Was it the promise or was it the SOFA?

On Friday, October 21, 2011, Mr. Obama, invoking one of his campaign promises, announced the complete withdrawal of all U.S. Troops from Iraq by "the [Christian] holidays." Over the weekend, he and his media arm further spun the story, claiming the deadline had been negotiated by G.W. Bush.

Behind the scenes — later paragraphs — we discover that the Pentagon wanted to keep at least 3,000 to 5,000 troops on Iraqi soil. The true number was significantly larger. But they’re all leaving. Why?

It was almost certainly the S.O.F.A., the acronym for "Status Of Forces Agreement."

Obama’s announcement signals that US officials have been unable to negotiate with Iraq’s leaders a renewal of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) governing the stationing and mission of American troops on Iraqi soil. Pentagon officials in particular, backed by a number of congressional leaders, had called for leaving a force of between 3,000 and 5,000 in Iraq for an extended period. –Iraq withdrawal: With US troops set to exit, 9-year war draws to close – CSMonitor.com

A key provision of any SOFA is exempting occupying soldiers from the laws of the country being occupied. It was this provision that Iraqi negotiators refused to renew. Thus, for example, once the old SOFA expired, U.S. soldiers who killed an Iraqi could be tried for murder under Iraqi law.

The Iraqis, it seems, found the back door to get rid of occupying U.S. troops.

This would likely work in other countries as well.

But that still leaves the drones.

What’s the Opiate of the Masses Again?

Oh, thank heathens. Once liberals have forged the Great Society among the grunts, they can take another crack at Nam.

A noteworthy excerpt from the article tweeted above:

Mother Jones: One of the most prominent military humanists has to be Pat Tillman, the NFL star turned Afghanistan hero whose death by friendly fire was the subject of a government cover-up. But his religious convictions, or his lack of them, seems under-reported.

Jason Torpy (president of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers): Pat Tillman was a hero and an inspiration to the nation. It’s unfortunate that there’s a certain type of hero worship that goes on, where we decide that a person is good and start heaping extra good qualities on him. That sort of hero worship was attempted to be put on Pat Tillman a little bit. But in all the 9/11 anniversary retrospectives, Pat Tillman wasn’t brought up a lot. I think people realized that he’s not their perfect Christian warrior. He was an atheist. You know, he was one of us. We revere and respect Pat Tillman very much. But the family has not reached out to the movement, and we want to respect them.

That having been said, we plan to name one of our new donor societies after Pat Tillman, based on his example, showing secular values, secular commitment, secular patriotism, and his own status as a great scholar-warrior.

Is that really what happened to the Pat Tillman epic? The mean old Christians suppressed it? Or was it a casualty of the inconvenient fact that Tillman was killed by his fellow soldiers? The Pentagon covered that up and stop-lossed Tillman’s corpse for propaganda purposes; I guess Jason Torpy and company are going to call it up again.

Just one question for Jason Torpy: What would Iraq War–opposing, Noam Chomsky–reading Pat Tillman think of being used as a Lee Greenwood for the godless set?

Get Ready for the Next Great Human Rights Crusade

A mere day after the forces of light and progress ensured that no American can be deprived of his or her God-given right to kill foreigners, a new crisis of conscience emerged. A Chicago Sun-Times editorial from Sept. 21 has the details:

Give military women equal abortion rights

Every woman who gets health insurance though the federal government faces a ban on coverage for abortion. We don’t support this policy, but the government at least allows for a few crucial and humane exceptions. For nearly every group, abortion is covered in the case of rape or incest.

But one maddening and profoundly unfair outlier exists: the U.S. Department of Defense.

If a U.S. servicewomen is raped — a shockingly frequent occurrence — she not only must navigate a sometimes sexist military culture as she attempts to get care and justice, she also must pay for the abortion herself.

And because some overseas military bases don’t provide abortions, this can include a costly flight home to find a doctor who will provide an abortion.

So, before we go any further, this is most emphatically not about the right to an abortion.* It’s about who should pay for certain abortions, which is a topic for another site. What I’m interested in is the “shockingly frequent” rape that’s going on in our most trusted institution. Let’s read on:

Servicewomen have lacked a rape exception since 1981, with a brief respite under President Bill Clinton. Meanwhile, the number of assaults against women have skyrocketed. In 2010, nearly 3,200 sexual assaults were reported in the military, a number that studies show represents just a fraction of total assaults. …

One young woman we spoke to, Jessica Kenyon, says she got no support and was ostracized after saying she was raped and sexually assaulted.

