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Letter from a soldier!

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by unick, May 26, 2004.

  1. unick

    unick 1/2 ton status

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    This is a letter from Ray Reynolds, a medic in the Iowa Army National Guard, serving in Iraq:

    As I head off to Baghdad for the final weeks of my stay in Iraq, I wanted to say thanks to all of you who did not believe the media. They have done a very poor job of covering everything that has happened. I am sorry that I have not been able to visit all of you during my two week leave back home. And just so you can rest at night knowing something is happening in Iraq that is noteworthy, I thought I would pass this on to you. This is the list of things that has happened in Iraq recently: (Please share it with your friends and compare it to the version that your paper is producing.)

    * Over 400,000 kids have up-to-date immunizations.
    * School attendance is up 80% from levels before the war.
    * Over 1,500 schools have been renovated and rid of the weapons stored there so education can occur.
    * The port of Uhm Qasar was renovated so grain can be off-loaded from ships faster.
    * The country had its first 2 billion barrel export of oil in August.
    * Over 4.5 million people have clean drinking water for the first time ever in Iraq.
    * The country now receives 2 times the electrical power it did before the war.
    * 100% of the hospitals are open and fully staffed, compared to 35% before the war.
    * Elections are taking place in every major city, and city councils are in place.
    * Sewer and water lines are installed in every major city.
    * Over 60,000 police are patrolling the streets.
    * Over 100,000 Iraqi civil defense police are securing the country.
    * Over 80,000 Iraqi soldiers are patrolling the streets side by side with US soldiers.
    * Over 400,000 people have telephones for the first time ever
    * Students are taught field sanitation and hand washing techniques to prevent the spread of germs.
    * An interim constitution has been signed.
    * Girls are allowed to attend school.
    * Textbooks that don't mention Saddam are in the schools for the first time in 30 years.

    Don't believe for one second that these people do not want us there. I have met many, many people from Iraq that want us there, and in a bad way. They say they will never see the freedoms we talk about but they hope their children will. We are doing a good job in Iraq and I challenge anyone, anywhere to dispute me on these facts. So If you happen to run into John Kerry, be sure to give him my email address and send him to Denison, Iowa. This soldier will set him straight. If you are like me and very disgusted with how this period of rebuilding has been portrayed, email this to a friend and let them know there are good things happening.

    Ray Reynolds, SFC
    Iowa Army National Guard
    234th Signal Battalion
     
  2. Goober

    Goober 1/2 ton status

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    bump
     
  3. zakk

    zakk 1/2 ton status

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  4. juanblzer

    juanblzer 1/2 ton status

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    from the Orwellian Times:
    [ QUOTE ]
    The email sure has a lot of the earmarkings of right-wing propoganda -- ignore any information which doesn't support your position, slam the media, misinform, make unfair attacks on the opposition and asking to spread the word.

    This morning (Monday) I spoke with Lt. Col. Gregory O. Hapgood, the Public Affairs Officer for the Iowa National Guard. He told me that Sgt. Ray Reynolds exists. Lt. Col. Hapgood told me that he received an email this morning from Sgt. Reynolds which confirmed Sgt. Reynolds wrote the email. While we talked about the contents of the email, I did not confirm that every word in the email I received was written by Sgt. Reynolds. Nonetheless, for the most part, the email appears to be an authenticate communication from one of our soldiers.

    Contrary to the information in the email I received, Sgt. Reynolds is not a medic. He does communications work. In fact, the 234th Signal Battalion's "mission is to provide wide area communications support in a theater of operations."[*] Sgt. Reynolds' civilian job is as a police officer.

