Month: October 2009

Parallels: Vietnam and Afghanistan…Soldiers and Heroin

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It’s easy for soldiers to score heroin in Afghanistan

2007 – Simultaneously stressed and bored, U.S. soldiers are turning to the widely available drug for a quick escape.

The true extent of the heroin problem among American soldiers now serving in Iraq and Afghanistan is unknown.

The military has statistics on how many troops failed drug tests, but the best information on long-term addiction comes from the U.S. Veterans Administration. The VA is the world’s largest provider of substance abuse services, caring for more than 350,000 veterans per year, of whom about 30,000 are being treated for opiate addiction.

Heroin “is everywhere.” And although they haven’t shown up in the statistics yet, reports from methadone clinics suggest the VA’s future patients may already be back in the States in force. Much like the caskets that return to the Dover Air Force base in the dead of night, America’s new addicts are returning undetected. {more}

Problems shooting up in Afghanistan

2009 – More than 100,000 people around the world are lost each year to heroin. Russia’s heroin crisis began after an occupation of Afghanistan. Our military presence must end in Afghanistan before we suffer the same fate and bring this epidemic back to the United States. {more}

2009 – In the end, no one knows exactly how many U.S. troops are using heroin, though it is unlikely that the military’s acknowledged “none” is any reflection of reality. But with the military’s outright refusal to acknowledge the reality of drug abuse and addiction among troops in the field, it’s equally unlikely that military or VA health services are prepared for any onslaught of addiction patients requiring counseling and rehabilitation. {more]

What are the heroin addiction statistics for US troops in Afghanistan

Romancing the Afghan Dragon

Anyone who has followed the tales of the returning troops from Vietnam knows that the use of heroin was fairly common. The parallels to Afghanistan could be repeating…

The following is a Vanderbilt University academic report on drug use among soldiers in the Vietnam war and even earlier.

Higher and Higher: Drug Use Among U.S. Forces in Vietnam

by Peter Brush

In 1898 the United States acquired control of the Philippines. The following year it began a brutal fight to suppress a guerrilla uprising. It is basic to guerrilla war that combatants will be mingled with the civilian population. Social behaviors flow one to the other. Soon after their arrival American soldiers learned to smoke opium. This practice became sufficiently common that U.S. Opium Commissioner Hamilton Wright felt compelled to deny it, claiming in a report to the 1909 Shanghai Opium Commission that “among the personnel of our Army and Navy [in the Philippines] there is not the slightest evidence that the use of opium or its derivatives has been introduced….”[1]

In reality, the drug habit among U.S. military personnel was “alarmingly increasing,” so much so that its occurrence was an agenda item at the 1903 meeting of the American Pharmaceutical Association. There the Report of the Committee on Acquirement of Drug Habits noted that soldiers acquired the practice from Chinese and native Filipinos and that a number of enlisted men had been discharged for being habitual drug users. The discharge rate was several hundred percent higher during the previous five years than for any ten years before that.[2] The history of drug use among U.S. military personnel is not limited to the Philippines insurrection. The next time American soldiers fought to suppress guerrillas, in Vietnam, the use of drugs by American soldiers reached epidemic proportions.

Although marijuana is legally considered a drug according to the federal Controlled Substances Act, its use was treated differently from other drugs by American commanders and military lawyers in Vietnam.[3] This distinction will be maintained here; use of marijuana will be related separately from use of other drugs.

Marijuana was present in Vietnam before the arrival of the Americans. Drug laws were not well defined and their enforcement had little priority in the Vietnamese criminal justice system. There was no central Vietnamese drug enforcement agency and no government control over marijuana. A survey made in 1966 by the U.S. military command in the Saigon area showed there were 29 fixed outlets for the purchase of marijuana.[4]

A comparison has been made between Vietnamese use of marijuana and the manner in which the French treat wine and sex: there are cultural regulations for use, sale, and protocol but no inherent sense of “illicitness” as in the United States.[5] Journalist Richard Boyle mentions its use by South Vietnamese soldiers. He even relates an incident where he smoked marijuana with the South Vietnamese consul in Cambodia. Craven “A” and Park Lane were the popular brands of grass available in Saigon. It was sold in the form of pre-rolled cigarettes in genuine Craven “A” and Park Lane packages.

Former North Vietnamese Army (NVA) soldier Bao Ninh reports that smoking a marijuana-like substance became so pervasive that use spread throughout his entire regiment.[6] American soldiers note that the Vietnamese used marijuana openly. One saw it growing wild in Central Vietnam. Another discovered a sizeable quantity in the knapsack of a dead NVA soldier at Khe Sanh.[7]

Soldiers began using marijuana in Vietnam as early as 1963, during the advisory period, and before its use became widespread in the United States. Its popularity grew steadily.[8] In 1967 a Congressional investigation discovered 16 instances of marijuana use inside the Marine brig at Da Nang. The source was Vietnamese who gave it to prisoners on working parties, often throwing it into passing vehicles in which prisoners were riding.

