Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Honorable Soldiers

Lately, I have spoken a lot about dishonorable men, women, and generals. Every day becomes a litany of dishonorable acts with terrible consequences for those on the ground, in Iraq.

Today I want to talk about some men, soldiers and sailors, who have honored their country, its citizens, and the many before them who served a once honorable and democratic nation. These men, individually and as a group, represent the public face of those Americans, citizen soldiers of conscience, who refuse to obey illegal orders, and those who will not play silent witness to criminal acts perpetrated by the military.

Each of these men have, for reasons of conscience, put themselves in harms way, via the military 'justice' system.

Sgt. Frank Ford was a National Guard counter intelligence officer stationed in Samarra.
On the fifteenth of June, 2003. Sgt. Ford reported to his commanding officer that he had witnessed five incidents of torture and abuse of prisoners.

The officer, Capt. Victor Artiga, gave Ford thirty seconds to retract and forget about his report. Sgt. Ford refused to retract his report. Ford was immediately relieved of his weapons and security clearance, meaning that he could no longer function as an intelligence agent.

36 hours later, Sgt. Ford was strapped to a gurney and secretly, without orders, flown first to Kuwait and then to Germany and later to the States. Altogether, he was kept isolated in locked mental wards, for eight months. All of the numerous psychological tests revealed nothing but a normal individual with no mental health problems.

So, that is the new American Way? Your intelligence guy tells you the truth about something important, but it isn't what you want to hear. So, just lock him up in a mental institution. No messy charges to defend. Hell, it worked for the Russians.

Ford was honorably discharged and is now retired from the military after thirty years of service. Sgt. Ford retired as a senior NCO with many years of active duty service.

You can find a detailed and very interesting account of this story at Democracy Now.
It is an interview with David DeBatto, a writer and former intelligence officer who served in Iraq. The Sgt. Ford story is far from over.

Next on my list of Honorable Soldiers, is a Sailor, Petty Officer 3rd Class Pablo Paredes. Paredes joined the Navy when he was 18. Out of school and not sure what to do next, Pablo was pursued by a Navy recruitment officer who was determined to get his kid.. Pablo enlisted in the Navy.

That was in 2000. Now, twenty three, Paredes is a mature well spoken young man who has done a lot of growing and a lot of learning since the Navy got him, at 18. He finds himself in an untenable situation, serving a purpose that he believes to be utterly wrong and destructive.

This article is an interview with the young man who speaks better for himself than I can. You can read or watch the interview here, at Democracy Now. I watched the interview twice. I was struck by the honesty and the simple courage of this young man. He reminds me of people I knew, a long time ago, the last time America attempted to put down a colonial insurrection.

Petty Officer Paredes is not leaving the country. He is not hiding out or attempting to avoid the Navy. He is simply refusing to lend himself to the continuing crime being committed in Iraq. I imagine he has turned himself in or will when he has the right lawyer in his camp. This is not the sort of thing you use a JAG lawyer for.

Mr. Paredes made it very clear that his work for the Navy exposes him to no combat danger. His decision is based not on personal fear but a sense of personal responsibility.
He also made it very clear that he will be returning to the Navy to face charges.

Contrary to what the howling war lovers will scream, personal fear is not often a big factor in such decisions. If it were, Pablo would just be quiet, do his job, and finish his enlistment, which is nearing it's end. No fuss, no muss, no going to jail and no less than honorable discharge to create future employment problems.

I will have more to say about these two men and many others of their ilk over the next while. These men are the embodiment of the kind of courage that America, as a nation, needs to relearn.

For those of you whose morals and principles are so thin, so warped that you would call men such as Pablo Paredes a coward, I invite you to actually stop and think about this.
Pablo had nothing to fear from just doing his job until his time was over. The course he has chosen to take has much to fear in it. Think about that and then think about your definition of courage and coward.

10 Comments:

At 5:56 AM, Blogger frstlymil said...

Our History is filled with the persecution of those who would dare to speak the truth and stand up for what they believe to be right. These people generally do not have self interest at heart, but instead a great concern for their fellow man. It seems that only after the person is horribly tortured or dies a horrible death for speaking the truth, thus becoming martyred, that anyone will take them seriously as anything other than mentally ill, a traitor, a blasphemor or a dangerous threat. People do not seem to be interested in paying attention to the patterns of human stupidity through time, though, and will continue.

