Moving into "the Cans"

Over the last few days we've added moving to our daily tasks. It's the eighth or ninth time we've moved since deployment, but this time it was into semi-permanent quarters -- "the cans."

The cans are cargo containers rebuilt as living spaces. They're small, at 140 square feet for two people, with two bunks, two wardrobes, and a night stand. The cans are air-conditioned and sealed tight from the dusty weather. They also block out all light, providing better sleeping condition for night crews. Some have a can to themselves: As the cliche goes, "rank has its privileges."

After several days of moving and rearranging, many of us are happier and are now awaiting our Internet connections. Of course, there has been some grumbling about the tighter living quarters, but you can't please everyone. Morale should improve, now that we'll be getting some quality sleep and a bit of privacy. Next on the improvements list is the Internet we ordered about two months ago. It should be up and running in a week or two, if the rumors are correct.

By Bert Stover |  July 20, 2006; 7:44 AM ET  | Category:  Al Taqaddum, Iraq
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Wow, Bert, be careful over there.

One suggestion: could we hear about some of the oh, I don't know, flying?! OPSEC isnt that strict. Tells us about some missions. Noone tunes in to you to hear about PXs and spiders. C'mon, bro. Seriously though, be safe over there. Hope you have good CEs. Since we never hear about any of them (you guys must not need crew chiefs)

Posted by: A fellow army aviation soldier | July 20, 2006 12:03 PM

In response to the last poster, we have the best CE's (Crew Chiefs) in the business. They are a very talented and diverse group of soldiers. They are terrific, and keep our machines in wonderful shape. I send my best wishes to all the Dawg CE's, you are all in my thoughts and prayers.

Posted by: CW2 Hill | July 20, 2006 08:07 PM


KUNA: First Baghdad Bank Heist Nets 1.4 Billion: "Unknown militants dressed as Iraqi security forces robbed the Al-Rafidain Bank branch in Al-Amiriya, western Baghdad, Tuesday taking a 1.4 billion Iraqi dinars trophy."

Reuters: 3 Translators Killed in Haditha, 5 Policemen Killed in Hawija: "Gunmen killed three translators who worked for the U.S. forces in Haditha, 240 km (150 miles) northwest Baghdad, police said.... Five policeman were killed when a roadside bomb went off near their patrol in Hawija."

Reuters: Bomb Planted Beneath Corpse's Head Kills One: "Iraqi police found the head of a young woman near Tikrit, 175 km (110 miles) north of Baghdad, police said. A man was killed when a bomb planted under the head exploded as he was trying to take a photo of it."

Deutsche Presse-Agentur: Roadside Bomb Kills Nine Iraqis North of Baghdad: "A roadside bomb Tuesday killed nine Iraqis, including six policemen, at Howeija, 250 kilometres north of Baghdad, a police source said. The bomb went off as a police patrol was passing through the town, south-west of Kirkuk."

National Public Radio: Deluge of Violence Overwhelms Baghdad: "A month after the Baghdad security plan went into effect, violence has escalated in the city. The capital's main morgue has been overwhelmed by the number of bodies brought in each day, and Iraqi security forces have been criticized for being part of the problem."

Lest we delude ourselves into thinking that death, destruction, violence, civil war and a benighted, crabwise slouch toward "democracy" in Iraq amounts to the main and central issue, we should encompass Tuesday's most important story. It came from Agence France-Presse.

US Wants New Iraq Oil Law So Foreign Firms Can Take Part: "The United States urged Iraq to adopt a new hydrocarbon law that would enable US and other foreign companies to invest in the war-torn country's oil sector."

Posted by: bring them home alive | July 20, 2006 08:10 PM


Deluge of Violence Overwhelms Baghdad: "A month after the Baghdad security plan went into effect, violence has escalated in the city. The capital's main morgue has been overwhelmed by the number of bodies brought in each day, and Iraqi security forces have been criticized for being part of the problem."

Posted by: | July 20, 2006 08:11 PM

Worse than under Saddam? What a stupid thing to say. It barely deserves a response, but I feel like it tonight. Consider this:
1. Has the US used mustard gas or nerve agent? Saddam did. We have not used fuel air bombs or napalm this time even, much less bio-chemical weapons.
2. Has the US killed more Iraqi citizens than Saddam did in his war with Iran? Not even close.
3. Has the US eradicated entire towns of Kurds or Shias. Saddam did
4. Has the US denied an entire subculture their lifestyle? Saddam did, ask any marsh Arab, they will tell you.
5. Has the US formed large, brutal, secret police forces to stop dissent. Saddam did, and thousands died in his prisons. Thousands more were tourtured, raped and maimed.
6. Has the US invaded a neigboring country without provocation. Some of you will say YES. You are wrong. Saddam shot at our jets, kicked out the UN inspectors, defied the civilized world, and broke every term of the post Gulf War cease fire every day. When I was there, they shot down a UN helicopter, killing all on board. You say to me that the US ignored the UN, not that simple at all. Saddam did all of the above listed things. Hard, plain facts.
7. Does the US have two mad dog killer sons, ready to continue the terror for decades? Saddam did, thank God they are both dead. At Al Asad, I walked on the complex where their athletes were tortured and killed by them for not winning.
8. Does the US harbor terrorists? Yes, we do. Hopefully we will get over that real soon. Saddam did, and we just killed him in a well done raid. No terrorists there before the invasion you say? Nonsense, he was there for years, and Saddam knew it.
9. Does the US have WMD. Yep, sure do. We wont use it, but old Saddam sure did. Did Saddam have WMD. Seems like we can't find it. Big desert though. Remember the 12 Mig 25s buried in the sand. Maybe we should ask Syria if they have it? Saddam does not seem like the kind of guy to give up weapons.
10. Has the US done bad things? Yes, every society has it's mad dogs, we are no exception. Is this what we stand for? Is this our normal pattern of behavior? NO, IT IS NOT. I flew over a sheep herder by accident, and did feel bad about it. Americans are not mean spirited, cruel people in general. Neither are Arabs.

