[ssf] Broken Covenant, Broken Arrow Re: [sheffield-anti-war-coalition] U.S. Soldier Killed Herself +Psychologists in Denial About Torture
adam at diamat.org.uk
Fri Aug 24 17:47:22 BST 2007
01:00 PM GERALD ALI wrote:
> 3 items >>>
> * Psychologists in Denial About Torture
> * U.S. Soldier Killed Herself
> * Recruiting For Iraq War Undercut in Puerto Rico
Another 3 >>>
* Purple Hearts
* Broken Covenant
* War Psychiatry and Iraq Atrocities : How Killing Becomes a Reflex
By Penny Coleman
In 1971, Lt. William Calley was sentenced to life in prison for his
role in the massacre of some 500 civilians in the Vietnamese hamlet of
My Lai. In response to Calley's conviction, Vietnam Veterans Against
the War (VVAW) convened the *Winter Soldier Investigation*. Over a
three-day period, more than a hundred veterans testified to atrocities
they had witnessed committed by U.S. troops against Vietnamese
civilians. Their expressed intention was to demonstrate that My Lai
was not unique, that it was instead the inevitable result of U.S.
policy. It was a travesty of justice, they claimed, to focus blame on
the soldiers when it was the policy makers, McNamara, Bundy, Rostow,
Johnson, LeMay, Nixon and the others who were truly responsible for
the war crimes that had been committed.
In 2004, the release of the Abu Grahib photographs broke the
unforgivable silence in the mainstream press about atrocities
committed by American soldiers in Iraq. Haditha followed, then
Mahmoudiyah, Ishaqi, and at this writing, countless other instances of
savage, homicidal violence directed at civilians have been reported.
The July 30 issue of the Nation included an article, *The Other War*,
by Chris Hedges and Laila Al-Arian, which used interviews with 50
combat veterans to make the case that American soldiers are using
indiscriminate and often lethal force in their dealings with Iraqi
civilians. These veterans, the authors report, have
"returned home deeply disturbed
by the disparity between the reality of the war
and the way it is portrayed by the U.S. government
and American media."
I would wager that they are more deeply disturbed by the reality
itself than the way the media reports it, but certainly government and
media distortions are another layer of betrayal. In a letter
protesting that article, Paul Rieckhoff, president of the anti-war
organization Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, made an
argument parallel to that of VVAW, namely that
"(a)nyone who wants to write a serious piece
about the ethical lapses of the U.S. troops
should start and end the article
by putting blame where it belongs --
on the politicians who sent our troops to war
unprepared and without a clear mission"
(the Nation, 7/13/07).
I'm not suggesting that American soldiers take no responsibility for
their actions. Like Rieckhoff, I would argue that we must balance
outrage at criminal and sadistic acts with the insistence that we
"guard against blaming this new generation of veterans
for the terrible and tragic circumstances [that led to
those acts.] "
And I agree that, once again, the architects have been given a free
pass and that the soldiers, who are doing exactly what they have been
trained to do, are taking the blame. But I want to focus on an aspect
of the situation that is never addressed in the mainstream media, and
not often enough elsewhere: specifically that American troops are
trained to act in criminal and sadistic ways.
Military training has been part of the experience of millions of young
American men since the Revolutionary War. Prior to the Vietnam era,
however, that training consisted largely of practicing military skills
and learning to manage military equipment. It is only in the last half
century that training has evolved into an entirely new phenomenon that
makes use of the principles of operant conditioning to overcome what
studies done over the last century have consistently demonstrated,
namely, that healthy human beings have an inherent aversion to killing
others of their own species.
Operant conditioning holds that organisms, including human beings,
move through their environment rather haphazardly until they encounter
a reinforcing stimulus. The experience of that stimulus becomes
associated in memory with the behavior that immediately preceded it.
In other words, a behavior is followed by a consequence, and the
nature of the consequence, reward or punishment, modifies the
organism's tendency to repeat the behavior. Today's recruits are
intentionally and methodically subjected to a training regimen that is
explicitly designed to turn them into reflexive killers. And it is
very effective. It is also carefully concealed. The military would
prefer to keep their methods out of sight because of the moral and
ethical discussions, not to mention the legal restraints, which public
scrutiny and constitutional debate might impose. Or so I would like to
War Psychiatry, the army's textbook on combat trauma, notes that
the ability of humans and some other primates
to classify certain members of their own species as 'other,'
can neutralize the threshold of inhibition
so they can kill conspecifics."
