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The Tillman Cover-Up Continues

Wed Mar 28, 3:00 AM ET

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C'mon! The Pentagon's inspector general concludes that nine top officers were involved in the cover-up of NFL football star Cpl. Pat Tillman's "friendly fire" death, yet insists that this apparent conspiracy to conceal the truth does not rise to the level of criminality? Rather, it was "missteps" that led four generals and five officers of lower rank to conceal from his family and the American public the truth known instantly in the field: Tillman died not, as the Pentagon first claimed, in a firefight with the enemy in Afghanistan, but rather at the hands of his fellow Rangers.

That family includes Tillman's brother Kevin, who fought alongside Pat in Iraq and Afghanistan after ending his own sports career as a professional baseball player and enlisting with Pat in response to the 9-11 attacks. Yet this family, which sent two of its sons to fight in President Bush's wars, was rewarded for its sacrifice with officially inspired fabrications enshrined in a Silver Star commendation.

For five weeks of mourning, from Tillman's death on April 22, 2004, through his nationally televised memorial on May 3, the U.S. government from the president on down used the tale of Tillman's heroism to deflect the nation's attention from the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and the escalating American casualties in Iraq.

Four generals were cited by the inspector general as sacrificing the truth in Tillman's death. But another Central Command chief, Gen. John Abizaid, who knew about the friendly fire death a week after it occurred, was noticeably absent in the report released Monday.

The one officer who did pursue the truth was then-Capt. Richard Scott, now a major, who had been assigned within 24 hours of Tillman's death to investigate the fratricide. His report, submitted May 10, 2004, concluded that possible criminal actions occurred. It was never officially accepted. He later testified that witnesses had been allowed, in subsequent Pentagon investigations, to change their testimony as to key details in the shooting.

As the Tillman family put it in a statement Monday: "The Army continues to deny the family and the public ... access to the original investigation and the sworn statements from that (Scott) investigation. ... His investigation contained the unaltered statements, taken when memories were still fresh, by witnesses to the events surrounding Pat's death. We know ... that more than one of the original statements was altered, after Capt. Scott's investigation 'disappeared.' This is not a misstep. It is evidence tampering."

The family scorned the inspector general's conclusion of "missteps." "The characterization of criminal negligence, professional misconduct, battlefield incompetence, concealment and destruction of evidence, deliberate deception, and conspiracy to deceive, are not 'missteps.' These actions are malfeasance."

The Tillmans noted the buck stops artificially with one of the generals cited, Lt. Gen. General Philip Kensinger, now retired: "While he is not blameless, we believe he is the pawn being sacrificed to protect the king ... (former) Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld."

The family points out that Rumsfeld was very familiar with the case. He had written Tillman a personal letter thanking him for enlisting. Rumsfeld was obviously aware that this was the most high-profile death in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The family noted it is inconceivable that the Pentagon would have been able to coordinate a carefully orchestrated campaign of lies converting Tillman's death as a result of friendly fire into a Rambo-like assault on Taliban guerrillas, while keeping the secretary of defense and the White House in the dark.

Pat was a hero, saving the life of a fellow soldier who also was being fired upon. He sacrificed not only a lucrative career but also an extraordinary passion for life that included his marriage to a wonderful woman, his years of education in which he was distinguished as a scholar as well as an athlete and the enormous love of his family and community.

He deserved the Silver Star granted him posthumously, but not for the phony reasons cited in the declaration. As the Tillman family put it, "The award of the Silver Star appears more than anything to be part of a cynical design to conceal the real events from the family and the public, while exploiting the death of our beloved Pat as a recruitment poster."

They are right. As the family stated: "In three years of struggling with the Pentagon's public affairs apparatus, we have never been dealt with honestly. We will now shift our efforts into Congress, to which we appeal for investigation." A congressional investigation into the administration's cynical exploitation of Tillman's sacrifice is long overdue.

E-mail Robert Scheer at rscheer@truthdig.com. To find out more about Robert Scheer, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2007 CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.