Inmates not eligible for working parties did not necessarily have to go without marijuana. Marine lawyer Captain Robert W. Wachsmuth described how:

Members of working parties would obtain marijuana seeds [which were] planted in rows of dirt above the shower stalls which were opened to the outside by the gap between the tin roof and the wall….Spray from the prisoners’ showers would water the plants. When the plants reached a sufficient size, plastic…would be placed between the shower spray and the plant, causing the plant to die. The plants would then be crushed and rolled in toilet paper to make joints.[9]

Other Marines found easy access from street vendors as their vehicles passed through urban areas.

For most of the Vietnam War, prosecution for even a slight trace of marijuana was a court-martial offense for Marines. The lack of a crime laboratory in Vietnam before 1968 was a major handicap to efforts to punish marijuana offenders. Drug samples were sent to Japan for testing, a process that took 45 days to complete. That same year marijuana detecting dogs were pressed into service to search for marijuana among Marines returning to Vietnam from R&R trips abroad.[10]

While the Marines were subjecting all marijuana offenders to courts-martial, the Army took only dealers and users of hard drugs to trial. The more severe Marine approach was a failure: in 1969, nearly half the cases tried by the Marine Corps in Vietnam involved marijuana possession. Marijuana use was no longer confined to rear area units. A drug rehabilitation center was established at Cua Viet for drug users from infantry battalions. A senior Marine legal officer admitted the helplessness in stemming the tide of marijuana use: “I don’t know what the solution is….I don’t know what the hell we are going to do.”[11]

Before 1968, marijuana use among soldiers was largely ignored by the Army. Newspaper stories describing its widespread use helped publicize this situation, inclining Army officials to label it as a problem. Their solution was a comprehensive program to eradicate its use. Armed Forces radio and television proclaimed the dangers of marijuana consumption. Drug education lectures became mandatory. Troop quarters and secluded fields were searched for marijuana. Soldiers were warned by chaplains, physicians, and legal officers that marijuana use could cause not only physiological damage and lead to psychosis, but also result in injury to men dependent on this for marijuana possession reached as many as 1,000 in a single week.

Marijuana use was fairly easy to detect: it is a bulky commodity and emits a distinct odor when smoked. Consequently, the Army was able to wage a vigorous suppression campaign. In 1968, responding to U.S. pressure, the Vietnamese government publicly condemned the sale and use of marijuana. Province chiefs were ordered to forbid its cultivation. Aircraft were used to locate marijuana fields and South Vietnamese troops were sent into the field to destroy crops. U.S. Army Press releases claimed the drug problem was being brought under control. Eventually the anti-marijuana campaign by the Army was relaxed, although use remained high among enlisted personnel and junior officers.[12]

In fact, marijuana use was mostly a problem because it conflicted with American civilian and military values. Use of marijuana did not constitute an operational problem. Smoking in rear areas did not impact operations. Use among combat personnel came when units stood down rather when in the field. The Commanding General of the 3d Marine Division noted “there is no drug problem out in the hinterlands, because there was a self-policing by the troops themselves.” Life for combat soldiers depended on their being clear-headed.[13]

Army Major Joel Kaplan of the 98th Medical Detachment realistically appraised the use of marijuana. While noting that marijuana was used at high rates, alcohol consumption among career military personnel was a larger problem. “I think alcohol is a much more dangerous drug than marijuana.”[14] One Air Force officer understood well the difference: “When you get up there in those early hours, you want the klunk you’re flying with to be able to snap to. He’s a lot more likely to be fresh if he smoked grass the night before than if he was juiced.” A much larger problem was on the horizon for American military commanders in Vietnam. When heroin use became commonplace, one Army commanding officer rationally described the implications of marijuana use. “If it would get them to give up the hard stuff, I would buy all the marijuana and hashish in the Delta as a present.”[15]

Soldiers in Vietnam smoked marijuana and took other drugs who would not do so at home. A soldier’s friends become extremely important; new soldiers adhere to behavior of members of their group. Marine commander Major Ives W. Neely claimed “at least 70 to 80 percent” use within his company. Marines would catch a new man as he reported into the unit, instructing him that if he was going to buy marijuana he would buy it from them. If anyone told, turned in any of their names, “there were ways to do these people in.”[16]

When young men, many still teenagers, are in a strange land and surrounded by enemies (real and potential), they do not have to be cajoled into assuming the habits of their new friends who proceeded them to Vietnam. One former Marine related his first experience with marijuana in the form of hashish. He was with a small group guarding the Hai Van Pass, certainly one of the most beautiful places in Asia in terms of physical geography. Fresh water flowed in a pipe on a hill near an oil refinery and emptied into the South China Sea. Vietnamese fishermen would come ashore while the Marines bathed in the pipeline outflow. For ten piasters (about ten cents), the Marines could buy French bread, hashish, and fresh lobsters from the Vietnamese. The Marines smoked the hashish in a pipe fashioned out of a M-14 shell casing. With their appetites stimulated from the hashish, they ate the bread. The lobsters were flash-fried in a helmet. Cooking fuel was provided by plastic explosives (C-4), which burns vigorously when ignited. This practice was a common one for the platoon guarding the oil refinery at the Hai Van Pass in 1965.[17] It was a practice that would prove impossible to eradicate.

