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imperialism & war

Rummy Sends Form Letters to Dead Soldiers' Kin

"My kid died in Iraq and all I got was this lousy form letter" say soldiers' families.
Talk about the government saving money on nonessentials! What a
wonderful way for Bush's favorite cabinet member to show he cares
about Our Valiant Soldiers!

Leo Shane III, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Friday, December 17, 2004

WASHINGTON Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld will begin personally signing condolence letters sent to families of troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, after receiving criticism over his use of mechanical signatures.

In a statement provided to Stars and Stripes on Thursday, Rumsfeld tacitly admitted that in the past he has not personally signed the letters, but said he was responsible for writing and approving each of the 1,000-plus messages sent to the fallen soldiers' families.

"I have directed that in the future I sign each letter," he said in the statement.

So the Secretary of Defense has to *direct himself* to do things? Does
he stand in front of a mirror to do this?

"I am deeply grateful for the many letters I have received from the families of those who have been killed in the service of our country, and I recognize and honor their personal loss."

And each family will receive the grand sum of $12000 for their
loved ones' sacrifice as well as the form letter!

In a separate statement, Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said, "In the interest of ensuring timely contact with grieving family members, he has not individually signed each letter."

Wow! I guess that really comforts the families!

Department of Defense officials for the past few weeks had said only that the content of the letters was private.

But several families of troops killed overseas said they were sure the notes they received had not been signed by hand, and said they were angry that Rumsfeld was not paying attention to their loss.

He's a little busy these days protecting his own ass.

"To me it's an insult, not only as someone who lost a loved one but also as someone who served in Iraq," Army Spc. Ivan Medina told Stripes.

"This doesn't show our families the respect they deserve," said Medina, a New York resident whose twin brother, Irving, was killed in a roadside bombing in Iraq this summer.

Illinois resident Bette Sullivan, whose son John was killed in November 2003 while working as an Army mechanic in Iraq, was incensed when she, her son's wife and her grandchildren received the exact same condolence letter with the apparently stamped signature.

"If each family receives two copies, how many signatures does that amount to?" she asked in an e-mail response to Stripes. "I can understand the use of stamped signatures for his brothers' mementos, but for those of his wife and children and mother? No, no, no."

Retired Army Col. David Hackworth, an author and frequent critic of the Department of Defense, publicly criticized Rumsfeld in a syndicated column earlier this month for not reviewing each KIA letter personally.

He called the fake signatures "like having it signed by a monkey."

But it was!

"Using those machines is pretty common, but it shouldn't be in cases of those who have died in action," he said. "How can [DOD officials] feel the emotional impact of that loss if they're not even looking at the letters?"

Hackworth said he objected to using the stamped signatures for promotion and commendation letters as well, but said not personally handling the condolence letters is a much more serious offense.

Family members had expressed similar concerns to Stripes about President Bush's signature on his condolence letters, but Allen Abney, spokesman for the president, said that Bush does personally sign the letters sent from the White House.

So their letters really were signed by the chief chimp.

Secretary Rumsfeld's statement

Statement by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on condolences to servicemembers and their loved ones, as provided to Stars and Stripes:

"It is a solemn privilege of the many of us in the Department to meet with U.S. forces and families who have experienced injury or death in the defense of our country.

"During visits with wounded forces and their families at Walter Reed Army Hospital or at the Bethesda Naval Medical Center, I have drawn inspiration from the dignity and resolve of these wonderful young Americans and their loved ones.

"Over the past years, my wife, Joyce, and I have met with several hundred wounded troops and their families during visits to intensive care units, therapy facilities, and their rooms in military hospitals in the United States and abroad.

"During visits to military installations, I have met with still others during their visits to the Pentagon.

"Joyce and I also have met together and individually with spouses and children of those killed in action.

"At the earliest moment in the global war on terror, I determined that it is important that military families who have lost loved ones in hostile actions receive a letter from me directly.

"I wrote and approved the now more than 1000 letters sent to family members and next of kin of each of the servicemen and women killed in military action. While I have not individually signed each one, in the interest of ensuring expeditious contact with grieving family members, I have directed that in the future I sign each letter.

