by Peter Phillips and Craig Cekala
For the second year (2010) in a row, more US soldiers killed themselves
(468) than died in combat, reports Cord Jefferson January 27, 2011 on
Excluding accidents and illness, 462 soldiers died in combat,
while 468 committed suicide. Veterans who, after serving, suffer Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are also at high risk. The study showed
that 47 percent of veterans with PTSD had thoughts of suicide before they
found help. The internal anguish a soldier experiences after returning from
Iraq and Afghanistan can be far more severe than that experienced during
live external combat.
More than 2 million troops have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since
2001. Those who do return often suffer from physical, psychological, and
cognitive trauma. More than 40 per 100,000 men from the ages of 20 to 24
take their lives each year. Some deaths, which are not part of these
statistics, are due to driving while under the influence of alcohol consumed
due to depression.
In 2008, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans were 75 percent
more likely to die in a car accident and 148 percent more likely to die in a
motorcycle accident. By making the calculations of 40 per 100,000 per year
the numbers of veteran suicides reaches into the tens of thousands
nationwide since the beginning of the 9/11 wars.
In 2009, there were 381 military personnel suicides , a number that also
exceeded the number of combat deaths.
While the military has acknowledged an
increase in suicides for some years, the corporate media tends to downplay
the seriousness of these deaths by pointing to improvements and blaming the
USA Today reporter Gregg Zoroya writes on
“After nine years of war, the Army attracts
recruits ready for combat but inclined toward risky personal behavior.
It’s a volatile mix that led to more deaths from suicide, drug overdoses
and drinking and driving than from warfare, an Army review concludes.”
“The Marine Corps reported a decline in suicides from 52 in 2009 to 37
confirmed or suspected cases in 2010. Among active-duty Army soldiers,
there were 156 potential suicides in 2010, down slightly from 162 in
2009,” writes Zoroya in an earlier article January 20, 2011.
Chris Hedges quotes former mortuary unit marine
“War is disgusting and horrific,” she said.
“It never leaves the people who were involved in it. The damage is far
greater than the lists of casualties or cost in dollars. It permeates
lifestyles. It infects cultures and people and worldviews. The war is
never over for us. The fighting stops. The troops get called back. But
the war goes on for those damaged by war.”
Goodell goes on to describe how the Marines
exploit young people,
“Every single Marine I know goes to Iraq to help,” she
“While I was there that is what I thought. That is why I volunteered.
I thought I was going to help the Iraqis. I know better now. We did the
dirty work. We were used by the government. The military knows that young,
single men are dangerous. We breed it in Marines. We push the testosterone.
We don’t want them to be educated….We cannot question anyone. We do what we
Absent from corporate media coverage of suicide rates among the troops, is a
comprehensive analysis of the nature of the war and occupations itself.
Corporate media acknowledges that,
“The Army and the Marine Corps, which have
borne the heaviest burden in Iraq and Afghanistan, have been hit the
hardest, reporting a record number of suicides in 2008. This year (2009),
the toll is on pace to climb even higher.
When combined, the figures paint a
stark portrait of loss. More than 2,100 members of the armed forces have
taken their own lives since 2001, nearly triple the number of troops who
have died in Afghanistan and almost half of all U.S. fatalities in Iraq.”
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is also widely covered in the corporate media
with the focus on the soldiers themselves and not the US government’s
position in these wars and occupations.
Corporate media’s framing of impacts
on solders never questions the US policy of maintaining a military empire of
occupations and wars worldwide.
Instead a bipartisan group of senators is asking President Barack Obama to
change the current “insensitive” policy of not sending condolence letters to
families of service members who commit suicide. A letter signed by 11
senators - 10 Democrats and one Republican - and
sent May 25 urged the president to,
“take immediate steps to reverse the
long-standing policy of withholding presidential letters of condolence” to
families of troops who killed themselves. (3)
In the January 2011 issue of American Psychologist, the
Association (APA) dedicated 13 articles to detailing and celebrating a $117
million collaboration with the US Army, called Comprehensive Soldier Fitness
It’s being marketed as a resilience training to reduce if not prevent
adverse psychological consequences to soldiers who endure combat. Because of
the CSF emphasis on “positive psychology,” advocates call it a holistic
approach to warrior training.
