Q&A (C.I.)

C.I. here, substituting for Rebecca who is attending a Barbra Streisand concert. I'll agree with Rebecca's take yesterday, the one stooge at the concert had to be there to disrupt. The cheapest ticket, I believe, goes for $500. You don't pay that kind of money unless you're a Streisand fan and, at this late date (after years of being demonized by the GOP), no one attending can be surprised by Streisand's politics.

Beth had a request and said it would help her. (Beth's the ombudsperson for The Common Ills.) She's passed on some questions she gets from time to time but doesn't have time to address.

One that stood out was actually noted in a column I did for Polly's Brew. Polly's Brew comes out each Sunday and if you're a member and you haven't signed up for it, you should. They're following the prime minister race and other events in Europe. You also get wonderful columns by Polly, Gareth and Goldie (Goldie writes about America). Polly puts it together each week and it's her newsletter much the way the gina & krista round-robin is Gina and Krista's newsletter.

Beth had ignored this question because it had been dealt with at Polly's Brew but she said it pops up regularly. The question (from Molly) was what makes the snapshot and what doesn't? Molly's referring to the Iraq snapshot that goes up Monday through Friday (at The Common Ills).

Let's talk about what doesn't first. Katrina vanden Heuvel, Aaron Glantz and an AP report didn't today. Nor did Sandra Lupien's report from Tuesday's The KPFA Evening News. All were possibilities. And all were strong. Lupien noted the report again tonight (Olympia Snowe is the latest Republican to make signals contrary to the Bully Boy) and it's a prospect for tomorrow. Glantz, I wasn't sure, but thought we had already noted it. (I checked this evening and we had.) The AP report was interesting but there were other topics we were covering. KvH
will be noted tomorrow.

With Glantz, there was the issue that we might have noted it before that pushed his article to the backburner. But every day, there are more things that could be noted than get noted which is why it's called a "snapshot." With all four listed, it was a case of finding where to put them. Lupien's report would have fit best under the news that the Iraqi parliament made the nation one step closer to being divided into three different part. But I actually missed that story (federalism) until a friend I was on the phone with brought it up. That was one of the last bits added.

Which is the time issue. Each day, I tell myself, "I'm not spending hours on this thing." But I end up spending more time than I intended. It usually goes up when there's enough to qualify for a snapshot. I had thought KvH was in it until after I hit "send." And that happens because I will write something and then decide (on my own or from reading it to whomever I'm on the phone with at that moment) that it's not working. So at some point, I must have decided to pull that (intending to rework it) and it's one of those things I forgot.

Something not making it doesn't mean it wasn't worth making it. It usually means I ran out of time and that I couldn't find a way to work it in.

With the issue of the body counts today, it was important to me that we again note the three people who did cover it this summer. So that and that topic was going in. Ricky Clousing was going in (he stands trial tomorrow) and Bob Watada was going in (his second speaking tour to raise awareness of his son ends soon).

When the Jake Kovco hearing was going on, I would be on the phone with friends in the press in Australia and usually ask them two questions:

* What's the big news today?
* What was the most unimportant thing today?

Based on that (and I'd often highlight what was judged the most unimportant because I saw it differently than some did), we'd note the hearing. That's usually how something works on any topic. But in the end, this is what I tell myself anyway, it's a "snapshot." It's not a portrait.

I don't believe I've covered Brady's question before, but I may have. It was also about the snapshot and wondering why Friday's always go up late.

Due to my own schedule (especially if I'm speaking that day), I'm not able to get the snapshot up when I would like. (Ideally by 1:00 pm EST.) It's also true that e-mailing it means it's going to hit when it wants. Fridays are almost always difficult days for another reason: news from Iraq trickles out. I can usually find out more speaking to people covering Iraq then I can anywhere else. From time to time, those things make it into a snapshot (and not just on Fridays), that's usually a sign that I'm frustrated with the slowness or a topic not being covered.

An example of that would be Nouri al-Maliki's so-called four-part 'peace' plan. The press I speak with wants more than the the first plank (security councils -- which already existed and were formed sometime ago by neighborhoods to address the violence) but can't seem to persuade others. So I did not the third plank which is to put journalism under supervision. That does include foreign journalism. (Journalism for a non-Iraqi audience.) They stressed the third-plank and I believe I noted that they were stressing it.

