Wednesday, November 22, 2006

President George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation

I spent Thanksgiving two years ago in the cold rain guarding the outer gates of the Baghdad International Airport. Now I have the fortune of warmth and comfort within the safe borders of our great Nation in the company of family... thanks largely to the hundreds of thousands of American military personnel spread throughout the world. Let's be sure to remember them and their families this Thanksgiving. For the second year in a row now I have posted below President George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation.

General Thanksgiving
By the PRESIDENT of the United States Of America

WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;-- for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;-- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;-- and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions;-- to enable us all, whether in publick or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.

(signed) G. Washington

Congress later changed the official holiday to the last Thursday of November.

To view the original proclamation click here.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Robert Gates

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dr. Robert Michael Gates (born September 25, 1943) is the president of Texas A&M University, as well as a former Director of Central Intelligence. He is currently the nominee for the office of United States Secretary of Defense. Gates served for 26 years in the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council. Under President George H.W. Bush, he served as Director of Central Intelligence. After leaving the CIA, he wrote his memoirs[1], became president of Texas A&M University, and was a member of several corporate boards. Gates served as a member of the bipartisan commission headed by James A. Baker III, the Iraq Study Group, that has studied the Iraq campaign.

In the wake of the 2006 midterm election result, President George W. Bush announced his nomination of Gates to succeed the resigning Donald Rumsfeld as U.S. Secretary of Defense on November 8, 2006.[2][3] Gates has stated in a letter [4] to students that he will continue as President of Texas A&M until completion of the confirmation process. Gates will now face confirmation first in the Senate Armed Services Committee, and if approved, by a majority vote in the Senate.


Childhood and education

A native of Wichita, Kansas, Gates attained the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America and is a recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America. He graduated from Wichita East High School in 1961. Gates received his bachelor's degree from the College of William and Mary in 1965, his master's degree in history from Indiana University in 1966, and his Ph.D. in Russian and Soviet history from Georgetown University in 1974.
Intelligence career

While at Indiana University, Gates was recruited to join the Central Intelligence Agency. However, the CIA offered no exemption from the draft during the Vietnam War. Before joining the CIA full-time as an intelligence analyst, he spent two years in the Air Force. During one posting, at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, he delivered intelligence briefings to ICBM missile crews. [5]

Gates left the CIA in 1974 to serve on the National Security Council staff but returned to the CIA in late 1979. He was named the Director of the DCI/DDCI Executive Staff in 1981, Deputy Director for Intelligence in 1982, and Deputy Director of Central Intelligence from April 18, 1986, to March 20, 1989. He was nominated to become the Director of Central Intelligence in early 1987, but withdrew the nomination after it became clear the Senate would reject it due to controversy[6] about his role in the Iran-Contra affair. Senate members later queried the nomination for the additional reason that Gates allegedly passed intelligence to Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war.[7]

Gates was Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs from March until August of 1989, and was Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser from August 1989 until November 1991. He was nominated (for the second time) for the position of Director of Central Intelligence by President Bush on May 14, 1991, confirmed by the Senate on November 5, and sworn in on November 6, becoming the only career officer in the CIA's history (as of 2005) to rise from entry-level employee to Director. Deputy Directors during his tenure were Richard J. Kerr (from November 6, 1991, until March 2, 1992) and Adm. William O. Studeman (from April 9, 1992, through the remainder of Dr. Gates’ tenure).

During his 26-year career as an intelligence professional, he spent almost nine years on the National Security Council, serving four Presidents of both major political parties.

In 1996, his memoirs were published under the title From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider's Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War.
Gates has been highly decorated for his service: he was the recipient of the National Security Medal and the Presidential Citizens Medal, was twice awarded the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, and three times received the Distinguished Intelligence Medal.

Involvement in the Iran-Contra Scandal

Owing to his senior status in the CIA, Gates was close to many figures who played significant roles in the Iran-Contra Affair and was in a position to have known of their activities. The evidence developed by Independent Counsel did not warrant indictment of Gates for his Iran-Contra activities or his responses to official inquiries.

