Click for Bob's service in the US Army from OCT `64 - AUG `68 / 8th Special Forces Group (Abn)

Bob's Blog by:
Robert Eliot Wirt Jr ( alias ) Bob WIRT

This is the spot where I post my thoughts in a forum which can't be deleted by others.
You may wish to read these thoughts, or not, but they'll stay here so long as I have a say in the matter.

Bob and Bettye's 2005 trip to California

Kung Fu Bettye at the Beach

Max atop his favorite perch ...

Bob, Max and Bettye hangin' out

... Unfazed by Al E Gator below

From: Bob Wirt Date: September 12, 2005 Subject: Katrina and Concomitant Blame

Now that the incredible natural disaster of Katrina itself has passed, and dealing with the resultant damage has finally begun, it may help to address some of the strident blame and finger-pointing which is inundating us all (just as the floodwaters did the victims).

George Bush, who proved himself a stand-up, take charge kind of guy following 9/11, stumbled, mumbled, bumbled and failed to lead in the days running up to and continuing on through the storm and its aftermath. He's my president, but I'm glad he can't run for another term as I'd be truly conflicted were he the Republican nominee in 2008 - this from someone whose family's GOP roots run back to the election of 1860. George could have employed the marshaled forces waiting to render aid and assistance and twisted the arms of the local politicos who were actually resisting accepting aid from outside the state, but he failed miserably in that leadership role. States' Rights as a policy is not to be scoffed at, but this was an emergency. I think even the strict constructionists would have forgiven him erring on the side of humanity. Not too quick on the uptake there, Mr President...

That said, it was not totally President Bush's fault that FEMA, the Red Cross and the Salvation Army were not allowed to enter New Orleans and aid the victims as they should have been. The relief trucks and supplies were massed along the Gulf Coast well in advance of Katrina's landing, but Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of Louisiana dithered, blithered and fumbled around trying to protect her civil and law enforcement authority from encroachment by the big-bad-Feds. Unsure of her authority, and jealously protective of it at the same time, her inaction was deadly. She was conducting a turf-war while her citizens were dying and should be impeached by her constituents. The Federal troops and FEMA cannot take control in an emergency such as this was without an express request from the governor of the affected state, so they sat on their hands for days while Ms Blanco tried to make up her mind what to do. A hopelessly lame response on her part, inexcusable on the face of it and verging on criminality, given the devastation and loss of life it perpetuated.

Mayor C Ray Nagin, in his own little bid for power and control, failed as well in not persuading either Blanco to get off the dime or convincing the Feds to bypass her with a direct appeal to the relief agencies for immediate aid on a local level. It was incredible to watch Mayor Nagin during last year's hurricane onslaughts repeatedly advising people not to leave their homes but rather to employ "vertical evacuation", something he was repeating again this time, whereby residents are told to climb to the highest floors in their buildings during a storm. Then, if the water begins lapping at their toes, he advised them to climb into their attics and use an axe to cut their way onto the roof of their home. (Anyone ever tried to swing an axe within the confines of a typical attic? Me either...) This is a "plan" best utilized when you are totally out of options and have no other viable choice, not something to be undertaken as a first resort, but as the last. The easier, more common sense approach would have been for the Mayor to mobilize the city bus fleet and the fleet of school buses at his disposal and actually evacuate his citizenry to safety in Baton Rouge or as far north as necessary to protect them from the devastation. Instead, he let his charges drown and left the fleets of buses to be flooded in the wake of the storm. Instead of casting blame and epithets toward the federal agencies he blamed for his situation, he should have turned his gaze within, and questioned his own lack of preparedness and foolish advice about attics.

Both Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin have admitted that the idea to keep relief supplies away from the evacuees gathered at the convention center and Superdome was a conscious one, taken to discourage people from staying there and encourage them to move along to other shelters outside the immediate disaster area in and around New Orleans. An incredibly cruel and selfish attitude to take toward the tens of thousands of people who were suffering and dying before their eyes. They both should be ashamed for their lack of compassion and denial of basic human dignity to those they were attempting to herd along into someone else's venue of responsibility.

The subject of the inadequate dikes surrounding the city of New Orleans is a fascinating one. Imagine that the construction of the levees was proposed and authorized in 1965 and scheduled for completion in 1975, and for the intervening thirty years no one has bothered to complete the project and half-way protect the city. Budgeted funds were hijacked and spent on other, less worthy but prettier, self-serving pork-barrel type projects. President Bush requested larger appropriations from Congress than any prior administration, but still the job lay fallow. Too many years of whistling past the graveyard has put a lot of innocent people into real-life burial plots. It'd be nice if the politicians, the corps of engineers and the contractors actually did the right thing for once. Everyone knew the levees had to be completed but everyone also had other uses for the money, almost none of those uses being as critical as the one the funds were appropriated for to begin with.