 
At 2:38 PM, Blogger ThomasMcCay said...

Ergo the old truism-those who ignore history are condemned to relive it.

Ignoring, ignorance, self assisted lobotamies, seem to be the order of the day. That rising roar is the sound of history coming down the track, straight at us.

 
At 5:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

with reference to the first comment:
Just as true is how often people tend to draw their conclusions about society from occurences pertaining to successive events of a very particular nature. If you continue to sample from the same population you will get fudged statistics.

 
At 6:14 AM, Blogger frstlymil said...

To Anonymous - I'm hoping that you clarify what you speak of - to clarify from my end, I was referring to World History, and I was stretching as far back as the historical time of Jesus Christ. So it's a rather large reference sample that encompasses many different countries and their approach to hearing that which they don't want to hear, deal with, act upon, repair, consider, etc....statistically speaking, our race (i.e. human) has a habit of repeating history time and time again, decade after decade, which can mean anything from war, discrimination and the desire to segregate whole sections of the population or deny them rights, (women, blacks, the Japanese or Italians, gays, people of Arabic decent) to the more benign repetition of fashion trends every 20 years. It seems to be more prevalent in US society or history - perhaps because there is so much material available on record for everyone to review.

 
At 9:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The sad thing about the coverup article is that the person in question is in fact crazy and delussional.

For example: if you look closely at the photograph of Mr. Ford, you will see that there is an insignia on top of his left breast pocket. It is the insignia of the Navy Seals, or the budweiser badge as it is commonly refered to.

It might not be important to everybody, but wearing insignias and badges you have not earned is a crime. Pretending to be a person you are not shows inmaturity and shame on who you are.

Mr. Ford is wearing the uniform while on active duty displaying a badge he did not earn, insulting the men who have rightfully earned and died while serving their country in some of the most daring and dangerous missions anybody could ask for. It degrades the lost lives and the sacrifice made by every single Seal in the community.

Also, Mr. Ford was known as Doctor Ford. He even used to sign with the M.D. Suffix on his name. Never mind that Mr. Ford is not a doctor.

So, taking into consideration that this person makes allegations of torture, while pretending to be a Navy Seal and a Doctor, makes you kind of wonder the veracity of his statements.

Also, it is nice to note that Mr. DeBatto, describes events in his article that never actually happened.

For example. In trying to show what a poor leader Col. Pappas is, he mentions the fact that 3 soldiers died while in transit to his Change Of Command Ceremony. That never took place.

In reality, the soldiers died while travelling to LTC Griffin's Change Of Command Ceremony, one of COL. Pappas' subordinate commanders.

Mr. DeBatto mentioned the fact that the 223rd was one of the first divisions to enter Iraq after the "Shock and Awe" aerial bombardment.

Well. The fact that the 223rd was one of the first "UNITS" to enter the war is almost true. Elements of the 223rd MI Bn entered Iraq early in the war. But those elements were attached and/or assigned to the 519th MI Bn (ABN TE). The HQ Section was safely in Kuwait awaiting movement orders (including DeBatto and Ford).

DeBatto calls the 223rd a "division". Anybody who knows military doctrine can tell you that a Division is a military unit composed of many brigades and battalions. For an "intelligence expert" to call a battalion "a division" makes you kind of wonder if he is truly that familiar with simple military structure. Is the trying to make it sound like the 223rd is a huge unit? Or is he just showing his ignorance in simple military doctrine and terminology.

Ford mentions the fact that "no medevac order" was written. That is not cover up material. That is just a sign of the fact that the headquarters section of the 223rd did not know how to operate in that environment. The 223rd MI Bn (L) (prior to the OIF I deployment) had never been to war. Many rules and regulations were broken or omitted not due to "conspiracy", but just plain ignorance and lack of knowledge. No person be it civilian or military is authorized into a military aircraft without being entered into the aircraft' Manifest. That is a matter of procedure. Mr. Ford's departure from the theater is a known fact. Everybody in the unit knew about it, and most were glad about it.

To finish this of, I would like to say that I personally know two of the soldiers Mr. Ford is accusing of "torture". He could have not picked two nicer people to make wild accusations against. These two are professionals, who have ethics and respect for human life and dignity. It pains me to hear that Mr. Ford is tarnishing their names and their military careers. To accuse somebody of war crimes is a tall order and it must be done with a clear head and appropiate evidence.