Gates was an early subject of Independent Counsel's investigation, but the investigation of Gates intensified in the spring of 1991 as part of a larger inquiry into the Iran/contra activities of CIA officials. This investigation received an additional impetus in May 1991, when President George H.W. Bush nominated Gates to be Director of Central Intelligence (DCI). The chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) requested in a letter to the Independent Counsel on May 15, 1991, any information that would “significantly bear on the fitness” of Gates for the CIA post.

Gates consistently testified that he first heard on October 1, 1986, from Charles E. Allen, the national intelligence officer who was closest to the Iran initiative, that proceeds from the Iran arms sales may have been diverted to support the Contras. Other evidence proves, however, that Gates received a report on the diversion during the summer of 1986 from DDI Richard Kerr.[8] The issue was whether Independent Counsel could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Gates was deliberately not telling the truth when he later claimed not to have remembered any reference to the diversion before meeting with Allen in October.

Grand Jury secrecy rules hampered Independent Counsel's response. Nevertheless, in order to answer questions about Gates' prior testimony, Independent Counsel accelerated his investigation of Gates in the summer of 1991. This investigation was substantially completed by September 3, 1991, at which time Independent Counsel determined that Gates' Iran/contra activities and testimony did not warrant prosecution.

Independent Counsel made this decision subject to developments that could have warranted reopening his inquiry, including testimony by Clair E. George, the CIA's former deputy director for operations. At the time Independent Counsel reached this decision, the possibility remained that George could have provided information warranting reconsideration of Gates's status in the investigation. George refused to cooperate with Independent Counsel and was indicted on September 19, 1991. George subpoenaed Gates to testify as a defense witness at George's first trial in the summer of 1992, but Gates was never called.

Career after leaving the CIA

Gates became the 22nd President of Texas A&M University on August 1, 2002 following a tenure as Interim Dean of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M from 1999 to 2001. He has served as a member of the board of trustees of Fidelity Investments, and on the board of directors of NACCO Industries, Inc., Brinker International, Inc. and Parker Drilling Company, Inc. He also served as President of the National Eagle Scout Association during the mid-2000s.
Director of National Intelligence

In February 2005, Gates wrote in a message posted on his school's website that "There seems to be a growing number of rumors in the media and around campus that I am leaving Texas A&M to become the new director of national intelligence ('Intelligence Czar') in Washington, D.C." The message said that "To put the rumors to rest, I was indeed asked to take the position, wrestled with perhaps the most difficult -- and close -- decision of my life, and last week declined the position."
Gates committed to remain as President of Texas A&M University through the summer of 2007; President George W. Bush offered the position of United States Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to John Negroponte, who accepted.[9]

Gates said in a 2005 discussion with the university's Academy for Future International Leaders that he had tentatively decided to accept the DNI position out of a sense of duty and had written an email that would be sent to students during the press conference to announce his decision, explaining that he was leaving to serve the U.S. once again. Gates, however, took the weekend to consider what his final decision should be, and ultimately decided that he was unwilling to return to Washington, D.C. in any capacity simply because he "had nothing to look forward to in D.C. and plenty to look forward to at A&M."

Secretary of Defense nomination

On November 8, 2006, George W. Bush nominated Gates to serve as Secretary of Defense in the wake of Donald Rumsfeld's resignation. Gates will now face confirmation first in the Senate Armed Services Committee, and if approved, by a general vote in the United States Senate.
Awards and decorations
Gates' awards and decorations include:

Government awards
• National Security Medal
• Presidential Citizens Medal
• National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal (twice)
• Distinguished Intelligence Medal (thrice)

Other awards
• Eagle Scout
• Distinguished Eagle Scout Award


• "Speaking to you all again is a bit like being Larry King's newest wife-- I know what I'm supposed to do here, I'm just not sure how to make it interesting."

• "Were we to become a top ten university and lose that spirit, those traditions, our culture, we would be nothing more than another giant education factory. A big brain with no heart. Hell, we might as well be in Austin."


