Sunday, February 05, 2006

I can't think up a headline that distills how angry I am.

I found out about this from We Move To Canada. The US Army has been hiding the reasons some women have died in Iraq. They were dieing of dehydration in their sleep. How is this possible you ask? They weren't drinking water in the late afternoon. Why not? Because they didn't want to do to the latrine in the middle of the night. Well we all know how annoying that can be, but why would they put their life in danger? Because the odds were high if they went to the latrine in the middle of the night, they would be raped. If I get one comment from ANYONE saying that this proves that women don't belong in the army. . . Grrrrrr. Military Hides Cause of Women Soldiers' Deaths By Marjorie Cohn t r u t h o u t | Report Monday 30 January 2006 In a startling revelation, the former commander of Abu Ghraib prison testified that Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, former senior US military commander in Iraq, gave orders to cover up the cause of death for some female American soldiers serving in Iraq. Last week, Col. Janis Karpinski told a panel of judges at the Commission of Inquiry for Crimes against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration in New York that several women had died of dehydration because they refused to drink liquids late in the day. They were afraid of being assaulted or even raped by male soldiers if they had to use the women's latrine after dark. The latrine for female soldiers at Camp Victory wasn't located near their barracks, so they had to go outside if they needed to use the bathroom. "There were no lights near any of their facilities, so women were doubly easy targets in the dark of the night," Karpinski told retired US Army Col. David Hackworth in a September 2004 interview. It was there that male soldiers assaulted and raped women soldiers. So the women took matters into their own hands. They didn't drink in the late afternoon so they wouldn't have to urinate at night. They didn't get raped. But some died of dehydration in the desert heat, Karpinski said. Karpinski testified that a surgeon for the coalition's joint task force said in a briefing that "women in fear of getting up in the hours of darkness to go out to the port-a-lets or the latrines were not drinking liquids after 3 or 4 in the afternoon, and in 120 degree heat or warmer, because there was no air-conditioning at most of the facilities, they were dying from dehydration in their sleep." "And rather than make everybody aware of that - because that's shocking, and as a leader if that's not shocking to you then you're not much of a leader - what they told the surgeon to do is don't brief those details anymore. And don't say specifically that they're women. You can provide that in a written report but don't brief it in the open anymore." For example, Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski, Sanchez's top deputy in Iraq, saw "dehydration" listed as the cause of death on the death certificate of a female master sergeant in September 2003. Under orders from Sanchez, he directed that the cause of death no longer be listed, Karpinski stated. The official explanation for this was to protect the women's privacy rights. Sanchez's attitude was: "The women asked to be here, so now let them take what comes with the territory," Karpinski quoted him as saying. Karpinski told me that Sanchez, who was her boss, was very sensitive to the political ramifications of everything he did. She thinks it likely that when the information about the cause of these women's deaths was passed to the Pentagon, Donald Rumsfeld ordered that the details not be released. "That's how Rumsfeld works," she said. "It was out of control," Karpinski told a group of students at Thomas Jefferson School of Law last October. There was an 800 number women could use to report sexual assaults. But no one had a phone, she added. And no one answered that number, which was based in the United States. Any woman who successfully connected to it would get a recording. Even after more than 83 incidents were reported during a six-month period in Iraq and Kuwait, the 24-hour rape hot line was still answered by a machine that told callers to leave a message. "There were countless such situations all over the theater of operations - Iraq and Kuwait - because female soldiers didn't have a voice, individually or collectively," Karpinski told Hackworth. "Even as a general I didn't have a voice with Sanchez, so I know what the soldiers were facing. Sanchez did not want to hear about female soldier requirements and/or issues." Karpinski was the highest officer reprimanded for the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, although the details of interrogations were carefully hidden from her. Demoted from Brigadier General to Colonel, Karpinski feels she was chosen as a scapegoat because she was a female. Sexual assault in the US military has become a hot topic in the last few years, "not just because of the high number of rapes and other assaults, but also because of the tendency to cover up assaults and to harass or retaliate against women who report assaults," according to Kathy Gilberd, co-chair of the National Lawyers Guild's Military Law Task Force. This problem has become so acute that the Army has set up its own sexual assault web site. In February 2004, Rumsfeld directed the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to undertake a 90-day review of sexual assault policies. "Sexual assault will not be tolerated in the Department of Defense," Rumsfeld declared. The 99-page report was issued in April 2004. It affirmed, "The chain of command is responsible for ensuring that policies and practices regarding crime prevention and security are in place for the safety of service members." The rates of reported alleged sexual assault were 69.1 and 70.0 per 100,000 uniformed service members in 2002 and 2003. Yet those rates were not directly comparable to rates reported by the Department of Justice, due to substantial differences in the definition of sexual assault. Notably, the report found that low sociocultural power (i.e., age, education, race/ethnicity, marital status) and low organizational power (i.e., pay grade and years of active duty service) were associated with an increased likelihood of both sexual assault and sexual harassment. The Department of Defense announced a new policy on sexual assault prevention and response on January 3, 2005. It was a reaction to media reports and public outrage about sexual assaults against women in the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan, and ongoing sexual assaults and cover-ups at the Air Force Academy in Colorado, Gilberd said. As a result, Congress demanded that the military review the problem, and the Defense Authorization Act of 2005 required a new policy be put in place by January 1. The policy is a series of very brief "directive-type memoranda" for the Secretaries of the military services from the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. "Overall, the policy emphasizes that sexual assault harms military readiness, that education about sexual assault policy needs to be increased and repeated, and that improvements in response to sexual assaults are necessary to make victims more willing to report assaults," Gilberd notes. "Unfortunately," she added "analysis of the issues is shallow, and the plans for addressing them are limited." Commands can reject the complaints if they decide they aren't credible, and there is limited protection against retaliation against the women who come forward, according to Gilberd. "People who report assaults still face command disbelief, illegal efforts to protect the assaulters, informal harassment from assaulters, their friends or the command itself," she said. But most shameful is Sanchez's cover-up of the dehydration deaths of women that occurred in Iraq. Sanchez is no stranger to outrageous military orders. He was heavily involved in the torture scandal that surfaced at Abu Ghraib. Sanchez approved the use of unmuzzled dogs and the insertion of prisoners head-first into sleeping bags after which they are tied with an electrical cord and their are mouths covered. At least one person died as the result of the sleeping bag technique. Karpinski charges that Sanchez attempted to hide the torture after the hideous photographs became public. Sanchez reportedly plans to retire soon, according to an article in the International Herald Tribune earlier this month. But Rumsfeld recently considered elevating the 3-star general to a 4-star. The Tribune also reported that Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, the Army's chief spokesman, said in an email message, "The Army leaders do have confidence in LTG Sanchez." Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, President-elect of the National Lawyers Guild, and the US representative to the executive committee of the American Association of Jurists. She writes a weekly column for t r u t h o u t.

