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Nineteen former and current U.S. military service members sued Leon Panetta and former secretaries of defense Friday alleging civil-rights violations—stemming from sexual assault accusations they say were not taken seriously by the military. Jesse Ellison reports.
Daniele Hoffman was 17 years old when she met the recruiter for the National Guard who she says eventually attempted to rape her. The child of a single mother, Hoffman says the man “became the fatherly figure in my life.” She signed up for service both to “give back to my country and to make him proud. I wouldn’t have joined if it weren’t for his influence.”
US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta listens during a Pentagon press conference on Sept. 27, 2012, in Washington, D.C. (Paul J Richards / AFP / Getty Images )
But then, she says, the recruiter began to touch her inappropriately, make physical advances, and eventually attempted to rape her, warning her not to tell anyone by saying, “I gave you everything you have, and I can take it all away.”
Hoffman’s story, and the subsequent harassment and sexual assaults she says she experienced while deployed in Iraq, are detailed in a lawsuit “Daniele Hoffman, et al., v. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, et al.,” filed Friday, morning in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (Case No. C12 05049 DMR), on behalf of 19 current and former Army and Air Force service members against the current and former secretaries of defense, alleging ongoing violations of their civil rights. The lawsuit’s second plaintiff, Kole Welsh, a former Army cadet, says he was raped by his staff sergeant, and was infected with HIV as a result of the assault.
The key problem, the lawsuit says, is “permitting the ‘chain-of-command’ (i.e., a single individual) to control which sexual assault allegations are fully investigated and prosecuted. They have not eliminated the ability of a single officer to prevent a victim from accessing the military’s judicial system. The reality is that this officer may well be a sexual predator himself.”
The case is the fifth of its kind brought by the Washington, D.C., attorney Susan L. Burke. Like the previous cases, all of which are pending in the district or circuit courts, it alleges that defendants knew the military was violating the constitutional rights of men and women who reported rape and sexual assaults, that they presided over dysfunctional systems in which a tiny fraction of sexual assault charges are investigated, and that they repeatedly refused to do anything to fix the problem. “Each Defendant repeatedly cites a policy of ‘zero tolerance’ and systematic reform regarding rape and sexual assault,” the suit reads. “Yet this rhetoric has failed to change the misogynistic culture of the Army and has not resulted in any meaningful reform or reduction in sexual assaults.”
Only 80 percent of claims being met.
It’s called “the backlog.” More than 1.3 million claims were filed last year to the Department of Veterans Affairs, double the number from 10 years ago. Even though the organization has added nearly 4,000 new workers since 2008, less than 80 percent of those claims were completed. Because of this, hundreds of thousands of veterans are either not receiving or are being forced to wait punishing lengths of time for decisions on claims for disability, pension, and educational benefits. At the start of this week, 890,000 pension and compensation claims were pending, The New York Times reports.
Army bases around the world shut down today for mandatory suicide-prevention training. Marjorie Morrison details the names and personal stories behind the tragic statistics.
As the Army grapples with a record suicide rate, it held an unprecedented service-wide stand-down at bases around the world Thursday to dedicate the full day to mandatory suicide-prevention training. This came after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta declared that lowering the rate of suicide in the military is a top priority, saying “leaders ought to be judged by how they lead on this issue."
Having worked as a mental-health clinician with service members, I know the dispiriting statistics are attached to names and personal stories.
Last week, Derek Smith, a 29-year-old Army police officer stationed at Fort Belvoir, Va., parked his patrol vehicle, walked into a wooded area and shot himself. Others, whose names have not been made public, include a 21-year-old air traffic controller who shot himself in his Fort Wainright, Alaska, barracks; a 26-year-old second lieutenant who died at an indoor firing range in Virginia, and a 29-year-old sergeant who had returned from his fourth deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. These are just a few of the active-duty U.S. service members who have committed suicide—on average one every 27 hours, along with an average of 18 veterans who kill themselves every day.
Unfortunately, many never sought help, or the wait to get it was too long and clearly too late.
