Archive for May, 2004

May 29, 2004

Pat Tillman Killed by Friendly Fire

Obviously I had no way to know this when I drew That Cartoon, but major press outlets are reporting that former NFL player Pat Tillman was killed by “friendly fire.” The following comes from USA Today:

FRIENDLY FIRE PROBABLY KILLED PAT TILLMAN

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) — Former pro football player Pat Tillman was probably killed by friendly fire as he led his team of Army Rangers up a hill during a firefight in Afghanistan last month, the U.S. Army said Saturday. Pat Tillman, a member of the elite Ranger unit since 2002, was awarded a Purple Heart and Silver Star. Tillman walked away from a $3.6 million NFL contract to join the Army after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Previous military statements suggested he was killed April 22 under enemy fire.

“While there was no one specific finding of fault, the investigation results indicate that Cpl. Tillman probably died as a result of friendly fire while his unit was engaged in combat with enemy forces,” Lt. Gen. Philip R. Kensington Jr. said in a brief statement to reporters at the Army Special Operations Command. Kensington said the firefight took place in “very severe and constricted terrain in impaired light” with 10 to 12 enemy combatants firing on U.S. forces.

An Afghan military official told The Associated Press on Saturday that Tillman died because of a “misunderstanding” when two mixed groups of American and Afghan soldiers began firing wildly in the confusion following an explosion. The Afghan official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also contradicted U.S. reports that the American soldiers had come under enemy fire.

Kensington, who heads Army Special Forces, took no questions Saturday morning after reading the statement.

When Tillman was awarded the Silver Star, the Army said he was killed after his platoon was split into two sections for what officials called a ground assault convoy. Tillman was in charge of the lead group. His group was safely out of the area when the trailing group came under mortar and small arms fire, according to the Army, and he ordered them to return.

“Through the firing, Tillman’s voice was heard issuing fire commands to take the fight to the enemy on the dominating high ground,” the award announcement said. “Only after his team engaged the well-armed enemy did it appear their fires diminished. “As a result of his leadership and his team’s efforts, the platoon trail section was able to maneuver through the ambush to positions of safety without a single casualty,” the announcement said.

Tillman, a member of the elite Ranger unit since 2002, was posthumously promoted from specialist to corporal and also awarded a Purple Heart.

“The result of this investigation in no way diminished the bravery and sacrifice displayed by Cpl. Tillman,” said Kensington, who heads Army Special Forces. He took no questions Saturday morning after reading the statement.

A woman who answered the phone late Friday at the home of Tillman’s uncle said the family would have no immediate comment.

At a memorial service in his hometown of San Jose earlier this month Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., called him “a most honorable man.” “While many of us will be blessed to live a longer life, few of us will ever live a better one,” McCain, who spent 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, said at Tillman’s memorial service.

The friendly fire account was first reported by the Arizona Republic and The Argus of Fremont (Calif.) on Saturday. “It does seem pretty clear that he was killed by friendly fire,” Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., a member of the House Armed Services Committee, told the Republic. Franks said his panel was alerted to the information by the Army’s Legislative Liaison Office.

The Afghan official told the AP that two groups of soldiers had drifted some distance apart during the operation in the remote Spera district of Khost province, close to the Pakistani border. “Suddenly the sound of a mine explosion was heard somewhere between the two groups and the Americans in one group started firing,” the official said, citing an account given to him by an Afghan fighter who was part of that group, not Tillman’s. “Nobody knew what it was — a mine, a remote-controlled bomb — or what was going on, or if enemy forces were firing. The situation was very confusing,” the official said. “As the result of this firing, that American was killed and three Afghan soldiers were injured. It was a misunderstanding and afterwards they realized that it was a mine that had exploded and there were no enemy forces.”

U.S. military officials in Kabul had no immediate comment.

So much for the argument that Tillman died fighting for his country. Or for the bullshit cover story concocted by the military to justify awarding him a posthumous Silver Star. I wonder if the Pentagon will have the integrity to revoke it?

