Globalization: American Songbirds Are Being Wiped Out by Banned Pesticides

Dandelion Salad

by Leonard Doyle
Global Research, April 6, 2008
The Independent

Editor’s note:

In March, Global Research published an article by Brit Amos on the Decline of Bee Colonies in North America. The author attributes the death of the bees to the extensive use of GMO Crops.

The article posted below considers a related process: The death of the songbirds resulting from the extensive use of toxic pesticides and chemicals in export agriculture (fruits and vegetables) in Latin America.

It should be noted that the toxic chemicals and pesticides are distributed by the same biotech conglomerates which produce the GMO seeds.

Moreover, many of the pesticides and chemicals used in commercial agriculture are applied to sustain the production of specific GMO varieties including the fruits and vegetables exported out of Latin America.

What we are dealing with is the extinction of various forms of animal life, which is directly related to the Worldwide control exerted by the biotech companies over farming.

Michel Chossudovsky, April 6, 2008

***

The number of migratory songbirds returning to North America has gone into sharp decline due to the unregulated use of highly toxic pesticides and other chemicals across Latin America.

Photo

Ornithologists blame the demand for out-of-season fruit and vegetables and other crops in North America and Europe for the destruction of tens of millions of passerine birds. By some counts, half of the songbirds that warbled across America ’s skies only 40 years ago have gone, wiped out by pesticides or loss of habitat.

Forty-six years ago, the naturalist Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring, a study of the ravages caused to wildlife, especially birds, by DDT. The chemical’s use on American farms almost eradicated entire species, including the peregrine falcon and bald eagle.

The pesticide was banned and bird numbers recovered, but new and highly toxic pesticides banned by the US and European Union are being widely used in Latin America.

Because of changed consumer habits in Europe and the US, export-led agriculture has transformed the wintering grounds of birds into intensive farming operations producing grapes, melons and bananas as well as rice for export.

Ornithologists say another silent spring is dawning across the US as birds are being poisoned by toxic chemicals or killed as pests in their winter refuges across South and Central America as well as the Caribbean. They say that many species of songbird will never recover, and others may even become endangered or extinct if controls are not put in place or consumer habits changed.

More problems await those birds which make it home. Millions of acres of wilderness the birds use as nesting grounds have been ploughed under in the drive to grow corn for ethanol, for bio-fuel.

Some 150 species of songbirds undertake extraordinary migrations up to 12,000 miles every year as they move from the south to nesting grounds in the US and Canada every spring. Ornithologists say that almost all these species are at risk of poisoning.

The migratory songbirds in most trouble include the wood thrush, the Kentucky warbler, the eastern kingbird and the bobolink, celebrated by the 19th century American poet Emily Dickinson as “the rowdy of the meadows”.

Bridget Stutchbury, an ornithologist and professor at York University in Toronto, said: “With spring we take it for granted that the sound of the songbirds will fill the air with their cheerful sounds. But each year, as we continue to demand out-of-season fruits and vegetables, fewer and fewer songbirds will return.”

The bobolink songbird has experienced such a steep decline, it has almost fallen off the charts. The birds migrate in flocks from Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay to the east coast of the US, feeding on grain and rice, prompting farmers to regard them as a pest. Bobolink numbers have plummeted almost 50 per cent in the past four decades, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey.

Rosalind Renfrew, a biologist who studied bobolinks as they were feeding in rice paddies in Bolivia, found about half of the birds had been exposed to toxic chemicals banned in Europe and the US. Some 40 to 50 species, which include the barn swallow, the wood thrush, the dickcissel as well as migratory birds of prey, are starting to disappear.

It is only recently that the decline has been definitively linked to the use of toxic pesticides in the Caribbean and across Latin America. “Everyone who has looked for pesticide poisoning in birds has found it,” Professor Stutchbury said. “When we count birds during our summers we are finding significant population declines in about three dozen species of songbirds.”

She wrote in the comment pages of The New York Times: “They are the modern-day canaries in the coal mine.” She said: “The imported fruits and vegetables found in our shopping carts in winter and early spring are grown with types and amounts of pesticides that would often be illegal in the United States.”

Growers are using high doses of pesticides, which the World Health Organisation calls class I toxins. These are also toxic to humans and are either restricted or banned in the US and EU. But controls in Latin American countries are easily flouted.

