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Women in Combat

When Men Outnumber Women

July 19, 2006 | By | No Comments

An Alert Reader, Martha, a former Air Force enlisted, who has been following the thread on women in combat with concern, writes to explain the “Abracadabra” issue:

I have heard horrid stories from deployed friends about the attitude toward women in the ranks. Even unattractive girls have a throng of men around them all the time when they are in “Bad Guy Land”. The names they give those women is crass. “Golden P**sy Syndrome” and similar things.

Then, on the flight home, “abracadabra” they are ugly again. The rejection is as sudden and violent as an IED attack. How can men be allowed to treat fellow soldiers like this, then turn around and treat them with respect on the battlefield?

Sadly, I didn’t have to go further than today’s New York Times to get a real-life illustration of why this kind of thing is no small matter. In an article, Behind Failed Abu Ghraib Plea, a Tangle of Bonds and Betrayals about Lynndie England, Charles Graner and Megan Ambuhl, the reporter, Kate Zernike lays out a tragic story that puts an even sorrier twist to the already sordid tale of Abu Ghraib.

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Lynndie England and

Charles Graner

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Credit: L.M. Otero/A P

Megan Ambuhl,

Graner’s new wife

The short version of the story is that Charles Graner was treating the United States Army like his own personal harem, carrying on overlapping affairs with both Lynndie England and Megan Ambuhl. Then, when Lynndie got pregnant, and sent home, they broke up. Graner sent an email to his father: “I stopped seeing her back in january but when all this garbage came out i started seeing her again,” he wrote. “chances are very good that it is my child….o well….daddy what did you bring home from the war????”

That’s some war souvenir.

With Lynndie sent home, Graner focused on Ambuhl. The two co-conspirators recently married at Ft. Hood, a surrogate groom standing in for Graner, who is already in prison.

A few quotes from the NYT piece at the jump.

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Cross post from Reasoned Audacity.

Full Disclosure Your Business Blogger also serves as Vice President for the Center for Military Readiness, a non-profit think tank in Your Nation’s Capital.

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Jim Haynes' Hearing: Not a Pretty Sight

July 11, 2006 | By | No Comments

I was dropping the Little Woman off at Nordstroms and decided to spend a few hours in Your Nation’s Capital.

Watching a lawyer get beat up.

By some other lawyers. You’d think someone would be getting sued. But not in this venue — the Dirkson Senate Office Building, Room 226. This is the Judiciary Committee where Jim Haynes gave testimony to testy senators.

Today’s hearing was confrontational. The blood sport in DC.

Along with protesters. I stood next to a middle-aged fat-guy hippie with a TORTURE t-shirt. Very stylish.

I wander in and smile at a Maureen Dowd look-a-like at the press table. She didn’t smile back — must not have been her.

Soon after the hearing begins, one woman in an orange jump suit started shouting in an inappropriate “outside voice” (as would be described by parent to a child). She goes only a few seconds with “I’m an army colonel” and “Don’t confirm him” and how bad Haynes was for the Army. Before Specter angrily ordered her removed.

I’m disappointed that she is too quickly overcome. If she were really former Army, she’d put up more of a fight. Women in Combat and all that.

But Nina Totenburg started smiling. This was going to be a good show.

Haynes starts with family introduction family values stuff: Loyal wife of 24 years; three kids, public schools…whatever. Now I love this family stuff; I’ve got one too. But somehow, Haynes doesn’t pull off the sympathetic family-guy thing. Republicans are expected to be up-tight prudes. Not news. But it is a contrast.

To be questioned by Ted Kennedy. It is the odd nature of politics these days where conservatives make the move to being soft and cuddly and liberals pretend to be hard and warlike.

Ted Kennedy preaching obedience to the law. Goodness.

So Senators Kennedy, Durbin, Graham, Leahy let loose. Even the chairman Specter.

Republican Graham, from conservative South Carolina, also came out swinging.

And the punches landed. Blood on the walls. Even with Cornyn and Sessions saying the right, nice things couldn’t clear or clean it up.

But, as with everything in show business Your Nation’s Capital, Haynes didn’t have the stage presence of mind to counter senatorial heckling from the bench. He brought it on himself.

And he didn’t quite have his one-liners down. He starts with a story about his mentor musing that a lawyer, “Should never attribute to malice, that which can be attributed to stupidity.”

At which point I heard a Code-Pinker in front of me stage whisper, “So that makes us stupid?”

Which, of course, it does. But by now, even this early, the crowd was lost, the battle was lost. For Haynes.

I really don’t know what was worse: the contemptuous questions. Or Haynes’ gosh-awful answers.

My favorite exchange was from Leahy: Who told you, you would be a good judge?

Haynes, …the President must have thought…I would do a good job…

(When Haynes talked, there was a lot of ” … “.)

Leahy, Did the President ever say you’d be a good judge?

Haynes, No.

The crowd was stunned into silence. It is seldom that one sees such a punch-in-the-nose in public.

Leahy continues with the haymakers, Tell me about who first told you that you were to be nominated — when you first learned about being a judge on the Fourth Circuit.

Haynes, …I don’t remember…

Leahy, Can you tell us who first told you about being a judge?

Haynes, … [and] … [and some more]…[finally] I really don’t remember.

This is an odd answer from an afternoon filled with odd answers. There are events that release so much epinephrine that the memory is forever imprinted. Where You Were When Kennedy Was Shot. Where You Were When You Got Your Draft Notice. The NFL Draft Call. That Wife Stuff. Your Kids Being Born. The WTC Attack.