So, to recap: Tillman gave up $3.6 million to get killed by his fellow soldiers. I guess I do owe an apology after all, but not for calling him a sap: In my cartoon, I said Tillman got offed by the Afghan resistance. That part, as it turns out, wasn’t true.

Bushie war apologists may email their apologies to MSNBC, which canceled my cartoons as the result of my cartoon. And prospective soldiers may want to take this opportunity to reconsider the wisdom of enlisting. It’s bad enough to get killed by friendly fire; it’s still worse to get killed by friendly fire while fighting an unjust, illegal and unjustifiable war.

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May 29, 2004

Pat Tillman Killed by Friendly Fire

Obviously I had no way to know this when I drew That Cartoon, but major press outlets are reporting that former NFL player Pat Tillman was killed by “friendly fire.” The following comes from USA Today:

FRIENDLY FIRE PROBABLY KILLED PAT TILLMAN

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) — Former pro football player Pat Tillman was probably killed by friendly fire as he led his team of Army Rangers up a hill during a firefight in Afghanistan last month, the U.S. Army said Saturday. Pat Tillman, a member of the elite Ranger unit since 2002, was awarded a Purple Heart and Silver Star. Tillman walked away from a $3.6 million NFL contract to join the Army after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Previous military statements suggested he was killed April 22 under enemy fire.

“While there was no one specific finding of fault, the investigation results indicate that Cpl. Tillman probably died as a result of friendly fire while his unit was engaged in combat with enemy forces,” Lt. Gen. Philip R. Kensington Jr. said in a brief statement to reporters at the Army Special Operations Command. Kensington said the firefight took place in “very severe and constricted terrain in impaired light” with 10 to 12 enemy combatants firing on U.S. forces.

An Afghan military official told The Associated Press on Saturday that Tillman died because of a “misunderstanding” when two mixed groups of American and Afghan soldiers began firing wildly in the confusion following an explosion. The Afghan official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also contradicted U.S. reports that the American soldiers had come under enemy fire.

Kensington, who heads Army Special Forces, took no questions Saturday morning after reading the statement.

When Tillman was awarded the Silver Star, the Army said he was killed after his platoon was split into two sections for what officials called a ground assault convoy. Tillman was in charge of the lead group. His group was safely out of the area when the trailing group came under mortar and small arms fire, according to the Army, and he ordered them to return.

“Through the firing, Tillman’s voice was heard issuing fire commands to take the fight to the enemy on the dominating high ground,” the award announcement said. “Only after his team engaged the well-armed enemy did it appear their fires diminished. “As a result of his leadership and his team’s efforts, the platoon trail section was able to maneuver through the ambush to positions of safety without a single casualty,” the announcement said.

Tillman, a member of the elite Ranger unit since 2002, was posthumously promoted from specialist to corporal and also awarded a Purple Heart.

“The result of this investigation in no way diminished the bravery and sacrifice displayed by Cpl. Tillman,” said Kensington, who heads Army Special Forces. He took no questions Saturday morning after reading the statement.

A woman who answered the phone late Friday at the home of Tillman’s uncle said the family would have no immediate comment.

At a memorial service in his hometown of San Jose earlier this month Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., called him “a most honorable man.” “While many of us will be blessed to live a longer life, few of us will ever live a better one,” McCain, who spent 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, said at Tillman’s memorial service.

The friendly fire account was first reported by the Arizona Republic and The Argus of Fremont (Calif.) on Saturday. “It does seem pretty clear that he was killed by friendly fire,” Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., a member of the House Armed Services Committee, told the Republic. Franks said his panel was alerted to the information by the Army’s Legislative Liaison Office.

The Afghan official told the AP that two groups of soldiers had drifted some distance apart during the operation in the remote Spera district of Khost province, close to the Pakistani border. “Suddenly the sound of a mine explosion was heard somewhere between the two groups and the Americans in one group started firing,” the official said, citing an account given to him by an Afghan fighter who was part of that group, not Tillman’s. “Nobody knew what it was — a mine, a remote-controlled bomb — or what was going on, or if enemy forces were firing. The situation was very confusing,” the official said. “As the result of this firing, that American was killed and three Afghan soldiers were injured. It was a misunderstanding and afterwards they realized that it was a mine that had exploded and there were no enemy forces.”

