Saturday, May 5, 2007


When Heretic and I got busted for this blog while we were in Iraq, they said the same shit then as what they're saying now to justify ending the war blog culture....

That it is a breach of operational security, that it only helps the enemy by lending encouragement, that it paints the picture that troop morale is low.

Same old shit as in any imperial war. Keep military adventures as far away from the plebeians as possible.

Unlike other war bloggers, we came out very fortunate. Our chain of command's threats of court-marshal proved to be futile. As was later confirmed by Military Intelligence and C.I.D., not once did we ever technically break OPSEC.

However, after much brow-beating and ass-chewings, we were told that we were not allowed to harbor opinions negitave of the war, the government, and especially the president.

In short, we were told to stop writing. Our voice, the soldier's voice, was put under by a makeshift gag order. Overnight we became silenced and censored.

As far as why they choose to silence the soldier's voice, it seems pretty clear to me. With elections starting to heat up, this one party government doesn't want the voting public to think that a rising tide of pissed off soldiers exists.

If every blogger was actually enjoying him/herself in Iraq, and letting the world know how great we're doing over there, perhaps this wouldn't be an issue.

But what the military hates more than anything in the world is a soldier that thinks for him/herself and makes his/her voice heard, especially when that voice is telling the truth.

It was an average soldier who blew the whistle on the tortures and inhumanity at Abu Gharib.

It was an average soldier who pointed his finger right back at Rumsfeld and asked, "When will we get armor for our trucks?!"

It was a group of average soldiers who refused a suicide mission to deliver tainted fuel into a combat zone with no crew-served weapons or ammunition to defend themselves with, and no armor to protect them whatsoever.

It was an average soldier who publicly interrupted his Colonel saying, "No sir, America is not at war. Its soldiers are at war. America is at the mall!"

To assume that a soldier will blindly follow along in the wake of criminality of an illegal and bloody occupation does not give enough credit to the conscious of the human mind.

To think that silencing a soldier's voice to hide the truth will help us win this war is absolutely ludicrous!

This is about PR spin. Its about convincing America that nothing is wrong. Bush's dumb-ass is still trying to convince us that his "brilliant" troop surge will work, even though it was nothing more than smoke and mirrors to begin with.

"Jest hold on der, Amurica. You's aul wait en see. This here troop seeerge is gar-aun-teeed! Ain't no sense in fussin' and fightin'. God'll see us through this! Amurica complains too damn much, can't see the bigger picture. We have no choice but to win in Iraq. Duncha know? Terrurist wanna kill us cuz they hate our freedumb!!"

As if Bush had any credibility left, imagine what a sudden increase in antiwar blogs will do to him. I can see why he's nervous. Had he actually ever been in a war, ever really been in the military, he'd know that some veterans are fucking crazy, pissed off and know how to shoot a gun. If I were responsible for starting an endless war, I'd be scared, too.


I am incredibly dismayed with this sudden turn of events. Blogging was the only thing that kept me going in Iraq. I felt then, as I do now, that the American public deserves to know the truth about what's going on.

Further, if this new policy stretches into prohibiting emails as well, try explaining that to a soldier's wife, or husband, or parents, or children. We live in modern times, and as such this government needs to come to terms that the military family community depends on emails for instant reports from their loved ones.

I feel really bad for soldiers in Iraq right now. How much are we willing to isolate them, especially when most soldiers think Americans, despite their stupid yellow ribbons of "support", really don't give a fuck about what's going on outside of their pretentious lives anyways?

To the soldiers in Iraq, I can only hope that they don't let these very Anti-democratic assholes silence their voice. They are still citizens of this country. Each and every one of them has a mind of her/his own. What good is the 1st Amendment that they are fighting and dying for if they can't even use it themselves?

This government can't hide the truth forever. The blood and gore, so conveniently disguised and filtered through biased media, is still on our hands regardless how much we try to forget about it.