It's been said that it was racism which caused the Federal government to ignore the masses of black people trapped in New Orleans following the storm. Not likely, given that the EEOC, the NAACP and the ACLU are constantly watching. Others say it wasn't racism because the Mayor himself is black, therefore it must be something else. Here's the thing about racism in certain places, notably New Orleans. For centuries the patois of colors scattered among the population there: Black; Cajun; Creole; White; and Caribbean, has fostered a rigid class system of elitism and subjugation based on shades of black and white. Black on black discrimination is commonplace and the economic success or failure of individuals in that great welter of humanity is often determined by the lightness of one's skin, rather than a strictly black or white kind of bigotry which pertains elsewhere. The Paper Bag Rule of New Orleans society is infamous for its use and acceptance among the various social levels: if you are darker than a supermarket paper bag, you are denied admission and acceptance into certain clubs and business gatherings. It's this social stratification which keeps the dark skinned blacks down and the lighter skinned more toward the upper end of the economic curve. Even within families the lighter skinned often shun the darker complected members, perpetuating the outside forces of favoritism. The racism is codified and legitimized by the openness and acceptance of this blatant discrimination, and almost never discussed in polite society. It just is what it is.

Jesse Jackson and the Reverend Al Sharpton can be excused for their unsubstantiated racism charges against the federal government since they had no choice but to bloviate: the cameras were, after all, running. Barak Obama at least recognized that the administration was "color blind" when it came to their response and he didn't rush to play the race card as so many others are wont to do. Andrew Young, lately of Atlanta but originally from New Orleans, benefits by taking a page or two out of Obama's playbook - he certainly seemed rational in his comments on the subject. Or maybe it's Barak following Andy's lead? Whatever, it's a good thing.

The other foolishness which was painful to watch was the Mayor of Biloxi MS being interviewed as Katrina bore down on the Mississippi RiverBoats (gambling barges) docked all along the Gulf Coast between Gulfport and Biloxi. He kept telling the interviewer not to worry, that the casinos were built to withstand 150 mph winds and would not be damaged in the hurricane. He was obviously avoiding answering the unasked question - what happens when the twenty-five foot storm surge lifts the massive barges and deposits them in the middle of downtown with their walls and hulls intact? That is, of course, exactly what happened, but at least the mayor wasn't caught on tape admitting in advance that he knew the extent of the inevitable damage to come. The whole business of pretending there was none of that sinful gambling going on in Mississippi because the casinos were floating on the river or the gulf was a foolish self-delusion to keep the local preachers from complaining about the sin of drinking and gambling since it was offshore and not the doing of their flock. Let's hope someone wakes up there and builds the replacement casinos on dry land and at some safe elevation. It'd be nice to see real boats, beaches and piers back along what used to be a beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast. Safer too...

Having lived in Biloxi MS a couple of times (at Keesler AFB) and attending for some brief time Mary L Michel Junior High School in town, I hold a special place in my heart for what was a truly beautiful piece of country. I've also had some wonderful times in New Orleans, and also gotten into some real trouble there, but that's another story. The Royal Sonesta, Desire Bar, Fats Domino and Clarence "Frogman" Henry dominate the memories of the good times. Here's hoping the city comes back as great as its former self. A hundred and twenty-five years ago the good people of Louisiana moved their capitol from New Orleans to Baton Rouge, claiming the Crescent City was just too hedonistic to be an appropriate seat of government. Some dichotomy there, politicians denouncing hedonism, but then that's another story as well...

Bettye and I make a regular monthly donation to Feed The Children and we feel strongly that their efforts on behalf of Hurricane Katrina victims is genuine and real. We urge anyone with a desire to help to click their link above.

de oppresso liber - Bob Wirt

From: Bob Wirt Date: August 30, 2005 To: Herald Ed Subject: Turkey or Turkmenistan, what's the difference...

Miami Herald - The Editor:
Your graphic on page 10A of today's Herald shows Turkey on the northern border of Afghanistan. Not possible unless they've relocated the Caspian Sea, Armenia and a substantial portion of Iran. Perhaps you meant Turkmenistan? You should be more careful of these seemingly minor misstatements of fact as many people believe much of what they read in the newspapers, to their detriment.
Bob Wirt

From: Bob Wirt Date: August 28, 2005 To: Ankara Kids and Family Subject: Katrina

More news from the Right Coast, if I can say that being in the middle of the most lefty county in Florida: Well, now that Katrina's gone and we got our power back (after about 42 hours) and the cable (Comcast came back up this afternoon about 4PM - 24 hours after the power), things are about back to normal since my broadband has been restored. Fortunately we had power backup for the elevators or our claustrophobia would definitely have overtaken us both. Thursday afternoon everyone was sitting around Fort Lauderdale believing the weatherpersons who kept saying it was just a big rainstorm and would be hitting somewhere to the north of us, most likely Palm Beach county. Once it got past the Bahamas and was about 40 miles due east of Fort Lauderdale it was on a westerly track when it first jumped up from a 50 mph tropical storm and hit Category 1 hurricane strength with 75 mph winds. It hit us just a few hours later.

