006 Sheila Samples

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

faith based treasury looting

Faith-Based Deja Vu

March 29, 2005
By Bennet G. Kelley

As it enters its fifth year, President Bush's Faith-Based Initiative has finally emerged from obscurity, but this may not be good news for the administration. The initiative gained attention for being one of the few social programs left untouched by Bush's budget ax only to have its former deputy director emerge to criticize the administration for providing less than ten percent of the $6.8 billion promised over the past four years.

More significantly, in the last few months two federal courts have held that grants awarded under the initiative violated the First Amendment of the Constitution by promoting and/or funding religious activities. Similar cases are pending.

The Faith-Based Initiative seeks to expand the role of faith-based organizations (FBOs) in providing federally-funded social services. The danger for the Bush administration is that as more attention is focused on this initiative, people may recognize that it increasingly resembles Bush's Texas faith-based program which a Texas Freedom Network study found to be "unregulated, prone to favoritism and commingling of funds, and even dangerous to the very people it is supposed to serve."

Bush launched the Texas faith-based program in 1996, stressing that "[g]overnment can hand out money, but [only faith can] put hope in our hearts." The Texas program established an alternative and more lax accreditation system for FBOs in order to include groups such as Teen Challenge, a faith-based substance abuse program praised by Bush despite having a 49-page list of health and safety codes violations including failing to "protect the health, safety, rights and welfare of clients."

The Texas study found that the alternatively accredited FBOs had a confirmed abuse and neglect rate that was 25 times higher than state-licensed facilities. Several of these alternatively accredited FBOs were treating drug and alcohol addiction without any medical component and instead treated it as a "sin" for which "Jesus Christ was the solution."

The Texas study also revealed that grants were awarded to FBOs over proven, more cost-effective providers solely because of the faith component of their services. More significantly, constitutional restrictions were ignored as some state-funded FBOs coerced secular clients into joining their religious services and grant funds were commingled with church funds and used to purchase bibles.

Despite these results, Bush has followed the same approach with his federal initiative. As in Texas, Bush launched the federal initiative by loosening regulatory requirements for FBOs which included removing several constitutionally required safeguards (e.g., allowing federal funds to build religious structures), limiting oversight to "self-audits," and seeking to exempt FBOs from job discrimination laws.

Like Texas, there is evidence of favoritism and commingling of funds as Federal grants were awarded to a number of conservative religious leaders and friends of the Bush administration, including Pat Robertson's "Operation Blessing." This has lead some to dismiss the initiative as a pork barrel program for the religious right.

In October, a federal court found federal faith-based grants for a Montana rural health care program that sought to "advance[e] and endors[e] religion as a substantial component" of providing health care to be unconstitutional. The Montana program favored FBOs over secular programs and provided grants on a non-competitive basis to a nursing school that instructed students on the use of prayer and worship as therapeutic practices.

As in Texas, FBOs have used federal funds for religious instruction and to proselytize. In the most recent case, the court halted funding for a Wisconsin mentoring program for children of prisoners which required the mentors to "read, act out or talk about Biblical examples of where Jesus showed grace to people," introduce the children to the Bible and provide reports on whether the children were "progressing in [their] relationship with God."

This is not an isolated case, as a suit filed in February challenged funding of a Pennsylvania job training program for prison inmates run by Firm Foundation where a significant portion of the inmates' time is devoted towards religious discussions and not learning job skills. Firm Foundation's founder, Wayne H. Blow, defended the program by asking "[w]hat is wrong with faith if it can make a difference in people's lives?" This response, however, only demonstrates the alarming failure of the administration to provide clear guidance on the constitutional limitations on the use of federal funds, since the question is not whether faith can make a difference but whether the government should sponsor religious indoctrination.

President Bush is trying to have it both ways when it comes to this initiative. On one hand, the administration stresses that the Faith-Based Initiative is about funding effective social services programs and not endorsing religion, but it has failed to prevent the use of government funds for religious purposes and made no systematic effort to monitor the effectiveness of these program or rebut independent studies finding that FBOs are at best equal to and often less effective than secular providers.

On the other hand, the administration repeatedly promotes the religious aspect of the program with statements by the President that hope and a sense of purpose can be restored when someone "puts an arm around a neighbor and says 'God loves you'" and by taking steps such as providing a link on the HHS website instructing pastors on sermons relating to HIV. The First Amendment prohibitions on funding religious activities are important because, as Supreme Court Justice Black explained, "a union of government and religion tends to destroy government and degrade religion."

Bush has shamelessly used faith-based programs to exploit both institutions for political gain while cloaked by the initiative's obscurity. With this cloak now receding, Congress and the media no longer have an excuse for allowing this exploitation to continue.

Bennet G. Kelley is an attorney and the author of "President Bush: The False Prophet of the Christian Right" which appears in Big Bush Lies: The 20 Most Telling Lies of President George W. Bush (White Cloud Press 2004).

outsourcing the military

GOP: Outsourcing Everything

By Molly Ivins, AlterNet. Posted May 23, 2006.

 

The administration just keeps passing off its dirty work: the war in Iraq, the war on 'foreigners' -- and that ingenius 50-foot wall to keep them out.

 

Last week, Bush visited Yuma, Ariz., to tour a portion of the U.S.-Mexico Border by Border Patrol buggy. Maybe Jorge was doing a little measuring for the $3.2-million-a-mile fence the Senate recently approved, which I guarantee will be really helpful.

Are they insane? As Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano observes, "Show me a 50-foot wall, and I'll show you a 51-foot ladder."

Meanwhile, Republicans in the Senate have constructively declared English the national language. That'll fix everything. Every foreigner at our borders will stop and say: "Gosh, ma foi! English is the national language here. Good thing to know. I'll begin speaking it immediately." Yes sir, you want a solution, call a Republican.

Of course, I am enchanted to discover that the entire project will be turned over to Raytheon, General Dynamics and other military contractors -- think Halliburton with noncompetitive bids, anyone? Because this outsourcing stuff is just working like a charm. Another Republican solution.

Naturally, in Texas, National Laboratory for Bad Government, we do it all first and worst. We started with this dandy plan to outsource applications and enrollment for social service programs such as food stamps and Medicaid. In theory, we were to save millions -- though I never could understand it myself. You see, Texas has one of the cheapest state governments on the continent, but when we hire outside contractors, they expect to make a profit. Add profit, add cost. Oh well.

So the state hired this firm based in Bermuda on an $899 million five-year contract. So far, the health and human services commissioner has been forced to ask 1,000 state employees who were scheduled to be laid off by the end of the year not to leave after all -- and to offer each of them a $1,800 bonus to stay. Oops.

Among other errors, the private consortium mistakenly dropped 6,000 children from the children's health insurance program. The state comptroller (who is running for governor against the incumbent, Goodhair Perry) says the program is "a perfect storm of wasted dollars, reduced access to services and profiteering at the expense of Texas taxpayers."

With a record like that, of course, Republicans want more outsourcing. Ted Koppel suggests in The New York Times that we outsource war: "Blackwater and other leading security companies are seriously proposing to officials at very high levels of the government that their private forces could relieve a number of the burdens now being shouldered (or not) by American troops. ... The Pentagon ... is nonetheless struggling to come to terms with what it now calls 'the long war.' There is every expectation that the fight against global terrorism and the most extreme forms of Islamic fundamentalism will last for many years. This is a war that will not necessarily require aircraft carriers, strategic bombers, fighter jets or heavily armored tanks. It will certainly not enable the United States to exploit its advantages in nuclear weapons. It is a war, indeed, that favors the highly mobile and adaptive fighting skills of the former Special Forces soldiers and other ex-commandos ..."

"Will"? Hell! Did and does. This is a war that is being fought with the wrong tools -- and, in Iraq, at the wrong time, in the wrong place and against the wrong enemy.

It never did call for tanks, jets or carriers -- just a combination of good detectives and good intelligence. In other words, smart, clever people with language skills. All of which we have fully available to us because of ... immigration. Lebanese, Iraqis, Iranians, Syrians, Pakistanis and Indonesians have all become Americans, and in so many cases we got the bravest of the brave -- those who fought Saddam, the Ayatollah and Assad, Lebanese who saw their country torn apart by religious factions. These are Americans who know the culture and language of the Middle East and other Islamic countries, and who care deeply about how it all comes out.

By all means, reform immigration with this deep obeisance to the Republican right-wing nut faction and their open contempt for "foreigners." But do not pretend for one minute that it is not a craven political bow to racism (yes, racism -- I am actually calling them racists, although they pretend it hurts their feelings. Try reading their websites and see for yourself), and to nativism, to xenophobia and to Know-Nothingism. Just don't forget what you are throwing away in the process.

Molly Ivins writes about politics, Texas and other bizarre happenings.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Paul Krugman, Greg Palast, Amy Goodman: New York Society for Ethical Culture

.


http://www.nysec.org/2006/06/13/paul-krugman-greg-palast-amy-goodman/

DECIDER

Bushspeak for DICTATOR

Want to see why

we have to leave Iraq now?
scroll down to a "A citizen's responsibility." Be warned, the pictures
are extreme.
http://www.bcftu.blogspot.com/

Everything changes

once the lying starts
By Paul Craig Roberts
LewRockwell.com
May 22, 2006

THE BUSH Regime has killed tens of thousands of people in Iraq and Afghanistan, mainly women and children. The deaths are excused as unintended "collateral damage" of the ongoing war, but the deaths are nonetheless important to the tens of thousands of relatives and friends. An equally important casualty of the Bush Regime is truth.

The American public has been trained to obediently accept their government’s lies fed to them by their government’s handmaiden, the U.S. Media. No statement or claim by a Bush Regime Official is too outlandish to be received with acceptance. Consider the claim by Donald Rumsfeld, the U.S. Secretary for War and Aggression, made to the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee on May 17, that Iran was to blame for the instability in Iraq.

Did the senators laugh Rumsfeld out of the room? No.

Did the media remind the "informed public" that it was actually the US invasion and unsuccessful occupation, together with mass detentions, torture, slaughter of citizens and invasions of their homes, destruction of infrastructure and entire cities, such as Fallujah, and removal of Saddam Hussein’s government, which kept the three Iraqi factions from each other’s throats, that destabilized Iraq? Needless to say, no.