Marine Capt. Nicholas Borrelli, son of a recently retired 33-year Marine Col., was stationed at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego following his second deployment tour in Iraq. The transition from being in combat to serving at boot camp, where you can get in trouble for not having your uniform properly ironed, was a difficult one for him. He started excessively drinking and found himself caught in fits of rage and frustration that he couldn’t control. One night after drinking too much and getting into a fight a with his girlfriend, he “beat up his apartment.” He smashed the windows, broke the shower door and punched three holes in the wall. He wrapped his blood soaked leg with a towel and passed out on the floor. The next morning he crashed his motorcycle on the freeway off-ramp by missing the turn. Abandoning his bike, his girlfriend picked him up and rushed him over to the Emergency Room. He was lucky his injuries were minor, the worst being the 40 stitches needed for the gash on his leg.
In the hospital, Borrelli’s father pleaded with him to get help, and he went to his commander the following day. Borrelli explained to his boss that he felt he had lost all control over his impulses. Instead of sympathy or support for being honest, he says he was informed that he could be referred over to the on-base mental-health unit—but the repercussions might be costly to his career and standing in the military. The captain was next in line for a promotion to company commander, and seeking help could put that in jeopardy, he says he was told. He decided against the referral, telling the commander that he’d figure it out on his own.
‘The Endgame,’ the latest book from Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor, argues that in his haste to extricate the U.S. from Bush’s war of choice in Iraq, Obama may have done al Qaeda a huge favor, writes John Barry.
Who lost Iraq? A premature question, perhaps, but it becomes more salient with each passing month. Violence is rising again in that blood-soaked country. By U.N. count, 2,010 civilians died violently in the first half of this year, against 1,832 in the same period of 2011. Since midsummer the civilian death toll has likely been running somewhere between 300 and 500 a month, with more than twice as many injured.
Al Qaeda’s Iraq affiliate, a group calling itself the Islamic State of Iraq, was near disintegration in 2010. Now it is back in force: in one day in late July, the terrorist group launched 35 coordinated attacks across seven provinces, killing 123 people. For the first time in years, the terrorists held ground and did battle with Iraqi security forces—a classic and ominous metric of growing insurgent strength and confidence.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi government is paralyzed. The leaders of the main groupings barely speak to one another. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s rule grows steadily more authoritarian, less and less concerned with legal niceties. What do appear to concern him, a Shia, are good relations with the Shite rulers of Iran and fears that the fall of Syrian President Bashar al Assad might lead to a Sunni-dominated government in Damascus. So Iranian aircraft now fly regularly through Iraqi airspace to deliver what U.S. intelligence identifies as arms shipments to Assad.
Washington has little political and no military influence over these developments. As Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor charge in their ambitious new history of the Iraq war, The Endgame, Obama’s administration sacrificed political influence by failing in 2010 to insist that the results of Iraq’s first proper election be honored: “When the Obama administration acquiesced in the questionable judicial opinion that prevented Ayad Allawi’s bloc, after it had won the most seats in 2010, from the first attempt at forming a new government, it undermined the prospects, however slim, for a compromise that might have led to a genuinely inclusive and cross-sectarian government.”
The Endgame: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Iraq, from George W. Bush to Barack Obama, by Michael R. Gordon and Bernard E. Trainor, Pantheon, $35.00
Military influence fell victim to similar inaction. The Obama administration failed to get Maliki’s agreement to allow some residual force to remain in Iraq after the general U.S. withdrawal at the end of 2011. The Kurds wanted a continuing American presence; so did the Sunnis; even Maliki considered it might be a useful deterrent to the Baathist resurgence that he feared. The force would also be an insurance against a resurgence of al Qaeda. And, crucially, as both the Pentagon and State Department saw it, a continuing American presence might give the reassurance that Iraq’s divided communities needed to overcome their fears of each other. But negotiations failed, and Gordon and Trainor—while acknowledging that a deal “might have proven impossible under the best of circumstances”—consign much of the blame to Obama and his staff.
Dogs, like other returning veterans, can have a long adjustment back into civilian life. Sandra McElwaine reports.
Soldiers aren’t the only ones struggling with their returns from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Contract Working Dog Master Corporal Uzo with the Canadian 2 Troop, 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment, 2-3 Field Squadron in October, 2011.
So when Air Force Major Cody Barker, who’d served in Afghanistan, and his wife, Carrie, decided to adopt Uzo, they had no idea what they were getting into.
All they knew was that the handsome, 8-year-old German shepherd who had earned his rank—Contract Working Dog Master Corporal—courageously fighting alongside Canadian forces in Afghanistan for five years was retiring and needed a good home.