The storm cut just by us and hit about ten miles south, so we got the brunt of the eastern edge of the cyclone, which is the toughest weather, about 7PM. Bettye and I were sitting here on the Intracoastal Waterway on the 17th floor having dinner just as Katrina slid by with the eye wall hitting our sliding balcony doors with gusts of up to 92 mph. I told Bettye I thought it best that we move our feast into the bedroom on the west side of the apartment since it looked to me likely that one or more of the glass doors could explode without too much more pushing. As she was settling into her chair, she complained that her plate wouldn't stay still on her lap, and that she could see herself swaying back and forth in the mirror. I told her that of course it was just her imagination - then she told me to look in the mirror and I saw myself swaying back and forth like some bobble-head. The building was doing some rock-and-roll rendition to the tune of Hurricane Katrina and we were the maracas being shaken for effect. That fortunately lasted only about ten minutes as the storm completed its turn to the SW and the wind shifted somewhat, relieving the pressure on our 24-story building. Talk about twisting in the wind... We spent much of the rest of the evening watching high-voltage electric transformers exploding in flashes of blue across the Broward landscape - beautiful, but frightening because of the devastation being wrought.

Nine people died here in Miami/Dade and Broward Counties, mostly from being hit by falling trees or from post-storm asphyxiation from generators, both outside and INSIDE their homes (please don't try this at home...). There were over one million households without power and about half of those are still not restored. Thousands of trees were felled and most of the traffic lights for several miles around us are still out. We finally found one restaurant Saturday morning which was open for business, and definitely "enjoyed" the breakfast special at Dixie Pig Barbecue (my kind of groceries, but definitely not on Bettye's diet).

The storm is by now a Category 5 monster heading for the unprotected environs of New Orleans and the Mississippi Coast. They'll need all the prayers we can send their way. Those of us who spent time at Keesler AFB in Biloxi know how low that countryside is and the damage just a couple of feet of water can do.

We have newfound respect for Category 1 storms, even if little ol' Katrina was pretty much ignored by the forecasters since it wasn't as scary as the big ones. The little ones kill too. Now she's a biggie...
Bob Wirt `63

From: Bob Wirt Date: August 20, 2005 To: Ankara Kids Subject: Pain Killer

Carole: Good thing you had the aspirin... In the jungle it was a miracle drug for the ages. When I held dental sick calls in Nicaragua, Honduras, Panama, Colombia etc, back in the late `60s, I was well equipped with instruments, portable autoclave and plenty of novocaine, penicillin and tetracycline. Often, however, the abscesses were so bad I could literally extract an infected tooth with my fingers. Aspirin took care of the patients' pain, however, since most of the indios had never experienced it and the analgesic effect was dramatic and super effective. Never did have to break out an ampule of morphine, but with an American inured to aspirin, it would have been the ultimate drug of choice. We were able to teach the younger kids the value of brushing, for which we usually brought along grosses of toothbrushes, but their parents were hopeless since it's a habit which has to begin at an early age. Hard to say whether the instruction stuck as we had to leave the little ones to their environment and lack of encouragement from their elders. Oh, well... Where's the tooth-fairy when you need him?
Bob Wirt `63 (just another old kraut)

From: Carole Date: August 20, 2005 To: Ankara Subject: Aspirin for tooth pain

Rich, she is smarter than we are. I am an old Kraut too. Aspirins are awfully hard on your liver and other organs. My liver blood tests were off for over a year because I had taken so many aspirin. My abcess was from a broken tortilla chip that broke and got went under the gum. I couldn’t get it out and then forgot about it.

Carole, I had one last year and took every pain killer in the house. These old krauts won’t take an aspirin. Rich
Rich – Reassure her that she will feel like a new person after getting rid of the abscess.  I had one once and hate almost a whole bottle of aspirin.  Finally saw a dentist on Emergency on a Christmas Eve and was sent to another Specialist who came into his office to take care of it.  They went to work on it and the whole thing exploded across to the wall on the other side.  This was in the day before the AIDS concerns and doctors didn’t worry about wearing gloves or goggles.

Nancy, Wife was there. After seeing two doctors finally went to the dentist this morning to find out she has an abscessed tooth. She was not a lot of fun at the reunion.

Followup from above - From: Bob Wirt Date: August 20, 2005 To: Ankara Kids Subject: Pain Killer

Rich and Sally: Our indios used sticks as well, but there was apparently something in their diet - probably lack of complete proteins, the nuts they chewed or their primitive tobacco products (also chewed), which contributed to the infections we saw. And yes, we are lucky indeed. Whenever we opened a jungle dental clinic a line of expectant patients would immediately form up. At the end of the day the line would be somewhat diminished, but the next morning it would still be there, as long and as insistent as the day before with all new patients with the same problems - bad teeth and no money.
Bob Wirt

From: Rich Date: August 20, 2005 To: Ankara Subject: Pain Killer
The Saudi’s used stick from a cinnamon tree to clean their teeth.

