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Letters to the Editor for Wednesday, February 15, 2005

European and Mideast editions

(EDITOR’S NOTE: These are the letters that appeared in each edition of Stripes on this publication date. Click here to jump ahead to the Pacific edition letters)

‘Sleep safe, America’

I am a soldier and have been this my entire adult life.

It is a very selective brotherhood, the military service. It is hard to talk to someone about deployments, sergeants time training, field exercises, gunnery and the things these young men and women do everyday to train, to hone the edge of freedom so that the U.S. remains a safe place to live and raise our children.

Every once in awhile our vigilance slips and terror does strike our country but the spirit of freedom lives strong in every American. Every soldier, sailor, airman and Marine is here because they want to be here and they are all carrying the spirit of America in their hearts.

There are some families that have protested the war and have pointed fingers at our leaders because their loved one has given the ultimate price for freedom. My thoughts are to those families that chase the news, wanting to place the blame on our leaders: Where were you when your loved one joined the military? Everyone knows that those in the military might pay with his life; it is not something that is new. To protest and accuse others because their loved one has died is a dishonor to the memory of that individual. I ask you to stop dishonoring your loved one, and instead praise him for his devotion because in the place where fallen warriors go, he will be honored for his selfless sacrifice.

God bless you, and remember when you do something without fear, this freedom was given to you by those who have fallen.

Sleep safe, America. We are here and we will stand fast and watch over you.

Staff Sgt. Robert Fries
Camp Taji, Iraq

Ukrainians still in Iraq

I read “Going, going, gone? U.S.-led coalition in Iraq set to shrink significantly” (article, The Associated Press, Feb. 9), about coalition soldiers gone or leaving soon. The information is wrong and maybe some effort should be used in finding the facts before a story is published.

All I have been reading lately is negative or wrong information in your stories. We as a country need to realize that other countries laugh at us when we write stories like this.

I work with a Ukrainian officer and he read this and said, “But I’m still here, and so is others from my country. All we want to do is help. Do all Americans think like this?”

Why do we focus on negative things and not the positive? Why do we not check the information before we allow it into our newspapers.

As an American soldier serving my country, I ask the same question. Maybe newspapers like the negative stories more than the positive; maybe they like making our government look bad; or maybe they’re not good journalists — they look for the easy story.

Every day I could pull five to 10 stories that make people say, “Why is this important?” I think people like hearing about the schools we gave books to, the water plants working. Or maybe just good stories that make you proud to be an American, not just saying we are. Prove it.

Staff Sgt. Newly J. Hall
Baghdad

Americans aren’t Nazis

I am a soldier and I take offense to being called a Nazi (“Death of military justice,” letter, Feb. 8.)

During World War II, the United States did its part to clear the world of evil. The Allies, including the United States, suffered over 21,000,000 civilian and military casualties defeating the (Nazi) Axis powers.

The United States has no reason to be associated with the Nazis. Romania was a member of Nazi Germany’s Axis pact. This explains the writer’s familiarity with the Nazi system of government and ideology. Germany and Romanian armies attacked the Soviet Union in the summer of 1940. In occupied areas of the Soviet Union and in Romania, concentration camps were established. An estimated 260,000 Jewish civilians were murdered in these camps. More Romanians fought in the German army than any other foreign nationality.

Romania was Nazi Germany’s staunchest ally. Romania supplied the bulk of gas and oil to the Nazis. Romania supplied grain and other items used directly and indirectly in the Nazi war effort.

The U.S. has fought hard to bring democracy to even the most ignorant and undeserving. We cannot indiscriminately round up people and place them in death camps. We do not allow our secret police to torture our citizens into confessions. We do not conduct secret military tribunals and sentence individuals to death. This was the case with former Romanian leader Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, who were shot and their bodies paraded on world television.

The United States will never hold itself to these standards. We follow a system of justice that is the fairest in the world and actually convicts on a basis of evidence.

