Wounded Soldier Writes Letter About Pain And Being Forced To Commit War Crimes In Iraq . . . Then Commits Suicide

article-2346882-1A77BC63000005DC-561_634x472Daniel Somers was a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and served with Task Force Lightning, an intelligence unit. He ran more than 400 combat missions as a machine gunner in the turret of a Humvee and interviewed Iraqis and insurgents alike. When he returned, he had PTSD as well as traumatic brain injury and several other war-related conditions. On June 10, 2013, he wrote the letter below to his family. A heartfelt and heart-breaking account of pain and memories that he could not overcome. He tells his family that “I was made to participate in things, the enormity of which is hard to describe. War crimes, crimes against humanity.” You may have seen this but if not it is worth reading. It is worth considering the unfathomable cost of these wars that our politicians, including Obama, allowed to continue for years despite little sign of progress. Men and women like Daniel have paid the cost of a cynical political calculation.

I am sorry that it has come to this.

The fact is, for as long as I can remember my motivation for getting up every day has been so that you would not have to bury me. As things have continued to get worse, it has become clear that this alone is not a sufficient reason to carry on. The fact is, I am not getting better, I am not going to get better, and I will most certainly deteriorate further as time goes on. From a logical standpoint, it is better to simply end things quickly and let any repercussions from that play out in the short term than to drag things out into the long term.

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You will perhaps be sad for a time, but over time you will forget and begin to carry on. Far better that than to inflict my growing misery upon you for years and decades to come, dragging you down with me. It is because I love you that I can not do this to you. You will come to see that it is a far better thing as one day after another passes during which you do not have to worry about me or even give me a second thought. You will find that your world is better without me in it.

I really have been trying to hang on, for more than a decade now. Each day has been a testament to the extent to which I cared, suffering unspeakable horror as quietly as possible so that you could feel as though I was still here for you. In truth, I was nothing more than a prop, filling space so that my absence would not be noted. In truth, I have already been absent for a long, long time.

My body has become nothing but a cage, a source of pain and constant problems. The illness I have has caused me pain that not even the strongest medicines could dull, and there is no cure. All day, every day a screaming agony in every nerve ending in my body. It is nothing short of torture. My mind is a wasteland, filled with visions of incredible horror, unceasing depression, and crippling anxiety, even with all of the medications the doctors dare give. Simple things that everyone else takes for granted are nearly impossible for me. I can not laugh or cry. I can barely leave the house. I derive no pleasure from any activity. Everything simply comes down to passing time until I can sleep again. Now, to sleep forever seems to be the most merciful thing.

You must not blame yourself. The simple truth is this: During my first deployment, I was made to participate in things, the enormity of which is hard to describe. War crimes, crimes against humanity. Though I did not participate willingly, and made what I thought was my best effort to stop these events, there are some things that a person simply can not come back from. I take some pride in that, actually, as to move on in life after being part of such a thing would be the mark of a sociopath in my mind. These things go far beyond what most are even aware of.

To force me to do these things and then participate in the ensuing coverup is more than any government has the right to demand. Then, the same government has turned around and abandoned me. They offer no help, and actively block the pursuit of gaining outside help via their corrupt agents at the DEA. Any blame rests with them.

Beyond that, there are the host of physical illnesses that have struck me down again and again, for which they also offer no help. There might be some progress by now if they had not spent nearly twenty years denying the illness that I and so many others were exposed to. Further complicating matters is the repeated and severe brain injuries to which I was subjected, which they also seem to be expending no effort into understanding. What is known is that each of these should have been cause enough for immediate medical attention, which was not rendered.

Lastly, the DEA enters the picture again as they have now managed to create such a culture of fear in the medical community that doctors are too scared to even take the necessary steps to control the symptoms. All under the guise of a completely manufactured “overprescribing epidemic,” which stands in stark relief to all of the legitimate research, which shows the opposite to be true. Perhaps, with the right medication at the right doses, I could have bought a couple of decent years, but even that is too much to ask from a regime built upon the idea that suffering is noble and relief is just for the weak.

However, when the challenges facing a person are already so great that all but the weakest would give up, these extra factors are enough to push a person over the edge.

Is it any wonder then that the latest figures show 22 veterans killing themselves each day? That is more veterans than children killed at Sandy Hook, every single day. Where are the huge policy initiatives? Why isn’t the president standing with thosefamilies at the state of the union? Perhaps because we were not killed by a single lunatic, but rather by his own system of dehumanization, neglect, and indifference.

It leaves us to where all we have to look forward to is constant pain, misery, poverty, and dishonor. I assure you that, when the numbers do finally drop, it will merely be because those who were pushed the farthest are all already dead.

And for what? Bush’s religious lunacy? Cheney’s ever growing fortune and that of his corporate friends? Is this what we destroy lives for

Since then, I have tried everything to fill the void. I tried to move into a position of greater power and influence to try and right some of the wrongs. I deployed again, where I put a huge emphasis on saving lives. The fact of the matter, though, is that any new lives saved do not replace those who were murdered. It is an exercise in futility.

Then, I pursued replacing destruction with creation. For a time this provided a distraction, but it could not last. The fact is that any kind of ordinary life is an insult to those who died at my hand. How can I possibly go around like everyone else while the widows and orphans I created continue to struggle? If they could see me sitting here in suburbia, in my comfortable home working on some music project they would be outraged, and rightfully so.

I thought perhaps I could make some headway with this film project, maybe even directly appealing to those I had wronged and exposing a greater truth, but that is also now being taken away from me. I fear that, just as with everything else that requires the involvement of people who can not understand by virtue of never having been there, it is going to fall apart as careers get in the way.

The last thought that has occurred to me is one of some kind of final mission. It is true that I have found that I am capable of finding some kind of reprieve by doing things that are worthwhile on the scale of life and death. While it is a nice thought to consider doing some good with my skills, experience, and killer instinct, the truth is that it isn’t realistic. First, there are the logistics of financing and equipping my own operation, then there is the near certainty of a grisly death, international incidents, and being branded a terrorist in the media that would follow. What is really stopping me, though, is that I simply am too sick to be effective in the field anymore. That, too, has been taken from me.