“I believe that if we don’t make drastic changes quite literally many birds which are common now are going to become rare,” said Professor Stutchbury.

Testing by individual EU countries and the US Food and Drug Administration reveals that fruits and vegetables imported from Latin America are three and sometimes four times as likely to violate basic standards for pesticide residues.

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Leonard Doyle, The Independent, 2008
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8575

see

Death of the Bees: GMO Crops and the Decline of Bee Colonies in North America

The World According to Monsanto – A documentary that Americans won’t ever see (full video)

GMO

Slave labour that shames US By Leonard Doyle

Dandelion Salad

By Leonard Doyle
ICH
12/19/07 “The Independent

Migrant workers chained beaten and forced into debt, exposing the human cost of producing cheap food

Three Florida fruit-pickers, held captive and brutalised by their employer for more than a year, finally broke free of their bonds by punching their way through the ventilator hatch of the van in which they were imprisoned. Once outside, they dashed for freedom.

When they found sanctuary one recent Sunday morning, all bore the marks of heavy beatings to the head and body. One of the pickers had a nasty, untreated knife wound on his arm. Police would learn later that another man had his hands chained behind his back every night to prevent him escaping, leaving his wrists swollen.

The migrants were not only forced to work in sub-human conditions but mistreated and forced into debt. They were locked up at night and had to pay for sub-standard food. If they took a shower with a garden hose or bucket, it cost them $5.

Their story of slavery and abuse in the fruit fields of sub-tropical Florida threatens to lift the lid on some appalling human rights abuses in America today.

Between December and May, Florida produces virtually the entire US crop of field-grown fresh tomatoes. Fruit picked here in the winter months ends up on the shelves of supermarkets and is also served in the country’s top restaurants and in tens of thousands of fast-food outlets.

But conditions in the state’s fruit-picking industry range from straightforward exploitation to forced labour. Tens of thousands of men, women and children – excluded from the protection of America’s employment laws and banned from unionising – work their fingers to the bone for rates of pay which have hardly budged in 30 years.

Until now, even appeals from the former president Jimmy Carter to help raise the wages of fruit-pickers have gone unheeded. However, with Florida looming as a key battleground during the the next presidential election, there is hope that their cause will be raised by the Democratic candidates Barack Obama and John Edwards.

Fruit-pickers, who typically earn about $200 (£100) a week, are part of an unregulated system designed to keep food prices low and the plates of America’s overweight families piled high. The migrants, largely Hispanic and with many of them from Mexico, are the last wretched link in a long chain of exploitation and abuse. They are paid 45 cents (22p) for every 32-pound bucket of tomatoes collected. A worker has to pick nearly two-and-a-half tons of tomatoes – a near impossibility – in order to reach minimum wage. So bad are their working and living conditions that the US Department of Labour, which is not known for its sympathy to the underdog, has called it “a labour force in considerable distress”.

A week after the escapees managed to emerge from the van in which they had been locked up for the night, police discovered that a forced labour operation was supplying fruit-pickers to local growers. Court papers describe how migrant workers were forced into debt and beaten into going to work on farms in Florida, as well as in North and South Carolina. Detectives found another 11 men who were being kept against their will in the grounds of a Florida house shaded by palm trees. The bungalow stood abandoned this week, a Cadillac in the driveway alongside a black and chrome pick-up truck with a cowboy hat on the dashboard. The entire operation was being run by the Navarettes, a family well known in the area.

Also near by was the removals van from which Mariano Lucas, one of the first to escape, punched his way through a ventilation hatch to freedom in the early hours of 18 November. With him were Jose Velasquez, who had bruises on his face and ribs and a cut forearm, and Jose Hari. The men told police they had to relieve themselves inside the van. Other migrant workers were kept in other vehicles and sheds scattered around the garden.

Enslaved by the Navarettes for more than a year, the men had been working in blisteringly hot conditions, sometimes for seven days a week. Despite their hard work, they were mired in debt because of the punitive charges imposed by their employer, who is being held on minor charges while a grand jury investigates his alleged involvement in human trafficking.