Modern military training has developed carefully sequenced and
choreographed elements of what many would call brainwashing to
disconnect recruits from their civilian identities. The values,
standards and behaviors they have absorbed over a lifetime from their
families, schools, religions and communities are scorned and punished.
Using cruelty, humiliation, degradation and cognitive disorientation,
recruits are reprogrammed with an entirely new set of learned
responses. Every aspect of combat behavior is rehearsed until response
becomes reflexive. Operant conditioning has vastly improved the
efficacy of American soldiers, at least by military standards. It has
proven to be a reliable way to turn off the switch that controls a
soldier's inherent aversion to killing. American soldiers do kill more
often and more efficiently. Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, author of On
Killing, calls this form of training
[but] psychological warfare conducted not upon the enemy,
but upon one's own troops."
The psychological warfare that is being conducted on today's recruits
is a truly disturbing indication of the worldview of our leadership,
both military and political. The group identity they are drilling into
these kids, the "insider" identity, is based on explicit contempt not
only for the declared enemy of the week, but for the entire civilian
population, with a special emphasis on women and homosexuals. In an
army that is now 15 percent female and who knows (don't ask, don't
tell) what percentage gay, drill instructors still rely on labels like
"girl" or "pussy," "lady" or "fairy" to humiliate, degrade and
ultimately exact conformity. Recruits are drilled with marching chants
that privilege their relationships with their weapons over their
relationships with women
("you used to be my beauty queen,
now I love my M-16"),
or that overtly conflate sex and violence
("this is my rifle,
this is my gun;
this is for fighting,
this is for fun.").
Aside from teaching these kids to quash their innate feelings about
killing in general, they are being programmed with a distorted version
of not only what it means to be a man, but of what it means to be a
citizen. To ascend to the warrior class, one must learn to despise and
distrust all that is not military. Chaim Shatan, a psychiatrist who
worked with Vietnam-era veterans, described this transformative
process as deliberate, as opposed to capricious, sadism, "whose
purpose is to inculcate obedience to command."
There are any number of ways that modern training methods both support
violence, aggression and obedience and help to disconnect a reflex
action from its moral, ethical, spiritual or social implications, but
one of the best illustrations of this process is the marching chants,
or "jodies," as they are known in the services. "Jody" is the
derivative of an African-American work song about Joe de Grinder, a
devilish ladies' man who is at home making time with the soldier's
girlfriend while the soldier is stuck in the war
("ain't no use in going home;
Jody's on your telephone").
According to the military, jodies build morale while distracting
attention from monotonous, often strenuous, exertion. The following,
originally a product of the Vietnam era, has been resurrected for
training purposes in every war since and is an example of the kind of
morale building that has been judged appropriate to the formation of
an American soldier:
Shell the town and kill the people.
Drop the napalm in the square.
Do it on a Sunday morning
While they're on their way to prayer.
Aim your missiles at the schoolhouse.
See the teacher ring the bell.
See the children's smiling faces
As their schoolhouse burns to hell
Throw some candy to the children.
Wait till they all gather round.
Then you take your M-16 now
And mow the little fuckers down.
Thankfully, the brainwashing has not yet been developed that will
override the humanity of most American soldiers. According to the
troops interviewed in the Nation, the kind of psychotic brutality
described in the marching cadence above is indulged by only a
minority. Still, they described atrocities committed against civilians
as "common" -- and almost never punished. As multiple deployments
become the norm, however, and as more scrambled psyches are sent back
into combat instead of into treatment, it is frightening to consider
that the brainwashing may yet prevail. Given the training to which
these soldiers have been subjected and the chaotic conditions in which
they find themselves, it is inevitable that more will succumb to fear
and rage and frustration. They will inevitably be overwhelmed by
cumulative doses of horror, and they will lose control of their
judgment and their compassion. Thirty-six years ago, American veterans
tried to cut through the smoke and mirrors of the official response to
civilian atrocities, the version that scapegoated soldiers and ignored
those who gave the orders. As then Lt. John Kerry put it,
"We could hold our silence;
we could not tell what went on in Vietnam,
but we feel [that it is] not reds,
and not redcoats [that threaten this country],
but the crimes which we are committing."
The soldiers who, following orders, have run over children in the
road rather than slow down their convoy will never be the same again,
regardless of whether government and the media tell the truth. Nor
will the soldiers manning checkpoints who shoot, as ordered, and kill
entire families who failed to stop, only to learn later that no one
had bothered to share with them that the American signal to stop -- a
hand held up, palm towards the oncoming vehicle -- to an Iraqi means,
"Hello, come here."
