Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Silencing is Golden

Commenter Lizzy pointed me toward a story that is getting some legs of late. Daniel Goetz is a soldier stationed in Iraq who has been posting to his blog, All the King's Horses, that he started in February, 2005, shortly after receiving a stop-loss order from the military. Goetz has been rather critical of the mission in Iraq, though he claims he has observed military restrictions on communications that exist within the Uniform Code of Military Justice. His postings spoke of the very grim reality the US military was delivering upon the people of Iraq and it is clear that it was having its effects upon the soldiers as well.
We - the forlorn Atlas, who bears the burden of lofty decisions - salute you, the free. May this day be a blessing to you and yours as you celebrate your freedom from the clutches of tyranny and strife. May your beer be as cold as the hearts of your enemies and your fireworks carry the zeal of your patriotism.

On this day, may you not be napalmed by an invading Army. May you not be tortured for a parking violation. Today, may your hometown not be bombed. When you sit down to eat tonight, may armed men not barge into your house and search your wife’s underwear drawer. May you not be zip-tied, marched outside, beaten and shot in the face.

God Save America.

God, save America.
On October 13, Goetz was named Vet of the Week by Operation Truth. While grateful to know that his words were reaching people, he also knew what that might mean:
I am excited and nervous for the extra attention this will attract.
Goetz's anxiety appears to have been well founded because a week later, he posted his last entry, the lastest victim of Army censorship. After months of critical posting, his last post thanks everyone for their positive feeback and support and
I am officially a supporter of the administration and of her policies. I am a proponent for the war against terror and I believe in the mission in Iraq. I understand my role in that mission, and I accept it. I understand that I signed the contract which makes stop loss legal, and I retract any statements I made in the past that contradict this one. Furthermore, I have the utmost confidence in the leadership of my chain of command, including (but not limited to) the president George Bush and the honorable secretary of defense Rumsfeld. If I have ever written anything on this site or on others that lead the reader to believe otherwise, please consider this a full and complete retraction.

I apologize for any misunderstandings that might understandably arise from this. Should you continue to have questions, please feel free to contact me through e-mail. I promise to respond personally to each, but it may take some time; my internet access has become restricted.
As usual, moves toward censorhip like this garner far more attention than the actual information being censored and Goetz's story is blasting around the web. The military has never really figure out that this actually happens.

The military never likes it when soldiers criticize the "situation on the ground" and Goetz had certainly been doing that. But this move appears to be one more borne of pathetic desperation. With the constant and continuing instability in Iraq, a soldier's silence is now one of the few things the Army can actually enforce. The tactic is not new and it has been in abundant display within the Bush administration.

It is interesting to note that, as usual, the right wing side of the blog world completely ignores stories such as these -- at least I don't see any of the tighty-righties like powerline showing up in a google blogsearch. But this is nothing surprising. Can anyone, at this point, understand just how administration supporters manage to spout their meaningless "support the troops" drivel while paying no actual attention to the troops or the treatment they receive at the hands of this callous administration?

We have seen Bush supporters become downright hostile towards troops when they get uppity. Many will recall the inane howling about -- especially deranged folk demanding a firing squad for -- the soldier who asked Rumsfeld about humvee armour. Just what is it that these people mean by the now trite phrase? This is rhetorical, of course. We know exactly what they mean by it: shut up! Even if you're a soldier. They don't want to think about anything and they certainly want neither you nor any soldier telling them something that might cause it to happen, however remote a possibility thinking may be to them.

I sincerely hope Goetz and every other soldier over there gets out of that hellhole alive. This is neither a realistic nor pragmatic hope, but it surely is more realistic than hoping that the Bush administration will suddenly discover an exit strategy, something they have cared nothing for since day one of this deadly debacle.


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