Kenyon strongly supports the rape exception but worries women will continue to be left to fend for themselves.

“There is so much torture when you report an assault,” Kenyon told us. “What will women have to do to prove they were raped?”

Given the context — and everything we’ve learned since Abu Ghraib — is there any reason to believe that she’s using the word “torture” in a strictly figurative sense? Do these rapists hold themselves to a higher standard than the Army Field Manual?

That seems unlikely. So what we have here is an organization speckled with rapists and sadists who are so depraved that they can’t even keep their hands (and other parts) off their comrades — yet this doesn’t raise any broader concerns for the Sun-Times. For instance, the editorial makes no mention whatsoever of all the women and girls (and men and boys) who didn’t volunteer to join the U.S. military but who are subjected to its “bad apples” all the same. Who will pay for their abortions (or funerals)? Who cares? Bigger evils must be confronted. Gay soldiers are being booed!

*Rest assured, gentle reader, that when it comes to abortion, you and I are on the same page. I believe wholeheartedly in whatever slogans you believe in, so there’s no need to post them in comments.

Has your Congressional Rep signed Out-of-Iraq letter?

If your representative has not signed Lee-Jones letter on Iraq, please call his or her office now. The Capitol Hill Switchboard line is 202-225-3121.

The list of current signers to “Bring all U.S. Troops and Military Contractors in Iraq Home by Dec. 31, 2011” is below.

Current Cosigners (80, in addition to Lee & Jones): Baldwin, Bass (CA-33), Braley, Capps, Capuano, Chu, Cicilline, Clark (MI-13), Clarke (NY-11), Cleaver, Clyburn, Cohen, Conyers, Costello, Davis (IL-7), DeFazio, Doggett, Duncan (TN-2), Ellison, Farr, Filner, Frank, Fudge, Garamendi, Grijalva, Gutierrez, Hanabusa, Hastings (FL-23), Heinrich, Hirono, Honda, Jackson Jr. (IL-2), Jackson-Lee, Johnson (TX-30), Johnson (IL-15), Kaptur, Kucinich, Lewis (GA-5), Loebsack, Lofgren, Lujan, Maloney, Matsui, McDermott, McGovern, Michaud, Miller (CA-7), Moore, Nadler, Napolitano, Norton, Olver, Paul, Payne, Rangel, Richardson, Rush, Sanchez (CA-47), Schakowsky, Schrader, Scott (VA-3), Serrano, Sewell, Slaughter, Speier, Stark, Thompson (CA-1), Tonko, Towns, Tsongas, Waters, Watt, Welch, Wilson (FL-17), Woolsey, Yarmuth

Please send any feedback from Congressional offices to hiscze@aol.com. For member of Congress to sign on to this bipartisan letter or for more information, please contact Teddy Miller in Rep. Lee’s office (teddy.miller@mail.house.gov or 5.2661) or Ray Celeste in Rep. Jones’ office (raymond.celeste@mail.house.gov or 6.5241).

Text of Letter:

July 22, 2011
The Honorable Barack Obama

President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to urge you to hold to our nation’s Status of Forces Agreement with the government of Iraq that commits our nation to bringing all of our troops and military contractors home at the end of this calendar year.

The American people have made it clear that the war in Iraq must end. By wide and overwhelming margins, Americans approve of your plan to remove all the troops from Iraq by the end of this year.

We are deeply concerned to learn that your Administration is considering plans to keep potentially thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq beyond the end of this year. Extending our presence in Iraq is counterproductive – the Iraqi people do not support our continued occupation. Remaining in Iraq would only further strengthen the perception that we are an occupying force with no intention of leaving Iraq.

Leaving troops and military contractors in Iraq beyond the deadline is not in our nation’s security interests, it is not in our nation’s strategic interests, and it is not in our nation’s economic interests.

Mr. President, we look forward to working with you in maintaining our nation’s Status of Forces Agreement with the government of Iraq and bringing all of our troops and military contractors home at the end of this year.

Barbara Lee
Member of Congress

Walter B. Jones
Member of Congress