1. ^ Robert Gates, From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider's Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War, Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (May 7, 1997).
2. ^ "Bush replaces Rumsfeld to get 'fresh perspective'",, November 8, 2006. Retrieved on 2006-11-08.
3. ^ Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Jim Rutenberg. "Rumsfeld Resigns as Defense Secretary After Big Election Gains for Democrats", New York Times, November 8, 2006. Retrieved on 2006-11-08.
4. ^ To the Aggie Family, Gates' first announcement, and acknowledgement to being nominated for Secretary of Defense
5. ^ "Who Won the Cold War?" Thomas Powers, New York Review of Books, Vol. 43, no. 11 June 20, 1996
6. ^ Although he "was close to many figures who played significant roles in the Iran/contra affair and was in a position to have known of their activities. The evidence developed by Independent Counsel did not warrant indictment...." Final report of the independent counsel for Iran/Contra matters
7. ^ Gates nomination, Senate Proceedings, 1991..
8. ^ Iran-Contra Report, Chapter 16.
9. ^ "Bush names Negroponte intelligence chief",, February 18, 2005. Retrieved on 2006-11-08.
• Robert M. Gates: From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider's Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War. Simon & Schuster 1997, ISBN 0684834979
• Author Unknown. "Biography, Dr. Robert M. Gates, President, Texas A&M University," Texas A&M University. (2003)
• Center for the Study of Intelligence. "Robert Michael Gates," Directors & Deputy Directors of Central Intelligence. (2004)
• Material on Gates, from The Literature of Intelligence: A Bibliography of Materials, with Essays, Reviews, and Comments, by J. Ransom Clark
• Brett Nauman. "Gates passes on intelligence czar post," The Bryan-College Station Eagle. (February 1, 2005)
Further reading

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:

• Robert Gates, From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider's Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War, Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (May 7, 1997).
• Robert Gates, US Intelligence and the End of the Cold War, 1999, CIA
• Robert Gates, Frontline The Gulf War: An Oral History: Interview with Robert Gates, Deputy National Security Advisor, 2001,
• Writings and Speeches

Poor Decision by Bush

I am under the firm opinion that the only mistake in the War in Iraq is to change the course. The American public has too minimal an understanding of this War to exercise sound judgement on the matter. The military didn't lose Vietnam, the American people did.

I fear that the President is letting a great leader take the fall for a nations ignorance.

I regret to see Secretary Rumsfeld depart. I am a solid supporter of his leadership. He has done a tremendous job at an extremely difficult task.

As a soldier, I support any decision my change of command makes. As a civilian, this is an unwise decision and simply displays to our enemies a newfound level of weakness.
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New Defense Secretary Announced

NBC: Robert Gates to succeed Rumsfeld.
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Rumsfeld Resigns

Rueters: Defense Secretary Donal Rumsfeld is stepping down. More to follow...

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Letters...this one from Judy

Judy’s e-mail will be in blockquote and mine will be in parenthesis. She begins by quoting me.

"I have never met an opponent of the war in Iraq who could grasp the
magnitude of what is at stake."

"What a deal for Mr. and Mrs. America! They are now experts on American
foreign policy in the Middle East and it is obvious to them America is
losing the war because they get to watch America’s soldiers getting shot."

"Why should we stay and get things done the right way when the whole
world and all of our enemies are counting on America’s weak population
to vote us out of Iraq? Come on, let’s quit! If we do what they want us
to do, they’ll like us again!"

Dear Mr Miner:

Thank you very much for your service to our country... I appreciate the
courage and professionalism of the US troops.

I agree with you that our news media are doing a pathetic job of
covering the war in Iraq. I, for one, would like to get a sense of what
is actually happening there on the ground. This is why I read military
blogs, and Iraqi blogs, and many other news sources, like the reports of
Dahr Jamail. The American people are paying billions every week for this
war, and we have a right to see and hear the truth, no matter how brutal
it is to look at and hear.