The only person in the Senate committee room who spoke the truth called Rumsfeld a liar and was hauled off by the police.

Freedom of Lies

Freedom of expression still exists in America, but only on behalf of lies. Truth is forbidden, except on the Internet. The Internet is still free, because Americans are accustomed to believing what they hear on TV and read in the newspapers, while the Internet is still new to most Americans and of less concern to the government. The mainstream media – which serves as a government propaganda organ – and the Internet are two parallel universes.

The influence of neocon propaganda now extends to National Public Radio. Prior to the Bush Regime and total Republican control of our government, NPR offered in-depth reporting and alternative views. This important service has diminished under Republican control. On May 18 NPR reported on a controversy at Yale University. A former spokesman for the Taliban government in Afghanistan is now a student at Yale. Conservative students and alumni are up in arms.

A spokesman for the concerned Yale students said that the Taliban had killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11. The NPR reporters and commentators took for granted that the Taliban had attacked America and were a dangerous enemy of our country.

We have reached the point where the media that brainwashes the public is itself brainwashed. The Taliban had nothing to do with 9/11 and was not a declared enemy of the US. The Taliban was fully absorbed in a struggle to unify Afghanistan. Their opponent, the Northern Alliance, was comprised of Tajiks, some ethnic minorities, and the remnants of the Soviet puppet government. As Afghanistan has never been unified and consists of a collection of tribes and warlords, the only basis for Afghan unity is Islam, the emblem for the Taliban.

The Taliban became an enemy only after Bush attacked them and took the side of the Northern Alliance. Bush claims that he attacked the Taliban because they refused to deliver Osama bin Laden to U.S. custody.

Bin Laden or Not?

The Bush Regime blames bin Laden for 9/11, although the evidence is sketchy and inconclusive. Take a moment to consider the chances of bin Laden, who was fully occupied in his involvement in civil war in Afghanistan, being able to organize a successful attack on high-tech America from a primitive country half a world away. A man in a cave operating on a shoestring somehow defeats the myriad intelligence agencies of the US.

Regardless of bin Laden’s responsibility for 9/11, the Taliban could not turn over bin Laden, and the Bush regime knew that. Bush made a demand that could not be met in order to have an excuse to attack the Taliban.

Why couldn’t the Taliban turn over bin Laden? Osama, of course, had his own armed fighters, but this is not the reason. Bin Laden helped to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan and is an Afghan national hero. He was helping the Taliban to finish off their opponents, including the remains of the Soviet puppets. The Taliban could not possibly claim to be unifying Afghanistan in the name of Islam and turn over an Islamic hero to the Great Satan.

At that time Americans were told that bin Laden was the target of the invasion of Afghanistan. In retrospect we know that that was just another lie. The target was Iraq (and Iran and Syria). Bin Laden was the excuse for getting the camel’s nose under the tent.

The Fruitless War

Iraq has nothing whatsoever to do with bin Laden or 9/11. Yet, war in Iraq has completely absorbed the Bush Regime. The regime sticks with its war despite its sinking polls, which even Karl Rove attributes to the fruitless war.

The war in Iraq has multiplied terrorism, not reduced it. The war has destroyed America’s reputation. The war has served as an excuse for concentrating unconstitutional powers in the executive and for removing the institutional protections against a police state. The war has already cost 20,000 American casualties (dead and wounded) and hundreds of billions of dollars, which have had to be borrowed from foreigners, and is projected to have a total cost in excess of one trillion dollars.

This is a horrendous commitment. What is its purpose?

We have never been told. Everything the Bush Regime has said has been a lie. There were no weapons of mass destruction, and this was known prior to the orchestrated invasion. As the leaked top-secret British Cabinet memo, "the Downing Street memo," makes completely clear, the Bush regime falsified the intelligence to justify its invasion of Iraq. [1]

There was no Iraqi connection to al Qaeda, a sworn enemy of the secular Hussein regime.

The most recent excuse – building democracy – is also a lie. It is perfectly clear that what the Bush Regime has done is to bring the three Iraqi factions to the brink of civil war, while constructing a massive US fortification in the guise of an embassy and permanent military bases.

Power Principle

The Republican Party has been reduced to one principle – its own power. It protects the Bush Regime from accountability and covers up its lies and misdeeds. Under the myths and lies that enshroud 9/11, the Democrats have collapsed as an opposition party.

The Bush Regime has destroyed Iraq without being able to defeat the resistance. Its greater casualty, however, is the American people, voiceless with no political representation, defenseless in the face of police state depredations, such as illegal warrantless surveillance, and the possibility of property seizures and indefinite detention without charges.

The Bush Regime’s war on terror has defeated truth and the constitutional protections of liberty in the United States. No conceivable number of Muslim terrorists could inflict comparable damage on America.

Dr. Roberts is chairman of the Institute for Political Economy and Research Fellow at the Independent Institute. He is a former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, former contributing editor for National Review, and was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He is the co-author of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.

Copyright © 2006 LewRockwell.com

http://www.lewrockwell.com/roberts/roberts161.html

Monday, May 22, 2006

Oh brother

This link will bring you AT&T's spy program in complicity with the Bush
junta.
http://blog.wired.com/27BStroke6/att_klein_wired.pdf

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Vote fraud

Elections chief urges citizens to demand vote accountability


News-Journal Online.com
DAYTONA BEACH -- A maverick elections official made clear Saturday that two things remain constant: the state's flawed voting system and his passion for trying to fix it.

Eyes glinting, hands gesturing boldly, Ion Sancho, Leon County's elections supervisor, accused the state's political leaders of undermining democracy.

First, they forced counties to adopt electronic voting machines that can be tampered with, then, last year, they made it illegal to use paper ballots to recount close races, Sancho told 100 people gathered at Daytona Beach Community College.

"We need more audits. We need recounts," Sancho said. "Trust no one. If it can't be verified, it can't be used."
continues here:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12895134

Spotting Bush-Davidians

The URL below has details on how to spot a Bush-Davidian, the Talibush,
Bushbots, Bush Idolaters, mental defectives, morans, jackoffs, asshats,
and other lower forms of life. If you notice any of these traits on
people you know, make sure they get professional help immediately.
http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-cult_q0.html

Veterans benefits

The last sentence is telling in that it uses the criteria "other
veterans" as if we're not full citizens. Veterans benefits are granted
to veterans who have demonstrated to be damaged as a result of military
service. It is the government's obligation to make disabled veterans
whole again. SSDI is an insurance policy covering those who are unable
to work and paid into the system over the years and meet the criteria
are qualified to receive benefits. These are two unrelated issues and
those who are trying to comingle them are guilty of defrauding America's
veterans and working class. How many veterans didn't come out of the
working class?
Furthermore, the cost of living varies from state to state. A Veteran
living in Mississippi, generally speaking, has a lower cost of living
than a Veteran living in New Jersey.
The Veteran community cannot sit back and be steamrollered by the
wealthy elites who haven't sacrificed anything for their country but
rather lived off trust accounts and political connections.

WHO GET VA COMPENSATION AND SSDI BENEFITS

Pressured by Ret. Army Lt. Gen. Terry Scott, the Veterans' Disability
Benefits Commission voted 11-2 on Friday (05-19-06) to study veterans
who get VA compensation and SSDI benefits.

Background here with all back links to previous information...
http://www.vawatchdog.org/old%20newsflashes%20MAY%2006/newsflash05-19-2006-3.htm

A number of VSOs gave testimony encouraging the Commission NOT to do
this study.

You can find the VFW's testimony at the above hyperlink.

I will have more information on this shortly...including thoughts from a
veteran in attendance.

We should hear more from the VSOs by Monday. Will they file suit (as
promised) to stop this study?

Find below testimony from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) given at
the hearing.

CBO testimony here...
http://www.cbo.gov/showdoc.cfm?index=7209&sequence=0
<http://www.cbo.gov/showdoc.cfm?index=7209&sequence=0>

CBO testimony below:

---------------

CBO

Statement of
Allison Percy
Principal Analyst

Analyzing the Federal Benefits
Available to Disabled Veterans

before the
Veterans' Disability Benefits Commission

May 19, 2006

This document is embargoed until it is delivered at 12:45 p.m. (EDT) on
Friday, May 19, 2006. The contents may not be published, transmitted, or
otherwise communicated by any print, broadcast, or electronic media
before that time.

Thank you for asking the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to speak
before the Veterans' Disability Benefits Commission on the issue of
analyzing the federal benefits available to disabled veterans.

The charter of the commission is broad, stating that it shall carry out
a study of the benefits under the laws of the United States that are
provided to compensate and assist veterans and their survivors for
disabilities and deaths attributable to military service." The law
establishing the commission specifically requests a comprehensive
evaluation and assessment" of those benefits, including the
appropriateness of the type and level of benefits, as well as the
standards for determining whether a disability or death of a veteran
should be compensated.

The commission's list of approved research topics begins with several
questions about how well current benefits compensate disabled veterans
for lost earnings capacity and an impaired quality of life. Thus, the
commission is seeking to determine the role that federal benefits play
in sustaining disabled veterans' standard of living.

Federal support for disabled veterans' standard of living will vary
because some veterans are eligible for different benefits both from the
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and from other federal sources. To
fully assess the impact of federal benefits, the commission would need
to know about all of the federal programs to which veterans can turn for
assistance and would need to quantify the extent to which each of those
programs provides income and in-kind services for disabled veterans.
Depending on a variety of circumstances, a veteran with a disability
attributable to military service might receive disability retirement or
a severance payment from the Department of Defense; disability
compensation and medical services from VA; disability insurance payments
or Supplemental Security Income from the Social Security Administration;
and education loans, job training, adaptive technology, small business
support, and other benefits from a variety of federal programs.
Analyzing the effects of those benefits on a standard of living is
complex because the service-connected disabilities that trigger the
receipt of VA benefits may or may not reflect the same underlying
medical conditions that trigger veterans' benefits under other federal
programs.