Criticism arose shortly after the initiative was announced - including
ethical questions about whether soldiers should be trained to be
desensitized to traumatic events.
Psychologist Bruce Levine loudly warned
politicians, military brass, and the nation that if soldiers and veterans
discover that they have been deceived about the meaningfulness and necessity
of their mission, it is only human for them to become more prone to
emotional turmoil, which can lead to destructive behaviors for themselves
“This is the largest study - 1.1 million soldiers - psychology has ever been
involved in” (a “study” is a common synonym for “research project”). But
when asked during an NPR interview whether CSF would be “the largest-ever
experiment,” Brigadier General Cornum, who oversees the program, responded,
“Well, we’re not describing it as an experiment. We’re describing it as
“It is highly unusual for the effectiveness of such a huge and consequential
intervention program not to be convincingly demonstrated first in carefully
conducted, randomized, controlled trials - before being rolled out
under less controlled conditions,” writes Roy Eidelson, Marc Pilisuk and
Stephen Soldz in Truthout.org.
Obama administration has quietly put into practice an escalation of
policy (practicing an ‘incomplete idea’ is an awkward concept, can this be
reworded or should this be an attributed quote) left over from the
Court documents, evidence offered by Human Rights Watch and a
special United Nations report allege that US citizens suspected of
encouraging “terror” had been put on “death lists.”
Reports of these ‘death
lists’ show that Obama’s Director of National Intelligence told a
Congressional hearing that the program was within the rights of the
Executive Branch of the government and did not need to be revealed. At least
two people are known to have been murdered by Central Intelligence Agency
operatives under this program.
When the program was challenged in a New York
City court, the judge refused to rule, saying,
“there are circumstances in
which the executive’s decision to kill U.S. citizens overseas is
constitutionally committed to the political branches and judicially
A moral, ethical, and legal analysis of assassinations seems to be
significantly lacking inside corporate media.
The unquestioned announcement
that the Obama administration has authorized assassinations of supposed
terrorists, including US citizens, was on the front page of the Washington
Post, January 27, 2010, by Dana Priest (4)
“After the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush gave the CIA, and later the military,
authority to kill U.S. citizens abroad if strong evidence existed that an
American was involved in organizing or carrying out terrorist actions
against the United States or U.S. interests,” military and intelligence
The evidence has to meet a certain, defined threshold.
person, for instance, has to pose,
“a continuing and imminent threat to U.S.
persons and interests,” said one former intelligence official.
administration has adopted the same stance.
If a U.S. citizen joins
“it doesn’t really change anything from the standpoint of whether
we can target them,” a senior administration official said. “They are then
part of the enemy.”
the CIA and
the JSOC maintain lists of individuals,
called “High Value Targets” and “High Value Individuals,” whom they seek to
kill or capture.
The JSOC list includes three Americans, including Aulaqi,
whose name was added late last year. As of several months ago, the CIA list
included three U.S. citizens, and an intelligence official said that
Aulaqi’s name has now been added. (Priest 2010)
The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the ALCU currently are
challenging this notion in the U.S. District Court for the District of
Columbia. This lawsuit stems from the killing of Nasser Al-Aulaqi’s son (a
U.S. citizen) who was targeted and killed by the United States Government.
It is interesting to note that according to CCR Staff Attorney
“The Supreme Court has repeatedly rejected the government’s claim
to an unchecked system of global detention, and the district court should
similarly reject the administration’s claim here to an unchecked system of
global targeted killing.”
The ACLU and CCR hopes the court will rule that
the U.S. Government can only kill a U.S. citizen if there is a proof of an
imminent threat to life.
Focusing on American targets in a February 4 press release, Ben Wizner, a
staff attorney for the ACLU National Security Project, emphasizes:
alarming to hear that the Obama administration is asserting that the
president can authorize the assassination of Americans abroad, even if they
are far from any battlefield and may have never taken up arms against the
U.S., but have only been deemed to constitute an unspecified ‘threat.’” (5)
Francis A. Boyle at the University of Illinois College of Law writes that,
”This extrajudicial execution of human beings constitutes a grave violation
of international human rights law and, under certain circumstances, can also
constitute a war crime under the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949. In
addition, the extrajudicial execution of U.S. citizens by the United States
government also violates the Fifth Amendment to the United States
Constitution mandating that no person “be deprived of life, liberty, or
property, without due process of law.”