But Friday's are always going to be slow. Wally and Cedric doing joint posts on Fridays have a similar problem because, domestically, most real Friday news comes out late on Friday.

Trevor wondered whether I agreed with Gina and Krista's policy on closing the subscription of the round-robin? First off, it's Gina and Krista's newsletter. I do a column and anything else they ask (such as participate in a roundtable). But this is their baby. They make the decisions for it. Do I agree with their decision? Yes, I do. That's mainly because I know how many people e-mail the public account (common_ills@yahoo.com) wanting to be included. They generally say something like, "I've been reading for ___" and sometimes, they've been reading longer than the site's been up. I don't know why anyone would want to lie but some do and it's also true that with people like Judge regularly contributing, they do so because they know it's not out there for just anyone. They, Gina and Krista, created it as a member service.

I did, after they shut down new members, make an appeal for Three Cool Old Guys. They had only then gotten online (thanks to their church donating them a laptop and Cedric for walking them through how to use it). They are members, they are friends of Cedric's, I had no problem calling up Gina (Krista was out on a date) and making the case for why I thought they should be considered. But I only made a case. I didn't make a decision, that was up to Gina and Krista.

As Beth noted last year in her year-end column, the most linked story was Naomi Klein's "Baghdad Year Zero." Why? I think that's an important story. I know most of the community has already read it by now but I also know that events taking place make it relevant still. Beth says it's on track to be the most linked to article. Second is Nancy A. Youssef's article on the body count and third is Elizabeth Holtzman's Nation article on impeachment. Those are Beth's figures, I don't keep track. That was Lewis' question, by the way. He also wondered why technorati doesn't always read tags? That's a question for them. Rebecca came up with the idea of tagging and even did a sidebar button or something to that website. And her tags were never read. (She no longer tags.) She got us all to do them.

The result?

Betty was read at first (her tags) but technorati no longer does. The same with Kat. Cedric's tags were read for a few weeks. Then not. Ironically, if he posts a snapshot (with tags) on his mirror site, technorati has been known to pick that up. (Even though he's not pinging them the way he does his main site.) Elaine's never been read and last October she e-mailed them. She then e-mailed them again after three weeks went by and she had received no response to her e-mail. I have no idea why they aren't read.

I'm opposed to it, honestly. It takes up too much time for each entry. And then, I have to publish and republish again to get it read. It's too much time. When The Third Estate Sunday Review (which was never read) stopped including tags, I understood. Mike continues to tag and is usually read by their machinery. Rebecca's selling point was that it could draw attention to others posting in the community, so that's why I still do it.

For The Common Ills, we had enough members and enough readers (visitors) without it. But we've been around the longest of community sites.

Kyle wondered why Seth doesn't post and notes that Seth hasn't posted since August? I'm not responsible for any site other The Common Ills. (I help out at The Third Estate Sunday Review, but I'm not responsible for it. It would go on without me.) If you have questions about someone else's site, you need to ask them. Beth's not the ombudsperson for any other site.

It takes time to post, it takes time to provide links. It could be that or any other reason. You need to ask the person you have a question about.

Lynda wondered (a) why I'm so uninterested in elections and (b) will that change in the 2008 election?

That's really not a question that Beth can answer. That's why she's kicked it out each time it's been asked. (She says Lynda's only the latest to ask.) She can offer her opinion on the coverage provided and whether she thinks it should be more, less or whatever.

I'm not interested in telling anyone how to vote. I'd rather people figured out to get the information they needed so that, each election cycle, they could make that decision themselves. Rebecca's noted here that she had no idea who I was pulling for in the Democratic primary for their presidential nominee. I didn't tell her. I wanted her to get behind whomever she supported. (I was for John Kerry.) Lynda's question ties in with a comment that Bonnie shared with Beth which was about how surprised she was that, even with summer over, independent media still hasn't shown a great deal of interest in Iraq.

It's election time. That's what will be followed. I think it's a mistake because, no matter how many times you run the qualifier that 'an election alone won't change anything,' the matter of emphasis you give to an election does build up hopes and then you're left with the fact that (a) candidates may lose and (b) they may win and do nothing.

Then you have an audience (readership, listenership or viewers) who are coming down from the wall-to-wall election coverage and it's really difficult to get them excited post-election. (Especially if the results of the election were disappointing.)