The men had to pay to live in the back of vans and for food. Their entire pay cheques went to the Navarettes and they were still in debt. They slept in decrepit sheds and vehicles in a yard littered with rubbish. When one man did not want to go to work because he was sick, he was allegedly pushed and kicked by the Navarettes. “They physically loaded him in the van and made him go to work that day. Cesar, Geovanni and Martin Navarette beat him up and as a result he was bleeding in his mouth,” a grand jury was told.

The complaint reveals that the men were forced to pay rent of $20 (£10) a week to sleep in a locked furniture van where they had no option but to urinate and defecate in a corner. They had to pay $50 a week for meals – mostly rice and beans with meat perhaps twice a week if they were lucky. The fruit-pickers’ caravans, which they share with up to 15 other men, rent for $2,400 a month – more per square foot than a New York apartment – and are less than 10 minutes’ walk from the hiring fair where the men show up before sunrise. At least half those who come looking for work are not taken on.

Florida has a long history of exploiting migrant workers. Farm labourers have no protection under US law and can be fired at will. Conditions have barely changed since 1960 when the journalist Edward R Murrow shocked Americans with Harvest Of Shame, a television broadcast about the bleak and underpaid lives of the workers who put food on their tables. “We used to own our slaves but now we just rent them,” Murrow said, in a phrase that still resonates in Immokalee today.

For several years, a campaign has been under way to improve the workers’ conditions. After years of talks, a scheme to pay the tomato pickers a penny extra per pound has been signed off by McDonald’s, the world’s biggest restaurant chain, and by Yum!, which owns 35,000 restaurants including KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. But Burger King, which also buys its tomatoes in Immokalee, has so far refused to participate, threatening the entire scheme.

“We see no legal way of paying these workers,” said Steve Grover, the vice-president of Burger King. He complained that a local human rights group, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers “has gone after us because we are a known brand”. But he added: “At the end of the day, we don’t employ the farmworkers so how can we pay them?”

Burger King will not pay the extra penny a pound that the tomato-pickers are demanding he said. “If we agreed to the penny per pound, Burger King would pay about $250,000 annually, or $100 per worker. How does that solve exploitation and poverty?” he asked.

Burger King is not the only buyer digging in its heels. Whole Foods Market, which recently expanded into Britain with a store in London’s upmarket suburb of Kensington, has been discovered stocking tomatoes from one of the most notorious Florida sweatshop producers. Whole Foods ignored an appeal by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to pay an extra penny a pound for its tomatoes.

In a statement Whole Foods said it was “committed to supporting and promoting economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable agriculture” and supports “the right of all workers to be treated fairly and humanely.”

The Democratic candidates for the presidency do not often talk about exploited migrant workers, but there are hints that Barack Obama will visit the Immokalee fruit pickers sometime before Florida’s primary election on 5 February.

Jimmy Carter recently joined the campaign to improve the lot of fruit-pickers, appealing to Burger King and the growers “to restore the dignity of Florida’s tomato industry”. His appeal fell on deaf ears but 100 church groups, including the Catholic bishop of Miami, joined him.

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Brazilian Land Activist Killed In Dispute Over Experimental GM Farm by Leonard Doyle

Dandelion Salad

by Leonard Doyle
Global Research, November 6, 2007
The Independent – 2007-11-05

When a Brazilian peasant organiser led a group of landless farmers on to a European-owned farm last month he was making an environmental protest as well as seeking farmland for about 20 families to cultivate.

Within hours, Valmir Mota de Oliveira, 42, and known as “Keno” would be dead, killed execution-style by two shots to the chest. A security guard was also killed in the shooting.

Keno died trying to stop the development of a research farm for genetically modified soya and corn next to the environmentally sensitive Iguacu National Park, becoming in the process a martyr for the anti-GM movement.

What happened at the seeds research site of the Swiss multinational Syngenta is hotly disputed. What is agreed is that the land invaders – who had been evicted from the same farm in July – set off fireworks as they arrived on the morning of 21 October, causing the unarmed guards to flee and seek help. Within a few hours, an armed militia showed up at the farm on a minibus and, shortly afterwards, Keno was killed and several more protesters were seriously injured. What role Syngenta may have played in ordering the militia to drive away the peasants is at the centre of a bitter dispute. It has turned the incident at its Cascavel research farm into a cause célèbre for the landless workers movement in Brazil where four million peasant families are trying to get access to farmland.