U.S. military officials in Kabul had no immediate comment.

So much for the argument that Tillman died fighting for his country. Or for the bullshit cover story concocted by the military to justify awarding him a posthumous Silver Star. I wonder if the Pentagon will have the integrity to revoke it?

So, to recap: Tillman gave up $3.6 million to get killed by his fellow soldiers. I guess I do owe an apology after all, but not for calling him a sap: In my cartoon, I said Tillman got offed by the Afghan resistance. That part, as it turns out, wasn’t true.

Bushie war apologists may email their apologies to MSNBC, which canceled my cartoons as the result of my cartoon. And prospective soldiers may want to take this opportunity to reconsider the wisdom of enlisting. It’s bad enough to get killed by friendly fire; it’s still worse to get killed by friendly fire while fighting an unjust, illegal and unjustifiable war.

May 20, 2004

Kirkus Reviews Reviews “Wake Up, You’re Liberal!”

Here’s their May 15th review of my new book:

Aghast that America has gone to the far-right dogs, editorial cartoonist and columnist Ted Rall wants it back in commonsense—that is, liberal—hands.

Democrats and Republicans alike have ceded the communal high ground, he writes with particular energy, and radical conservatives are ramped on greed and self-righteousness. What we need at this closing-on-fascism juncture, Rall declares, is a reformed Democratic Party, longtime purveyor of a liberalism that aims to “help the downtrodden, not coddle slackers” and can prudently protect our nation without giving up basic liberties—indeed, that will protect individual rights via the Bill of Rights. America has never been a conservative nation, the author asserts: in the 20th century alone, it tamed the Industrial Revolution with regulation and labor laws, set up a social safety net, fought fascism, expanded civil rights, and lifted the sociopolitical status of minorities. Not perfectly, Rall admits, but at least the angle was correct. Is it right for a CEO to pay himself millions as he lays off thousands, or for someone to kill a man because he is gay or Iraqi, or for hospitals to allow people to die because they can’t pay for medical help? It’s not just a matter of statistics, he argues, though those also help prove his point; an instinctive “no” to all of the above is part of the American persona. How has the Republican right virtually consumed the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government? Because of the Democratic Party’s lack of focus, its lack of cool, its unwillingness to approach politics as a barroom fight rather than a tea party, states Rall. He tenders an encouraging Democratic platform, with winning issues from minimum wage to college tuition to vacation time.

Senator Kerry could do worse than to read closely this flurry of smart advice (aside from the author’s fondness for they-pull-a-knife, you-pull-a-gun politics), which serves as a quick, bracing, and welcome series of wake-up slaps.

May 20, 2004

Kirkus Reviews Reviews “Wake Up, You’re Liberal!”

Here’s their May 15th review of my new book:

Aghast that America has gone to the far-right dogs, editorial cartoonist and columnist Ted Rall wants it back in commonsense—that is, liberal—hands.

Democrats and Republicans alike have ceded the communal high ground, he writes with particular energy, and radical conservatives are ramped on greed and self-righteousness. What we need at this closing-on-fascism juncture, Rall declares, is a reformed Democratic Party, longtime purveyor of a liberalism that aims to “help the downtrodden, not coddle slackers” and can prudently protect our nation without giving up basic liberties—indeed, that will protect individual rights via the Bill of Rights. America has never been a conservative nation, the author asserts: in the 20th century alone, it tamed the Industrial Revolution with regulation and labor laws, set up a social safety net, fought fascism, expanded civil rights, and lifted the sociopolitical status of minorities. Not perfectly, Rall admits, but at least the angle was correct. Is it right for a CEO to pay himself millions as he lays off thousands, or for someone to kill a man because he is gay or Iraqi, or for hospitals to allow people to die because they can’t pay for medical help? It’s not just a matter of statistics, he argues, though those also help prove his point; an instinctive “no” to all of the above is part of the American persona. How has the Republican right virtually consumed the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government? Because of the Democratic Party’s lack of focus, its lack of cool, its unwillingness to approach politics as a barroom fight rather than a tea party, states Rall. He tenders an encouraging Democratic platform, with winning issues from minimum wage to college tuition to vacation time.