Staff Sgt. James Davis
Forward Operating Base Falcon, Baghdad

Clearing up hospital’s history

Trauma surgeon reflects on horrors inflicted by IEDs,” (article, Stars and Stripes, Dec. 4) states “[Army Reserve Maj.] Robinson and the 86th were assigned to Ibn Sina Hospital, a modern facility built for Saddam Hussein’s army.”

Although it is true Ibn Sina is a modern facility, it was not built for Saddam’s army. Ibn Sina was established in 1964 as a private hospital for the people of Iraq by four conscientious civilian doctors (Drs. Kadhim Shubber, Clement Serkis, Qassim Abdul Majeed and Mudther Al-Shather). They built the hospital as a result of the realization of a dire need in Baghdad for a first class hospital equipped with modern equipment and quality medical services. Medical services and the best medical treatment were provided to anyone, regardless of race, religion or social standing.

Saddam took over the hospital in 1974 for his own use and converted Ibn Sina into a military hospital.

I know this because two friends of mine (Anisah and Dr. Jawad Shubber) are the daughter and son of one of the founding fathers. They saw this article and asked that I contact you to have the record corrected.

Army Lt. Col. David M. McVey
Baghdad

Be wary of power

Concerning recent letters explaining that the Constitution gives the president “broad powers” in times of war: It may. I am certainly no constitutional scholar, though I have read it all the way through. Over the years, people have found many things in the Constitution that I never saw, so that may be in there, too.

I would like to caution, however, and to remind them of the adage that “power corrupts.” Many add “and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” but I hope that part of the quote never becomes relevant to U.S. politics. Power, itself, corrupts those individuals who wield it. Some have remarkable strength of character and are less corrupted than others. However, we don’t know who the next president will be. Even if our current president is able to ethically use unusual powers to observe, detain, interrogate and neutralize those he considers a threat to our national security without any meaningful oversight, the next president may not be up to it.

Also, remember that more people die from murder each year in the U.S. than have died in all terrorist attacks on our soil and in both wars in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

Yes, we must protect our nation. But we have lived for centuries with the knowledge that part of the price of freedom is accepting risk. We decided long ago that it’s better for some guilty to go free, perhaps even to commit more crimes, than for the rights of innocent people to be sacrificed in the name of safety. If we’re making changes this broad, maybe it’s best the courts and legislature, and the people, have their formal say.

Spc. Christopher Abbey
Wiesbaden, Germany

Pacific edition

Sheehan has right to protest

It amazes me how Cindy Sheehan continues to get trashed by the right for being against the war in Iraq (“Pride not evident in Sheehan,” letter, Feb. 10).

How is she doing a disservice to her son by trying to bring home our troops? It seems those who want to redeploy troops out of an area where an insurgency is fueled by our presence are much more supportive of our men and women in uniform than those who had to make up intelligence to go to war with a country that was no threat to the U.S.

People who call Sheehan’s antics unpatriotic must realize that her own son made the ultimate sacrifice for our country whose Constitution gives the right to free speech, including the right to bash the Bush administration and the president’s reasons for going to war. Those who have blind faith in an administration that will lie to put our troops in harm’s way, illegally spy on Americans and give the rich billions of dollars in tax cuts while our cities are in crisis are scary.

I don’t agree with everything Sheehan says, and my guess is that neither would Sheehan’s son. However, if the letter writer really wants to know what Casey Sheehan thinks, my guess is that he is furious that people like the letter writer bash his mother for being against a war that the majority of Americans do not support.

Sheehan is not a politician, nor does she speak for the Democratic Party. She is a mother who lost her son in a war that she does not believe in and does not want any other mother to go through the same pain she has had to endure.

Spc. Mike Burrell
Logistics Support Area Anaconda, Iraq

Sheehan’s ‘gimmicks’ hurt

Right to wear T-shirt” (letter, Feb. 14) made me very upset.

The writer claims Cindy Sheehan has a right to wear her T-shirt and show support for the troops. That is not showing support for troops.

She lost her son, and it’s sad, but she isn’t the only one. Troops are going through enough stress; they do not need the negativity she brings with her gimmicks.

How can the letter writer say she supports our troops when she goes as a special guest to Venezuela, a country whose president thinks we are “imperialist pigs”?