To conclude, I fervently hope that great good will come from this war. I hope that in 5 years, we will see a peaceful Iraq, free not forign influence and terror in any form. I hope that no blood shed in this war will be in vain. Cut and run is not the solution. To my brothers and sisters still there, keep safe and you remain in my prayers.

Posted by: CW2 Hill | July 20, 2006 10:20 PM

Hey che, you forgot:

Humpty-Dumpty was *pushed!!!!*

Posted by: J. C. | July 21, 2006 02:09 AM

bundt pans and internet connections... how times have changed.

Posted by: shabbyvet | July 21, 2006 08:03 AM

Republican congressman Gil Gutknecht of Minnesota:

The condition there is worse than I expected....I have to be perfectly candid: Baghdad is a serious problem. . . . It's not safe to go anywhere outside of the Green Zone any part of the day . . . All of the information we receive sometimes from the Pentagon and the State Department isn't always true . . . I don't want to predict what will happen if things don't get better . . . What I think we need to do more is withdraw more Americans.'

Posted by: Joe Palooka | July 21, 2006 09:43 AM



Posted by: RANDY ROLLINS | July 21, 2006 09:50 AM

It's good that 'CW2 Hill' wasted half an hour or so posting the above defense of the indefensible. It probably kept him out of trouble and probably saved the lives of a few widows and orphans. As for the topic, most Iraqis agree that the situation is now WORSE THAN UNDER SADDAM.

Posted by: George Graham | July 21, 2006 09:55 AM

The world has moved on from the kind of ridiculous justifications for the US takeover of Iraq put forward by CW2Hill. The invasion and occupation of Iraq is such an obvious festering failure that Bush's (and CW2Hill's) pathetic lies are little more than historical artifacts. Iraq has been destroyed as a modern state and will take decades if not centuries to heal. It is sickening to have to listen to the justifications, let alone the revoltingly callous and unrepentant "plan for victory" proposed by the criminals themselves.

Posted by: California Davis | July 21, 2006 10:26 AM

"Does the US have two mad dog killer sons, ready to continue the terror for decades?"

No, just one.

Posted by: | July 21, 2006 10:29 AM

"Does the US have two mad dog killer sons, ready to continue the terror for decades?"

Well, maybe yes.

Posted by: | July 21, 2006 10:30 AM

Hey Bert,
Glad to hear that you've moved into better quarters. We used to call those shipping boxes CONEX Containers. They were used to store just about anything from bombs to prisoners in Viet Nam. In Thailand, we used them for storing things that we didn't want to give the No. 10 Poochis (bad guys), via theft, since they could be secured with padlocks. Enjoy reading your blog...Pls keep it up! Cheers, John H.

Posted by: John Hermann | July 21, 2006 10:34 AM

"We used to call those shipping boxes CONEX Containers. They were used to store just about anything from bombs to prisoners in Viet Nam." -John Hermann

Translation: Vietnamese patriots resisting the takeover of their country by a foreign invader were put into shipping containers to roast in the tropical sun. Why are we still in the business of sacrificing our soldiers to take over foreign countries that have done us no harm? (Hint: xxx costs $75 per barrel)

Posted by: | July 21, 2006 11:17 AM

Contrary to the early poster, I am intrigued by your discussions about the living conditions, wildlife, etc. I share your stuff, as appropriate, with kids and it gives them a better feel for the hurry up and wait that is the reality of military life. It also gives us better ideas about what to dump into the constant collection boxes to send stuff to the troops.

Posted by: Karen | July 21, 2006 11:20 AM


Have you told the kids that as a result of the US takeover about 100 Iraqi civilians are dying per day? That might give them a better feel for the value of unprovoked aggressive war based on a pack of transparent lies.

Posted by: | July 21, 2006 11:44 AM

Karen's kids might be interested to learn that among the 100 dead civilians per day as a result of the US invasion are people just like them, just like their brothers and sisters, just like their moms and dads, uncles and aunts , cousins and grandparents, their teachers, the people who deliver their mail, etc.