Russian intelligence sees U.S. military buildup on Iran border

Global Research, March 28, 2007 RIA Novosti

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MOSCOW, March 27 (RIA Novosti) - Russian military intelligence services are reporting a flurry of activity by U.S. Armed Forces near Iran's borders, a high-ranking security source said Tuesday.

"The latest military intelligence data point to heightened U.S. military preparations for both an air and ground operation against Iran," the official said, adding that the Pentagon has probably not yet made a final decision as to when an attack will be launched.

He said the Pentagon is looking for a way to deliver a strike against Iran "that would enable the Americans to bring the country to its knees at minimal cost."

He also said the U.S. Naval presence in the Persian Gulf has for the first time in the past four years reached the level that existed shortly before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

Col.-Gen. Leonid Ivashov, vice president of the Academy of Geopolitical Sciences, said last week that the Pentagon is planning to deliver a massive air strike on Iran's military infrastructure in the near future.

A new U.S. carrier battle group has been dispatched to the Gulf.

The USS John C. Stennis, with a crew of 3,200 and around 80 fixed-wing aircraft, including F/A-18 Hornet and Superhornet fighter-bombers, eight support ships and four nuclear submarines are heading for the Gulf, where a similar group led by the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower has been deployed since December 2006.

The U.S. is also sending Patriot anti-missile systems to the region.

US military tests ground-penetrating monster bomb Now why would they want one of those?

By Lewis Page

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The US military's effort to build what may become the largest conventional bomb ever used is making progress.

announced on Monday that its Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) demo weapon had successfully completed a "static tunnel lethality test" at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

The MOP, which also goes under the names "Big BLU" and "Direct Hard Target Strike Weapon", is a 30,000-pound brute, intended for delivery by B-52 Stratofortresses or B-2 stealth bombers against deeply buried or heavily protected targets.

It's being developed under the auspices of the US military's interestingly-named Threat Reduction Agency, which normally does things like verifying nuke disposals. The MOP is intended to reduce the threats faced by the USA only, of course, by pulverising them. From the viewpoint of other countries the new bomb could be described more as a threat enhancement.

Even so, to some the MOP seems like a relatively delicate tool. The US originally had a plan to deal with enemy bunkers, WMD facilities or whatnot using a special ground-penetrating nuke. The "Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator" programme was axed by the Senate in 2005, however, leaving the MOP as America's last best hope for taking out difficult targets.

Bomb spotters may care to note that the MOP won't be the heaviest conventional bomb ever made by the US. The 1940s era T-12, at almost 44,000lb, was a substantially bigger brute. The T-12 was one of the final developments of the World War II Allies' "earthquake bomb" programmes, developed to knock out German V-weapon sites and U-boat pens. Famed British bomb boffin Barnes Wallis, inventor of the dam-busting "bouncing bomb", was an early innovator, designing the "Tallboy" and "Grand Slam" penetrators.

The T-12 didn't arrive in time for wartime use, and is now obsolete. The US does have some pretty hefty ordnance in current service, most famously the 21,700-lb GBU-43B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) job perhaps better known under its media nickname "Mother Of All Bombs".

The MOAB isn't any good for knocking out bunkers, however. It's a pure blast weapon, essentially a massive lump of explosive without penetrating abilities. It was developed to replace the old 15,000lb "Daisy Cutters" which US forces used to flatten jungle and create helicopter landing zones in Vietnam.

The MOP, however, should be just the ticket for deep bunkers. Most of its weight is actually in the hardened metal casing, which will strike the earth at several times the speed of sound after falling from high altitude. This should enable the MOP to drill a long way down before exploding.

There must be a lot of planners at the Pentagon scratching their heads right now over the Iranian nuke facility at Natanz , parts of which are said to be 75 feet underground and covered by metres of reinforced concrete. They'll be very keen to see the MOP ready for use.

US Organ Harvesting in "Not Yet Dead" patients

Sunday, 18 March 2007

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Are you aware that if you are in an accident in the U.S. your organs may be surgically removed without your consent?

The Washington Post reports that "a new trend" in organic harvesting is underway within minutes of cardiac arrest. This government sanctioned program euphemistically called, "donation after cardiac death" (DCD) accelerates the organ "donation" process.