When Carrie picked the dog up and brought him back to her household—which includes 5-year-old twins Colby and Carlee, the latter of whom is disabled and has her own therapy dog (a yellow Labrador named Sunshine), and her father, John, a Vietnam vet still suffering from PTSD—Uzo was not quite the gentleman she expected.
The new dog was incredibly nervous and on edge, patrolling the halls, sniffing in closets, and climbing on and under furniture. Whenever a helicopter flew over their home in Park City, Utah, he would stare up, wagging his tail furiously.
One year after the repeal of DADT, gays and lesbians are serving in the military without hurting morale, and openly gay people like New York candidate for Congress Sean Patrick Maloney are changing the conversation.
Anthony Loverde should never have been forced to live a lie—certainly not by the country he was risking his life to protect. But for far too long, that’s exactly what happened.
Local leaders and former members of the military hold a banner during a news conference marking the end of 'don't ask, don't tell' on September 20, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)
A staff sergeant and loadmaster in charge of U.S. Air Force bombs and munitions, Loverde was a model airman. He served with dedication, distinction, and honor. In the military we swear oaths to our country and to one another. We live by codes. Sgt. Loverde took that seriously.
That’s why, back in 2008, he decided it was time to stop the lies. He courageously told his command he was gay, even though he would surely be discharged under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. He was kicked out of the Air Force soon after. That was the reward for his honesty. But for Loverde, it was a matter of integrity. Simple as that.
Four years later, after a long, arduous political battle that spanned decades, President Obama led the fight to finally end the discriminatory policy, and now Loverde—and thousands of others—serve openly, with pride and dignity.
Today, we mark the first anniversary of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. We recognize the thousands of troops who were unfairly targeted by the policy and thank them for their service to our nation. We take a moment to celebrate the fact that our military has made historic progress in the march toward full equality for all men and women. Equality for people like Loverde—who rejoined the Air Force earlier this year.
Glen Doherty, the former Navy SEAL who was killed in Libya last week, was a horseback rider, skier, and loyal friend who believed that ‘a party shouldn’t stop on the day it starts.’ His sister Kate Quigley remembers her brother. As told to Abigail Pesta.
I was home with my three children a week ago when my brother's best friend called me, concerned. My brother Glen was in Libya, working as a security contractor, and he may have been at the U.S. consulate that had come under attack. My first instinct was not to panic: I was used to his being in dangerous corners of the world. Glen had been a Navy SEAL for 12 years—in and out of Iraq, Afghanistan, Mexico City. He had always come home. His friend and I told each other not to worry. We agreed to talk again as soon as we knew anything.
Former Navy SEAL Glen Doherty. (Katie Quigley)
I got on my computer and sent Glen an email. “I’m worried,” I said. “You better email me this very second.” I started pacing around the house. Then I called a friend and told her, “What I need you to tell me right now is not to worry—it will all be fine.” And that’s what she did. I wanted to hear that and I believed it. Glen was so larger than life, so smart, so good. He would be fine.
Glen always said that if he didn’t know what he wanted to do by the time he was 30, he would become a Navy SEAL. He was a man of his word. He spent his 20s having adventures—he went to flight school, became a ski bum, taught white-water rafting. Anything that sounded challenging and cool, he was up for it. And then, as promised, he became a SEAL. When he made up his mind, there was absolutely no stopping him. I never doubted that he would succeed.
A half hour after that phone call last week, my brother’s friend called again. I answered the phone and said, “Tell me, tell me he’s fine.” I honestly thought that’s what I would hear. But the news was devastating. Glen had been killed in the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. I just crumbled.
My parents didn’t know yet. I had to figure out how to tell them, along with the rest of my family, which is a horrible thing. There’s simply no way to sugarcoat it; you just have to say it, and so I did. After that, there really were no words.
In an unauthorized account of the raid on Osama bin Laden, a Navy SEAL revealed that the intelligence analyst who led his team was a woman—and there are plenty more like her in the ranks. Eli Lake reveals the world of the superstar female agents of the CIA.
The new unauthorized, firsthand account of the Navy SEAL operation that killed Osama bin Laden makes clear that the mission’s success relied in large part on a CIA analyst named in the book as “Jen.” In an intelligence profession known for uncertainty, Jen—who had been tracking bin Laden’s location for years—assured the SEALs she had no doubt that he resided in a walled compound less than a half a mile from Pakistan’s military academy in Abbottabad. Before the raid, she briefed the SEALs on what they should expect to encounter in Abbottabad—down to details like whether a door inside the compound would open inwardly or outwardly. (She got it right.)