19 Comments:

At 2/06/2006 04:57:00 PM, Blogger melusina said...

It is really despicable, isn't it?

Who ARE the bad guys here? It is getting harder and harder to tell these days.

 
At 2/06/2006 09:43:00 PM, Blogger L-girl said...

Thanks for posting this, Nicole. Expect random comments from people claiming to have been in Iraq - in Abu Ghraib, no less! - disputing the truth of these statements.

I chose to delete the comments.

I guess for many people it's easier to call someone a liar than face an ugly, ugly truth.

 
At 2/07/2006 02:15:00 AM, Anonymous Ender22 said...

L-girl: why do you automatically believe that Karpinski is telling the "ugly, ugly truth?"

Consider:
1. It is physically impossible for an adult human being to die of dehydration "in their sleep" after not drinking water since the "late afternoon." It's simply not enought time.

2. No female E-8 (that's Master Sergeant) has died in Iraq.

3. Karpinski has already proven herself to be either a liar or the worst commander in the history of the armed forces.

So, given these facts, why would ANYONE believe a word she says, unless you desperately want to believe that US soldiers are sub-human animals? And, given how easy it is to fact check these sorts of things, how can your only response be to "delete the comments" of people who dare to point these things out? That doesn't seem very liberal-minded of you.

You'll have to find some other way to prove your thesis about US soldiers. Sorry about that.

