I watched an interesting 60 Minutes Memorial Day special yesterday, focusing on an Iowa battalion deployed to secure truck convoys in Iraq's al-Anbar Province. The special followed the troops through about two years, from deployment to their recent discovery their tours were being extended as part of President Bush's unpopular troop surge.
What stuck me most was not the high incidences of depression reported in the wives of the soldiers, nor the fact that some of the soldiers interviewed still believed Iraq is where the perpetrators of 9-11 are. It was not the fact that many of the soldiers want out of the military and some now question the usefulness of the mission. What stuck me as amazing was seeing the enormity of the supply caravan bringing fuel and supplies into the heart of Iraq, comprising hundreds of trucks traveling up to 10 days on one trip as they shuttle in weapons, fuel and supplies, usually from Kuwait or Turkey.
What a monotonous yet deadly mission these soldiers face. It was chilling to see where so much of the Iraq appropriation money is going - into a huge trucking convoy, delivering consumables into the desert at a cost up to eight times it's normal value, due to "war zone" fees, yet despite the fact that the US military is providing the security.
Halliburton has been for years charging $1.30 a gallon to deliver gas in an exclusive $2.5 billion dollar contract. That $1.30 isn't the price for the gas, that's just the delivery fee. Lloyd-Owen International, a Florida-based contractor was hired directly by the Iraqi Government to deliver fuel for just 18 cents per gallon, but they were prevented from traversing "military only" roads that Halliburton trucks sailed through on.
As I listened to the Iowa soldiers describe how their pals were being killed by roadside bombs, it occurred to me that this war really doesn't look or sound like war as we've always known it. It's in large part a big delivery operation with the bulk of injuries and deaths occurring while Americans are in trucks bringing supplies towards heavily fortified safe zones.
The enemy is a secretive force, interspersed among the general population of Iraqis and often even including insurgents-by-night who serve as official Iraqi guard troops by day. This means we may be being blown up by ammunition we pay for. But it also suggests a type of battle that could go on indefinitely, and as most respected military commanders believe, is only being prolonged by the presence of the American military.
With the American people clearly calling for an exit, top military strategists recommending redeployment, the soldiers fatigued and continually being re-extended, we must look to the remaining supporters of this occupation for answers.
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The Commander-In-Chief, standing accused of launching this invasion illegally in the first place, continues to talk "poetically" about the whispering winds of freedom, looking to secondary justifications for the war as he dodges discussion of his pre-war decisions and stubbornly sells the same tired lines, beating back tame reporters with pure ego.
Vice President Cheney, the former CEO of Halliburton, continues to holds millions in that companies stock options. Though he once pledged to donate them to charity, the millions continue to grow and Cheney still reaps the many benefits of having tens of millions in the bank (perhaps a yearly holiday basket from the brokerage firm?) and as Halliburton has announced it will soon no longer be a US company, one wonder whether Cheney will ever let that money slip through his grasp. Perhaps if we just voted to give Cheney money, we wouldn't have to go through the charade of letting his cronies overcharge us for supplies 7,000 miles from home and can just bring the troops home.
The recent Iraq War supplemental bill gave the White House control of another $120 billion dollars, so that same chain of trucks will continue to ferry fuel and stores into Baghdad through September.
But this time it's different. The nation voted in a new Congressional majority to stop this war, looking to force a time limit on the White House. But Bush turned them away, with one veto and the threat of another. This while his attorney general presides over a unfolding DOJ scandal and investigations widening so quickly in every direction, Congressional resources can't seem to keep up.
This makes it extremely curious as to why so many senators and members of Congress chose to approve the latest Iraq bill and so quickly. Polls reflecting the unpopularity of the war and the president suggest the country was ready for George Bush's game of chicken, but something strange happened, and happened fast. This troubles many people who have become active in politics, believing there is no hope in grass roots activism. Cindy Sheehan seems to have his a new low in discouragement. But others continue to fight on as hard as before, seeking answers as so many investigations unfold. This is where the rubber hits the road. Are these the politicians who benefit from support by the military industrial complex,the business as usual Dems who now need to go?
My representatives voted against the bill but I wonder why so many Democrats voted for the bill. I find it hard to believe they really think they'd be perceived as not supporting the troops, when fully 60-70% of voters already oppose this war. If true, this is basically an admission that our elected representatives have compromised their better judgment due to fear of political spin.
I'd like to ask you OpEdNews readers and writers what your anger level is at the caving in of the Congress sent in to stop the war, and for anyone that can, to find out why your representative or senator helped approve the bill and share it here so we may learn from the experience and be sure to remember. Don't be afraid to contact their offices for their official word so they know we are aware and concerned.