Thus, I am left with basically nothing. Too trapped in a war to be at peace, too damaged to be at war. Abandoned by those who would take the easy route, and a liability to those who stick it out—and thus deserve better. So you see, not only am I better off dead, but the world is better without me in it

This is what brought me to my actual final mission. Not suicide, but a mercy killing. I know how to kill, and I know how to do it so that there is no pain whatsoever. It was quick, and I did not suffer. And above all, now I am free. I feel no more pain. I have no more nightmares or flashbacks or hallucinations. I am no longer constantly depressed or afraid or worried

I am free.

I ask that you be happy for me for that. It is perhaps the best break I could have hoped for. Please accept this and be glad for me.

Daniel Somers

Daniel was just 30 years old.

90 thoughts on “Wounded Soldier Writes Letter About Pain And Being Forced To Commit War Crimes In Iraq . . . Then Commits Suicide

  1. A country is strong because we teach our young people the right way to live and think. Our leadership should be held responsible for young men and woman learning death and violence. I knew Soldiers who drank to find peace. A soldier who commit suicide because of deeds he had to do. It is very sad. This government need to ensure the Soldier are safe and sound after war. Thank you for the story.

  2. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/07/10/syria-arms-cia-assad-rebels-homs/2503247/

    The White House has not commented directly on what may be causing the delay but has said it is committed to providing support to the rebels.

    “We were not bluffing,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said this week. “The president was very serious.”

    Meanwhile, Assad’s army has received help from hardened Hezbollah guerrilla fighters and appears to be learning from past mistakes, analysts say.

  3. I hope it is no surprise by now for most people to know that more soldiers die from suicide than in combat. If they did not know before signing up, they soon find out, they are fighting for corporate interests over national security.

  4. What Mike A. said. Wow. On second thought, there are some words…for me. Every war is started by old men and women and fought by young men and women who do all the dying and sometimes are slowly dying even though physically they survived the conflict. To abandon these heroes is our greatest fault as a nation. Sad.

  5. My prayers to his family and friends. My personal faith tells me Daniel is @ peace and will be free from the hell he has suffered on earth.

    Our Native American culture understood the toll of war. When braves returned from battle they had rituals for healing. Our culture is clueless, and our politicians are heartless. This letter could have been written by any soldier, after any war.

  6. “A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence against foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. ” James Madison, June 29th. 1787, Debates in Federal Convention

    The executive has no right, in any case, to decide the question, whether there is or is not cause for declaring war.
    James Madison

    War should only be declared by the authority of the people, whose toils and treasures are to support its burdens, instead of the government which is to reap its fruits.
    James Madison

    Each generation should be made to bear the burden of its own wars, instead of carrying them on, at the expense of other generations.
    James Madison

    The loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or imagined, from abroad.
    James Madison

  7. Mike A said it, there are no words.
    (I was astounded that on top of all he suffered that he mentioned the war on those with chronic pain and the DEA’s effort to make us suffer more by declaring a false “epidemic”. I will be sharing this with my women in pain awareness and other chronic pain support groups. The government doesn’t care, even for those who gave so much of themselves, like Mr. Somers. It is an abomination. On every level.

  8. The ultimate price paid for fighting wars on behalf of the military-political-industrial complex. “When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?”. I favor reinstating the draft. The last wars have cost the ‘boots on the ground’ too much and the ordinary citizens too little. I wish this man a restful and peaceful journey and may his family come to appreciate his departure as a decent last act.

  9. With all due respect and agreement with Mike A’s sentiment, I can think of one word. It’s a word often overused but applicable in this circumstance for certain.

    Tragic.

    My sincerest condolences to Mr. Somers’ family and friends.

  10. ELsDL, I have said for years we need to reinstate the draft because that is when people pay attention to what is happening to our soldiers and what wars we are fighting. Not many care because except when we read horrendous stories like Mr. Somers it has no effect on us whatsoever. Vietnam became an issue because everyone had a brother, uncle, father, nephew, etc who was called or could be called or knkew someone whose male children could be, would be called. That is when we took to the streets.

  11. I have been thinking about this ever since I saw the story blogged on Daily Kos a few days ago (link below). This is a hard story to digest, because we all know this kind of thing goes on all the time. As Daniel Somers points out in his letter, about 22 veterans take their own lives daily. That comes to one suicide every 65 minutes. That doesn’t even touch the number of road rage, domestic violence, or other acting out incidents caused by normal young men who were ordered to do abnormal things.

    For me personally, the sad part is the fact none of this comes as a surprise. I saw this coming a dozen years ago. I long for the day those responsible for creating this situation, and the commanders who order it, be marched off to the Hague to face justice. In the meantime, I won’t hold my breath. Meanwhile, more young people like Daniel Somers and others whose names we will never know, will lead lives of pain and desperation until it becomes too much and they too end it all.

  12. Michaelb – you are so right. We live in a kleptocracy, not a democracy. Who, in their right mind, would fight for that?

  13. leejcaroll – really??? Your solution is to provide our kleptocracy with more cannon fodder by coercion?

  14. OS: ‘For me personally, the sad part is the fact none of this comes as a surprise.’

    Well said, OS.

  15. This is tragic in and of itself, but if Mr. Somers truly was involved in war crimes, the second tragedy is that he could not (or would not) work to bring justice to the perpetrators of those crimes. (Which is not intended as a judgment about Mr. Somers, but rather is a statement of opinion.)

  16. The shame is the fact that we are sending young men into places like Afghanistan, Iraq etc. that come back damaged and for what? It’s time to get out and protect our own.

  17. Eric, no. My point is that what is looks like it would take to finally get the populace to stand up, call for the end of the wars, and bring our children home.

  18. Daniel Somers surely did not deserve the result he faced. It is clear in the eloquent letter he lastly gave us we are seeing a man at the very limit of human strength and resolve and having concluded that he no longer could continue; that his death is all that would liberate him. It was too much, for far too long. Why should anyone be pushed to that point in a just society?

    His letter should be in my view mandatory reading for anyone in congress and the presidency just before they get caught up in the storm of going to war, as on commenter pointed out “these old men and women”, and using our young men and women as pawns. And they spend their evenings at their cocktail parties, expensive galas, and glad handing each other in self promotion all on the taxpayers’ dime and the backs of our soldiers in the trenches.