    Lt. Col. Hapgood told me these were Sgt. Reynolds' sources for the information in the email:

    USAID Fact Sheet
    Influential Iraqis
    The Police Chief of Baghdad
    While the email appears to provide some truthful information, it is replete with misinformation. I don't have time to check each representation in the email, but here's an overview:

    Over 400,000 kids have up-to-date immunizations
    This is interesting. A lot of kids have been immunized in Iraq. In fact, last year the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) "25 million doses of vaccines to Iraq to help prevent the spread of polio, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, measles, and tuberculosis -- considered the main killers of children in developing countries."[*] At the time, UNICEF spokesman Gordon Weiss explained that the children of Iraq would need several stages of repeated immunizations for the immunizations to be effective:

    "Iraq is in a particularly delicate stage at the moment -- postwar, with a lot of the health system having broken down and a lot of the water systems having broken down, as well. So children are more than ever this year vulnerable to water-borne diseases. Usually you don't vaccinate just once, you vaccinate a number of times in order to have the vaccinations work."[*]

    Here's what the Fact Sheet says:

    "USAID has partnered with UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and Abt Associates to support health program in Iraq. Since the end of the war, USAID has vaccinated three million Iraqi children under the age of five, administered tetanus vaccine to more than 700,000 pregnant women, and by April 30, 2004 the USAID mission will have provided updated vaccinations to 90 percent of pregnant women and children under five years of age."

    Hmmm. UNICEF said that 3 1/2 million Iraqi children were vaccinated last year. Does this mean that the vaccination program is not being pursued as much as last year? I don't know.

    I also don't know where the 400,000 number came from. Last year, Iraq had approximately 4.2 million children in Iraq under the age of five. If fewer than 10% of young Iraqi children have up-to-date immunizations out of the millions who have been on an immunization schedule and are exposed, that would seem to be a serious failure.

    That being said, hundred of thousands of immunized children has got to be a good thing.

    The country had its first 2 billion barrel export of oil in August.
    Nonsense. First, there's nothing in the Fact Sheet about oil. Iraq is presently exporting approximately 1.9 million barrels of oil a day, or under 60 million barrels per month. And that's going to be difficult to maintain. You probably already know that insurgent attacks have been limiting the exports.[*] In August -- the supposed 2 billion barrel month -- Iraq was expecting to export fewer than 1.2 million barrels a day, about 37 million barrels for the month.[*]

    Over 4.5 million people have clean drinking water for the first time
    ever in Iraq.
    Here's what the Fact Sheet says:

    "Iraq has 13 major wastewater facilities. Baghdad's three facilities are currently inoperable and comprise three quarters of the nation's sewage treatment capacity. Raw waste flows directly into the Tigris River. In the rest of the country, most wastewater treatment facilities were only partly operational before the conflict, and a shortage of electricity, parts, and chemicals has exacerbated the situation and only a few wastewater treatment plants are operational. Iraq's 140 major water treatment facilities operate at about 65 percent of the pre-war level of three billion liters a day."

    Water does appear to be getting to a lot more people. But, apparently, at a price. A witness from Basra last month claimed:

    "The [water] plant seems to be working well . . . This plant is up and going and provides water for a huge number of people. Someone is constructing a new plant to expand so that there is drinking water. I have not met anyone here yet despite the poverty who is not buying drinking water."[*]

    The country now receives 2 times the electrical power it did before the war.
    Not true. According to the Fact Sheet, on March 11, 2004, power peaked at approximately 92% of "the pre-conflict generating level". ABC reports that power generation is off since last October and is averaging somewhere around pre-conflict generation.[*]

    100% of the hospitals are open and fully staffed, compared to 35% before the war.
    Not true. The Fact Sheet provides no information about this. But, the Washington Post on March 5, 2004 reported[*]:

    "Health Minister Khudair Fadhil Abbas said about 90 percent of the hospitals and clinics have been brought back to the same poor conditions as before the war but that the others will take more time to reach even that low level."

    Here are the first few paragraphs from the article:

    "The stout woman, covered from head to toe in a black abaya, shuffled into the crowded hospital. She went straight to the emergency room and opened her robe to reveal a tiny baby wrapped in fuzzy blankets. The boy had been born prematurely, and the family was afraid he was going to die.

