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Tenet Talks

| 37 Comments | 1 TrackBack
Wow. Go read CIA Director George Tenet's speech. Then come back and discuss. I'll get to it later in the day. A couple of quick quotes:
"As we meet here today, the Iraq Survey Group is continuing its important search for people and data. And despite some public statements, we are nowhere near 85 percent finished. The men and women who work in that dangerous environment are adamant about that fact. Any call that I make today is necessarily provisional. Why? Because we need more time and we need more data."
Go read the whole thing, it's going to be the Topic Of The Day... UPDATE: For deeper background about some of the things Tenet discussed, try our posts on: * The Kay Report * Intelligence, Analysis, Planning & Hindsight * A CIA Veteran Discusses Foreign Analysis, and our post on * Intelligence Flaws & the Containment Myth * What keeps Rumsfeld awake at night? Intelligence, he said - and here's what he means when he says that. Rumsfeld's poetry also alludes to this - but for a more in-depth look at Intelligence & uncertainty , go to this outstanding New Yorker article. UPDATE 2: Here's a post from a blogger who was there, on location. Interesting comment re: Tenet's tone, and this is a great and critical point: bq. "In his view, the point of collecting intelligence about Iraq was not to prove an imminent threat, for in intelligence one is "never completely right or completely wrong." The point of collecting intelligence on Iraq was to eliminate the risk of surprise." That was the point of the subsequent decisions, as well.

1 TrackBack

Tracked: February 5, 2004 8:57 PM
Excerpt: (All quotes are from my hastily scribbled real-time notes or from memory.) 1. I picked up on something in Tenet's tone of voice; I don't know if it was anger or frustration or exasperation. But he clearly sounded as though he was fed up with something....

37 Comments

Nothing really new in his speech, but it cannot be reduced to a couple of thirty-second sound bites, so the important parts will likely be ignored by the mainstream media.

I believe, that when you are responsible for 280+ million people, you have to err on the side of caution. The Iraq invasion was, if in error,(not my position) on the side of caution. So there are no WMDs (yet), but who can argue that Iraq is not better off than it was? (besides DU and MoveOn types)

Stupid comments by Tenet and lies by Bush:

Concluding his first point of:

First, Iraq's history.

Tenet says:

To conclude before the war that Saddam
had no interest in rebuilding his weapons
of mass destruction programs, we would
have had to ignore his long and brutal
history of using them.

No one has ever said that Saddam had "no interest" in WMD! Even the (supposedly) wacky anti-war people (say like Chomsky) have never suggested this. That statement is just misleading about what is being debated and hence stupid.

Concluding his second point of:

Our second stream of information was
that the United Nations could not and
Saddam would not account for all the
weapons the Iraqis had . . .

Tenet says:

To conclude before the war that Saddam
had destroyed his existing weapons, we
would have had to ignore what the United
Nations and allied intelligence said
they could not verify.

Hum .. and what did the UN decided on their OWN evidence? Blix said none could be located, and ElBaradei said there was no indicator before the Security Council on 2/14 & 2/15 2003. Tenet ignores the conclusion of those who best know and is hence a stupid statement.

Concluding his third point of:

The third stream of information came
after the U.N. inspectors left Iraq
in 1998.

Tenet says:

And to come to conclusions before the
war other than those we reached, we
would have had to ignore all the
intelligence gathered from multiple
sources after 1998.

Hum .. and what work has, say, the UN done? Check out what Blix says in his 2/14/2003 report to the UN SC:

Since we arrived in Iraq, we have
conducted more than 400 inspections
covering more than 300 sites. . . .
Inspections are effectively helping to
bridge the gap in knowledge that arose
due to the absence of inspections
between December 1998 and November
2002.

Tenet implies that the only "stream" in information about Iraq was from what "[they] gathered intelligence through human agents, satellite photos and communications intercepts. Other foreign intelligence services were clearly focused on Iraq and assisted in the effort". The aforementioned statements by Blix/ElBaradei are part of the "multiple sources" that Tenet speaks of. He misleads and hence makes another stupid comment.

