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June 13, 2004: Brain Damage - Actual and Metaphoric

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Just some things you might have missed…

From the Associated Press, Wednesday, June 09, 2004 –
Army Now Says G.I. Was Beaten in Role


LOUISVILLE, Ky., June 8 — Reversing itself, the Army said Tuesday that a G.I. was discharged partly because of a head injury he suffered while posing as an uncooperative detainee during a training exercise at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The Army had previously said Specialist Sean Baker's medical discharge in April was unrelated to the injury he received last year at the detention center, where the United States holds suspected terrorists.

Mr. Baker, 37, a former member of the 438th Military Police Company, said he played the role of an uncooperative prisoner and was beaten so badly by four American soldiers that he suffered a traumatic brain injury and seizures. He said the soldiers only stopped beating him when they realized he might be American.

Bruce Simpson, Mr. Baker's lawyer, said his client is considering a lawsuit.



Last Saturday Nicholas Kristof had this to say in the New York Times -


… a military investigation concluded that there had been no misconduct involved in Mr. Baker's injury. Hmm. The military also says it can't find a videotape that is believed to have been made of the incident.

Most appalling, when Mr. Baker told his story to a Kentucky reporter, the military lied in a disgraceful effort to undermine his credibility. Maj. Laurie Arellano, a spokeswoman for the Southern Command, questioned the extent of Mr. Baker's injuries and told reporters that his medical discharge was unrelated to the injuries he had suffered in the training drill.

In fact, however, the Physical Evaluation Board of the Army stated in a document dated Sept. 29, 2003: "The TBI [traumatic brain injury] was due to soldier playing role of detainee who was non-cooperative and was being extracted from detention cell in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, during a training exercise."

Major Arellano acknowledges that she misstated the facts and says she had been misinformed herself by medical personnel.  She now says the medical discharge was related in part — but only in part, she says — to the "accident."

Mr. Baker, who is married and has a 14-year-old son, is now unemployed, taking nine prescription medications and still suffering frequent seizures.  His lawyer, Bruce Simpson, has been told that Mr. Baker may not begin to get disability payments for up to 18 months.  If he is judged 100 percent disabled, he will then get a maximum of $2,100 a month.

If the U.S. military treats one of its own soldiers this way — allowing him to be battered, and lying to cover it up — then imagine what happens to Afghans and Iraqis.

President Bush attributed the problems uncovered at Abu Ghraib to "a few American troops who dishonored our country."  Mr. Bush, the problems go deeper than a few bad apples.


Well, the mistake has been corrected.  Sort of.  Baker will get his benefits.


Training… indeed.  This particular training unit was "Bad Apples 101" it would seem.

There has been other comment on this.  What you would expect.  If we beat our own guy to the point of serious brain damage in a simulation, then….

There’s not much to add.

Ah, but there is!

There was this terrorism report issued by the State Department a few weeks ago.  And it said our policies are working.  Terrorism is way down!  The administration had a few press conferences about that. 


All you who scoffed at our policies and said the war in Iraq was making things worse, who said we were creating more terrorists, who said, as Howard Dean said and got creamed for it, that killing Saddam’s two sons and putting their mutilated bodies on worldwide display, that capturing and humiliating Saddam Hussein himself, did not make us any safer – well, IN YOUR FACE!  All the naysayer cowards and shallow critics of Bush and his policies, well, now you know just how wrong you were!


Oops. Again.

U.S. Will Revise Data on Terror
The State Department works to amend its report on global attacks after critics alleged an undercount and political manipulation.
Josh Meyer, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer, Wednesday, June 09, 2004


WASHINGTON — The State Department is scrambling to revise its annual report on global terrorism to acknowledge that it understated the number of deadly attacks in 2003, amid charges that the document is inaccurate and was politically manipulated by the Bush administration.

… On Tuesday, State Department officials said they underreported the number of terrorist attacks in the tally for 2003, and added that they expected to release an updated version soon.

Several U.S. officials and terrorism experts familiar with that revision effort said the new report will show that the number of significant terrorist incidents increased last year, perhaps to its highest level in 20 years.

… a senior official characterized the errors as clerical, and blamed them mostly on the fact responsibility for the report recently shifted from the CIA to the administration's new Terrorist Threat Integration Center.

… For example, the State Department report listed 190 terrorist attacks in 2003, including 169 "significant" ones.  But [Rep. Henry] Waxman said a review showed the report stopped counting terrorist incidents on Nov. 11, leaving out several major attacks, including bombings of two synagogues, a bank and the British Consulate in Turkey that killed 62 and injured more than 700.

Waxman said a State Department official blamed the Nov. 11 cutoff on a printing deadline.


Yeah, right.  A printing problem.

But it’s being fixed.

Baker’s brain damage cannot be fixed.

Our brain damage?  We’ll see in November.


Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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Paris readers add nine hours....