Thursday, April 7, 2011

Thoughts on WSWS and Barack

I wish I had known about this event yesterday or sooner. I would have made a point to note it. (The event was tonight.)

I like WSWS because they never got all Oh-Barry.

WSWS is "World Socialist Web Site." We highlight a lot of people from that site including Patrick Martin and Bill Van Auken. While (US) Socialist Worker is forever fawning over Barack and presenting him as a victim of this or that nefarious plot, WSWS never forgets he is overseeing three wars (Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan) and now the fourth in Libya. They hold him accountable.

(US) Socialist Worker, by contrast, has spent three years now excusing Barack, justifying Barack, distracting from his War Like Ways by pretending to be outraged by every other thing that happens on Fox News.

(US) Socialist Worker has acted as if they're an organ for the Democratic Party. I don't know if they're always that way with Democrats (because I've only been aware of them for about four years) or if it's just because they see bi-racial Barack as "Black."

He really is way too light for people not to realize he's mixed. But I remember 10 months after he was sworn in, a woman on my bus asking the driver, a grown woman on my bus who bragged she'd voted for Barack (and, yes, she was Black -- so am I) but people were saying his mother was White. How could she not know that?

Because mixed got presented as Black. That's the way White people have always done it in the US. If you're even a tenth Black, you're Black. The one drop rule of the south. I laughed so hard when the woman who went around screaming for Black America (Melissa Harris Lacewell) that Barack was Black turned out to have a White mother.

She's bi-racial. She's not in charge of the Black community.

Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, April 7, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, at least 5 US soldiers have died this month while serving in Iraq, the House Armed Services Committee wants to stop repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the US wants Iraq to provide an extension of the SOFA allowing US soldiers to stay on Iraqi soil past the end of the year, and more.
Sunday the US military announced 2 service members in Iraq had died and Monday they announced a third had died. The Defense Department identified two of the three on Tuesday. "Sgt. Jorge A. Scatliffe, 32, of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, died April 3 in a non-combat related incident at Mosul, Iraq. He was assigned to the 27th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas." "Capt. Wesley J. Hinkley, 36, of Carlisle, Pa., died April 4 in Baghdad, Iraq, as a result of a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 3rd Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, Fort Stewart, Ga." Yesterday they identifed the third fallen: "Spc. Gary L. Nelson III, 20, of Woodstock, Ga., died April 5 in Mosul, Iraq, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Third Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga." Three deaths got attention. But there were actually at least 5 deaths this month according to DoD. Yesterday, they issued the following:

The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of two soldiers who were supporting Operation New Dawn. They died April 2 of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their position with indirect fire in Babil, Iraq.

Killed were:

Staff Sgt. Quadi S. Hudgins, 26, of New Orleans, La.

Sgt. Christian A. S. Garcia, 30, of Goodyear, Ariz.

They were assigned to the Maintenance Troop, Regimental Support Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Hood, Texas.

For more information media should contact the III Corps public affairs office, Fort Hood, Texas, at 254-287-0106 or 254-287-9993.