There is no corporate media-drawn correlation between the US policy of
presidential assassinations and the on-ground troop engagement in outrageous
human rights violations, which was made public when the German magazine Der
Spiegel released images of smiling US soldiers kneeling next to naked
children they had just massacred.
The soldiers not only took the village
children’s lives but also ripped out their teeth and fingertips to keep as
keepsakes along with pictures of themselves holding the dead bodies up by
Jeremy Morlock one of the soldiers in that group who
participated in these incidents has agreed to negotiate his declaration
against his colleagues and superiors, to reduce his sentence for the
This group of soldiers referred to themselves as “Team Death.”
Luke Mogelson from the New York Times covered the trial of Jeremy Morlock
May 1, 2011: (6)
In a military courtroom at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Wash.,
22-year-old Jeremy Morlock confessed to participating in the premeditated
murder of Mullah Allah Dad, as well as the murders of two other Afghan
In exchange for his agreement to testify against four other
soldiers charged in the crimes, including the supposed ringleader, Staff
Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, the government reduced Morlock’s mandatory life sentence
to 24 years, with the possibility of parole after approximately 8. The rest
of the accused, who are still awaiting trial, contest the allegations
The story that has been told so far - by Morlock in his
confession and by various publications that relied heavily on the more
sensational accusations from interviews hastily conducted by Army special
agents in Afghanistan - is a fairly straightforward one: a sociopath
joined the platoon and persuaded a handful of impressionable subordinates to
join him in sport killing as opportunities arose.
There may indeed be truth
to this, though several soldiers in the platoon give a more complicated
Certainly it’s a useful narrative, strategically and
psychologically, for various parties trying to make sense of the murders
- parents at a loss to explain their sons’ involvement and lawyers
advocating their clients’ innocence and a military invested in a version of
events that contains and cauterizes the problem.
While the tragic events of “Team Death” received widespread coverage in
world news, Drug-crazed killers Rogue US army unit `hunted humans in
Afghanistan’, The Daily Telegraph (Australia), March 23, 2011, most US
coverage focused on the individuals as rogue deviants combined with official
apologies from the US military.
Additionally, Afghan Civilian deaths are usually reported in the US
corporate media as isolated incidents, and/or mistakes. A comprehensive
evaluation of the human and environmental costs of the war in Afghanistan is
mostly ignored by the corporate media.
Afghani civilians are facing the deadliest period since the U.S. led
invasion began more than nine years ago.
According to the Afghanistan Rights
Monitor at least 2,421 civilians were killed in Afghanistan last year, and
more than 3,270 civilians were injured in conflict-related security
incidents. This means that every day 6-7 noncombatants were killed and 8-9
were wounded in the war.
In addition to the casualties, hundreds of thousands of people were affected
in various ways by the intensified armed violence in 2010. Tens of thousands
were forced from their homes, or deprived of healthcare and education
services and livelihood opportunities due to war.
Armed opposition groups were blamed for 63 percent of the total reported
civilian deaths, US/NATO forces for 21 percent, pro-government Afghan forces
12 percent, and about 4 percent could not be attributed to an identifiable
armed group and were labeled “unknown” in the report.
Devices were the most lethal tools, which killed over 690 civilians and
wounded more than 1,800. At least 217 noncombatants died in air strikes and
192 killed in direct/indirect shooting by US/NATO forces in 2010.
The American military presence in Afghanistan consists of fleets of
aircraft, helicopters, armored vehicles, weapons, equipment, troops and
facilities. Since 2001, they have generated millions of kilograms of
hazardous, toxic and radioactive wastes.
The Kabul Press asks the simple
“What have the Americans done with all that waste?”
The answer is
chilling in that virtually all of it appears to have been buried, burned or
secretly disposed of into the air, soil, groundwater and surface waters of
While the Americans may begin to withdraw next year, the toxic
chemicals they leave behind will continue to pollute for centuries. Any
abandoned radioactive waste may stain the Afghan countryside for thousands
of years. Afghanistan has been described in the past as the graveyard of
Today, Afghanistan has a different title:
the toxic dumping ground for foreign armies.”