Posted by: | July 21, 2006 11:49 AM

Why do you guys even bother spending one second of your time here if all you want to do is scream "LIES LIES LIES"? Do you think you are convincing anyone? Has any progress been made in one direction or another because of your having posted? Has CW2 Hill swayed you? I don't think so. Why bother trying to 'inform' people of these hideous lies when what you say only hardens their resolve? If you had not spoken at all, perhaps their would remain more doubtful people, who were more willing to consider both sides. Crying "lies" forces people to either totally side with you or against you. If you toned it down and backed off than reasonable discussion, or even just reasonable thought, could occur. I have heard complaints that the current administration fuels the "patriot" train, which may be true, but if he's doing it than you certainly are to. By seeming to rail against everything and stand for nothing (notice "seeming") you give you opponents fuel for their fire and you polarize people into sides. REGARDLESS OF WHO STARTED THIS PATTERN I ask you to be responsible, and end it now.

Posted by: GH | July 21, 2006 12:55 PM

Correct yourself California Davis. I was only responding to the charge that Iraq was better under Saddam.(An outragous opinion written by a member of the Baath party no doubt) I did not enter into the invasion debate. I do think Saddam would have needed to be dealt with at some point. The only mention of the invasion was my reference to Saddams viloation of the post Gulf War cease fire agreements. He did all those things, I saw it with my own eyes, so no revisionist history there. Bill Clinton could have re-attacked Saddam if he chose, and per the UN brokered cease fire, been perfectly in his rights. Iraq has not been destroyed, that is silly, and will be rebuilt. Iraq will survive to greater glory as a state free of terror, free of Saddam, and free of your predictions of doom. If you really care so much (which you dont) why would you want this country to fall further into sectarian violence? Do you doubt that the US pulling out to quickly would result in this happening? Don't worry dear reader, the US will be out in a year or so. By then, I don't know who you will protest. I imagine we will have a nice liberal president by then as well. You protest types will need a new hobby then, I recommend global warming, which should scare us all right now. For good or ill, right or wrong, the US owes duty to the Iraqi people to not cut and run. We have to see this through, let their army get on it's feet, and then we will leave. I do still respect your right to an opinion. As it always is, between your argument and mine, somewhere, lies the truth.

Posted by: CW2 Hill | July 21, 2006 01:03 PM

I live in a can, and I guess my only complaint if I dare to do so would be that it has carpet. Carpet is a REALLY REALLY bad idea in cans, because it's darn near IMPOSSIBLE to keep clean. I sweep it a lot, but really all that does is create a big dust cloud in a tiny room...

Posted by: SGT B | July 21, 2006 03:23 PM


The most senior British military commander in Afghanistan today described the situation in the country as "close to anarchy" with feuding foreign agencies and unethical private security companies compounding problems caused by local corruption.

The stark warning came from Lieutenant General David Richards, head of Nato's international security force in Afghanistan, who warned that western forces there were short of equipment and were "running out of time" if they were going to meet the expectations of the Afghan people.

Posted by: | July 21, 2006 05:33 PM

With Israel's US sponsored attacks on Lebanon, one is tempted to speak of a US war on all Arabs. However, occupied Afghanistan is not Arab and the lunatics in Washington are itching for a fight with Iran, where Arabs are a small minority. Is this a war on Islam? Well no, the Israelis (US proxies) are bombing Christian Arabs in Beirut as well. Is this then a US war against the Middle East, or a developing war against the world? Bert and comrades: please come home, we miss you.

Posted by: History is no Mystery | July 21, 2006 05:44 PM

Cute. The American government (superficially Protestant but actually composed of amoral cynics) supplies the Jewish State with the ordinance and delivery media to bomb Lebanese Christians and Muslims and give them the green light to do so. Obviously all that matters is that the oil's black and the money's green. "God" is neutral.

Posted by: Hal | July 21, 2006 05:49 PM

Che, you are so full of it. I vote on Diebold machines in Georgia and they do NOT switch votes as desperate McKinney dumb@$$e$ would have you believe. Her supporters couldn't know what's recorded on the electronic voting chip anyway. And the board of elections supervisors for the areas McKinney presently represents are both black female democrats.

It's obvious that you believe anything the ultra-left claims. McKinney was defeated once before because her black supporters got fed up with her. She's an ignorant congresswoman and an embarrassment to the human race. Georgia is fed up with her and her antics. Kiss her goodbye.

Che, you are sooooo stupid and gullible. I pity you. Why don't you visit Boliva? They love to shoot people named Che in Boliva.

Posted by: Atlantan | July 21, 2006 07:24 PM

CW2 Hill? I'm with you all the way. I understand what you were trying to say, and DID say, even if the naysayers tried to strike you down. Any TRUTH against what they spew must be lies according to them. That is what narrow-mindedness gets you. God forbid should our war-mongering country do something good for this world and for America. That just wouldn't fit with their thinking.

My loved one that is there is proud to serve his country...and not question it. And I'm proud of him being there. The naysayers say he is brainwashed. I think THEY are brainwashed by NY Times and other left wing media that doesn't report half of what is going on nor any of the good that is coming out of it. Knowing someone that is there has opened my eyes to the reality and what our guys SEE first hand. I believe them FIRST more than what I hear in the media. For instance I heard something today from him that would never be in the news here. It would make the US look too good.