In considering the issue of multiple benefits, Social Security
Disability Insurance (SSDI) stands out in particular because it is the
largest federal program that, like VA disability compensation, is
designed to replace earnings that are lost because of a disability.
However, the eligibility criteria for the two programs are different,
and there is limited information currently available on the degree to
which veterans receiving VA disability compensation are also receiving
SSDI payments and whether those payments are tied to the same
service-connected disabilities or to disabilities unrelated to military
service.

Under current law, a veteran may be eligible for both programs without
any offsets. Collecting new information about the role that each program
plays in supporting the standard of living of disabled veterans would
not necessarily lead to a conclusion that current law should be changed.
It could be that only the most seriously disabled veterans qualify for
both programs and that their loss of income and quality of life is
greater than that of veterans who receive only VA disability
compensation. In that case, the two programs could be seen as
complementary with the common goal of providing greater compensation to
the most seriously disabled veterans. Yet if VA compensation alone is
inadequate to restore the standard of living of veterans whose only
disabilities derive from their military service, it seems inefficient
for those veterans to have to undertake two separate application
processes in order to qualify for the full amount of federal benefits to
which they are entitled. Alternatively, veterans who receive both types
of compensation might not differ in any measurable way from veterans who
receive only VA compensation. In that case, issues of fairness might
arise, as veterans in similar circumstances would be receiving different
amounts of total compensation for their service-connected disabilities.
The commission can illuminate the issue for the Congress only by
learning more about whether veterans are receiving both types of
compensation and what types of disabilities those veterans have.

As a preliminary analysis conducted by the Center for Naval Analyses
(CNA) has shown, federal data sources such as the Current Population
Survey and the Survey of Income and Program Participation provide
relatively little information on the issue beyond a simple count of how
many veterans receive both types of payments.(1)
<http://www.cbo.gov/showdoc.cfm?index=7209&sequence=0#F1> That analysis
indicates that about 15 percent of veterans who are receiving VA
disability compensation also receive payments from SSDI. However, those
data do not describe the amount of income the veterans receive from each
source; the extent to which SSDI payments are received by veterans with
service-connected disabilities rated at 100 percent or by those with
lower-rated service-connected disabilities who also have additional
disabilities unrelated to their military service; or the likelihood that
veterans will receive both types of payments depending on the type of
disability. The research that the commission is undertaking now has the
potential to provide far better information about the role that SSDI
plays in providing income support for some disabled veterans.

CBO is a legislative support agency whose mission is to provide the
Congress with timely, objective, nonpartisan analyses of the budget and
the economy and to furnish the information and cost estimates required
for the Congressional budget process. The agency takes as a premise that
the clearest view of any policy question can best be found by seeking
accurate and unbiased data sources and by examining those data in an
objective manner. Consequently, CBO sees only advantages to learning
more about the degree to which the totality of federal benefits
(including SSDI payments) enables veterans with service-connected
disabilities to have a standard of living comparable to that of other
veterans.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
1. <http://www.cbo.gov/showdoc.cfm?index=7209&sequence=0#t1> CNA
Corporation, "Disabled Veterans Receiving SSDI" (prepared for the
Veterans' Disability Benefits Commission, March 29, 2006).

---------------

Larry Scott

(go back to VA Watchdog dot Org Home Page) <http://www.vawatchdog.org>

Friday, May 19, 2006

Bush fantasy

or reality?
http://www.aclu.org/pizza/images/screen.swf

Spies Who Shag Us

this ought to make you think
http://www.buzzflash.com/contributors/06/05/con06189.html

interesting

"THEY that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Benjamin Franklin

"WHEN liberty is taken away by force it can be restored by force. When it is relinquished voluntarily by default it can never be recovered." -- Dorothy Thompson

"THE ONLY sure bulwark of continuing liberty is a government strong enough to protect the interests of the people, and a people strong enough and well enough informed to maintain its sovereign control over the government." -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

"I BELIEVE that any man who takes the liberty of another into his keeping is bound to become a tyrant, and that any man who yields up his liberty, in however slight the measure, is bound to become a slave." -- H.L. Mencken

"THERE is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty." -- John Adams

"AS NIGHTFALL does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness." -- William O. Douglas

And then there's this

By Jay Bookman
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
May 12, 2006

THIS IS supposed to be America, the land of the free and the home of the brave.

But I'm beginning to have my doubts, about the free part and the brave part, too.

This America, this increasingly strange America, is looking more and more like the land of the cowed and the home of the silent.

In this America, we have a military agency, the National Security Agency, secretly tracking and analyzing every phone call or e-mail that is sent or received by hundreds of millions of American citizens, with records of all of those calls retained forever.

And in this America, millions and millions of people profess to be quite comfortable living under a government that wants to know who every one of us is talking to, and has the technology to realize that ambition.

It will keep us safe, some Americans have responded. Only those with something to hide should be worried, others have said.

All Have Something to Hide

But then again, we all have something to hide, don't we? My something may be different than your something, but we all have something we would rather keep to ourselves — the things we read or watch, the things we do or think or buy, the people we talk with or the Web sites we visit. . . .

Admittedly, there is a reason for that willingness to let government vastly expand its oversight of our lives, and that reason is fear of terrorism.

But there is always a reason, isn't there? There is always some threat to security that is said to justify the surrender of liberty to government. In every nation that has ever lost freedom to government, there has always been a reason.

There was a reason that the soldiers of King George III burst into the homes of colonial Americans without warrants or reasonable cause. And back then, there were also those who saw nothing wrong with that practice, who believed that only those who had done something wrong had anything to fear.

Fortunately, our Founding Fathers thought otherwise, enshrining that belief in the Bill of Rights to guarantee that "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated."

In Josef Stalin's Soviet Union, they had a reason for government monitoring — fear of capitalist imperialists. In today's China and North Korea, they have a reason as well. In George Orwell's 1984, the reason was the threat from Eastasia or Eurasia.

"There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment," Orwell wrote. "How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time."

The Price of Liberty

But a strong people, a free people intent on remaining free, does not accept those reasons as sufficient. They are willing to accept the danger as the price of their liberty.

Our fathers and mothers and their fathers and mothers were such people. We tell ourselves that we today are still that people. We still celebrate ourselves as willing to fight and die for freedom, but the evidence accumulates that we are not.

The infinitesimal danger that any one of us might be killed in a terror attack — a danger much smaller than that of getting killed by crossing the street — is enough to send too many of us scurrying to toss liberty onto the bonfire in the vain hope that the sacrifice might make us safe.

But this is about more than civil liberties, as precious as they might be. These violations of constitutional rights are made possible because of a still more fundamental problem: The system isn't working; the checks and balances built into government by our Founding Fathers have been dismantled.

Congress has passed laws to ensure that any spying on the American people is conducted appropriately and within the Constitution; the executive branch simply proclaims it will not be bound by those laws.

Lawsuits have been filed alleging that the spying is illegal and unconstitutional; the executive branch refuses to allow those suits to be heard by the judicial branch, on grounds that the programs are national secrets and not to be questioned.

At every turn, it seems, every mechanism to rein in the executive or make it accountable to the people has been frustrated.

Down the Road to Unaccountability

Two events of last week demonstrate just how far down this road we have traveled.

First, the U.S. Justice Department announced it had been forced to drop its own internal investigation into the legality of warrantless wiretapping. The federal government had refused to give its own lawyers the security clearances needed to conduct such an internal analysis, so the effort had to be abandoned.

Then Gen. Michael Hayden, the president's nominee as CIA director, told members of the Senate that he might be open to allowing debate on legalizing warrantless wiretapping, an ongoing practice that violates federal law.

"I'm willing to consider trying to bring the NSA wiretap program, as it exists now, under federal law," Hayden was paraphased as saying by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois who cited the statement as an encouraging sign of compromise.

Think about that. A government official says he might be open to allowing Congress to debate such things. More chilling still, the much-abused Congress is pleased by that new "flexibility."

And the compromise in question? Congress would be allowed to legalize what the executive branch has already decided to do anyway.

Political Brouhaha Is Needed

We need to have a fight about all this. It won't be pleasant, it won't be fun, but we need to hash it all out in a down and dirty political brouhaha. As the party in opposition, the Democrats need to lead that fight using every tool at their disposal.

It may be that today's Democrats lack the guts for such a battle. If so, then they also lack the guts to lead this country, and I fear to think where that would leave us, forced to choose between one party with no courage and another with no brains or perspective.

But if we have that fight, and if at the end our craving for security proves stronger than our love of liberty, I guess I would want to know that, bitter as that knowledge would be. At least then it would be clear where this nation stands, or more accurately, where it cowers.

Jay Bookman is the deputy editorial page editor.

© 2006 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

http://www.ajc.com/opinion/content/opinion/bookman/stories/051506.html


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Written in 1931

:a poem abOut our current dictatOrship. read it slowly

i sing of Olaf glad and big

i sing of Olaf glad and big
whose warmest heart recoiled at war:
a conscientious object-or

his wellbelovéd colonel(trig
westpointer most succinctly bred)
took erring Olaf soon in hand;
but--though an host of overjoyed
noncoms(first knocking on the head
him)do through icy waters roll
that helplessness which others stroke
with brushes recently employed
anent this muddy toiletbowl,
while kindred intellects evoke
allegiance per blunt instruments--
Olaf(being to all intents
a corpse and wanting any rag
upon what God unto him gave)
responds,without getting annoyed
"I will not kiss your fucking flag"

straightway the silver bird looked grave
(departing hurriedly to shave)

but--though all kinds of officers
(a yearning nation's blueeyed pride)
their passive prey did kick and curse
until for wear their clarion
voices and boots were much the worse,
and egged the firstclassprivates on
his rectum wickedly to tease
by means of skilfully applied
bayonets roasted hot with heat--
Olaf(upon what were once knees)
does almost ceaselessly repeat
"there is some shit I will not eat"

our president,being of which
assertions duly notified
threw the yellowsonofabitch
into a dungeon,where he died

Christ(of His mercy infinite)
i pray to see;and Olaf,too

preponderatingly because
unless statistics lie he was
more brave than me:more blond than you.