    You have to wonder if these politicians are truly of the belief that engaging in these protracted military expeditions is necessary and right, could they honestly say that the price would be a daily toll of 24 men and women such as Daniel Somers being pushed to the limit and dying after years of turmoil? And, would they themselves be so willing to go to the front and assume the same risk and possibly the same result of these soldiers?

    Or would that be simply to inconvenient for our politicians.

  19. We have collectively failed the young men/women who were sent off as cannon-fodder on fool’s errands to advance the empty ideologies espoused by the US’s political elite.

    The blame lies with the person looking back at you in the mirror.

  20. Eric, about 10 years ago I came to the same conclusion as leejcaroll. Our congress refuses to do its job and declare war. Instead they sit back and give the money to the Prez to prosecute an “action”. If we had a draft then we the people would at least be part of the discussion since Congress shows no signs of having a backbone. I believe leejcaroll was correct in that it was the draft that ended the Vietnam war. Everyone knew someone that was in the war if not injured or killed. Have a draft, no exceptions, if you don’t serve active duty you serve in the peace corp or some other non profit, underpaid position. When everyone has a piece in the “action” the action will be something we all get behind.

    When “War” is fought, it should be declared by Congress. Dropping bombs or missiles from a drone on a foreign country is an act of war. To say otherwise is pure fallacy.

  21. My stepfather, a World War II veteran, worked until his retirement in the general mechanics shop at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Long Beach, California. He had some depressing days, he told me, but particularly when he had to fix some equipment in the ward where wounded men lay paralyzed for life from the neck down, kept breathing only by the iron lungs that encased them.

    Often, he would say: “I can’t tell you how many times one or another of these men has asked me, as an act of mercy, to ‘just pull the plug’ and end it all. But, of course, I could never do that.” As sad as these instances made him, dad never cried when speaking of such things.

    But one time I remember him telling me of a guy in the ward who could hold one end of a small paintbrush in his mouth with which he would draw illustrated greeting cards on an easel placed near enough to his face so that he could work by moving just his head and neck. Dad burst into tears when he told me about this terribly limited, but still gifted man. The beauty of it. Something about the human spirit.

    It grieves me to learn of another veteran ending his own life because he could see no further way to make creative use of it. Another voice lost before its allotted time. Something by Dylan Thomas seems appropriate here:

    “Do not go gentle into that good night.
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

  22. Wait I thought Obama was gonna fix it all! I thought he was all about peace and love an all that jazz.

    Oh wait I know. HILLARY will solve it all!!!! Right?!?!
    YEAH HILLARY WILL FIX IT. HILLARY 2016!!! SHE WILL BRING PEACE.

    Fools.

  23. @Marv
    Wait I thought Obama was gonna fix it all! I thought he was all about peace and love an all that jazz.

    Oh wait I know. HILLARY will solve it all!!!! Right?!?!
    YEAH HILLARY WILL FIX IT. HILLARY 2016!!! SHE WILL BRING PEACE.

    Fools.
    —————
    You demean yourself and you trivialize this tragic event.
    If you have a moment take your head out of your dogmas and silly rants and ask deeper and better questions.
    Assuming, of course that you are moved by the human condition and tragedy deeper than some political score card you keep.

    Assuming that you actually have a thought and an emotional response beyond some odd glee over this mans horrific experience in that horrific and seriously flawed war, just what do you think when you think about how this F***cking war got started? How do you respond to that?

    Rather than trivializing the event, I think rather that you simply expose how trivial you are. None of what you blurt is true, or ever asserted to be true… It is your own blinkered, barely concealed hatred seeping out.
    This man, Daniel Somers, will not be trivialized by the likes of you.

    Michael

  24. From one who knows and can speak of it:

    “EVERY day I was in Vietnam, I thought about home. And, every day I’ve been home, I’ve thought about Vietnam.” So said one of the millions of soldiers who fought there as I did. Change the name of the battlefield and it could have been said by one of the American servicemen coming home from Iraq or Afghanistan today. Wars are not over when the shooting stops. They live on in the lives of those who fight them. That is the curse of the soldier. He never forgets.” — The Forever War of the Mind, by MAX CLELAND

    Something I remember:

    Better Maimed than Marxist
    (an experiment in so-called “free verse”)

    At our U.S. Navy advanced tactical support base,
    on the banks of a muddy brown river,
    not far from the southernmost tip of South Vietnam,
    I injured my right middle finger
    in a pickup volleyball game one Sunday afternoon.

    Having no X-ray equipment at our little infirmary,
    I had to take a helicopter ride north
    to a larger Army base possessing
    better medical equipment and facilities
    to see if I had broken any bones in my hand.

    Walking down a hospital corridor, I passed
    a room full of Vietnamese patients
    who had no arms or legs.
    I experienced a disorienting sense of scale compression,
    unexpectedly witness to already small lives made minuscule in a moment,

    like seeing living dollar bills cut down to the size of postage stamps,
    or sentient silver quarters suddenly shrunk to copper pennies.

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2012

  25. It hardly needs more exemplification this horror of war : however this endless story of war, how wrong it is, and its consequences are well told in todays example of Afghanistan by Sebastian Junger (of Perfect Storm fame) in his movie Restrepo and the book “War”.

    What is curious to me, taking the long view, is how every war is decreed to be horrible and unbearable inhumane, and yet we, as a species, seem unable to stop doing it.

    I love and appreciate many of the comments in response to this post. Thank you.

    And I am reminded that this war in Iraq was horrible before we read this account. Before this man took his life. We have to remember and feel the horror of all this before we start the war, not only in sad dirges sung after the casualties begin to arrive.
    It has always struck me as one of our most egregious faults in our body politic that we hail the soldiers with trumpets and songs as we toss them into the fray, and do our best to ignore them when they return wounded and damaged : indictments of our ill placed passions. Reminders of our shame.

    And this is not just an Iraq/Afghanistan War story. This treatment of our warriors is just one chapter of the never-ending-story. “All Quiet on the Western Front”; Mai Lai; The VA administration problems; The deathly conditions found in the Walter Reed Hospital a few years ago; Soldiers who cannot find good work upon return, much less necessary (and promised) help they need… And on and on…the list of could, and does, occupy volumes.