The Pentagon may like to think that its problems are solved by silencing the soldier's voice, but its not. It only serves as aggravation to an already bigger problem. Every soldier has a story to tell. And when the soldier returns home from this disgusting war, that is when we as a country will all be forced to listen. Whether we like it or not.

posted by Heckle

Friday, April 13, 2007

Who's Sacrifice?

Who here in America, the overly privileged and placated country that it is, would be willing to make a sacrifice for something as disgusting and immoral as a criminal war?

What American is willing to put his or her life on the line by fighting in this War on Terror in Afghanistan or Iraq?

As an American, would you be willing to watch your son or daughter go fight in this illegal occupation of Iraq and return home in a straight jacket, or worse, a flag-draped coffin?

As a citizen of this imperial nation, are you ready, if need be, to have your draft number called and report for service as a hit man for Uncle Scam's corporate Empire?

What sacrifice are you prepared to make for this?!

Are you ready to answer these questions?

What if a soldier were to ask you?

As a veteran of the war in Iraq, I grow tired of watching the pain in a soldier's eyes after fighting in this war over and over only to see an ever-deteriorating situation in a country that never wanted an American forced democracy in the first place.

My heart aches when I meet the wife of a soldier in Iraq only to hear that the young couple hates the war, and wants out of the army, but could never otherwise afford the health care needed to provide for the birth of their expecting child.

It pains me to see that soldiers, only weeks away from returning home from Iraq, read on the internet about an involuntary 90 day extension pointlessly tying them to a losing war even longer.

And my patience grows thin to see Bush, the real enemy of freedom and democracy the world over, chuckle and grin when explaining the urgency of a winning strategy, the "troop surge", that is desperately needed to hold this sinking ship together for just a little longer. Just long enough to line his buddies pockets with another couple of trillion or so.

And as my patience is practically gone, I am tired of trying to explain to Americans why this war is lost, why it was lost from the start, and why we will be losers in the end.

If you refuse to see it by now then you're lost, too.

For years now there have been a sizable number of antiwar Iraq and Afghanistan veterans trying to express the reasons why the war on terror is a sham, and why its wrong that corrupt politicians are the only ones benefiting from the oppression, pain and misery that their wars inflict on the lower classes of the world.

And every time a veteran had something to say about it, that veteran was called a pinko, or unAmerican, or a traitor.

But every time that veteran proved to be right. That veteran has always been right. The great majority of Americans opposed to the war have only caught on in the last few months.

But that is all behind us now. My only question for anyone is, Are you willing to sacrifice for this war?

What is it worth to you? All your stupid fucking yellow ribbons mean nothing. A symbol of war and nationalist fervor. May as well be a swastika. What is your level of involvement in this war? Where is your support?

Again, who's blood are you willing to spill for the safety and security that these Republicans and these Democrats are promising you if you just shut up and let them do the talking?

And are your freedoms safe in the hands of warmongering and greedy idiots who not only want to keep young men and women dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, but now want to extend their empty promises and generous offers through a war with Iran?

Every time I hear a politician lie about this war, I don't scream or get mad, I just wish they would cut the bullshit out of it and just be honest with us… "Listen, America, we know that you know that you need that oil, and we're going to get it for you come hell or high water."

God Bless America.

But is it all worth it? Is it worth all the death and pain and misery our wars inflict on other human beings in the world? Is it worth a never ending war sucking our economy dry and leaving us with less resources to help our own poor and needy in America? Is it worth the infringement on civil rights both here and abroad?

Is it worth 3,300 dead sons and daughters of liberty? How many names will be carved on our wall?

Was it worth having a Louisiana National Guard in Iraq during Katrina?

Is it worth the USA Patriot Act?

Was it worth letting Bush nix posse comitatus?

How far will we let the madness continue?

What are the sacrifices we as a country are willing to make? Do not tell me this is necessary. Do not try to convince me this is about terrorism. I did not see any terrorists killed in Iraq. I saw women and children blown to pieces by car bombs. I saw dead farmers and dead shop-keepers killed by American munitions.

One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.

Keep allowing these crooks, thieves and criminals to convince you that your life is in danger. Keep letting them coo you to sleep as you walk mindlessly consuming in this decadent and decaying shopping mall of America. Keep believing their lies, like every good American has since 1776.