E. E. Cummings

The Word

must see video
WARNING: Video contains adult satire and irony.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cr6HRl7DZ_w&eurl=
http://www.alternet.org/blogs/video/36374/

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Teach your children

By Nancy Greggs

An Open Letter to the Republican Representatives Who Control Our Government:

We heard it over and over during the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal: What do
we tell the children? It was a phrase obviously premised on the fact
that the average first-grader was parked in front of CNN all afternoon,
asking uncomfortable questions about the sexual conduct of the president.

Well, there are some very uncomfortable questions being asked by OUR
children these days, and they flow from the very circumstances you have
created. Therefore, I think it only appropriate that you give us some
advice on how to deal with the queries being posed by the children of
ordinary Americans across the country.

What do we tell our children when they ask why their grandmother’s
health is failing, due to the fact that her life-saving medication is no
longer within her financial means? Should we explain to them that the
multi-billion dollar profits of the pharmaceutical companies are more
important than Grandma’s health, or anyone else’s?

What do we tell our children when they ask why soldiers in Iraq have to
fight without the necessary equipment, or have to use contaminated water
to bathe in? Should we explain to them that Halliburton has been handed
billions of dollars that were earned by mommies and daddies all over
America, but that money goes into already-wealthy people’s pockets
instead of being spent on the welfare and safety of the men and women
who may die fighting for their country?

What do we tell our children when they see us crying because we have
lost our jobs, and we can’t find another one? Should we explain to them
that someone in another country was given that job because they agreed
to do it for less money, so that the children of the people who own that
company can have $250,000 birthday parties?

What do we tell our children when we have to feed them cheap meals four
nights a week, because the price of gas just went up again and we had to
use the grocery money to get to work? Should we explain to them that the
oil companies can’t get by with the billions of dollars they are making
already, along with the subsidies that mom and dad have to pay for as well?

What do we tell our children when they ask if we can help them go to
medical school, or law school, or even a community college to learn a
trade, when we can’t afford to contribute a single penny? Should we tell
them to get a job that pays minimum wage, and maybe in ten years they
will have saved enough for their first semester? Should we explain to
them that training for ANY job right now is a waste of time, because it
will wind up being given to someone in another country anyway?

What do we tell our children when they see photographs from Abu Ghraib,
or hear stories about Guantanimo Bay? Should we explain to them that
because we go to church on Sunday and sing ‘God Bless America’, God just
looks the other way when we imprison and torture our fellow human beings?

What do we tell our children when they ask why the kid down the street
who was caught with drugs had to go to jail to be punished, but when one
of YOUR kids got caught with drugs, they went to the hospital to be
cured? Should we explain to them that the difference between being a
criminally inclined addict and a non-dangerous substance abuser depends
on the financial wherewithal of the parents?

What do we tell our children when they ask why multi-billion dollar
corporations are allowed to pollute our air and water? Should we explain
to them that if the air is unbreathable and the water undrinkable by the
time they are grown up, that’s because you thought it was more important
to look after the companies that give you campaign contributions than to
think about the world you were bequeathing to future generations?

What do we tell our children when they ask why there are people living
in cardboard boxes on the street, when they’ve seen you and your
colleagues argue about million dollar bridges-to-nowhere? Should we tell
them that real people in need don’t matter, in comparison to people who
might vote for someone who brought the bacon home to their state?

What do we tell our children about honesty and integrity in government,
when the president gets caught lying or ignoring the laws of our
country, and you make yourselves busy looking the other way, or come up
with endless excuses for his behavior? Should we explain to them that
although our country was built on the Constitution and the rule of law,
once you get to be president you can arbitrarily decide that those
concepts are no longer valid?

What do we tell our children about American democracy and its system of
representational government, when you, our representatives, pay no
attention to the needs or desires of the people who elected you? Should
we tell them that this whole “democracy” thing has been a scam all
along, and they’d better smarten up and get used to it?

What do we tell our children when they ask about The American Dream? How
do we explain to them that it is no longer within their grasp, that it
no longer exists for kids like them, that it is only available to YOUR
children, and not ours?

I’m truly curious. On the off chance that any one of you has
inadvertently raised a child with a social conscience, with morals, with
compassion for their fellow citizens, when they become adults and look
at what you have allowed to happen, what will YOU tell your own children?

You may not deign to answer the questions I have posed, but when that
one is asked by your own child, you’ll have no choice but to respond.
And I’d give almost anything to be there when you do.

NOT crazy...dope'em up and sent them to the field to shoot, sahoot, shoot till they drop


Copyright 2006 The Hartford Courant Company
Hartford Courant (Connecticut)

May 16, 2006 Tuesday
5 NORTHWEST CONNECTICUT/SPORTS FINAL EDITION

SECTION: MAIN; Pg. A1

LENGTH: 4358 words

HEADLINE: POTENT MIXTURE: ZOLOFT & A RIFLE;
THE MILITARY TOLD CONGRESS THAT MEDICATIONS AREN'T
USED TO KEEP SOLDIERS WITH SERIOUS MENTAL ILLNESS IN
COMBAT. BUT A COURANT INVESTIGATION REVEALS THAT DRUGS
ARE INCREASINGLY BEING HANDED OUT TO TROUBLED TROOPS
WITH LITTLE OR NO ADDITIONAL TREATMENT.

SERIES: SPECIAL REPORT: MENTALLY UNFIT, FORCED TO
FIGHT

BYLINE: LISA CHEDEKEL And MATTHEW KAUFFMAN

BODY:

When Army Sgt. 1st Class Mark C. Warren was diagnosed
with depression soon after his deployment to Iraq, a
military doctor handed him a supply of the
mood-altering drug Effexor.

Marine Pfc. Robert Allen Guy was given Zoloft to
relieve the depression he developed in Iraq.

And Army Pfc. Melissa Hobart was dutifully taking the
Celexa she was prescribed to ease the anxiety of being
separated from her young daughter while in Baghdad.

All three were given antidepressants to help them make
it through their tours of duty in Iraq -- and all came
home in coffins.

Warren, 44, and Guy, 26, committed suicide last year,
according to the military; Hobart, 22, collapsed in
June 2004, of a still-undetermined cause.

The three are among a growing number of mentally
troubled service members who are being kept in combat
and treated with potent psychotropic medications -- a
little-examined practice driven in part by a need to
maintain troop strength.

Interviews with troops, families and medical experts,
as well as autopsy and investigative reports obtained
by The Courant, reveal that the emphasis on retention
has had dangerous, and sometimes tragic, consequences.

Among The Courant's findings:

Antidepressant medications with potentially serious
side effects are being dispensed with little or no
monitoring and sometimes minimal counseling, despite
FDA warnings that the drugs can increase suicidal
thoughts.

Military doctors treating combat stress symptoms are
sending some soldiers back to the front lines after
rest and a three-day regimen of drugs -- even though
experts say the drugs typically take two to six weeks
to begin working.

The emphasis on maintaining troop numbers has led some
military doctors to misjudge the severity of mental
health symptoms.

Some of the practices are at odds with the military's
own medical guidelines, which state that certain
mental illnesses are incompatible with military
service, and some medications are not suited for
combat deployments. The practices also conflict with
statements by top military health officials, who have
indicated to Congress that psychiatric drugs are not
being used to keep service members with serious
disorders in combat.

In an interview Monday, Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen.
Kevin C. Kiley insisted that the military uses
psychiatric medications cautiously in the war zone,
saying that medical professionals may prescribe them
at low doses, ``for very mild symptoms that might
assist soldiers in transitioning through an event.''
He said the emphasis on keeping troubled troops close
to the front lines is in the service members' best
interests, because it helps them recover and avoid the
stigma of abandoning their duty.

But many outside the chain of command see it
differently.

``It's best -- for the Army,'' said Paul Rieckhoff, a
former platoon leader in Iraq who said he was
overruled when he tried to have a mentally ill soldier
evacuated. ``But find me an independent mental health
expert who thinks that that's a proper course of
action.''

Vera Sharav, president of the Alliance for Human
Research Protection, a patient advocacy group, said
retaining troops with mental disorders serious enough
to require medication is ``completely irresponsible.''

``It's really just plain dehumanizing. They are
denying these guys a humane treatment, which is to get
out of the battle,'' she said. ``The best therapy for
someone in that kind of stress is to get them out of
the stress. The worst thing is to add a drug to
this.''

Distributing Drugs

Some soldiers' advocates and medical experts criticize
the military for taking an overly pharmacological
approach to mental illness in an effort to retain
troops, without proper oversight.

Autopsy and investigative reports show that at least
three service members who killed themselves in 2005,
including Warren and Guy, were taking antidepressants.

Warren intentionally overdosed on his heart
medication, the military ruled, and a medical examiner
concluded he died of ``mixed drug intoxication,''
finding that the combination of the heart drug and the
Effexor, an antidepressant, had a ``synergistic''
effect that led to his death.

Guy was placed on Zoloft by a military doctor one
month before he locked himself in a portable toilet
and shot himself in the head, according to military
reports. An investigator concluded that Guy's suicide
was caused in part by the effects of Zoloft -- a
conclusion later rejected by a commanding general.

Zoloft, and other drugs in a class known as SSRIs,
such as Prozac, Paxil and Celexa, are the most
commonly prescribed antidepressants. But they can
worsen depression and increase suicidal thinking, and
the FDA says patients taking any antidepressant
medication should be monitored carefully when the
drugs are first prescribed -- a task that can be
difficult to accomplish in a war zone.

Families of some troops report that their loved ones
were readily prescribed SSRIs by military doctors in
Iraq, with no requirement for regular monitoring or
counseling.

Marine Lance Cpl. Nickolas D. Schiavoni, 26, of
Haverhill, Mass., earned a Purple Heart during his
first deployment to Iraq in 2004, but came home shaky
and anxious after seeing heavy combat, his parents
said. Soon after he was deployed back to Iraq for his
second tour, in September of 2005, he told his father
in an e-mail that he had been prescribed Zoloft.

``He said, `I'm real angry. I can't take anything from
anyone. They have me on Zoloft,''' David Schiavoni, of
Ware, Mass., recalled. ``I couldn't believe it -- an
antidepressant, while he's out there holding a gun? I
told him, `Get off the Zoloft because I hear bad
things about it.'''

Two months after that exchange, Schiavoni, who was
married with two small children, was killed by a car
bomb. David Schiavoni said he has been told that the
incident occurred after the driver of the car ignored
demands from his son's unit to stop.

