Secret Memos Reveal Bush Saw Iraq War as ‘Christian’ Crusade
U.S. troops emotionally strained; suicides at highest level since Iraq War began; ‘fragging’ incidents increase
By Victor Thorn
Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld sent President George Bush top-secret wartime memos with cover sheets that mixed Scripture and battle photos to cast the Iraq invasion as a holy Christian crusade, the journal CQ reports.
“Rumsfeld, not known to be religious, appeared to be trying to manipulate the Bible-quoting Bush into believing that invading Iraq was God’s will. “Commit to the LORD, whatever you do, and your plans will succeed—Proverbs 16.3,” appeared on an April 1, 2003 report over a photo of a U.S. soldier near a highway sign pointing to Baghdad. The next day, U.S. troops reached the Iraqi capital.
“Open the gates that the righteous nation may enter, the nation that keeps the faith—Isaiah 26.2,” appeared on an April 3, 2003 memo over a photo of a U.S. tank entering Baghdad.
Four months later, during a summit in Egypt, the Palestinian foreign minister said Bush told him he was on “a mission from God” and was getting commands directly from the Lord. The White House at the time dismissed the claim as “absurd.”
EMOTIONAL STRESS OVERWHELMING
The war grew tragically worse on May 11 when Sgt. John M. Russell went berserk and killed five unarmed servicemen at the Camp Liberty stress clinic in Baghdad, while wounding three others. Events leading up to this meltdown had many around him fully aware that they had a ticking time bomb on their hands.
James Dao and Lizette Alvarez of The New York Times wrote on May 14 that Russell’s commanding officer “ordered him to turn in his gun and receive psychological counseling.”
Russell was infuriated and humiliated. Ed Lavandera of CNN reported, “His wife told us that he emailed her and said he’d had the worst two days of his life because some of his officers had threatened him.” PFC Michael Yates—one of those killed a day later—knew trouble was brewing, telling
his mother, “Man, this guy’s got issues.”
All hell broke loose the next day when, according to Luis Martinez of ABC News, Russell “was taken against his will for treatment at the combat stress center because of concerns about his mental health.”
Enraged at his two superiors who issued these orders, Russell’s hostilities reached a breaking point at the counseling center, where a messy altercation broke out. Escorted from the premises in an Army vehicle, Russell proceeded to pummel the driver; then wrested his weapon away from him. After stealing the Jeep, Russell sped back to the clinic, where he opened fire on staff and patients. Dao and Alvarez called this onslaught “the worst case of soldier-on-soldier violence among American forces in the six-year Iraq war.”
What happened to this career Army man who had also served in Serbia and Bosnia? One contributing factor may have been financially related to a $1,500 per month mortgage, whereas others blamed it on Russell’s job maintaining robots that detonated IEDs (improvised explosive devices).
In Sherman, Tex., Wilburn Russell, 73, father of the beleaguered soldier, acknowledged these traumas, but raised the rhetoric to an entirely new level. He said: The U.S. Army turned my son into a mass killer. . . . Two officers threatened and harassed him for two days straight. . . . When the military turned against him, he didn’t have any recourse. I guess he thought his life was over. He’s going to lose his house, everything, his retirement. I guess he just broke. . . . I’m furious. I know he was set up and they ruined him. . . . If a guy actually goes to the clinic and asks for help, they think of him as a wimp and he’s got something wrong with him and they try to get rid of him. . . . They set him up. They drove him out. They wanted to put as much pressure on him as they could to drum him out. I think they broke him.
Russell continued. “They ruined his life. They told him, ‘You’re an idiot. You don’t belong in here. We’re gonna break you.’ He took matters into his own hands. . . . They turned him loose with a guy with a gun. He beat the crap out of this guy and took his gun away from him. . . . He couldn’t handle it. It overwhelmed him. They told my son, ‘You don’t have enough brains and gumption to be a sergeant.’”
Speaking of our enlisted men and women in Iraq, Army Secretary Pete Geren admitted, “This is a very stressed force.” The Army confirmed that the number of suicides spiked to 143 in 2008, the highest total since the military began keeping such records. Gary Mitchell of Editor and Publisher predicted that this amount could skyrocket to 225 in 2009.
Ironically, despite lower overall violence in Iraq, soldiers still complain of post-traumatic stress disorder, multiple redeployments with too little time between them, depression, and financial hardships. As a result, Tina Kells commented on May 11 that “fragging incidents, as the deliberate killing of military allies is called, are becoming increasingly common in Iraq. The Camp Liberty incident is the sixth such fragging in the past four years.”
PBS adds that “attempted suicides and self-injuries have quadrupled over the past six years.”
With stress levels peaking as the war drags on, Greg Mitchell summarizes how enlisted men are forced to bear the brunt. “Commanders constantly pressure soldiers with health issues to deploy even when their medical records show physical problems.”
In response, soldiers from the Alaska Peace Center started a petition, stating, “As the shortage of troops has become more and more difficult to overcome, our commanders have become more and more aggressive in deploying soldiers with injuries and illnesses.”
It’s obvious that Sgt. John Russell was one of these “casualties” of war who was pushed too far; then finally snapped.
Victor Thorn is a hard-hitting researcher, journalist and the author of many books on 9-11 and the New World Order. These include 9-11 Evil: The Israeli Role in 9-11 and Phantom Flight 93.
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(Issue # 22, June 1, 2009)