Away from TCI, I am interested in elections. But I think (a) too many cover it and (b) the horse-race factor has been done to death.

I'm not interested in feature writing in magazines about candidates. A point Bob Somerby makes at The Daily Howler regularly is how dumbed down each election cycle is in terms of the press coverage. I think anyone who's followed them for any length of time grasps his point. You don't hear about issues. You hear about personalities and you hear about scandals.

There's very little attempts to look at a record. I believe, during the Democratic primary for presidential nomination, from 2003 through the southern primaries in 2004, the New York Times did one and only one article on the issues re: John Kerry and his record. That was by Katharine Q. Seelye and I don't think it was a bad article. There were points I disagreed with but, overall and for the Times, I don't think it was a bad article. But that was one article. The rest of the time, you had horse racing. (Seelye didn't cover Kerry for the Times.) Is he up or down? Did audiences like him? What did Dick Cheney say about him? What's his wife like?

Maybe all of that can help you on some level but I'm not sure it makes you aware of what your vote will mean if you use it on a candidate or don't use it.

It's also true that covering one race means covering them all. The community is widespread (and not just in the US). It wouldn't be fair to cover, for instance, Ned Lamont and Joe Lieberman's race, and not cover another. That may be the gas bag topic but for people voting in other states, their elections are important to them too.

We've done one endorsement as a group and that was for Howard Dean as DNC chair. He wasn't my first choice when names were being floated. (I was for someone I knew.) Before the one I was for dropped out, the community was loudly and solidly behind Dean. (Who was a good choice.) Because of that, we noted the community endorsed Dean. That was the community's decision. When the 2008 primaries roll around, people will be even more vocal than they were about DNC chair and I don't want to get into all of that. Until John Kerry, my first choice each primary never got the nomination. I know what that's like. On that race or any other, members can (and have) noted their favorites and that gets noted if they request it. But I'm not interested in that. It should be each individual's decision. At the site, I'm speaking for everyone in the community. That's my role. So I don't need to muck that up (anymore than I already do) by doing endorsements. And I don't want the community torn apart (or members hurt) because a majority gets behind someone. I know Dennis Kuccinich supporters who, early on, felt the deck was stacked against him and took it very personally. (By the time I decided I was for Kerry in 2003, I had long ago adjusted to the fact that my choice never won.) If you're active and helping with a campaign, it can become very personal for you and it's just not, to me, worth the hassle of turning the site into campaign central.

I felt Kerry made mistakes in the campaign (such as not campaigning in Hawaii -- the idea of 'safe' states needs to go; also the 'tea cup' remark) and I noted that to friends during that cycle. There may be comments like that at TCI. They won't be the main thrust.

But, since it's unlikely the war in Iraq is ending anytime soon and since members wanted that to be the main focus, we probably won't touch on it that much.

Along with the horse race aspect, I'm bothered by the 'crowning.' And I remember looking at dejected faces when Kerry conceeded and realizing how difficult the next few months would be.
Iraq was dropped as an issue by many. The 'vangical voters were inflated and, yet again, the Democratic Party moved away from women and minorities. For anyone not paying attention then, that may be surprising. But there was a thrust to figure out how to "appeal" as opposed to how to govern. I'm not interested in devices to market (I've lived through too many hula hoops that would 'save' and either failed outright or failed the party once they achieved a majority or the presidency). If you're concerned about what we will cover in 2008, you can probably get a good idea by what we covered in November and December of 2004.

But the horse race gears everyone up and the crowning allows people to look to answers 'from above.' The answers are always in the people and the people influence and lead any change that ever results.

Last question Beth passed on, from Carl, why isn't Ricky Clousing being covered by independent media?

Did you see coverage of Ehren Watada's hearing? Nope.

Elections do matter (though the majority of coverage of them doesn't). Ricky Clousing matters and the movement he's part of matters. It's a shame that we can get breathless articles that are so useless in weeks, if not days, but we can't get attention of something that truly matters. Clousing's case will matter despite the outcome. A lot of the election coverage (or what passes for it) isn't worth the paper it's printed on the day it's printed.

(I'm referring to paid media. Not blogs. Everyone should write about what they're interested in. Whatever the topic. However, magazines have editors and they can assign pieces to their staff. That so little have bothered to assign writing on Iraq is depressing.)

Along with Ricky Clousing are other under-reported and non-reported stories (including women in Iraq).