In a previous post I was accused of "censoring". The only thing I would like to censor is these idiotic posts that have nothing to do with Berts comments. Including this one, MY OWN (but that will be rectified in the end.) Bert says one thing and it's an open forum to bash the US. I say, if you don't like the US or the way it's run, it's called FREEDOM...get the hell out and go somewhere else that you would be happier. That is your right, I suggest you people take it and leave if you want better. But I bet you will be back..........Barbara Steisand keeps threatening to leave...she actually said she'd leave if Bush got re-elected. So why is she still her? Because there is no place better that she can have her $10mil home? Or no one wants her? Hmmmmm

And now, back to Bert:

Bert, glad your in a can...hope you can make it a home away from home. My sweetie got his internet a couple weeks ago, thankfully. 1 month took about 3-4 so be patient. "If you believe it, it will come...". Skype has been awesome and we feel very fortunate that we can communicate that way. We are lucky and we know it.

Hang in there and stay safe!

Posted by: Cali-Girl | July 22, 2006 12:28 AM

"There are some who, uh, feel like that, you know, the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is: Bring 'em on. We got the force necessary to deal with the security situation. " - George W. Bush, July 2, 2003.

Matthew Wallace of Lexington Park MD was seriously injured by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in Iraq on Sunday. Mr. Wallace is a member of the U.S. Army. Wallace suffered significant burns as a result of the explosion. According to a BLOG that is being maintained by members of his family's church, the Patuxent River Assembly of God (PRAG), doctors don't expect Wallace to survive his injuries. At 07:30a.m. EST, the family chose to unplug Matthew from the ventilator. He very quickly and peacefully passed away.

Posted by: | July 22, 2006 08:33 AM


Unlike Cali-girl, I'm not glad you're in a can. I wish you were home and comfortable with your loved ones. Please come home soon. Neither you nor anyone else deserves to be used and abused in this disasterous adventure that long ago collapsed into miserable failure. They say it's for freedom but you know that's not true, as the suffering of Iraq grows worse every day, week, and month that passes since the invasion. Sometimes it seems too much to bear.

Posted by: | July 22, 2006 08:42 AM

Bring 'em on. We got the force necessary to deal with the security situation. " - George W. Bush, July 2, 2003.

...a week embedded with troops in Ramadi revealed an insurgency that remains so lethal, sophisticated and ubiquitous that it appeared able to scrutinize every move of American and Iraqi soldiers -- whose smallest missteps often proved deadly. On Monday, one U.S. soldier was killed in Ramadi and another wounded by a sniper after they ventured half a block too close to enemy terrain.

A crowd of young boys stood outside, a suggestion that the scene might be less tense than the last. But in Ramadi, even boys who appear harmless are viewed with suspicion.

"Sometimes they take pistols from behind them and shoot!" said Elia, an Iraqi interpreter, mimicking guns with his hands.

Two soldiers had strayed just outside the security perimeter and were shot by a sniper. One, Staff Sgt. Michael A. Dickinson, 26, of Battle Creek, Mich., was killed by a bullet to the aorta. The other lost part of an ear. A tracked vehicle made a fast run to evacuate the men, but its ramp wouldn't close and sparks were flying. Sgt. 1st Class Ben Lewis held on to the wounded to keep them from falling out. Dickinson, an affable soldier, had been packing to return home in a few days.

Back in camp, 1st Sgt. Charles Klutts of Chesaning, Mich., summed up the feelings of many U.S. troops in Ramadi. "Every time you go out of the wire you can expect to get shot at, whether you're passing out soccer balls or hunting the enemy down," he said, his pants stained with blood. "It's overwhelming."

Posted by: | July 22, 2006 08:55 AM

"My loved one that is there is proud to serve his country...and not question it."

NOT QUESTION what you are told?

100% guarantee that you will be lied to.

Posted by: | July 22, 2006 09:07 AM

" proud to serve his country...and not question it."

Holy mackeral! No wonder we're in so much trouble.

Posted by: Cal Thomas | July 22, 2006 10:54 AM

Not question the leadership?

Result: approximately 100,000 Iraqi DEAD, 2,560 American DEAD (averaging 1.27 American dead per day in July 2006) for NOTHING, NADA, ZIP.

Aggressive unprovoked war is murder plain and simple.

Posted by: Greg Coventry | July 22, 2006 11:23 AM

EVERY soldier should question the national leadership. Otherwise they will sacrifice YOUR life and limb for THEIR own devious goals and cry crocodile tears over your flag-draped coffin.

Let George Bush send his daughters if he wants the oil so bad. Not gonna happen.

Posted by: Tom Train | July 22, 2006 11:28 AM

Darn right it's not gonna happen. He'd rather that YOU "serve" your country... "and not question it."

They are laughing at the suckers all the way to the bank.

Posted by: Victor Graham | July 22, 2006 11:31 AM

US DEAD 2,560


...because they -did not question- our misguided leadership.

Don't make the same mistake.

Posted by: Emmet Grogan | July 22, 2006 11:46 AM

Two more GIs dead. They should have QUESTIONED the misguided leadership coming out of Washington. Why die for Cheney's twisted ambition to control Iraqi oil? There's nothing in it for you or me.

