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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Outrage of the Day: "Change Has Come. It's Very Demoralizing."

It's been a while since I've published a letter from Sgt. Joe Roche, my old friend whose letters from Iraq during 14 months in 2003-2004 garnered so much attention.

Since last year, Joe is once again overseas in active duty combat with the U.S. Army (no longer in Iraq). He continues to send letters. Unfortunately, he's gone months without giving me permission to publish any.

In stark contrast to his letters from Iraq, which were optimistic even when few others were optimistic about U.S. operations in that country, Joe's letters now are very alarming. Reading them, I have concluded that it would be a very good idea if all of us (bloggers, Congressmen, citizens -- all of us) paid a great deal more attention to such things as the number of troops deployed in Afghanistan (among other things).

Joe gave me permission to reprint the letter I received from him yesterday. He doesn't get into the very alarming things that are in his other letters; as depressing as it is, it's the least alarming one I've seen from him in months. Nevertheless, his reporting on how some politicians and commentators here are adversely affecting the morale of deployed soldiers should be read by anyone who wishes to see us prevail in the War on Terror.
Amy,

It is frustrating and demoralizing to see the spectacle going on in the press/media and in Washington, D.C. over the release of the CIA memos and the debate over the use of enhanced interrogation techniques or torture. My fellow soldiers are NOT impressed, and are actually quite disgusted by the moralizing going on, and the posturing of some leaders against what we, the United States, had to do in order to get control of the catastrophe that hit us on September 11th, 2001.

The root issue is not being addressed by anyone. This is that there was a massive intelligence failure and a failure of leadership during the decade leading up to 9/11. Our country had been attacked nearly every year since the first bombing of the World Trade Center in New York in 1993. The Khobar Towers bombing (1996), the massive bombing of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania (1998), the USS Cole bombing (2000), including foiled plots such as the Bojinka plot (1995) to hijack a dozen planes in a single day, as well as other attacks such as the massive bombings in Argentina (1994), the numerous bus bombings in Israel (1995-1996), and there were more. Osama Bin Laden had been very prominent throughout the 1990s in calling for war against American civilians, issuing his fatwa in 1998 that led to the 9/11 attacks.

I was involved in the fight against terrorism in the Middle East before 9/11 as you know, and there was a painfully disasterous ignorance and disregard of the threat of Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and terrorism in general before 9/11. I wrote about this threat in 1995 in my college newspaper and was ridiculed as a racist and bigot for suggesting such a thing. FBI agents working this issue were blocked in their investigations. The infamous political "wall" preventing agencies from working together in order to understand the threat was well detailed in the 9/11 Commission Report.

Our government and leadership failed us in the decade leading up to 9/11. Therefore, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 we had to quickly learn and clarify exactly what the threat was. There were concerns of nuclear bombs being brought to New York City, and other WMD warnings. We were blind. Our nation's intelligence was blind. The American people were in a panic, and in lieu of the anger over 9/11 the American people were demanding quick action to avert any repeat of the 9/11 disaster. Our intelligence had no clarity of the extent of the threat, so aggressive measures had to be used quickly just in order to repair the blindness of not only our intelligence agencies, but also that of our leaders and the American people overall. This is why such things happened. If those moralizing today want to point the finger of blame for things they don't like about what we had to do, they need to point to our leadership and the intelligence agencies during the decade before 9/11.

I've heard that one of our current leaders likes to say that he told President Bush one day in the Oval Office that if he looked behind, no one was there following him. True. We had dropped all of our personal affairs, left civilian jobs, said goodbye to loved ones, and joined the military and deployed to the front lines overseas to confront and reverse the consequences of the past decade of failure. That was where we were, in uniform, on the front lines, following the leadership of our Commander-in-Chief.

The one thing we knew before was that we had the backing of our leadership. Yes, change has come. It is very demoralizing.

Joe

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:06 AM

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