I stumbled upon your blog today, and I note that you are upset with
Senator Kerry. Well, I can tell you that you needn't worry about his
remarks. I have followed the Senator for a long time... I used to live
in Massachusetts... and I can assure you that he does not think our
troops in Iraq are uneducated or unintelligent. He was a soldier,
himself, you see. In my opinion, President Bush has a lot of things he
should be talking about, and it is obvious that in talking about Senator
Kerry, he is just trying to avoid talking about the issues he should be

In fact, many intelligent high school and college grads, who have not
found a niche in life, are falling for the aggressive tactics and
signing bonuses offered by recruiters. A friend of mine has a brilliant
daughter who was just recruited... she was told that she WILL NOT BE
SENT TO IRAQ. Baloney! As a mother, I find these tactics criminal and
disturbing. Most highly qualified, professional soldiers were not
recruited in this dishonest manner, and if recruited dishonestly, the
contracts they sign should not be legally binding.

I'm curious why you would focus on CNN (I agree, that it isn't very
good!) as a source for inaccurate news? FOX is much worse, and the
biggest problem we have are the entertainers, like Rush Limbaugh, who do
nothing but spew pure fantasy for three hours a day. Americans who go to
these sources for their news, are actually immersing themselves in
fiction... some of them end up blathering-on like brainwashed fanatics.
God forbid that these people are voting based on the illusions Rush
spins for them.

Since you were offended by Senator Kerry's remarks, I would like to
point out, respectfully, that your remarks, which I have quoted above,
are somewhat insulting to Mr. and Mrs. America. You would be surprised
how clever we are, and how quickly we learn to recognize propaganda when
we see it. By the way, I noticed that you read Iraq the Model, and as
Iraqi blogs go, I have this one at the top of my propaganda list. The
truth is, that most Iraqis now see American Troops as occupiers, because
we can't protect them, and we have killed many innocent Iraqis. The more
Iraqis who lose friends and family to this war, the more hatred toward
America grows, and the more enemies we have to worry about.

(Before I answer these questions I want to make a few clarifications. First of all, John Kerry does not have any respect for the troops. His military experience is irrelevant. Since he got out he has lied and slandered our military. He has voted against us. His words and his actions display nothing but disrespect toward us.

Second, You should thank God that brilliant Americans are joining the military to protect you. I doubt that the commentary between the recruiter and your friend’s daughter went anything like you say it did. The daughter may have told you and your friend she wouldn’t go to Iraq because she didn’t want to hear your smug and presumptuous opinions on the military or the war. I have worked in a Recruiting and Retention Battalion for the military. There are stringent ethical standards. No military recruiter would ever dare say such a thing. Your claim of their “aggressive tactics” is overdramatic and you know it. And if such an unlikely story were true, then your friend’s brilliant daughter should have read the contract. Black text on white paper doesn’t lie. Nobody made her sign the line.

Third, Fox News is not worse than CNN. It is by no means an exemplary example of journalism, but compared to CNN it is a consummate source of information. I find Rush Limbaugh’s assessment of the War accurate.

Fourth, the only American’s that my writing will offend are the ones that need to be offended. I am offended by them. I am offended that they care so little for this country that they are unwilling to educate themselves on this War. I am offended that they are so entrenched in partisan politics they refuse to acknowledge the successes in Iraq. I am offended at their apathy. They are destroying this country and they will not realize it until it is too late.

Finally, how dare you presume to know the thoughts of the people of Iraq! How long were you there? How many Iraqis have you talked with? How do you know their perception of us? You don’t! And clearly, you never will based on the sources you are relying upon. You then have the audacity to tell me that an Iraqi blogger, who was born there and lives there is providing propaganda?!?! Who are you to make such distinctions?)

So I'd like to ask you a few questions, and I would sincerely appreciate
answers to these questions:

----You mention the "magnitude of what is at stake." We do understand,
but what I'd like to know: Now that Iraqis are forming militias just to
protect themselves, their children, their neighborhoods... how do you
know who the enemy is? Now that the Iraqi police and military are
participating in some of the sectarian kidnapping and violence... how do
you know who the enemy is? Now that Iraqis (who were living together
peacefully before the war) are killing each other, how do we know who
the enemy is? And why are we killing so many innocents "by accident"?

(It is very difficult to know who the enemy is. That is what makes this war so challenging. That is why American forces do not fire until fired upon. Clearly, if you are getting shot at, it is safe to assume that the shooter is your enemy.