Tenet says:

My provisional bottom line on missiles:
We were generally on target.

The NIE said:

Iraq possesses proscribed chemical and
biological weapons and missiles.

His "proof" of being on "target":

What do we know today? Since the war we
have found an aggressive Iraqi missile
program concealed from the international
community.

Programs are not actual weapons. Stupid. (Also, this means Bush and Co. lied.)

Tenet says:

My provisional bottom line today: Saddam
did not have a nuclear weapon, he still
wanted one, and Iraq intended to
reconstitute a nuclear program at some
point.

Ok, Saddam wanted them. So why did Bush and Co. say they existed. What did Bush say? "We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories." (http://www.whitehouse.gov/g8/interview5.html) And how about Rumsfeld? "It happens not to be the area where weapons of mass destruction were dispersed. We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat." (http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2003/t03302003_t0330sdabcsteph.html)
Bush and Co. lies.

Tenet says:

The first from a source who had direct
access to Saddam and his inner circle
said Iraq was not in the possession of
a nuclear weapon. However, Iraq was
aggressively and covertly developing
such a weapon.

In the "fall of 2002" Saddam did not have a nuke! Bush and Co. lied.

Tenet says:

I will say that our judgments were not
single-threaded. U.N. inspection served
as a base line and we had multiple strands
of reporting from signals, imagery and
human intelligence. . . . After the U.N.
inspectors left in 1998, we made an
aggressive effort to penetrate Iraq.

Misleads again - inspectors were there by the time Bush decided to kill thousands of people! Stupid.

And we killed and injured tens of thousands of people on this?!!

Oh look, an anonymous troll waving the bloody shirt.

Shocking. I'll just have to go pillory George W Bush after reading this convincing diatr-er, essay.

Huh? A "troll" usually posts something short and sweet like:

Bush sucks!!

I did not. But, I am glad you found it "convincing"! Thanks!!

Joe...

Great post. Thanks for the transcript.

I was there for the speech, and blogged my thoughts on it.

http://www.thiefsden.net/archives/000132.html

Check Tenet's answers to one of the questions for a perfect response to Mr. Bloody Shirt:

"Now, here's the problem we have when we talk about issues as difficult as this. How long do you let -- and this is a policy decision; our policy-makers made a different choice -- how long do you let material breach, deception and denial go on before you risk with the kind of surprise that I could never fully and 100 percent predict?"

No one is asking for "100%". That is just silly.

Tenet has pointed out the facts only showed intent and "programs"--both in pre-war intelligence and in post-war evidence.

Bush and others took his "estimates" and made them fact.

And we killed and injured tens of thousands of people!!

Really? So, how close do you want to be?

Let me put this in another context: you live next door to a working nuclear reactor. The hydro folks say it's safe. Everyone acknowledges that "100% safe" is impossible. So, how close do you want to be? How close to 100% is required over, say, the next 20 years?

Now do the math and figure out how dangerous 98% safety is under these circumstances.

What Bush et. al. decided, and they were very, very clear about this, is that they wanted more long-term safety than could be had by any means other than removal of the dictator and therefore his ongoing drive to acquire these weapons. More than the U.N. could provide. More than sanctions (which were weakening, thanks to the French & Russians) could provide.

Why? Because, like living next door to a reactor, the consequences of something going badly wrong are so large that prudent, serious people do not take chances with "so-so safety" - or accept the evasions and rationalizations of those who do, and therefore put their fellow citizens in harm's way.

