Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘U.S. Senate’

He Spoke Up About Bombing

Excerpt from Paging Dr. Leff: Pride, Patriotism & Protest.

arnieinuniformudorn1969074In late 1969 and early 1970, Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base was the second busiest airport in the world, next to Tan Sim Nhut Air Force Base in Saigon. It wasn’t the second busiest with the number of people passing through, but with the number of flights taking off and landing. They weren’t flying for recreation or sightseeing; they were reconnaissance planes and bombers – lots of bombers. They left the field weighed down like heavyweight fighters and returned like featherweights. It was methodical, like clockwork: day in and day out, hour after hour.

A few weeks after his arrival at Udorn, Dr. Leff began to get a feel for his clientele. There were three groups he attended and with whom he became intimately acquainted. The first was the United States Air Force personnel, which numbered about 5,000. The second group was the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) and contract personnel (mercenaries) who were employed by Air America. The third contingent consisted of Royal Laotian Army soldiers who were wounded in the war against the communist Pathet Lao across the border in Laos, protected by the Thai military and treated at Udorn.

The U.S. was supposedly not at war with Laos, but was nonetheless bombing their villages, giving their government military weapons and ammunition and supporting the Royal Laotian Army with money, surveillance, and medical care. The U.S. Air Force was bombing villages that contained nothing but villagers. Intelligence officers ordered changes in the captions on reconnaissance pictures. When questioned, pilots would quote the party line and say they were bombing communist strongholds.

It was common knowledge on the base that their primary mission was to destroy any communist stronghold in Laos. Legality, civilian deaths, and the Geneva Convention were all collateral damage to the mission. The goal was the priority, not the process.

Captain Leff couldn’t help but get a strong whiff of these realities. His patients told him what was going on. He had eyes and ears and could see and hear the stories, the bravado from the pilots; the detached, cold expressions of the Air America personnel. On the rare occasions he visited the officer’s club, his ears were bombarded with the sickening boasts of pilots talking about how many people they had killed that day and how many bombs they had dropped on the bastards. He heard stories from the flight surgeons that did air time over Laos that made his skin crawl. He had arrived in August as a patriotic serviceman; by September, his patriotism had been bruised, bloodied and battered.

“Within three months time, I knew the war was all hocus pocus,” Captain Leff recalled. “People were lying left and right. It was all so obvious. By that time, I had made friends with a number of GIs, both stripers and officers, who had the same hit on this mess as I did. So, I wrote a letter. I wrote a letter to the Chairman of the foreign relations committee of the U.S. Senate, J. W. Fulbright. It wasn’t complicated; it just said, ‘I don’t understand. What is this war in Laos all about? How can we have this secret war?’ I never expected to hear from him. Even though military personnel are allowed to write congressional letters, I had a strong feeling that the Air Force was reading my mail and wasn’t sure if he’d even get it. I didn’t give any details. I sent it on November 11, 1969. On December 10th, I received his reply. I was shocked. It was a personal reply, not a form letter. He said he was doing all he could to stop the war on Laos and appreciated my concern. In the beginning of 1970, I sent him another letter with more detail and said I’d be glad to speak to his commission. Again, he replied and said they would take me up on my offer when I returned to the States.”

Dr. Leff had just opened a Pandora’s Box of deceit, corruption, and legitimate paranoia.

More at Paging Dr. Leff: Pride, Patriotism & Protest

All Women, Not Some

Dear Gabriel,

W1302EAWMN1_2Congress turned its back on women last year when it shamefully failed to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) for the first time since 1994.

The reason? A group of lawmakers in the House of Representatives wanted to deny protections for three communities that face disproportionate levels of violence — Native American and Alaska Native women, immigrant women and LGBT individuals.

But there is hope. Last week, the U.S. Senate passed a strong, inclusive and bipartisan VAWA that will help support all women facing violence and exploitation.

Amnesty is mobilizing an urgent effort to get an identical bill passed in the House. Please donate now and support our work to defend human rights.

The stakes couldn’t be higher.

1 in 3 Native American and Alaska Native women will be raped in her lifetime. When the perpetrator is a non-Native man – as in 86% of cases – a complex maze of jurisdictional issues can delay the judicial process or potentially even allow the perpetrator to escape justice.

Immigrant women often face higher rates of sexual harassment and domestic abuse – but when it comes to seeking justice, they have few legal rights and little protection from abusers who could exploit their immigration status.

LGBT violence survivors often face discrimination when attempting to access potentially life-saving social services – discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
An inclusive VAWA would put an end to these injustices . Stand with us and help pressure Congress to put partisan politics aside and protect the rights of all women. Donate now.

Your donation will help mobilize grassroots activists to pressure Congress through phone calls and office visits, educate the public about the current gaps in services that survivors face, and pressure key Representatives to muster the political will to support an inclusive bill.

