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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have mixed feeling about this and am interested in what other think.

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/10/international/middleeast/10POWS.html?hp

November 10, 2003
U.S. Opposes Money for Troops Jailed in Iraq
By PHILIP SHENON

WASHINGTON, Nov. 9 — The Bush administration is seeking to block a group of American troops who were tortured in Iraqi prisons during the Persian Gulf war in 1991 from collecting any of the hundreds of millions of dollars in frozen Iraqi assets they won last summer in a federal court ruling against the government of Saddam Hussein.

In a court challenge that the administration is winning so far but is not eager to publicize, administration lawyers have argued that Iraqi assets frozen in bank accounts in the United States are needed for Iraqi reconstruction and that the judgment won by the 17 former American prisoners should be overturned.

If the administration succeeds, the former prisoners would be deprived of the money they won and, they say, of the validation of a judge's ruling that documented their accounts of torture by the Iraqis — including beatings, burnings, starvation, mock executions and repeated threats of castration and dismemberment.

"I don't want to say that I feel betrayed, because I still believe in my country," said Lt. Col. Dale Storr, whose Air Force A-10 fighter jet was shot down by Iraqi fire in February 1991.

"I've always tried to keep in the back of my mind that we were never going to see any of the money," said Colonel Storr, who was held by the Iraqis for 33 days — a period in which he says his captors beat him with clubs, broke his nose, urinated on him and threatened to cut off his fingers if he did not disclose military secrets. "But it goes beyond frustration when I see our government trying to pretend that this whole case never happened."

Another former prisoner, David Eberly, a retired Air Force colonel whose F-15 fighter was shot down over northwest Iraq and who said his interrogators repeatedly pointed a gun at his head and pulled the trigger on an empty chamber, said he was surprised by the administration's eagerness to overturn the judgment.

"The administration wants $87 billion for Iraq," he said. "The money in our case is just a drop of blood in the bucket."

Officials at the Justice and State Departments, which are overseeing the administration's response to the case, say they are sensitive to the claims of the former prisoners, who brought suit against Iraq under a 1996 law that allows foreign governments designated as terrorist sponsors to be sued for injuries.

But they say the case cannot be allowed to hinder American foreign policy and get in the way of the administration's multibillion-dollar reconstruction efforts in Iraq — an argument that federal appeals courts seem likely to accept.

"No amount of money can truly compensate these brave men and women for the suffering that they went through at the hands of a truly brutal regime," said Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman. "It was determined earlier this year by Congress and the administration that those assets were no longer assets of Iraq, but they were resources required for the urgent national security needs of rebuilding Iraq."

In a related case, a federal judge in New York ruled in September that the families of people killed in the Sept. 11 attacks could not claim any part of about $1.7 billion in frozen Iraqi assets in the United States.

The judge noted that President Bush had signed an executive order in March, on the eve of the American invasion of Iraq, that confiscated Iraqi assets and converted them into assets of the United States government. In May, after Mr. Hussein was ousted, Mr. Bush issued a declaration that effectively removed Iraq from a list of countries liable for some court judgments involving past rights abuses and links to terrorism.

In a sworn court filing in the case for the former prisoners, L. Paul Bremer III, the American administrator in Iraq, said the money won by the former prisoners had already been "completely obligated or expended" in reconstruction efforts.

"These funds are critical to maintaining peace and stability in Iraq," he said. "Restricting these funds as a result of this litigation would affect adversely the ability of the United States to achieve security and stability in the region."

The case dates from April of last year, when the 17 former prisoners and their families filed suit in the Federal District Court here against Mr. Hussein and his government, seeking damages for the physical and emotional injuries suffered as a result of torture during the prisoners' captivity. The prisoners represented all branches of the military.

The Iraqi government made no effort to respond to the lawsuit. In July, three months after the fall of Mr. Hussein, Judge Richard W. Roberts ordered the former Iraqi government to pay damages totaling nearly $1 billion — $653 million in compensatory damages, $306 million in punitive damages.

"No one would subject himself for any price to the terror, torment and pain experienced by these American P.O.W.'s," the judge wrote. But he said that "only a very sizable award would be likely to deter the torture of American P.O.W.'s by agencies or instrumentalities of Iraq or other terrorist states in the future."

The lawyers who brought the case on behalf of the former prisoners said such a huge penalty against Iraq would discourage other governments from torturing American troops.

"This was a major human rights decision," said John Norton Moore, one of the lawyers and a professor of national security law at the University of Virginia. "It never occurred to me in my wildest dreams that I would then see our government coming in on the side of Saddam Hussein and his regime to absolve them of responsibility for the brutal torture of Americans."

