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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

hijincks of America's favorite frat boy

Those unhappy few who care that much of what appears in the American papers about Iraq is composed of half truths or outright lies might be interested in the Washington Post’s account of the death of Army Spec. Jesse Buryj. The article goes through the death and the reporting of the death chronologically, so that one can see how one lie is succeeded by another. And in the middle of this is the frat boy whose science project in Iraq – how much pointless blood can one ersatz hero-president spill – got him the majority of votes from a grateful electorate in 2004.

First, the death. Nobody yet knows who shot Jesse Buryj on the night of May 4, 2004. What is known is that he was on night patrol in Karbala. His unit and a unit of Polish troops were coordinated the effort to stifle Sadr’s revolt there.

“Buryj was in the turret of an armored Humvee with a trailer on the east side of the circle, while Polish and U.S. units manned several entrances to the checkpoint.
At 1 a.m. on May 5, a dump truck approached the circle from the south and slowed, as if to stop.

"It just sat there for a few seconds, hesitated, and then it just plowed through," Sgt. Chris DeCloud, a member of Buryj's unit, said in a recent interview. "The engine revved and boom, it was coming through the checkpoint. The Poles were lighting it up from all sides. We lit it up."

The tires blew, and the truck veered to the right but did not slow. Its windshield cracked into a ragged spider web, and the driver slumped, dead. Buryj, seeing the truck coming directly at him, fired several rounds from his M249 machine gun. The truck rammed his vehicle, sending it up on its passenger-side wheels and tossing Buryj to the ground.

"We thought this truck was going to blow up, this is the end. We all did," DeCloud said, adding that he didn't think his unit was taking fire from the Poles. "I thought we were the only ones shooting" when the truck hit the Humvee.”
Buryj broke his back. As he was being choppered back to Baghdad, they discovered a puncture wound in his lower back. He died en route.

The truck? In the official death report, the military described the truck as hostile enemy activity. It was actually a truck filled with sand, and the two Iraqis in it, both shot to death, had no weapons. So much for the hostile.

But the lie of who we are killing in Iraq is old news, and who gives a shit about that. As for the much supported American soldier, well, supposedly the Army has some interest in and loyalty to him or her, so much so that it becomes a matter of interest who, exactly, shot Buryj. But in this case, given that the man could have been shot by our Polish allies – who were nervous and triggerhappy – the Army decided not to stir the pot. The Poles did complete their report, and claimed that, due to Buryj’s position, he was likely killed by an American bullet.

“The Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory in Forest Park, Ga., could have cleared up the mystery. It reported that the bullet and fragments recovered from Buryj's body provided "sufficient individual characteristics for comparison purposes" and suggested collecting all suspect weapons for analysis.
But that didn't happen. DeCloud said the unit offered to turn over its weapons for testing but "they never got back to us."”

The Buryj family wanted to know exactly what happened. Being ardent Ohio Republicans, Mrs. Buryj even got to see the President, along with other mothers and wives of the dead, in 2004. She asked him to find out what happened to her son. He promised to look into it.

Now George Bush, as we know from a constant stream of the guy, is ever fratboyish, irresponsible, ignorant, criminally neglectful commander in chief, and his promise was a joke. If Buryj had been a pioneer, or in any way wealthy, the story would be different. But if Buryj had been a pioneer, or in any way wealthy, he wouldn't be doing trash time in Iraq, would he? Of course not. He'd be busy looting a corporation, like a good Bush associate. However, this isn't the tale of a broken promise. One has to remember that the Bush culture is all about pushing the limits of bad taste. So the Buryj family did sorta hear back from George Bush:

“In July 2004, two months after their son died, Steve and Peggy Buryj met Bush after a rally at the Canton Civic Center and passed him a letter asking for the truth. "I asked him to do what he could," Peggy said. "He appeared concerned and was very sincere. He said that sometimes all it takes is a call from the president."
Nothing happened, and Peggy Buryj doesn't know whether he made that call. In early October, she said, she received a call from the Bush campaign in Ohio. She said Darrin Klinger, then executive director of the Bush-Cheney Ohio campaign, asked her if she would be interested in appearing in a campaign commercial as a grieving mother who was sticking by her president. (Klinger, reached at his office in Columbus, Ohio, said he is familiar with the Buryj family but does not recall that conversation.) She said she refused. "I told them that if he finds out what happened to my son, I'll win him an Academy Award," she said. "I voted for Bush, I was a supporter. But I was just getting strung along, and I knew it at that point.”

At times like these, it is hard to remember that Bush himself, as a young man, voluntarily put himself in harm’s way by defending Alabama from potential communist aggression. One would think that he might have learned something from his hour of peril. But apparently he didn’t. And the Washington Post might be interested that simply taking dictation from the army about “insurgent” casualties might not exactly be the equivalent of conveying the truth – in fact, it could be simply a pack of lies upon more lies. But that would be to expect way too much from D.C.’s proud standardbearer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm Jesse's mom. You assume way tooooo much. Me and my husband are both democrats. Democrats that feel abandoned by their party.