Dear Bob, I was amazed in Kenya and Tanzania that most of the Africans had beautiful teeth - they use sticks to clean their teeth. There is the missing tooth in the front of the mouth which is seen in most photos of Africans who live in tribes. The front tooth is removed when the infant starts getting teeth. Because of lock-jaw, this makes an opening in the mouth to feed the person fluids or food. Are we lucky or what? Sally 

From: Bob Wirt Date: August 6, 2005 7:20:47 PM EDT To: Chuck Subject: RE: Denzel Washington

On Aug 3, 2005, at 10:03 AM, Chuck wrote: ... Don't know whether you heard about this but Denzel Washington and his family visited the troops at Brook Army Medical Center, in San Antonio,Texas (BAMC) the other day ...

Thanks for the message, it was inspirational. Too bad most newspapers are edited by commie-pinko-bedwetters, or the rest of us might have heard the news.

The Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston TX is where I took my basic medical training in the summer of 1965. The Institute of Surgical Research Burn Unit is what was then known as The Brooke Burn Center. Our OJT service in the burn unit was incredible and the suffering we observed was almost unbearable, in spite of the top-flight medical and nursing care the patients (many of them Viet Nam napalm victims) were receiving. Brooke was the best treatment facility available and world-renowned for their expertise. Brooke Burn Center was cutting edge in `65 and remains so today.

My last experience with them was in the Spring of 1968. I was on an A-Team mission to the mosquito coast of Nicaragua. We were in the closing phases of the operation and had done a rendezvous in Bluefields prior to extraction and de-briefing. The Mayor and local Guardia Commander had asked us to conduct a sick-call, which my junior medic and I readily agreed to. Instead of heading to a local clinic to minister to the locals as usual, however, we were taken by jeep straight across town to a private home. From about two blocks away we could tell from the smell what lay in store. As we entered the house we were directed to a back bedroom where a young (approximately ten-year-old) girl lay in a hammock in a stark but clean environment. She weighed no more than 80 pounds and seemed comfortable but scared. The stench was overwhelming but we each had to put on our best poker-face so as not to frighten her further.

As I pulled the sheet back to examine her wounds, I noted that most of her lower extremities were totally involved in what had been a severe burn. We were advised that about a year prior she had tipped over a pot of boiling water on a cook-fire and had been scalded from the waist down. As I gazed at the wounds I could see thigh bone under the layers of maggots which were living in the tissue. Maggots are actually beneficial to the healing process as they consume only deciduous tissue and leave the viable, living tissue alone. They are, nonetheless, quite disconcerting when observed in action on a live patient. She had been shuttled from clinic to hospital, from Bluefields to Managua and back, with no effective treatment having been instituted and was sent home to die in obscurity.

We shot her up with atropine and benadryl, then followed about fifteen minutes later with an injection of 2.4/M units of Penicillin VK. We gave her parents a ten-days' supply of 500mg Tetracycline qid and left her to their care after having waited about a half-hour to ensure there was no adverse reaction to the medications. We then got on the short-wave and called in a request for air-evacuation to the Brooke Burn Center at Fort Sam. US Army SouthCom in the Canal Zone agreed to the request and we were advised that an Air Force C-130 was on its way north to Bluefields as we headed back south to Fort Gulick.

Never did hear any followup as to whether she survived, but then that's normal in the need-to-know world of the Army/CIA/Embassy operations we were involved with at the time. I've gotta believe they treated her well at Brooke. After all, why wouldn't they?

Bob Wirt

From: Bob Wirt Date: July 7, 2005 ... Subject: Politics and War

Fundamentalist Islamic terrorists have been after us for a long time, and their murderous tactics did not begin and end with George W Bush's election in 2000. Jimmy Carter was driven from office in 1980 by, among other things, his inability to deal with the murderous, criminal actions of the Iranian mullahs in having kidnapped 66 of our embassy people in November, 1979, holding them in truly horrendous conditions for almost fifteen months of torture and deprivation. Ronald Reagan lost 241 US Marines killed in Beirut, Lebanon, to murderous truck-bombers who hated nothing more than Americans. Bill Clinton had many US embassies bombed and dozens of Americans murdered by al Qaida throughout Africa and the Middle East during his eight year tenure, including the Khobar Towers barracks attack in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, and capped by the attempted sinking of the USS Cole off Yemen in October, 2000, by more al Qaida murderers who left seventeen American sailors dead. Bill Clinton actually bombed the Iraqi Intelligence Service headquarters in downtown Baghdad in June, 1993, in retaliation for a Saddam Hussein inspired terrorist plot to assassinate Ex-President George H W Bush with a car bomb during a State visit to Kuwait. George W Bush presided over the worst of the attacks with the bombing of the WTC and Pentagon by these same fanatic killers, out to wipe the Great Satan (you and me) off the face of the earth - only because we are infidels and non-believers. Some religion. What George Bush has done is carry the fight to the enemy. It's like I've always said: Better there than here; better now than later.