In 2003, I was speaking out against the war and in 2004 as well (and today). What I saw was a lot of hope for a John Kerry victory and a lot of people who believed it would happen and believed it would change everything. Kerry didn't get into the White House. There were a lot of people who were depressed, upset and gave up. They'll come back in during this election cycle and more in the 2008 election cycle but I do think a message is sent when the coverage goes wall-to-wall after Labor Day for each election. That's something I was aware of and think most people are but seeing it face to face with people who were excited to be voting in their first election, I honestly don't think enough time was spent building up something that kept people excited after an election (regardless of the outcome).

Hopefully, that takes care of some of the e-mails Beth's been getting and answers a few question. Rebecca's back tomorrow night.

Added, I forgot to include the "Iraq snapshot," sorry:

Wednesday, October 11, 2006. Violence and chaos continue in Iraq, Shi'ites in Parliament push to split the nation of Iraq, a new study published by the British medical journal The Lancet concludes that an estimated 655,000 Iraqis have died since the illegal war, those disputing the study will have plenty of time to gasbag since the illegal war is 'ready' to continue through 2010, but in the meantime they can dicker over the figures released by the Iraqi Health Ministry for September (2,660 Iraqis dead), and war resister Ricky Clousing stands trial in North Caroline tomorrow.

Tomorrow, at Fort Bragg, war resister Ricky Clousing faces a military trial. Clousing self-checked out of the military in June of 2005. In August, Clousing held a press conference to announce his decision to turn himself in. At the August 11, 2006 press conference, Clousing stated:

In Iraq I operated as an interrogator and was attached to tactical infantry units during daily patrol operations. As an interrogator I spoke to Iraqis each day. This gave me an idea of what local civilians thought of coalition forces. Throughout my training very appropriate guidelines for the treatment of prisoners were set. However, I witnessed our baseless incarceration of civilians. I saw civilians physically harassed. I saw an innocent Iraqi killed before me by US troops. I saw the abuse of power that goes without accountability. Upon my return to the United States I started to ask my unit the same questions I had been asking myself. Wearing the uniform demands subordination to your superiors and the orders passed down. But what if orders given violate morality, ethics and even legality?

Clousing was charged with desertion and tomorrow, October 12th, he will face a military trial. As Clousing's website notes: "After returning to military custody, the 82nd Airborne opened an investigation into Sgt. Clousing's allegations of systemic abuse and the misuse of power by US troops in Iraq. The Army has yet to announce the results of this investigation." Also noted is the press conference tomorrow at 10 am, the Quaker House, 223 Hillside Ave, Fayetteville, NC at which Ricky Clousing will speak. At noon, in downtown Fayetteville, there will be a rally to show support for Clousing.

While Ricky Clousing stands up, jaw boners get all nervous over a study published in The Lancet which estimates Iraqi deaths since the beginning of the illegal war to have reached 655,000. The study, funded by MIT and the Center for Refugee and Disaster Response of John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, follows up an earlier one published in the fall of 2004 which, as Patricia Reaney (Reuters) reports, estimated 100,000 Iraqi deaths as a result of the war during the time frame of March 2003 and September 2004. The study comes a little over three full months after the US military finally admitted that they were keeping a body count of Iraqis dying from violence throughout the country. [See Nancy A. Youssef's "U.S.: Civilian deaths feeding insurgency," Aaron Glantz' "Pentagon: Tell Us How Many Civilians You've Killed" and Juliana Lara Resende's "50,000 Dead, But Who's Counting?".] [The study published in The Lancet notes: "The US Department of Defence keeps some records of Iraqi deaths, despite initially denying that they did" and credits Sabrina Tavernise, Dexter Filkins and Eric Schmitt's "U.S. Quietly Issues Estimate Of Iraqi Civilian Casualties" from October 30, 2005 in the New York Times. Youssef's article exposed the fact that the actual figures are kept and sent out to high ranking officers in Iraq for, as a general put it to Youssef, a measurement.]

Donald G. McNeil Jr. and Sabrina Tavernise (New York Times) observe that the latest study "breaks down to about 15,000 violent deaths a month". The study's publication comes as another estimate, from Iraq's Health Ministry, makes the news. Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Lee Keath (AP) report: "More than 2,660 Iraqi civilians were killed in the capital in September amid a wave of sectarian killings and insurgent attacks, and increase of 400 over the month before". They also note that Bully Boy disputes the number in the latest study published in The Lancet.