For Syngenta, which was formed from an alliance of Novartis and Astra Zenica, the episode has turned into nightmare of accusation and counter-accusation amid suspicion that it gave free rein to an armed militia to protect its lands as it develops GM corn and maize seed for the expanding Brazilian market.

“Here we have a European company, Syngenta, effectively going around shooting people on its farm,” said Sarah Wilson of Christian Aid which helps fund the Movement of Landless Workers (MST) in Brazil.

Syngenta says it does not know exactly what happened on its farm 10 days ago and that it has sent a team of lawyers from its headquarters in Basle to investigate.

“We don’t know what happened and we are waiting for a full police report,” said a company spokesman, Medard Schoenmaeckers, while strongly denying accusations from the landless farmers that it sent an armed militia to the farm to evict them. “We have a specific clause in our contract with the security firm stating that at no time can the guards carry or use arms,” he said. “Until the police issue a report, I don’t want to speculate about what happened.”

The farmers organisation has issued a detailed description of what it claims happened. “A Via Campesina encampment located at Syngenta’s 127-hectare farm … was attacked by an armed militia. During the brutal attack, a leader and activist … was killed at point-blank range.”

Two other MST leaders were pursued by the gunmen but managed to escape. “We are sure that they came here to kill Keno, Celinha and me,” said Celso Barbosa, one of those who escaped, adding that they had both received death threats since the beginning of the year. Several workers were seriously injured in the clashes.

Amnesty International was quick to express its concern with the apparent use by Syngenta of an “armed militia” which the landless farmers movement says acted through a front company, NF Security, controlled by a rural producers organisation linked to agribusiness.

Threats and intimidation by landowners are common in Parana province, according to Amnesty. As recently as 18 October, local human rights groups presented a dossier of evidence to the state human rights commission complaining about armed men hired by landowners and agricultural companies.

They complained that they often used violent and illegal methods forcibly to evict, threaten and attack activists squatting on land.

Global Research Articles by Leonard Doyle
The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Leonard Doyle, The Independent, 2007
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7270

Democrats in $7bn plan to turn US green By Leonard Doyle

Dandelion Salad

By Leonard Doyle in Washington
The Independent
Published: 22 August 2007

America’s politicians are waking up to the moneymaking and job creation possibilities of combating global warming and challenging the Bush administration to invest in a new generation of “green-collar” jobs.

The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives wants to spend almost $7bn (£3.5bn) in the coming year to reduce the nation’s enormous carbon footprint. This has put it on a collision course with the White House, which remains in denial about the dangers of global warming.

A major clash is expected between the White House and Congress in the autumn, with President George Bush sceptical of the Democrats’ newfound enthusiasm for the environment. The best way to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil is to drill for more, he believes.

Continued…

h/t: Malcolm

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‘A dead Iraqi is just another dead Iraqi… You know, so what?’ By Leonard Doyle


Dandelion Salad

Interviews with US veterans show for the first time the pattern of brutality in Iraq

By Leonard Doyle in Washington
ICH

07/12/07 “
The Independent

It is an axiom of American political life that the actions of the US military are beyond criticism. Democrats and Republicans praise the men and women in uniform at every turn. Apart from the odd bad apple at Abu Ghraib, the US military in Iraq is deemed to be doing a heroic job under trying circumstances.

That perception will take a severe knock today with the publication in The Nation magazine of a series of in-depth interviews with 50 combat veterans of the Iraq war from across the US. In the interviews, veterans have described acts of violence in which US forces have abused or killed Iraqi men, women and children with impunity.

The report steers clear of widely reported atrocities, such as the massacre in Haditha in 2005, but instead unearths a pattern of human rights abuses. “It’s not individual atrocity,” Specialist Garett Reppenhagen, a sniper from the 263rd Armour Battalion, said. “It’s the fact that the entire war is an atrocity.”

A number of the troops have returned home bearing mental and physical scars from fighting a war in an environment in which the insurgents are supported by the population. Many of those interviewed have come to oppose the US military presence in Iraq, joining the groundswell of public opinion across the US that views the war as futile.

This view is echoed in Washington, where increasing numbers of Democrats and Republicans are openly calling for an early withdrawal from Iraq. And the Iraq quagmire has pushed President George Bush’s poll ratings to an all-time low.