I certainly don't agree with everything this (or any other) administration does, but am glad we're secure within our own borders from these lunatic Muslim fanatics. By the time I was 24, I had lived half my life overseas, and I still (in my geezerdom) know a couple of things about how foreigners feel toward Americans. One-on-one they like us. They love our money, but resent us for their own acceptance of our foreign aid. They love us individually and hate us as a group. They love America in the abstract, but hate every American government administration. They aspire to our lifestyle and most of them want to move here, but they hate us as a people because of envy and unrealized desires to be like Americans and live as we do in genuine freedom.

What we see in the world today is a war being waged by a militant faction without borders or definable leadership, surreptitiously supported by countries which hate us (Iran, Syria, Libya...) or by countries which pretend to be our friends (Saudi Arabia, France, Pakistan ...), and which will not stop until every Jew and every Christian lies dead in the dirt. It's their revenge for the Crusades and we have to be prepared to take the heat in dealing with their wanton terrorism.

Some ostensible allies of the US denounced our invasion of Iraq and subsequent defeat of Hussein, but their protestations were disingenuous at best and cynical at their worst. The UN never enforced their own dozens of Security Council Resolutions against Iraq issued over a twelve year period due to the simple fact that France, Germany and Russia, sitting on the UN Security Council, blocked their enforcement because they all had their greedy hooks in the multi-Billion dollar cookie-jar of the UN Oil For Food Program. There were billions flowing to those three countries from Saddam Hussein in violation of UN Sanctions and they didn't want Hussein deposed. All we did when we went to war against the Butcher of Baghdad was to carry out what the UN only claimed on paper to want. The war stopped the French sales of billions of dollars worth of munitions to Iraq and the unrestricted flow of discounted illegal crude oil to their European refineries and distributors. It's the reason they all denounced us when we enforced the Resolutions and Sanctions they first voted for and then blocked in their venality.

Many people who have never been called on to defend their own country in time of war (and others who were called on but chose not to serve) feel that all Americans are warmongers. I know from my great-grandfather's front-line service with the American Red Cross in WWI; my grandfather's Army service in WWI and WWII; and my father's Army Air Corps service in WWII and Korea; that my own call to military service to my country in 1964 could not have been denied. Those who value their freedoms and the safety of their families and loved ones do not shirk from action. Those who avoid it have no cause for complaint.

I view the time that I spent on various Special Forces A-Teams on missions throughout Central and South America to have been worthwhile contributions (small though my part might have been) in stopping the Fidel Castro driven Cuban insurgency incursions in those areas and their attempts to overthrow the local governments and install Communist regimes in our backyard. Since they were not successful in any of these dozen or so efforts, it seems we prevailed. The only successful Special Forces operations are, after all, the ones no one hears about. That's pretty much what I don't like about the current fashion of conducting war via TV news broadcasts. Too many lies and misrepresentations abound and the soldiers aren't left to do their jobs as only they know how.

Every day that we lose even one soldier to enemy fire in Iraq or Afghanistan, or wherever else Americans are serving their country, is a day I say a prayer for their lives and their sacrifice for the greater good the rest of us are left to enjoy. Politics isn't pretty and neither is war - but they're necessary evils in the securing of freedom and democracy around the world. Do not imagine for a minute that we're not at war, because following 9/11 we are in a fight to the end for our very existence.

The people I knew and worked with in Turkey, Panama, Nicaragua or wherever I was on duty, were always nice to me personally and appreciative of my efforts in their behalf, but they hated America and Americans as a group. Go figure. I just don't listen to their generalized complaints about what evil we do in the world or what devils we really are, as their envy-driven misconceptions aren't credible. Given a chance, they'd each and every one become an American citizen without hesitation, and join the Great Satan on the world stage. Hypocritical if nothing else...

Believe what you will, but: listen to what you're told by others; take it with a grain of salt; keep an open mind; and let reality guide your considered judgments. Nothing in this world is black and white, there are only shades of grey, and it takes perception to grasp the truth and form viable, fact-based opinions.


From: Bob Wirt Date: June 4, 2005 Subject: RE: Guantanamo Bay, Amnesty International, The Koran and Newsweek

Hi Carol:
Welcome back to the fray. You seem to feel that the Red Cross is not allowed to inspect the US detention facilities at Guantanamo. However, according to their website, "Geneva (ICRC) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been regularly visiting the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay since early 2002 for the purpose of monitoring that persons held there are treated in accordance with applicable international laws and standards." Their interpretation of conditions and events there may differ from my perception, but they are inspecting and reporting. Headlines which appear in The New York Times and other publications are opinions of outside parties regarding what may or may not be contained in confidential reports not released for general consumption. The Office of Detainee Affairs in the US Department of Defense seems to be doing what is required to allay fears that interrogation tactics there are "tantamount to torture" as some news sources would have us believe. I choose to discount their skewed perception of what should or should not be happening in the real world, as these reporters haven't been there any more than you or I.