Other drugs were available to U.S. forces. In 1967 opium cost $1.00 while morphine went for $5.00 per vial. Tablets of Binoctal, an addictive drug consisting of Amytal and Seconal, were available in tablet form from Vietnamese children at from $1.00 to $5.00 for twenty tablets. Although technically a prescription drug, Binoctal was available over the counter at almost any Vietnamese pharmacy for about eight piasters for twenty tablets. Twenty tablets, consumed at once, was a fatal dose. One soldier had died from Binoctal use, and three near-fatalities had been reported. “O.J.’s” were opium joints. After 1970 the name was often a misnomer, since heroin was widely available to U.S. forces. A tobacco cigarette was rolled between the finger and thumb to loosen the tobacco. The cigarette was partially emptied. A vial containing 250 milligrams of 94 to 96 percent pure heroin was poured into the cigarette, which was smoked.[18] Widespread heroin use would dwarf previous drug problems among U.S. servicemen in Vietnam. It was the attempt of the U.S. military command to suppress the use of marijuana that caused to the switch to heroin.[19]

Chinese immigrants to Vietnam in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries brought their opium smoking habit with them. Initially the emperors of Vietnam welcomed these Chinese for their entreprenuerial skills. Over time opium addiction appeared among the Vietnamese. In the 1830s Britain exported opium from India to China in large quantities. Opium smokers in Vietnam paid for their opium in silver, causing a drain of specie and inflation in Vietnam. The Vietnamese court strongly opposed opium smoking on both moral and economic grounds, and opium was outlawed soon after it appeared.

The French fought their way into Vietnam about the time of the U.S. Civil War. In order to pay an indemnity to the French, the emperor established an opium franchise in the northern region. Opium became a lucrative source of income for French colonial administrators. A modern opium refinery was constructed in Saigon. Opium dens and shops were opened to meet consumer demand. By 1918 there were 1,512 dens and 3,098 retail opium shops in French Indochina and the opium business was booming. [20]

By the beginning of World War II Indochina had over 100,000 opium addicts. By now the opium source was Iran and Turkey and imports totaled about 60 tons annually. During the war the British blockaded shipping to Indochina, forcing the French to expand opium production in Laos and Vietnam to avert a fiscal crisis. Indochinese opium production increased from 7.5 tons in 1940 to over 60 tons in 1944. By the late 1950s the region was self-sufficient in opium production. By 1969 the Golden Triangle (the opium producing regions of Laos, Thailand, and Burma) was harvesting 1,000 tons of raw opium annually.

In late 1969 and early 1970, Golden Triangle laboratories instituted a more sophisticated opium refinement process, allowing them to produce high-grade (80 to 99 percent pure) no. 4 heroin. A CIA report said the adoption of this new production technique seemed to be due to the large market in South Vietnam. Previously heroin had been unavailable in South Vietnam. Now teenagers sold it to American soldiers on the highways; street dealers gave it to GIs as they walked through Saigon, and maids sold it to military personnel while cleaning their living quarters. In 1970 there were 1,146 arrests for hard drugs. The following year arrests in this category increased to 7,026. That year 1971 U.S. Army medical officers estimated that 10 to 15 percent of the lower-ranking enlisted personnel in Vietnam were heroin users. .[21]

Psychoanalyst Dr. Norman E. Zinberg, a consultant for the Department of Defense on drug abuse in Vietnam, noted that heroin use was done casually by U.S. troops. More than one-third picked up the habit during their first month in Vietnam, and probably 90 percent in their first four months. A typical heroin user in Vietnam was quite unlike the typical heroin user in the United States: the soldiers may have come from small towns in the Midwest or South. All ethnic and educational groups were represented in about equal proportion. Users existed in administrative, combat-support, and combat occupational specialties. Combat troops avoided heroin use in the field. Zinberg notes one soldier who stood down after 13 days on a long patrol. One of his first actions was to pour a vial of heroin into a large shot of vodka and drink it.

In the U.S. heroin was injected and rarely smoked. In Vietnam, where the drug was much more pure, the opposite was the normal route of consumption. Heroin was also snorted and taken orally. These means of ingestion minimized the physical risks of injection. There were no deaths from overdose. Men used heroin to pass the time, to deal with the danger, boredom, and purposelessness of their lives.[22]

In terms of physical geography, South Vietnam consists of a coastal plain in the east and a long mountain chain in the west in addition to the Mekong delta in the far south. The source of opium lay on the other side of the Annamite Mountains. Opium and later heroin dealers in Vietnam had to have connections in the Golden Triangle area and means of transporting the drug back into South Vietnam. In the 1950s the French provided these transportation services through their association with Laotian military irregulars. By 1965-1967 the Vietnamese Air Force under Colonel Nguyen Cao Ky shipped opium from Laos to Saigon. Professor Alfred W. McCoy speculates that the May 1970 invasion of Cambodia may have opened another route of entry into South Vietnam. Most reports give early 1970 as the beginning of large scale heroin addiction among U.S. military personnel. Before the invasion Cambodia was hostile to pro-American regimes in South Vietnam. After the invasion there were large volumes of truck, naval, and air traffic between South Vietnam and Cambodia.[23]