    Sadly, when we turn our gaze to the individuals who do our bidding we see, at a
    scale we can identify with : this man, this horror, this tragedy of him taking his life.
    This man stands as just one example of those who do the unspeakable things in our name and suffer the unbearable, inhuman stresses as a result.

    Then we must turn our gaze back to the larger political forces that not only enable, but engender these wars and “their cynical political calculation”.
    Like this for example: how much money did Dick Cheney make for the involvement of Halliburton in these wars? How much wealth was transferred from the public to those corporations called, euphemistically, our Defense Contractors. Not Offense? Did their stock rise as the drumsounds of war increased? Who benefited?

    It is corruption and a fundamental inhumanity at a level and scale that almost defies description.

    (Lest someone wish to take me to task for that last comment (and please do) let me ponder how it is that War is so profitable an exercise? And why do we allow these companies and individuals to become fabulously wealthy feeding the beasts of war?
    Why should this be the way it is? I think the answer to this inquiry will begin to respond to the larger issues raised in the original post (“… the unfathomable cost of these wars that our politicians, including Obama, allowed to continue….”) )

    Some links to the Restrepo film:

    Thank you JT for the post.

    Michael

  26. LeeJCaroll and Paul – I agree with your sentiment but, I don’t think the populace has any choice in the matter. For us to rise up, there must be a choice – some action we can take – vote for this person or party over that person or party to effect our choice. However, we have had one “far right” president who started this particular war and one “far left” president who has kept it going and even amped it up.

    Recently I have come to the insight that what we have here in America is a Kleptocracy, not a Democracy. I was like an enlightening moment for me. Now I understand why we change parties and leaders Bush 1, Clinton, Bush 2, Obama — and nothing “real” changes. Kleptocracy offers a plausible explanation:

    According to Wikipedia: Kleptocracy . . . is a form of political and government corruption where the government exists to increase the personal wealth and political power of its officials and the ruling class at the expense of the wider population, often without pretense of honest service.

    This is why we vote for change and get more of the same. We have a system limited to two parties and they are both interested in the same things – enrichment and personal power. Thus, we have no real choice – do our sons deserve to die for that?

  27. One last comment and then I’ll step down: It is stories like this, and even ones not quite so extreme but equally moving, that expose the glaring lie, and heartless inhumanity that is the endless call to war by the likes of Sen. McCain and his group of warmongers. (And others of course)

    Iran: More war! Syria: More War! Libya! Send the Troops! Stop the Iraq War? Hell no, more War! Leave Afganistan? Way to soon. 10 more years!

    The Banality of War Mongering.

    There is a bromide that says ‘when the only tool you have is a hammer all your problems look like nails’.

    We must, truly we must, get past the point where force, military might, and then war, is the first and last consideration of our problems.

    I am thinking of Bush on the heaps of the towers proclaiming in that ignorant voice of his “I can hear you, the rest of the world hears you! And the people! And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon! ” And later “…they hate us for our freedoms…”.

    As a nation, as a “western” civilization, we must do better than this when looking the various forces and relationships in play.

    Maybe something else might have been able to be accomplished with the $4 TRILLION DOLLARS and counting expended on these quixotic adventures.

    In systemic terms we must examine our goals, needs, and constitutional predicates. As it is we are spinning out of control on so many levels that war and authoritarian rule will soon be the only viable response. Or maybe that is the regime we are already entered into and it just has yet to mature and manifest? 1933?

    We need to start telling the truth : about our selves, and about our world, and resist the black and white (they are black , we are white) analysis that passes for wisdom and energizes our responses in our corridors of power.

    And that power that is supposed to have derived from the people? the citizenry? That too must be re-established.

    But. It likely will not. It is too profitable in too many ways to hold onto our box of nails.

    One of the comment posts above simple said ‘I weep’. I join you in the lament.

    Michael

  28. Michael Beaton – Kleptocracy is the answer to your question and, I have recently discovered, most of mine as well. Our leaders in both parties allow these companies and individuals to become fabulously wealthy feeding the beasts of war for the same reasons they allow them to poison our food with chemicals and genetic modifications, destroy our water table to obtain natural gas, kill us with dangerous medications . . . the list goes on – and, I might add, the list does not change when the party holding power changes.

    Democrats and Republicans are exactly the same at their core – they worship Mammon above all else and, since our particular implementation of “democracy” allows these parties to both gerrymander the system to ensure they each have their turn in office while excluding all third parties (you can’t even participate in the debates if you are not one of the two parties’ candidates) – we get a Kleptocracy.

  29. What a pickle the USA put itself in… War crimes, unaccountable, endless wars fomenting more endless wars, yet still unaccountable.

    As long as our “leaders” are unaccountable for the gravity and enormity of their sins against humanity, our troops will be made to suffer.

    Comey gets a job promotion, another soldier takes his own life…

    HOW DO WE TURN THIS AROUND?

  30. @Eric and others…

    Re your comments about our system, the seeming futility of voting for different parties and expecting different results et al…..

    I want to recommend to you Dan Carlin and his exquisite, and interesting conversations he has on these matters. His most recent podcast dealt with the David Brooks article about the Egyptians and their inability to have a democracy. From this starting point he makes some very interesting and poignant points about nature of our own democracy and its proclivities to accrue power.
    And you’ll find his overall motiff is precisely in keeping with the sentiments you and others have expressed. I think you’ll enjoy them. (If that is the right word…hard to enjoy any of this really, but there it is…)

    http://www.dancarlin.com//disp.php/csarchive

    Michael

  31. Michael Bolton – thank you. I will look at that. And you are right, there is nothing enjoyable about this. I am hoping that the, in my humble opinion, great American Hero Edward Snowden will begin to wake people up about our government and the two completely and hopelessly corrupt parties that have captured the system for their own enrichment.

    The folks defending these parties really need to wake up. The lefties hate the Bushes and excuse everything Obama does and the Righties hate Obama and Clinton and excused everything the Bushes did.

    We will have a hope of changing our situation when the rank and file supporters of both parties wake up and realize that they are EXACTLY THE SAME PEOPLE – they talk differently but nothing they do is different. Bush started this war, Obama kept it going. They have the very same masters, and the very same goals.

  32. Michael Beaton,
    The Retrepo movie was outstanding. Scary, but outstanding. Those were some brave guys manning that outpost.

