"The recent disclosures underscore the Bush administration's extraordinarily sweeping conception of executive power," said Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU's National Security Project. "The administration's lawyers believe the president should be permitted to violate statutory law, to violate international treaties, and even to violate the Fourth Amendment inside the U.S. They believe that the president should be above the law."
For at least four years, since the 2004 presidential election when a veteran, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., was the Democratic Party nominee, the Department of Veterans Affairs has blocked efforts to help U.S. soldiers register to vote at its facilities in all 50 states.
"This is politically motivated voter suppression," said Scott Rafferty, an attorney based in Washington, D.C., who has fought the Veterans Administration (VA) in federal courts since 2004 over the right to assist veterans, including homeless vets, to register to vote at the VA campus in Menlo Park, California. "The VA is making its open campuses, even those where hundreds of homeless and aging veterans live, First Amendment-free zones."
TVNL Comment: What are they fighting for again?
The most frequently cited figure is the 29,320 soldiers wounded in action in Iraq as of Thursday. But there have been 31,325 others treated for non-combat injuries and illness as of March 1. [VCS Note: There are nearly 61,000 non-fatal casualties from Iraq, plus 8,000 non-fatal casualties from Afghanistan. A grand total of 69,000 battlefield casualties from the two wars.]
A US Congress-appointed committee on Gulf War illnesses analysed more than 100 studies in the research.
It found evidence linking the problems to a particular class of chemicals.
These were an anti-nerve gas agent given to troops, pesticides used to control sand-flies, and the nerve-gas sarin that troops may have been exposed to during the demolition of a weapons depot.
About 15 soldiers are wounded for every fatality, compared with 2.6 per death in Vietnam and 2.8 in Korea.
But with those saved soldiers comes a financial price — one veterans groups and others claim the government is unwilling to pay.
Those critics also say that the tens of thousands of soldiers wounded in Iraq are part of a political numbers game, one they say undermines the system meant to care for them.
The most frequently cited figure is the 29,320 soldiers wounded in action in Iraq as of Thursday. But there have been 31,325 others treated for non-combat injuries and illness as of March 1. (2008)
Iraq Veterans Against the War argues that well-publicised incidents of U.S. brutality like the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and the massacre of an entire family of Iraqis in the town of Haditha are not the isolated incidents perpetrated by "a few bad apples", as many politicians and military leaders have claimed. They are part of a pattern, the group says, of "an increasingly bloody occupation".
"The problem that we face in Iraq is that policymakers in leadership have set a precedent of lawlessness where we don't abide by the rule of law, we don't respect international treaties, so when that atmosphere exists it lends itself to criminal activity," argues former U.S. Army Sergeant Logan Laituri, who served a tour in Iraq from 2004 to 2005 before being discharged as a conscientious objector.
The Army has shut down public access to the largest online collection of its doctrinal publications, a move criticized by open-government advocates as unnecessary secrecy by a runaway bureaucracy.
"Almost everything connected to the Army is reflected in some way in the Reimer collection," said Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the nonprofit Federation of American Scientists. "It provides the public with an unparalleled window into Army policy. It provides unclassified resources on military planning and doctrine."
TVNL Comment: How is that for the great American patriots? Can you say "police state?"
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