Nur al-Cubicle

A blog on the current crises in the Middle East and news accounts unpublished by the US press. Daily timeline of events in Iraq as collected from stories and dispatches in the French and Italian media: Le Monde (Paris), Il Corriere della Sera (Milan), La Repubblica (Rome), L'Orient-Le Jour (Beirut) and occasionally from El Mundo (Madrid).

Friday, August 12, 2005

Aragorn Visits Cindy Sheehan at Camp Casey

Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn)

Speak no evil of Lady Sheehan!

Among the supporters was actor Viggo Mortensen, co-star of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. He spent a few moments privately with Sheehan, thanking her for her protest.

Mortensen, a longtime activist and one of the first actors to wear an anti-war T-shirt on national television, gave Sheehan a raft of gifts: a handful of "No Blood for Oil" T-shirts he had painted; a copy of George Orwell's "Animal Farm"; a book by author and activist Howard Zinn; and "Twilight of Empire: Responses to Occupation," a book co-written by Jodie Evans, who is a top organizer with Sheehan's vigil. [Garofali, San Francisco Chronicle].


Blogger raf* said...

who's cindy sheehan??? i looked at the site, but it wasn't clear.

viggo mortensen does do a lot of good stuff.


2:00 PM  
Blogger Nur-al-Cubicle said...

sheehan is camped outside Bush's ranch and is calling him out on the Iraq War. her son died there last year.

2:06 PM  
Blogger subutane said...

Great story, more from today's events, Sapphire from UpbeatDefiance writes:

This afternoon, I had the opportunity to speak with Anne Sapp from Boston. Anne's husband Andrew is a SSgt in the Army National Guard. He is currently deployed in Iraq with the 272nd Chemical Company, 42nd Division at Camp Summerall.

Andrew has been in Iraq for over 9 months. Before that, he was a High School teacher at Concord-Carlisle High School in Concord, Massachusetts where Anne also works. Andrew was notified in March of 2004 that he was to be deployed in Iraq. Right from the start, Anne and her husband questioned the rational for our being in Iraq. As she said to me, "We do not support the war and have not from the beginning. He and I both feel that this has nothing to do with the security of the nation." Anne believes that there are a few in this country making billions off this war while our troops do without.

This week, with the full support of her husband, Anne and her daughters are sitting vigil with Cindy Sheehan at Camp Casey in Crawford, Texas. Anne tells me that her husband feels the work she is doing here at home is vital.

Andrew, through Anne, provides a frightening glimpse into the life of some of our servicemen and women in Iraq. Anne says that since his departure for training in June of 2004, Andrew has written frequent emails and so she is able to get a lot of information from him about their daily life there in Iraq.

Some of the most striking details Anne shared with me include -
Andrew's camp recently had 900 new troops arrive. No one told the camp these additional troops were coming, nor were they given any additional supplies such as food or water to provide for this influx of soldiers. In addition, because they had no foreknowledge of the 900's arrival, there were not enough beds to go around. Most, if not all, ended up sleeping in vehicles or in the gravel, some for nearly a month. One has to wonder how we can even consider recruiting more troops when we cannot even provide for those already deployed.

Anne relates that Andrew and the others in his unit are very discouraged because of the disorganization, not to mention the absence of a goal on a day-to-day basis; let alone an overall goal. According to Anne, there is no sense of unity, and little belief that their superiors are looking out for them. It seems the early days when they were first informed of Andrew's pending deployment were a foreshadowing of what was to come - sent for what was to be a 2 week training, they ended up sitting around for 7 weeks with little to do. Then, upon arrival in Kuwait where they were to receive 2 additional weeks of training, only 2 days were provided. As a result, most were ill-prepared for what was to come.

Even now, their specific duties seem vague and ill defined. Their stated purpose in terms of general day-to-day objectives seem to change on a regular basis. One day, they are guarding convoys - the next day, they are given different duties altogether.

Further evidence, in Anne's mind, that this war is about profit for the few is indicated by the fact that troops are not even permitted to pitch their own tents. There are contractors on site who hire local Iraqi citizens to pitch the tents, paying them a few dollars for their time while they, themselves, make thousands of dollars a month.

Speaking with Anne, it is clear this is a wife filled with fear over the safety and well being of the Love of her life and best friend, not to mention the father of her children. Andrew has told her that the Iraqi people look upon them with hate and anger, and that it is growing right along with the incidents of insurgency. The insurgents are gaining more sophisticated weapons and increasingly sophisticated methods of carrying out their attacks. Gone are the days of just one or two people killed during an attack, now the numbers are well into the double digits, each occurrence, and climbing. Andrew has also asserted that the local police they have been training are corrupt. Just recently, several local police had to be arrested because they themselves were found planting suicide bombs. As Anne stated, "Once again we are stuck in a situation where we are training and arming the enemy."

Andrew and his unit are further disheartened by a growing sense of separation from the "regular" Army. According to Anne, the full time Army looks down on the ANG members as second-class citizens. Full-time Army are brought into air conditioned spaces while the under-manned ANG works 12 hour shifts, 7 days a week without a day off. Anne says, "It is disappointing that all of the military can't accept each other on equal terms in a combat situation."

I asked Anne she has fared during this experience. She said, "It's awful. Worst thing that can happen to you. He is the Love of my life and my best friend. The intense fear..." her voice trails off a bit. To avoid sitting on her couch and crying all the time, Anne spoke with her 17-year-old daughter - and they decided, together, that getting politically active was the best solution. Anne further shares that the people she works with at the High School have been very supportive of her and her family. You can hear the pride and Love in her voice as she tells of the co-workers who have offered their support and demonstrated their concern. She says, "Without them, I don't know how I would have stood up to this."

I then inquired if Anne or her husband are concerned about the potential "back door draft." On this, their opinions differ. Andrew is confident that he will be finished with Iraq come October 1st, the date his unit has been told they will return home. Anne is clearly not as certain. Her husband's unit will not have served their full 500 days, and this leaves the door open for them to be redeployed for another cycle. Andrew intends to retire 11 months after his return, but Anne finds little comfort in that. Two men in her husband's unit were called out of retirement to serve in Iraq, one of whom had been retired for 16 years. According to Anne, "even if you fulfill your initial requirement, it is meaningless."

Anne laughs a bit wryly as she relates to me her efforts to discourage recruiting in her High School. She recognizes that as enlistment numbers decline, the chance of her husband having to remain in Iraq increases. "But," she says, "I don't feel that they should have come into the High School to recruit." She says she sees very positive signs around her that the young people are looking at the situation and choosing to not join the military. She said, "they are looking at it in an intelligent and ethical way."

Anne and her daughters will be returning to Massachusetts on Monday. Her daughters have to get ready for school and Anne has some things to get ready herself. Andrew will be home for the first time since June of 2004 for a 2-week leave beginning August 22nd. You can hear the joy and excitement in Anne's voice as she says, "I have to get the house ready!"

3:01 PM  
Blogger raf* said...

ya nur-

muchas gracias!


4:13 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home