You want to know what supporting our troops is? Those mothers and fathers who, like Sheehan, have lost their sons or daughters, but are putting care packages together to send other troops. Our brave soldiers die so our people can live free and not in fear of another terrorist attack. What they need is the U.S. behind them 100 percent, not protesting the very government that gives you the freedom you have.

All the money spent on organizing rallies and making signs to protest can be put to better use, like for soldiers who are less fortunate and do not get a care package or a letter of encouragement. I want Sheehan to know that I am proud of her son and that his death was not in vain. Because of him and others like him who made the ultimate sacrifice, the world will be a safer place. God forbid if something were to happen to me, I pray that my parents do not act like her.

Armando G. Granados
Balad, Iraq

Sheehan is a ‘disgrace’

I have read your paper daily and not always agreed with the stories but never found myself compelled to write.

How could you publish the opinion from Cindy Sheehan (“Reaction says more than what was on my T-shirt,” Feb. 7)?

I understand and feel for her. She has the right to free speech; however, you have the right to choose not to publish her opinion. I do not believe she speaks for the majority of Americans. Her own family released a statement on Aug. 11 and asked Sheehan to “stop using her son’s death to promote her own personal agenda and notoriety at the expense of her son’s good name and reputation.” She is a disgrace to all family members of our U.S. military.

I do not think she should have been attending the State of the Union address. I doubt that she would have sat through it and not uttered a word. She looks for attention in any way possible. She has gone from anti-war to anti-American by publicly endorsing Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, who makes it clear he hates America.

Sheehan had been protesting unnoticed and not with much success until the death of her son, and the media is giving her more than her share of time. Why not show more of the parents who are proud of the sacrifice their child has made?

Sheehan lost her son and everyone feels her grief, but he chose to join the military and knew that he may be called to war. He was not forced to make that commitment. He also chose to re-enlist.

Her prior protest obviously did not have enough of an impact on him to not serve his country. He did what he believed in.

Tammy Loux
San Antonio

Bush bypassed process

In “Spying program necessary” (letter, Feb. 11), the writer says President Bush is justified by authorizing the domestic spying and that the “extremists” that “attack” this position are out to “destroy our country.”

Well, the U.S. has a two-party system, one is the ruling/majority party and the other is the “opposition” party. It’s their role in government to help keep checks and balances in place. Let’s familiarize him with the Fourth Amendment.

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Procedures are in place with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to obtain warrants via FISA secret courts and this act authorizes wiretaps for up to one year before having to ask for a warrant; These are rarely, if ever, turned down. For the Bush administration to bypass this process because it’s a pain in the butt and for the guise of our national security is a farce.

The U.S. is great because of our rights and freedoms; we shouldn’t give them up so easily and let down the generations that have fought for these rights. How long before we become a repressed state like the former East Germany or Soviet Union without freedoms or rights?

Stop listening to media filters like Fox “Faux” News that slant and report their biases as fact. There are many outlets that report accurate and factual information, but you have to look for these yourself.

James Jenet
Hohenecken, Germany

Nothing to cheer about

It sickened me to read Stars and Stripes’ headline “GIs cheer as convicted officer eludes jail time” (Jan. 26, front page, Korea edition).

It is repulsive that members of the U.S. armed forces could cheer at the news that a war criminal has escaped the punishment he deserves. Lewis Welshofer Jr. is a war criminal. He clearly committed acts of torture that resulted in the death of an Iraqi general. For this crime he was convicted of negligent homicide. His punishment, a fine and confinement to quarters, is extremely light, especially for an officer who should have known better.

The poorly supervised E-3s and E-4s involved in the Abu Ghraib incident are doing hard time in a federal penitentiary, and they did not kill anyone.

It angers me that a war criminal like Welshofer will be allowed to remain in the U.S. Army. It angers me even further when this is cheered as good news.

Allowing war criminals to remain in the armed forces is bad news. It sends the message that detainee abuse and torture are tolerated in our military. These crimes smear the reputation of those who are serving honorably.

First Lt. Robert Truax
Lashkar Gah, Afghanistan


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