Heroin was used by an estimated 15-20 percent of the GIs in the Mekong Delta under the command of Army Major General John Cushman. In mid-1971 Cushman ordered a crackdown. All troops were confined to base, guard patrols were increased, all personnel entering base areas were searched, and emergency medical clinics were established. Cushman determined these efforts were futile as long as the South Vietnamese protected drug dealers among the Vietnamese population. With drug smuggling entrenched among the Vietnamese air force, army, navy, police, customs, and politicians, the importation and sale of narcotics was too lucrative to eradicate. Further, there was an unwritten rule among U.S. embassy personnel to not implicate high-ranking Vietnamese in connection with the traffic in heroin. The CIA avoided gathering information on Vietnamese involvement. Within two weeks after its beginning Cushman’s campaign fell off in intensity.[24]

Nonmedical drug use was a serious crime for soldiers in Vietnam. The usual punishment for convicted offenders was the maximum sentence: up to ten years’ confinement, dishonorable discharge from the military, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances. Alcoholics, by contrast, were given unsuitability discharges, which usually were honorable or general. That soldiers were not deterred from heroin use speaks to the special conditions they faced in Vietnam. Heroin was also available in neighboring Thailand. Even though heroin supplies there were greater than in Vietnam, heroin use among Army and Air Force personnel was less than one percent.

The different rates of heroin use between military personnel in South Vietnam and Thailand reflected the different natures of duty in those countries. In Thailand, men got days off from work. They were free to travel among the friendly Thai population. There was no anxiety caused by danger from enemy action. Military duty was considered purposeful. By contrast, military service in Vietnam during the era of troop withdrawals was considered less meaningful. Soldiers worked seven days a week, often 12 hours per day, and felt there was little point in getting killed before the war was officially declared over. Many U.S. military personnel felt the Vietnamese tried to take every possible economic advantage of them. Soldiers were taught to not trust the civilian population; there were frequent reminders that civilians might be Viet Cong supporters. The goal of lower-ranking military personnel in Vietnam was to stay alive for one year and return home. Heroin use was a way to pass the time while thinking about leaving.[25]

Drugs did not only affect the lower ranks. In 1970 an Air Force major was apprehended at Tan Son Nhut air base near Saigon with $8 million dollars worth of heroin in his aircraft. In 1971 a colonel was court-martialed for leading marijuana parties in his squadron. Nor were U.S. security forces immune: that year 43 military policemen at Cam Ranh Air Force Base were arrested in narcotics raids. At Pleiku, a newly arrived lieutenant was gunned down in front of his entire platoon by four Army drug dealers. The company and battalion commanders were relieved of their commands; the feeling was both should have known about the drug dealing in their command. In 1971 U.S. customs at an Army post in New Jersey seized about 15 pounds of heroin from Bangkok in a package mailed through the U.S. military postal system. In March and April 1971 248 pieces of mail containing drugs were detected by customs in the Army and Air Force postal systems.[26]

In late 1970 heroin made its way to Marine Corps units operating in the northern part of South Vietnam. Marine Brigadier General Edwin H. Simmons considered the effect of its use on Marines, saying it wa

“impossible to quantify just how debilitating drug use may have been….In general, poor performance attracts attention which leads to revelation of drug use. But this does not ‘prove’ that drug use caused the poor performance nor does it give any indication of how many ‘good’ performers use drugs.”

Marine Major General Alan J. Armstrong was more decisive in his analysis of heroin’s effects, noting that in one aviation unit at least, heroin use was an operational problem and no longer only an administrative problem.

Military commands employed all available media to inform personnel of the moral, legal, and physical consequences of drug use. Pamphlets were created and distributed to platoon leaders. Drug education teams gave lectures. Drug abuse councils were created, traveling from unit to unit to spread the word. When education failed to stem the use of drugs, the Marine Corps relied upon punishment. When the judicial system could not court martial Marines fast enough, administrative discharges were used to get rid of offenders. The feeling of Marine Corps Commandant General Louis H. Wilson Jr. was that the Corps would go down in strength rather than allow unsuitable Marines to stay within its ranks.[27]

Senior military leaders understood that new arrivals were being introduced to drugs by existing users among the U.S. forces in Vietnam. Ridding itself of users was chosen to “guard against further infection.” Amnesty programs for users were the means to accomplish this house cleaning. The Navy selected two barracks ships moored at Nha Be (near Saigon) for the site of its rehabilitation center. Within one month 100 hundred sailors had turned themselves in for treatment. By comparison, at the same time (July 1 1971) the Army was treating 460 men while 350 airmen sought drug treatment.[28]

Drug use was less of a problem in the Marine Corps than in the Army. Towns and villages in the Marines’ area of responsibility were off limits to Marines, thereby limiting their accessibility to drugs. Marine units began withdrawing from Vietnam in 1969, with the last Marine ground unit out of the country by 1971. The Army remained in Vietnam until the end, fighting a defensive campaign to cover the U.S. withdrawal. This was when the drug problems of the Army peaked: in 1973, 34 percent of American soldiers in Vietnam had commonly used heroin.[29]

On June 22, 1971 the Army instituted its new program to deal with drug use. Every soldier leaving Vietnam was obligated to submit to a urinalysis test that detected heroin use within the previous five days. Those with positive test results were confined to a detoxification center and not allowed to return home until they could pass the test. Coupled with mandatory testing was the amnesty program, guaranteeing every soldier the right to declare himself an addict and receive treatment. By September 22 (a period less than three months), 3,580 armed forces personnel had tested positive for heroin use.