The Abbottabad compound that “Jen” helped uncover as the hiding place of Osama bin Laden. (CIA-AP)
Jen is a new kind of CIA officer: smart, self-assured—and female. It wasn’t always like this. In its early years, the agency kept women away from the challenging work of espionage. Often employees with two X chromosomes were relegated to the steno pool, or midlevel analysis work at best.
Not anymore. Jen is a “targeter,” an analyst who pores over grainy drone footage and sorts through phone intercepts and other fragments of intelligence to find the exact location of terrorists, drug traffickers, or arms dealers. Since Sept. 11, the CIA has come under heavy, and often negative, political scrutiny. But during this same period, the agency has quietly perfected the art and science of the modern manhunt by training a generation of targeters like Jen. As opposed to the area specialists who analyze a country’s government or economy, the targeters (sometimes called “targeteers”) almost always focus on one person or one group. They work in the same units as the case officers and special forces teams that act on their analysis. And in recent years, according to Jose Rodriguez, a former deputy director of operations at the CIA, the majority of targeters have been women.
Indeed, the CIA’s first unit devoted to tracking al Qaeda, known as Alec Station, hired women analysts almost exclusively in the 1990s. Mike Scheuer, the first chief of Alec Station, says that when he left the post in 1999, all of his 14 targeters were women. He also says the first captures of senior al Qaeda leaders after Sept. 11 were the result of investigative work done by these women. “If I could have put out a sign on the door that said ‘No men need apply,’ I would have done it,” he says.
One of the most famous targeters in recent history was Jennifer Matthews, the head of a CIA team that tracked a senior al Qaeda operational planner known as Abu Zubaydah to a safe house in Faisalabad, Pakistan, according to Joby Warrick’s book The Triple Agent. In the book, Warrick captures the hard choices a top-flight intelligence officer has to make to balance spy work and family. While serving in the CIA’s station in Khost, Afghanistan, Matthews spent Christmas Day in 2009 with her children back in Fredericksburg, Va., through a Skype video chat. After her children opened their presents, her son and youngest child asked, “Mommy, can you show us your gun?” according to Warrick’s account. She showed him her pistol and rifle. Then she was off to the mess hall on the base for a Christmas meal with her fellow officers. Five days later, Matthews was killed when a Jordanian physician she thought was a spy for the CIA blew himself up at a meeting with her at the Khost station. “She was among the best,” says Rodriguez.
Massachusetts native Glen Doherty was killed in the attack against the U.S. embassy in Libya this week. Here, family and friends eulogize the former Navy SEAL, outdoor enthusiast, and patriot.
Glen Anthony Doherty
July 10, 1970—Sept. 11, 2012
Glen Anthony Doherty was the second of three children born to Bernard “Ben” Doherty, now of Charlestown, Mass., and Barbara Doherty, now of Woburn, Mass. His older brother is Greg Doherty of Kensington, Calif., his younger sister Kate Quigley of Marblehead, Mass. The siblings were great lifelong friends. They grew up in Winchester, Mass., across the street from a patch of woods where they first fell in love with the outdoors. Ben Doherty, the son of Irish immigrants who kept a chicken farm in Billerica, Mass., is a former boxer and Massachusetts boxing commissioner, as well as a successful stockbroker, who raised the children to be athletic, tough, hard-working, and family-minded. Barbara Doherty, who opened and for years ran a candy store in Lexington called The Candy Castle, is an extremely warm-hearted and friendly woman who raised her children to be kind to everyone, and who opened her home as a second home for all her children’s friends.
Glen Doherty (Katie Quigley)
Glen was very loyal to his friends and family. He kept the same core group of friends since elementary school, and it was their loyalty to each other and fun-loving nature, as well as Barbara’s welcoming home, that brought them from being a one-time crew of social misfits to the center of an awful lot of damn fun people of all stripes who remain tight to this day. After high school, Glen attended Embry Riddle aeronautical university in Arizona, where he flew planes, rode a motorcycle, and decided that the only thing cooler to do than what he was doing would be to up and leave. His fearlessness took many forms throughout his life, but was always at his core. He became a ski bum at Snowbird, Utah, in the winters, working at restaurants and becoming a phenomenal skier on both regular and telemark skis, as well as a talented cook and afterparty expert.