Journalists and human rights groups have published numerous reports drawing attention to the killing of Iraqi civilians by US forces. The Nation’s investigation presents for the first time named military witnesses who back those assertions. Some participated themselves.

Through a combination of gung-ho recklessness and criminal behaviour born of panic, a narrative emerges of an army that frequently commits acts of cold-blooded violence. A number of interviewees revealed that the military will attempt to frame innocent bystanders as insurgents, often after panicked American troops have fired into groups of unarmed Iraqis. The veterans said the troops involved would round up any survivors and accuse them of being in the resistance while planting Kalashnikov AK47 rifles beside corpses to make it appear that they had died in combat.

“It would always be an AK because they have so many of these lying around,” said Joe Hatcher, 26, a scout with the 4th Calvary Regiment. He revealed the army also planted 9mm handguns and shovels to make it look like the civilians were shot while digging a hole for a roadside bomb.

“Every good cop carries a throwaway,” Hatcher said of weapons planted on innocent victims in incidents that occurred while he was stationed between Tikrit and Samarra, from February 2004 to March 2005. Any survivors were sent to jail for interrogation.

There were also deaths caused by the reckless behaviour of military convoys. Sgt Kelly Dougherty of the Colorado National Guard described a hit-and-run in which a military convoy ran over a 10-year-old boy and his three donkeys, killing them all. “Judging by the skid marks, they hardly even slowed down. But, I mean… your order is that you never stop.”

The worst abuses seem to have been during raids on private homes when soldiers were hunting insurgents. Thousands of such raids have taken place, usually at dead of night. The veterans point out that most are futile and serve only to terrify the civilians, while generating sympathy for the resistance.

Sgt John Bruhns, 29, of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Armoured Division, described a typical raid. “You want to catch them off guard,” he explained. “You want to catch them in their sleep … You grab the man of the house. You rip him out of bed in front of his wife. You put him up against the wall… Then you go into a room and you tear the room to shreds. You’ll ask ‘Do you have any weapons? Do you have any anti-US propaganda?’

“Normally they’ll say no, because that’s normally the truth,” Sgt Bruhns said. “So you’ll take his sofa cushions and dump them. You’ll open up his closet and you’ll throw all the clothes on the floor and basically leave his house looking like a hurricane just hit it.” And at the end, if the soldiers don’t find anything, they depart with a “Sorry to disturb you. Have a nice evening”.

Sgt Dougherty described her squad leader shooting an Iraqi civilian in the back in 2003. “The mentality of my squad leader was like, ‘Oh, we have to kill them over here so I don’t have to kill them back in Colorado’,” she said. “He just seemed to view every Iraqi as a potential terrorist.”

‘It would always happen. We always got the wrong house…’

“People would make jokes about it, even before we’d go into a raid, like, ‘Oh fuck, we’re gonna get the wrong house’. Cause it would always happen. We always got the wrong house.”

Sergeant Jesus Bocanegra, 25, of Weslaco, Texas 4th Infantry Division. In Tikrit on year-long tour that began in March 2003

“I had to go tell this woman that her husband was actually dead. We gave her money, we gave her, like, 10 crates of water, we gave the kids, I remember, maybe it was soccer balls and toys. We just didn’t really know what else to do.”

Lieutenant Jonathan Morgenstein, 35, of Arlington, Virginia, Marine Corps civil affairs unit. In Ramadi from August 2004 to March 2005

“We were approaching this one house… and we’re approaching, and they had a family dog. And it was barking ferociously, cause it’s doing its job. And my squad leader, just out of nowhere, just shoots it… So I see this dog – I’m a huge animal lover… this dog has, like, these eyes on it and he’s running around spraying blood all over the place. And like, you know, what the hell is going on? The family is sitting right there, with three little children and a mom and a dad, horrified. And I’m at a loss for words.”

Specialist Philip Chrystal, 23, of Reno, 3rd Battalion, 116th Cavalry Brigade. In Kirkuk and Hawija on 11-month tour beginning November 2004

“I’ll tell you the point where I really turned… [there was] this little, you know, pudgy little two-year-old child with the cute little pudgy legs and she has a bullet through her leg… An IED [improvised explosive device] went off, the gun-happy soldiers just started shooting anywhere and the baby got hit. And this baby looked at me… like asking me why. You know, ‘Why do I have a bullet in my leg?’… I was just like, ‘This is, this is it. This is ridiculous’.”