The Call To Be A Judge On The Federal Appeals Court.

Haynes doesn’t recall. Leahy says that in his 32 years in this business, “This is the first time a nominee didn’t remember The Call.”

How did Leahy know to ask that question? And know that he’d get such an embarrassing answer?

The audience shifts in their seats uncomfortably. Even those who don’t support Haynes now feel sorry for him.

Except for me. I’m hoping the Senators will ask Haynes about the Army placing women into combat, breaking rule and reg.

But all the Committee wants is to torture Haynes with torture. It seems that Haynes assembled a team of lawyers to fulfill a General’s request to use extraordinary means to get information.

They needed some clever wordsmithing to get around cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, which is prohibited by law.

And Haynes came up with some very clever work-arounds. With which I would agree.

But.

But, the law is clear: we can’t do degrading things like having a terrorist walk around nude on leash. If the Army interrogator wants a nude terrorist on a leash, change the law.

Goodness: This is insane. Nekked arabs on a rope is not torture. But the wording of the law is clear. Change the law so that we can torture with sleep deprivation and forced viewings of The View.

Instead, Haynes is too clever by half. And changes the meanings of words. Haynes says that it depends, “[how you] define that phrase…” and stumbled over an answer on ‘degrading’ interrogation techniques.

The Judiciary Committee didn’t get to Women in Combat. But they didn’t have to. Haynes has shown us an unfortunate pattern of word-change-definitions. Something about defense of necessity and lawyerly talkie-talk which made it clear that he was making it up.

When the issue is: either obey the law, or change it.

Haynes may be complicit in the changing of definition on women in combat. Somewhere, someone with clever lawyerly oversight, changed the definition of “co-locate.” Where women are now being placed into army units that are required to be all-male.

The pattern on Haynes’ advice to the DoD on torture seems to be the same with the semantics of women in combat.

The control of the military is slipping from the President and Congress to Army lawyers who can re-define “degrading” and “co-locate” and lots of other words to do anything the Army wants.

Which is not always a bad idea. But change the law first.

Haynes should not be nominated, unless he answers questions about women in combat.

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Full Disclosure: I serve as the Vice President of the Center for Military Readiness.

Mudville has Open Post.

Big Lizards has excellent analysis on Article 3.

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Haynes Nomination Opposed by the Center for Military Readiness

July 10, 2006 | By | One Comment

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Human Events Elaine Donnelly, President of the CMR, has an article at Human Events, opposing the nomination of Jim Haynes, currently the General Counsel for the Department of Defense. He’s up for the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The 4th can be a stepping stone for the Supreme Court.

In William Haynes Needs to Explain Why Pentagon Put Women in Land Combat, Donnelly says:

. . .we wish we could join conservative friends in supporting the nomination of William J. Haynes II…

We cannot do so at this time, however, for the same reasons that we questioned the nomination of White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.

…The Army is ordering women into certain units that are required to be all male.

Why did Mr. Haynes allow this to happen?

The President has said, “No women in [land] combat.”

The Congress has said, “…the intent of the Congress, which was no [land] combat for women.”

The Army has said no women, “…in battalion size or smaller units which are assigned a primary mission to engage in direct ground combat or which collocate routinely with units assigned a direct ground combat mission.”

AR 600-13 Army Policy for the Assignment of Female Soldiers, Headquarters, Department of the Army, Washington, DC, 27 March 1992, Unclassified.

The Army is currently operating outside Presidential order, law and (even worse!) outside Army Regulation.

To break a reg, and a big one at that, lotsa of lawyers have to shuffle lotsa paper. The Pentagon’s top legal counsel is Haynes. His job is to provide oversight, guidance, and direction regarding legal advice on all matters arising with in the DoD, including the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Mr. Haynes has avoided answering questions that could clear this up and remove any doubt about his fitness to serve. But Haynes hasn’t answered.

I don’t need to know how Haynes would rule in the future — I’m only interested in how he advised and counseled on DoD regulations promulgated on 13 Jan 1994.

He should not be confirmed, unless Haynes answers questions about Women in Combat.

Read questions for Haynes at the jump.

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Kayla Jaenke looks on the casket bearing her mother,

Petty Officer 2nd Class Jaime Jaenke, courtesy Waterloo Courier

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Navy Combat Action Ribbon; Girls Get Them Too

June 30, 2006 | By | One Comment

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The Navy’s

Combat

Action

RibbonGirls used to wear ribbons in their hair. Now girls wear them on their chests. Left breast, to be exact.

Bill Gertz is reporting today in The Washington Times that the Navy is expanding the award criteria for the Combat Action Ribbon to include IED’s.

A Marine officer said to Gertz,

Your don’t have to return fire to win a combat action ribbon.

“Direct Exposure” is now in the same category as “Direct Fire.”

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The Army’s

Combat Action Badge

1st AwardWhich is as it should be. But this will now mean that women will be eligible — the CAR is the Navy’s equivalent to the Army’s Combat Action Badge. Which is now being awarded to women.

With which I would also agree. Except.

Except this is more of the Pentagon’s incremental change where we continue to see ‘women’ and ‘combat’ in the same phrase.

So what’s all the fuss about women getting combat decorations?

The truth is that women shouldn’t be deliberately subject to any hostile fire, direct, in-direct, mines, or improvised.

Women are being placed at “the tip of the spear.”

While men abed in America

Hold their manhood cheap…

We few, we happy few,

We band of…siblings.

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