In the summers, he was a white-water rafting guide down the Colorado River, where his knowledge of the outdoors, his responsibility, and his abilities to tell a great tall tale and get everyone to have fun made multi-day journeys from Moab to Lake Powell experiences of a lifetime for many. He was always a hard worker and extremely responsible, which never managed to drive a wedge between him and the lovable riff-raff who shared his lifestyle. His athleticism also led him to become a triathlete during this period. The many friends he gathered during these years always remained as dear to him as he was to them, and he took every opportunity, usually meaning a few weeks a year, to return to his beloved mountains and friends in Utah.
A desire to push himself and to use his talents to make genuine change in the world led him to join the Navy SEALS in 1995. He passed the training and became a paramedic and sniper, with the Middle East as his area of operations. His team responded to the USS Cole attack, among other missions. In 2001, he got his knees reconstructed and was planning on exiting the military when Sept. 11 happened. He now was not allowed to leave and didn’t want to. He married Sonja Johnson, his girlfriend whom he’d known since high school, and went overseas again. He participated in two tours of the 2003 Gulf War, “Iraqi Freedom.” In the first, his team began by securing the Kuwait oil fields before the invasion officially began to prevent the environmentally disastrous recurrence of them being burned, as had happened under Saddam Hussein’s orders during Desert Storm in 1991. Then they led the earliest Marine contingents battling on the move from the south of Iraq toward Baghdad. He was peeled from his unit for sniper duty for several days, returned to it before the taking of Baghdad, and continued with it to take Saddam’s hometown of Tikrit, where it finally got a breather in Hussein’s riverside palaces once those were cleared. He returned for another tour to the troubled country the following year. About fighting in Iraq, he simply believed that the possibility of liberating the country from a tyrant and making democracy possible for the Iraqi people was worth risking his own life for.
The Pentagon has condemned ‘No Easy Day’ for revealing the SEALs’ operational secrets. But it showed no such concern in giving director Kathryn Bigelow access to inside details for her upcoming movie on the bin Laden raid.
Our president has promised to bring those who killed our diplomats in Libya to justice.
This almost certainly means that special operators such as Seal Team 6 are even now poised for action.
In preparing to be deployed, they no doubt are following what the controversial book, No Easy Day, by Matt Bissonnette (writing as Mark Owen), terms “Big Boy Rules.” The author says he learned the basic principle behind these rules after receiving a six-page, single-spaced official itemization of what to bring on his first deployment to Afghanistan with SEAL Team 6.
“The suggested packing list basically told us to bring everything,” he says.
He went to his new team leader. “Dude, what do you think you need to bring for deployment?” the team leader asked. “Bring what you think you need.”
The book cites this as an example of the “Big Boy Rules” that guide the team.
Speakers at Newsweek and The Daily Beast’s live-journalism event will include Adm. William McRaven, Madeleine K. Albright, Garry Kasparov, Bono, and Aaron Sorkin.
Newsweek and The Daily Beast are pleased to announce a new annual summit: ”The Hero Summit: An Exploration of Character and Courage”—a powerful two-day gathering in Washington, D.C., Nov. 14–15.
Bob Leverone / AP Photo
The Hero Summit—an invitation-only event that will be streamed live at The Daily Beast—will examine the essential elements of moral, political, intellectual and physical courage, resilience, and selflessness.
We’ll hear from the men and women of the U.S. military on the greatest moments of heroism they’ve ever witnessed, on the concept of sacrifice, and on the lives of America’s veterans. We’ll also hear from those who shape and influence foreign policy, national security, and military issues about the question of our national character, set against the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. And throughout the summit, political dissidents, artists, and journalists will shine light on the wide range of expressions of courage and valor, and what it really means to speak truth to power.
Speakers include Admiral William McRaven, Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Alfred Rascon, former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, Bono, Garry Kasparov, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, philosopher Bernard Henri-Levy, vet entrepreneur Zach Iscol, and others. Read the full agenda here.
'The Yellow Birds' by Kevin Powers is the novel about the Iraq War that we have been waiting for—and needed—writes Doug Stanton.