``A lot of things go through my mind,'' the father
said. ``Maybe I'd rather him be angry than medicated.
Maybe if he's angry, he grabs his gun and shoots.''

Shelly Grice said her husband, Chris, a Fort Riley
soldier, was put on Zoloft and the sleep aid Ambien
after surviving an incident in February 2005 in which
his close friend was killed by an improvised explosive
device. She spent the rest of her husband's yearlong
tour worried about his mental well-being.

``His [commanding officer] said, `If I could, I would
ship you home right now,' but they lost two guys that
day and five others were injured, so they needed
him,'' Grice recounted. ``It bothers me that these
guys are just experiencing too much.''

As part of an effort to avoid evacuations out of the
war zone, the military's cadre of combat stress teams
typically treat troubled troops with a 72-hour break
from the front lines -- three hots and a cot, in
military parlance -- sometimes with drugs prescribed.
But medical experts and drug makers themselves say it
often takes weeks for SSRIs to have any therapeutic
value, while the side effects can kick in immediately.

``I have a fundamental problem with prescribing
someone an SSRI and then, with a couple days' rest,
allowing them to return to duty,'' said Dr. Stefan
Kruszewski, a Harvard-trained psychiatrist in
Harrisburg, Pa. ``If you're newly introducing a drug,
the most problematic side effects often occur right at
the beginning. So at 72 hours or at 96 hours or at
seven days, you may have more of a problem, not less,
because of a drug-related side effect.''

Dr. Jonathan Shay, an expert on combat stress who has
served as a consultant to the military on ethics and
personnel issues, said SSRIs generally do not impair a
person's ability to think clearly or react to danger.
But he said the use of such drugs should be
accompanied by counseling, and patients should be
monitored closely during the initial ``window of
danger,'' when they begin the medications.

Shay said there is no evidence that SSRIs such as
Prozac or Paxil help with acute stress or would
``protect someone in a traumatic situation'' from
developing post-traumatic stress disorder or major
depression.

``There's nothing to suppose that it helps with an
immediate trauma,'' said Shay, a Boston area
psychiatrist who counsels Vietnam veterans. ``I would
expect to see it used for a previously deployed
service member who has been diagnosed with PTSD'' or
other disorders.

Kruszewski agreed.

``It's not even a Band-Aid,'' he said. ``It might make
the doctor feel better, but the patient's not going to
benefit.''

Some Iraq war veterans say antidepressants and sleep
aids were relatively easy to obtain, with no
requirement for regular counseling or follow-up care.

Paul Scaglione, 23, an Army mechanic from the Detroit
area, said he was put on Wellbutrin in 2003 after
telling a medical worker at Tallil Air Base, ``I'm not
feeling so hot,'' and asking for ``something to keep
my mind off everything.''

``It was no big deal,'' he said. ``They just talk to
you a little and give it to you. They say you can come
back if you want, but they don't follow up or
anything.''

Kiley insisted that troops receiving medications are
afforded a balance of care, including counseling.

He characterized the use of medications in Iraq as
limited, saying some troops were allowed to deploy
``on a low-dose SSRI,'' while others who developed
problems in the war zone were placed on ``a little bit
of medication for a relatively short period of time,
to get them through something.''

He acknowledged that giving mood-altering drugs to
troops in combat could be controversial.

``There are those out in the community who would be
very concerned about that, as though you've altered
the mental capacities of a soldier by putting them on
those medications,'' he said. ``My understanding . . .
is that, in fact, is not what happens. When properly
managed and properly dosed, with evidence that the
soldiers are . . . doing well, there's no reason why
they can't do their soldierly duties.''

Fully Resolved?

Exactly how many troops are taking psychiatric drugs
remains unclear. In response to a Freedom of
Information Act request by The Courant for data on all
prescriptions dispensed in Iraq, Defense Department
officials were able to produce only limited records on
medications.

Those records, as well as the Army's own reports,
indicate that the availability and use of psychiatric
drugs in Iraq has increased steadily. A 2004 report by
a team of Army mental health professionals cited
widespread complaints from combat doctors about a lack
of psychotropic drugs, which prompted the military to
approve making antidepressants including Prozac,
Zoloft and Trazodone, and the sleep aid Ambien, more
widely available. A follow-up report 13 months later
cited far fewer complaints about access to drugs.

But in a little-noticed change a year ago, the Army
revised its deployment guidelines to include a caution
about deploying troops who are taking antidepressants
for ``moderate to severe'' depression. The guidelines
say such medications ``are not usually suitable for
extended deployments'' and ``could likely result in
adverse health consequences.''

Also, Dr. William Winkenwerder Jr., the assistant
secretary of defense for health affairs, characterized
the use of psychotropic drugs as limited when he
testified before a congressional committee last summer
that service members were being allowed to deploy on
``maintenance medication'' if their conditions had
``fully resolved.''

``For example, it is prudent to continue
antidepressants six to 18 months after an episode of
major depression has fully resolved, in order to
prevent relapse,'' he said.

How the military interprets ``fully resolved'' is in
question.

``We have seen people diagnosed within three to four
weeks [before] deployment, put on medications like
Paxil, and their deployment schedule rolls along,''
said Kathleen Gilberd, a San Diego legal counselor for
service members who heads the Military Law Task Force
of the National Lawyers Guild. ``People are being
deployed when there is no way to tell whether this
potentially serious depression will have remitted or
whether it will become a problem.''

Melissa Hobart, the East Haven native who collapsed
and died in June 2004, had enlisted in the Army in
early 2003 after attending nursing school, and
initially was told she would be stationed in Alaska,
her mother, Connie Hobart, said.

When her orders were changed to Iraq, Melissa, the
mother of a 3-year-old daughter, fell into a
depression and sought help at Fort Hood, Texas,
according to her mother.

``Just before she got deployed, she said she was
getting really depressed, so I told her to go talk to
somebody,'' Connie Hobart recalled. ``She said they
put her on an antidepressant.''

Melissa, a medic, accepted her obligation to serve,
even as her mother urged her to ``go AWOL'' and come
home to Ladson, S.C., where the family had moved. But
three months into her tour in Baghdad -- and a week
before she died -- she told Connie she was feeling
lost.

``She wanted out of there. She said everybody's morale
was low,'' Connie recalled. ``She said the people over
there would throw rocks at them, that they didn't want
them there. It was making her sad.''

Around the same time, Melissa fainted and fell in her
room, she told Connie in an e-mail. She said she had
been checked out by a military doctor.

The next week, while serving on guard duty in Baghdad,
Melissa collapsed and died of what the Army has
labeled ``natural'' causes. The autopsy report lists
the cause of death as ``undetermined.''

The report notes that the only medication found in
Melissa's system was the antidepressant citalopram,
the generic name for Celexa, at what appears to be a
normal dosage level. It also suggests that because all
other causes were ruled out, a heartbeat irregularity
is a possibility.

But the report does not explore whether the medication
might have played a role in her death -- something
Connie finds troubling.

``Maybe they don't want to know how a healthy young
woman died -- but I do,'' Connie said.

Tomas Young, 26, an infantry soldier from Kansas City,
Mo., also was sent to Iraq in early 2004, from Fort
Hood, with a mental condition that was not ``fully
resolved.'' He was diagnosed with depression about
three months before he deployed, he said.

Young said a military doctor put him on Prozac and
told him to continue the medication while in combat.

``It was, `Here's the Prozac.' I didn't get counseling
or anything,'' said Young.

Young ended up forgoing the pills during his brief
deployment. He was shot within a week of arriving in
Iraq and was evacuated. He is now paralyzed from the
chest down.

Emphasis On Retention

The use of medications is just one aspect of the
military's emphasis on treating psychologically
wounded troops close to the front and returning them
to duty quickly.

Military combat-stress teams pride themselves on high
``return to duty'' rates, which are also touted in
reports by a team of military mental health experts
who were sent to Iraq after a spate of suicides in
2003.

But in 2004, top military health officials
acknowledged shortcomings with a key principle of
modern combat psychiatry, known as ``PIES,'' which
emphasizes treating troops who exhibit problems as
close to the front lines as possible, with the
expectation that they will return to duty.

``Unfortunately, the validity of these concepts has
never been demonstrated in clinical trials,'' the
group of officials acknowledged in a written report.
They also said proponents of the principle frequently
leave out its most important element -- ``respite.''
They said relief from stress ``is the primary
principle of acute combat-related behavioral and
mental health [care] in theater.''

Still, military leaders maintain faith in their
decision to treat psychiatric wounds in the field,
arguing that the approach is better for service
members than ``pathologizing'' their stress by
evacuating them to a hospital.

Col. Elspeth Ritchie, the psychiatric consultant to
the Army surgeon general, acknowledged that the
practice also serves the military.

``Historically, we've found patients evacuated out of
theater don't return,'' said Ritchie. ``In time of
great difficulty -- and there's no question the war
over there is very difficult -- sometimes anxiety and
depression may overwhelm a soldier, and they feel like
they've just got to get out of this place.

``But if they are evacuated out, they tend to have the
stigma of leaving as a psychiatric case -- and then
it's a loss of manpower for the service.''

Throughout the war, the military has evaluated the
success of its mental health programs primarily on the
basis of how many troops are retained in combat.

While Winkenwerder had assured Congress last summer
that troops with severe mental illnesses were being
sent out of the war zone, the Army's own reports
indicate that the number of soldiers evacuated from
Iraq for psychiatric problems has dropped steeply
since the first year of the war, as combat-stress
teams and medications have become more accessible.

Mental health evacuations have fallen from an average
of 75 a month in 2003 to 46 a month in 2005, according
to Army statistics. Overall, barely more than
one-tenth of 1 percent of the 1.3 million troops who
have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have been
evacuated because of psychiatric problems. Meanwhile,
the mental health teams close to the front lines pride
themselves on return-to-duty rates that typically
exceed 90 percent.

But in some cases, the troubled troops who remain in
the war zone never make it home.

Army Spec. Joshua T. Brazee, 25, of Sand Creek, Mich.,
had been in Iraq for less than three months when the
military says he shot himself with his rifle in May
2005. According to his autopsy report, he had ``talked
with other soldiers about death and killing, and also
about the idea of suicide.''