  33. Els DL, I too have done a 180′ on the draft, not he corrupt old farce that lets a Cheney get 5 deferment because he had other plans but a real draft – no fortunate ones, no Senator’s sons; but everyone between the age of 18 and 25 with no exemptions.

    This because we can commiserate about morality and wisdom and the way things ought to work and how the need for war should be determined but I’ve heard that since Vietnam and it’s all BS. The situation hasn’t gotten better, it’s gotten worse. Now, the VA is broken too. I knew a lot of vets from WWII and Vietnam and while they did have their gripes they could get some assistance, though occasionally grudgingly, from VA. Not now.

    I’m anti-war and as a couple of my postings in the past alluded, to a good extent anti-soldier-mentality. But this situation is morally unconscionable and has been for a long time. Maybe having the sons and daughters of our political and business elite handed a gun and swept away to some hell-hole to be damaged beyond repair would make a difference. That’s my entire motivation for wanting to reinstate the draft. It’s the only form of accountability left for those that so cavalierly send others off to die.

    Updated/Caution Graphic images:

  34. Eric, I would hope that if the populace rose up the powers that be could not merely ignore it (or g-d forbid impose their will on us with force)
    I am a democrat but I have to wonder about the mixing of the parties so that there is no difference. Why, for instance, did the democrats not run a challenger against John Boehner?. (There was at least one other big race where no challenger was run, essentially ensuring the house would stay in repub hands) This has helped to keep the status quo of obstructionism, allowing Pres Obama to make more executive orders for instance (which some consider a consolidating of executive power),since the work of the people was not being done by the congress.
    Is this merely paranoia on my part? Boy, I sure as heck hope so.

  35. mahtso 1, July 12, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    This is tragic in and of itself, but if Mr. Somers truly was involved in war crimes, the second tragedy is that he could not (or would not) work to bring justice to the perpetrators of those crimes. (Which is not intended as a judgment about Mr. Somers, but rather is a statement of opinion.)

    WHAT PART OF THE LETTER IS IT YOU DIDN’T UNDERSTAND?

    is it this part?

    I was made to participate in things, the enormity of which is hard to describe. War crimes, crimes against humanity. Though I did not participate willingly, and made what I thought was my best effort to stop these events,

    or maybe this part?

    To force me to do these things and then participate in the ensuing coverup is more than any government has the right to demand. Then, the same government has turned around and abandoned me. They offer no help, and actively block the pursuit of gaining outside help via their corrupt agents at the DEA. Any blame rests with them.

    oooooooooh wait i guess it is this part

    Lastly, the DEA enters the picture again as they have now managed to create such a culture of fear in the medical community that doctors are too scared to even take the necessary steps to control the symptoms. All under the guise of a completely manufactured “overprescribing epidemic,”

    HOW DARE YOU SIT BEHIND YOUR COMPUTER AND HAVE SUCH AN OPINION.. obviously the brain washing has worked wonders on you!!!!

    have you not heard of mk-ultra? do you not know the real reasons lincoln, johnfkennedy, martin luther king, and many other politicians really died? wait heres the 1,000,000,000 question do you understand who really runs the corporation formerly known as the government? i doubt it or you would not have such an opinion. how about christopher dorner did you read his manifesto? if not i can get you a copy.

    have you not begun to understand about the one world government and those involved in it and why?

    every war ever fought was instigated by THE GOOD OL USA GOVERNMENT. either to punish a country for not submitting to its will or to plunder their reserves. doesnt it cross your mind to wonder how only a select few has manged to get even wealthier while the rest of us are getting poorer?

    did you not notice the moment all members for higher office stop being regular people but multi millionaires and billionaires who only care about their interests?

    do you not know the names of those who really run the corporation and now want to run the world?

    the names of those who own hollyweird? the music industry? lame stream media? and most importantly all the major banks? if not look them up.

    do yourself a favor and never have an opinion that demeans the millions of men and women who lost their lives,minds,limbs, and faith for rights and freedoms they themselves don’t have. The true heros of the world the men and women who believed in the lies told them and the promises made of a better world only to find out much different. imagine being able to be trained at 17 to kill but cant smoke a cigarette nor have a drink, nor go to a club because they’re to young. but they are old enough to kill in wars based on lies and no its not something that has just begun with bush.. it actually began with eisenhower,

    Imagine finding out about corruption inside of a government that pledged to serve and protect and when you stand up to tell the truth expose the lies and cover ups now you’re a terrorist. and be darn sure they are going to get you one way or another. ask Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden and the many others who have tried, such as ted gunderson, phil Schneider, Albert Rik, and Andy Perry, Brice Taylor, svali, and many others.

  36. And now the winner of the Peace Prize will saunter into another war in the MIDDLE EAST with no clue with whom he is dealing or any thought about what the end will be. Is it arrogance, stupidity or are our “leaders” so controlled by the corporate interests who see war as a profit center for which on the small have to pay? It is hard to tell but it is the same we become more brutal with every passing day.

    Cry the beloved country. American, where have you gone?

    My tears are with this young man’s family.

  37. For those who love to put the blame solely on Obama are wrong and you know it. This lies in all the presidents, politicians, and war profiteers shoulders prior to, during, and after Obama… Including Obama. The neglect of our servicemen and women upon returning from war, any war, (we’re still dealing with Vietnam backlash) is shameful. Disgusting. Inhuman. Very very sad!

  38. Now, someone that is into conspiracies might speculate that the records weren’t kept as well as a bunch of them being destroyed, because troops were maybe being sent into places they shouldn’t have bee, or ordered to do things they shouldn’t have or were using munitions that will come back to bite them in the butt later. Depleted uranium munitions are causing a huge number of babies to be born with severe to fatal birth defects in Iraq. That’s what the Iraqi doctors are attributing the unprecedented number of birth defects to anyway. I wonder if cancer in unusually high numbers is going to be a problem for vets in the future.

    In any event, the missing records are impeding the pursuit of claims through the VA the article says. Just another outrage in an otherwise outrageous situation.
    **

    “U.S. Army promises to locate lost Iraq, Afghanistan records that keep veterans from getting benefits”

    …. “The moves follow inquiries from the committee’s leaders after a ProPublica and Seattle Times investigation last year reported that dozens of Army and National Guard units had lost or failed to keep required field records, in some cases impeding the ability of veterans to obtain disability benefits. The problem primarily affected the Army but also extended to U.S. Central Command in Iraq.