One U.S. soldier died in the second of two roadside bombs that exploded in east Baghdad at mid-morning. An Iraqi civilian was killed by the first blast, police said. Another American soldier died Saturday evening when gunmen attacked his patrol with small arms fire, the military said.

Posted by: Dan Diamond | July 22, 2006 06:29 PM

And nothing in it for the USA. Let the Bush twins go fight if Cheney wants the oil so bad.

Posted by: Vince Harrigan | July 22, 2006 06:30 PM

"Bring 'em on. We got the force necessary to deal with the security situation. " - George W. Bush, July 2, 2003.

2,563 dead Americans, 18,777 wounded Americans as of 7/22/06


Posted by: Paul Thomas | July 22, 2006 06:34 PM

July 23, 2006
Officer Faces Court-Martial for Refusing to Deploy to Iraq

SEATTLE -- When First Lt. Ehren K. Watada of the Army shipped out for a tour of duty in South Korea two years ago, he was a promising young officer rated among the best by his superiors. Like many young men after Sept. 11, he had volunteered "out of a desire to protect our country," he said, even paying $800 for a medical test to prove he qualified despite childhood asthma.

Now Lieutenant Watada, 28, is working behind a desk at Fort Lewis just south of Seattle, one of only a handful of Army officers who have refused to serve in Iraq, an Army spokesman said, and apparently the first facing the prospect of a court-martial for doing so.

"I was still willing to go until I started reading," Lieutenant Watada said in an interview one recent evening.

A long and deliberate buildup led to Lieutenant Watada's decision to refuse deployment to Iraq. He reached out to antiwar groups, and they, in turn, embraced his cause, raising money for his legal defense, selling posters and T-shirts, and circulating a petition on his behalf.

Critics say the lieutenant's move is an orchestrated act of defiance that will cause chaos in the military if repeated by others. But Lieutenant Watada said he arrived at his decision after much soul-searching and research.

On Jan. 25, "with deep regret," he delivered a passionate two-page letter to his brigade commander, Col. Stephen J. Townsend, asking to resign his commission. "Simply put, I am wholeheartedly opposed to the continued war in Iraq, the deception used to wage this war, and the lawlessness that has pervaded every aspect of our civilian leadership," Lieutenant Watada wrote.

At 2:30 a.m. on June 22, when the Third Stryker Brigade of the Second Infantry Division set off for Iraq, Lieutenant Watada was not on the plane. He has since been charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice with one count of missing movement, for not deploying, two counts of contempt toward officials and three counts of conduct unbecoming an officer.

Lieutenant Watada's about-face came as a shock to his parents, his fellow soldiers and his superiors. In retrospect, though, there may have been one ominous note in the praise heaped on him in his various military fitness reports: he was cited as having an "insatiable appetite for knowledge."

Lieutenant Watada said that when he reported to Fort Lewis in June 2005, in preparation for deployment to Iraq, he was beginning to have doubts. "I was still prepared to go, still willing to go to Iraq," he said. "I thought it was my responsibility to learn about the present situation. At that time, I never conceived our government would deceive the Army or deceive the people."

He was not asking for leave as a conscientious objector, Lieutenant Watada said, a status assigned to those who oppose all military service because of moral objections to war. It was only the Iraq war that he said he opposed.

Military historians say it is rare in the era of the all-voluntary Army for officers to do what Lieutenant Watada has done.

"Certainly it's far from unusual in the annals of war for this to happen," said Michael E. O'Hanlon, a senior fellow in military affairs at the Brookings Institution. "But it is pretty obscure since the draft ended."

Mr. O'Hanlon said that if other officers followed suit, it would be nearly impossible to run the military. "The idea that any individual officer can decide which war to fight doesn't really pass the common-sense test," he said.

Lieutenant Watada conceded that the military could not function if individual members decided which war was just. But, he wrote to Colonel Townsend, he owed his allegiance to a "higher power" -- the Constitution -- based on the values the Army had taught him: "loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage."

"Please allow me to leave the Army with honor and dignity," he concluded.

Lieutenant Watada said he began his self-tutorial about the Iraq war with James Bamford's book "A Pretext for War," which argues that the war in Iraq was driven by a small group of neoconservative civilians in the Pentagon and their allies in policy institutes. The book suggests that intelligence was twisted to justify the toppling of Saddam Hussein, with the goal of fundamentally changing the Middle East to the benefit of Israel.

Next was "Chain of Command," by Seymour M. Hersh, about the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. After that, Lieutenant Watada moved on to other publications on war-related themes, including selections on the treatment of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and the so-called Downing Street memo, in which the British chief of intelligence told Prime Minister Tony Blair in July 2002 that the Americans saw war in Iraq as "inevitable" and that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

Lieutenant Watada said he also talked to soldiers returning to Fort Lewis from Iraq, including a staff sergeant who told him that he and his men had probably committed war crimes.

"When I learned the awful truth that we had been deceived -- I was shocked and disgusted," he wrote in the letter to his brigade commander.

There were efforts to work things out, Lieutenant Watada said. The Army offered him a staff job in Iraq that would have kept him out of combat; but combat was not the point, he said.

Lieutenant Watada said he had volunteered to serve in Afghanistan, which he regarded as an unambiguous war linked to the Sept. 11 attacks. The request was denied.