At least five US soldiers have died in Iraq since the start of the month. Staying with violence, Reuters notes a Basra bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier (eight more injured) and, yesterday, a Mosul roadside bombing wounded a police driver. It's 2011. And the puppet government in Baghdad still can't get its act together. Earlier this week, United Nations General-Secretary Ban Ki-moon delivered his latest report on Iraq. He explained the political scene as follows:
The new Government was formed on the basis of a power-sharing agreement, reached on 11 November 2010, between the main political blocs. Following the agreement, the Council of Representatives lifted de-Baathifciation charges against three key Iraqiya bloc leaders. One of the leaders, Saleh al-Mutlaq, was appointed as one of the three Deputy Prime Ministers. The other two Deputy Prime Ministers, Hussein Shahristani and Rowsch Shaways, were appointed from the National Alliance and the Kurdistan Alliance, respectively. Most ministerial posts were divided on the basis of the power-sharing agreement.
[. . .]
The formation of the proposed National Council for Strategic Policies, also agreed upon in the power-sharing agreement, has not taken place. Although a draft law for its establishment was presented in the Council of Representatives in late over its proposed competencies, composition and the mechanism for the election of its head. The leader of the Iraqiya bloc, Ayad Allawi, who was initially expected to assume a leadership role in the Council, stated in March 2011 that he would no longer seek a position on it.
If the link gives you trouble, click here -- UN Security Council, Secretary-General's remarks -- and grab S/2011/213 from the list.
Let's talk legal. If the Constitution had been followed -- as it should have been, Nouri wouldn't be prime minister currently. Setting aside the way he abused the office in 2010 during the long drawn out process in 2010, let's just note when he 'officially' became prime minister-designate November 25th. Ban Ki-Moon uses November 11th, we use November 10th. Whatever day you use, from the stalemate 'ending' to Nouri being named prime minister-designate is well over twelve days. Was that really the case? No. Nouri was named as prime minister that day. But Jalal Talabani felt his wants were more important than the Constitution, the supreme law in Iraq. Jalal felt that he could disgrace the Constitution as well as the office of Iraqi President and wait all those days to 'officially' name Nouri. Why? To give Nouri more time.
Per the Constitution, a prime minister-designate is named. The minute he or she is named, the clock starts ticking and the designate has to form a Cabinet and get it approved by the Parliament (each Cabinet minister has to be voted on by Parliament) within 30 days. If you cannot do it within 30 days, you are no longer prime minister designate and, per the Constitution, a new prime minister-designate is to be named. December 21st, rules were tossed aside as many agreed to pretend Nouri had a full Cabinet. Out of his own self-interest, there was US President Barack gushing "a significant moment in Iraq's history and a major step forward in advancing national unity." The gushing echoed an earlier pose by Barack. In August of last year, the Guardian's editorial board noted of the March 7, 2010 elections, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." Ban Ki-moon's office issued a statement which opened with, "The Secretary-General welcomes today's announcement of a new government in Baghdad, which has been approved by Iraq's Council of Representatives, and congratulates Mr. Nuri al-Maliki on his confirmation as Prime Minister." But not everyone was pretending Nouri had assembled a full Cabinet..
Shashank Bengali and Mohammed al-Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) pointed out the Cabinet is missing "the key ministries responsible for security and military affairs for now, because lawmakers haven't agreed on who should fill them. There's still no deal, either, on creating a yet-to-be named strategic council -- a U.S.-backed initiative aimed at curbing al-Maliki's powers -- which lawmarkers said could be weeks away." Liz Sly and Aaron Davis (Washington Post) explained, "Maliki appointed himself acting minister of interior, defense and national security and said the three powerful positions would be filled with permanent appointees once suitable candidates have been agreed on." Michael Jansen (Irish Times) noted, "Maliki's cabinet has 42 ministries but he could make firm appointments to only 29 posts because of factional bickering. Ten portifolios are temporary while Maliki retains the sensitive ministries of defence, interior and national security until agreement can be made on permanent candidates for these ministries. This means the jockeying for position and power continues while Iraqis suffer from insecurity, unemployment, lack of electricity, and inadequate services."