    McHugh, in his letter to committee leaders, said that while the Army had kept some of the required records, “we acknowledge that gaps exist.”

    And in an enclosure responding to specific questions from the committee, McHugh confirmed that among the missing records are nearly all those from the 82nd Airborne Division, which was deployed multiple times during the wars.” continues

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/07/12/u-s-army-promises-to-locate-lost-iraq-afghanistan-records-that-keep-veterans-from-getting-benefits/

  39. I posted this to Reddit link to this article, and I’ll post it here too.

    OK, like Daniel Somers, I am also in the Army intelligence branch. Like him, I have also deployed to Iraq (in fact, going by the date stamp of the photo, I was there the same time as him). And like him, I also spent a great deal of time interviewing/interrogating local Iraqis.
    This letter bothers me because it is terribly vague. It never says what the supposed war crimes were, never says how or why he was “forced” to do them, never says what his ailment is, and why the military isn’t giving him treatment, and also goes into very Reddit-like criticism of Cheney, as well as strong hints of support for marijuana legalization. IOW, he is all over the map. But if he had a brain injury, that is understandable.
    But about war crimes, I don’t know what he’s referring to specifically, but my response is the same that I give to anyone who says they could never join the Army, because they don’t want to be complicit in war crimes: THEN DON’T COMMIT WAR CRIMES!! No one is “forced” to commit them, and in fact, they can/will be prosecuted for doing so. Saying you were “following orders” is no defense if the order was illegal.
    In two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, I have never committed a war crime, nor have I even been asked to.

  40. So many people claim they are “supporting the troops” when all they do is send them to war. These same people are the ones that refuse the vets the care they need and ignore them when they return. I won’t mention names, we know who they are.

  41. John Rohan, when I click your nom de plume I get a two page advert and ‘how to’ in japanese about credit cards. What’s up? If your posting is trolling I must say it’s very well done. One wonders though about your posting as well as Mr. Somers, are you talking about ‘war crimes’ under the old standards or the new (Yoo et al) standards?

  42. Obama and Bush are one in the same. Don’t be a dingbat Marv. Note: If this was sarcasm then my apologies. Bush and Obama circlejerk in dark rooms.

  43. I hate to say this but your religious dick bags that are saying god bless are hypocrites. According to your so called gospel this brave man is going to hell for taking his own life. He deserves much better than your prayers for his family and your meaningless blessings. Stand up for this shit if you think this is a tragedy, lemmings.

  44. I am a disabled vet who is now a blinding drunk and I have a tough time dealing with what I’ve seen and done. I’m sorry for this young brother in arms and his family. Suicide is not the answer! No religion here at all, but we have groups that help and giving up is just not the answer. The damage left to family is just devistating. Stay strong please.

  45. lottakatz 1, July 12, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    Els DL, I too have done a 180′ on the draft, not he corrupt old farce that lets a Cheney get 5 deferment because he had other plans but a real draft – no fortunate ones, no Senator’s sons; but everyone between the age of 18 and 25 with no exemptions.

    ===================================
    Why wouldn’t replacing indoctrination with enlightenment work better?

    Vietnam had a draft nevertheless the same war crimes that Daniel Somers said he was ordered to do were done following the high level order to “kill anything that moves.”

    The sickness that preceded the sickness that took out Daniel Somers is what needs to be addressed and healed.

  46. The “sickness” I alluded to in my last comment up-thread was described by Dr. Noam Chomsky awhile back:

    The purpose of America, on the other hand, is “transcendent”: to bring freedom and justice to the rest of the world. But he’s a good scholar, like Carothers. So he went through the record. He said, when you study the record, it looks as if the United States hasn’t lived up to its transcendent purpose. But then he says, to criticize our transcendent purpose “is to fall into the error of atheism, which denies the validity of religion on similar grounds” — which is a good comparison. It’s a deeply entrenched religious belief. It’s so deep that it’s going to be hard to disentangle it.

    (Tom Dispatch).

  47. I hate to sound cruel, but I was under the impression that we have a volunteer military. A military with a long history of war crimes and abandoning veterans after their service. If Daniel didn’t want to kill innocent people, he shouldn’t have joined the military. There’s a reason that one stereotype of an enlistee is someone who is looking forward to committing these kind of crimes.

    Daniel’s complaints are the exact reason I have never considered military service: I value the rule of law, and humane treatment of all people. My niece just returned from an education-based camp run by the U.S. Air Force for gifted children where she was belittled by her “superior” officers… grown men… officers shaming a 14-year girl. Military culture is not secret.

    Outrage is valid, but shock at this event isn’t. Seriously, what did Daniel expect?!

  48. Unfortunately for too many the service is the only option the have. To some degree it makes it non voluntary if you want to look at it that way.
    ““When the economy slackens and unemployment rises and jobs become more scarce in civilian society, recruiting is less challenging,” said Curtis Gilroy, the director of accession policy for the Department of Defense. ”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/19/us/19recruits.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
    This from a n article on the military now raising their standards.
    Just six years ago, during the Iraq war surge, the military had lower standards. Only about 86% of new recruits had high-school diplomas, and just 67% of recruits scored in the top 50th percentile on the Armed Forces Qualification Test. Waivers excusing health issues and prior misconduct — even felonies — were not uncommon.
    A high-school diploma, above-average score on the military entrance exams, and a clean slate — free from prior drug use or criminal conduct — are practically required now. Thanks to high youth unemployment and the drawdown from both Iraq and Afghanistan, Uncle Sam can afford to be a bit pickier. http://money.cnn.com/2013/05/15/news/economy/military-recruiting/index.html
    I also think many who join the military do not think they will be sent to war, kind of the same way those who live on the coast think they will be the ones not hit by a hurricane.

  49. This story is made up. Why didn’t he go into the war crimes details? The letter just states I have pain blah blah war crimes blah blah goodbye. It doesn’t expose the corruption he claims. I call BS

  50. What is particularly sad about Daniel S suicide is that the seeds of healing were beginning to show up. He was, in his letter, beginning to ask the right questions, and sus out some of the right answers.
    That is he was getting some perspective. A necessary pre-condition to healing. From this place, had he been able to have gained a little more peace and internal quietness – some footing for himself that could diminish the pain enough to where suicide was not the only choice — He could have been a compelling voice for change.