I don’t find your statement that Iraqis are forming militias to protect themselves accurate. The militias that have been formed were created to obtain political objectives. Al Sadr and his militia are a sufficient example. The Iraqi police have had problems with corruption. However, these problems have occurred far less than the media would like you to think. On the other hand, the Iraqi Army has done extremely well and has had minimal problems with such issues. I have had the privledge of working with them for several months. They are passionate and they are motivated. They are disciplined fighters. Iraqis are joining the Iraqi Army in droves. For every Iraqi that joins a militia there are ten that join the Army. They are sick of these terrorists disrupting their progression as a nation and they are doing something about it.

Since the invasion of Iraq, foreign fighters have been infiltrating Iraq’s borders with the mission of destroying the country’s progression. They are terrified of what a Democratic Middle East will do to extremist Islam in that region. Sure, Iraqis are killing each other. There is also support from outside countries such as Iran and Syria, providing fighters, weapons and money. Our enemies in Iraq are the enemies of Iraq. The enemies of Iraq are those who fight against the people and the government of Iraq. They are losing and they know it.)

----" is obvious to them America is losing the war because they get
to watch America’s soldiers getting shot." Do you think that Americans
don't have the right to see, or shouldn't see, images of soldiers
getting shot... or of wounded and dead Iraqis?

(No, American’s do not have the right to see American soldiers getting shot. And what a ridiculous presumption of a right! The last thing our military needs to be worrying about is their loved ones watching them get killed on CNN. Is the fear of death not enough? Why do you need/want to see it anyway? Do I have the right to watch your loved one die in a car accident/of cancer/of murder/of whatever??? Additionaly, such videos are obviously distributed by our enemies. For them to have the ability to get their propaganda distributed not only throughout the west, but the world, is an advantage that they do not and should not have. Why would you want to assist the enemies of your nation in their recruitment? The wounded and dead Iraqis don’t need to be displayed either. If they are dead enemies, that is another story. I couldn’t care less. I don’t think it needs to be on network news, but, if someone desires to see them, I don’t see why it shouldn’t be available.)

----You mention "getting things done the right way". Could you please
define for me what winning would look like? The president keeps talking
about "winning". What does that mean? He told us we were going there to
disarm Saddam, and that job was apparently done before the war, so...
what are we trying to achieve now? Just to undo the chaos that the war
has created? You speak of "terrorists" and "insurgents", but I see
little evidence that there are many of either in Iraq. You speak of "the
enemy"... who is that exactly? How can you tell, now that every Iraqi is
armed to the teeth just for self-protection? Are you beginning to see
Iraqi citizens as the enemy? Are Iraqi citizens beginning to see U.S.
troops as the enemy? (In my reading of the blogs, I sense that the
answer to this last question, is yes). If U.S. troops have become the
enemy... what can we possibly achieve there?

(Winning means we continue to press forward in Iraq. If CNN focused on every violent act that occurred in the state of California and aired it continuously, it would look terrible. While there certainly is violence in Iraq and security problems, there has been consistent progress there. We continue to build schools and strengthen infrastructure. Their economy continues to grow and their technology continues to advance. See my article Staying the Course for more detail.

Nothing was “apparent” prior to the invasion other than the potential threats that were in Iraq. We won the war against Saddam Hussein in Iraq and now fight the war on terrorism in Iraq. The United States didn’t create the war. Terrorists did when they attacked the United States and Saddam Hussein did when he refused time and time again to cooperate with the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council. Had he cooperated and verified his claims that he had no weapons, things would have been different. But he refused, and the United States had an obligation to ensure the security of the American people. Your cherished John Kerry agreed Saddam was a threat. He supported the invasion. And Saddam was certainly a threat.

How can you say there is little evidence of “terrorists” and “insurgents” in Iraq? What was Zarqawi? He was a self proclaimed leader of Al Qeida in Iraq! There are dozens upon dozens of terrorist groups in Iraq. Who do you think is killing Iraqi government leaders? Who do you think is blowing up civilians in the markets? Who do you think is launching mortars into crowds of women and children?

