Iraq’s Jabberwocky Nightmare

May 13, 2009

The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Lewis Carroll

(Illustration found here).

A surreal snapshot of a horrifying, nonsensical moment in time: The Iraqi invasion just might end up being the greatest man-made disaster in all of human history.
Lewis Carroll created some wild shit with his wacked-crazy use of disambiguation — meaning of words within a sentence — and he sometimes just made the shit up, right off his Alice-in-the-hat head — that was all pure absurd, but carried a delightful flavor of whimsy.
Iraq indeed is also pure absurd, but with a scorched and a definite anti-whimsy flavor: Coal-fired, oil-slick-aflame, nerve-chilling and terrifying.

One could, in reality, call the Iraqi misadventure a tortured war, creating a quagmare of tortured souls.
On Monday, an indication of the torture:

An American soldier opened fire at a counseling center on a military base Monday, killing five fellow soldiers before being taken into custody, the U.S. command and Pentagon officials said.
Although it was unclear what prompted the shooting, the incident draws attention to the issue of combat stress and morale after six years of war as the mission of the 130,000-strong force transforms to one of training and mentoring the Iraqis.

And then yesterday:

Tuesday the army identified the American soldier who went on a deadly rampage at an Army base in Iraq and charged him with the murder of five other U.S. service members.
Sgt. John Russell, a 44-year-old Texan, has been in the military 20 years.
Russell was on his third tour of duty in Iraq and, as CBS News correspondent Bob Orr reports, there were signs he was in trouble.
His commanders feared Russell was on the edge.
So, they took away his weapon and ordered him to counseling at a combat stress clinic in Baghdad.

The incident is the deadliest involving soldier on soldier violence in the six-year Iraq war.
In response, the Army has launched an investigation to determine if it needs more people and facilities in war zones to deal with combat stress and soldiers on the brink.
“These are the canaries in the mine,” said Patrick Campbell of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Of America.
“If we don’t start addressing these issues people are get more and more injured and it’s going to get harder to treat them.”

‘Canaries in the mine…’

Yes, indeed.
One of the GIs shot down on Monday called home on Mother’s Day — the day before — and warned about tortured souls and the crux of the problem.
From the NY Daily News:

Pfc. Michael Edward Yates Jr., 19, of Maryland told his mother about Sgt. John Russell just hours before the career military man went on a killing spree.
“He said, ‘Man, this guy’s got issues,'” a grieving Shawna Machlinski said of the last conversation she had with her son.
While Yates told his mother he got along with Russell, 44, he described the troubled sergeant as being angry at the military after serving three tours of duty in Iraq.
“I do have some sympathy and I do know that I can forgive him,” Shawna Machlinski said of Russell. “I kind of blame the Army for not protecting my son.”

Yes indeed, the Army…
And as warmonger, nit-wit Don Rumsfeld blurted, “As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They’re not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time…”  more than four years ago, what did the powers-that-used-to-be expect from shoddy, shitty planning?
Along with the  now 4,295 GIs killed since the war began, and the 35,000-plus wounded (estimates on wounded run as high as 100,000 troops), a study released in mid-2008 revealed nearly 20 percent of US forces — 300,000 — suffer from major depression or post traumatic stress from serving in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 320,000 received brain injuries.
And with the sacrifice?
Aaron Glantz, a Rosalynn Carter Fellow for Mental Health Journalism at the Carter Center and author of the book, The War Comes Home: Washington’s Battle Against America’s Veterans, responds:

“This Columbine-style shooting in Iraq is shocking, but unfortunately is not surprising.
For eight years now, the Army has stood by silently as more and more American soldiers have taken their own lives under the strain of repeated deployments, an acute lack of mental health services, and a back-door draft.
It was only a matter of time before a stressed-out soldier pointed his gun at comrades rather than himself.
In January, the Army reported more active-duty soldiers had committed suicide than died in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.
The Army’s suicide rate for 2008 (128) was the highest in 28 years.”

Indeed again.
In the first four months of this year, 91 soldiers committed suicide, including suspected suicides still under investigation and if allowed to continue more than 270 soldiers will be dead by their own hands by December. The large majority of suicides are among enlisted soldiers, privates, specialists and sergeants.