"Some doctors and bioethicists, however, say the practice raises the disturbing specter of transplant surgeons preying on dying patients for their organs, possibly pressuring doctors and families to discontinue treatment, adversely affecting donors' care in their final days and even hastening their deaths."

"The person is not dead yet," said Jerry A. Menikoff, an associate professor of law, ethics and medicine at the University of Kansas. "They are going to be dead, but we should be honest and say that we're starting to remove the organs a few minutes before they meet the legal definition of death."

In Denver, surgeons at Children's Hospital wait 75 seconds before starting to remove hearts from infants.

The number of these "donations" more than doubled from 268 in 2003 to at least 605 in 2006, enabling surgeons to transplant more than 1,200 additional kidneys, livers, lungs, hearts and other organs. "It's starting to go up exponentially," said James Burdick, who leads organ-donor efforts at the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

The Post reports: "When surgeons resurrected what was then called "non-beating heart" donation in the 1990s, critics called it ghoulish and said it raised a host of ethical questions. Some called it tantamount to murder."

However, the race to catch-up to China's policy of live vivisection organ removal from prisoners is underway right here in the US where, the Post reports, the trend is expected to accelerate this year.

So far as we know, our right to informed consent--which means the right to say, NO--has been abrogated without so much as a public hearing!

Wake Up America!

Contact: Vera Hassner Sharav

212-595-8974

veracare@ahrp.orgThis email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/17/AR2007031700963_pf.html

Washington Post

New Trend in Organ Donation Raises Questions

As Alternative Approach Becomes More Frequent, Doctors Worry That It Puts Donors at Risk

By Rob Stein

Sunday, March 18, 2007; A03

The number of kidneys, livers and other body parts surgeons are harvesting through a controversial approach to organ donation has started to rise rapidly, a trend that is saving the lives of more waiting patients but, some say, risks sacrificing the interests of the donors.

Under the procedure, surgeons are removing organs within minutes after the heart stops beating and doctors declare a patient dead. Since the 1970s, most organs have been removed only after doctors declared a patient brain dead.

Federal health officials, transplant surgeons and organ banks are promoting the alternative as a way to meet the increasing demand for organs and to give more dying patients and their families the solace of helping others.

Some doctors and bioethicists, however, say the practice raises the disturbing specter of transplant surgeons preying on dying patients for their organs, possibly pressuring doctors and families to discontinue treatment, adversely affecting donors' care in their final days and even hastening their deaths.

Nevertheless, the number of these donations is on the rise. It more than doubled from 268 in 2003 to at least 605 in 2006, enabling surgeons to transplant more than 1,200 additional kidneys, livers, lungs, hearts and other organs.

"It's starting to go up exponentially," said James Burdick, who leads organ-donor efforts at the federal Department of Health and Human Services. The trend is expected to accelerate this year. For the first time, the United Network for Organ Sharing, which oversees organ procurement, and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, which accredits hospitals, are requiring all hospitals to decide whether to allow the practice. In response, medical centers are scrambling to develop policies, sometimes sparking intense debate, especially at children's hospitals.

"It's an example of pushing the envelope to get more organs," said Stuart J. Youngner, a bioethicist at Case Western Reserve University. "Whenever we do that, we tend to step on various traditional social taboos."

The approach, known as "donation after cardiac death" (DCD), usually involves patients who have suffered brain damage, such as from a car accident or a stroke. After family members have made the difficult decision to discontinue a ventilator or other life-sustaining treatment, organ-bank representatives talk to them about donation. Sometimes, the donor is suffering from an incurable disorder such as Lou Gehrig's disease and wants to donate his or her organs after deciding to forgo further care.

Once the decision has been made, a transplant team waits nearby so surgeons can begin removing organs soon after the heart stops. Because the heart can sometimes restart spontaneously, doctors wait a few minutes after pronouncing death before allowing the surgeons to begin. If the heart does not stop quickly, usually within an hour, the procedure is aborted and the patient is taken back to his or her room until death comes.