Kevin Powers’s unforgettable debut novel, The Yellow Birds, opens with a line that is elegiac, measured—captivating: “The war tried to kill us in the spring.” That’s his youthful, weary narrator—“Holden Caulfield” channeled through “John Grady Cole” in Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses—speaking to us in a voice that we sense might as well be from the grave, but is—exuberantly—not. John Bartle, age 21, is a soldier in the middle of combat in Iraq and his one job is to stay alive, and he’s made a promise to the mother of a fellow soldier, Murphy, 18, that he would keep him alive, too. It’s the honoring of this promise that propels the book backward and forward in time and across landscapes in Iraq and the U.S. I won’t, of course, tell you how it turns out; but while reading the novel—part elegy, prose poem, and page-turner—you have to remind yourself that this is, in fact, fiction. That’s a compliment and a bravura achievement, in an age when most people you meet at dinner say, “I just don’t read fiction—‘cause it’s not real.”
What Powers achieves in his prose and storytelling is a sense of eternity haunting the margins of one’s own vision as you glimpse the book’s pages, a clarifying of tangled emotions and of vast internal spaces otherwise rendered chaotic by experience into sun-shot prose. He’s written fiction that seems more real than the “real” thing—in this case, nonfiction about the same subject—which is what art is supposed to do. About imminent combat in an orchard, the narrator Bartle recounts, "The world was paper thin as far as I could tell. And the world was the orchard, and the orchard was what came next. But none of that was true. I was only afraid of dying ... When the mortars fell, the leaves and fruit and birds were frayed like ends of rope ... We stepped carefully, looking for trip wires or any sign that the enemy was there."
Powers, 31, deployed in Iraq in 2004–2005; a native of Virginia, he had entered the Army at the age 17. In 2012, he received an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a Michener Fellow (he also received a B.A. in English, in 2008, from Virginia Commonwealth University). Powers is an artist who was a soldier who lived to tell the tale. One can hear the American poets Richard Hugo and James Wright in his narrator’s autumnal voice. Bartle says, "Clouds spread out over the Atlantic like soiled linens on an unmade bed. I knew, watching them, that if any given moment a measurement could be made it would show how tentative was my mind's mastery over my heart. Such small arrangements make a life, and though it's hard to get close to saying what the heart is, it must at least be that which rushes to spill out of the parentheses which were the beginning and the end of my war: the old life disappearing into the dust … " You don’t know quite what to think of Bartle’s war story, so much as you feel it.
Coincidentally or not, and at least tonally, the novel’s opening line is pleasingly reminiscent of the first line of Hemingway’s short story “In Another Country,” also about war—World War 1—and the narrator here, too, is windblown, shell-shocked: “In the fall the war was always there but we did not go to it anymore.” Powers’s novel arrives as a reading experience akin to one you might have had in the early 20th century had you picked up Wilfred Owen’s WWI poetry or stopped at the book shop for Hemingway’s In Our Time. Powers is writing out of a once more recognizable tradition—Pablo Picasso’s 1937 “Guernica” after the Spanish Civil War; John Steinbeck’s 1939 The Grapes of Wrath; Kurt Vonnegut’s 1969 Slaughterhouse-Five after WWII—that instinctively tilts world events toward the light until they refract as art. I don’t know anyone today writing The Grapes of Wrath after the last Wall Street crash. I hope to be corrected.
For worse, in this YouTube/Twitter-of-the-moment age, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have become The War, they’ve all run together, everybody’s paying attention to them and nobody’s paying attention to them, and these technologies—TV included—have piped whole oceans of adrenaline and trucked vast smoldering cities into our consciousnesses so that we can review this carnage on our phones while shopping the produce aisle. In other words, this “nonfiction” reality comes at us as a continuous movie—as fiction-like, if we’re even paying attention. One of the thrills of reading Power’s The Yellow Birds is that it’s a “movie” that reads like nonfiction. What is unusual but satisfying is that you have the long-lost sensation of being in the hands—the mind—of an artist who’s taking in reality, shooting it through the fluttering curtain of his own mind, giving you back something—a gift, a story, a rendering, a picture, a sense of the sense of being alive in a time and place—Iraq, the war, the buddy he has to save—as his own humanity is mirrored back to us in shining straps of prose.
Facing threats from the Pentagon and the prospect of reprisal from al Qaeda, the man who dished on the bin Laden raid cancels media tour for his new book.
