Archive for Friday, March 28, 2008

Veterans on a mission to inform

Veterans, from left, David Bellavia, Tom Parks and Pete Hegseth make a stop Thursday at the Dole Institute of Politics on the Vets For Freedom National Heroes Tour. They and other veterans are traveling across the nation to answer questions and inform the public on what is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Veterans, from left, David Bellavia, Tom Parks and Pete Hegseth make a stop Thursday at the Dole Institute of Politics on the Vets For Freedom National Heroes Tour. They and other veterans are traveling across the nation to answer questions and inform the public on what is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan.

March 28, 2008


Veterans speak at Dole Institute

Several Iraq war veterans made their way to Lawrence today, stopping at KU's Dole Institute of Politics. Enlarge video

The Iraqi army has its first major test in Basra, where it recently launched an offensive against radical Shia militias, a group of veterans visiting Lawrence on Thursday said.

"This is the Super Bowl for them," said David Bellavia, a former staff sergeant with the Army's First Infantry Division based at Fort Riley. "This is where the rubber meets the road."

Bellavia is co-founder of Vets For Freedom, a 2-year-old national group of 21,000 military veterans with chapters in Kansas and 43 other states. He and rotating groups of veterans are participating in a bus tour that began earlier this month in San Diego.

The bus rolled into Lawrence on Thursday and stopped at Kansas University's Dole Institute of Politics.

Called the National Heroes Tour, its purpose is to have highly decorated veterans answer questions and inform the American public about what is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We're here to get the truth out about what's happening on the ground from the guys who have seen it firsthand," Pete Hegseth, the group's executive director, said.

The wars have strained the military, but it won't break, said Hegseth, a former member of the Army's 101st Airborne Division who served in Iraq. He said the troop surge and counter-insurgency strategy led by Gen. David Petraeus is working. The bus tour will end April 8 in Washington, D.C., where veterans will meet with members of Congress.

A month ago, Hegseth returned to Iraq for a week to visit the troubled Baghdad neighborhood where he led patrols in 2005. There has been a major change for the better, he said.

"I walked through there for three days with no special security," he said. "I didn't hear a shot fired or a single explosion."

Shia violence has increased in Baghdad and Iraq this week because of the Basra offensive, but Hegseth and Bellavia said that violence has been caused by rogue elements that the Iraqi Army needed to stand up to.

In 2004, Bellavia's unit was in Fallujah fighting the Mehdi militia controlled by Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

"I'm one of those guys who thinks Muqtada al-Sadr is long overdue his stay on earth," said Bellavia, who has been nominated for the Medal of Honor because of his actions in Fallujah.

Also on the bus was Tom Parks, a Marine who earned the Silver Star in Iraq. Iraqi soldiers are much better than they were when he worked with them, he said.

"When I started training Iraqi security forces in 2004, it was like training a kid in nursery school," Parks, an Overland Park resident, said. "We're watching these guys do great things now."


Jean1183 10 years, 1 month ago

Thank you for your Iraq/Afghanistan and the service you are doing here/now!

Jean1183 10 years, 1 month ago son is an Iraqi Freedom vet. He went over as a "weekend warrior", came back and decided to go full-time in the military.

Wonder which one of the two groups he would be most in agreement with???

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 1 month ago

"Hey, bozo, suppose you were to ask those winter soldiers II fellahs to sign affidavits affirming their testimony,"

With whom? BushCo, who are confirmed liars looking desperately to salvage their last shred of credibility?

"do you think they would sign it, or refuse like Kerry and his buddies?"

Seems to me Kerry and many of his buddies testified in front of Congress. If they were lying, why weren't they brought up on contempt/perjury charges?

