Hey Panetta! Gimme an F . . .

Country Joe McDonald at Woodstock singin’ that Fixin’ to Die Rag. “Gimme an F . . .”

A curious event happened in Afghanistan yesterday. Actually, a lot of curious events happened, but I want to focus on two of them that grabbed my attention.

As y’all know, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta jetted to Afghanistan to attempt to put out the firestorm caused by the as yet unnamed U.S. soldier who slaughtered 16 Afghan civilians, 9 of them children, as they slept in their beds.

He made a bunch of bullshit speeches about staying the course; he shook a bunch of hands; and smiled a bunch of smiles. But he seemed, well, kind of off. Scared maybe. At least that was my take on it.

Might have had to do with something that happened just before he arrived at the base airport in Helmand province. An Afghan civilian commandeered a vehicle and attempted to run over a bunch of the brass welcoming committee standing out on the tarmac waiting for Panetta’s plane to pull in after it landed. They saw him coming and scattered avoiding injury. The guy stopped the vehicle and set a bunch of gas cans and himself on fire.

Poof!

Not even the most skilled torturers at the base could get anything out of him.

So, Panetta gets off the plane and they stand around scratching their heads exchanging wtf-wow-did-you-see-that type remarks and it’s on to a big inflated-type tent somewhere on the base where Panetta is scheduled to speak to a bunch of Marines, except . . .

The patiently waiting Marines are ordered to leave the tent and disarm, piling all of their M4s, M16s, 9 mm handguns, ammo, knives, and assorted other weapons on the ground outside the tent, notwithstanding the rule that Marines in a war zone are never supposed to be unarmed.

After they come back scratching their heads wondering wtf and resume their seats, Panetta comes out and tells them everything is copacetic; we’re winning the war; and all we need to do is stay-the-course.

And poof! Off he goes to his next venue.

Now, I was never in the Marine Corps and never served in the military, so maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I would have been furious, if I were one of those Marines. What kind of message was that?

“Y’all are a bunch of fucking crazy psycho killers and I don’t feel safe around you.”

That’s not the way to treat a Marine.

Was it possible for the United States Secretary of Defense to have done anything more stupid and disrespectful?

Wow! Just wow!

I’m not buying the ‘official’ explanation that the Marines were ordered to disarm so that the disarmed Afghan National Army troops who also were present wouldn’t feel singled out.

Why don’t I believe it?

Because it’s still an insult and I would prefer armed Marines to unarmed Marines when I was in the presence of supposedly unarmed Afghan National Army soldiers.

I mean, what if one of them had one of those liquid bombs we’re all supposed to be terrified about, or a bare bodkin like Hamlet hallucinated about.

Any way you cut it, disarming the Marines was the equivalent of saying, “I fear for my life and I don’t trust you.”

So, now that we know the Marines and probably the rest of our troops in Afghanistan, if not all of the armed services, think Panetta is a coward who does not respect and trust them, I’m sure as shootin’ fish in a barrel that they are thrilled as all get-out to continue to risk their lives every time they go out on patrol with their oh-so-loyal Afghan partners.

Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but I doubt it. I think troop discipline, which is already unraveling, will really start to fly apart now like it did in Vietnam when soldiers started fraggin’ their platoon leaders.

The only reasons we aren’t going to get out are:

1. Obama will not withdraw before the election because he’s afraid the right wing will jump on him and he’ll lose the election;

2. The generals don’t want to get tagged with losing the war;

3. Win or lose, war is big business.

4. Heroin is big business.

Therefore, the body count will continue to mount.

As Country Joe McDonald said, “Whoopee, we’re all gonna die.”

Here’s a link to an article about the incident.