In public statements, Army officials warned Lieutenant Watada that he was facing "adverse action" in the days leading up to his decision to refuse to go to Iraq. Charges were filed only after he showed insubordination, they said; his insubordination included giving interviews.

"This was a call of his commander, after he decided that Lieutenant Watada's action required these charges," said Joe Hitt, a Fort Lewis spokesman.

When Lieutenant Watada's mother, Carolyn Ho, learned of his decision, she was caught off guard, she said. Her son, an Eagle Scout who grew up in Hawaii, had always admired the Army.

"I tried to talk him out of it," Ms. Ho said. "I just saw his career going down the drain. It took me awhile to get through this."

Now, she said, "I honor and respect his decision."

Two officers who served with Lieutenant Watada in South Korea also voiced support for him in telephone interviews arranged by Lieutenant Watada, though they made it clear they did not share his views on Iraq.

"He was a good officer, always very professional," said one of the officers, Capt. Scott Hulin. "I personally disagree with his opinion and his stance against the war. But I personally support his stand as a man, to be able to do what his heart is telling him."

A former roommate of Lieutenant Watada, First Lt. Bernard West, offered similar remarks.

Lieutenant Watada had two assignments in South Korea. One was as the executive officer of the headquarters battery, the other as a platoon leader of a unit of multiple-launch rockets. His evaluations were glowing.

"Exemplary," said his executive officer fitness report, which Lieutenant Watada provided to a reporter. "Tremendous potential for positions of increased responsibility. He has the potential to command with distinction. Promote ahead of his peers."

His evaluation as a platoon leader also called him "exemplary" and said he had "unlimited potential."

Under the military system, the charges against Lieutenant Watada will be reviewed in an Article 32 hearing, the rough equivalent of a grand jury hearing. If there is a court-martial hearing, it will probably come in the fall; the maximum penalty would be a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of pay and seven years in prison, according to a news release from Fort Lewis.

A spokesman for the Army, Paul Boyce, said that as far as he knew, Lieutenant Watada would be the first Army officer to be court-martialed for refusing to go to Iraq.

Posted by: Patriots question the leadership. | July 23, 2006 09:16 AM

Dear Chief:
Glad your moving into better quarters, we called them CHUs when I was there,(containerized housing units). Enlisted slept four to a chu and NCO's and Officers slept two to a unit. They were not in the best of shape and really didn't keep the dust out. (Much better than a G.P. Medium though). I think it's cool that your doing this blog. Sorry for our fellow Americans that post negative comments. If anyone wants the real scoop on Iraq they should enlist, go there and see what's going on first hand. Anyway, hang in there and take care. Sincerely, SGT E.

Posted by: SGT E. | July 23, 2006 10:10 AM

RE: Sorry for our fellow Americans that post negative comments


Posted by: Fred Fielding | July 23, 2006 11:27 AM

Re: If anyone wants the real scoop on Iraq they should enlist, go there and see what's going on first hand.


If anyone wants the real scoop on Iraq they should go live in a country that has been taken over by an overwhelmingly more powerful foreign country in an unprovoked invasion and is now being occupied and see what is going on there first hand.

Posted by: Tom Knowles | July 23, 2006 11:57 AM

Brilliant suggestion. The only way to really undertand the situation in an occupied country is to enlist in the occupying army.

Sorry for our fellow Americans that post obtuse comments.

Posted by: Jack Lang | July 23, 2006 12:05 PM


It has not helped the neoconservative case, perhaps, that the occupation of Iraq has not gone as smoothly as some had predicted.

Washington Post
Conservative Anger Grows
Over Bush's Foreign Policy
July 19, 2006

"Despite the best that has been done by everyone . . . the war situation has developed not necessarily to our advantage."

Emperor Hirohito
Radio Broadcast Announcing Japan's Surrender
August 15, 1945

Posted by: HARRY YUGO | July 23, 2006 01:57 PM

Psychopath (sy'-co-path) n. 1. A person with an antisocial personality disorder, manifested in aggressive, perverted, criminal, or amoral behavior without empathy or remorse. 2. The current President of the United States.

Posted by: Greg Tobin | July 23, 2006 01:58 PM


Israeli Jews fighting Lebanese Shi'a and Palestinian Sunnis; Palestinian Fatah militants who've stopped fighting Hamas militants, but only because they're both fighting the Israelis; Saudi Sunni fundamentalists issuing fatwas against Hezbollah Shi'a fundamentalists; Egyptian Sunni fundamentalists backing those same Hezbollah Shi'a fundamentalists; Iraqi Sunnis killing Iraqi Shi'a and vice versa; Iraqi Shi'a (the Mahdi Army) jousting with Iraqi Shi'a (the Badr Brigade); Iraqi Kurds trying to push Sunni Arabs and both Sunni and Shi'a Turkomen out of Kirkuk; Turks threatening to invade Kurdistan; Iranians allegedly shelling Kurdistan, Syrian Kurds rebelling against Syrian Allawites who are despised by Syria's Sunni majority but allied with the Lebanese Shi'a who are hated and feared by the House of Saud and its Sunni fundamentalist minions. Oh, and American and Israeli neocons threatening to bomb both Syria and Iran.