His mother, Teresa Brazee, said she still has
questions about how he died, and believes there were
conflicts within his unit. She said one of Joshua's
superiors told her that his death taught him to pay
closer attention to his soldiers.

``It's a little too late for that,'' she said.

In another case, Pfc. David L. Potter was kept in the
war zone despite a diagnosis of anxiety and
depression, a suicide attempt and a psychiatrist's
recommendation that he be separated from the Army.

Potter, 22, told friends that he believed the
recommendation had been overruled, leading to a
deepening of his depression, a fellow soldier said. On
Aug 7, 2004 -- 10 days after the psychiatrist
recommended he be sent home -- Potter took a gun from
under another soldier's bed and killed himself.

The fellow soldier, who did not want his name used
because he is still in the military, said Potter was
clearly having trouble dealing with the stress of
deployment, but wasn't getting the help he needed.

``We saw what was going on,'' he said, ``but we
couldn't do anything about it.''

Ann Scheuerman knew her son Jason was having a rough
time in Iraq, but she didn't know the depth of his
despair until she awoke to a short e-mail from him
last July that left her shaking with fear.

``I'm sorry, mom, but I just can't deal with this
anymore,'' he wrote from his base in Muqdadiyah. ``I
love you, but goodbye.''

After an agonizing morning of frantic phone calls,
Scheuerman learned that officers and a chaplain had
reached Jason in time, taking away his rifle, posting
a guard and ordering a mental evaluation for the
20-year-old private first-class.

For the first time that day, Ann Scheuerman could
breathe.

But her son's problems were just beginning.

Jason got a psychological evaluation, but afterward,
he sent his mother another disturbing e-mail.

``He was very discouraged,'' said Scheuerman, of
Lynchburg, Va. ``He said, `Mom, they think that I'm
making this up and that there was nothing wrong with
me, that I needed to just be a man, be a soldier and
quit wasting the Army's time.' He said they were going
to court-martial him for treason, that sergeants said
they were tired of people making up excuses to try to
get out of combat and it wasn't fair to all the other
real soldiers.''

Jason was pulled off missions with his fellow
soldiers, assigned menial jobs around the barracks and
given his gun back.

He used the weapon three weeks later to become the
1,797th U.S. military fatality of Operation Iraqi
Freedom.

Ann Scheuerman, who, like Jason's father, is an Army
veteran, strongly supports the military. But she wants
to know how things could have gone so wrong in Jason's
case.

``The enemy should not be dressed in a United States
Army military uniform. That's not what the enemy looks
like, and should never be what our soldiers see as the
enemy,'' she said.

``If someone would have taken two or three days, if he
would have just been in the hospital for a few days,
where someone could have actually talked to him, I
think that's all it would have taken,'' she said.

Kiley, the Army surgeon general, said he believes that
mental-health professionals in Iraq are quick to
evacuate troops who are at risk of hurting themselves
or others, or who have ``risen to the level of being
moderately or severely depressed.''

Who's Helping The Troops

After the spike in suicides in 2003, military
officials said they had faith that teams of mental
health specialists deployed to Iraq and Kuwait would
be able to provide needed care to troops, and help to
break the stigma associated with mental health issues.

But with the 2005 suicide rate in Iraq climbing to the
highest level since the war began, some soldiers'
advocates are now questioning whether the specialists
have become too reliant on short-term treatments and
medications, and not enough on one-to-one counseling.

Sandy Moreno, a Sacramento, Calif.-based psychiatric
technician in the Army Reserve, was among the first
combat-stress team members in Iraq. While her team
prided itself on a return-to-duty rate of about 95
percent, she said counseling and respite -- not
medications -- were the focus in the early months of
the war.

``You can't start someone on antidepressants and then
not see them again because their unit is moving
around,'' Moreno said. ``When you put them on those
kinds of meds, a lot of times it takes six weeks
before they take effect, or they can cause side
effects. We could never keep that good track of a
soldier.''

The military has about 230 counselors dispatched in
Iraq and Kuwait for about 100,000 troops, about the
same number as in 2004, an Army spokesman said. But
there are signs that the providers themselves are
burning out.

A team of mental health experts reported in January
2005 that caregivers were experiencing ``compassion
fatigue,'' with one-third of behavioral health workers
reporting high burnout, and one in six acknowledging
that stress was hurting their ability to do their
jobs.

``If our providers are impaired,'' the team wrote,
``our ability to intervene early and assist Soldiers
with their problems may be degraded.''

Beyond burnout, military documents and interviews
reveal a culture in which mental health professionals
are constantly on the alert for troops faking mental
illness to get out of duty.

``Clinicians must always maintain a keen eye for
potential malingerers,'' instructs the Iraq War
Clinician Guide, a 200-page bible compiled by the
Department of Veterans Affairs and the Walter Reed
Army Medical Center. ``Suspicions require close
consultation with commanders to ensure proper
diagnosis and disposition.''

Some Iraq veterans say the military is too quick to
dismiss mental health complaints, and still has a
problem treating injuries to the mind the way it
treats injuries to the body.

``If you break your leg over there, you're going to
get treatment,'' said Georg-Andreas Pogany. ``When
they go for mental health services, they are
belittled, they are shoved aside, they are called
malingerers. Their experiences are completely
invalidated.''

In 2003, Pogany, a former Army interrogator, was
charged with cowardice -- a crime punishable by death
-- after suffering a panic attack and seeking
counseling because he had seen the body of an Iraqi
man who had been cut in half by American gunfire. The
charge was later dropped.

Bob Johnson, former chief of combat stress control for
an Army brigade of about 2,800 soldiers, said he would
routinely review soldiers' work and disciplinary
histories when they complained of serious mental
problems. If a soldier with a history of antisocial
behavior came in insisting he was going to shoot
himself if he wasn't sent home, ``then that's a pretty
clear-cut case of malingering,'' he said.

Johnson said he took a punitive approach to dealing
with those soldiers, taking away their guns -- which
he compared to ``losing your manhood'' -- and forcing
them to sleep at the command point, in the line of
sight of commanders.

He said he had treated one soldier who threatened to
starve himself to death, and later swallowed a handful
of pills -- both acts that Johnson deemed bogus
attempts to get out of serving.

``There's no doubt about it, the guy had mental health
issues,'' Johnson said. ``But he wasn't going to get
the treatment he wanted, which was to go home.''

``The question is, do we want to reward this behavior?
Because if we reward this behavior, more soldiers are
going to do it.''

THE PENTAGON RESPONDS: Military health officials
defend treatment of mentally troubled troops. Page A7

Sunday: Trapped

``If a man is

having serious

mental problems,

and the chain of

command knows

about it, you get

him out of there

and get him

help.'' -- Warren

Henthorn, father

of Army Spec. Jeffrey Henthorn.

Monday: Ignored

``They talked about how

he had a history of

mental problems. No

kidding. ... I mean, if

you're flat-footed, you

don't go in. So isn't

there a clause in there

if you had mental

problems?''

-- Margaret Brabazon,

mother of Army Spec. Edward W. Brabazon

Today: Drugged

``Bobby is on a

mind-altering

drug, with a

loaded rifle,

and he is

requested to

guard an Iraqi

detainee?''

-- Ann Guy,

mother of Marine Pfc. Robert Allen Guy

Wednesday: Recycled

``It just floors us that they'd send him back. To be
in a psychiatric hospital last summer and now back to
a war zone.'' -- Larry Syverson, father of Army Staff
Sgt. Bryce Syverson

GRAPHIC: PHOTO 1: COLOR, PHOTOS BY MARK MIRKO THE
HARTFORD COURANT GRAPHIC: (B&W), THE HARTFORD COURANT
PHOTO 2-4: COLOR MUGS PHOTO 5: (B&W) MUG PHOTO 6:
(B&W), PHOTOS BY MARK MIRKO THE HARTFORD COURANT
PHOTO 1: ANN AND JAMES GUY visit the grave in
Arlington National Cemetery of their son, Marine Pfc.
Robert Allen Guy, on April 21, the first anniversary
of his death. Guy committed suicide a month after he
was prescribed the antidepressant Zoloft. GRAPHIC: ``I
Make The Final Decision' LIBRARY NOTE: This graphic
was not available electronically for this database.
PHOTO 5: ARMY PFC. MELISSA HOBART PHOTO 6: 5-YEAR-OLD
Alexis McCabe holds flags planted at the gravesite of
her mother. Army Pfc. Melissa Hobart, an East Haven
native, who collapsed and died in June 2004 while on
guard duty in Iraq. Hobart had been prescribed Celexa
to ease the anxiety of being separated from her young
daughter while in Baghdad. Her cause of death, the
military says, is still undetermined.
**************************************************

Copyright 2006 The Hartford Courant Company
Hartford Courant (Connecticut)

May 17, 2006 Wednesday
5 NORTHWEST CONNECTICUT/SPORTS FINAL EDITION

SECTION: MAIN; Pg. A1

LENGTH: 3775 words

HEADLINE: STILL SUFFERING, BUT REDEPLOYED;
THEY HAVE POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS AND OTHER
COMBAT-RELATED DISORDERS. SO WHAT ARE THEY DOING BACK
IN BATTLE?

SERIES: SPECIAL REPORT: MENTALLY UNFIT, FORCED TO
FIGHT

BYLINE: LISA CHEDEKEL Courant Staff Writer Matthew
Kauffman contributed to this story.

BODY:

Eight months ago, Staff Sgt. Bryce Syverson was
damaged goods, so unsteady that doctors at Walter Reed
Army Medical Center wouldn't let him wear socks or a
belt.

Syverson, 27, had landed in the psychiatric unit at
Walter Reed after a breakdown that doctors traced to
his 15-month tour in Iraq as a gunner on a Bradley
tank. He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress
disorder and depression, and was put on a suicide
watch and antidepressants, according to his family.

Today, Syverson is back in the combat zone, part of a
quick-reaction force in Kuwait that could be summoned
to Iraq at any time.

He got his deployment orders after being told he
wasn't fit for duty.

He got his gun back after being told he was too
unstable to carry a weapon.

But he hasn't quite managed to get his bearings.