If you believe in justice for all people – not justice for somedonate now.

Thank you for all that you do to protect human rights.

Cristina Finch
Managing Director, Women’s Human Rights Program
Amnesty International USA

“Rape is God’s Gift”

Dear Gabriel,

Last night a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate claimed that raped women should be forced to carry their rapist’s baby to term because their pregnancy — a result of rape — is a “gift from God.”

Tell Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock: Rape is a heinous act of violence, and no politician should tell women that any part of being raped is a gift from God. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

Mourdock’s exact words — in the debate with his Democratic opponent — were:

“I struggled with myself for a long time but I came to realize life is that gift from God, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape. It is something that God intended to happen.”

Mourdock is a staunch believer that abortion should be illegal even for victims of rape and incest. But even for an anti-abortion Tea Party Republican claiming that any part of of being raped is for the woman a “gift from God” is appalling.

Make no mistake: Tea Party Republicans like Mourdock will stop at nothing to send women back to the Stone Age. And if he wins election in Indiana, he will put Republicans one seat closer to control of the Senate. And that could mean that extreme anti-woman legislation passed readily in the House — defunding Planned Parenthood, redefining rape, blocking access to birth control — would now have a shot at passing the Senate.

Rape is rape. And it is not acceptable for a Republican politician campaigning for one of the highest offices in our government to tell women that if they get pregnant as a result of rape, that it’s a “gift from God.”

Thank you for standing up for women.

Becky Bond, Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Something Smells Foul

Excerpt from Paging Dr. Leff: Pride, Patriotism & Protest.

In late 1969 and early 1970, Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base was the second busiest airport in the world, next to Tan Sim Nhut Air Force Base in Saigon. It wasn’t the second busiest with the number of people passing through, but with the number of flights taking off and landing. They weren’t flying for recreation or sightseeing; they were reconnaissance planes and bombers – lots of bombers. They left the field weighed down like heavyweight fighters and returned like featherweights. It was methodical, like clockwork: day in and day out, hour after hour.

A few weeks after his arrival at Udorn, Dr. Leff began to get a feel for his clientele. There were three groups he attended and with whom he became intimately acquainted. The first was the United States Air Force personnel, which numbered about 5,000. The second group was the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) and contract personnel (mercenaries) who were employed by Air America. The third contingent consisted of Royal Laotian Army soldiers who were wounded in the war against the communist Pathet Lao across the border in Laos, protected by the Thai military and treated at Udorn.

The U.S. was supposedly not at war with Laos, but was nonetheless bombing their villages, giving their government military weapons and ammunition and supporting the Royal Laotian Army with money, surveillance, and medical care. The U.S. Air Force was bombing villages that contained nothing but villagers. Intelligence officers ordered changes in the captions on reconnaissance pictures. When questioned, pilots would quote the party line and say they were bombing communist strongholds.

It was common knowledge on the base that their primary mission was to destroy any communist stronghold in Laos. Legality, civilian deaths, and the Geneva Convention were all collateral damage to the mission. The goal was the priority, not the process.

Captain Leff couldn’t help but get a strong whiff of these realities. His patients told him what was going on. He had eyes and ears and could see and hear the stories, the bravado from the pilots; the detached, cold expressions of the Air America personnel. On the rare occasions he visited the officer’s club, his ears were bombarded with the sickening boasts of pilots talking about how many people they had killed that day and how many bombs they had dropped on the bastards. He heard stories from the flight surgeons that did air time over Laos that made his skin crawl. He had arrived in August as a patriotic serviceman; by September, his patriotism had been bruised, bloodied and battered.

“Within three months time, I knew the war was all hocus pocus,” Captain Leff recalled. “People were lying left and right. It was all so obvious. By that time, I had made friends with a number of GIs, both stripers and officers, who had the same hit on this mess as I did. So, I wrote a letter. I wrote a letter to the Chairman of the foreign relations committee of the U.S. Senate, J. W. Fulbright. It wasn’t complicated; it just said, ‘I don’t understand. What is this war in Laos all about? How can we have this secret war?’ I never expected to hear from him. Even though military personnel are allowed to write congressional letters, I had a strong feeling that the Air Force was reading my mail and wasn’t sure if he’d even get it. I didn’t give any details. I sent it on November 11, 1969. On December 10th, I received his reply. I was shocked. It was a personal reply, not a form letter. He said he was doing all he could to stop the war on Laos and appreciated my concern. In the beginning of 1970, I sent him another letter with more detail and said I’d be glad to speak to his commission. Again, he replied and said they would take me up on my offer when I returned to the States.”

Dr. Leff had just opened a Pandora’s Box of deceit, corruption, and legitimate paranoia. MORE

MORE

Tag Cloud