Punishment for a Traitor

Protected by a podium, thousands of thorns in the world’s most beautiful rose garden, and a cordon of Secret Service agents, President Bush continued his retreat into a bunker mentality.

The House and Senate had just passed a $122 billion war funding bill that demanded U.S. troops begin a systematic withdrawal from Iraq. Sen. Harry Reid, majority leader, had said that Congress had finally acceded to the will of the people.

President Bush defiantly told the people that he would veto the bill and continue his war in Iraq. “Democrat leaders in Congress seem more interested in fighting political battles in Washington than in providing our troops what they need to fight the battles in Iraq,” said the President. If anyone could be accused of not providing soldiers what they need it’s the President and his Administration.

Soldiers are dying because the Administration didn’t provide adequate body armor, forcing families to privately buy the bullet-proof vests for their sons, daughters, fathers, and mothers.

The Bush–Cheney Administration also stands convicted of not providing enough armor to the thin-skinned Humvees that were forced to patrol booby-trapped roads. The resourceful soldiers had to “uparmour” their own vehicles, with their own resourcefulness. The Administration would claim that manufacturers couldn’t produce the better-protected Humvees fast enough. Several companies that specialize in providing war-resistant protection for Humvees for private use say they advised the Department of Defense about their companies’ abilities but never received contracts.

The Bush–Cheney Administration, once it decided to lie to the American people and invade Iraq, sent in too few troops. To questions of why there weren’t enough troops in Iraq to quell the rising violence and developing civil war, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld merely parroted the President’s naiveté—“The big debate about the number of troops is one of those things that’s really out of my control.” The President said he provided whatever troops the military leadership requested. Gen. Colin Powell, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the first Gulf War and secretary of state at the time of the invasion, had stated that the troop level wasn’t adequate for invasion and occupation. Denied and Humiliated. Gen. Eric Shinseki, Army chief of staff, said “several hundred thousand soldiers” would be needed. Denied; no senior Pentagon official even attended his retirement ceremony. Gen. Tommy Franks, commanding general of Central Command, learned his lesson; he suggested “only” 250,000 troops would be needed. Denied. Even the recent surge of 21,000 troops, which President Bush said was enough to solve the problem, is a lie. The Budget Office estimates 15,000 to 28,000 more troops are necessary just to support the 21,500 combat troops.

The Bush–Cheney Administration stands convicted of sending soldiers into their third tour of duty in Iraq; in what is known as “stop-loss” enlistment it doesn’t allow soldiers to leave the military at the end of their contracts.

With large numbers of military families living at or below the poverty level, the Bush–Cheney Administration stands convicted of having tried to cut a Congressionally-approved pay raise for soldiers. Bush wanted to trim a 3.7 percent raise to only 2 percent, claiming the raise was too costly. Only when it appeared the President’s refusal to increase salaries would jeopardize his political future did the President do the Texas Two-Step and spin reality as quickly as a tumbleweed rolls into Crawford. “We have a solemn responsibility to support the servicemen and women who defend us in the field of battle,” said the President. The following year, Bush tried to slice combat pay for persons in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Bush–Cheney Administration stands convicted of cutting about $1.5 billion for adequate military housing at a time when the Army Times reported that 83,000 barracks units and 129,000 family housing units were substandard.

The Bush–Cheney Administration stands convicted of reducing necessary veterans’ health care benefits by $2 billion, of trying to end health care benefits for almost 175,000 veterans, of requiring several hundred thousand veterans to wait for months to receive medical care because of the lack of funding of VA hospitals, and refusing to allow members of the National Guard to have health care; about 20 percent of all Guardsmen don’t have any health care, according to a Gannett News Service report in 2003.

Only when the “liberal media”—in this case the Washington Post—provided evidence of the conditions at Walter Reed Army Hospital did Bush allow the incoming Secretary of Defense to exercise his authority to take bold action to correct the problems faced by veterans with life-threatening and permanent combat injuries.

Had the $9 billion that was “lost” in Iraq and the billions more that had been misappropriated or wasted been applied to “supporting the troops,” not only would more soldiers have lived through IED explosions, but there would now be adequate medical care for the veterans and their families. There would be enough left over to rebuild New Orleans, give basic health care to the 47 million Americans without insurance, assist the three million homeless (about one-third of them veterans), and probably put a large dent into funds needed to find a cure for cancer.

Of course, Donald Rumsfeld justified all of this non-support for the troops by an excuse. In December 2004, 21 months after the President ordered the shock-and-awe military to invade, occupy, and eventually destroy Iraq, Rumsfeld flippantly said, “As you know, you have to go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you want.” If nothing else about the Bush–Cheney Administration matters, the war in Iraq shows that this nation does not have the president we want or need. His actions and inactions in the Iraq War alone suggest not only has he failed to support the troops, he has lied, deceived, and degraded his oath of office. A court martial for dereliction of duty is not constitutionally possible for the man who likes to be known as the “Commander-in-Chief,” as a “war president,” and as the “Decider.” His actions justify not only impeachment but also charges of treason.

[Walter Brasch, a former newspaper reporter and editor, is professor of journalism at Bloomsburg University. He is the author of 16 books, including one about the effects of the PATRIOT Act and one about the causes and consequences of federal inaction during Hurricane Katrina. His books are available at most online sources. You may contact him through his website, www.walterbrasch.com]

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About Walter Brasch

Columnist, author, journalism professor. Latest book is BEFORE THE FIRST SNOW: STORIES FROM THE REVOLUTION, a look at the couterculture from 1964, as seen through the eyes of a "flower child" who is now middle-aged--and of the reporter who covered her story. The book is available through Amazon.com . . . Check out website, www.walterbrasch.com for further info. Or, just write me: walterbrasch@gmail.com
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11 Responses to Punishment for a Traitor

  1. Darrell Prows says:

    A friendly disagreement. I suggest that the gentleman may have “treason” confused with “high crimes and misdemeanors”.