    Uday Abdul Ridha took a quick look and shook his head. The physician put his hands on the woman's shoulders in sympathy, but his words were blunt. "I'm sorry," he said. "We cannot help you. We don't have an incubator, and even if we did, we are short on oxygen. Please try another hospital."

    Scenes like this one at the Pediatric Teaching Hospital in Baghdad's Iskan neighborhood have become common in Iraq in recent months, as the health care system has been hit by a critical shortage of basic medications and equipment. Babies die of simple infections because they can't get the proper antibiotics. Surgeries are delayed because there is no oxygen. And patients in critical condition are turned away because there isn't enough equipment."

    Elections are taking place in every major city, and city councils are in place.
    False. In June, 2003, US authorities put a halt to local elections. We installed mayors and administrators of our choosing.[*]

    Over 60,000 police are patrolling the streets.
    I don't know how many Iraqi police are on duty, given widespread desertions.[*] But, we know how many police are in the New York Police Department -- 39,110.[*] According to the 2000 Census, NY City had a population of more than 8 million and covered an area of 320 square miles.[*] According to 1993 estimates, the population of Iraq is about 19,435,000.[*] Iraq is about the size of California, approximately 171,000 square miles.[*]

    Though New York, like any other big city, can be dangerous at times, armed insurgents aren't blowing people up daily. New York has about 1 police officer for every 205 residents. Iraq -- which does have armed insurgents blowing people up daily -- has about 1 police officer for every 324 citizens.

    Over 400,000 people have telephones for the first time ever.
    Not true. The Fact Sheet says that before we invaded 1.2 million Iraqis had "subscribed to landline telephone service." As of March 9, 2004, "104,680 subscribers to the Iraqi landline phone network were reconnected." Repairs have reconnected some form of telephone service between Baghdad and 20 other cities.

    Girls are allowed to attend school.
    True, but not because of the invasion. Girls were allowed to attend school during Saddam's rule. Between 1997-2000 82% as many girls attended primary school as did boys. 62% as many girls attended high school as did boys, during the same period.[*]

    The email is not informative, but disinformation. It's propaganda. While he did not cite any particular rule, Lt. Col. Hapgood said that members of the force are not to take a politically partisan stance in any communications they use in which they identify themselves as members of the force. Lt. Col. Hapgood, in essence, also said that it was improper for Sgt. Reynolds to attack Senator Kerry in his email.

    Thanks to Andrew Lazarus for his comment at dailyKos[*] for some fact checking leads.[*]

    UPDATE: Apparently, Lt. Col. Hapgood misinformed me about Sgt. Reynolds' civilian job. He's not a cop. He's a firefighter. This is how Sgt. Reynolds responds to inquiries about his message:

    "I did write it and I am in Kuwait now on my way home. I wrote it while at home because I felt that too many people were exploiting the violence in Iraq to sell papers and gain votes. Sometimes the silent majority need to be awakened to respond to the bad things in our world. I am passionate about our President's decision and support this rebuilding whole heartedly...Yes legit..I am a fire fighter in Denison, Iowa and to verify, call Mike McKinnon of the Denison Iowa fire department."

    Too bad that the Sergeant's passion got ahead of his control of the facts.

    Thanks to Snopes.com for the additional information.[*]

    SECOND UPDATE: This article has been corrected to fix two typos. We misspelled "sergeant" once and identified Lt. Col. Hapgood as being from Ohio instead of Iowa.



    [/ QUOTE ]
     
  5. Z3PR

    Z3PR Banned

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    /forums/images/graemlins/waytogo.gif /forums/images/graemlins/waytogo.gif /forums/images/graemlins/waytogo.gif /forums/images/graemlins/waytogo.gif /forums/images/graemlins/waytogo.gif /forums/images/graemlins/waytogo.gif /forums/images/graemlins/waytogo.gif I grew up 31 miles south of Denison.
     