Usually, when an author pens a bestseller and promotes it on 60 Minutes, a major publicity tour ensues and, if he or she is lucky, maybe even a bit of literary fame. But for the former Navy SEAL operator who wrote an unauthorized, first-hand account of the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden, the publication of the book has brought a bunch of problems.
A Pakistani policeman stands outside the compound where Osama bin Laden was killed in an operation by U.S. Navy Seals, on May 4, 2011, in Abottabad, Pakistan. (Warrick Page / Getty Images)
Christine Ball, a vice president of the Dutton imprint that published No Easy Day, said Monday that the author who is using the pseudonym Mark Owen gave his first and last media interview to CBS in an episode that aired Sunday.
“At this point we are not scheduling any further interviews with Mark or Kevin Maurer, his coauthor, for security reasons,” she said. “As anyone who watched 60 Minutes can tell you, they went to great lengths to disguise Mark. We want to take even more precautions now that his name has been outed.”
Last month, Fox News first reported that Owen’s real name was Matt Bissonnette, a decision that prompted Dutton to cancel a scheduled media tour for security reasons.
“He should go into hiding,” said Don Mann, a former member of SEAL Team Six and the author of the book Inside SEAL Team Six, which explores the world of the elite group behind the bin Laden raid. Mann said Bissonnette will have to “have an identity change, and a name change; he will be a target for the rest of his life. Our enemy will not forget that he was one of the people who put a bullet into Osama’s body.”
Many post-9/11 veterans aren’t ready to go directly into the workforce. It’s time we give them the support they need, writes Harriet McDonald.
For young veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, jobs have not been easy to come by. Their unemployment rate is more than 50 percent higher than for civilians of the same age. While there’s no shortage of programs intended to help our returning veterans, we need to understand better who these young men and women are—and what they need.
Robert Ginn / Photolibrary-Getty Images
My husband, George, and I had lunch with a group of young veterans at a residential center for homeless men run by our nonprofit organization, The Doe Fund, in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
One man in his late 20s told us, at first quite reluctantly, about his struggles since leaving the Marines more than a year ago. After five tours in Iraq, his life fell apart when he left the military and returned home. He discovered that his fiancée had grown tired of waiting for him and had moved on. He could not find a job. He did not fit in. He started to drink heavily and his family, at first supportive, grew weary of his emotional turmoil. Within a year, he was homeless.
The Marine said he was feeling better now, and that he hoped to work in our culinary program, which trains people for jobs in the food industry. But having been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, he still needs more time, support, and counseling to stabilize himself and be ready to maintain a job and an independent life.
I don’t mean to make an example of this young man, and I very much want to preserve his privacy and dignity. My point is that his experience is far too common.
Erin Trieb saw soldiers who’d made it through Afghanistan wrestle with life in New York—and she wants to be sure the rest of us see them, too. Allison Yarrow reports.
Erin Trieb hopes her photos of soldiers can help save some of them from the horrors that follow too many of them home from war—and that followed her, too.
One hundred and fifty-four American soldiers committed suicide in the first 155 days of 2012—claiming 50 percent more lives than combat fatalities in Afghanistan over the same span. PTSD is often the culprit or a contributor, and it’s what galvanized Trieb to tell the stories of the troops who suffer—because she also believes she suffered from it herself.
The 30-year-old Texan says she caught the photo bug early, when her grandfather gifted her the vintage Graflex Speed Graphic camera that he had used to document the heroic efforts of the Red Cross during the Second World War. After graduating college, she spent eight months in Israel capturing the frenetic wind down of the second intifada, where she says she and other female photographers experienced brazen sexual assaults. Trieb recalls Palestinians awaiting the media’s arrival before becoming aggressors and throwing rocks, and felt that she and other photographers were responsible for literally triggering conflicts.
“Other journalists get off on it. To produce images like that was not genuine,” she says. “I had to step back and realize the country wasn’t for me.”
She returned to Texas, where her photographs of Kinky Friedman’s quixotic gubernatorial campaign in 2006 won her awards and subsequent calls from national news organizations like Newsweek and The New York Times.
This map, created by the Center for Investigative Reporting, displays 58 VA regional offices and the number of backlogged claims by week on a national, regional and local level. This application will update itself every Monday to show each office's change in pending claims.
From Adm. William McRaven to columnist Nicholas Kristof to Bono, WATCH VIDEO of the summit’s must-see moments.
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