    As I understand it, the traditional definition of “treason” is to give actual aid and comfort to the enemy. Being an ineffective leader and making the job of our “enemy” easier just doesn’t rise to that standard.

    I wanted to strangle that Coulter bitch when she blithely threw around bogus treason accusations, and I would prefer to see that kind of conduct limited to the right wing side of this particular playing field.

  2. Actually, I believe that by NOT providing the best support for the military in combat, especially by starting a war and NOT giving the troops the necessary manpower and body armor, the c-in-c was giving aid and comfort to the enemy, allowing them to inflict even higher casualties. But, we do agree that Coulter and the other right wing nuts have thrown around the word “treason” to anyone who doesn’t agree with them.

  3. Darrell Prows says:

    You know, “they” said that Hanoi Jane Fonda gave aid and comfort to the North Vietnamese by sitting on an anti aircraft weapon, and I’ve been leery of these things ever since.

    Is the punishment for treason still going to be a death sentence? It would pleasure me no end to see any number of terrible things happen to little Georgie Porgie, but I can honestly say that I don’t wish him dead.

  4. ironxl84 says:

    Good one Walter. Clear as day.

  5. elmercreek says:

    We talk about all kinds of issues about this war and conviently forget the basic issue that this is an illegal war. We can support our troops in this illegal war all we want but it doesn’t change the facts that this is still an illegal war. Bush started an illegal war and he should be responsible for it. He’s responsible for the deaths and displacement of over a million people. That feat doesn’t make me feel proud of my Presidency! Call it treason, high crimes or whatever, you can spin it any way you want, an illegal war is an illegal war.

    Stop the killing, Impeach Bush!

  6. Jessica says:

    While I can appreciate your position on the Administration and the current situation; I believe it is important to take such a position armed with correct facts.
    There are virtually no military families living at or below the poverty level. In fact, the average recruit with less than two years service is earning roughly $20,000 per year and has no living expenses. Housing, meals, medical care are all provided at no cost. Conservatively the value of these items if this young recruit had to purchase them on his or her own would be about $16,200. per year. That gives the young recruit a total income of about $36,000. Not bad for a high school diploma and no work experience (assuming the enlistment occurred just out of high school) Be aware that many military members are earning more than their equally educated civilian counterparts. Given the unique sacrifices of military service, it would only seem appropriate that the compensation package reflect these sacrifices. I’m not saying anyone is getting wealthy as a military member, but poverty level is a definite misconception.

  7. Jessica,

    Let this former Marine correct you on that. An average Recruit with less than two years is not earning that much. First of all, base pay is much lower than you claim. Second of all, contraire to popular belief, they pay not only state taxes to their home state, but they pay federal taxes, which happens to pay their own salary! Yea that’s right, they pay to that, which pays their own salary!!!! There are extas for married people, but single ones have a whole different world to deal with.

    FY 2006 Military base pay is based upon grade (rank) and years of service:

    An E-3 with at least two years in, would make $19,148.40 and have both federal and state taxes taken out. Uniform upkeep and new boots came out our own money while I was in. I had to pay for for my vehicle and the insurance in the state I was in. Haircuts came out our pockets, and had to be done every week. Boot polish? Yep, we paid for that too.

    The very Chevrons on your uniform that you wore to show your rank? Yep, We paid that too. Edge dressing to make the sides of the soles shine? Yep, that too. For those that did not have a car, the cab ride had to be paid if none of their friends had a car.

    The chow hall was not the best in the world, and sometimes you had to eat out to keep your mind from snapping. If there was time to make it there, chicken was to be avoided after being subjected to it non stop! It took me over a year to even attempt eating a piece of chicken after I got home.

    The medical? Oh I can tell you about that. A knee surgery was botched up and ruined me for life! I get a whole $115 a month from the VA for that job. Walter Reed is not the first time they let people down.

    So the military is in no way, paid the wages of what is expected of them. Now think about what it is like to have to pay your way on those wages and pay bills in an area with a high cost of living. Seems small when you are expected to go and risk your life. So how long did you serve Jessica?

  8. Darrell Prows says:

    Like I say, I’m pretty new to this stuff. Is it possible to have a computer named Jessica that goes around to different places and inserts carefully crafted pro government propaganda pieces? It feels like I just read a low key help wanted ad for soldiers.

  9. elmercreek says:

    I wonder what hazzardous duty pay is now? I think it was $65/month in Nam. Anybody remember?

  10. Jessica says:

    Thank you for your service.

    I Served 10 years in the Marine Corps and have been a military spouse for 13.

    By the way, as of today a haircut at the base barber costs $6.

    Enlisted personnel also receive an annual uniform allowance. That allowance is to defray the cost of replacing worn out uniform items. Your boot polish today would cost $3.75 and the can would last you at least a month. Although many services today have moved to boots that don’t require shining.

    Rank insignia is given to enlisted members at the time of promotion and for E-4 and below is sewn on for free at the uniform shop.

    Yes, your vehicle expenses would be your own, but most other jobs won’t give you a vehicle either.

    Hazardous duty pay is currently $150 per month regardless of rank or service.

    I don’t begrudge anyone their opinion. I just believe that when a PhD writes something that would appear to factual, there is a responsibility to verify the information presented.

  11. elmercreek says:

    Wow, $150/month extra for being stationed in Iraq instead of say Germany. I don’t think the boys are doing it for the money!

    Blackwater I’m sure pays better.