Hundreds of tons of
Depleted Uranium (DU)
were used during the invasions of
Iraq and Afghanistan.
The US forces forbid any kind of DU related
exploration programs or research. They have also covered up and denied DU’s
damaging health effects, and refused to release information on the amounts,
types and locations of these weapons.
As a consequence, thousands of Iraqi
and Afghan children and their families are suffering from various low level
radiation (LLR) related diseases such as malignancies, congenital heart
diseases, chromosomal aberration and multiple congenital malformations.
Women in the contaminated areas suffered high rates of miscarriages and
DU weapons are manufactured from radioactive waste generated during the
enrichment process of natural uranium as part of the nuclear fuel cycle.
American and British armed forces fired DU bullets and projectiles for the
first time against a human population and environment in Iraq during the
Gulf War, 1991.
When DU munitions hit their target, they ignite
prophetically and generate heat that reaches a temperature of 3000-6000
degrees F? or C?.
This heat causes the DU and other metals to form a gas or
aerosol of nanoparticles. These nanoparticles cross the lung blood barrier,
gain entrance to the cells and create free radicals. Some effects that the
people are facing are immune and hormonal systems damage, disruption of
thyroid function, and tetrogenic toxicity as soluble DU oxides cross the
placenta to the fetus, resulting in damages that range from behavioral
problems to mental retardation and congenital malformations.
Obama’s undeclared and Congressionally
unauthorized war against
Libya may be compounded by the crime of spreading toxic uranium oxide in
populated areas of that country.
Concern is being voiced by groups such as the International Coalition to Ban
Uranium Weapons, which monitor the military use of DU anti-tank and
As of late March, 2011, the US has not introduced its A-10 Thunderbolts,
known also as Warthogs, into the Libyan campaign, probably because these
sub-sonic, straight-wing craft, while heavily armored, are vulnerable to
shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles which Libyan forces are known to
possess in large numbers.
Once the air-control situation is improved by
continued bombardment, however, these specialized ground-attack aircraft
will probably be added to the attacking forces. The A-10 has a particularly
large automatic cannon, which fires an unusually large 30 mm shell.
shells are often fitted with solid uranium projectiles.
Censored #1: More US Soldiers Committed Suicide Than Died in Combat
Death and After in Iraq, Chris Hedges, Truthdig, March 21, 2011.
US Soldiers Killed Themselves Than Died in Combat in 2010, Cord Jefferson.
Good, January 27, 2011.
Student Researcher: Bay Ewald, San Francisco State University
Faculty Evaluator: Kenn Burrows, San Francisco State University
Censored #3: Obama Authorizes International Assassination Campaign
William Fisher, Inter press Service, “Judge Declines to Rule on Targeted
Killings of U.S. Citizens,” Dec. 8 2010
Human Rights Watch, Dec. 7, 2010, “Letter to President Obama - Targeted
Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com, Apr. 7, 2010, “Confirmed: Obama Authorizes
Assassination of U.S. Citizen,”
Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings, Mar 30, 2010
Prof. Francis A. Boyle. Global Research, February 10, 2010, “Extra Judicial
Killings: U.S. Government ‘Death List’ for American Citizens,”
Student Researchers: John M. Curtin, Molliann Zahm, Maria Rose, Vincent
Caruso & George Antzoulis (Niagara University)
Faculty Evaluator:Brian Martin Murphy (Niagara University)
US Government Claims Right to Kill Americans Anytime and Anywhere
Obama Administration Claims Unchecked Authority to Kill Americans Outside
Combat Zones, CommonDreams.org, November 8th, 2010
Student Researcher: Jason Corbett, Sonoma State University
Faculty Evaluator: Cynthia Boaz, Sonoma State University
For more information on the case, including fact sheets and legal papers,
www.aclu.org/targetedkillings and www.ccrjustice.org/targetedkillings
Censored #7: U.S. Army and Psychology’s Largest Experiment - Ever
Comprehensive Soldier Fitness: A Holistic Approach to Warrior Training,
Jeremy McCarthy. August 17, 2010.
The Dark Side of Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, Roy Eidelson, Marc Pilisuk
and Stephen Soldz. April 1, 2011.