``Nearly died on a PT test out here on a nice and
really mild night because of the medication that I am
taking,'' he wrote in a recent e-mail to his parents
and brothers. ``Head about to explode from the blood
swelling inside, the [lightning] storm that happened
in my head, the blurred vision, confusion, dizziness
and a whole lot more. Not the best feeling in the
entire world to have after being here for two days ...

``And I ask myself what the F*** am I doing here?''

Syverson is among a growing number of troops who are
being recycled into combat after being diagnosed with
PTSD or other combat-related mental disorders -- a new
phenomenon that has their families worried and some
mental health experts alarmed. The practice, which a
top military mental health official concedes is driven
partly by pressure to maintain troop levels, runs
counter to accepted medical doctrine and research,
which cautions that re-exposure to trauma increases
the risk of serious psychiatric problems.

``I'm concerned that people who are symptomatic are
being sent back, which is potentially very bad for
them. That has not happened before in our country,''
said Dr. Arthur S. Blank Jr., a Yale-trained
psychiatrist who helped to get PTSD recognized as a
diagnosis after the Vietnam War.

``If people have received treatment for a year or two
or three and the condition is completely stabilized, I
could see it,'' said Blank, who was formerly director
of the Department of Veterans Affairs' counseling
centers. ``[But] there's no study that says it's
beneficial to send people back. Being re-exposed to
the trauma can just intensify the symptoms.''

Although Department of Defense medical standards for
enlistment into the armed forces disqualify those who
have suffered from PTSD or acute reactions to stress,
including combat fatigue, military officials
acknowledge that they are not exempting service
members who meet those criteria from going to war.
Many of those who are being sent back with such
symptoms, such as Syverson, are being redeployed on
psychiatric medications known as SSRIs.

Col. Elspeth Ritchie, psychiatry consultant to the
Army surgeon general, acknowledged that the decision
to send back soldiers with symptoms or a diagnosis of
PTSD was ``something that we wrestle with,'' and
partly driven by the military's need to retain troops
because of recruiting shortfalls.

``Historically, we have not wanted to send soldiers or
anybody with post-traumatic stress disorder back into
what traumatized them,'' she said. ``The challenge for
us ... is that the Army has a mission to fight.''

Ritchie said the military looks closely at the
``impairment'' level of individual service members and
their response to medication before deciding whom to
redeploy, and would not put any soldier at risk.

``If they're simply -- and I don't mean to minimize it
-- but if they're simply having nightmares, for
example, but they can do their job, then most likely
they're going to deploy back with their unit,'' she
said. ``If they're not able to do their job and they
don't respond to treatment, then we're going to
probably keep them here in the States for at least a
while longer.''

But whether the military can even gauge the impairment
level of its veterans is in question. A newly released
report by the Government Accountability Office found
that nearly four in five troops returning from Iraq
and Afghanistan who were found to be at risk for PTSD,
based on responses to a screening questionnaire, were
never referred for further evaluation or treatment.
Still, top military officials continue to insist they
are doing a good job of identifying and treating PTSD
cases.

Dr. Matthew Friedman, director of the National Center
for PTSD, an arm of the Veterans Administration, said
that while he shares the concern that multiple
deployments may exacerbate PTSD symptoms, he does not
believe the military should take a ``one size fits
all'' approach to the disorder and bar all troops from
deploying. Drug treatments for PTSD prove successful
in some cases, he said, and some service members are
more resilient than others.

``My belief is, let's look at the data'' that are
being gathered by pre- and post-deployment mental
health screenings, he said. ``Once we have the data,
we can go back and look at how people with PTSD
perform.''

But some service members' families and experts say the
military should not be experimenting with young men
and women who have been traumatized by going to war.

``We were shocked. When somebody's put on medication
and told they have PTSD, it doesn't occur to you
they'd want to send them back,'' said Corrine Nieto, a
Bakersfield, Calif., mother whose 24-year-old son,
Chris, a Marine reservist, was redeployed to Iraq last
summer after being diagnosed with PTSD. ``I don't know
what they're doing to these kids. I wonder if they
do.''

Jason Sedotal, a 21-year-old military policeman from
Pierre Part, La., was diagnosed with PTSD in early
2005 after he returned from Iraq, where he was
traumatized by an incident in which a Humvee he was
driving rolled over a land mind, he said. His
sergeant, sitting beside him, lost both legs and an
arm.

Last September, Sedotal was transferred from Fort
Bragg to Fort Polk, where he said doctors switched his
medication from Prozac to Zoloft, and commanders
deemed him ready to redeploy. He has been back in Iraq
since October.

``I don't feel like myself. I can't sleep, I can't be
around crowds, I'm just drinking a lot,'' he said
during a mid-tour visit home last week. He said he had
seen a doctor at Fort Polk, to ask if he could stay
home and get treatment, but instead was given a higher
dose of Zoloft and told he was shipping out again this
week.

When he asked the doctor if his symptoms would ever go
away, he said he was told, ``Sure -- when you get out
of there.''

Neither the military nor the VA has figures on the
number of troops with PTSD or other combat-related
disorders who have been redeployed after a diagnosis.
Overall, more than 378,000 active-duty, reserve and
National Guard troops have served more than one tour
in Iraq or Afghanistan, including about 151,000 Army
soldiers and 51,000 Marines, according to the
Department of Defense's latest deployment statistics.

Recent studies indicate that at least 18 percent of
returning Iraq veterans are at risk for PTSD, while 35
percent have sought mental health care in their first
year home.

The Courant's research shows that at least seven
troops who are believed to have committed suicide in
2005 and 2006 were serving second or third
deployments. In some of those cases, according to
their families, they had exhibited signs of
psychological problems between deployments that went
undetected by military officials, who rely largely on
the self-reported questionnaires.

Jeffrey Henthorn, 25, of Choctaw, Okla., was just six
weeks into his second deployment when the military
says he killed himself in Iraq last year. His family
said he had shown signs of psychological problems
between deployments, but had not received counseling
or treatment.

Similarly, Army Spec. Rusty W. Bell, 21, of
Pocahontas, Ark., showed signs of combat stress after
his first deployment to the Middle East in 2003 as a
member of the Army National Guard, said his mother,
Darlene Gee. When he came home in April 2004, he
enlisted in the Army and was sent back to Iraq in
early 2005.

``He saw tons of combat that first time, and I think
it affected him,'' Gee said. ``I never asked him about
it straight-out, but he said a few things that stick
with me. He said, `Mom, I wish they'd just nuke the
entire place. I know I would die, but at least I would
die for a reason.' I said, `Bub, don't talk like
that.'

``I thought they shouldn't have sent him back so
soon,'' she said. ``Let him have a normal life for a
while, after what he'd been through.''

An autopsy report on Bell's death concludes that he
shot himself last August, with witnesses saying he was
``distraught over family problems.'' Gee said she was
not aware that her son, who was married, was having
any significant personal problems.

The wife of a soldier who killed himself earlier this
year in Iraq said she had little doubt that repeat
tours had played a role.

``I know that did affect it. Absolutely I know it. A
combination of fatigue and just being worn out,'' said
the woman, who did not want her name used to protect
her children.

Army Surgeon General Kevin C. Kiley said many troops
want to go back with their units for repeat tours, and
the military is willing to facilitate that, as long as
they are functioning well.

``Part of sending troops back in with medications that
are stable and doing very well is . . . to
de-stigmatize this, to show soldiers they can do the
job, they can defend the nation, they can be part of
this Army, and they won't be cast aside,'' Kiley said.

In some cases, the military has pushed the point a
step further.

Army Spec. Jason Gunn, of Lansdowne, Pa., was sent
back to Iraq in early 2004, after being injured in an
explosion and diagnosed with PTSD, because Army
officials believed it would be in his best interest to
``overcome his fear by facing it,'' according to the
explanation provided to his mother, Pat Gunn, through
a congressman.

Since he returned home and left the Army last year,
Jason has drifted between odd jobs and ``goes through
phases where he's in a very bad place,'' Pat Gunn
said. She said she worries that the military is
``taking the very last breath out of these kids.''

Mental health experts said that while some troops who
suffer from PTSD symptoms may be able to return to the
front lines, there is no evidence to suggest that
re-exposure to trauma is in any way therapeutic.

``Anybody who says it's a form of therapy to send
people back into war,'' said Dr. Jonathan Shay, a
Boston-based psychiatrist who counsels Vietnam
veterans, ``I don't know what they're smoking.''

Fear Of Avalanche

Some soldier advocates worry that the repeat
deployments of troops will lead to an avalanche of
PTSD cases and fuel incidents of suicide and violence.

In Vietnam, most soldiers did a requisite one-year
tour of duty and never went back. About 30 percent of
them suffer from PTSD symptoms, and another 20 percent
have experienced clinically serious stress-reaction
symptoms, according to the National Vietnam Veterans
Readjustment Survey.

Of the 1.3 million active duty, guard and reserve
troops who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, more
than 28 percent already have deployed more than once.

``This is an unexplored area,'' said Cathleen Wiblemo,
deputy director for health care for the American
Legion. ``How are troops going to deal with second and
third deployments? Is their reaction going to be more
severe?

``I think the VA can look to seeing a lot more mental
health cases,'' she said. ``They haven't gotten the
full brunt of these multiple deployments yet.''

So far, more than 20,600 service members who have
separated from the military have received an initial
diagnosis of PTSD, according to the VA. That doesn't
include service members still enlisted in the
military, or veterans who seek help from private
doctors or other sources.

Like other parents, Larry Syverson, an environmental
engineer from Richmond, Va., worries that the military
is gambling with his son's mental health for the sake
of maintaining troop levels.

Bryce was sent back to Kuwait in late-March, after the
Army had deemed him non-deployable and left him at his
base in Germany while the rest of his unit deployed.
In February, he told his father that his doctors had
taken him off of Zoloft and were trying another
medication. He still wasn't allowed to carry a gun.

Larry Syverson isn't sure why the military abruptly
deemed Bryce deployable and handed him back his
weapon. In correspondence, his son has said he agreed
to go back to Kuwait because commanders told him it
would help his chances of re-enlisting in the Army --
something Bryce, who has not known civilian life since
he graduated from high school, wants to do.