This program was flawed in its execution. Unit commanders began declaring anyone who failed two drug tests to be of “negligible value to the United States Army.” The U.S. military command in Vietnam discharged between one thousand and two thousand heroin addicts per month. These men were flown back to the United States and discharged almost immediately. Follow-up treatment was mostly nonexistent. In August 1971 a congressional subcommittee on public health noted that Veterans Administration hospitals handled only three referrals out of 12,000 heroin-using servicemen from Vietnam. Now on their own, many of these veterans returned to communities as addicts that had always been free from heroin addiction. Two years later a White House task force survey found that one-third of those servicemen who had tested positive for heroin in Vietnam were still heroin addicts. [30]

The market for heroin among U.S. military personnel was worth $88 million dollars to South Vietnamese drug traffickers, who viewed naively viewed heroin as solely “an American problem.”[31]

These profits were taken even though the Vietnamese had the most to lose from the withdrawal of American military forces. Golden Triangle heroin laboratories did not go out of business when American soldiers stepped up their withdrawal from Vietnam. In 1971 the Laotian ambassador to France was apprehended with 60 kilograms of heroin destined for the United States. Later that year a diplomat from the Philippines was arrested in New York with 15.5 kilograms of Laotian heroin. During the twenty years before 1972, the U.S. Bureau of Narcotics claimed that only five percent of America’s heroin came from Southeast Asia. By 1972 that figure had risen to 30 percent.

In 1974 there were an estimated 150,000 Vietnamese heroin addicts in Saigon. The following year, with the fall of the government in the South, these addicts became the problem of the new communist regime, in a manner similar to that of American Vietnam veteran addicts in the United States.32 The United States was unable to end its heroin problem in Vietnam even by ending its participation in the war: heroin came home with us..[32]

[1] David T. Courtwright, Dark Paradise (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1982), p. 202n

[2] E. G. Eberle et al., “Report of Committee on the Acquirement of Drug Habits,” Proceedings of the American Pharmaceutical Association, 1903, vol. 51, p. 475.

[3] Gary D. Solis, Marines and Military Law in Vietnam: Trial by Fire, (Washington, D.C.: Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps), 1989, p. p. 74n

[4] George S. Prugh, Law at War: Vietnam 1964-1973, (Washington, D.C.: Department of the Army, 1975, p. 106.

[5] Electronic communication from John S. Baky dated August 2, 1996. Baky was a military policeman in Vietnam.

[6] 6Richard Boyle, The flower of the Dragon, (San Francisco: Ramparts Press, 1972), p. 190, 212. Bao Ninh, The Sorrow of War, (New York, NY: Riverhead Books), 1996, p. 10

[7] The author raised the issue of Vietnamese use of marijuana on the Internet Usenet Newsgroup Soc.History.War.Vietnam on August 1, 1996. The comments about open use by the Vietnamese and marijuana growing wild are in email communications to the author by American veterans who wish to remain anonymous. The report of marijuana in the knapsack of a dead NVA soldier was related to the author at the 1993 reunion of Khe Sanh veterans in Washington, D.C

[8] Norman E. Zinberg, “G.I.’s and O.J.’s in Vietnam,” New York Times Magazine, December 5, 1971, p. 120.

[9] Solis, p. 104

[10] Solis, pp. 74-75, 104. W. Hays Parks, “Statistics Versus Actuality in Vietnam,” Air University Review, vol. 32, no. 4, May-June 1981, p. 86

[11] Solis, p. 127

[12] Zinberg, ibid., Prugh, p. 107

[13] Solis, p. 104

[14] Boyle, pp. 73-74

[15] Zinberg, ibid.

[16] Solis, pp. 126-127

[17] Electronic mail communication dated August 5, 1996, from a Marine Vietnam veteran who wishes to remain anonymous

[18] Solis, p. 74; Zinberg, p. 37, 114; Boyle, 69

[19] Zinberg, p. 120

[20] Alfred W. McCoy, The Politics of Heroin, (Chicago, IL: Lawrence Hill), 1991, pp. 109-111

[21] McCoy, pp. 113, 115, 222-223; Prugh, p. 107

[22] Zinberg, p. 114, 116, 118, 122

[23] McCoy, pp. 196-197, 225-226

[24] McCoy, pp. 224-225, 255

[25] Zinberg, pp. 116, 118, 122-123; Cosmas and Murray, p. 361n

[26] Robert D. Heinl, Jr., “The Collapse of the Armed Forces,”in Marvin E. Gettleman et. al., Vietnam and America, (New York: Grove Press), 1995, p. 329; James Kittfield, Prodigal Soldiers, (New York: Simon & Schuster), 1995, p. 189, 190; McCoy, p. 259

[27] Graham A. Cosmas and Terrence P. Murray, U.S. Marines in Vietnam, 1970-1971, (Washington, D.C.: Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps), pp. 360-361; Solis, pp. 231-232

[28] R. L. Schreadley, From the Rivers to the Sea, (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press), 1992, p. 368

[29] Parks, p. 85, 86; McCoy, p. 258

[30] McCoy, pp. 256-258; Schreadley, p. 369

[31] McCoy, p. 224; Frances Fitzgerald, Fire in the Lake, (New York: Vantage Books), 1973, p. 564

[32] McCoy, p. 259, 260, 261.



