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One of my best friends paid his way through college by joining the Marine reserves when we graduated from high school in 1989. The next summer, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, and just before classes started in the fall of 1990, Bush started calling up the reserves. My buddy's unit was called up a few months later, and by November, he was training for the mission stateside. A few weeks after that, he was stationed in the Gulf getting ready for Desert Storm to begin.

After the airstrikes started and the ground offensive came nearer, his unit was briefed on their mission. There was an Iraqi location that they were to attack--well guarded, heavily manned, with a sizeable minefield outside. His unit was told to expect 50% fatality during the mission. (One guy freaked out after the briefing, and my ever-so-helpful buddy said to him: "Well, I know I'm going to be OK, so I guess that means you're screwed.")

He was a Marine MP. One of his tasks sounds like it would have been quite safe at first glance: traffic control. But when he explained that "traffic control" meant "guiding tanks through minefields" it was quickly apparent that he was in a dangerous role indeed.

When the ground offensive started, my buddy went to do "traffic control" and noticed the most remarkable actions out of the Iraqi army. When the American tanks started rolling in, the Iraqi troops filed out of their bunker, set their rifles in a pile, and sat down cross-legged in the sand to watch the American troops work their way through the minefield. No shots fired, no injuries, let alone fatalities, and hundreds of Iraqi troops were now prisoners. My buddy said that his unit felt like sitting ducks and that if the Iraqis had put up even a mild fight, they could have done a lot of damage to the Americans.

Forgive me if I'm off on the vocabulary, but I believe one of the levels of organization is the "fire unit"--a group of 4 Marines led by a corporal. He said his fire unit--4 soldiers--was responsible for handling over 100 POWs by themselves, as were several other fire units. My buddy's responsibilities then shifted to more traditional MP roles back at the POW camp. He learned that the Iraqi soldiers surrendered because they wanted food and water and had no interest in fighting the American troops.


Now come forward to 2006. Bush just signed the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which includes language to allow torture and stands in opposition to the principles of the Geneva Conventions. In signing the bill, Bush started the speech by saying: "It is a rare occasion when a President can sign a bill he knows will save American lives. I have that privilege this morning." ( )

The number of military fatalities in Iraq is nearing the number of fatalities from the 9/11 attacks. The total number of American deaths, including military and civilians, has surpassed that figure. No end appears to be in sight in the near future and that number will continue to climb.

Upon hearing the President's words and knowing what is in that bill, I think back to my buddy's experiences in Desert Storm.

If those Iraqi soldiers back in 1991 had felt that instead of food and water, they would have been thrown in a secret prison for years and tortured, do you think they would have still come out of their bunker, dropped their weapons in a pile, and sat to watch the enemy come to them without putting up a fight? Or would they have fought back--and fought with the desperation of men with nothing left to lose?

And if they chose to fight, how many Americans would have died that day to accomplish the same task that was done without a single death to our troops?


This bill is an abomination--not just against human decency, but it does exactly the opposite of what Bush claims it is going to do. It is going to cost American lives. Even the worst terrorist attack in our history claimed a little less than 3000 lives. This bill is going to result in the deaths of far Americans than that on the battlefield from enemies who no longer have a reson to surrender, and it is also going to increase the amount of torture our own troops receive when they are captured themselves.

It is a betrayal of those who serve our country--subjecting them to increased torture and increasing the likelihood of being killed in the line of duty. Our troops deserve better treatment than this.


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