We have a history of terrorism in this country. We support brutal dictators all over the world. We destroy any social movement or truly democratic awakening that dares to surface in Latin America. We arm war lords in Africa. We fund tyrants in the Middle East. We give the go-ahead to genocide in East Asia. We are solely responsible for the bloody occupation of Palestine. We are the big bully on the block, and when a sovereign nation of working class people stand up to us and take it to the streets, we call them terrorists.

The best way to end terrorism is to stop participating in it.

You will never convince me that we are right when we treat other human beings so utterly inhumane. I will never believe it, because I am a veteran of an illegal and immoral war, and I saw the immorality of it firsthand in Iraq.

And other soldiers are seeing it, too.

I heard a veteran once say that if everyone in America could see what we are doing to the Iraqi people, they would end the war tomorrow. Perhaps that veteran is right. After all. the only power that will stop this war is the power of the people.

Its up to you, America, to determine the costs and ask yourself a simple question,

"Is it worth it?"

And then go out and do something about it.

Because the soldiers who are fighting this never-ending war, and the veterans who cannot get the help they need coming home, and the military families who's tears are shed when a loved one will never return are the only ones making the sacrifices...

...And their patience is running thin.

posted by heckle

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Where's the Love

I have a firm belief in “knowing my enemy” so the other night I nestled in to my hole in the wall basement DC apartment to watch our courageous President “Bloody” George inform America on the “State of the Union.” As the comforting glow of the television hummed to life I sat through a couple of commercials in interest discovering what my neighbors are buying. I am always hypnotized by TV since I have almost completely cut myself off from the soul sucking broadcasted programming.

Staring affixed, the chamber comes into view as politicians find their seats gossiping and shaking hands. The commentators talk about what is likely to be said by the president and they seem interested in who is sitting where. Already there is talk about the 2008 presidential race. It seems clear that most of the people in the room are invested in their campaigns already. Morals and convictions are set to be compromised for the overall success in elections. Again the war will be used by both parties as a political chip and the lives of my fellow soldiers and innocent Iraqis will pay the price.

In walks the President. It takes some time for him to make it to his position. He begins by brown nosing the new Speaker of the House and has a lot of great things to say about the first woman to hold that title. I wonder if it is all lip service, after so many lies from our leader it is hard to believe anything he says. Then he dives into how the Dems and the Repubs have to work together to face difficult challenges and threatened that it is a defining hour and it is a matter of urgency that there is bi-partisan cooperation. This is new. Were did the “I am going to do what ever I want” Dubya go?

“The economy is on the move” Next we have talks about how the country is doing AWESOME economically and how everyone in America has a job, ten cars and a swimming pool. Not only are we all sitting pretty but it is going to get better. I had to look out my window for a quick glance of the homeless man curled into a ball across the street freezing in the winter night. Maybe Bush doesn’t consider him a part of this “economy on the move”? The homeless man is probably a war veteran, that might mean he isn’t even an American in the President’s eyes. Speaking of veterans, I am interested in hearing what George Bush says about us?

On and on he goes talking about these great new initiatives. It is almost as if he was just elected and he has been waiting to reveal these great projects that will fix all of our domestic problems. I was reminded of Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite “Vote for me and your wildest dreams will come true.” Maybe we will eliminate the National Debt in five years, and cut back on 20% of our gasoline usage, and give families tax breaks if they can’t afford health insurance. What about us veterans?

Ahhhh here we go, the war in the middle-east. More of the same, we have to win, fight terror, defeat evil, take the fight to the enemy, (a free history lesson) free people are not drawn into violent ideologies blah blah blah. Oh here is some news, “the American people didn’t vote for failure.” What do you call the 2000 and 2004 elections? Still nothing, just "Stay the Course More."

A basketball player, a local hero, wait wait,,,,,a soldier that was injured in Iraq. Close, but still nothing. Some more ramblings and encouragement, some boogie man stories about Iran and catastrophe in Iraq and theeeeeeeeen done.