Societal/Economic Crisis Creates Killers and Their Victims

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The stories from my original hometown of Gallatin TN take another turn from the police taser death this week to the home invasion murder of a well known local figure.

My heart goes out to the family, especially Dickie Lassiter’s siblings, Robert and Mary Lou.


The Sumner County Sheriff’s Department arrested an 18-year-old man in a fatal home invasion shooting that occurred early Friday morning.Police said the home invasion occurred at a home in Castalian Springs along Hilton Lane at about 4:30 a.m.

Dickey Lassiter, 61, a resident of the home, was shot multiple times with a shotgun in the chest and died. Sheriff Bob Barker said officials arrested Tyler Reed, 18, of Gallatin, a student at Volunteer State Community College.The sheriff said both Lassiter and Reed exchanged several rounds of gunfire, but Reed was not hit. Barker said Lassiter’s roommate was home at the time of the shooting and called 911.

A deputy happened to be in the area and quickly took Reed into custody.Lassiter was well known and generous in the community, said neighbors. It was unclear why the home invasion occurred or if the two men knew each other.”If you didn’t have a dime, he’d give you the last cent in his pocket. That’s the way he was. He’d give you anything he had,” said Janie Ensley, a friend of Lassiter who cleaned his house for about 10 years. {more}

 suspect killer…

Sumner County Sheriff Bob Barker said the suspect was armed with a shotgun and exchanged gunfire with Lassiter, who attempted to defend himself with a handgun.

The 61-year-old Lassiter suffered multiple gunshot wounds and died at the scene.

The suspect, Tyler Reed, 18, was located on the property and taken into custody.  {more – WKRN}  

Dickie is the latest victim of a societal/economic crisis that breeds children who don’t know the value of life. A problem that is apparent, but not often acknowledged until it walks right up to our doorstep.

Another Middle Tennessee Taser Death

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Tasered multiple times after being handcuffed according to witnesses.

Old Hickory man dies in Gallatin police custody

GALLATIN, Tenn. – An Old Hickory man arrested for filing a false police report died in police custody in Gallatin Tuesday night after being stunned with a taser.

Gallatin police are still investigating the incident and a cause of death has not been determined.

Tuesday night, at about 10 p.m., Gallatin police responded to a home on Trousdale Avenue in regards to a reported home invasion.

Upon arrival, officers encountered 33-year-old Jeffrey Woodward walking down the street carrying the knife.

Woodward told the officers he had placed the call to police and after surrendering the knife, returned to the home where he said someone was holding his mother against her will.

After officers determined his mother was safe and there was no emergency, they attempted to take Woodward into custody for filing a false police report.

A struggle ensued, forcing officers to deploy a taser.

Gallatin police said a taser device was used, but it didn’t fire property and the struggle continued until officers were able to secure Woodward

Amanda Campbell witnessed the incident.

“They had the gentleman in handcuffs and they started tasering him about over four times,” she told News 2. “All of a sudden, I see the dog attack him, he dropped down on the ground and the dog was on top of him.”

Carrie Campbell also saw what happened.

“I almost was in tears, and actually right now, in my head, I can still hear him say, ‘Help me, help me, help me’,” she recalled.

Once in custody, officers said it looked like Woodward needed medical attention.

He was taken to Sumner Regional Hospital where he died a short time later.

Sgt. Bill Storment, public information officer for Gallatin police said Woodward “did not immediately die as a result of being tased.” He said he died a “short time later.”

The incident remains under investigation.

source: WKRN Nashville
{see comments from those who knew him}

The Tennessean report

Neighbor saw fight

Shawn Hill, 22, of Gallatin, said he witnessed the struggle between Woodward and police.

Hill said he watched as Woodward ran from the police and dove onto the hood of a police car.

“All I could hear was tick, tick, tick, tick, tick (the sound made by the Taser). That was when he was on the ground.”

Hill said Woodward’s mother pleaded with officers not to kill him. He said Woodward was calling for help.

“He was yelling, ‘Help me, help me,’ ” Hill said. “I won’t ever forget that.”

Hill said a police dog kept Woodard on the ground.

Storment said no charges are likely against the officers, and investigators have no reason to believe excessive force was used.

Hill disagrees.

“For somebody to die, you did too much,” he said. {more with over 100 comments}

Voices Against War and Lies

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Bullets of Measureless Love – art by Victor Safonkin

What are US troop dying for in Afghanistan?