I have heard a number of the men cited in the Nation article speak
about their combat experiences, and they are tormented by what they
saw and did. They want to tell their stories, not because they are
looking for absolution, but because they want to believe that
Americans want to know. But neither are they willing to take the
They have already carried home the psychic wounds and the dangerous
reflexive habits of violence that will always diminish their lives and
their relationships. In return, they are hoping we will listen to them
this time when they ask us to look a little harder, dig a little
deeper, use a little more discernment. Or have we already arrived at a
point in our collective moral development when, as Shatan predicted,
"Like Eichmann, we … consider evil to be banal and routine?"
[[ Penny Coleman is the widow of a Vietnam veteran who took his own
life after coming home. Her latest book, Flashback: Posttraumatic
Stress Disorder, Suicide and the Lessons of War, was released on
Memorial Day, 2006. Her blog is called Flashback ]]
"I should hardly have thought, sir ..." -- he said --
"that you had any quarrel with mystical explanations."
"On the contrary..." --replied Father Brown,
blinking amiably at him --
"That's just why I can quarrel with 'em.
Any sham lawyer could bamboozle me,
but he couldn't bamboozle you;
because you're a lawyer yourself.
Any fool could dress up as a Red Indian
and I'd swallow him whole as the only original Hiawatha;
but Mr Crake would see through him at once.
A swindler could pretend to me that he knew all about aeroplanes,
but not to Captain Wain.
And it's just the same with the other,
don't you see?
It's just because I have picked up a little about mystics
that I have no use for mystagogues.
Real mystics don't hide mysteries,
they reveal them.
They set a thing up in broad daylight,
and when you've seen it it's still a mystery.
But the mystagogues hide a thing in darkness and secrecy,
and when you find it,
it's a platitude."
> Psychologists in Denial About Torture
> Posted on Aug 21, 2007
> By Amy Goodman
> Last weekend, the American Psychological Association rejected a moratorium that would have prevented its member psychologists from participating in interrogations at U.S. detention centers at places like Guantanamo Bay and secret CIA "black sites" around the world. Instead, the 148,000-member organization passed a resolution at its annual meeting in San Francisco banning psychologists from participating in interrogations that employ certain harsh techniques. Many psychologists within the APA feel the resolution did not go far enough.
> The issue of torture and interrogations has become a sore spot for the APA, the world's largest group of psychologists. The American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association both outright prohibit their members from participating in
> interrogations at locations where basic human rights are not guaranteed, like Guantanamo. These groups have been joined by others, like the American Translators Association and the Society for Ethnomusicology (since translation is essential in interrogations, and sustained, blaring music has been used as a form of torture).
> Central to the debate is the question "Are psychologists participating in torture?" While the Bush administration repeatedly denies that it uses torture, a leaked report of the International Committee of the Red Cross says certain U.S. methods used are "tantamount to torture."
> At a fiery APA town-hall meeting after the vote, Dr. Steven Reisner, one of the leading proponents of a moratorium, asked, "I want to know if passing this resolution prohibits psychologists from being involved in the enhanced interrogation techniques that the
> president of the United States authorized can take place at CIA black sites."
> Defenders of the APA's position are clear: Psychologists need to be present at these interrogations to protect the prisoners, to ensure that the interrogators do not go over the line. Critics argue that psychologists are there to help interrogators push the line further and further, to consult with the interrogators on how best to break the prisoners.
> Dr. Jeffrey Kaye, a psychologist with Survivors International, a torture survivors group, says there is a loophole: Psychologists cannot participate in harsh interrogations, but they can participate in harsh detention conditions. He said: "You see, they don't use sleep deprivation while they're interrogating you, they use it before they interrogate you, as part of the conditions of detention, to soften you up for the interrogation. So the winner today, and I'm sure their lawyers are very happy, is the CIA."
> As the convention began, Anthony Romero of the American Civil Liberties Union issued a letter to the APA, urging a moratorium, warning that psychologists faced legal liability or even prosecution. "We have found troubling evidence of the collusion of medical
> psychologists in the development and implementation of procedures intended to inflict psychological harm on prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and other facilities."
> In a surreal moment at the opening APA session on ethics and interrogations, a Pentagon interrogator, "Dr. Katherine Sherwood" (she appeared to be using a pseudonym), wanted the audience to know that the interrogations were conducted professionally. She said she was denied access to prisoner medical records: "I like to bake at home for the detainees and bring
> home-baked goods to our sessions. I needed to know whether or not a detainee had a peanut allergy, and that could be very serious. There was a process in place where ... the liaison could ask the medical personnel, and they could choose whether or not to give a response."
