Thursday, September 01, 2005

SUBJECT: Why did he, he and she say it?

* Tomas Young, U.S. Army Specialist and Iraq War Veteran.

* Rahul Mahajan, independent journalist and author of a number of books including "Full Spectrum Dominance: U.S. Power in Iraq and Beyond." He runs a blog at

* Cindy Sheehan, mother of soldier killed in Iraq and founder of Camp Casey in honor of her son Casey Sheehan who was killed in Iraq in April, 2004. She is also a co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace.

* Photographs of Camp Casey by Kim Terpening can be found at


RAHUL MAHAJAN: Well, yeah. I mean, it's remarkable, I think. I was there only three days later in Sadr City talking to and interviewing the very people who were involved in these clashes, and it certainly – I do wonder several things. One of them being, really, what was the level of education about the specifics given to the soldiers? What were you told, Tomas, for example, about who you were fighting and why you were fighting them, and what they were all about before you were sent in that open, unarmored truck?

TOMAS YOUNG: I – me particularly, in particular, I was told nothing about who we were fighting or what was going on. The only thing I was told was that we were going to provide security for a rescue mission for two soldiers that were down from another company, and it was to my understanding that once that was done, for my particular truck, we were going back to the base.

RAHUL MAHAJAN: Well, of course when you go on a rescue mission –

TOMAS YOUNG: I didn’t know anything about why we were going towards the center of the city, or I had no level of education as to what was going on that particular day or what was happening.

RAHUL MAHAJAN: Well, of course, when you are going on a rescue mission in an area where there's active fighting, there's a good chance that you will be fighting, as well. Another thing I wonder is that one gets a general impression that U.S. soldiers are told basically, “These are a bunch of bad guys. These are a bunch of terrorists,” given the impression that they are just sort of addicted to mindless violence, and that's why you have to go and fight them. Was that the sort of general impression you had or was there a feeling that there were some actual understandable reasons why, for example, these people might be fighting you?

TOMAS YOUNG: For me – I'm sorry, could you repeat that again?

RAHUL MAHAJAN: Did you get – were you sort of given the impression that these people you might be fighting were basically mindless terrorists addicted to violence, or did you have a sense there might actually be political reasons behind their attacking U.S. forces?

TOMAS YOUNG: Well for my – me, in particular, my understanding was that that was what I understood to be happening, was they had political reasons for wanting Americans out and all of that, again to be fighting us,
but from what the battalion level and all of the higher-ups were trying to tell us, that they were just mindless terrorists who, yeah, they wanted to come over and destroy the American way of life and that we were going to defend freedom and, you know, that was definitely the rah-rah, gung ho kind of attitude they were trying to instill in us so that we could, you know, feel more comfortable with going in and, you know, I guess killing them.


CINDY SHEEHAN: Well, it was an honor to meet Tomas and his wife, and I'm glad Tomas came out and shared the experience with us. I just disagree with him on one thing. It wouldn't be an honor for him to meet George Bush. It would be an honor to George Bush if he ever met Tomas, because Tomas has more courage and integrity in his pinky than George Bush has in his entire body. And we're – actually, our plans are now to find a piece of property right by George Bush's ranch and put up a veteran's rehabilitation center there. So, he – for the rest of his life, he will have to look – George Bush will have to look and see what his policies did. He will have to look at people like Tomas and know that he has devastated so many people in this country by his lies and his deceptions, and when I see people like Tomas, it just makes me resolve to fight even harder for our young people over there and for the people of Iraq and really for the people of the world.
And Casey was killed in an LMTV, like Tomas was in,. They didn't even have their armor from Kuwait yet. They didn't have their tanks. They didn't have their Bradleys. And they sent our children to be sacrificial lambs, to be slaughtered, you know, in the city. And it just really proves that our babies, our precious, precious children are nothing but cannon fodder to these people. I just want to encourage all of America to not give your children to these maniacs. When mothers stop allowing their children to be sacrificed for greed, that's when the wars are going to stop.


We're getting on the bus. We're not letting up. But now we're going to shift part of the pressure on the Congress. You know, Congress is, as much if not more, culpable for the bloodshed in Iraq. And we're going to keep the pressure on the President, obviously. You know, we had 1,500 people in San Diego, while he was there the other day, protesting his policies. We will keep the pressure on him, but now we're going to go to Congress -- excuse me, I don't have a voice anymore -- and we're going to ask Congress the same questions we wanted to ask the President, but also we're going to put on top of it, “How many more people are you willing to let die for this mistake before you call an end to it?”


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