    It would have taken a lot, and obviously more than he was able to bear. And that has to be respected.

    I would wish that we who remain, would figure out how to get past jingoistic platitudes in reaction and learn how to make the necessary changes in our society.

    If we don’t, we – our society, our country, our selves, will be dismantled as surely as this man was. There is a certain “suicide” path the country is on. While not so dramatic, perhaps, it is just as certain.

    For example: It may be the case that “Obama is no different that Bush”. But it seems obvious to me that this is not the case in nearly every way. And to not be able to make the actual distinction in this matter is an example of the overall inability to make meaningful distinctions in the rest of the troubling issues. It is the mindset that enables and energizes the fundamentalist absolutes that has infiltrated our body politic. The consequences of this sort of broad brush assertions are that we become reactionary not responsive to what is happening.

    For what it matters: I am not an Obama guy. I am as disappointed in Obama as anyone. In many ways I would argue the position that Obama has become worse than Bush. (But not in all matters! And not in absolutes!) My point above was not meant to draw a good/bad right/wrong line. It requires its own article and essay to work this point out. For this post I hope only to insert into the conversation that we have to think different if we are to have different outcomes.

    I happen to agree with the larger sentiment that there are forces in control that we don’t have clear visibility into. But I do not agree that there is nothing to be done about it, nor that “Obama is just another Bush”. There are similarities, and there are differences – a very easy case to make I think. And I think we have to deal with the actual distinctions of what is, rather than some knee jerk, habitual reactions to keywords in the news.

    Too much for a sunny Saturday morning I suppose. The need is great, and the times are sleepy. But a walk around the lake seems the next best thing to do just now.

    Michael

  51. johnfromberkeley 1, July 13, 2013 at 11:24 am

    I hate to sound cruel, but I was under the impression that we have a volunteer military. A military with a long history of war crimes and abandoning veterans after their service. If Daniel didn’t want to kill innocent people, he shouldn’t have joined the military. There’s a reason that one stereotype of an enlistee is someone who is looking forward to committing these kind of crimes.

    Daniel’s complaints are the exact reason I have never considered military service: I value the rule of law, and humane treatment of all people. My niece just returned from an education-based camp run by the U.S. Air Force for gifted children where she was belittled by her “superior” officers… grown men… officers shaming a 14-year girl. Military culture is not secret.

    Outrage is valid, but shock at this event isn’t. Seriously, what did Daniel expect?!
    ==================================
    Truth seems to be very cruel to tyranny, but truth is fair to all.

    But this tyranny that Daniel finally took a look at, from his insides, is not deterred by his letter, your comment, or by truth.

    Think of those brothers in arms alongside Daniel who rejoiced in what they were doing, and when they came back they joined the police forces around the nation to continue their wars:

    Between about the early 1980s and today, American police forces have undergone some substantial changes. Most notable among these is the ascent of the SWAT team. Once limited to large cities and reserved for emergency situations like hostage takings, active shooters, or escaped fugitives, SWAT teams today are primarily used to serve warrants on people suspected of nonviolent, consensual drug crimes.

    The numbers are staggering. In the early 1980s, there were about 3,000 SWAT “call-outs” per year across the entire country. By 2005, there were an estimated 50,000. In New York City alone, there were 1,447 drug raids 1994. By 2002, eight years later, there were 5,117 — a 350 percent increase. In 1984, about a fourth of towns between 25,000-50,000 people had a SWAT team. By 2005, it was 80 percent.

    Today, the use of this sort of force is in too many jurisdictions the first option for serving search warrants instead of the last. SWAT teams today are used to break up poker games and massage parlors, for immigration enforcement, even to perform regulatory inspections.

    Troubling as all of this is, the problem goes beyond SWAT teams. Too many police departments today are infused with a more general militaristic culture. Cops today are too often told that they’re soldiers fighting a war, be it a war on crime, on drugs, on terrorism, or whatever other recent gremlin politicians have chosen as the enemy.

    (Deja Voodoo). His family will not have him to protect them from his brothers in arms.

    Those at war with the civilian population.

  52. @HI : This story is made up. Why didn’t he go into the war crimes details? The letter just states I have pain blah blah war crimes blah blah goodbye. It doesn’t expose the corruption he claims. I call BS
    ——————————–
    I call BS on you.
    None of these “lacks” you point out are relevant to the issue of this mans life and experience. The letter he wrote is his letter, for his purposes. It does not require your agenda to be fulfilled to be meaningful, accurate and also telling about a certain substrate of life and experience.

    Beyond that seemingly obvious point, your evident disdain and callous compassion says more about you. I wonder, do you deny the experience or minimize the pain that men (and I presume women) who have been in combat live with? And sometimes die with? Do you deny the fact of ongoing daily suicides by these men who did the bidding of the country, and then have been discarded by that country in so many ways? (See many of the other posts in this thread).

    It does not take war crimes to be affected this deeply and in this way. And the notion of war crimes itself needs to be defined in order to really get to the point of this mans’ experience. It is arguable, from my pov, that the entire basis of the Iraq war was a criminal exercise. But that is not relevant to your post, nor the original post.

    It reminds me of the poignant line in “Death of a Salesman”: A man is dying [has died] and attention must be paid.

    You don’t have to agree with any of the points or even the manner in which this man responded to his experience. Argue the point of war crimes or not or any other particular. Fair play.

    What is absolute is that this man was profoundly affected in ways we are not allowed to judge unless we have been there. And when one has been there you will not be so quick to judge or cast this level of unempathetic aspersion.

  53. @Dredd : Re your point about the militarization of the police…

    Good point. I hadnt considered the impact of the war vets becoming the police. That is something to consider. As has been manifested in many examples in recent years there is a difference between the police function and the military one. As these get muddled we, as a society, are experiencing some shocking consequences.

    This is an amazing and terrifying consequence of the recent wars, Iraq, Afghanistan and also the faux “War on Terror”.