Pretending he had a full Cabinet allowed Nouri to move from prime minister-designate to prime minister. That was December. This is April. Nouri still doesn't have a full Cabinet, the security positions remain vacant. In his report, Ban Ki-moon noted, "The security situation in Iraq continues to affect the civilian population, who face ongoing acts of violence perpetrated by armed opposition groups and criminal gangs. In particular, armed groups continue to employ tactics that deliberately target crowded public areas and kill and maim civilians indiscriminately. While some attacks appear to be sectarian in nature, frequently targeting religious gatherings or residential areas, others seem random, aimed at creating fear and terror in the population at large and casting doubt over the ability of the Government and Iraqi security forces to stem the violence. Assassinations also persist across the country, targeting, inter alia, Government employees, tribal and community leaders, members of the judiciary and associated persons." With violence on the rise, it's amazing Nouri's felt no pressure to fill his Cabinet. Aswat al-Iraq reports that National Alliance MP Khalid al-Assady is stating, "Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is urged to cut down the current number in his cabinet, after a 100-day period he had defined to review their achieverments." al-Assady considers the Cabinet to be too large. The Cabinet is much larger than the one Nouri came up with in 2006. That's due to the fact that Nouri made a number of promises following the March 7, 2010 elections, in order to build support (his political slate came in second to Iraqiya), Nouri promised everyone everything. To keep even a portion of those promises, he had to create new jobs he could appoint people to.
Aswat al-Iraqi notes Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq's Ammar al-Hakim is stating the security cabinet posts need to be filled, "The political situation in Iraq is still suffering from slow developments and despite fact that over one year had passed on the parliamentary elections, the cabinet had not been completed especially the security ministers posts. [. . .] The candidates for the security cabinet posts must be selected from independent and efficient personalities, that don't have any links with any political party, thing that would facilitate the election of efficient technocrats, able to carry out that sensitive and serious mission."
Nouri's inability to fill a Cabinet should have prevented him from becoming prime minister for a second term; his continued inability should alarm. But Nouri promised that US forces could stay past 2011. As James Cogan (WSWS) observed last year of the White House, "The key objective of the Obama administration has been to ensure that the next Iraqi government will 'request' a long-term military parternship with the US when the current Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) expires at the end of 2011."
The SOFA was passed by the Iraqi Parliament Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 2008. From that day's snapshot:
---------------------- [start of excerpt]
Yeah, it's a one-year agreement. Only 2009 cannot be changed or cancelled. Everything else that the White House says is set-in-stone is actually a conditional option that can be wiped away by either side. Today the White House finally released the agreement in English. We'll jump in at Article 30 The Period for which the Agreement is Effective:
1) This Agreement shall be effective for a period of three years, unless terminated sooner by either Party pursuant to paragraph 3 of this Article.