After 9/11, many of us grasp this concept. I'm sorry that you still do not.

but the 'possibility/probability tradeoff' was not the argument the Administration made when push came to shove and ruled out the extension of inspections and sharing of intelligence and more resources in WoT and less in Iraq.
they said "We know" - Rumsfeld said "we know where they are" and then told the UN to get out cuz the air force was coming. (The lovely 'unknown unknowns' poetry not withstanding.)
I like your analogy, but need to take it one step further. in your analogy, the solution naturally would be to destroy the reactor to eliminate the possibility of an unforseen accident from happening. and if the radioactivity gets out as a result of the destruction, its the fault of the builders of the reactor in the first place.
I concede that with Hussein on the run/out of power, the terrorists will not get their hands on the weapons or weapons-related-programs from his supposed stockpile as of the time of the invastion. Full stop. 100% guarantee.
But I should know better than posting this. I'm obviously not a serious person.
Anyone who is as sure of a position that could say: "serious people do not take chances with "so-so safety" - or accept the evasions and rationalizations of those who do, and therefore put their fellow citizens in harm's way" really isn't processing information rationally.
but this won't stop me coming back for the clipping service if not the commentary

Awesome comments Joe! What I hear you saying is we should do the "felicific calculus"; in other words you are utilitarian.

First, thing to note is that right now our actions would be "wrong" or "immoral" because we (1) have killed/injured lots of people; (2) while NOT having found WMD, thus the best information to date says there was no threat. (I would not say this, but perhaps some do/would.)

But, in general, are you wanting to do something like:

  1. of US citizens killed X estimated probability of the event (between 0-1)

vs.

  1. of Iraqi citizens killed X 1 (since we will certainly kill people with bombing during an invasion, even if we try really hard not to)

Basically, as you say, we have to estimate the probable harm of a future act along w/ its probability of even occurring against the certain death/destruction of an invasion.

Doing this, it seems to me that:

1 Probabily of Saddam actually having WMD (not just "programs") was low
2 Probabily of Saddam helping terrorist or attacking the US directly was low
3 Potential of massive loss of US lives was low
4 Potential of some loss of US lives was higher

vs.

1 Certain Iraqi civilian deaths/injured

Seems fairly easy concept to grasp as you say.

Yeah, Anonymous (I'd suggest a better pseud, becuase while I obviously think pseuds are cool, I do think anonymity is tacky) but you're forgetting two little factors in your pseud-ocalculation:

a) lives saved in Iraq per month, both because Saddam & sons aren't killing them and because we could life the broootal sanctions - these are relatively hard numbers, and so we can look at the 'payback' period in which lives lost in the war is crossed over by lives saved;

b) lives saved in Syria, Libya, and Iran as those countries move toward becoming Good Guys and the probability of war there declines.

Back to you...

A.L.

Ooh! You are correct!

So, what are your estimates?

1 Iraqi lives saved, suffering reduced: Some, but not a lot right?
(Brutal as Saddam Hussein’s reign had been, the scope of the Iraqi government’s killing in March 2003 was not of the exceptional and dire magnitude that would justify humanitarian intervention.
http://hrw.org/wr2k4/3.htm#_Toc58744952)

2 Lives saved in Syria, et al.: More than 1? Certainly. More than 1000? Maybe. More than 1000000? Not likely. (Probability does not look good here.)

I certainly did not complete both sides of the equation, but these two do not seem to greatly help Bush's case.

No?

I received your post.Thanks.

Hey Anonymous, guess what? We won't have to worry about Iraq's or Libya's WMD again. That isn't just a bland fact. It means that terrorists have that much less anonymity in the future when conducting attacks. And the message sent, that if you even think, or PRETEND, to help terrorists and/or have WMD, we will come after you, could save countless lives. Far more than were lost in the US invasion. And BTW, what was that number again? Because I remember reading that Saddam was killing Iraqi's in the hundreds per month before. And the "major" killing had stopped only because no one was daring to remove him anymore. If that had happened again, then we could expect Saddam to created more massacres.

And that of course forgets the Human Rights issues, and the necessity of reforming the Middle East. And drying up funding to Pali terrorists. And getting our troops out of Saudi Arabia once and for all, after over a decade of being there.