Every Iraq is not armed to the teeth. The Iraqi government has specifications on what weapons are authorized for the general public. Certain weapons are permitted for self defense, and upstanding Iraqi citizens abide by the laws. Of course the Iraqi citizens are not seen as the enemy. Nor are the Iraqi citizens viewing our troops as the enemy. There is certainly frustration. More than anything the people of Iraq fear what will happen if the United States leaves prematurely. They know they will be slaughtered as foreign funded militias and terrorist groups fight for control of the country. They know what is at stake and want to see their country succeed just as bad as we do. They are far more intelligent then you give them credit for and their resolve certainly is stronger than yours.)

Enough for now... if you have answers to these questions, I'd sincerely
love to hear them.

Judy C.

Judy, you need better sources of information. I regret to inform you that you are, I believe, a fine example of the Mrs. America I was referring to. Nonetheless, thanks for the letter and good look on your quest for the truth.

Letters...this one from Laura

Mr. Miner,

My name is Laura J. and I'm an English teacher in northern Minnesota. In the past, I used some of your blog entries in my classroom while you were on active duty in Iraq as my juniors were working their way through American Literature in a war/
conflict unit. It's that time of the year again.

I know that your blog is important to you because if it weren't, you wouldn't be adding posts now that you are out of Iraq. Part of what we discuss in the classroom as we read different soldiers' blogs is censorship and who, if anyone, should have the power to shut soldiers' blogs down. We also talk about whether or not they should be regulated.

If you have the time to answer the following question, I intend to share it with my students. If you were standing in front of a classroom of high school juniors, what would you tell them are the reasons why you blogged about your experiences in Iraq? Why is it important for the soldiers? Why is it important for the American public? How did writing a blog while you were in Iraq benefit you as the writer?

(I blogged about my experiences in Iraq because I felt the mainstream media was doing a terrible job. I felt they were misleading the American people as to what was really occurring in Iraq. It is incredibly important for American’s to be aware of the truth in Iraq. American’s, I fear, don’t understand what is at stake in this war. And unfortunately, all they are seeing of this war is the bloodshed. There are certainly horrific things occurring in Iraq. There are also wonderful things being accomplished there. Objective journalism would be to report the bad in proportion with the good. That isn’t happening. None of the good news and the progress makes it to your TV.

It is very important for soldiers to know that someone out there cares. That someone out there is getting the real story… their story. It is important for the public to get the reality. The mainstream media simply refuses to provide the truth.)

I guess that's more than one question.

My thought is that you could probably write quite a bit about that topic, =
but whatever you choose to write is fine with me. If you don't have the =
time to respond, I fully understand. I have found out, however, that =
unless I ask, I won't ever find out.

Just so you are aware, I do agree that these blogs are important and vital to show the public what the media does not, and that is why I continue to use them in my classroom. It shows the kids how technology is used during a time of war to get things out to the public in a way that has never been done before, and now the government is working on shutting down blog after blog. It shows them a completely different side of the war that they will never see in the popular media, and it gets them thinking. That's what I want.

(Regarding the government censoring soldier’s blogs coming out of combat zones, I feel this is necessary in some instances. Overall, I feel soldiers appreciate this. Being a grunt on the ground, at times your perception of the overall operation is very microscopic. It can be easy to post something that you wouldn’t think could be detrimental elsewhere. While soldiers do have their freedom of speech, their first obligation and commitment is to being a soldier. If their postings start to interfere with their duties or the safety of other soldiers, I feel the government is justified to intervene. I do not believe it is censorship in any way, shape or form. I feel it is appropriate for a soldier's chain of command to monitor their writings while in combat. When I was there, there were no issues. None of this had really been addressed yet.

When I was in Iraq I had one posting that shared too much information. I didn’t even think about it until my team leader brought it to my attention. I wasn’t forced to change anything. But why would I want to provide the enemy with valuable information? I appreciated it. And you will find that most military bloggers do as well.)

I hope this finds you well and anything you have to offer that I can share with my kids will be appreciated.

Laura J.

Laura gives me hope for the future. I am honored to be a part of her class. To her students, I would encourage you to read The Blog of War. It is a very real look at the war from many different perspectives. It is blogging at its finest! Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.