According to the new data, among the active-duty troops who have committed suicide so far in 2009, 48 committed suicide after or during a deployment, while only 16 killed themselves without having gone to war. Two of the active-duty soldiers who killed themselves did so after deploying to war four times.
Among National Guard and Army Reserve troops, 11 died during or after deployments while 16 killed themselves having never deployed.
The figures for the National Guard and Army Reserve include an unexplained bubble of seven suicides among never-deployed troops that occurred in February.

Well, let’s explain that ‘unexplained bubble’ — fear incited by realistic barracks-gossip describing a living hell in Iraq.

First up came that little now-well-know military word to supplement cannon fodder for a war which went south near-about overnight: Stop Loss, which orders GIs to remain to the end of their overseas deployments and up to another 90 days, after their time of service is legally up.
Keeping those precious boots on the ground is the main, above-all factor, and it’s near-destroyed the US military.

Defense Honcho Bob Gates expressed “horror” when told of the shootings in Iraq on Monday, while Joint Chiefs chairman, Mike Mullen stammered that WTF, these guys were killed “in a place where individuals were seeking help,” and maybe, just maybe on the outside, it’s something bad wrong the DOD has been doing all along: “It does speak to me though about the need for us to redouble our efforts, the concern in terms of dealing with the stress, dealing with whole issue of those kinds of things and it also speaks to the issue of multiple deployments, increasing dwell time, all those things that we’re focused on to try to improve to try to relieve that stress…”

A stress inside an inferno based upon a lie — a tortured lie, too.
And so comes the case of Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi, from whose tortured lips came word of a terrorist conspirarcy so horrible the US was forced to invade Iraq, then oops, later it was discovered the guy was just making up shit to stop torture.
Reports surfaced this past weekend of his death in a Libyan prison, an apparent suicide.
He’d been missing since 2006 when a bunch of high-value terrorists/prisoners were transferred to Guantanamo — It was then suspected he’d been shuffled off to Libya.
From the Washington Post on Tuesday:

Libi was captured fleeing Afghanistan in late 2001, and he vanished into the secret detention system run by the Bush administration.
He became the unnamed source, according to Senate investigators, behind Bush administration claims in 2002 and 2003 that Iraq had provided training in chemical and biological weapons to al-Qaeda operatives. The claim was most famously delivered by then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell in his address to the United Nations in February 2003.

In their book “Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War,” Michael Isikoff and David Corn said Libi made up the story about Iraqi training after he was beaten and subjected to a “mock burial” by his Egyptian interrogators, who put him in a cramped box for 17 hours.
Libi recanted the story after being returned to CIA custody in 2004.

“I would speculate that he was missing because he was such an embarrassment to the Bush administration,” said Tom Malinowski, the head of the Washington office of Human Rights Watch.
“He was Exhibit A in the narrative that tortured confessions contributed to the massive intelligence failure that preceded the Iraq war.”

‘Massive intelligence failure’ my ass!
Dick Cheney and his boys twisted and tortured until they heard what they wanted to hear — a clear-cut (Ha!) rationale for the Iraqi invasion:

The Bush administration applied relentless pressure on interrogators to use harsh methods on detainees in part to find evidence of cooperation between al Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime, according to a former senior U.S. intelligence official and a former Army psychiatrist.

A former senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the interrogation issue said that Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld demanded that the interrogators find evidence of al Qaida-Iraq collaboration.
“There were two reasons why these interrogations were so persistent, and why extreme methods were used,” the former senior intelligence official said on condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity.
“The main one is that everyone was worried about some kind of follow-up attack (after 9/11). But for most of 2002 and into 2003, Cheney and Rumsfeld, especially, were also demanding proof of the links between al Qaida and Iraq that (former Iraqi exile leader Ahmed) Chalabi and others had told them were there.”

Andrew Sullivan also has another good post on Cheney, torture and diving into Iraq.

And into Iraq the US went, head first without a apparent clue of what would really take place.
Cheney and his crowd figured the US military would take care of the whole shootin’ match.
Instead, the blunder has cost the country $12 billion a month (up to $3 trillion overall) and helped fuel the greatest worldwide financial disaster most-likely ever.
The human toll is much more immeasurable, not only with the US, but with Iraq itself — estimates in civilian deaths range from more than 110,000 to 1.5 million with 4 million displaced.
Iraqi life is daily torture.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! and through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

The Baghdad Jabberwock, however, is reportedly instead a mendacious Grue.

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