 
At 2/07/2006 04:21:00 AM, Blogger L-girl said...

Case in point.

 
At 2/07/2006 05:01:00 AM, Anonymous ender22 said...

case in point?? that's the best you've got?? seriously?? someone as sophisticated as you?? no! i won't believe it!

(also, i never claimed to be in Iraq - or Abu Ghraib, no less!)

I guess for many people it's easier to just say "case in point" than face an ugly, ugly truth. or learn some basic biology.

at leasat oprah finally admitted she was duped. when it officially comes out that karpinksy lied - again - will you apologize to male soldiers for slandering them?

on the other hand, if you can explain to me how a human being can die of dehydration after not drinking since "late afternoon," i'll retract everything i said. alternatively, if you can find the name of one -- just one -- female E-8 who died in Iraq, of ANY cause, i'll similarly retract everything i said.

but you've gotta do better than "case in point" if you want to sit at the big girls and boys table.

 
At 2/07/2006 05:36:00 AM, Blogger antimedia said...

"If I get one comment from ANYONE saying that this proves that women don't belong in the army. . . Grrrrrr."

How about, you shouldn't be allowed near a keyboard?

22 Master Sergeants (we have them in the Army, Marines and Air Force) have died in Iraq since the beginning of the war. NOT ONE OF THEM IS A FEMALE. NONE of them died of dehydration.

These are facts that can be easily obtained from a simple internet search, or by studying the casualties list at casualties.org (a site unaffiliated with the US military and opposed to the Iraq war.)

It's amazing how gullible you are. It simply isn't possible to die from dehydration in one night, when you've been hyrdrating all day until the mid-afternoon (as Karpinski claims.)

The woman clearly lied. And you fell for it.

 
At 2/07/2006 08:45:00 AM, Blogger Nicole said...

antimedia said...
"If I get one comment from ANYONE saying that this proves that women don't belong in the army. . . Grrrrrr."

How about, you shouldn't be allowed near a keyboard?
------------------------

The manner that you have commented is remarkable only in its churlishness and you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

Maybe I am a silly, foolish, stupid woman but I would never go to someone’s blog and immediately flame them. In fact, I would never flame anyone, but that's how my Mama raised me.

In addition before I leave comments, I take the time to read back a few months so I get a sense of the person and their point of view is.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by others lack of curiosity and that they were not given the same opportunity to learn good manners.

I am more than happy to see facts that dispute the account and to consider its veracity. Healthy debate is rich and rare and I would never run from it. These comments are however far from healthy.

However perhaps again I am a silly, foolish, stupid woman but I find that if I deal with someone with whom I disagree and I speak calmly, presenting facts. . . and not act like a twat, I am heard.

Similarly I seem to hear people that employ similar tactics with me. Then again my friends are rather intelligent and do not enjoy the Jerry Springering of society.

If you would like to present your point of view, I welcome you to leave comments.

However if you embarrass yourself with a similar display, I will delete your comments so you will be frustrated in the spreading of your bile.

You will get more pleasure out of kicking your dog.

 
At 2/07/2006 10:33:00 AM, Anonymous ender22 said...

nicole,

you are, of course, entirely correct to insist upon civility on your blog.

you do need to understand, however, that when you post something as inflammatory as COL Karpinsky's outrageous claims, many people -- soldiers, veterans, and otherwise -- are going to take great offense. it also doesn't help when you have commentors like l-girl who impugn the motives of anyone who dares to point out logical flaws in Karpinsky's claims, yet at the same time refuse to address those points.

none of this is meant to excuse incivility, but you need to know that the vast majority of men and women who serve in america's armed forces are decent, honorable, people who don't take charges like this lightly. and no-one is more ashamed of what went on at abu ghraib than those of us who served, because the animals who committed those acts (under COL Karpinsky's command, no matter what she says) wore the same uniform as us and their disgrace tinges us all, fairly or not.

there are things that are wrong with the military (its policy towards gays being among the most egregious), but rampant sexual assault and rape are not among them. in fact, most of the guys i knew in the army were guys you would want nearby if someone DID attempt to assault you.

what's troubling is the number of people who uncritically believe anything bad about the military. i don't get people like l-girl, with her "don't bother me with the facts" attitude, and i never will. demagogues are demagogues, whether they're right wing or left wing, and their lies should always be denounced, no matter how desperately you want to agree with them.

