Monday, September 24, 2007

This Sad Replica of a Once Proud Military that Rumsfeld Left as His Legacy

U.S. Aims To Lure Insurgents With 'Bait' Snipers Describe Classified Program
By Josh White and Joshua Partlow Washington Post Staff Writers Monday, September 24, 2007; A01
A Pentagon group has encouraged some U.S. military snipers in Iraq to target suspected insurgents by scattering pieces of "bait," such as detonation cords, plastic explosives and ammunition, and then killing Iraqis who pick up the items, according to military court documents.
. . . "Baiting is putting an object out there that we know they will use, with the intention of destroying the enemy," Capt. Matthew P. Didier, the leader of an elite sniper scout platoon attached to the 1st Battalion of the 501st Infantry Regiment, said in a sworn statement. "Basically, we would put an item out there and watch it. If someone found the item, picked it up and attempted to leave with the item, we would engage the individual as I saw this as a sign they would use the item against U.S. Forces.". .
. . . Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice, said such a baiting program should be examined "quite meticulously" because it raises troubling possibilities, such as what happens when civilians pick up the items.
"In a country that is awash in armaments and magazines and implements of war, if every time somebody picked up something that was potentially useful as a weapon, you might as well ask every Iraqi to walk around with a target on his back," Fidell said.
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Talk about your slippery slopes.
Let's not lose the thread of this folks, because the disaster that has befallen our once proud military has a thread and it all leads back to Secretary Rumsfeld's leaner, meaner fighting force dependent upon overwhelming air-strikes and fewer boots on the ground.
Star Wars instead of military draft in time of war. Fighting on the cheap, because this war was going to be a cake-walk.
Then, of course it all went wrong and we ended up sending and sending and sending the same reservists back and back and back again. The generals who said it couldn't be done, like Eric Shinseki (Army Chief of Staff) were retired and dishonored by the likes of Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz. Rumsfeld is now an old and bitter man, Wolfowitz unemployable in any responsible capacity.
Panic and hubris are not the proper tools of war and yet the Pentagon was dominated by them both.
From that desperation and unwillingness to change, came the unconscionable hiring of Blackwater-type mercenaries and our proud military became the equal of those most desperate African dictatorships we revile. General after general after general retired rather than follow Rumsfeld and the adjective 'broken' became synonymous with the American military.
The more broken, the more desperate, the more trapped in the Green Zone, the more vulnerable we became--not only to insurgents, but to the unforgiving light of world opinion. Now we have descended from light to darkness, into the abyss of 'baiting' our enemy, a deplorable action we prohibit by law in the hunting of animals.
Like 'chumming' fishing waters, the result of baiting is indiscriminate, taking everything that is lured to the net.
This failed war and its failed premise, complicated by failed strategy and cooking the books of conflict is taking not only the lives of our youngest and best, but the moral principles that govern their thoughts and actions. War is, at its very best, a dirty and vicious business.
Hard to recover from the killing fields (if a citizen warrior ever truly recovers). This lying, thieving, profiteering, viciously distorted piece of business that Donald Rumsfeld put out there in the name of America's honor is the chumming of the nation.
We read of snipers shooting over bait in Iraq on the same page that we read of 10,000 young people demonstrating in the streets of Jena, Louisiana, concerned about the injustice against six young black kids.
Our Jena is the nation. Where are the 10,000? Our Jena is the Iraq we destroyed. Our Jena is the prosecution of those elected and appointed officials who drag our flag through the blood and the mud of fear-based opportunism. Where are those 10,000 who rode buses to Louisiana?
Our Jena, if we are not careful and if we do not act on moral principal while we have the chance, is us.

* For more in-depth articles by Jim on Iraq War, check out Opinion-Columns.com