> Her baking gives new meaning to the term BSCT psychologists (pronounced biscuit), which stands for Behavioral Science Consultation Team. They were the psychologists who helped develop the harsh interrogation techniques, and who the International
> Committee of the Red Cross report said conveyed information about detainee "mental health and vulnerabilities," to help break them down psychologically.
> Romero's ACLU letter ended by saying: "The history of torture is inexorably linked to the misuse of scientific and medical knowledge. As we move fully into the 21st century, it is no longer enough to denounce or to speak out against torture; rather, we must sever the connection between healers and tormentors once and for all. As guardians of the mind,
> psychologists are duty bound to promote the humane treatment of all people."
> Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 500 stations in North America.
> Begin forwarded message:
> Revealed: U.S. Soldier Killed Herself
> After Objecting to Interrogation Techniques
> The true stories of how American troops actually died keep spilling out. Now we learn, thanks to a reporter's FOIA request, that one of the first women to die in Iraq shot and killed herself after objecting to harsh "interrogation techniques."
> Published on November 2, 2006 by Editor & Publisher
> by Greg Mitchell
> The true stories of how American troops, killed in Iraq, actually died keep spilling out this week. On Tuesday, we explored the case of Kenny Stanton, Jr., murdered last month by our allies, the Iraqi police, though the military didn't make that known at the time.
> Now we learn that one of the first female soldiers killed in Iraq died by her own hand after objecting to interrogation techniques used on prisoners.
> She was Army specialist Alyssa Peterson, 27, a Flagstaff, Az., native serving with C Company, 311th Military Intelligence BN, 101st Airborne. Peterson was an Arabic-speaking interrogator assigned to the prison at our air base in troubled Tal-Afar in northwestern Iraq. According to official records, she died on Sept. 15, 2003, from a "non-hostile weapons discharge."
> She was only the third American woman killed in Iraq so her death drew wide press attention. A "non-hostile weapons discharge" leading to death is not unusual in Iraq, often quite accidental, so this one apparently raised few eyebrows. The Arizona Republic, three days after her death, reported that Army officials "said that a number of possible scenarios are being considered, including Peterson's own weapon discharging, the weapon of another soldier discharging or the accidental shooting of Peterson by an Iraqi civilian."
> But in this case, a longtime radio and newspaper reporter named Kevin Elston, unsatisfied with the public story, decided to probe deeper in 2005, "just on a hunch," he told E&P today. He made "hundreds of phone calls" to the military and couldn't get anywhere, so he filed a Freedom of Information Act request. When the documents of the official investigation of her death arrived, they contained bombshell revelations. Here's what the Flagstaff public radio station, KNAU, where Elston now works, reported yesterday:
> "Peterson objected to the interrogation techniques used on prisoners. She refused to participate after only two nights working in the unit known as the cage. Army spokespersons for her unit have refused to describe the interrogation techniques Alyssa objected to. They say all records of those techniques have now been destroyed&hellip."
> She was was then assigned to the base gate, where she monitored Iraqi guards, and sent to suicide prevention training. "But on the night of September 15th, 2003, Army investigators concluded she shot and killed herself with her service rifle," the documents disclose.
> The Army talked to some of Peterson's colleagues. Asked to summarize their comments, Elston told E&P: "The reactions to the suicide were that she was having a difficult time separating her personal feelings from her professional duties. That was the consistent point in the testimonies, that she objected to the interrogation techniques, without describing what those techniques were."
> Elston said that the documents also refer to a suicide note found on her body, revealing that she found it ironic that suicide prevention training had taught her how to commit suicide. He has now filed another FOIA request for a copy of the actual note.
> Peterson's father, Rich Peterson, has said: "Alyssa volunteered to change assignments with someone who did not want to go to Iraq."
> Alyssa Peterson, a devout Mormon, had graduated from Flagstaff High School and earned a psychology degree from Northern Arizona University on a military scholarship. She was trained in interrogation techniques at Fort Huachuca in Arizona, and then sent to the Middle East in 2003.
> The Arizona Republic article had opened: "Friends say Army Spc. Alyssa R. Peterson of Flagstaff always had an amazing ability to learn foreign languages.
> "Peterson became fluent in Dutch even before she went on an 18-month Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints mission to the Netherlands in the late 1990s. Then, she cruised through her Arabic courses at the military's Defense Language Institute in Monterey, Calif., shortly after enlisting in July 2001.