 
At 2/07/2006 11:35:00 AM, Blogger Nicole said...

Thank you for the civil comments. :)

My grandfathers were veterans (Paternal grandfather was career Navy). My father was in the Marine Corps. My stepfather was in the Army.

I was in a Marine Corps ROTC in High School (Rated #1 in the country during my tenure a long, long time ago) which I know really means nothing when compared to the real thing. Means less than nothing really. But I do have a few more experiences than your average liberal in regards to the military experience. I have been in a tear gas chamber, rappelled down the side of a building, fired a weapon, know how to salute without my thumb sticking out and that you take your cover off when you walk in a building. Not to mention having a Marine Corps Sergeant Major scream at you during a ten mile run in the heat at Camp Pendleton.

Like I said. It ain't the same thing, but I have a healthy respect seasoned all the more by the experience.

I quit my senior year (even though if I kept with it I would have gone on a trip to Hawaii) because I didn’t enjoy it anymore. I hated it –and I respected the uniform enough to stop being involved if that was how I felt.

You are right the boys (and they were boys then) that I was around would have certainly have done anything to protect me.

The men that were our instructors all were Vietnam veterans and were the kindest, sweetest, toughest sonofabitches I have ever had the pleasure to know.

That being said, when I was sixteen I had a very uncomfortable moment at El Toro (Like I said. . . This was a long time ago.) where a group of Marines corned me for a moment and said some rather. . . shall we say un-nice things.

There have been a number of cases of rape and inherent misogynism in the Armed Forces documented. Amnesty International has reported the rise of sexual assaults on women in Iraq. The data supports that there is a major problem here.

I know that the men and women in uniform are decent people. My expressing concern does not mean that you or anyone else that has worn a uniform is inherently a rapist.

I am concerned that there is a culture in the military that perpetuates the view that this is acceptable to do this to women.

Thanks again for your comments.

 
At 2/07/2006 12:18:00 PM, Blogger Nicole said...

I do wish to say that from my reading of L-girl's blog that I would never accuse her of demagoguery. . . But that is another discussion and she is more than able to defend herself.

 
At 2/07/2006 08:26:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you're right, you are a silly, foolish, stupid woman. And it proves women don't belong in the military.

 
At 2/07/2006 08:31:00 PM, Blogger antimedia said...

Well, I never accused her of demagoguery. I accused her of not doing her research and of gullibility. It THAT is offensive and churlish, then I guess there's not much point in commenting.

I gave you facts:
1) No female Master Sgts. have died in Iraq, much less died of dehydration. This is an easily confirmed fact. Karpinski's claim, therefore is a lie.

2) It isn't physically possible to die from dehydration in one day. Check any competent medical textbook. Karpinski claims the females stopped dehydrating EACH DAY around 3 or 4 PM because they feared being raped. Simple logic tells you this cannot possibly be true.

3) The incidence of rape in the armed forces is approximately 3%, SIX TIMES LOWER than it is on college campuses.

Yes, I'm a veteran, and I don't take kindly to the military being slimed by lying scumbags like Karpinski (or John Kerry, or Jane Fonda), and I get irked at people who swallow those lies without bothering to check the facts or even think through whether or not the claim is even plausible. It means that you ASSUME that we are brutish animals with no morals whatsoever.

If that makes me churlish, then delete my comments.

 
At 2/07/2006 08:54:00 PM, Blogger Nicole said...

LOL- “Don’t call me stupid!” Sorry. Involuntary quoting of “A Fish Called Wanda.” Only reasonable reaction to such ridiculousness.

Pleased to see intellectual discourse based on empirical data and treating others with respect as I requested.

(If you are reading this Mom, please stop. )

Is it just me, or is anonymous for pussies?

So, Anonymous. Or should I say Cocksucker? Cocksucker, in language that I think perhaps you will understand. . . Go fuck yourself you impotent twat.

Antimedia, I am going to do research into the specifics. I am interestested in collaborating the facts that you detailed and I thank you for detailing your point of view.