Specialist Michael Harmon, 24, of Brooklyn, 167th Armour Regiment, 4th Infantry Division. In Al-Rashidiya on 13-month tour beginning in April 2003

“I open a bag and I’m trying to get bandages out and the guys in the guard tower are yelling at me, ‘Get that fuck haji out of here,’… our doctor rolls up in an ambulance and from 30 to 40 meters away looks out and says, shakes his head and says, ‘You know, he looks fine, he’s gonna be all right,’ and walks back… kind of like, ‘Get your ass over here and drive me back up to the clinic’. So I’m standing there, and the whole time both this doctor and the guards are yelling at me, you know, to get rid of this guy.”

Specialist Patrick Resta, 29, from Philadelphia, 252nd Armour, 1st Infantry Division. In Jalula for nine months beginning March 2004

‘Every person opened fire on this kid, using the biggest weapons we could find…’

“Here’s some guy, some 14-year-old kid with an AK47, decides he’s going to start shooting at this convoy. It was the most obscene thing you’ve ever seen. Every person got out and opened fire on this kid. Using the biggest weapons we could find, we ripped him to shreds…”

Sergeant Patrick Campbell, 29, of Camarillo, California, 256th Infantry Brigade. In Abu Gharth for 11 months beginning November 2004

“Cover your own butt was the first rule of engagement. Someone could look at me the wrong way and I could claim my safety was in threat.”

Lieutenant Brady Van Engelen, 26, of Washington DC, 1st Armoured Division. Eight-month tour of Baghdad beginning Sept 2003

“I guess while I was there, the general attitude was, ‘A dead Iraqi is just another dead Iraqi… You know, so what?’… [Only when we got home] in… meeting other veterans, it seems like the guilt really takes place, takes root, then.”

Specialist Jeff Englehart, 26, of Grand Junction, Colorado, 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry. In Baquba for a year beginning February 2004

“[The photo] was very graphic… They open the body bags of these prisoners that were shot in the head and [one soldier has] got a spoon. He’s reaching in to scoop out some of his brain, looking at the camera and smiling.”

Specialist Aidan Delgado, 25, of Sarasota, Florida, 320th Military Police Company. Deployed to Talil air base for one year beginning April 2003

“The car was approaching what was in my opinion a very poorly marked checkpoint… and probably didn’t even see the soldiers… The guys got spooked and decided it was a possible threat, so they shot up the car. And they [the bodies] literally sat in the car for the next three days while we drove by them.

Sergeant Dustin Flatt, 33, of Denver, 18th Infantry Brigade, 1st Infantry Division. One-year from February 2004

“The frustration that resulted from our inability to get back at those who were attacking us led to tactics that seemed designed simply to punish the local population…”

Sergeant Camilo Mejía, 31, from Miami, National Guardsman, 1-124 Infantry Battalion, 53rd Infantry Brigade. Six-month tour beginning April 2003

“I just remember thinking, ‘I just brought terror to someone under the American flag’.”

Sergeant Timothy John Westphal, 31, of Denver, 18th Infantry Brigade, 1st Infantry Division. In Tikrit on year-long tour beginning February 2004

“A lot of guys really supported that whole concept that if they don’t speak English and they have darker skin, they’re not as human as us, so we can do what we want.”

Specialist Josh Middleton, 23, of New York City, 2nd Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division. Four-month tour in Baghdad and Mosul beginning December 2004

“I felt like there was this enormous reduction in my compassion for people. The only thing that wound up mattering is myself and the guys that I was with, and everybody else be damned.”

Sergeant Ben Flanders, 28, National Guardsman from Concord, New Hampshire, 172nd Mountain Infantry. In Balad for 11 months beginning March 2004

The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness, by Chris Hedges and Laila al-Arian, appears in the 30 July issue of The Nation

© 2007 Independent News and Media Limited FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

see:

Dahr Jamail, Iraq Reporter Schizophrenic in Disneyland By Tom Engelhardt

The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness by Chris Hedges & Laila Al-Arian