Get it? Paragraph three: "This Agreement shall terminate one year after a Party provides written notification to the other Party to that effect." Meaning only 2009 is set in stone. It is too late for either party (US or Iraq) to give one year's notice and cancel it in 2009. They can give notice to cancel in 2010 or 2011. The second clause is also worth noting because it weakens the strength of any agreement as well: "This Agreement shall be amended only with the official agrement of the Parties in writing and in accordance with the constitutional proceudures in effect in both countries." That's the aspect that allows for a change and all the 'flowery' respect for Constitutional procedures is hog wash. The Iraqi Parliament needed to have two-thirds of all members (not just members present) to pass the treaty today. They did not have that. According to their Constitution and their laws, that's what was needed. In the US, Congressional approval is needed over all treaties and we know that has not take place. We further know that Barack Obama -- alleged Constitutional scholar -- doesn't give a damn about the Constitution. He show boated and did his little pretty words number while campaigning but despite all his insisting that the treaty would have to come before the Congress -- including becoming one of thirteen co-sponsors on Hillary Clinton's Senate bill insisting upon that -- he shut his corporate mouth and put his tiny tail between his legs to slink off like the disgusting, cowering trash he is. He's not going to stand up for the Constitution 'later.' He couldn't stand up for it right now.
-------- [end of excerpt]
Prior to the three-year SOFA, the US military presence on the ground in Iraq (post-invasion) was covered by a yearly UN mandate. Each year, Iraq would ask for a one-year extension. Each time the prime minister did, the mandate was extended. When Nouri became prime minister (spring 2006), he had to ask for an extension and did. The Parliament was outraged because they had not been consulted. Nouri promised he would never do that again -- leave them out of the procees -- but as 2007 was winding down, he did it again. Having twice asked for extensions, Nouri was facing considerable ire. The White House (Bush White House) agreement factored that in. Instead of a yearly request, it would last for three years. Otherwise, it was the UN mandate for all intents and purposes.
So many people wrongly stated the SOFA meant the end of the war. Many of those people were 'antiwar activists' who disappeared the second calling out the continued Iraq War meant calling out American's new president Barack Obama. Some were journalists. And the most annoying thing about the journalists is that reporting is very basic. "April 21st, I will have Chinese for lunch." That's not reporting. Especially not on April 7th. "April 21st, C.I. plans to have Chinese for lunch" is reporting. It was never -- not in 2008, not in 2009, not in 2010 . . . -- reporting to state, "US forces will all leave Iraq at the end of 2011."
That's not reporting. That's predicting. You can say the SOFA calls for it, but you cannot say "It will happen." Predictions are not reporting. Reading US newspapers over the last years has left the impression that editors don't give a damn about their jobs or the reporting anymore -- the few left -- and they are just praying to hit retirement before they're laid off. How else do you explain all the outlets that presented predictions as fact?
(There are other explanations -- including far less charitable ones where certain journalism outlets actively participated with the administration to tamp down on outrage over the Iraq War.)
When 'antiwar' 'leaders' tell the peace movement to 'go home' -- as Leslie Cagan infamously did in that awful Novembe 2008, right after the election, message posted on United for Peace and Justice's website, when the press tells you that all US troops leave Iraq at the end of 2011, you begin to focus on other things. That's really too bad because were Bush in office right now, you can be damn sure that the peace movement would be complaining that the Iraq War had passed the 8 year mark. A 2009 announcement by Bush that the war would end in 2011 would have been met with "OUT OF IRAQ NOW!" and much worse.
Electronic media passing "predictions" off as "reporting" were able to justify their own rush from Iraq (to Afghanistan because, as many outlets insisted, that's where Barack's focus is) at the end of 2008 and start of 2009. Have we ever before, in the TV age, had a network (ABC) announce (with pride -- believe it or not) that they'd carry BBC reports from Iraq to justify the fact that they were out even though over 100,000 US service members (at that point) were still in Iraq? No, that has never been seen before. Thanksgiving night, 2008, I wrote the following regarding this site continuing:
What I would really like -- if I didn't have to write the entries between now and then -- would be to here December 31, 2011 so we could review every LIAR in the press who has made a point to schill for the administration. It would be wonderful to be here then and to say, "Are troops out? B-b-b-but, the press said . . ."