> "With that under her belt, she was off to Iraq to conduct interrogations and translate enemy documents."
> On a "fallen heroes" message board on the Web, Mary W. Black of Flagstaff wrote, "The very day Alyssa died, her Father was talking to me at the Post Office where we both work, in Flagstaff, Az., telling me he had a premonition and was very worried about his daughter who was in the military on the other side of the world. The next day he was notified while on the job by two army officers. Never has a daughter been so missed or so loved than she was and has been by her Father since that fateful September day in 2003. He has been the most broken man I have ever seen."
> An A.W. from Los Angeles wrote: "I met Alyssa only once during a weekend surfing trip while she was at DLI. Although our encounter was brief, she made a lasting impression. We did not know each other well, but I was blown away by her genuine, sincere, sweet nature. I don't know how else to put it-- she was just nice.&hellip.I was devastated to here of her death. I couldn't understand why it had to happen to such a wonderful person."
> Finally, Daryl K. Tabor of Ashland City, Tenn., who had met her as a journalist in Iraq for the Kentucky New Era paper in Hopkinsville: "Since learning of her death, I cannot get the image of the last time I saw her out of my mind. We were walking out of the tent in Kuwait to be briefed on our flights into Iraq as I stepped aside to let her out first. Her smile was brighter than the hot desert sun. Peterson was the only soldier I interacted with that I know died in Iraq. I am truly sorry I had to know any."
> © 2006 VNU eMedia Inc.
> Recruiting For Iraq War Undercut in Puerto Rico By Paul Lewis Wash
> Posted by: "Raulmax...............Wed Aug 22, 2007 3:23 pm (PST)
> Recruiting For Iraq War Undercut in Puerto Rico
> By Paul Lewis
> Washington Post Staff Writer
> Saturday, August 18, 2007; A01
> SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico-The political activists, brown envelopes tucked under their arms, staked out the high school gates just after sunrise. When students emerged from the graffiti-scorched streets of the Rio Piedra neighborhood here and began streaming toward their school, the pro-independence advocates ripped open the envelopes and began handing the teens fliers emblazoned with the slogan: "Our youth should not go to war."
> At the bottom of the leaflet was a tear sheet that students could sign and later hand to teachers, to request that students' personal contact information not be released to the U.S. Defense Department or to anyone involved in military recruiting.
> The scene outside the Ramon Vila Mayo high school unfolded at schools throughout Puerto Rico this week as the academic year opened. On this island with a long tradition of military service, pro-independence advocates are tapping the territory's growing anti-Iraq war sentiment to revitalize their cause. As a result, 57 percent of Puerto Rico's 10th-, 11th- and 12th-graders, or their
> parents, have signed forms over the past year withholding contact information from the Pentagon- effectively barring U.S. recruiters from reaching out to an estimated 65,000 high school students.
> "If the death of a Puerto Rican soldier is tragic, it's more tragic if that soldier has no say in that war,"
> said Juan Dalmau, secretary general of the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP).
> His efforts are saving the island's children from becoming "colonial cannon meat," he said.
> Under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, all schools receiving U.S. federal funding must provide their students' names, addresses and phone numbers to the military unless the child or parents sign an opt-out form. Puerto Rico
> received $1.88 billion in U.S. education funds this year. For five years, PIP has issued opt-out forms to about 120,000 students in Puerto Rico and encouraged them to sign-and independista activists expect this year to mark their most successful effort yet.
> Such actions come as other antiwar groups on the island are seeking to undercut military recruiting, as well. For example, the Coalition of Citizens Against Militarism, an association of pacifist groups, plans to visit about 70 schools on the island in the coming days, meaning that many students will receive two, or even three, opt-out forms by the end of August.
> Antiwar advocates have even gained direct access to Puerto Rican classrooms under a controversial directive issued last September by Rafael Aragunde, the island's education secretary, granting "equal access" by pacifist groups and
> military recruiters.
> Although he will not bar recruiters from schools, Aragunde said, he has a "lot of sympathy" for what pacifist groups are trying to accomplish. "I've always felt that one of the byproducts of a good educational system is that you have to insist on ecological values, we have to insist on pacifist values." Aragunde described his relations with military recruiters as "cordial."
> Bill Carr, deputy undersecretary of defense for military personnel policy, acknowledged that the counter-recruiting campaigns are having an impact. "We're drawing less than the national average" in Puerto Rico, he said.