I am not one of those who feels international relief organizations have no place in the resolution of problems associated with prisoner treatment and the ravages of war. My great-grandfather Dr Loyal Lincoln Wirt was a lifelong christian missionary who served as a Captain with the American Red Cross during and following WWI. He was one of the founders of Mid-East Relief which was an organization funded in great part by the Wilson administration which built over 200 orphanages throughout Turkey to house the thousands children of the millions of Armenians massacred during that war by the Germans and the Turks. My sympathies have always been with those at risk and without defenders. Loyal's actions and sympathies are a lesson I've always carried with me.

Brad is correct, however, in that those who murder and disembowel our soldiers in Mogadishu, behead innocent civilians on live webcam feeds in Iraq, and unconscionably murder innocents of the wrong muslim faction in their mosques and marketplaces have no standing to claim their civil rights are being violated. They can sit out the conflict in their (relatively) comfortable cells where we know they will not be murdering law abiding people in the streets or flying more planes into our office buildings. I personally feel that the tribunals set up to deal with the prisoner appeals for release based on their claims of innocence were sufficient to meet any doctrine of fairness in dealing with terrorists. This in spite of US District Judge Joyce Hens Green's ruling that the Guantanamo military tribunals for terror suspects are unconstitutional. No solution is going to please everyone, but we were addressing the problem. If we really followed our Constitution as originally set forth, Judge Hens Green would not be a judge as she would be without suffrage, and blacks would still be chattel. Constitutional is, after all, in the eye of the beholder - and now subject to endless interpretation. One opinion does not right make.

Would you rather have most of these murderers locked up to the temporary inconvenience of some few who might not have been actively engaged in terrorism at the time of their detention? Or would you rather release the whole group of vicious, wanton killers to avoid the possibility that some few might be detained unnecessarily for the duration of the conflict? These prisoners are getting the protections and care they deserve, certainly better treatment than they would have received at the hands of their own countrymen were they not in our custody. Have you forgotten that the typical muslim punishment for theft is to have the culprit's hands cut off, or the penalty for bedding another man's wife is chopping off... well never mind.

Had we listened to the FBI's Colleen Rowley when she wanted Zacarias Moussaoui detained just prior to the 9/11 attacks, that whole horrible situation might have been averted. We were so anxious to protect Mr Moussaoui's civil rights that we let the whole WTC conspiracy go down without knowledge of what information was contained on his laptop regarding his nineteen co-conspirators' plans. Preemptive detention is not always a bad thing when you're dealing with bad people with bad intentions. We need to take a lesson from Ms Rowley and pay more attention to the terrorists and less attention to their rights.
Bob Wirt

From: Carol Date: June 4, 2005 Subject: RE: Guantanamo Bay, Amnesty International, The Koran and Newsweek

Gosh, being one of those “leftist liberals” I have to disagree with your view below, Brad. I am very much affected by dead people, whoever they are.
In the spirit of continued exchange of views, I also want to respond to Bob’s comments. I do understand that it’s very difficult to differentiate truth from fiction about Guantanamo, since presumably none of us has ever been there (though I may be wrong there??). My concerns are that if we are in fact treating the prisoners as well as you say, Bob, why are we unwilling to have the Red Cross and others see what we are doing? I have read accounts from people who say they’ve been there that do not jibe with what you say below.
I also don’t understand why we, a country that has always been firmly on the side of the law (at least compared to other countries), would want to deny any human being their rights. I don’t understand why we’d define a group of people (such as those at Guantanamo) as not needing the protections we normally give people in our own country when they’re accused of some wrongdoing. Many at Guantanamo may well be guilty, but there seems to be a lot of evidence that they’re not ALL guilty. Wouldn’t it be the American way to find out who’s guilty and who’s not? Presumption of innocence is a pretty important American value, in our legal system, as far as I was taught.
The fact that other countries have done bad things to people (a fact we all know) does not excuse us from doing the same thing. I believe we have an obligation to set an excellent example (after all, we’ve got a lot of advantages that people in other countries don’t have); and I don’t think what we’re doing in Guantanamo is a) setting a good example or b) making any friends for America.

From: Brad Date: June 2, 2005 Subject: Re: Guantanamo Bay, Amnesty International, The Koran and Newsweek

The leftist liberals who are outraged at a polaroid of a half naked terrorist thought nothing of our dead, naked troops being drug through the streets of Mogodisho (sp?) on the 6 o'clock news around the world.

From: Bob Wirt Date: June 1, 2005 Subject: Guantanamo Bay, Amnesty International, The Koran and Newsweek

The latest news from the commie-pinko-bedwetters at Amnesty International is that the Guantanamo Bay detainees are being held in "a gulag for our times". This is incredible over-the-top rhetoric having nothing to do with reality from a bunch of dilettantes with nothing better to do than bad-mouth the American people and their freely elected government. These insurgent detainees are housed in real buildings with four walls, a floor and a roof; with real beds to sleep in; chairs to sit on and tables to eat at; electric lighting, actual toilets, showers and running water; they are provided daily physical sustenance (three hots and a cot) and spiritual sustenance with a Koran printed in their own individual language or dialect. This as opposed to the tent or cave they were living in, the desert floor they were accustomed to using to relieve themselves and the bugs and scraps of road-kill they were eating before their imprisonment. Makes you think the folks at AI never saw an actual Gulag a`la our Russian friends.