Nope not once did the President utter the word “Veteran”. He spoke of increasing the military, sending more troops to Iraq and possibly taking harder measures against Iran, but forgot to mention that he cut veteran benefits. Why bring it up when it might call attention to the more than 22,000 wounded in action that this war has produced and the fact that the attacks on our military in Iraq and Afghanistan are increasing everyday? Why call attention to the fact that the escalation of troops in Iraq are the same troops that have just left and the troops still there that will have to be extended?

Why burden the public with the reality that it is “W” as the leader of this nation that is a failure and that in 2006 if we could have had a presidential election George W Bush would have been chased out of the White House with the worst land slide loss in history.

As our nation’s President it is obvious by the State of the Union address that he doesn’t stand by our nation’s veterans, which means he doesn’t stand by our troops. It has become clear as day that there are two sides.

You are either with the President or with the troops

the heretic

Monday, January 8, 2007

Additional Sacrifices

Recently President George W. Bush stated that “difficult choices and additional sacrifices lie ahead.” As a combat veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, I take it extremely personal that our Commander and Chief casually speaks of sacrifice when it is not shared equally through out our country.

Many of the soldiers that I fought beside in the Middle-East have returned on multiple deployments to the combat zone, some of them totalling over three years of combined war experience. Zogby’s poll last year proved that only a quarter of the troops in Iraq are there on their first tour of duty, half of the current troops are on their second deployment and the remaining twenty-five percent have gone three times or more.

The same minority of Americans are paying the burden of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Only one half of one percent of Americans serve in the US military today. That is the least amount in the last century. With so few in the Armed Forces and the demand so great if “additional sacrifices” are to made it will be my friends and fellow service members that will be the men and woman on the front line.

When the President was asked how Americans would sacrifice he replied that “they are standing in longer lines at the airport.” When we went to war in Europe and the Pacific during the Second World War it was apparent in every small town in this nation that there was sacrifice by each and every American. People rationed, donated, worked harder for less and sometimes went without. Today soldiers return from war to news reports of a new coffee shop opening around the corner, an animal being born in the zoo, and shoppers being trampled over for a video game. They stand in long lines at the airport to listen to passengers grumble about the wait and wonder to themselves if America even realizes a war going on.

If we are a country engaged in a war of necessity than shouldn't a greater portion of our democracy invest more time and energy or at least concern and attention toward the war our military is waging? And if we are not going to maintain a larger more distributed sacrifice because a huge majority of our citizens don’t believe we are on a proper course then shouldn’t we have an elected leadership that represents those views and pulls the troops out?

Certainly we could have a more defined purpose with attainable goals our commanders can work toward. When the administration speaks of success or failure in Iraq it seems unclear to everyone what that entails. We are asked to swallow ideological ramblings to justify a continued sacrifice. I would rather have our foreign policy based on tactical and factual reasoning than a pep rally that abuses America’s patriotism, values and sense of courage. Haven’t we been lied to enough by our own government to have not grown wise to the repetitive talking points?

I hear President Bush claim that “The enemies of liberty” are attempting to foment sectarian violence because they “hate freedom.” From what I can tell on the ground the people in a civil struggle are fighting because they fear a lack of freedom. Two sects battle because of mistrust and polarized sides encouraged by US occupation. These are not people that hate Americans because we are free, they hate us because we occupy their country with our military and neglect their people in favor of profit and exploitation of their resources.

The Department of Defense predicts Al-Qaeda makes up less than five percent of the insurgency in Iraq and they are less desired in the country by the majority of Iraqis than the US military. Why does the President continue to make claims that Iraq will become a terrorist training ground and a haven for extremists? It clearly seems to distract Americans away from the truth and attempts to intimidate us into continuing the war, even expanding it.

Perhaps we should consider all the evidence before weighing in on backing any politician who can not speak beyond threats and propaganda? I want to hear my leaders speak of concrete solutions to the escalating war in the Middle-East. I would like to see leaders that represent the will of our democracy’s majority. Let’s put our military’s capacity, to continue and expand this war, on the table before we enter into a debate about the next phase in the war in Iraq.

the heretic

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Day that Haunts Me...