OK, how about the No-Body Count?

http://198.30.156.67/000184.php

Current Standing:
44,546 Iraqi lives saved
160,429 Iraqi Refugees averted.

The post also explains the methodology (take all the murders/displacements committed by Saddam's regieme, divide it by his days in power. Approximately 134 murders and 497 refugees per day.)

If we can do it for 500 dead Albanians in Kosovo, why not for 300,000 dead Kurds and Shiites in Iraq?

Anyone?
Anyone?
Bueller?

Blaming a "colossal intelligence failure" has become very fashionable in conservative circles, of late. Tenet's given his viewpoint; in his mind there was no colossal failure.

The Bush Administration's efforts to shift blame onto the intelligence agencies are transparent. They made a policy decision based on their interpretation of intelligence information. And, if we believe Tenet, Bush was NOT told that there was an imminent threat.

So where did the imminent threat part come from? Who injected that into the pre-war debate?

Ross, dammit.

I'm sorry to swear, but this has been beaten into the ground a hundred times. Bush said "we can't wait for the threat to become imminent."

There are a variety of grounds to argue about on these issues; the strategic wisdom of what Bush has done, the tactical means through which he's doing it, the costs human, financial, and diplomatic vs. the benefits. But please, please don't try and play "gotcha" on the imminance issue.

A.L.

This war was predicated mostly on the threat of WMD.

I do not think it is settled that Bush do not mean "imminent"
http://www.americanprogress.org/site/apps/s/content.asp?c=biJRJ8OVF&b=24899&content_id={52F1F77D-74C7-46CB-95AB-B36B9B461F91}

Notice specifically:

"This is about imminent threat."
• White House spokesman Scott McClellan, 2/10/03

Is this really a point of serious debate??

Also, as this was mostly about Saddam as a threat, the Human Rights perspective is not one that enters this debate. It certainly was not a major point of Tenet's in his comments which started this thread.

FYI: I would certainly have supported THAT as the main reason for going after Saddam.

Mostly in your mind, perhaps. I'm on record before the war (March 16, 03) as raising all kinds of other reasons I was (and am) in support of it.

I don't think I was alone.

OK, we have two quotes. One from the President, stating specifically that it is not about imminent threat, in a carefully prepared speech. One from his press spokesman, in the course of answering a question. Who exactly do you think speaks definitively for the Administration?

I don't think it's a point of serious debate either, which is why I'm frustrated when a smart guy like Ross brings it up.

A.L.

Dear Joe,

Posted that piece from Drezner's on my own blog. Catch you later when this cold bloody let's up.

I would argue that invading Iraq in the manner that Bush et al. did was anything but "erring on the side of caution" in the face of uncertain intelligence.

A huge commitment of force and money has diverted our attention and resources away from concerns that should be more immediately addressed and that we can predict with much greater certainty have an impact on our national security. Rogue nukes and port security are just two that jump to mind although I'm sure more can be brainstormed by informed people.

Furthermore, the potential to create an even greater threat stemming from an invasion and occupation of Iraq (with the attendant "collateral damage") seems to have been completely (or purposefully) overlooked. One commentator described it as being like trying to kill bees by punching a beehive. On balance it seems the more intelligent (and cautious) approach would have been to continue UN containment with full US support.

While the WMD intelligence might have been questionable at the time (as Tenet points out all intelligence is, by nature) so too were the consequences of invading, and an unbiased (political and personal) view of the situation would have taken this into account and probably concluded that invasion was not "erring on the side of caution" at all.

1 We are speaking about Bush's reasons not yours or mine or .... And many other may have felt the same as you. But it is not really relevant (in this thread) -- what is is Bush's reasons. Perhaps we can keep focused?

2 Bush has spoken about Saddam as a threat in many different ways. Is it the case that if he does not say "imminent" everytime that he does not mean "imminent"?