5 Responses to Hey Panetta! Gimme an F . . .

  1. Formerly T-Bear says:

    Hard to believe that in several years it will be twenty since leaving the U.S., not a regret to be had. The same cancer that you and yours suffer was causative of my departure, a story that will not be told, the price of having my voice stilled in defending against a false accusation made, stills also the warning of that cancer that could be raised. That cancer is so metastasized by now only a nominal system of jurisprudence remains; an eviscerated cadaver going through whatever motions its ligature and joint allows. The opposite of hate is not love, the opposite is indifference. The most important observation of the exile must be that of the wealth of information available in free societies that the citizens have available to use in their public considerations, information available in a complete and timely fashion, rendered with minimal distortion or governmental spin. This does not exist in the U.S. in any significant quantity. Half-truth, distortion, misdirection and propaganda are the order of the day, all one has to do is look at the public ravings against Iran to understand the dire condition the public discourse is in. Ask yourself, how does Iran prove to the accuser’s absolute satisfaction something it is not doing? Is that possible at all? The economic barricade just put in place by Washington and its E.U./NATO factotums IS AN ACT OF WAR against Iran, not even an existential threat what-so-ever to either of the war making parties exists. Is that even on the horizon of public discourse there? What you are saying about that atrocity in Afghanistan above makes no sense. One person alone could not reasonably accomplish those murders and this was pointed out by the preliminary Afghanistan investigation. The hue and cry arising from the burning of the Koran is empty reporting without reference to the EIGHT Afghani children out sheltering from the night’s cold while herding their livestock, turned into a fine red mist by U.S. drone attack. The cancer is rife in the public corpus, and will continue until no vestige of civilization is left; precious little remains as is and the inheritance has been purloined. There is now great reason for concern, both this wanton murder and Bradley Manning are now hidden behind high penitentiary walls, beyond any form of public oversight. What could a murder do to alleviate their condition, to ingratiate themselves to power? Just speculating.

  2. Joint base Lewis-McChord is a troubled military base. It’s called a joint base because it consists of what used to be two separate bases adjoining each other on the south side of Tacoma, WA, which is 30 miles south of Seattle.

    The two bases were McChord Air Force Base and Fort Lewis Army Base. Now they’ve been combined, which makes sense.

    The base hospital is Madigan.

    Here’s a link to a timeline of problems at the base starting after 9/11.

    The Seattle Times published this timeline yesterday.

  3. Sgt Bales’s home base is Joint Base McChord-Lewis, which is located in Tacoma, WA

    He is represented by a Seattle attorney, John Henry Browne, whom I know very well.

    John Henry is aggressively trying his case in the press right now.

    I’ve done that too when circumstances warranted, but right now, I think circumstances call for silence because too much is unknown.

    Apparently, Sgt Bales’s family has retained John Henry and most of the information that he has disclosed likely comes from them. I don’t know whether he has even talked to his client, given the way the military operates. If he has, it would have had to have been a relatively brief phone conversation over an insecure line.

    Under such circumstances, I would have introduced myself and recommended we postpone talking about the case until we meet for a face-to-face in an attorney-client interview room at Leavenworth. Then I would have asked him about his physical and mental condition offering to do anything within my power to get him some medical or psychiatric assistance, as needed. Usually, at this point all the client really needs is a confident, friendly and comforting voice who says, “Hold on, I’m on my way.”

    You have to stay away from saying everything is going to be OK, because it isn’t and the client knows that at some level.

    You also have to tell them, repeatedly, “don’t talk to anyone about what happened, except to me.”

    Given the way the military has dealt with other cases, particularly with Sgt Wuterich and the Haditha massacre, there probably is a pretty good opportunity to negotiate a similar outcome for Sgt Bales.

    Y’all know how much our dear President loves to look forward . . .

    I would be concerned about the military slamming that door shut, if I started trying the military in the media right now.

    There will be a time and a place to play that card, but now is not that time.

    John Henry probably is on his way to Leavenworth to meet with him.

  4. UPDATE: .An investigation by the Afghan Parliament has reportedly concluded that 15-20 U.S. soldiers were involved in the killings.

    http://www.americablog.com/2012/03/afghan-parliamentary-probe-up-to-20-us.html

    There’s an update at Marcy Wheeler’s shop:

    http://www.emptywheel.net/2012/03/16/the-other-drinking-soldiers/#more-25726

    Here’s another update at the Agonist:

    http://agonist.org/steve_hynd/20120316/afghan_probe_finds_15_20_us_soldiers_involved_in_kandahar_killings#new

    There is much interesting speculation at both sites regarding what might have happened and why it happened.

    Come to think of it, the lone shooter story is a stretch. Apparently, the guy made two trips; returned from the first one @ 0030 hrs and then he left again sometime @ 0300-0400 hrs. One village is about a half mile south of the fort and the other is about a half mile north of it.

    Questions:

    Did he act alone?

    Assuming for the sake of argument that he didn’t, why the cover-up?

    Why burn the bodies, unless it was to conceal evidence?

    What sort of evidence?

    Multiple gunshot wounds from different weapons?

    Why didn’t anyone at the base hear any gunshots?

    Seems like they must have.

    Why didn’t they send out a patrol?

    Did they know what was going on?

    Assuming for the sake of argument that others knew, how far up the chain of command did that knowledge go?

    Stay tuned.

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