Posted by: Larry Spain | July 23, 2006 02:01 PM

"There are some who, uh, feel like that, you know, the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is: Bring 'em on. We got the force necessary to deal with the security situation. " - George W. Bush, July 2, 2003.


Posted by: GWB | July 23, 2006 02:43 PM

Hi Larry Spain,
You really believe that Bush did all that do you? Was the area a mess prior to Bush? I believe it was. You are a dolt and hopefully not that ignorant. If so, I fear for your survival in the dark days to come. More crap and drivel from the protest movement. And the LT who did not go to Iraq gave up his right to make such decisions the day he commisioned. He is a traitor to his Army and his fellow soldiers who did go. Soldiers do not have the luxury to pick which war they go to. They are simply not in that position. And to Victor Graham, calling us "suckers" show what an evil, moronic fool you really are. Us "suckers" have given you, with our blood, the right to spout your insults on the web. Ask a North Korean or an Iranian if they have such freedoms. You people make me and others like me so very sick.

Posted by: Any Soldier | July 23, 2006 03:00 PM

It smashes down forests and crushes a hundred men.
But it has one defect:
It needs a driver.

Re: And the LT who did not go to Iraq gave up his right to make such decisions the day he commisioned. He is a traitor to his Army and his fellow soldiers who did go. Soldiers do not have the luxury to pick which war they go to. They are simply not in that position.

BY Bertolt Brecht

General, your bomber is powerful.
It flies faster than a storm and carries more than an elephant.
But it has one defect:
It needs a mechanic.

General, man is very useful.
He can fly and he can kill.
But he has one defect:
He can think.

Posted by: Greg Farmer | July 23, 2006 03:36 PM






Posted by: Dave Fredder | July 23, 2006 03:43 PM

"Soldiers do not have the luxury to pick which war they go to." -Any Soldier


Posted by: CORRECTION | July 23, 2006 03:46 PM

"And the LT who did not go to Iraq gave up his right to make such decisions the day he commisioned. He is a traitor to his Army and his fellow soldiers who did go. Soldiers do not have the luxury to pick which war they go to." --Any Soldier

In fact, by refusing illegal orders, Lt. Watada is a wonderful example for all soldiers in all armies and a hero to all humankind. Naturally he will be scorned by those who value discipline over humanity and obedience over reason. That is the price of exercising morality in an immoral institution. A human NEVER gives up his or her right to do the right thing, no matter what any government or army tells him or her to do and no matter what contract he or she may have signed.

Posted by: Adam Even | July 23, 2006 04:03 PM

No officer asked this sham of a soldier to kill an innocent, or to bomb a village. They asked him to report and be deployed. If he were in Iraq, and given an illegal or immoral order, he then could have disobeyed. Maybe he could have done some good in Iraq, both for his platoon and the Iraqi people. The LT could have protected an Iraqi citizen, made a difference in a positive way. We will never know, his cowardice took over before he ever showed up. He should have went and done his damn duty. You protest idiots miss the point, as usual. This young fool had no choice but to follow his orders. The whole system depends on following orders, but not to do criminal acts in uniform. Fault my government if you will, but the individual officer must go to war, even if they don't agree with it. Especially if they don't agree with it. I know, I am one, and I have been there. Don't delude yourself about the LT's character. He is no protester hero, he is a shameless coward, using the protest movement to keep him out of combat. I respect the protesters more than him, your hearts are in the right place at least (some of you anyway) He was afraid, that's all it was. I can't blame him for that, but you can't let it guide your actions. He was to defend democracy, not practice it. That does not make one a facist, it makes one a soldier. That is just the way it is.

Posted by: Any Soldier | July 23, 2006 06:59 PM

Nuremburg, you are quoting Nuremburg? That refers to specific actions on the battlefield by an individual. It is the legality of the war itself you question, that is your right. Get it right, though. The Nuremburg trials specified specific crimes by individul officers, not the broader actions of a government. So don't spout off about Nuremburg, you moron. If one of our troops commits a crime over there and gets caught, they will pay for it. Their "soldiers" do it every hour. If it were up to you, the people who behead prisoners would never answer for their crimes. I know, I know, the poor insurgents would not do that if we were not there, right? Nonsense, utter stupidity. These killers will find a reason to kill and main, falling back on religion if nothing else will do. Stick to specifics, comparing us to Nazi Germany is a damn lie, and will isolate your point of view from ever being heard by moderate or right leaning people. Some of the postings here have actually impacted my point of view. You Nuremburg crap just upsets me, and helps nothing. Nuremburg, geesh.

Posted by: Any Soldier | July 23, 2006 07:10 PM

Despite the ranting of "Any soldier," individuals are required under the Nuremberg Principles to refuse any order to participate in crimes against peace, i.e. unprovoked criminal aggression such as the US invasion of Iraq. Any such order is illegal. See below.

Principles of the
Nuremberg Tribunal, 1950
No. 82

Principle Vl
The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under; international law:

1. Crimes against peace:
1. Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;
2. Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).