With that background out of the way, Jennifer Epstein (POLITICO) reports today, "Some U.S. troops may stay in Iraq past their planned pullout at the end of the year if the Iraqi government wants them, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday in Baghdad, as he also detailed what a government shutdown might mean for members of the armed forces." Robert Burns (AP) quotes Gates stating, "So if folks here are going to want us to have a presence, we're going to need to get on with it pretty quickly in terms of our planning. I think there is interest in having a continuing presence. The politics are such that we'll just have to wait and see because the initiative ultimately has to come from the Iraqis." Elisabeth Bumiller (New York Times) observes, "Mr. Gates and the American military commanders have made no secret of their view that some of the 47,000 American troops in Iraq should remain after 2011 as a stability force, particularly as tensions have flared between Arabs and Kurds in the north. But Mr. Gates said that the Iraqi government must first request that the American troops stay. That has not happened yet, much to the growing impatience of American commanders who say they need to know now in order to plan into 2012." Kevin Baron (Stars and Stripes) notes that "military commanders" and "officials" are making their voice clear to Gates that they believe the US military should continue in Iraq past 2011: "Gen. Lloyd Austin, commander of U.S. Forces-Iraq, said Iraq cannot defend its skies and will lose radar and intelligence capabilities when Americans leave. And the Iraqi's continue to purchase tanks, howitzers and other equipment that they'll have to learn to use without U.S. assistance. In an earlier meeting with Gates and Austin, U.S. Ambassador Jim Jeffrey said the U.S. military is the glue holding Iraq together through a rocky period." For audio, click here to hear Rachel Martin's All Things Considered (NPR) report and Missy Ryan has a strong text report for Reuters.
From day one, we covered what the SOFA said and what it didn't say. A few reporters at US outlets did that as well. And one of them, a friend, couldn't stand the hatred that was hurled for telling the truth (hurled in e-mails and nasty phone messages). Most who told the truth at the start walked away. I understand that and, having experienced hatred in e-mails and in public speaking for tellilng the truth about the SOFA, I don't blame them. But we never lied here and we never whored over it. It was hilarious to watch people with no legal background at all insist on what the SOFA meant (or to watch a foreign born, recent citizen, insist it would be good for Congress to drop their objections and embrace it -- Congress should have opposed it because it is a treaty and it was made in violation of the US Constitution). The SOFA covered three years. That's all it did. After the three years, it could be the end of it. Could be. "Could be" got presented as "fact" and the SOFA suddenly became a treaty to end the war -- which is different in terms of writing and different in terms of the law. It could be extended (a point none of our peace 'leaders' wanted to admit). Or it could be replaced with something new. Those remain the options. What's going to happen? I have no idea. I can't predict the future. But the US is pushing for an extension. And if my analysis of the SOFA were wrong, they wouldn't be able to do that, now would they? (Barack also has the backup plan of keeping 20,000 or so US soldiers in Iraq but switching them from DoD to the State Dept.) Now would be a good time for those who care about Iraq to reflect on who lied to them about the SOFA and to start demanding accountability. It's a long, long list. And as noted before, should the US miltiary remain on the ground in Iraq after December 31, 2011 and if The Common Ills is still around, we'll probably list a large number of those people who need to take accountability. We'll have to help them with that since they have refused to step forward and take accountability on their own.
The US House Armed Services' Committee met today on Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the only word for it was "spectacle." Network television may have abandoned the mini-series, but not Congress. And this latest installment stretched across more hours than The Winds of War, starting at 10:30 this morning and still going strong at 3:00 this afternoon. It was not, however, a continuous hearing. It was stops and starts to allow Committee members to repeatedly rush to the floor to vote. Committee Chair Buck McKeon declared in his opening remarks, "Today the Committee will receive a status report on the process for repealing the law and changing the policies governing the service of openly gay and lesbian service members. This past fall, I was troubled by the process employed to set the stage for repeal of the law known as Don't Ask, Don't Tell." And the Republicans on the Committee (McKeon is one, Republicans control the majority of seats in the House of Representatives) staked out a position that can be boiled down as: The repeal is wrong, the repeal is risky and the way it made it through the Congress wasn't the correct way.
Were the statements opposing the repeal made just to please certain voting groups? Possibly. This is, after all, Congress. But even if that is the case, Democrats -- if they support repeal -- need to be prepared because there is a portion of the society that disapproves and Republicans -- whether they mean it or not, whether they intend to follow through with actions or not -- are making statements that are much stronger than what you heard in 2010. Republicans weren't silent in their objections then. Senator John McCain was downright offensive in his remarks opposing the repeal and he got very nasty, in a public session, with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. But this is a more outraged (while at the same time, more polished) objection being raised.