The American military is fighting in Afghanistan as part of a 21st century version of the “Great Game,” in which US imperialism is seeking to dominate Central Asia and its energy resources at the expense of its strategic rivals.

The ties between the Karzai brothers and the CIA are a further demonstration that “America’s war strategy” is a criminal enterprise pursued by criminal methods.

The interests of the working class in the US and internationally stand opposed to those being pursued through the killing and dying in the so-called AfPak war. Working people must demand the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all American and foreign troops from the region and an end to the drive for imperialist domination in Central Asia. {more – Bill Van Auken}

Obama and the “Predator Left”

Actually, Obama’s constituency — call it the “Predator Left” — is delighted that its Dear Leader controls the machinery of arbitrary mass murder. After all, there are “reactionary” eggs to be cracked and progressive omelets to be made, and how can that be done unless the world’s largest egg-beater is firmly held by politically correct hands? {more – Will Grigg}

Annals of Continuity: The Bush Regime’s Arbitrary Power Over Life and Liberty Still in Force – and Still in Use

The president of the United States now claims the right and power to arbitrarily designate anyone on earth an “enemy” and have them seized without charges, held indefinitely without trial — or simply killed outright. As we’ve often reported here, George W. Bush asserted these dread powers by executive order — and as Ted Rall notes, Barack Obama has not only not rescinded them, he has made energetic use of them, particularly in his death-by-drone assassination program in Pakistan.
{more – Chris Floyd}

My Problem with J Street

It is one more voice pushing the same old agenda with slightly different window dressing.

J Street calls continued massive US military aid to Israel “an absolutely essential aspect of Israel’s security.” If it is difficult to perceive any pro-American element to the J Street program it is because it is not about the United States at all – it is about Israel. J Street believes Washington should continue indefinitely in its role as Israel’s patron, security guarantor, and financial supporter.

Since its founding, J Street has been drifting closer to the Israeli government positions that it once seemed to criticize and, since I am naturally cynical, I might wonder if that was the intention right from the beginning. One might well question in any event why there should exist a lobby operating in Washington consisting of American citizens promoting the interests of a foreign country
{more – Philip Giraldi}

Nuke Gaza

Small in numbers but large in ambition, this extremist enclave {Israel} had no choice but to wage war by way of deception. The most insidious deceit was targeted, from within, at its purported ally to induce the U.S. military to lead an invasion of Iraq for its Greater Israel strategy. Absent an Israeli strategy able to sustain serial crises, a long-deceived public will awaken to the common source of the fixed intelligence that led us into the last war-and now seeks to induce the next.

As Americans awaken to how this duplicity proceeds in plain sight, they will see for themselves who and why. That knowledge is the threat that Tel Aviv most fears. As the facts become known, Israeli legitimacy will no longer be an issue. The only issue will be how best to dis-arm these extremists and how to hold accountable those lawmakers who enable this ongoing treason.
{more Jeff Gates via The Peoples Voice}

The poster shows widow Hester Wright, 22, and her son Josh.

Josh is holding a portrait of his dead soldier dad.

The poster originally read: “For their sake, wear a poppy”.

Someone changed one version of it outside Gillingham railway station, in Kent, in England.

A number of other Poppy Appeal posters have been changed to make the original message read “For their sake, bring them home”.
{source – aangirfan}

AfPak: Immoral, Illegal, Fattening

The only legal basis of our AfPak war is the Authorization for Use of Military Force passed by Congress on Sept. 18, 2001. Viewed by many as a “blank check,” it was condemned as an abnegation by Congress of its constitutional responsibilities to dictate when and where a president can wage foreign wars. In the Obama era, these concerns have vanished. If Obama, or any other president, can create any loose connection between terror and whatever aggressive military action he wants to take, he can take it.
That’s not what the founders had in mind when they gave Congress, not the executive, the power to declare war.
{more – Jeff Huber}

CIA Drones DO Violate International Law

The highly touted system for executing selected individuals is really no different from any other terror bomb. The fact that American operators use these drones to detonate Hellfire missiles in the middle of mosques, or funerals, or in homes, or in crowded vehicles shows a total lack of concern for killing dozens of innocent people who happen to be friends, relatives, or complete strangers to these targeted “miscreants.” Killing a dozen or more for the sake of killing one man is no different than throwing a large pipe-bomb into a crowded theater or church. The use of large bombs to kill one man instead of acting responsibly within the accepted legal norms, doesn’t demonstrate American technological prowess, it demonstrates cowardice. America has adopted nearly all of Israel’s terror tactics in fighting this war, targeted assassination by drone happens to be one of the worst of them.

But we made even bigger mistakes, we embraced the entire racist Zionist philosophy of oppression that projects the opposition as less than human, mere livestock (goyim). Seeing those potential victims as cattle or vermin justifies using technological overkill to prevent risking the lives of any soldiers while exterminating them. The notion that American or Israeli troops’ lives are more valuable than the lives of the innocent people they kill is an ugly racist policy. It must be easier for the little geeks in military uniforms playing with their joysticks in Nevada to murder dozens of Pakistanis if they dehumanize their targets, as cattle, or Hajis, or towelheads.