As sillys and fools dicker, Salam Talib and Eliana Kaya ( Free Speech News, The KPFA Evening News) took a look at life on the ground in a report that aired (on both programs) yesterday and, unlike so much of the reporting from Iraq, they were actually able to speak with Iraqi women. Life on the ground in Baghdad includes outrageous prices and travel delays. One Iraqi women explained that you either wait or you take "unpaved roads". Wait? For the US military. "Today," she stated, "we've waited about 2 hours for the military to pass." In terms of prices, a woman spoke of how she has seen the prices for food rise, rise and rise. Unlike a chicken, you can get a cell phone for less than ten bucks. The price of a chicken has gone from the US equivalent of one dollar to fifteen dollars. As the report makes clear, more time is spent waiting for US military processions to move through than in the market, which, one woman explained, many tend to dart in and out of quickly due to fears of violence.

Fears of violence?


CBS and AP report that three car bombs in Baghdad wounded a total of 30 people and killed at least five. Reuters notes that a roadside bomb in Inskandariya, apparently targeting the Babil police chief, left his driver and two bodyguards wounded while a "peasant woman" was killed by a bomb on "a farm just 10 km (6 miles) southest of Kut". CNN notes a bomb "in southwestern Bagdad's Amil neighborhood" which took the lives of five and left six more wounded.


Reuters reports that, in Rasheed, three died (including two police officers) during armed "clashes"; while, in Suwayra, Raad al-Uthmani was shot dead following a home invasion by assailants; and, in Falluja, a police officer was shot dead. CBS and AP note that a police officer was shot dead in Kirkuk. CNN notes a home invasion in Baghdad ("Dora area") which killed four and wounded two more.


Reuters reports that five corpses were discoverd in Kut ("bound and blindfolded with multiple gunshot wounds, gearing signs of torture").

Meanwhile, in Baghdad, a fire in an ammunition dump that started last night was the result of mortar rounds and not an accident. Though the US military originally practiced denial, they admitted the cause of the fire and explosions this morning. AFP reports that it "lit up the night sky and spread panic in the already shell-shocked Iraqi capital," that it continued to burn through Wednesday and noted US military flack Jonathan Withington stating that it's believed to have been the work of "civilians aligned with a militia organisation". Al Jazeera reports: "While there were no reports of US casualties, the explosions marked a rare success for mortar teams working for militia and insurgent groups, which rarely cause much damage to well-protected US facilities." CNN reports: "Militia forces fired an 82 mm mortar round on a small U.S. base in southwestern Baghdad. . . The ammunition supply center that was struck held tank, artillery and small-arms rounds. A U.S. soldier and an interpreter were wounded but later returned to duty, a military spokesman said." As Aileen Alfandary noted today (KPFA's The Morning Show) this attack in Baghad "despite an increased sweep by Iraqi and American forces" -- the 'crackdown' -- juiced up and jucied up again, ongoing since June.

The continue violence and chaos comes as Lolita C. Baldor (AP) reports that US Army General Peter J. Schoomaker has stated that the military can maintain the present US troop levels in Iraq through 2010 but states he's not prediciting, "It's just that I have to have enough ammo in the magazine that I can continue to shoot as long as they want us to shoot." Sitting ducks, commas, the troops have been called many things. Schoomaker calls them "ammo." This as, in England, Mark Oliver (Guardian of London) discusses Tony Edwards appearance at Tuesday's Jane's defence conference and stated "that governments would either have to find more money or scale back their ambitions for what their reduced military capabilities could do." Edwards was speaking of the British military.

In Iraq, the puppet governments continue to raise eye brows. Al Jazeera reports on Ayham al-Samarraie who was arrested "on charges of finanical and managerial corruption in August" for his actions while serving as a minister in Ayham al-Samarraie's government (the first post-invasion puppet government) but he was taken from the court and is now protected by US forces. al-Samarraie's "protection" raises serious questions about whether even the appearance of independence will be allowed for the puppet government. It also raises a serious issue of what was a US citizen doing holding government office in the supposedly independent Iraq.

In other Iraqi parliamentary news, Reuters reports that they have just "approved a law that sets out the mechanics of forming federal regions" with the backing of "some Shi'ite majority leaders" and that the vote was "boycotted by the Accordance Front, the largest political bloc of the Sunni minority."