"Wonder which one of the two groups he would be most in agreement with???" Why do you need to ask me? You're his mother.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 1 month ago

CID essentially conducted no investigation on any of these cases, so the most likely explanation, PA, is that these winter soldiers didn't wanted to open themselves up to trumped-up perjury charges designed to silence and punish them for telling what they saw. BushCo would almost certainly love to be able to do the same.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 1 month ago

"Straight talking" John McCain's co-chairman, Rep. Rick Renzi of Arizona, has been indicted on corruption charges. I have lost count of the number of Republicans who have quit because they have been indicted or are not going to run for reelection because they face indictment on corruption, sexual harrassment or various other charges. What is it about the GOP that attracts right wing nuts, Christian fundamentalists, corrupt businessmen, and NASCAR enthusiasts?

And when is the main stream media going to hone in on the fact that McCain has surrounded himself with advisors who are lobbyists and that there is nothing about McCain that is straight talking?

Richard Heckler 10 years, 1 month ago

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraq's government imposed a weekend curfew in Baghdad on Thursday amid clashes between government troops and Shiite militia fighters, and U.S. Embassy staff were told to remain indoors after days of rocket attacks left two U.S. government employees dead.

The curfew, which took effect at 11 p.m. Thursday (4 p.m. ET), bans pedestrian, motorcycle and vehicle traffic through 5 p.m. Sunday, said Gen. Qassim Atta, an Iraqi military spokesman.

Sixteen rockets were fired Wednesday and 12 on Tuesday. U.S. Embassy workers in Iraq were told to remain in secure buildings and wear protective clothing as rockets continued to rain down on Baghdad's International Zone.

Also called the Green Zone, the International Zone is a heavily fortified central Baghdad district housing the U.S. Embassy and Iraqi government offices.

=============================================== ================================================ 44,000 dead or disabled USA soldiers - this number increases daily! ================================================

Richard Heckler 10 years, 1 month ago

Bush still lies! Despite Bush Claims, US Forces Leading Attacks on Mahdi Army

Tens of thousands of Iraqis took to the streets of Baghdad Thursday to protest the ongoing government crackdown on Shia fighters loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr. More than 130 people have been killed since Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki launched the crackdown on Sadr's Mahdi Army on Tuesday. Earlier today, Maliki said he would extend a deadline for Mahdi fighters to lay down their arms until April 8th. As the fighting escalated, President Bush continued to sound off on the White House theme that the violence in Iraq marks a sign of US success.

President Bush: "This offensive builds on the security gains of the surge and demonstrates to the Iraqi people that their government is committed to protecting them. There is a strong commitment by the central government of Iraq to say that no one is above the law. This operation is going to take some time to complete. And the enemy, you know, will try to fill the TV screens with violence. But the ultimate result will be this: terrorists and extremists in Iraq will know they have no place in a free and democratic society."

Despite President Bush's claims, reports on the ground say the US military is still waging much of the fighting. According to the Washington Post, an Iraqi battalion mostly stayed on the outskirts of Sadr City as US troops led the attacks. US armored vehicles supported by helicopters and drones were seen battling Mahdi forces. US gunfire was heard throughout Thursday's clashes. Mahdi Army commanders corroborated the account, saying they have been mostly fighting US forces in Sadr City. One senior Mahdi Army member said, "If there were no Americans, there would be no fighting." Meanwhile, in Basra, a Mahdi Army member said several Iraqi troops had laid down their arms rather than fight.

Mahdi Army member: "We are members of Mahdi Army. We thanked the soldiers who handed out their weapons and equipment. We thanked them, as they did not fight their brothers in the Mahdi Army. We want to tell Maliki that Basra is safe, so we ask him not to ignite the situation and the mounting number of casualties."

Anonymous US officials say Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki decided to launch the anti-Sadr offensive without even consulting Washington. Administration officials are said to be struggling to understand the situation on the ground. The violence also continued to hit the US-controlled Green Zone. On Thursday, an American contractor was killed by one of twelve mortar rounds fired inside the zone's heavily fortified walls.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 1 month ago

Toll from US Strike on Hilla Unknown

Meanwhile, the death toll from Wednesday's US bombing in the town of Hilla remains unknown. Witnesses have reported anywhere between ten and eighty casualties. A local resident said Hilla had not been used for insurgent activity.