Senator Kerry could do worse than to read closely this flurry of smart advice (aside from the author’s fondness for they-pull-a-knife, you-pull-a-gun politics), which serves as a quick, bracing, and welcome series of wake-up slaps.

May 19, 2004

Greetings from Gitmo

Still doubt that the right-wing bloggers are off the hook? Check this out! Scroll down and you’ll find an actual, bonafide writing campaign to Attorney General John Ashcroft about little old me. Their goal: to have me thrown into a U.S. government gulag, and presumably executed (yes, really), for treason. Treason, it seems, means disagreeing with the Bush Administration, the Republicans, and their wars against Iraq and Afghanistan.

In a follow-up to the cut-and-paste Ashcroft letter–which ought to give the chills to any American, regardless of political persuasion–blogger J.B. Corrigan adds:

First, I want to thank everyone who sent me copies of their messages to Attorney General John Ashcroft regarding the acts of Treason committed by Ted Rall (see previous entry). It is gratifying to me that so many people are willing to stand up and fight such despicable actions. Now it will be up to the U.S. Department of Justice as to whether the law as defined in the Constitution will be enforced.

However one whiner wrote in to make the predictable charge that it was ‘censorship’ and a violation of the First Amendment to take Rall to task for his Treason.

And to that I say: BULLSHIT. Rall committed Treason, and that Treason is perfectly defined by Article III, Section 3 of the United States Constitution…

And Rall? It is my fervent prayer that I might live long enough to see that S.O.B. lined up before a firing squad and executed for that act of Treason. Tell me where that dirtbag gets buried and I’ll join the long line of real Americans who will no doubt be ready to p*ss on him.

My.

I scoured the rightist blogosphere for reactions. I found positive responses at Blogs for Bush, Pardon My English and elsewhere. Not one right-winger had a problem with this.

These are the kinds of people we’re dealing with, folks. If they had their way, they’d recreate Nazi Germany right here in America. That’s why we must make certain they NEVER get their way.

P.S. If there’s a good lawyer reading this, I’d appreciate an email (chet@rall.com) advising me what to do about this extreme form of harrassment and abuse of government agencies. I should probably start by filing a Freedom of Information Act request to uncover the names and addresses of the individuals who filed these “treason” complaints against me, but can I/should I protect myself legally? If so, how?

May 19, 2004

Greetings from Gitmo

Still doubt that the right-wing bloggers are off the hook? Check this out! Scroll down and you’ll find an actual, bonafide writing campaign to Attorney General John Ashcroft about little old me. Their goal: to have me thrown into a U.S. government gulag, and presumably executed (yes, really), for treason. Treason, it seems, means disagreeing with the Bush Administration, the Republicans, and their wars against Iraq and Afghanistan.

In a follow-up to the cut-and-paste Ashcroft letter–which ought to give the chills to any American, regardless of political persuasion–blogger J.B. Corrigan adds:

First, I want to thank everyone who sent me copies of their messages to Attorney General John Ashcroft regarding the acts of Treason committed by Ted Rall (see previous entry). It is gratifying to me that so many people are willing to stand up and fight such despicable actions. Now it will be up to the U.S. Department of Justice as to whether the law as defined in the Constitution will be enforced.

However one whiner wrote in to make the predictable charge that it was ‘censorship’ and a violation of the First Amendment to take Rall to task for his Treason.

And to that I say: BULLSHIT. Rall committed Treason, and that Treason is perfectly defined by Article III, Section 3 of the United States Constitution…

And Rall? It is my fervent prayer that I might live long enough to see that S.O.B. lined up before a firing squad and executed for that act of Treason. Tell me where that dirtbag gets buried and I’ll join the long line of real Americans who will no doubt be ready to p*ss on him.

My.