``The doctors said that I will be okay to deploy and
carry around my rifle ... and shoot people,'' Bryce
wrote in an April 18 e-mail to his father. ``So in a
week from me and the doctors both agreeing that I will
be okay to deploy. I was gone again.''

``The Battalion Commander was holding a bar to
re-enlist over my head if I didn't deploy. But since I
have deployed, my request for re-enlistment has been
denied twice.''

The tone of Bryce's e-mails, as much as the content,
worries Larry Syverson, who said his youngest son,
once the most ``even-keeled'' of four brothers, now
has a festering bitterness.

``It just floors us that they'd send him back,'' said
Larry, a peace activist whose sons all have served in
the military, but who opposes the Iraq war. ``To be in
a psychiatric hospital last summer and now back to a
war zone -- it's not like they didn't know Bryce's
condition, because it's their hospital and their
diagnosis.''

Bryce's PTSD came on the same way many cases do:
suddenly, starkly, several months after he had
returned home in the summer of 2004. He was watching
New Year's Eve fireworks in Germany, his father said,
when he ``got spooked'' by the crowd and the sounds,
which reminded him of mortar attacks. From there, he
spiraled into depression, anger and an inability to
concentrate.

PTSD has three main clusters of symptoms:
re-experiencing the trauma, in the form of flashbacks
or memories; retreating from life or feeling detached;
and hyper-vigilance, including impaired concentration.
Some troops suffer from partial symptoms. War-zone
stress also can lead to depression and anxiety
disorders.

Experts say short-term treatment with Zoloft or Paxil,
the two drugs approved by the government for treating
PTSD, are successful in putting the disorder into
remission about 30 percent of the time. But the other
70 percent of cases are not so easy to control and can
continue for years. Some patients never fully recover.

The practice of redeploying soldiers who continue to
suffer from PTSD symptoms runs counter to statements
by the military's top health official, Assistant
Defense Secretary William Winkenwerder, who assured a
congressional committee last summer that troops with
``unremitting mental health disorders are not
deployed.''

Dr. Frank M. Ochberg, a clinical professor of
psychiatry at Michigan State and a founding board
member of the International Society for Traumatic
Stress Studies, said he would not want anyone who has
``chronic'' PTSD -- symptoms lasting longer than three
months -- to return to a combat situation. Deploying
someone with depression, which often accompanies PTSD,
also is dangerous, he said.

``My gut feeling is, it's probably OK if they've been
stabilized and they haven't had a recurrence of
depression in a year,'' he said. ``But the problem of
depression in combat is, you are of more risk to
yourself and others.''

Troops fill out post-deployment questionnaires just as
they return from Iraq, and then receive a follow-up
screening, recently added by the military, three to
six months later.

Because the screenings rely largely on self-reporting
by service members, who often are reluctant to
disclose problems, their usefulness is limited, mental
health experts agree. That leaves families and friends
of some service members convinced that post-traumatic
symptoms are going undetected.

Martin Armijo, a family friend and neighbor of
22-year-old Army medic Chris Rolan of Albuquerque,
N.M., said he worried about Rolan when the young man
returned home last year between deployments to Iraq.

``He said he'd seen a lot of combat. It was freaking
him out seeing all these soldiers getting shot up,''
said Armijo, a Vietnam veteran. ``I could tell in his
eyes, he had that look like he was lost. He wasn't the
Chris I knew.''

After he returned to Iraq, Rolan was charged with
killing a member of his unit during an argument, in
November of last year. His older brother, Robert
Garcia, is at a loss to explain what happened to the
young man he says was the ``bright star'' of the
family.

``This is so out of the blue,'' said Garcia, who
declined to discuss the pending murder case. ``It just
doesn't fit.''

Wrestling With Symptoms

Some troops with PTSD symptoms receive counseling in
Iraq, while others don't, interviews with troops and
families indicate.

Jim Holmes' son, Micah, an Army mechanic, was deployed
to Iraq last August. He had returned home in May 2004
from a 10-month tour in Afghanistan with symptoms of
PTSD and depression, for which Army doctors prescribed
Zoloft and Wellbutrin, Holmes said.

Earlier this year, while in Iraq, he told his father
that he had stopped taking the drugs because they were
``too hard to get,'' and that he was not receiving
counseling.

``He's not getting treated there, and who knows if
there'll be any treatment available when he comes
home,'' said Jim Holmes, a social worker from
Gaithersburg, Md. ``At this point, I just want him
back.''

Whether Zoloft and other drugs actually can help to
buffer combat stress or prevent full-blown PTSD is not
known, mental health experts said. That uncertainty
led Ochberg to call the practice of medicating
stressed-out troops ``one hell of a research
project.''

``There are people who want to do the job, and if they
do the job on medication, they may be better off,''
Ochberg said. ``But I have never given anyone a
prescription because they're going into a combat
situation.

``There's a chance that this unwitting experiment of
prevention of full-blown emotional distress will be
instructive,'' he added, ``but it's also fraught with
moral and ethical considerations.''

Among the moral considerations is that many troops
with combat-stress symptoms want to go back to the
war, becoming addicted to the adrenaline and sense of
mission, and unable to adjust to life at home,
military counselors say. Their eagerness matches the
military's willingness to recycle them into combat.

``Iraq is an impossible act to follow. Everything else
pales,'' said Noka Zador, a coordinator of counseling
for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans at the West Haven
Veterans Administration. ``Part of it is, they have
one foot here, one foot there. It's a sense of, `I'm
still back there anyway.'''

David Beals, 26, a soldier stationed at Fort Stewart
in Georgia, sometimes tells his wife, Dawn Marie, ``In
my head, I'm still in Iraq.'' After he returned from
his second deployment to Iraq in January, he paced
around the house, bored and restless, she said.

Beals had a rough first tour in Baghdad in 2003, and
sunk into a depression as his second deployment
approached. In January 2005, he locked himself in the
bathroom of the couple's home and swallowed a bottle
of Percocet. He landed in a hospital psychiatric ward
and was diagnosed with PTSD and an adjustment
disorder, Dawn Marie said.

He was sent back to Iraq within a few months, for the
tour that ended this January. He expects to go back
for a third time at the end of this year.

``He loves what he does. He loves being in the Army,''
Dawn Marie said. "For me, you just learn to adapt. ...
He definitely is not the same person. It's the same
person, but not the same personality.''

Military counselors say the frequency of multiple
deployments has been a disincentive for troops to seek
help readjusting to life at home, and has made
counseling difficult.

``Some of them don't see the relevance of coming for
counseling because their bags are still packed,'' said
Donna Hryb, team leader at the Hartford Vet Center in
Wethersfield.

Some PTSD experts also suggest that the growing public
sentiment against the war can have a negative effect
on the mental health of some troops shuttling back and
forth to Iraq.

``If there's controversy and doubt about the validity
of the war, it has a major psychological impact, for
both the therapist and soldier,'' said Blank, the
psychiatrist and expert on PTSD.

James Gavin, a Vietnam veteran who is team leader of
the New Haven Vet Center, said military medicine has a
different emphasis than civilian medicine. The
military is ``looking at unit cohesion and
cohesiveness,'' he said. ``They're not so concerned
with a heightened state of alertness, or
sleeplessness, or other things. They might want people
on edge.''

That's what concerns Larry Syverson.

In a recent e-mail from Kuwait, his son Bryce, who is
safe from combat for now, complained that some leaders
of his unit ``want to actually go to Ramadi,'' and had
tried to ``volunteer'' the battalion for the front
lines of Iraq.

Larry said he isn't worried that Bryce, whom he calls
a ``good soldier,'' would resist.

He's worried that he wouldn't.

Sunday: Trapped

"If a man is

having serious

mental

problems, and

the chain of

command

knows about

it, you get him

out of there

and get him help." -- Warren Henthorn, father of Army
Spec. Jeffrey Henthorn

Monday: Ignored

``They talked

about how he

had a history of

mental problems.

No kidding. ... I

mean, if you're

flat-footed, you

don't go in. So

isn't there a

clause in there if you had mental problems?'' --
Margaret Brabazon, mother of Army Spec. Edward W.
``Crazy Eddie'' Brabazon

Tuesday: Drugged

``Bobby is on a

mind-altering

drug, with a

loaded rifle,

and he is

requested to

guard an Iraqi

detainee?''

-- Ann Guy,

mother of Marine Pfc. Robert Allen Guy

Today: Recycled

``It just floors

us that they'd

send him back.

To be in a

psychiatric

hospital last

summer and

now back to

a war zone.''

-- Larry Syverson, father

of Army Staff Sgt. Bryce Syverson

On The Web: Larry Syverson, father of Army Staff Sgt.
Bryce Syverson, worries about his son who is in
Kuwait. Bryce was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress
disorder after 15 months in Iraq, and spent one month
in Walter Reed Army Medical Center. In this video,
Larry shares e-mails and voice mails from Bryce. To
view the video, previous installments, and to share
your thoughts on this investigative report in our
online forum, visit www.courant.com/soldiers

GRAPHIC: PHOTO 1: COLOR, MARK MIRKO / THE HARTFORD
COURANT PHOTO 2-5: (B&W) MUGS PHOTO 6-7: (B&W)
PHOTO 1: A WHITE HOUSE security officer and his dog
walk behind Larry Syverson, whose son, Army Staff Sgt.
Bryce Syverson, was redeployed to Kuwait despite being
diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Larry
Syverson went to Washington on May 1, the third
anniversary of President Bush's announcement that
major combat had ended in Iraq, against the backdrop
of a banner reading ``Mission Accomplished.'' PHOTO 6:
STAFF SGT. BRYCE SYVERSON sits on a throne in one of
Saddam Hussein's palaces in Iraq, in this undated
photo supplied by Larry Syverson, his father. After a
15-month tour in Iraq, Bryce has post-traumatic stress
disorder and depression, and was put on a suicide
watch and antidepressants. He has been redeployed to
the Middle East. PHOTO 7: BRYCE SYVERSON, in a family
photo supplied by his father, is shown in the
psychiatric unit at Walter Reed Army Medical Center,
where he was sent after a breakdown that doctors
traced to his tour in Iraq.