"Hellblazer" is an Iraq war veteran and served in the US army as a Specialist Scout. The following, is his account of a battle that took place in Ba'Quba, Iraq in November 2004.
I believe that a good portion of a person's character is forged in times of great hardship.
It is these times that all of our strengths and weaknesses, both mental and physical, come to light.
We either come out of the situation humbled by how it made a quick end to our greatest efforts or confident of our abilities as we overcome.
But sometimes it takes us to another place.
A place where we succeeded in overcoming adversity, but at a cost we couldn't come to bear.
This is the place I visited, and will never forget.

Two years ago, I was a scout stationed in Iraq on a small dusty camp in the city of Ba'Quba.
Troubled times

The city was the largest in the area, containing roughly 300,000 residents. It was also congested, not as spread out as an American city, which made it difficult to operate in it efficiently.

In the past months my job had evolved into riding in the turret of my Humvee, with my two machine guns, patrolling the streets, a task that always seemed to lead to some sort of trouble.
At the time, one half of my unit was in Fallujah, battling the build up of insurgents that had been accumulating for months. Another quarter was north protecting a vital bridge across the Tigris River that insurgents had targeted in the past.
These forces were almost entirely made up of tanks, leaving us with four.

With tanks being the biggest bargaining chip we had, this use of the forces weakened our area, to say the least.
For this reason, my scout platoon, were tasked with keeping Ba'Quba and its surrounding areas under control.
Upon the initial push into Fallujah, insurgents identified the origin of the tanks involved in the fight, which quickly translated into where they came from: Ba'Quba.
With the notion of causing us to withdraw our forces from the Fallujah theatre, the insurgents moved quietly into the city of Ba'Quba the night prior, in preparation for an attack.

Rude awakening

They would not make their presence known until morning.
A deafening explosion, followed by what felt like an earthquake, pulled me out of bed that morning.
Insurgents had begun attacking Iraqi police stations in Ba'Quba, and a patrol in the area called in an air strike to clear a mosque containing armed insurgents. That deafening sound was two, 500-pound bombs making sand of the mosque.

Reports were coming in ranging from 50 to 200 insurgents still alive, attacking the city.
Not knowing what was correct, command assumed the worst.
We responded, in order, with our remaining four tanks, half of my platoon with our four trucks, and another platoon which would follow a good distance behind us, all flowing into the city in one long column.

Upon exiting the walls of my camp, and starting the ¾ mile run into the city centre, I saw the peaceful population of Ba'Quba fleeing the city.
Thousands of people, carrying their most prized possessions, scurried down the side if the road, trying to stay as low as possible, as they thought at any moment they could be shot.
I remember one young man looking at me with a fear full eye, as if I myself contained all of the fury of hell within me and was about to unleash it on those remaining in the city.

This brought me to believe that this wasn't just some overzealous commander's response.
Behind the fleeing civilians rose the column of smoke from the bombs that had fallen not long ago. Judging by that, I figured any insurgent that was fighting had left, but either way, the city had to be secured. Once we passed the mass of people coming out of the city, we were left with what appeared to be a ghost town in front of us.

Seconds turned into hours as the first rocket ripped passed the tank in front of me, exploding across the street.