Pakistanis and Palestinians are humans beings, no different from the racist American and Israeli supremacists who plot their deaths to wage a fake war of terror. Think of the outrage that would be vented across this country if the Taliban or the Iraqis had nearly invisible little robot planes and they were lobbing bombs into military barracks, or into our churches. {Peter Chamberlin}

America’s Media? A Colonial Force for Israel’s Infallibility

Just recent examples of the Jewish media’s blanket love fest for Israel at the expense of our own national interest:

1. Not reporting on the Goldstone Report condemning Israel for its war crimes, criminal acts, and siege of Gaza, nor on Obama’s AIPAC directed rejection of it.

2. Failure by our networks to report on Israel’s newest Jewish spy who sold sensitive national secrets to Israel. (Only Wolf Blitzer, a former AIPAC employee reported the story briefly, simply to state that Israel is not implicated in any wrongdoing; a way to prepare returning to AIPAC after you’ve left CNN).

3. Not reporting on the embarrassing slap to Obama on its continued building of illegal settlements, demolition of homes in Jerusalem, and its military/police attack on Islam’s third holiest site, Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

4. Not reporting on Amnesty International’s Report that Israel is controlling and depriving Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza of water to drink. It reports that the illegal settlers use more than four times the water allocated to the Palestinians. The settlers use that much to fill their swimming pools and water their gardens. This criminal act is deliberately ignored by the west lest it has to issue its usual mild “concern”.

5. Not reporting on the quick AIPAC driven retreat by Obama calling for Israel to freeze all construction of illegal settlements including the outrageous claim of “natural growth”. Obama has now abandoned another of his campaign and policy promises to directly remain involved in the peace process (piece by piece theft of Palestinian land) between the traitor Mahmoud Abbas who should resign if he has any dignity left, or be removed. And Netanyahu, the Nazi from hell.

A USATODAY report states that Obama’s top fundraisers have received the plumb jobs of Cabinet, Agency, and Ambassadorial appointments. (Top Obama Fundraisers Get Posts, October 29, 2009).
The story reports: “More than 40% of President Obama’s top-level fundraisers have secured posts in his administration, from key executive branch jobs to diplomatic postings in countries such as France, Spain and the Bahamas, a USA TODAY analysis finds. Twenty of the 47 fundraisers that Obama’s campaign identified as collecting more than $500,000 have been named to government positions, the analysis found.”

If you look closely you will find that the vast majority of these donors are Jewish, many from Wall Street, or Pro-Israel activists.

So why is America silent, confused, and supportive of Israel? Why do polls show Americans support Israel? Well, if your only source of information is our Jewish dominated media that inputs Pro-Israel Garbage, you’ll get Garbage out; in addition to the fear Americans feel to opposing Israel, knowing the caller has their phone number and address. They don’t want to hear a knock on their door, Shalom.

Why is our Congress so slavishly a doormat for Israel’s Lobby?
{more – Palestine Think Tank}

Judge Testifies for Marijuana Legalization in California

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Legal experts on both sides also agreed at the informational hearing that nothing in current federal law can prevent California from stripping criminal penalties for marijuana from its own books.

“If California decides to legalize marijuana, there’s nothing in the Constitution that stands in its way,” said Tamar Todd, a staff attorney for the pro-legalization Drug Policy Alliance.

The Swine Flu Hits Close to Home

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Playing for the ‘Piggly Wiggly’ team.

My daughter just took my 10 year old grandson to the doctor and guess what the doc said he has…. Yep, the swine flu. No testing required, just a quick in and out of the office with a ‘script for Tamiflu and orders to get it in him fast. I suppose this adds him to the ever growing H1N1 statistics and the bottom line profits of Roche.

I called him and gave a few oink-oinks when he answered but I don’t think he was in the mood for humor.  He sounded OK and I asked him to be sure and tell if he thinks he has any side effects from the drug. He’ll be quarantined until he’s over it.  Hopefully he’ll be fine soon and at least he didn’t take the vaccine.

Obama goes to Dover to view "dignified transfers"

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The blood is on Obama’s hands. This is his war now. The only  ‘dignified transfer’ would be when all the troops come home….alive. A photo op does not make a president but a decision to end the wars would. Obama doesn’t dare break the strings of the money and puppet masters who control him. He knows that would put him in danger of coming home in a box or instigating the very real possibility of another false flag in an American city to rally the population to continue the ‘neverending’ wars.

Oct. 29, 2009

President Barack Obama made a midnight dash to this air base Wednesday to honor the return of fallen soldiers, absorbing the ultimate cost of war as the United States endures its deadliest month of the Afghanistan campaign.

On a clear fall night, Obama flew by Marine One helicopter to Dover Air Force Base to greet the flag-draped cases of 18 Americans killed in action this week.

After landing, the president, wearing a dark topcoat, got into a motorcade to a base chapel, where he met privately with families of the fallen Americans. He had arrived on the base at 12:34 a.m. Thursday and was expected to be back at the White House before dawn.

Air Force personnel are diligent about not calling the transfer of remains a “ceremony” to avoid any positive connotations; they call them “dignified transfers.” {more}

video of the scene at Dover