Can they stop the repeal? Until something's repealed, it can always be stopped. Today's hearing was a continuation of a hearing held by a House Armed Services Subcommittee held last Friday (and covered in Tuesday's snapshot). Gen George Casey was not present but the Chair cited him repeatedly and he was upheld as someone who agreed with Republicans. (This, PDF format warning, written response to their questions does not show the side-by-side agreement that was claimed in the hearing.) Appearing before the committee were the Vice Chief of Staff for the US Army, Gen Peter Chiarelli, the Navy's Chief of Naval Operations, Adm Gary Roughead, the Marine Corps Commandant, Gen James Amos, and the Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen Norton Schwartz.
Ranking Member Adam Smith opening statement included this, "Driving able-bodied people out of the military who are serving and serving us well at a time when we are at war does not make us safer and does not give us a better military." That's a point Democrats will need to make (among many) -- scratch that, need to make now. They don't need to allow the Republicans to gain support -- even minor support -- for stopping repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Other Democrats made strong statements as well. If we had more space, we would be noting Chellie Pingree of Maine, for example. Loretta Sanchez made strong statements of support but we'll instead emphasize her line of questioning.
US House Rep Loretta Sanchez: My question today, gentlemen, is about those gay and lesbian members, service members, who were discharged because they were gay under the Don't Ask, Don't Tell -- during the time of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Now it's my understanding that those service members, if they didn't have anything else on their record, if there was no other problem or judicial issue or anything that they would be discharged with a honorable discharge. Is that correct? [Nodding from the panel.] Okay. And in the normal -- that now the policy will be that in the normal process that those who were discharged under Don't Ask, Don't Tell can come back and ask to be put back into military service. Is that correct?
Gen Norton Schwartz: Ma'am, the -- Those members, those former membes can apply to re-enlist and will be considered for re-enlistment based on the needs of the services and our normal entry processes.
US House Rep Loretta Sanchez: Okay. Will they have to start all over or will they get to re-enter with -- given credit for the service that they have held if the only reason that they were put out was because it was known that they were being gay?
Gen Norton Schwartz: There's -- It is an individual case consideration but there is no guarantee for returning at the same grade necessarily. Again, it depends on the needs of the service.
US House Rep Loretta Sanchez: But if that position were open, is there a process or are you working on the process in which a person says, "I've been out for two years, but I'm still fit. I want to go back. I had a career. I'd like to go back to where I was and I see that there are openings there"?
Gen Norton Schwartz: Once again, if that scenario unfolded it would probably be accommodated.
US House Rep Loretta Sanchez: What are the guidelines if someone feels that if they've gone back to the recruiter or they've gone back to try and re-enlist and they have push-back? What is the -- What are the policies in place or what are you working through to ensure that they get a fair shake to try to get back their old career, if you will?
Gen Norton Schwartz: There are opportunites for appeal -- both to the Inspector General of the recruiting service, in our case, as well as the Air Force Board of Corrections for Military Records. And in those two mechanisms former members can appeal the designation that they have received.
US House Rep Loretta Sanchez: Okay. And, uhm, lastly what are the reporting -- If you get harassed by someone of the same sex who happens to be gay, is it the same process as you would in any normal -- I know I heard it from the other side, but I just -- and what happens if the perpetrator is in the chain of command? Is the supervisor? Is it the same rules as what we see, for example, under sexual assault or sexual harassment in the normal context that we've been working with.
Gen Norton Schwartz: Zero tolerance.
US House Rep: Loretta Sanchez: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, those were my questions. Thank you, gentlemen.
Along with Susan Davis, Loretta Sanchez probably had the strongest line of questioning. The Republicans objecting had questions as well. And how to interpret their fearful, fretful questions?
Let's be flippant. Let's note that maybe the reason teenage pregnancies are allegedly higher in teens from conservative families is because Republicans never learned how to say "no" to unwanted sex. The men and women on the Republican side of the Committee were so afraid and so fearful that sex was going to happen that you had to wonder if they were never instructed on how to say "no" or that they had a right to say "no"? But as they worried about what might happen in the showers and sleeping arrangements and all the rest, you were left with the impression that they are an easy score and it doesn't even take a drink to get with those sure things.
