First, consider this delightful news from The Hill:
Ex- convicts and addicts may get DoD clearanceYeeeaaahhhh... suddenly, it's all coming back to me.
By Elana Schor and Roxana Tiron
July 10, 2007
At the Pentagon’s request, Senate defense authorizers tucked deep within a defense bill a repeal of the department’s restriction on granting security clearances to ex-convicts, drug addicts and the mentally incompetent.
Under the law, members of the military services, employees of the Department of Defense or contractors working for the Pentagon cannot receive a security clearance if they were convicted of a crime in any U.S. court and went to prison for at least one year; if they are unlawful users of illegal substances; if they are considered mentally incompetent or if they were dishonorably discharged or dismissed from the armed forces.
According to the Senate Armed Services Committee report, the Department of Defense requested the provision’s repeal because the mandatory standards “unduly limit the ability of the Department to manage its security clearance program and may create unwarranted hardships for individuals who have rehabilitated themselves as productive and trustworthy citizens.”
...and I put down the pencil, and I turned over the piece of paper, and there, there on the other side, in the middle of the other side, away from everything else on the other side, in parentheses, capital letters, quotated, read the following words:I'm sure you all know the rest of the words from there.("KID, HAVE YOU REHABILITATED YOURSELF?")
Oh, but wait. I'm not done with you.
Now that you've had that painful slug lodged into your lower left lung and that awful slurping, wheezing sound of a sucking chest would is telling you that life may not be worth living much longer... go ahead and read this horrible story by Chris Hedges, the author of the excellent War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, in The Nation:
Over the past several months The Nation has interviewed fifty combat veterans of the Iraq War from around the United States in an effort to investigate the effects of the four-year-old occupation on average Iraqi civilians. These combat veterans, some of whom bear deep emotional and physical scars, and many of whom have come to oppose the occupation, gave vivid, on-the-record accounts. They described a brutal side of the war rarely seen on television screens or chronicled in newspaper accounts.Evidently, we're running out of straight people to coerce into commiting atrocities for us, so now we're rounding up the junkies, crazies, idiots and hardcases. Yay. Please excuse me now, while I go exsanguinate myself into a 5-gallon jerrycan.
Their stories, recorded and typed into thousands of pages of transcripts, reveal disturbing patterns of behavior by American troops in Iraq. Dozens of those interviewed witnessed Iraqi civilians, including children, dying from American firepower. Some participated in such killings; others treated or investigated civilian casualties after the fact. Many also heard such stories, in detail, from members of their unit. The soldiers, sailors and marines emphasized that not all troops took part in indiscriminate killings. Many said that these acts were perpetrated by a minority. But they nevertheless described such acts as common and said they often go unreported--and almost always go unpunished.
Court cases, such as the ones surrounding the massacre in Haditha and the rape and murder of a 14-year-old in Mah mudiya, and news stories in the Washington Post, Time, the London Independent and elsewhere based on Iraqi accounts have begun to hint at the wide extent of the attacks on civilians. Human rights groups have issued reports, such as Human Rights Watch's Hearts and Minds: Post-war Civilian Deaths in Baghdad Caused by U.S. Forces, packed with detailed incidents that suggest that the killing of Iraqi civilians by occupation forces is more common than has been acknowledged by military authorities.
This Nation investigation marks the first time so many on-the-record, named eyewitnesses from within the US military have been assembled in one place to openly corroborate these assertions.