Many more followed in quick succession as the tank rotated it turret and shot its main gun into the building it came from, collapsing its entire front half which the tank quickly filled with machine gun fire.
Our turn...
Having trouble acquiring targets, and under a lot of fire, the tanks quickly pushed through, bringing us up to bat.
At the site of the exposed bodies of my fellow gunners and I standing out of the tops of our humvees, the insurgents quickly increased their efforts. The sides of the street were lined with one to three story buildings, divided by alleys. Every window seemed to have something being shot from it.
The gunfire sounded like popcorn. The tracer bullets still had a faint glow in the daylight.
I instinctively targeted each of these windows.
Much like trying to hit the gopher with the hammer at the arcade, trying to pick one window out of twenty is very difficult. In the confusion, the order came to "shoot anything the moved".
A logical enough order at the time, considering everything that was moving, was also shooting. With this, our four trucks erupted in a wave of hell that I wouldn't wish on anyone. Within seconds, multiple cars were exploding, balconies were collapsing, and buildings were catching ablaze. We moved from block to block.
Each volley of destruction was triggered by the sound of a bullet racing passed my ear, a rocket exploding nearby, or the vengeful eyes of my friends riding in the truck with me.
"Three O'clock, Second Floor! Five O'clock First Floor! Four O'clock Alley!"
I must have heard every combination.
Me or them

The insurgents would start to flee into other alleys only to be greeted by gunners to my front and rear. It was complete chaos, but we were staying alive.
It was me or them, and if I had anything to say about it, it was going to be them. I filled with a rage that I still cannot explain.
I felt my eyes swelling as my heart beat faster and faster, my arms burning from constantly wrenching the gun from target to target, my pores spewing sweat.
My nostrils grabbed the smell of gunpowder and car fires out of the air, my mouth tasted the gun oil coming off with every recoil, my ears ringing with a loudness almost equal to my surroundings.
All the intensity kept building at an almost exponential rate.
The skirmish lasted for nearly an hour, until it started to calm, resulting in only sporadic gunfire. We remained in place while other units in the area finished their objectives.
The muscles in my body had relaxed, but were still having spasms as the final traces of adrenaline left my blood. The sweat and gunpowder had stared to dry into a black dust all over my face and hands.

My mouth was hoarse from yelling to the people in the truck, requesting ammo and water to cool my barrels. During the whole ordeal I never thought to put any water into my own body, and at this point water never tasted so good. I drank half and poured the rest of the bottle over my face.
I dropped the empty bottle down into the truck, which caused a small avalanche of spent shell casings to fall into the floorboards of the truck.
Over 700 of varying calibres covered my feet. I wiped my face with my sleeve, and then it happened.

An Iraqi with an AK-47 was running down across the street one block down the alley. I caught him out of the corner of my eye when he was already half way across the street, I quickly swung my gun over, started to fire just before he came into aim, walking the rounds into their intended target; but just as the rounds were about to fall upon him, he made it to the other corner.
I immediately keyed the headset to radio the gunner who was covering the alley he was headed towards.
Before I finished, I heard the gunner down the block fire a burst, followed by some soft chatter on the radio. I don't remember what was being said, because just as that gun cut loose, my attention was fixed on the terror in front of my face.
As the Iraqi had made it out of my field of fire, my gun strafed into a rickety trailer parked right at the corner.

Now falling out from behind this trailer was the body of a teenage boy. The void in his chest replaced what was once his heart and his body convulsed slightly as his nerve endings fired their last.
His body lay there in the filthy dirty street, muddy water surrounding him from the drainage of the nearby houses. A rolling pain stared at my eyes.
I felt it work its way through the optic nerve, and into my brain. It swirled around at the top of my spine, and then drained down.

Nausea filled my stomach and a cold feeling overtook my flesh. How long had he been behind that trailer? Had he been there through the whole mess? Not to long afterwards, an older man emerged from around a corner, immediately collapsing nest to the young man's body.
It wasn't long before an ambulance arrived. Then the silence took over again. We would remain in place for another hour so, and then return back to the base, but my mind remains there to this day.
I was told a million times after that day, that what happened was completely out of my control, a series of unfortunate events.
A patriot might say "You did it for you country", while others scream baby killer, and hindsight is always 20/20.
Father says he's proud, friends ask what happened to the person they used to know, and the families of those who died, friend and foe, greave endlessly. I've torn it apart a million times in my head, re-evaluated over and over again, each time with the same result. It was unavoidable, at that moment in time.
veryone has their own tragedy, which relative to themselves, is equally painful to them as this was to me.
It is these events that shape us in our many facets.
In the end, we're the ones that have to live with it, but even if I got off easy.
I'm alive.