The practice was the norm before brain death became the standard for pronouncing death in the early 1970s and surgeons began keeping the donor's body functioning with life-support machinery until transplantation could begin. When surgeons resurrected what was then called "non-beating heart" donation in the 1990s, critics called it ghoulish and said it raised a host of ethical questions. Some called it tantamount to murder.

The National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine examined the practice, however, and concluded that it is ethical as long as strict guidelines are followed, including making sure that the decision to withdraw care is independent of the decision to donate organs and that surgeons wait at least five minutes after the heart stops.

"People are dying on the waiting list," said Francis L. Delmonico, a transplant surgeon at Harvard Medical School, speaking on behalf of the United Network for Organ Sharing. More than 95,000 Americans are waiting for organs. "This is vital as an untapped source of organ donors." Nancy Erhard's 25-year-old son, Bo, became a DCD donor at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston in November 2005 after a burst artery caused devastating brain damage.

"There was no hope. He would never regain conscious thought," Erhard said. "This gave his life so much more meaning in the end because he was able to help so many others."

While some doctors and ethicists who initially questioned the practice have become more comfortable with the procedure, others remain troubled. "The image this creates is people hovering over the body trying to get organs any way they can," said Michael A. Grodin, who directs Boston University's Bioethics and Human Rights Program. "There's a kind of macabre flavor to it."

Some say the practice can interfere with patients' dying peacefully, surrounded by loved ones, and can deny the family sufficient time to grieve. Many hospitals have responded by withdrawing life-support devices and other care in the intensive-care unit or allowing families to accompany loved ones to the operating room so they can be at the bedside when death occurs.

But many experts remain concerned and worry that the practice blurs the definition of death. "The person is not dead yet," said Jerry A. Menikoff, an associate professor of law, ethics and medicine at the University of Kansas. "They are going to be dead, but we should be honest and say that we're starting to remove the organs a few minutes before they meet the legal definition of death."

In response to such concerns, most doctors wait five minutes after the heart stops before pronouncing patients dead. But doctors at some hospitals wait three minutes, others two. In Denver, surgeons at Children's Hospital wait 75 seconds before starting to remove hearts from infants, to maximize the chances that the organs will be useable.

"A lot of us are not particularly happy about cutting that line particularly close," said Gail A. Van Norman, an anesthesiologist and bioethicist at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Van Norman and others also worry that the practice could pressure family members and doctors to discontinue care, perhaps before it is undeniable that there is no hope. Those fears are particularly acute in pediatric intensive-care units, where the same nurses and doctors frequently care for both potential donors and potential recipients.

While many hospitals are adopting DCD policies, others have delayed because of objections. Some are opting out. One hospital chain went ahead but then instituted a moratorium because of concerns that the local organ bank was becoming too aggressive.

In addition to giving DCD donors morphine, valium and other drugs to make sure they do not suffer as life support is withdrawn, doctors often insert a large tube into an artery and inject drugs such as the blood thinner heparin to help preserve the organs. Some say those measures may hasten death. "It's worrisome when you stop thinking of the person who is dying as a patient but rather as a set of organs, and start thinking more about what's best for the patient in the next room waiting for the organs," Van Norman said.

In California, police and state medical authorities are investigating whether doctors did anything to speed the death of a donor in San Luis Obispo last year.

David Crippen, a University of Pittsburgh critical-care specialist, asked, "Now that we've established that we're going to take organs from patients who have a prognosis of death but who do not meet the strict definition of death, might we become more interested in taking organs from patients who are not dead at all but who are incapacitated or disabled?"

One fear among health experts is that such concerns will discourage people from signing organ-donor cards. Supporters, however, argue that hospitals have stringent safeguards are in place. Each case is reviewed by an independent panel, and the decision to withdraw care is separated from the decision to become a donor. They also argue that DCD patients meet the legal definition of death because there is no intention of reviving them, and that there is no evidence that anything done to the donors hastens their deaths.

"We are saying that if it is feasible and we can do it in a way that does not harm the patient, then we should do this," said Michael A. DeVita, a professor of internal and critical-care medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. "We believe it's the right thing to do for the patients who want to donate and for those who need organs."

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