From the link I provided. I think most people would NOT parse these statements like a lawyer.

"The Iraqi regime is a serious and growing threat to peace."
• President Bush, 10/16/02

"There are many dangers in the world, the threat from Iraq stands alone because it gathers the most serious dangers of our age in one place. Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists."
• President Bush, 10/7/02

"The Iraqi regime is a threat of unique urgency."
• President Bush, 10/2/02

"There's a grave threat in Iraq. There just is."
• President Bush, 10/2/02

Returning to the topic, Tenet said he never told Bush Saddam was "imminent" and Bush went ahead and told the world Saddam as a threat was "imminent".

Oh come on, Anonymous. You know very well that the liars at CAP ripped McClellan's words out of context:

QUESTION: What about NATO's role? Belgium now says it will veto any attempt to provide help to Turkey to defend itself. Is this something the administration can live with, or is it a major obstacle?

MR. McCLELLAN: Two points. We support the request under Article IV of Turkey. And I think it's important to note that the request from a country under Article IV that faces an imminent threat goes to the very core of the NATO alliance and its purpose.

Anonymous -

Ding, sorry, try again. Repeating a series of statements in which Bush says the threat is real and growing ! imminence in any English-speaking part of the world that I know of. And was the phrase - in which he explicitly denied that it was imminent (and which conveniently ignore) - in the SotU just another Bushism?

Come on...

A.L.

Huh? First, why would I "know very well"?

But anyway, basically McClellan was speaking about an "imminent" threat from Iraq (presumably w/ WMD) against Turkey. Regardless of who the target is, McClellan is certainly suggesting Saddam is an "imminent" threat. How is incorrect?

A.L., I googled for:

"we can't wait for the threat to become imminent"

And came up with nothing. Could you provide a citation? The only place Bush uses "imminent" in his 2003 (right?) SotU is:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/01/20030128-19.html

Some have said we must not act until
the threat is imminent. Since when have
terrorists and tyrants announced their
intentions, politely putting us on notice
before they strike? If this threat is
permitted to fully and suddenly emerge,
all actions, all words, and all
recriminations would come too late.
Trusting in the sanity and restraint of
Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it
is not an option.

Not much of a definitive statement either way (and as worded suggestive either way IMHO) -- and so when taken into account w/ everything everyone else in the Administration was saying it seems like a reasonable conclusion to come to (for an average person) that Bush is saying Saddam is a threat to me now.

Thief,the "No-Body Count" site and analysis you link to is patently ridiculous and doesn't survive even the most cursory critical analysis.

The site makes the fundamental assumption that Saddam Hussein and his policies would, had we not gone to war in March of last year, have continued to generate deaths and refugees at a rate equivalent to the average over his entire reign from 1979-2003.

Absolutely NO logic is given for that assumption.

Only a tiny bit of logic is necessary to conclude that the assumption is entirely fallacious: After the first gulf war and the suppressed uprisings, a system of sanctions, military observation, and enforced no-fly zones was put into place to ensure that no further wars were conducted by Iraq and no further ethnic cleansing events were prosecuted against the Shia and Kurd populations.

The vast majority of the kind of body-count events included had already been prevented by that system and their further prevention cannot be attributed to the recent war!

Indeed, every date-specific item in the list ended by 1993, and all but one was over by 1991. The vast bulk is from the Iran-Iraq war, which ended in 1988. Iraq could not have prosecuted such a war again given the 1992-2002 status quo: In addition to constant surveillance and occupation of its airspace, Iraq's military in 2003 was only 25% to 35% the size it had been in 1991.