    I was reading this yesterday but hadnt put the two points together like you did. You might appreciate this article/book as well:
    http://www.salon.com/2013/07/10/militarized_police_overreach_oh_god_i_thought_they_were_going_to_shoot_me_next%E2%80%9D/

  54. “Many who shout the loudest that we must “support the troops” urge sending them off to unwinnable and undeclared wars in which there is no legitimate US interest. The US military has been abused by those who see military force as a first resort rather than the last resort and only in self-defense. This abuse has resulted in a generation of American veterans facing a life sentence in the prison of tortured and deeply damaged minds as well as broken bodies.”

    http://www.prisonplanet.com/ron-paul-on-the-death-of-daniel-somers.html

  55. Michael Beaton 1, July 13, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    @Dredd : Re your point about the militarization of the police…

    Good point. I hadnt considered the impact of the war vets becoming the police. That is something to consider. As has been manifested in many examples in recent years there is a difference between the police function and the military one. As these get muddled we, as a society, are experiencing some shocking consequences.

    This is an amazing and terrifying consequence of the recent wars, Iraq, Afghanistan and also the faux “War on Terror”.

    I was reading this yesterday but hadnt put the two points together like you did. …
    ==========================================
    Thanks for the link.

    My quote was from the same book in your link, that is, “Rise of the Warrior Cop”.

    Daniel committed suicide because his conscience would not die, and thus caused him much moral pain.

    Yet, “there are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke“, and they do not look at it the way Daniel did.

    They can’t, because their conscience died somewhere along the way.

    They are now psychopaths.

    And they are warmly welcomed by police forces, government agencies, and other places of power.

    Where they can wreak much havoc on unsuspecting civilians.

    Because “they served”.

    Get ready for it, it is coming … in fact it is already here.

  56. “Remember that private citizens—whether rich or poor, whether businessmen or workers—have no power to start a war. That power is the exclusive prerogative of a government. Which type of government is more likely to plunge a country into war: a government of limited powers, bound by constitutional restrictions—or an unlimited government, open to the pressure of any group with warlike interests or ideologies, a government able to command armies to march at the whim of a single chief executive?”

    “If men want to oppose war, it is statism that they must oppose. So long as they hold the tribal notion that the individual is sacrificial fodder for the collective, that some men have the right to rule others by force, and that some (any) alleged “good” can justify it—there can be no peace within a nation and no peace among nations.”

    “Statism—in fact and in principle—is nothing more than gang rule. A dictatorship is a gang devoted to looting the effort of the productive citizens of its own country. When a statist ruler exhausts his own country’s economy, he attacks his neighbors. It is his only means of postponing internal collapse and prolonging his rule. A country that violates the rights of its own citizens, will not respect the rights of its neighbors. Those who do not recognize individual rights, will not recognize the rights of nations: a nation is only a number of individuals.

    Statism needs war; a free country does not. Statism survives by looting; a free country survives by production.

    Observe that the major wars of history were started by the more controlled economies of the time against the freer ones. For instance, World War I was started by monarchist Germany and Czarist Russia, who dragged in their freer allies. World War II was started by the alliance of Nazi Germany with Soviet Russia and their joint attack on Poland.”

    “One of the notions used by all sides to justify the draft, is that “rights impose obligations.” Obligations, to whom?—and imposed, by whom? Ideologically, that notion is worse than the evil it attempts to justify: it implies that rights are a gift from the state, and that a man has to buy them by offering something (his life) in return. Logically, that notion is a contradiction: since the only proper function of a government is to protect man’s rights, it cannot claim title to his life in exchange for that protection.”

    Ayn Rand on War and the Draft

  57. My, how the hypocritical little hack twisted and turned her flowery words, in a vain attempt to disguise the part she played in instilling her unholy doctrine of delusional selfishness into the very bloodstream of our nations most powerful forces, and excused and profitably greased the path to never ending war.

  58. halvie54:

    you make me laugh. Is that all you have to say?

    Back it up, how did it inject, how did it grease the path to never ending war?
    The words arent twisted at all, they are explicit and she means what she says. Maybe this will help you:

    “Wars are the second greatest evil that human societies can perpetrate. (The first is dictatorship, the enslavement of their own citizens, which is the cause of wars.)”

    “Men who are free to produce, have no incentive to loot; they have nothing to gain from war and a great deal to lose. Ideologically, the principle of individual rights does not permit a man to seek his own livelihood at the point of a gun, inside or outside his country. Economically, wars cost money; in a free economy, where wealth is privately owned, the costs of war come out of the income of private citizens—there is no overblown public treasury to hide that fact—and a citizen cannot hope to recoup his own financial losses (such as taxes or business dislocations or property destruction) by winning the war. Thus his own economic interests are on the side of peace.”

    In other words the income tax [to which I am opposed] allows a disconnect between the people and the money spent. It is taxation which allows wars to be fought and other things but mostly it is the money which allows a 2 bit punk like Obama or a slightly better punk like Bush to have the means to take us into a war.

    Wouldnt a selfish person want to live? How does selfishness square with sacrifice?

    You make some statements but you dont back them up with anything of substance.

    Just saying oh its selfishness doesnt really mean anything.

    Are you married? Do you share your wife/husband with others? If you dont why not? Are you selfish? How much of your income do you give away? If you dont give more than half to others, I would say you are selfish.

  59. Re-establish the draft. The reason my step-son was “stop-lossed” into an extra 11 months in Iraq AFTER his enlistment was up, where he was shot in the chest(he was wearing armor) and received a head trauma was that a draft would have ended that stupid POS war before Sadam had even been captured. The “mission” will not be accomplished until President Cheney and Vice-President W are in the Hague facing a war tribunal.

    Color me as another Viet vet against war.

  60. Bron — Rand’s unstable core philosophy perpetrates the scapegoating that leads to war, leaving our soldiers to sacrifice life and limb while self-serving enterprises greatly profit from it as they objectively watch from their comfortably safe perches.
    There’s a mountain of difference between healthy self-regard and the excessive narcissism Rand’s wordy tomes have unleashed on the world.
    How many souls have been led to identify with her alter-ego, John Galt, and agreed with his maniacal radio rant that projected all of his problems onto everyone else? How many read the diabolical train tunnel collapse scene and callously perceived the loss of innocent lives as mere collateral damage? Vulture capitalism was spawned from this delusional tripe, and is actively destroying us from within.

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