  6. Goober

    Goober 1/2 ton status

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    Orwellian Times? /forums/images/graemlins/histerical.gif /forums/images/graemlins/histerical.gif /forums/images/graemlins/histerical.gif /forums/images/graemlins/histerical.gif /forums/images/graemlins/histerical.gif /forums/images/graemlins/histerical.gif

    Oh, please ..... /forums/images/graemlins/histerical.gif /forums/images/graemlins/histerical.gif /forums/images/graemlins/histerical.gif /forums/images/graemlins/histerical.gif

    This is who they are supported by:

    American Civil Liberties Union
    Americans United for Separation of Church and State
    The Center for Public Integrity
    Democratic National Committee
    Human Rights Watch
    MoveOn.Org
    Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy


    None of these organizations are notorious for accuracy or objective reporting. As a matter of fact, the opposite is true for all of them.


    Rather than go over each point individually, suffice it to say that after investigating the claims I found that some of them indeed were not quite accurate and some of them didn't tell the whole story.

    Some examples:

    The 400,000 children vaccinated is a HUGE understatement according to UNICEF. This fact is stated in that blog but by underestimating he is accused of lying. /forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif /forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif /forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif


    "The country now receives 2 times the electrical power it did before the war."

    The reality is that the old power grid has been almost completely removed due to poor design and construction. The current power grid that provides 80% of the pre-war power is a NEW up-to-date system.


    The Orwellian Times don't present any "facts" to support their Bush Bashing on this one.


    I would suggest that you do a little research before quoting wingnuts like the Orwellian Times. They are quite often wrong.



    On the other hand the author, SFC Reynolds, actually saw these things with his own eyes.


    From SFC Reynolds:

    [ QUOTE ]
    I did write it and I am in Kuwait now on my way home. I wrote it while at home because I felt that too many people were exploiting the violence in Iraq to sell papers and gain votes. Sometimes the silent majority need to be awakened to respond to the bad things in our world. I am passionate about our President's decision and support this rebuilding whole heartedly...Yes legit..I am a fire fighter in Denison, Iowa and to verify, call Mike McKinnon of the Denison Iowa fire department.


    [/ QUOTE ]
     
  7. juanblzer

    juanblzer 1/2 ton status

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    the Orwellian piece is presented as another point of view. When developing opinions about a topic is is integral to examine varying viewpoints. /forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

    Not all "real" news is on mainstream television and the ACLU keeps freedom of speech alive and kicking. Remember it is freedom for the thought that we hate also. /forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif
     
  8. Goober

    Goober 1/2 ton status

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    Differing points of view are fine but the Orwellian Times is attempting to refute his claims, not present a differing view on them. Based on their history of inaccuracies I wouldn't trust anything posted in their blog.


    If I say a Blazer is blue and Joey says I am a liar because he thinks the Blazer is red based on the fact that a hitch-hiker told him he saw me in a red Blazer then that does not represent a differing opinion. One of us is wrong.

    Your best bet would be to investigate it for yourself. Try to find sources that don't have a political agenda to push.
     
  9. bigyellowjimmy

    bigyellowjimmy 1/2 ton status

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    Great letter, thanks for posting.....

    /forums/images/graemlins/usaflag.gif /forums/images/graemlins/usaflag.gif /forums/images/graemlins/usaflag.gif /forums/images/graemlins/usaflag.gif
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  10. jarheadk5

    jarheadk5 1/2 ton status

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    One small comment on one item:
    The 400,000 immunizations quoted were probably ones given directly by US military medics from all 3 branches (for anyone who doesn't know, the Navy provides medical support for the Marine Corps). I don't think military medics give immunizations that are provided by UNICEF, but I could be wrong on that.
     
  11. newyorkin

    newyorkin 1 ton status

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    [ QUOTE ]
    "Not that surprising, just part of America's developing culture of shrugging off any personal responsibility."
    - newyorkin, 5/24/04
    Sad but true...


    [/ QUOTE ]


    I am honored to be a sig quote-ee!
     
  12. tomseviltwin

    tomseviltwin 1/2 ton status

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    Interesting the lefties would employ Orwell's name to spread their propoganda as Orwell was a staunch anti socialist.
     

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