Senators who voted yes:
Akaka (D-HI), Alexander (R-TN), Allard (R-CO), Baucus (D-MT),Bayh (D-IN), Bennett (R-UT), Biden (D-DE), Bingaman (D-NM), Yea Bond (R-MO), Brown (D-OH), Bunning (R-KY), Byrd (D-WV), Cantwell (D-WA), Cardin (D-MD), Carper (D-DE), Casey (D-PA), Chambliss (R-GA), Cochran (R-MS), Collins (R-ME), Conrad (D-ND), Corker (R-TN), Cornyn (R-TX), Craig (R-ID), Crapo (R-ID), DeMint (R-SC), Dole (R-NC), Domenici (R-NM), Dorgan (D-ND), Durbin (D-IL), Ensign (R-NV), Feinstein (D-CA), Graham (R-SC), Grassley (R-IA), Gregg (R-NH), Hagel (R-NE), Harkin (D-IA), Hutchison (R-TX), Inhofe (R-OK), Inouye (D-HI), Isakson (R-GA), Klobuchar (D-MN), Kohl (D-WI), Kyl (R-AZ), Landrieu (D-LA),Lautenberg (D-NJ), Levin (D-MI), Lieberman (ID-CT), Lincoln (D-AR), Lott (R-MS), Lugar (R-IN), Martinez (R-FL), McCain (R-AZ), McCaskill (D-MO), McConnell (R-KY), Menendez (D-NJ), Mikulski (D-MD), Murkowski (R-AK), Murray (D-WA), Nelson (D-FL), Nelson (D-NE), Yea Pryor (D-AR), Reed (D-RI), Reid (D-NV), Roberts (R-KS), Rockefeller (D-WV), Salazar (D-CO), Sessions (R-AL), Shelby (R-AL), Smith (R-OR), Snowe (R-ME), Specter (R-PA), Stabenow (D-MI), Stevens (R-AK), Sununu (R-NH), Tester (D-MT), Thune (R-SD), Vitter (R-LA),Voinovich (R-OH), Warner (R-VA), Webb (D-VA)
Congress members that voted YES:
Aderholt Akin Alexander Altmire Andrews Baca Bachmann Bachus Baird Baker Barrett (SC) Barrow Bartlett (MD) Barton (TX) Bean Berkley Berry Biggert Bilbray Bilirakis Bishop (GA) Bishop (UT) Blackburn Blunt Boehner Bonner Bono Boozman Boren Boswell Boucher Boustany Boyd (FL) Boyda (KS) Brady (TX) Brown (SC) Brown-Waite, Ginny Buchanan Burgess Burton (IN) Butterfield Buyer Calvert Camp (MI) Cannon Cantor Capito Cardoza Carney Carter Castle Chabot Chandler Clyburn Coble Cole (OK) Conaway Cooper Costa Cramer Crenshaw Cubin Cuellar Culberson Davis (CA) Davis (KY) Davis, David Davis, Lincoln Davis, Tom Deal (GA) Dent Diaz-Balart, L. Diaz-Balart, M. Dicks Dingell Donnelly Doolittle Drake Dreier Edwards Ehlers Ellsworth Emanuel English (PA) Etheridge Everett Fallin Feeney Ferguson Flake Forbes Fortenberry Fossella Foxx Franks (AZ) Frelinghuysen Gallegly Garrett (NJ) Gerlach Giffords Gilchrest Gillibrand Gillmor Gingrey Gohmert Gonzalez Goode Goodlatte Gordon Granger Graves Green, Gene Hall (TX) Hastert Hastings (WA) Hayes Heller Hensarling Herger Herseth Sandlin Hill Hinojosa Hobson Hoekstra Holden Hoyer Hulshof Hunter Inglis (SC) Issa Jindal Johnson (IL) Johnson, Sam Jones (NC) Jordan Kagen Kanjorski Keller Kildee Kind King (IA) King (NY) Kingston Kirk Kline (MN) Knollenberg Kuhl (NY) LaHood Lamborn Lampson Larsen (WA) Latham LaTourette Levin Lewis (CA) Lewis (KY) Linder Lipinski LoBiondo Lucas Lungren, Daniel E. Mack Mahoney (FL) Manzullo Marchant Marshall Matheson McCarthy (CA) McCaul (TX) McCotter McCrery McHenry McHugh McIntyre McKeon Meek (FL) Melancon Mica Miller (FL) Miller (MI) Miller, Gary Mitchell Mollohan Moore (KS) Moran (KS) Murphy, Tim Murtha Musgrave Myrick Neugebauer Nunes Ortiz Pearce Pence Peterson (MN) Peterson (PA) Petri Pickering Pitts Platts Poe Pomeroy Porter Price (GA) Pryce (OH) Putnam Radanovich Rahall Ramstad Regula Rehberg Reichert Renzi Reyes Reynolds Rodriguez Rogers (AL) Rogers (KY) Rogers (MI) Rohrabacher Ros-Lehtinen Roskam Ross Royce Ruppersberger Ryan (WI) Salazar Sali Saxton Schmidt Schwartz Scott (GA) Sensenbrenner Sessions Sestak Shadegg Shays Shimkus Shuler Shuster Simpson Skelton Smith (NE) Smith (NJ) Smith (TX) Snyder Souder Space Spratt Stearns Stupak Sullivan Tancredo Tanner Taylor Terry Thompson (MS) Thornberry Tiahrt Tiberi Turner Udall (CO) Upton Visclosky Walberg Walden (OR) Walsh (NY) Walz (MN) Wamp Wasserman Schultz Weldon (FL) Westmoreland Whitfield Wicker Wilson (NM) Wilson (OH) Wilson (SC) Wolf Young (AK) Young (FL)