Torturing The Troops And Their Families

by digby

Oh fergawdssake. Here we go again with St John McCain and Mr Elizabeth Taylor pretending to care about the military when they're actually just trying to save their miscreant leader's face and kicking the can down the road a few more FU's. (I wonder where the third Musketeer Huckleberry is this morning? He must be working overtime to ensure they can't get enough votes to keep the US Government from torturing and indefinitely imprisoning anyone the Boy King deems his enemy. Busy day.)

Anyway, here's the latest lame maneuver from the Torture Twins:

Speaking on the Senate floor this morning, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), an ardent opponent of a pro-troop measure to relieve the stress on the overstretched armed forces, announced he will propose a toothless, watered-down substitute to the Webb amendment.

McCain said he and Sen. John Warner (R-VA) have teamed up to put together a “sense of the Senate” amendment to express “very clearly that we all want all our troops home and we understand the stress and strain that’s been inflicted on the men and women in the military and the guard and reserves.”

Sorry flyboy. Your "sense of the senate" isn't going to do jack about this:

While generals and politicians debate strategy and funding for the Iraq war on Capitol Hill, the cost of the conflict is tallied in places like this quiet subdivision, where Kelly Bridson each night listens to her 10-year-old son’s bedtime prayers for his stepfather’s safety: “The light of God surrounds you. The love of God enfolds you. The power of God protects you. …”

Army Spc. Joe Bridson is stationed in the volatile city of Samarra, Iraq, about 80 miles north of Baghdad. The prayers could well be goodnight hugs if not for the vagaries of military service in the era of the volunteer army: Joe Bridson is now in the 14th month of what originally was to have been a four- to six-month deployment in Iraq.

Bridson’s situation is hardly unique. Scores of readers of’s Gut Check America project wrote of loved ones in similar situations, either repeatedly deployed to the combat zone or languishing there months after their deployments were to have ended.

Their stories put a human face on stark statistics showing that the U.S. military — a small force by historical standards — is stretched thin after more than four years in Iraq and six in Afghanistan. Repeated deployments of active military members and reservists and diminishing “dwell times” between postings to the war zone have taxed soldiers and taken a growing toll on the home front.

“Families are truly exhausted,” says Patricia Barron, who runs youth programs for the National Military Families Association. “They are starting to feel the stresses of separation more acutely.”

Kelly and Joe’s story is but one of thousands that illustrate how the lack of resolution plays out on a personal level.

Fears rise when the phone calls stop

Kelly waits anxiously for each phone call from her husband. They come almost daily and trigger fears of the worst kind when they don’t. That often means that someone in his company has been injured or killed and the military has cut off phone access until the next of kin has been notified. That’s when Kelly starts looking out the window, fearing the worst.

“There have been times when we’ve gone seven, eight days,” says Kelly. “After 48 hours, you know it’s not yours. … And I know it sounds terrible, but then you think, ‘Thank God it’s not mine.’”

When the phone finally rings, Kelly sinks into the crimson-and-rust cushions of her sofa and listens as Joe describes his days on patrol.

While it is a relief to hear his voice, their conversations raise other concerns. Joe’s moods are unpredictable, ranging from tenderness to rage.

“I never know who I’m going to get on the phone,” Kelly said. “He’s really been in the thick of it. … He worries that he won’t be the same person when he gets back.”

The couple had been together about six months when Joe learned he would be deployed to Iraq in August 2006 with the rest of the 3rd Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division, based at Fort Bragg, N.C., as a machine-gunner for his squad in Charlie Company.

It was a blow, though not entirely unexpected. And the separation seemed manageable. Kelly had spent years as a single mom and built a successful career as an insurance agent.

They decided to get married when Joe was on a short leave in December, even though his deployment was coming to an end — or so they thought. Young Chase, Kelly’s son from a previous marriage, was a beaming best man in the ceremony.

“We knew it would be tough,” Kelly said.

‘The guessing ... makes you crazy'

But extensions of his unit’s tour of duty and the uncertainty of how long he would be in Iraq made it worse.

“One month (extension) stretched into two, two months stretched into three,” Kelly recalled. “… The unknowing, the guessing, that makes you crazy. It makes the soldiers crazy.”

The war has not slowed for the 150 soldiers of Charlie Company, who have conducted hundreds of missions over the past year trying to root out insurgents in Samarra, a city of 200,000.

Samarra has been hit by two major insurgent attacks in recent months. In June, a bomb destroyed the minarets of a sacred Shiite site, the Golden Dome mosque. In August, dozens of gunmen raided the city’s police station, killing three people.

Eleven members of Charlie Company have been killed and 40, including Joe, have been awarded Purple Hearts for battle wounds. He was shot in the forearm last month but was back out on patrol three days later. Kelly says he’s also suffered two concussions — one from an IED and another from a grenade blast.

Still, what may have been the worst moment of the war for Joe and Kelly came in April, when Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced that U.S. Army tours would be extended from 12 months to 15.

Joe heard the news not from his commander, but by phone from Kelly. She said he couldn’t believe it would include his company.

“His exact words were: ‘It better not be us. I will f---ing lose it,’” recalled Kelly. “And I thought, ‘Oh my God, is something in his brain going to snap?’”

It would be one thing if this war had any real purpose beyond saving Junior Bush from the embarrassment of having to withdraw before his term was up. Or if the congress and the president were willing to tell the American people that they need to reinstitutue the draft (which was always the plan for long term military operations like this.) But they know that this country has no intention of allowing that so they are putting the burdens on these soldiers and marines to prove their manhood for them and save their sorry political asses --- just like so many of them did when they were young.

Add this despicable willingness to break the military they purport to love to the pile of horrors these Republicans have wrought. Really, is there anything these people are too ashamed to do? I don't think so.


Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)
DC: 202-224-6665
Anchorage: 907-271-3735

George Voinovich (R-Ohio)
DC: (202) 224-3353
Cleveland: (216) 522-7095

Elizabeth Dole (R-North Carolina)
DC: 202-224-6342
Raleigh: 866-420-6083

John Warner (R-Virginia)
DC: (202) 224-2023
Roanoke: (540) 857-2676

Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky)
DC: 202-224-2541
Louisville: 502-82-6304

Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania)
DC: 202-224-4254
Harrisburg: (717) 782-3951

From Christy at FDL:

Bonus - Ask Harry Reid to “don’t let Republicans obstruct - make them stand and filibuster”:

Harry Reid
DC: 202-224-3542
Las Vegas: 702-388-5020

You can email, here.