The number of deaths since the 1992 sanctions regime and no-fly zone enforcements were put into place, is much -- vanishingly -- smaller. A quick calculation assuming that prison purgings (7000 deaths, 1988-1999) and political opponent murders (2040 deaths, assumed 1979-2003), the only items which extended beyond 1993, were evenly distributed over the date ranges given gives us about 1.9 deaths per day. It's a far cry from the 138 per day used for the calculation. Furthermore, NEITHER of those two numbers appear ANYWHERE on the state.gov site that Blog o'RAM uses as its primary source! The closest thing is an item saying "several thousand inmates" under Qusay's entry!

Now take the new estimate, 1.9 Iraqis killed per day by Hussein under the sanctions/no-fly regime. Compare it to the immediate casualties of the war (5000 to 10000 Iraqi civilians killed, unknown number of Iraqi soldiers killed, 500+ US soldiers killed) and the ongoing losses of a couple US soldiers and dozens of Iraqi civilians killed every day in the continuing insurgency, and your logic starts to look a whole lot shakier.

Ultimately, it comes down to this: The body count you cite was caused almost entireli by Hussein during one decade, 1980-1991. The world, including the US, did in fact ultimately take notice and take appropriate action, expelling Iraq from Kuwait and enforcing sactions and military surveillance/suppression.

What was necessary to prevent 138 deaths per day had already been done, and the result was a reduction to 2 deaths per day, sustained for an entire decade.

I am not arguing that Hussein was not an evil man, or that he didn't do horrible things to the people of Iraq, or that his removal isn't otherwise good. I am only arguing that the assumptions behind this mathematical exercise are severely in error and should not be used as a priori justification for the war.

Finally: Iraq was backed and armed by the US in the Iran-Iraq war, and the 1991 uprisings were encouraged by the US but not supported militarily. These events account for over 90% of the deaths listed in the analysis! It is severely delusional to pat ourselves on the back for preventing hypothetical future massacres by a madman when we in fact had a hand in all the contributing events.

The US supplied .46% of all Iraqi weapons so try again. Go check out the totals for various communist states and France.

And yes, Bush I encouraged an uprising and didn't back it up. He screwed up big time. I don't think anyone's proud of that.

The US supplied .46% of all Iraqi weapons so try again. Go check out the totals for various communist states and France.

And? We still backed them politically against Iran. It'd be the same if we backed Iran, instead. Either way, we supported a war and are now trumpeting our success for preventing hypothetical deaths based numerically on the results of that war.

Even if that invalidated my point, and I don't see that it does, it has no relevance at all to my primary point, which is that any reduction in the death rate in Iraq is attributable to the 1992/3 sanctions regime and no-fly enforcement.

What we've done since then is most assuredly not responsible for any posited decrease in the carnage level. We're now losing American soldiers at the same rate Hussein was killing Iraqis, while Iraqi civilians are falling like flies as the unstable political factions try to murder each other in a attempt to jockey for better position after we leave.

I pulled out a few of the important sound bites here, here, and here.

The worst of it is nobody has asked, blogosphere, media, or Congress, what the heck happened that we need a 13 year program to rebuild our human intelligence department? That's longer than it took for the Reagan military buildup to spend the USSR into the ground.

Huh? A "troll" usually posts something short and sweet like:

Bush sucks!!

I did not. But, I am glad you found it "convincing"! Thanks!!

1. Or they post long diatribes full of half-truths and bloody shirt waving.
2. Learn to recognize sarcasm.

Ross wrote:
Blaming a "colossal intelligence failure" has become very fashionable in conservative circles, of late. Tenet's given his viewpoint; in his mind there was no colossal failure.

In conservative circles? Odd, I keep running into people on the left who keep claiming Bush is either a liar or incompetent due to "faulty intelligence".

But anyway, basically McClellan was speaking about an "imminent" threat from Iraq (presumably w/ WMD) against Turkey. Regardless of who the target is, McClellan is certainly suggesting Saddam is an "imminent" threat. How is incorrect?

Because certain dishonest people were using it to "prove" the Bush administration was saying that Saddam was an imminent threat to the United States of America.

But you knew that.