Hilla resident: "What is the reason behind attacking us? We did not fight them or attack a police center or military base. We did not threaten anyone or participate in demonstrations. No military actions in our area."

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 1 month ago

The CID had information on the allegations because they stated them very publicly. That they chose not to investigate them other than trying to get statements that were already available to them tells me that they didn't want to investigate, but merely to discredit the testimony of the winter soldiers.

Besides, investigations in a war zone, where neither evidence nor witnesses are available, are incredibly difficult, even if done immediately after the fact, much less months or even years later.

But I can understand that for someone who worships war as much as you do, it's easy to just call them liars, rather than recognizing that in every war that's ever happened, brutality is the norm, no matter what armies are involved. Even in the so-called "good war," WWII, even the Allied military was guilty of various war crimes, including summary executions, slaughter of civilian populations and rape. That's just the real nature of war, and why it should be a very last resort, not something just to entertain people like you with a blood lust.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 1 month ago

"The battlefield is where our army displays its true character, conquering whenever it attacks, winning whenever it engages in combat, in order to spread [our deity's] reign far and wide, so that the enemy may look up in awe to his august virtues.


fight and slay the unbelievers wherever you find them, seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem of war; but if they repent, and practice our way, then accept them: . You shall fight back against those who do not believe in [our deity]"

This sounds like a paraphrase of the belief system you espouse here every day.

stuckinthemiddle 10 years, 1 month ago

indeed, there is something stunning about that account...

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 1 month ago

"My god, you really didn't read the link."

I read it. There wasn't much to read, but that certainly doesn't keep you from creatively reading between the lines.

"Funny thing to accuse an atheist of."

You're not an atheist. Your worship of war is a daily occurrence here.

SpeedRacer 10 years, 1 month ago

As a Vietnam vet I am gratified that these honorable men and women are not being pelted with obscenities and more concrete items on their tour. It is a long way from the sentiments of the late 60's and 70's. I was opposed to the Vietnam war, but served because I felt it was my duty. Many veterans who supported the war were booed and ostracised for being no more than patriotic. While I do not support the war in Iraq, I commend our soldiers for seeing their duty and doing it. I commend them for speaking their minds, as well, just as I commend those veterans who speak out against the war. No free nation can exist without a free exchange of views on topics that affect us all.

stuckinthemiddle 10 years, 1 month ago

wow... I guess that's the end of the Haditha story...

unless Lance Cpl Tatum has problems sleeping at night...

stuckinthemiddle 10 years, 1 month ago

hmmm... I heard on the news that the uranium found by the Columbians was depleted uranium... which of course... according to the US government is harmless...

and of course... the US government has to say that because they have spread tons of it all over Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo...

probably best that the LJW leave this story alone...

stuckinthemiddle 10 years, 1 month ago

does anyone else remember that song? "my heroes have always been cowboys..." yeah... I like that song... Willie Nelson...

and he did that one a few years back... "whatever happened to peace on earth?"

yeah... I like Willie Nelson...

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 1 month ago

"Don't worry, bozo, you've still got Haditha. Hey, what's this in the news?"

And you wonder why none of the soldiers see any point in providing testimony/evidence to the military investigators.

BrianR 10 years, 1 month ago

"Wonder who's credit card(s) they're using:?"

It is interesting that domain registration info has changed for since this morning.

It is owned by the pentagon.

pisafromthewest 10 years, 1 month ago

logrithmic (Anonymous) says:

"Geez, a PR Pentagon road show."

beobachter (Anonymous) says:

"wondering, who is funding the tour for the bush pep squad?"

So the veterans who speak out against the war are patriotic heroes whose honesty is beyond reproach, but those who also risked their lives and witnessed the situation firsthand and still support the war must be lying propagandists?

You two really are a couple of low-class pieces of cr*p.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 1 month ago

Glad to see madmike here propping up his strawpeople.

"Why do we still occupy South Korea?"

Why do we still have bases in the Philippines and Japan? Same answer for all-- to project American Imperial power.

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