To "save" the country, it had to be "divided" -- after being turned to chaos by outside forces.

In peace news, Ehren Watada's father, Bob Watada, continues the second leg of his speaking tour to raise awareness on his son, the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq.
Ehren Watada feels that the war is illegal and that to participate would mean he and anyone serving under him would be committing war crimes. Some of the upcoming dates for Bob Watada's speaking tour include:

Wed 10/100 7:00-9:45 pm CSULB Asian American and Chicano & Latino Studies Classes
Dr. John Tsuchida and Dr. Juan Benitez
1250 Bellflower Bl, Long Beach

Thurs 10/12 6:00 pm Whittier Area Coalition for Peace & Justice, Mark Twain Club Potluck
($3 donations) Bob speaks at 7:00 pm. First Friends Church of Whittier, 12305 E. Philadelphia St., Whittier
Contact: Robin McLaren 562-943-4051 email:

Sat 10/14 morning Press Conference San Diego
Contact: Reiko Obata 858-483-6018 email:
watada@san.rr.com for San Diego events.

Sat 10/14 6:00 pm Lt. Watada Dinner/Fundraiser San Diego (suggested donation: $15)
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of San Dieguito, 1036 Solano Drive, Solano Beach

Mon. 10/16 4:30-5:30 pm National Lawyers Guild of San Diego
Room 300, Thomas Jefferson Law School, 2120 San Diego Ave, San Diego

A full schedule, in PDF form, can be found here. More information on Ehren Watada can be found at ThankYouLt.org. and information on all known war resisters can be found at Courage to Resist.

War resister, Ricky Clousing faces a court-martial tomorrow. We'll close with his statement at the August 11th press conference:

First to my Family, Friends, Brothers and Sisters of the Religious Community, Members of the Press, and fellow citizens of this nation we are grateful to call home – thank you for your support here today before I turn myself over to military custody.
My name is Ricky Clousing. I am a Sergeant in the United States Army and I have served for three years and have been absent from my unit since June 2005. Like many in uniform today, I enlisted after the events of September 11th wanting to defend the freedoms and privileges we enjoy here. After 18 months of instruction I completed my necessary training as an interrogator and was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. As the invasion of Iraq unfolded I felt confused about the premise behind such an attack. But in November 2004 I deployed to Iraq in support of the first stage of elections to be held. In Iraq I operated as an interrogator and was attached to tactical infantry units during daily patrol operations. As an interrogator I spoke to Iraqis each day. This gave me an idea of what local civilians thought of coalition forces. Throughout my training very appropriate guidelines for the treatment of prisoners were set. However, I witnessed our baseless incarceration of civilians. I saw civilians physically harassed. I saw an innocent Iraqi killed before me by US troops. I saw the abuse of power that goes without accountability. Being attached to a tactical infantry unit and being exposed to the brutalities of war, I began to doubt and reconsider my beliefs. I thought about these experiences and what they meant each day I was deployed and until I was back in garrison at Fort Bragg in April of 2005. Upon my return to the United States I started to ask my unit the same questions I had been asking myself. Wearing the uniform demands subordination to your superiors and the orders passed down. But what if orders given violate morality, ethics and even legality? If those orders come unquestioned down my Chain of Command, does this exempt me from reevaluating them? My convictions, spiritually and politically, began to make me call into question my ability to perform day to day functions as a soldier. I finally concluded after much consideration that I could not train or be trained under a false pretense of fighting for freedom. At the recommendation of my unit, I sought counsel from military chaplains and counselors, and as my feelings crystallized, I realized that I could not fulfill the duties expected of me. After months of questioning, I began considering the possibility of leaving. Each day I felt haunted by my conscience which told me that my association in uniform at this time was wrong, and my involvement directly or indirectly in this organization at this time was a contradiction to my personal, moral and spiritual beliefs. I stand here before you today about to surrender myself, which was always my intention. I do not know what to expect, or the course of my future. We Americans have found ourselves in a pivotal era where we have traded humanity for patriotism. Where we have traded our civil liberties for a sense of security. I stand here before you sharing the same idea as Henry David Thoreau: as a Soldier, as an American, and as a Human Being, we mustn't lend ourselves to that same evil which we condemn. Thank you.