As for the prisoners' treatment being in violation of the Geneva Conventions, the fact is that in order to be considered a prisoner of war under those agreements a combatant must be a uniformed soldier acting on behalf of a state fielded military force. The insurgents in our current Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts are neither of these. They are overwhelmingly guerrillas fighting in individual groups or even as solitary warriors without official support or confederates. The Conventions do not pertain to these terrorists and we owe them no special treatment other than the humanitarian treatment and medical care we already accord them. If AI wants to see real prisoner mistreatment I'd suggest a trip to the other side of the Cuban island for a look at Fidel's infamous political torture chambers - a real gulag, courtesy his former patrons in the USSR.

As for the Koran being flushed down a toilet at Guantanamo - has anyone ever seen a flush toilet which would accommodate a book the size of a Koran? or any book for that matter? The entire story was false on the face of it since the action being accused was impossible to begin with. Newsweek, like CBS before it, was in way too big a hurry to trash the administration and played fast and loose with America's reputation for fairness and forthrightness, to our everlasting detriment.

Prosecution of these foreign conflicts by our military forces has kept the terrorists at bay and off guard in their own backyards and has prevented them from repeating their unconscionable attacks of 9/11. It's not for nothing that Libya's Khadaffi repented his terrorist aggression and Syria decamped from Lebanon. The big stick was one of Teddy Roosevelt's everlasting gifts to American foreign policy. Speaking softly, on the other hand, seems only to attract derision and contempt. Bring on John Bolton...

At the risk of repeating my sentiments on the validity of our preemptive actions in Afghanistan and Iraq: Better there than here - Better now than later. You won't likely see it on the evening news, but the Iraqi and Afghani people love their American liberators, even if their deposed tyrants do not. Although, they probably would like us to go home at some point... The Germans and South Koreans also probably thought we'd hang around to help them back on their feet for something less than 50-60 years...

de oppresso liber - Bob Wirt

From: Bob Wirt Date: Thu Feb 17, 2005 To: Ankara Kids Subject: God and Hammurabi

Not sure what's taboo and what isn't in this forum. It may depend on who brings the subject up in the first place, and whether anyone else has their sensibilities offended. Yes, God was added to the Pledge in the early `50s, so each of us sixty-somethings had it added to our memory banks at an early age, modifying what we had already learned. Just as the phrase In God We Trust was added to our coinage a hundred years earlier, but well after our Revolution and establishment of our Republic. Remember also that up until 1962/63, virtually every classroom had a copy of The Golden Rule and The Ten Commandments hanging on the wall to remind us daily of how we were expected to behave, not that everyone paid attention ...

Here's one to chew on: The Ten Commandments monument which cost Chief Justice Roy Moore his job on the Alabama state Supreme Court is now on a nationwide tour, apparently drawing significant crowds and reverent awe (maybe even some shock as well). The funny thing is that this religious symbol, which apparently violated the manufactured doctrine of separation of church and state, is itself nothing but a foreshortened version of The Code Of Hammurabi - a set of civil codes which attempted to establish rules of society for Mesopotamia and Babylon. The irony here is that inherently civil laws are being banned from civil institutions on the basis that they are religious and violate a tenet not even stated in our Constitution. There are strictures against the establishment of a state religion and against restricting peoples' free expression of religion - both of which are violated by the various and sundry "Church and State" judgments. I had thought the original intent of the framers was that government was to leave us alone to make our own choices in these matters, rather than constantly telling us what we can't do. The public should be free to use public property for public purposes. Although, Jesus did counsel in his sermon on the mount that we ought to pray in private. Yet another conundrum ...

The difference between Hammurabi and Moses is that Hammurabi, King of Babylon, claimed personal authorship with divine inspiration from God, while Moses received God's words as communicated through a burning bush and writ by God's finger in stone. I actually preferred Moses' Fifteen Commandments, oops, make that Ten (according to Mel Brooks' version), but that's just me.

For those with a sense of humor in the matter, try these: Mel Brooks' "History of the World, Part I"; Monty Python's "Life of Brian"; or "Dogma" with Ben and Matt - and featuring Alanis Morissette as God herself.
Bob Wirt

From: fvhw Date: Wed Feb 16, 2005 Subject: God

Isn't religion one of the topics that is tabu? I'm so sick of God being used as a weapon in this country; smacked back and forth more than a tennis ball. 

ps.  Most of us didn't learn to say the Pledge with God in it.  I don't much care whether it's there now or not.  It's just that I leave it out by habit.  Embarrassing.  Rather like saying all those sssssses in the Lord's Prayer when the rest of the congregation says debtors.

