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Apr 21, 2004 8:17 am

Military Fodder

I got up this morning and, while having a little breakfast, I decided to watch a bit of the morning news shows. First up was the Today show. Matt Lauer was busy interviewing Sen. Joseph Biden and Sen. Chuck Hagel about the buzz concerning the military draft. The gents were also kind enough to let us know that the administration is sitting on a $50 to 75 billion request for additional funds to maintain troops in Iraq. Biden was quick to point out that this is not money for Iraq reconstruction; it is strictly for the maintenance of troops, except that the Bush administration is a little hesitant, it seems, to bring this up in an election year.

Next, I checked out Good Morning America, which had a story on the controversial decision by the Seattle Times to run a photo of flag-draped coffins coming home from the Iraq war. Mike Fancher, Executive Editor of the Times, defended the decision of his paper; he felt the photo conveyed the respect and reverence shown to the dead. But Rep. Mike Castle (R) of Delaware said that this policy of restricting the publication of such photos has been on the books since 1991 out of respect to the families. Could it be that the Pentagon is just trying to sanitize the war for American consumption? Of course not.

Alas, we wouldn't want a repetition of the Vietnam syndrome, where daily images of death and destruction came flowing through the media, almost unfiltered, so as to turn even Walter Cronkite against the war. It prompted LBJ to say,"if we've lost Walter Cronkite, we've lost the country"

Once I'd gotten my dosage of the news shows, I opened up the paper. I read another installment of the NY Daily Newsinvestigation about the increasing number of US troops exposed to uranium dust in Iraq. The paper reports:"An independent test conducted at The News' request found that four of the men tested positive for depleted uranium, which because of its heaviness is used to make shells and coat armored vehicles. A study by the Army in 1990 linked depleted uranium to 'chemical toxicity causing kidney damage.'"

The possibility of a coming military draft. Troops in need of additional monies. Restricted access to coffin photos. And depleted uranium toxicity among military fodder. As the media gets un-embedded from the administration's ass, perhaps we'll learn more about how miserable war is—for those who are fighting it. Especially a war like this one that is causing far more"blowback" than was first anticipated.

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