> In the 2003-06 period, 4,947 Puerto Rican men and women enlisted in the Army or Reserves, or approximately 123 people per 100,000 residents, according to Pentagon data. That is below the average contribution of U.S. states, and far below the numbers in states such as Alabama, Kansas, Montana and Oklahoma, each of which enlists more than 200 men and women per 100,000, according to Army data.
> "We're not taking more than our share from Puerto Rico," Carr said.
> "We're taking less than our share, because that's what they'll give us." Carr said he suspects that opt-out rates for states in the continental United States rarely break beyond 10 percent-a far cry from the nearly 60 percent on the island.
> Reaction outside the gates of the Ramon Vila Mayo school this week seem to confirm that suspicion. A few students shrugged off the political activists' overtures, while others smiled and declared their interest in joining the "Yankee" military. But most of the teens politely accepted the forms, nodded and even fetched pens from their school bags.
> Calls for Puerto Rico's independence have existed since the days of Spanish colonial rule and continued after the United States seized control of the island in 1898. In the 1950s, a branch of the movement attempted a violent uprising. Although many Puerto Ricans express deep patriotism for the island, the independence impulse has never translated in the polls-either in elections or
> in successive plebiscites on the status of the territory, in which independence has repeatedly been rejected.
> Leaders from the island's two major political parties say that their PIP opponents are exploiting young people to advance their separatist grievances. And Pentagon officials accuse the activists of "manipulating" impressionable young people.
> "What's going on in Puerto Rico is an artificial circumstance, where a group is trying to persuade students to take their name off a list, and of course that's going to meet in some change in behavior," Carr said. "In the event that someone approaches a young person and their voluntary behavior is to take an opt-out card and give it to their teacher, there's nothing we can or should do in that case. That's free speech. But it's curious speech, because it's manipulating the flow of information . . . and that is unhealthy."
> The Pentagon said it is on track to meet its recruiting targets for this fiscal year. However, despite a $3.2 billion national recruitment campaign, the military was forced to bring back 1,000 former recruiters to help with the summer months-the peak recruiting period-and late last month introduced a $20,000 "quick-ship" bonus for recruits willing to enter training before October.
> Carr said that Puerto Rico's anti-military drive could force recruiters to focus on states such as Texas, where they meet with less resistance.
> Maj. Ricardo Sierra, who runs eight of Puerto Rico's 14 Army recruiting stations, rejected the notion that anti-recruitment efforts are affecting his operations. High school students are not his target demographic, he said, because few speak English well enough to pass military entrance exams. Instead, Sierra said, recruiters are meeting targets by contacting college-educated students.
> "We do target [high school students], we do campaigns, we talk to the seniors, but we don't get a whole lot of them," Sierra said, estimating that the U.S. military enlists an average of 22 Puerto Rican high school graduates per year.
> Senior chief Joe Vega, who heads the island's three Navy recruiting stations, said that "if Puerto Rico was a fully bilingual state or country, the recruiting contribution would be much higher." His top recruiter, Chief Select Ernesta Marrero, said that many young people sign up out of patriotism or a sense of obligation to the United States.
> "Being part of the U.S. is what gives them the right to their freedom, democracy, the chance to voice their opinions-it' them the right to their freedom, democracy, the chance to voice
> Sonia Santiago, founder of the local group Mothers Against War, said her volunteers visit schools to "unmask" the way in which recruiters promise "villas y castillas" (villas and castles) that they cannot deliver. One persuasive tactic, she added, is to ask children how their mothers would feel if they were injured or killed in war.
> Aragunde, the education secretary and a self-declared independista, said that most Puerto Ricans do not view the U.S. armed forces as "their military." According to a recent poll by the Puerto Rican daily El Nuevo Día, 75 percent of commonwealth residents oppose the Iraq war-a figure that has escalated with the number of Puerto Ricans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
> The Pentagon lists 37 service members from the island as killed in action in the two conflicts, but local antiwar groups say the number exceeds 80, including suicides and soldiers recruited from the U.S. mainland. Deaths of all Puerto Rican troops make headlines here. The funeral in March of Army Cpl. Jason Nunez, 22, proved particularly emotional. In images broadcast throughout the island, his mother removed the U.S. flag from her son's coffin and deliberately dropped it to the floor. She later implored other
> parents not to allow their children to fight in the U.S. military.
> Aragunde said such images shape public opinion. "You don't want children fighting on the streets, you don't want children cheating, nor stealing, and you don't want them to think that an alternative to solving any conflict is war," he said. "I feel it's my obligation to defend that value."
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