|I support the men and women of the United States Armed Forces, but does the President? It is widely known that our troops in Iraq are ill-equipped and undersupplied. Meanwhile, the administration's policy of privatizing military-related operations means that a Halliburton employee in Iraq is paid many times more than a U.S. soldier doing the exact same job. Who pays the difference? U.S. taxpayers. Great for military contractors, horrible for the morale of the troops and our nation's new record-breaking budget deficits. (Remember, we had a large budget surplus when Bush took office.)
Here are a few FACTS about Bush and his declarations that he supports the troops:
A month before attacking Iraq, the White House proposed cutting $1.5 BILLION from funding for military housing, despite the House Armed Services Committee's statement that thousands of military families were living "in decrepit and dilapidated military housing." Progressive lawmakers proposed an amendment to restore $1 billion in housing funds and pay for it by reducing the tax cuts that Bush wanted to give to the 200,000 Americans who make more than $1 million a year each. Instead of getting $88,000 in tax cuts, the millionaires would have gotten only $83,000 under the amendment. The Republican House, with Bush's backing, voted the proposal down.
In January 2003, Bush said, "I want to make sure that our soldiers have the best possible pay." A few months later, the White House announced it would roll back increases in monthly combat pay (from $225 to $150) and family separation allowance (from $250 to $100). That same month, 164,000 veterans were told that Bush was "immediately cutting off their access to the VA health care system."
In October 2003, the President told our troops, "I want to thank you for your willingness to heed the important call, and I want to thank your families." Two weeks later, the White House announced it OPPOSED a proposal to give National Guard and Reserve members access to the Pentagon's health insurance system, even though a recent General Accounting Office report had estimated that one out of every five Guard members has no health insurance.
One short-lived plan was to charge soldiers who were wounded in Iraq for their meals when they got to American military hospitals. The plan quickly died after newspaper reports about it were published.
President Bush has never attended the funeral of any soldier.
Just before Memorial Day 2004, the Bush administration announced plans for $910 million in cuts for veterans' health care in 2006.
The Washington Post reports that the 2006 budget include a $1.7 BILLION cut for education, supposedly one of Bush's top priorities. Head Start funding is to be cut by $177 million, and the highly successful nutrition program for women, infants, and children is to be cut by $100 million. Also on the list for substantial cuts are police assistance and crime prevention programs, the National Institutes of Health, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Bush has repeatedly declared that "the American people are safer," yet the government's own statistics show that terrorist attacks dramatically spiked after the Iraq invasion, to the highest recorded levels in history.
Bush's stated reason for invading Iraq was to keep that secular nation from imminent use of weapons of mass destruction, despite Colin Powell's February 24, 2001 statement that Saddam Hussein "has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction." Powell was right, and no such weapons were found after the invasion.
Bush and Cheney, both former oilmen, have denied that Iraq's containing the second largest oil reserve on the planet had any influence on their decicion to go to war. With the WMD excuse revealed as false, Bush's latest justification for invasion is the removal of a dictator who committed atrocities upon his own people. This is, at the very least, highly ironic in light of the fact that horrific acts continue in Iraq--but are now committed in the name of the United States of America.
This year, according to corporate sources such as NBC News and Newsweek, the following is being done in Iraq, either by U.S. officials or under their auspices: alleged rebels are summarily executed in police stations without trial, adolescent boys are raped to intimidate their relatives, and POWs are tortured in prisons. Stunningly, most of these atrocities have been photographed and videotaped (the shrieks on the soundtrack were particularly upsetting to those in the U.S. congress who viewed the videos). "If these are released to the public, obviously it's going to make matters worse," Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said during testimony on Capitol Hill. “These are photos that depict incidents of physical violence towards prisoners, acts that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel and inhumane,” he added.
U.S. Major General Antonio Taguba confirmed that there are digital photographs taken by guards depicting U.S. MPs raping Iraqi women. The women were jailed in the hope of convincing their male relatives to provide information. U.S. officials have acknowledged that when U.S. soldiers raid an Iraqi house and fail to find a male suspect, they will frequently take away the suspect's wife or daughter instead.
In the words of Republican Senator Lindsay Graham: "The American public needs to understand, we're talking about rape and murder here. We're not just talking about giving people a humiliating experience. We're talking about rape and murder."
Please help end this terrible disgrace to our nation.
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