And even though a lot of people did not enjoy working for LTC Ryan or CPT Artiga, these two officers are hardly the types to try to cover up anything of this magnitude. LTC Ryan was media-savy and would have jumped at the chance to get his name in the news.

Mr. Ford might be trying to clear his name, but we in the 223rd know him for who he is: a wannabe navy seal who falsely claimed to be a doctor, and is now claiming that his team-mates are torturers. He shames the military intelligence community, he shames his THT team who did outstanding work in the field, but worse of all, he shames himself.

Out

 
At 9:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the way,

if you go to www.veriSEAL.org, a group dedicated to exposing phonies (in the special warfare community), you may see:

http://sec-global.com/services/ctp/vsg/profiles/fordfg/fordfg002-ftlewis.jpg

By the way, that is in fact the photopraph supplied by Salon.com

Maybe a person who has no regard for the UCMJ and Federal Law, might not have a problem making up stories about abuse. Maybe in fact, he is delusional and/or suffering from PTSD.

Also, I hate to post anonymously. If you guys have any questions/comments, feel free to contact me at tht73a@yahoo.com

For confidentiality purposes, my name is "John".

 
At 1:21 PM, Blogger ThomasMcCay said...

I'm not sure why you are assuming Sgt. Ford is wearing badges, in an official military photo, that he did not earn. You should have read the article more closely. Sgt. Ford has 30 years active service. Including at least one hitch in the Navy. I suppose you missed that part.

You might also note that the doctors who examined him all agreed that he was not suffering trauma or any other mental illness. Of course, you can diagnose illness and lies from a photograph.

If you must make excuses for the liars, thieves, and political nut jobs that run the present government, try harder. Check all the facts before making your 'diagnosis'.

It is your president that has been photographed in borrowed medals and unearned uniforms. Your president who, like me, deserted during Vietnam. I have no reason to doubt the honor of Sgt. Ford. I have every reason to doubt the honor and the veracity of your president.

 
At 4:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not assuming. I have seen him in person, in front of me, wearing the badge he did not earn. Did you go to the link I provided above? That organization is dedicated to exposing fakes and liars, who wear the Navy Seal Trident and who make wild stories up, about their special warfare/special operations past.

My message is not about making people not think about the wrongdoings of our current administration. On the contrary. We are all hoping that the personnel who conducted illegal operations, and who used illegal methods to extract information, get prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and the UCMJ.

What I am saying is that Mr. Ford is lying about his accusations, and that in fact, he is delusional and suffering from PTSD.

I am not going to argue about a doctor's diagnosis. I am not a doctor, nor will I discuss things I do not know (like psychiatry). But if Ford has lied about his accomplishments, his affiliations, his doctorate degree, then... maybe he is also lying about torture?

His preposterous accusations are hurting two of my friends and co-workers. Dragging the names of people like Mr. DeBatto has done is not only insulting, it should be criminal.

And don't forget that I worked in the same unit, at the same time, in the same war with this two "honorably retired" gentlemen.

Take care,

John @ tht73a@yahoo.com

 
At 7:50 PM, Blogger ThomasMcCay said...

John or whoever you are. At this point, your claims are meaningless. Why? Because you are claiming special information while hiding your identity. You have nothing to offer but what you claim is personal knowledge, nothing objective to back it up. So, you present the opinion of a screen name. For all I know, you may be a 14 year old boy with a hard-on for soldiers.

Use your real name and take personal responsibility for what you are claiming or go away. I have no interest in anonymous accusers nor will I allow you to continue posting such accusations without using your real name.

I will leave what you have posted, so far, but no more. Sgt Ford is using his real name, Debatto, and I am using real names. Put up or shut up. No more anonymous accusations. It is a question of honor and personal responsibility. As long as you hide yourself while accusing others, your accusations come across as politically motivated fiction.

 
At 8:02 AM, Blogger frstlymil said...

Hear, hear. You know, since I decided to go back to school, there is not one factoid we students can get away with putting in writing without the backup of significant source material cited for look-up. One site hastily thrown together for the purpose of quashing any opinion or evidence that speaks to the current state of things "John" uses for his argument does not credible rebuttal make. Thank you Mr. McKay for insisting upon more than hearsay.

 

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