Bush says Saddam as a threat is:

1 Imminent over here;
2 "grave and growing" over there;
3 "unique[ly] urgen[t]" over yonder

Confusion and difficulty at interpreting seems .. well .. imminent.

IdahoEv, yes, we supported Hussein in the Iraq-Iran War. We gave him a little help - including little to no armaments - to keep down the rising threat of militant Iran.

It was all a realpolitik game, and everyone was playing.

Kuwait (and Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states) also supported Hussein, much more than we did. And look what it got them a few years later.

On another note, I can't believe someone here tried to bring up the "imminent" canard.

Oh, wait, the LA Times, the AP, Reuters probably, are all going with it too.

Say it enough and it becomes true.

And anonomyous, you really need to do your long blatherings on your own blog.

Mike, is it:

    { THIS SPACE RESERVED FOR ACCOLADES ONLY }

???

Hi.

If George W. Bush wanted to scapegoat the CIA for massive intelligence failure, his first step was to sack George Tenet. He didn't do it.

Since George Tenet retained George W. Bush's confidence, I think that speech, though not the off-the cuff answers to questions following it, can be taken as the American President's view. Which means: still no scapegoating.

I don't know how much loyalty up there is in the White House. It could be great, or maybe people could try harder to work together. But loyalty down is still in great shape. Even if after the crisis George W. Bush decides he wants a new director for the CIA, the fact that George W. Bush didn't drop George Tenet at the critical time is important.

The American President made a political decision that he wasn't prepared to trust Saddam Hussein, so he was going to get rid of him. He's going to live with that decision without evasion, and he obviously thinks it was OK. As do I.

To whom it may concern:

This is the second letter I am writing in a weeks time, concerning my fiance' MSG James Meyer and The 846th Transportation Company. They are with the Army Reserves now stationed in Kuwait. I had previously written about how these men and women served their time in Tikrit, Iraq. And, should have been able to go home on their scheduled departure date of April 10th. However, they are now stationed back in Kuwait, because they never got to leave. They served Iraqi Freedom 1, and now 2.
MSG Meyer is a 36 year Veteran. He served in the Viet Nam War, Desert Storm, and consequentially now the Iraq War. I've never know a man who's understood his call to protect and serve this great Nation any better than he does. He is very proud to be one of The 846th Transportation Company. They have been in Iraq together since April 12, 2003 for a total of 428 days, and counting.
The day they were supposed to leave for home they were told their time in Iraq had been "extended" and for reasons they didn't understand, they would have to stay.
I really should reiterate some of the things that were discussed in the first letter. Like the fact that some of the Soldiers in The 846th TC, feel like they are in "jail", or on "lock down". That they don't have regular jobs to do, or that they aren't allowed to carry weapons. Since The 846th TC arrived in Kuwait, they have only been given "meaningless missions". They aren't allowed to leave the camp. Not for emergencies or otherwise. Not even with a call from the Red Cross. One would think that goes against all kinds of human and personal rights. Anyway, I jokingly call them hostages. What's sad, is thats how they feel. Worst of all, their replacements have been there for over Four months now.
I don't think anyone realizes how many of the members of The 846th TC are dealing with some very deep, very strong, and in some cases very foreign feelings. They are on emotional roller coasters right now. They are feeling pain, sadness, loneliness, depression, anger, frustration and in some cases straight up hostility. They miss the comforts of home, they miss their friends and families, and most of all they miss their Freedom. Their morale is as low I'm told here, as it ever was in Viet Nam. However, when your forced to deal with lies, manipulation, humiliation and deciet....and thats from your own people, the people above you. Then you just learn to exist. To survive. You know you can't win.
On May 31st, 2004, MSG Meyer's driving privileges (which were pretty much his only privileges) were taken away from him for 30 days. They said he committed a "breach of security" when he didn't stop so his vehicle could be inspected. It was inspected a very short time later however. At that time, he was given Seven days of "extra duty". That being, emptying sand out of bags, tearing down a tent and putting it right back up, doing "police call" (picking up trash), and writing letters of apology to the Battalion Commander and to the Group Commander. MSG Meyer did his Seven days of punishment and humiliation (which was to be whatever work they gave him, and a Company letter of reprimand). At that point, he was told the Battalion Commander didn't think it was sufficient enough punishment for that particular crime (remember, he didn't stop his vehicle at an inspection point right away). He was also going to receive a field grade letter of reprimand, that would go in his permanent file. He was also informed around that time by his CSM not to put in a packet containing paperwork for his promotion to SGM, as he was going to be forced to retire when they got back anyway. Whether thats the truth or just unnecessary harassment. Nobody knows.
The next day, there was a mandatory Stress Management class. The group was asked to fill out Q & A forms pertaining to the Unit (re: morale of the Troops, how the unit was being run, rate leadership and command, etc.). As he was filling his form out, MSG Meyer started getting angry and overly stressed out. Even to the point where he was having feelings of rage (accompanied by trouble breathing, tightening in the chest, shaking, pain in head and neck, etc.). He was advised by the Stress Management team leader to go to the Troop Medical Center at Camp Arifjan, for evaluation. He had been to the hospital on Three other separate occassions, with those same or like symptoms. Within a Four month period of time, and all of his own accord. The Doctor that attended MSG Meyer recommended that due to his stress, he should be evaluated more by the head doctor at Camp Doha. That night he was ordered to leave and go to Doha.
The next morning we was seen and told to come back in Two days for a follow-up visit. He also, at that time, informed MSG Meyer that he was not welcomed to return to Camden Yard, his regular Camp. He was given several medications, and a room at Camp Doha, and told to get rest.
I have a couple of problems with this whole situation. Why was MSG. Meyer not allowed to go back to his own Camp? Was he being quarantined? Punished for something? Or just another attempt at humiliating him? Why was he given anti-depressants, and sleeping pills, and mood altering drugs, if all he had was stress? We like our Soldiers drugged up? Or just when we wan't them to comply? Why in God's name did that Command Sergeant Major feel the need to badger, and intimidate someone so badly, about something so serious as their career, and being forced to give it up? Especially at a point in time when a Medical Doctor had just been so worried about MSG. Meyers stress levels? Thats just unacceptable and cruel. When in this place (The Military) does the punishment ever fit the crime? I personally think its ironic that so much commotion is being made about a man who should have been gone a long time ago. The best part though, is that its being brought on by the ones who so very deceitfully didn't allow him to go home in the first place. Poetic Justice, but at who's expense. MSG Meyer's I'm thinking.
This is not a young man. He is not a first time soldier needing to be taught a "lesson". This is a man who's whole life has been about the Military. As MSG. Meyer's wife to be, I'd like to say a few things. Thanks to all of his brothers and sisters in the 846th TC for helping him, and looking out for him. I know he'd do that for anyone of you at anytime. I still don't understand how some people, important people, can act like everything is just ok, after the terrible things they do to people. I wonder how some of them sleep at night. I would also like to know why MSG. Meyer had to go to such extremes to get someone to tell the truth, care, or even pay attention to the 846th TC Unit? Also, if MSG. Meyer is so sick, requiring meds, separation from his troop, and bed rest, Why isnt he being sent home? Please remember, before these people are soldiers, they are human beings. Respect them, Pray for them, and Help them. They put their lives on the line for us. They deserve it.
Thank you for taking the time to read my letter. It means a lot to me personally, to the Soldiers of the 846th Transportation Company, and to all of the people who are victims of "Operation Stop Loss" and of commanders who are constantly deceiving their Troops. All my thanks, love, Support and Prayers to the 846th TC, and to all of the brave people who are fighting this war. May you come home safely, and quickly.

Sincerely,
Kristine Lyons
Las Vegas, NV

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