Posted by: History is no Mystery | July 23, 2006 07:46 PM

Principle IV of the Principles of the
Nuremberg Tribunal, 1950, No. 82 applies to the case of Lt. Watada, who acted as he did in order to avoid complicity in a Crime Against Peace as decribed in the same Principles:

Principle IV
The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.

Posted by: THE LAW IS CLEAR | July 23, 2006 07:51 PM

Principle VII of the 1950 Nuremberg Tribunal relates directly to Lt. Watada's case:

Principle VII
Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity as set forth in Principles VI is a crime under international law.

Posted by: John | July 23, 2006 08:18 PM

"Bring 'em on. We got the force necessary to deal with the security situation. " - George W. Bush, July 2, 2003.

The U.S. military announced on Sunday that an American soldier assigned to the 1st Armored Division was killed the day before in Anbar province, a bastion of the Sunni-dominated insurgency.

Posted by: ONE MORE INNOCENT LIFE | July 23, 2006 08:23 PM

"Bring 'em on." - George W. Bush, July 2, 2003.

BAGHDAD, Iraq U-S military officials say an American soldier has died due to "enemy action" in western Iraq.
They say the soldier was killed during combat operations yesterday. The soldier was assigned to the First Brigade, First Armored Division.

Further information is being withheld pending notification of kin.

Posted by: | July 23, 2006 08:27 PM

Citing the Nuremberg Principles is not comparing anyone to Nazis. The principles of international law were not established for Nazis. They were established to apply to everyone. The Nazi comparison is irrelevant. Aggressive war is a Crime Against Peace and Lt. Watada is more than justified in refusing to participate. He is a model for all Americans and for all soldiers everywhere.

Posted by: Larry Baker | July 23, 2006 08:49 PM

Lt. Watada did what the law requires. Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld, etc. are the ones who put themselves above the law. In a more perfect world they would be brought to justice ansd severely punished for all the pain they have caused.

Posted by: Ken | July 23, 2006 09:02 PM

"Nuremburg, you are quoting Nuremburg? That refers to specific actions on the battlefield by an individual. It is the legality of the war itself you question, that is your right. Get it right, though. The Nuremburg trials specified specific crimes by individul officers, not the broader actions of a government."


Posted by: Fred Nida | July 23, 2006 09:07 PM

The poster is correct. The entire US enterprise in Iraq is in violation of international law. The Nuremberg Principles go beyond individual decisions by officers all the way to the heart of the matter, which is aggressive war, what is called "a Crime Against Peace." The unprovoked US attack on Iraq is a perfect example of this violation of fundamental international law, one of the most offensive possible crimes that exist. Virtually the entire world is in agreement on the illegality of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq. Unfortunately our government has only contempt for international law and international opinion.

Posted by: Lon | July 23, 2006 09:50 PM

LONDON (AP) - Security agents in Jordan are torturing terrorism suspects on behalf of the United States in hopes of forcing confessions, the human rights watchdog Amnesty International contended in a new report Monday.

``Jordan appears to be a central hub in a global complex of secret detention centers operated by the U.S. in coordination with foreign intelligence agencies,'' said Malcolm Smart, director of Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa unit and an author of the report.

Posted by: More war crimes | July 23, 2006 10:08 PM


Say no to this illegal, dishonorable war.


Posted by: west point graduates against the war | July 23, 2006 10:16 PM

"A cadet will not lie, cheat, or steal,

or tolerate those who do."

West Point Cadet Honor Code

Weapons of mass destruction: LIE!

Saddam linked with 9/11: LIE!

"We don't torture." LIE!


Posted by: WPGAW | July 23, 2006 10:32 PM

And depite your rants, you still apply this out of context. Never mind, you are not worth it. You are just plain wrong.

Posted by: Any Soldier | July 23, 2006 11:03 PM


Duty, Honor, Country.

Posted by: wpgaw | July 23, 2006 11:33 PM

At least 2,565 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003. Far larger numbers of Iraqis have died in the invasion and the civil war that it triggered.


Posted by: Mark Langford | July 25, 2006 11:20 AM


Posted by: jack lang | July 25, 2006 11:26 AM


Last weekend, the speaker of the Iraqi parliament, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, described the U.S. occupation of Iraq as "butcher's work." Confronted with those remarks on Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten said he had met with al-Mashhadani privately and believes he has an "appreciation for the sacrifice so many Americans have made."

If al-Mashhandi appreciates the sacrifices of Americans, he has a funny way of showing it. At a news conference, he said "I personally think whoever kills an American soldier in defense of his country would have a statue built for him in that country." Also this:

Saying that the U.S. seeks to control oil fields in southern Iraq, Mashadani added, "America didn't come to the country for our sake. America came with a pure Zionist agenda."

Posted by: BOB | July 25, 2006 02:37 PM

hey, im hoping someone could give us a post about the good things happening in iraq these days...

some of the recent successes in baghdad, perhaps?

Posted by: dave | July 26, 2006 12:37 PM

If things are going so great and the media "cherry-picks" what it wants to broadcast to those of us here back in the US, I'd love to read some of those things because, the media is not telling us what we "want" to hear. Oh yeah, Go Israel...

Posted by: A Retiree | August 8, 2006 04:12 PM

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