That's men and women on the Republican side of the Committee and we now provide one of the biggest worriers on the Republican side.
US House Rep Vicky Hartzler: First, I would just like to ask, I'm very concerned with what I'm hearing today. We're going to expose our troops to moderate risks. And, uh, General Casey said it's another level of stress. It's more complicated. I just want to know, I guess, from each of you, when have you suggested a change in policy before that would put our men and women at moderate risk? So. Start with you.
Gen Peter Chiarelli: Well I belive General Casey indicated that he felt that the report characterized it at less risk than he felt given the fact that we are an army that's been fighting for ten years in both Iraq and Afghanistan and he rated it as moderate risk. However, we have not completed enough of our training for him at this time to say it's not still moderate risk but at the same time we put together a very, very good, good training package that emphasizes our role as professional soldiers that we believe is going to mitigate that risk and drive it down.
US House Rep Vicky Hartzler: Have you been involved in recommending a policy where there was a moderate risk before? That was the question. Have you done that yet? In some time in your career? You have? General, go ahead.
Gen Norton Schwartz: Ma'am, I would say yes and I would say it's going to war that places the force at at least moderate risk.
US House Rep Vicky Hartzler: General Amos?
Gen James Amos: Yes, ma'am. When you put someone's life at risk in an operation, it's often times heavy risk. High risk.
US House Rep Vicky Hartzler: Sure. Sure.
Adm Gary Roughead: And ma'am, what we do is inherently dangerous. Whether it's flying from the deck of an air craft carrier, running a nuclear submarine at 800 feet under the sea, it's inherently dangerous. And we know how to manage the risk. That said, for the process we're going through, I'm very comfortable with where we are.
US House Rep Vicky Hartzler: Okay. Well I-I think there's a difference though. I mean war is risk. Obviously. But this is a change in policy that's going to add a moderate risk onto the already inherent risk of war. We're at war at two levels -- and maybe three if you call Libya -- We have men and women in harm's way. We're at war as a country and yet we are talking about one of the most monumental changes of policy that this country has ever faced in its military forces. And I just want to speak from my heart to each one of you. I have the utmost respect for you. And I appreciate what you are doing to lead our forces and to keep our country safe. And there's no higher respect that I have for you. But I want to challenge you that you are the last force to be able to stop this onerous policy. And I have to believe, from my heart, in your gut, you know this is not the right thing. I appreciate that you follow command, you follow the Constitution and you are fulfilling what you are charged to do but there's an opportunity to not certify this. And it's fallen upon you at this time in history to be able to give the final say to the -- to the Secretary of Defense and to Adm [Mike] Mullen whether you, in your right mind and your heart of hearts and your professional career, you believe this is going to help improve our forces from this time on out and help us win wars. And I would ask you to consider this and to stand strong like you have stand strong against other forces outside -- foreign and domestic -- that have come upon our country and that you would not certify this. And with that, I'm going to get into some specific questions. But that's an appeal. I hope you will think about in the privacy of your own home, your own heart, before you do this.
Yeah, the Republicans on the Committee are serious about stopping the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Those who support it better start making their arguments now to derail the efforts to torpedo the repeal. Reminder: If you served in the US military and you were stop-lossed, you are owed additional money. That money needs to be claimed. DoD announces the date to file for that additional payment has been extended:

The deadline for eligible service members, veterans and their beneficiaries to apply for Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay (RSLSP) has been extended to April 8, 2011, allowing personnel more time to apply for the benefits they've earned under the program guidelines.
The deadline extension is included in the continuing resolution signed by President Obama Friday, providing funding for federal government operations through April 8, 2011.
Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay was established to compensate for the hardships military members encountered when their service was involuntarily extended under Stop Loss Authority between Sept. 11, 2001, and Sept. 30, 2009. Eligible members or their beneficiaries may submit a claim to their respective military service in order to receive the benefit of $500 for each full or partial month served in a Stop Loss status.
When RSLSP began on Oct. 21, 2009, the services estimated 145,000 service members, veterans and beneficiaries were eligible for this benefit. Because the majority of those eligible had separated from the military, the services have engaged in extensive and persistent outreach efforts to reach them and remind them to apply. Outreach efforts including direct mail, engaging military and veteran service organizations, social networks and media outlets, will continue through April 8, 2011.
To apply for more information, or to gather more information on RSLSP, including submission requirements and service-specific links, go to

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