I scoured the rightist blogosphere for reactions. I found positive responses at Blogs for Bush, Pardon My English and elsewhere. Not one right-winger had a problem with this.

These are the kinds of people we’re dealing with, folks. If they had their way, they’d recreate Nazi Germany right here in America. That’s why we must make certain they NEVER get their way.

P.S. If there’s a good lawyer reading this, I’d appreciate an email (chet@rall.com) advising me what to do about this extreme form of harrassment and abuse of government agencies. I should probably start by filing a Freedom of Information Act request to uncover the names and addresses of the individuals who filed these “treason” complaints against me, but can I/should I protect myself legally? If so, how?

May 19, 2004

Kerry’s Vice President

Among the more outlandish options floated recently for the veep spot on the Democratic ticket are John McCain and Ralph Nader. The McCain thing, I think it’s safe to guess, ain’t gonna happen. There hasn’t been a party crossover ticket in more than fifteen decades, and a year when the electorate is polarized won’t see the second. Choosing a conservative, pro-life Republican as vice president would alienate the liberal base, driving many to stay away from the polls or vote for Nader. I myself would retract my longstanding pledge to vote for the Democratic nominee since a McCain veep could become a Republican president. The Democratic Party, as I’ve written in my new book WAKE UP, YOU’RE LIBERAL: HOW WE CAN TAKE AMERICA BACK FROM THE RIGHT, needs to get back to its roots, not trash them entirely.

I don’t think much will come out of the Nader talk, but I think he’d be a brilliant choice–one that might lock up the election once and for all. A Nader VP would energize the liberal base like nothing else, neutralize a spoiler threat and infuse vibrant new ideas into the ossified Democratic Party political machine. Nader could become Kerry’s Cheney–the power behind the throne, the guy’s who’s always thinking new stuff up.

My money’s still on John Edwards or Bob Graham, though–and either of them would be just dandy.

May 19, 2004

Kerry’s Vice President

Among the more outlandish options floated recently for the veep spot on the Democratic ticket are John McCain and Ralph Nader. The McCain thing, I think it’s safe to guess, ain’t gonna happen. There hasn’t been a party crossover ticket in more than fifteen decades, and a year when the electorate is polarized won’t see the second. Choosing a conservative, pro-life Republican as vice president would alienate the liberal base, driving many to stay away from the polls or vote for Nader. I myself would retract my longstanding pledge to vote for the Democratic nominee since a McCain veep could become a Republican president. The Democratic Party, as I’ve written in my new book WAKE UP, YOU’RE LIBERAL: HOW WE CAN TAKE AMERICA BACK FROM THE RIGHT, needs to get back to its roots, not trash them entirely.

I don’t think much will come out of the Nader talk, but I think he’d be a brilliant choice–one that might lock up the election once and for all. A Nader VP would energize the liberal base like nothing else, neutralize a spoiler threat and infuse vibrant new ideas into the ossified Democratic Party political machine. Nader could become Kerry’s Cheney–the power behind the throne, the guy’s who’s always thinking new stuff up.

My money’s still on John Edwards or Bob Graham, though–and either of them would be just dandy.

May 19, 2004

30,000 Dead Iraqis

The psycho right bloggers, unwilling to acknowledge that information exists offline, keep asking where people like me come up with the figure that we killed at least 30,000 Iraqis during the war. The answer is: Bob Woodward. In his book “Plan of Attack,” he quotes Bush Administration sources as saying that we killed that many Iraqis during the first few weeks of war. Obviously that figure has since risen. Since I like to keep my statistics on the conservative side, however, I use the official Pentagon figure of 30,000.

May 19, 2004

30,000 Dead Iraqis

The psycho right bloggers, unwilling to acknowledge that information exists offline, keep asking where people like me come up with the figure that we killed at least 30,000 Iraqis during the war. The answer is: Bob Woodward. In his book “Plan of Attack,” he quotes Bush Administration sources as saying that we killed that many Iraqis during the first few weeks of war. Obviously that figure has since risen. Since I like to keep my statistics on the conservative side, however, I use the official Pentagon figure of 30,000.