Again however the manner which you comment is aggressive. I suspect you are a sad, rude person who does not play well with others. You don't see me doing this at your page.

Anyhoo. . .Please go away. You bore me.

 
At 2/07/2006 11:40:00 PM, Anonymous Cocksucker said...

Don't push this button...Grrrrrr.

 
At 2/08/2006 03:25:00 AM, Anonymous SFC Walter M. Clark, USAR (RET) said...

As a clarification to the military's policy on homosexuals, the policy was NOT created by the military. Congress passed the law and President Clinton signed it, mandating the current "don't ask, don't tell" hypocrisy. I spent 24 years serving my country and never once was worried about the sexual orientation of the person next to me (except one Spec. 5, who's now my wife, but that's a different situation).

More on topic, part of our training in escape and evasion was to help us understand how long you could normally go without food, water and air. The standard: food, 40 days and you're dead; water, 4 days, and air, 4 minutes. Even in Iraq in the summer you couldn't die of dehydration from stopping drinking any fluids in mid-afternoon and dying during the night.

Urban legends even exist in Iraq.

 
At 2/08/2006 06:40:00 AM, Anonymous ender22 said...

um, antimedia: nicole was responding to ME when she said l-girl wasn't a demagogue. and actually, i was unclear: i wasn't calling l-girl a demagogue -- i was referring to karpinsky.

anyway, nicole, you're handling this pretty well. i think if you check the facts that antimedia, sfc clark, and i have presented,you'll find that they are in order, and that karpinsky's story doesn't hold water.

it might be nice if you changed your headline to something like, "if this is true, i can't think up a headline that distills how angry i am." but, hey, it's your blog and ultimately NOMDB!

best,
ender

 
At 2/11/2006 08:08:00 PM, Blogger L-girl said...

Nicole, it's interesting to me to read your exchanges with these commentors.

As you know, I've chosen not to argue with them because I feel it serves no point - no point for me, that is.

They found your blog and mine through a pro-war blog site. The original poster actually said "The left believes what it is told to believe". The left??? These people are defending the war in Iraq and they say the left believes what it is told? When I read something like that, I know I'm not giving them space on my blog or a moment of my time.

This seems to drive them crazy, which I don't mind. :)

There are several medical people in my family, and all confirm that a person can in fact die quickly from dehydration in extreme heat. Everyone's body is different and reacts differently to physical stressors.

In addition, whether or not a female master sergeant is listed as having been killed in combat, I would ask why the military would be honest about something they are trying to cover up? I wouldn't believe the DOD under Bush - or any other department - if they said the sky was blue.

And of course they are all trying to discredit Karpinski. That's their right, but I don't need to lend them time or space to do it.

I admire your willingness to engage with these folks, as well as your insistence that they be civil. Civility is obviously very difficult for them.

I personally don't like my blog being used for other people's goals, or for arguing in general. I delete their comments, and they go nuts, calling me names, accusing me of this or that. Whatever. :)

To the commenter who said "That's all you got?" I reply, no, but I'm not addressing you. Several commenters on my site claimed to have been in Iraq and Abu Ghraib. I wasn't referring to you.

 
At 2/11/2006 09:22:00 PM, Blogger Nicole said...

Thanks-

The whole thing turned me off. I wanted to tell them
all to go to hell. . . I wonder if I should have just
deleted all of their comments. . .

sigh.

Hope that you and Alan are well.

Best,

Nicole

 
At 2/16/2006 12:40:00 AM, Blogger Synova said...

Deleting our comments is what L-girl does.

I suppose everyone has the right to chose their own heroes, find their own truth and refuse to hear any different.

I do wonder, though, if Karpinski was a man would she be defended or even believed? She's done more to harm the case of women in the military than anyone can I can think of.

She *used* to be in a position to do something about how women are treated, at least in her own command. Did she? How could she have when she didn't even know what was happening in her own command? Did she make sure she knew how her soldiers were getting on day to day? No, she didn't. Yet some seem so willing to believe her now.

By all means chose your heroes. But for god's sake hold female military to the same standards that you'd hold the men.

 

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