"I am deeply grateful for the many letters I have received from the families of those who have been killed in the service of our country, and I recognize and honor their personal loss."
... 18.Dec.2004 14:30

this thing here

getting a letter such a this signed by donald rumsfeld is exactly like getting it signed from the grim reaper or death personified. remember, it was donald rumsfeld himself who thought it would be "a good idea" for these very people to end up dead. in donald's special world of corporate business, here donald is simply completing a business transaction by mailing a "payment due in the amount of... for services rendered".

protocol on posting articles 18.Dec.2004 16:38

nitpicker

When I began reading this article, I was assuming it was actually a verbatim copy-and-paste of an article from the European version of the Stars and Stripes. But seeing such exclamations in the midst of the text as "Wow! I guess that really comforts the families!" makes me question whether the entire article is a fabrication, whether it's just interlaced with editorial asides, or if by some strange twist, these anti-military comments were included in the original.

In the future, if posting an article from a source other than your own journalistic efforts, please make it clear what comments you're adding, and what was in the original. If something completely out of character (such as "Wow! I guess that really comforts the families!") appears in the original, the customary journalistic technique would be to write "sic" - Latin for "as is" basically. That term is traditionally used in the press to denote when someone says or writes something using poor grammar or bad spelling, for example, that the publication wants to be sure the reader understands is not the mistake of the publisher.

I realize that Indymedia wants to avoid following the overly tight directives of mainstream media, and I wholeheartedly support that effort. But in the interests of clarity, some of their conventions are actually helpful, regardless of the message or ideology. Seeing as how the article above was labeled as an "article with commentary", it'd just be helpful to have spelled out what's the commentary and what's the original. And if anything was omitted from the original, that'd help, too. Thanks.

hey nitpicker 18.Dec.2004 21:04

ras al-ghul

Did you read the title? Where it says commentary by me? There's no way to change fonts or use colors to distinguish commentary from repost (that I know of) so I did the best I could with spacing. The new policy on pdx imc, in case you haven't been following it, is NOT to publish reposts from most places corporate or non-local or I wouldn't have bothered with the snide remarks. I REALLY wanted to get this posted because it's not appearing anywhere else local and an extraordinary number of Oregon Nat'l. Guard are dying in Iraq so it is a local as well as a general topic.

The Presence of Inspiration Doesn't Mean There is Inspiration of Presence 18.Dec.2004 22:30

bitter root

"During visits with wounded forces and their families at Walter Reed Army Hospital or at the Bethesda Naval Medical Center, I have drawn inspiration from the dignity and resolve of these wonderful young Americans and their loved ones."
----------------------

It would be a throughly rhetorical question to contemplate: what does the SecDef has in mind when he says "inspiration" in his declaration?

A bloodless, vapid declaration, to be sure, issuing from a mind thoroughly formed over virtually an entire adult life, cooked in the sauna of the Federal metropolis--as a bureaucrat in uniform on US Navy active and reserve duty; a couple of stints as a congressman (from Illinois); an executive branch hack in the Watergate White House (where he bonded with Cheney, by the way); numerous "special" envoy, executive branch commission, panel,and board seats and assignments; Chief of Staff for the president appointed to pardon Nixon, Gerald Ford; more Cabinet appointments than one can nearly count, including repeated Secretary of Defense posts. His reward, from time to time, has been the chance to be compensated for the "measely" federal wage (even as an executive branch appointee) by waltzing into CEO slots with a couple of Big Pharm outfits. After securing his fortune, he then comes back to the Washington sewer--to the work he loves and undoubtedly is damn good at.

Figure he must be the Fed bureaucracy's champion manager at dissembling, posing in seriousness, delivering the catchy retort, diddling the system, winning arguments in Cabinet meetings, etc., with all that milage.

What could "the dignity and resolve of these wonderful young Americans and their loved ones" possibly inspire Donald Rumsfeld to?

ras al-ghul 19.Dec.2004 01:48

indy volunteer #742

Really appreciate your effort. Just wanted to let you know that you can use html to break up a post. Alternatively I would suggest a text marker such as [](){} or whatever you can think of to help distinguish you commentary. The spacing won't work, at least in the forseeable future. By default html rendering ignores spacing like you had in your post so it just shows up without looking like it has any spaces. Also, if you didn't want to put in remarks you could write a bit about why this story is important, which you mention in your comment.

"I REALLY wanted to get this posted because it's not appearing anywhere else local and an extraordinary number of Oregon Nat'l. Guard are dying in Iraq so it is a local as well as a general topic."

I agree that this is really important and I would like to see more written, maybe with some background on the number of guard from Oregon in Iraq and the number of casualties as well as connections to other issues being raised by those in the military and retired military at the moment.

But if there's no time for that I thought you might like some information about what formatting will currently work if you want to do something similar in the future.

president should sign 22.Dec.2004 11:57

anonymous jr8073!sbcglobqal.net

the president is the one that got us in this mess he should be the one signing the letters.

president should sign 12.Jan.2005 16:45

TRUE

true