From: Bob Wirt Date: Sat Jan 29, 2005

It's being said in the media that if the elections in Iraq do not result in a 60% turnout of the Iraqi voting-age population, that the US has somehow failed in its mission to bring democracy to the middle east. I would submit that this is a virtually impossible threshold to meet given that after almost 230 years of democratic elections in the United States we were barely able to turn out 60% of the voting age population of our own country in the presidential election of 2004. We are a country having a 295 million population, with approximately 225 million of those being of voting age, which turned out only 122 million voters in a peaceful and secure domestic environment. How can it be reasonably expected that a war-torn Iraq, saddled with violent ideologic terrorists and murderous bombers of innocent civilians, can turn out a like percentage of their eligible voters in their first free election following a half-century of subjugation?

In our own country the founders of our democracy were opposed from the very beginning by those who felt a government based on free and open elections had no place in the Americas. These tories were loyal to the British Crown and fought against the democratic ideals being forced on them by the founding fathers of the United States, much as the Iraqi democrats are being violently opposed by those citizens of their own country who would prefer a totalitarian, religion-based government, or even a return to the murderous dictatorship they were recently relieved of by the US.

Crispus Attucks, a black man of African and American-Indian parentage was the first American to be killed in 1770 by the Redcoats during what was known as the Boston Massacre, which event became the launching point of the American Revolution against the British Crown. The unfortunate aftermath of this fact is that it took nearly 200 years for blacks to become fully enfranchised in our democracy, the land of the free and home of the brave.

One truly amazing fact is that the election being conducted in Iraq is based on a modern paradigm, unlike our own vaunted constitutional election process which had its beginnings with the popular vote being provided to a privileged few, ie: white, landowning males. Women, minorities and the povery stricken - even the landless, white middle-class - were forbidden by the US Constitution to vote for their government officials. Those who cast aspersions on the format and conduct of the US sponsored elections in Iraq should look to our own history before denouncing the legitimacy of this administration's mission to bring democracy to the darkest corners of the world.

For those who claim that a secular democracy cannot work in a middle-eastern, majority Islamic country, I recommend a look at Iraq's next-door neighbor, Turkey:

Their government may be a model different from ours, considering that the army could, until just recently, remove a sitting President for violating their constitution instead of their legislature having that power (Menderes, et al), but is a democracy nonetheless in the manner set forth by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk almost eighty years ago.

While the Turkish constitution has since been changed dramatically, they remain a representative democracy through their parliament and truly should be set forth to the rest of the muslim-majority countries as an example of how Islam, through a secular government, can emerge into the 21st century with some measure of dignity. Why the US seems to ignore one of our staunchest allies in the world in favor of insisting that no Islamic culture has been capable of open self governance is amazing.

We seem to forget that the Turks were some of the fiercest fighters at the side of our troops in Korea during the height of that conflict. We truly disrespected their sovereignty in the 2003 lead-up to the Iraq war when we demanded invasion bases in the south of Turkey without appreciating what it would do to their (relatively) peaceful relationships with the muslim countries they border. Our diplomacy was lacking in that regard. Just as we gave mixed signals to Saddam Hussein prior to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait when we indicated our government would not object to his reclaiming what they considered to be a province of their territory, and then objected vociferously with 500,000 troops. Just as we diplomatically misled Iraqi Kurds and Shiites into rising up against Hussein following Desert Storm then failed to support their revolution with the airpower we had committed to. Reminds me of JFK's own failure to follow up with promised air support for the Bay of Pigs back in 1961, allowing the invading Cuban exiles to be killed and imprisoned while our government sat silent. We often seem to treat our friends worse than we do our enemies.

Here's hoping the US government has finally begun to stop sending mixed signals and is going to truly back this Iraqi effort to bring democratic freedoms to this unfortunate region of the world. It's my prayer that the elections go well and that not too many aspiring democratic Iraqis are murdered by their cowardly, fanatic fellow-citizens for daring to cast a vote on their own destiny.

Allaha Ismaladik !

From: Bob Wirt Date: Wed Jan 26, 2005

Concerning terrorists and IRAQ - Better There Than Here; Better Now Than Later. It's not good that young soldiers are dying, but they do so to save the rest of us from another WTC/911 attack on American soil. Say a prayer today for each and every one of these honorable troops who are fighting for our peace and freedom.

From: Bob Wirt Date: Wed Jan 25, 2005

A solution to two problems which will undoubtedly assuage no one: Allow gay marriage and you solve part of the problem of too many abortions. Don't like that one? How about being neither pro-life nor pro-choice, but rather pro-abortion. Anyone who's pregnant would have to have an abortion. That way each of us could force our morality on everyone else and no one would be happy with the result, rather than just hacking-off one plurality or another by taking sides in an unending, un-winnable argument about other peoples' rights. When's the last time you met someone with Choose Life license plates on their car who actually went out and adopted a child? ... which is the ostensible point of that particular slogan.

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