Army’s Spiritual Fitness Test Comes Under Fire, Jason Leopold. January 5,
Student Researcher: Rene Arellano, San Francisco State University
Faculty Evaluator: Kenn Burrows, San Francisco State University
Censored # 25: Extension of DU to Libya
Toxic Intervention: Are NATO Forces Poisoning Libya with Depleted Uranium as
They ‘Protect’ Civilians? By Dave Lindorf, http://www.thiscantbehappening.net/node/530
Student Researcher: Nathasha Terry-Ulett, Florida Atlantic University
Faculty Advisor: James Tracy, Florida Atlantic University
The Contamination of Iraq with Depleted Uranium (DU) Causes Health Concerns
Crime of the Century: Contaminating Iraq with Depleted uranium, Dr. Souad N.
Al-Azzawi. B Russells Tribunal , September 19, 2010
Faculty Evaluator: Elaine Wellin, Sonoma State University
Student Researcher: Rosa Caldera, Sonoma State University
Related Validated News Stories
Aftershock: The Ticking Time Bomb of Soldiers’ Traumatic Brain Injuries
Author: T. Christian Miller and Daniel Zwerdling
Source: alternet.org, 3/27/11
Student Researcher: Karen Kniel, Sonoma State University
Faculty Evaluator: Peter Phillips, Sonoma State University
Suicide Claims More US Military Lives than Afghan War
Author: James Cogan, World Socialist Web Site, January 2010
Student Researcher: Josh Crockett
Faculty Evaluator: Heather Flynn, Sonoma State University
US Solders Murder Children and Dishonor their Bodies
Let the children come to me. Proyecto Censurado 2/1 by Ernesto Carmona
Student Researcher: Ana Elliott
Faculty Evaluator: Peter Phillips, Sonoma State University
American Military Creating An Environmental Disaster In Afghan Countryside
American Military Creating an Environmental Disaster in Afghan Countryside
(Part 1 of 3). America plans to withdraw its troops but leave behind a toxic
mess. Mathew Nasuti, Kabul Press, 25 April 2010http://kabulpress.org/my/spip.php?article7985″
American Military Burn Pits Pollute Afghan Countryside (Part 2 of 3).
American military incinerators may not be safe for Afghanistan. Mathew
Nasuti, Kabul Press, 2 May, 2010
American Military Burn Pits Pose Risk to Future Generations of Afghans (Part
3 of 3). More than 350 toxic sites need to be studied. Mathew Nasuti, Kabul
Press, 4 May 2010 http://kabulpress.org/my/spip.php?article9421
Afghanistan And Iraq. DOD: Should Improve Adherence to Its Guidance on Open
Pit Burning and Solid Waste Management. United States Government
Accountability Office, October 2010, http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d1163.pdf
Promoting the Dialogue: Climate Change and U.S. Ground Forces. Christine Parthemore,
Student Researchers: Joan Pedro, Luis Luján
Faculty Evaluator: Dra. Ana I. Segovia, Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Afghan Civilian Deaths at Record Level
Title: Afghan Civilian Killings at Record Level
Author/Source: Democracy Now! 2/28/2011
Title: Afghan Civilian Deaths Hit Record Levels in 2010
By Amanda Terkel, The Huffington Post 2/1/2011
ARM Annual Report Civilian Casualties of War January-December 2010
Author/Source: Afghanistan Rights Monitor 2/1/2011
URL: http://www.arm.org.af/” http://www.arm.org.af/
Student Researcher: Amy Ortiz, Sonoma State University
Faculty Evaluator: Professor Jim Preston, Sonoma State University
1. Zoroya, Gregg, USA Today, 7/20/10, http://www.usatoday.com/news/military/2010-07-29-army-suicides_N.htm.
2. Star-Ledger, November 22, 2009, Military suicides increase as U.S.
soldiers struggle with torment of war
3. Levine, Andrew Obama urged to reverse policy on no condolence letters for
4. Priest, Dana, U.S. military teams, intelligence deeply involved in aiding
Yemen on strikes, Washington Post, January 27, 2010, A-01
5. ACLU, February 4, 2010, Intelligence Official Acknowledges Policy
Allowing Targeted Killings Of Americans,
6. Mogelson, Luke, A Beast in the Heart, New York Times, May 1, 2011 Section
MM; Column 0; Magazine Desk; Pg. 34