The administration moved within days of Judge Roberts's decision to block the former prisoners from collecting any money. On July 30, the judge reluctantly sided with the government, saying Mr. Bush's actions after the overthrow of Mr. Hussein had barred the transfer of the frozen assets to the former prisoners.

He said he had no other choice even though the administration's position "that the P.O.W.'s are unable to recover any portion of their judgment as requested, despite their sacrifice in the service of their country, seems extreme." The former prisoners are appealing the case through the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Stephen A. Fennell, a Washington lawyer who is also representing the former prisoners, said the Bush administration had rejected a proposal that would have allowed the United States to delay the payments to his clients for months or years — until after the reconstruction of Iraq was well under way. "My guys are obviously real patriots, and they authorized us to tell the government that we were willing to wait," he said. "But that was turned down."

Cynthia Acree, whose husband, Clifford, is a Marine colonel who was held by the Iraqis for 47 days, said that "the money is not the issue and it never has been."

She said Judge Roberts's ruling that detailed her husband's torture — including beatings that resulted in a skull fracture and broken nose, as well as mock executions and threats of castration — had been "a tremendous gift" to her husband.

"I remember it so well, the look on my husband's face when he heard the decision, because finally there was a public record," she said. "But now, our government wants to act like none of this happened, to throw out the entire case. My husband is an active-duty Marine colonel, and President Bush is his commander in chief. But I'm not. And I can say that I feel betrayed."



Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company
 

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Speaks For Itself

I think it speaks pretty clearly about what Bush's priorities are.

BTW: about a month ago, and article was Printed in parade magazine wherein it detailed how thousands of disabled veterans were petitioning GWB to give them a break. It turns out if you are a disabled veteran (meaning you are disabled in service and can't work) you are entitled to a meager pittance of disability pay.

What most people don't know is that the disability pay is subtracted from your military retirement income, which means you actually get no disability pay. Given how paltry the retirement pay is, most people have to work to supplement it. If you are disabled and can't work, you get the priveledge of starving slowly.

The congress overwhelmingly passed legislation to stop the practice of stealing the disability pay from deserving vets, and GWB vetoed it.

He's a true patriot for sure.



Here is the text of the article copied verbatim:


Supporting Our Veterans
Article copied verbatim from Parade magazine regarding how the Bush administration treats retired veterans:


"Penalizing Disabled Veterans

More than 400 retired generals and admirals recently wrote to Presient Bush - but it was not a fan letter. They wanted to know why he won't support legislation to help disabled military retirees. There are more than 560,000 retired veterans who made the military their career and who get disability pay from the Veterans Administration, but most must forfeit an equal dollar amount from their military retirement pay. Some actually have to forfeit their entire retirement income, forcing them to live in poverty. Meanwhile, anyone who was disabled in the service but left the military for a career in another federal agency does not pay this penalty.

Last year, congress overwhelmingly passed legislation to fix this, but the White House opposed it. The legislation has been re-introduced, and the retired officers are asking president Bush to back it. (A substitute bill authorized special pay only to certain disabled retirees). Disgruntled veterans want to make this a campaign issue, and they say it will hurt military recruitment and enlistment. Stay tuned to see what the White House does."
 

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Acrobat- It is unfortunate that they will be denied there settlement. But, realistically who would pay for the settlement at this time? The “old” regime is gone, and if we expect the Iraqis to be responsible for this settlement, then we have no grounds to deny the French, the Russians and who ever else was owed money from demanding that the current government honor the deals made with Saddam.

bountyhunter- LOL, I can almost guarantee that you have no idea what you are talking about. Granted, disability pay is deducted from the veterans pension... But, the amount they receive in disability pay ranges from $10,000 to $20,000 depending upon their level of disability and number of dependants. This money is tax free, and likely exceeds by a vast amount the $ value of their likely pensions. This is especially true for the Vietnam War era disabled veterans who probably have at most 4 or 5 years of service. Those years of service do not add up too much of a pension check. As usual your rhetoric is quite shallow and is tellingly partisan.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Good comments all and many different views to consider.

I've done a few background searches and found a couple links that I thought those of you interested might want to read.

The text from the original suit including some pretty graphic descriptions of the tortures endured - http://www.pownetwork.org/gulf/us_district_court _suit.htm

I also appreciated reading a number of different views from a web forum called "America's Debate" - http://www.americasdebate.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=3795

Living in AZ, I have much admiration for former POW John McCain and tend to dislike whiners. But I also suspect that their suit was fully supported and encouraged by US powers BEFORE we attacked and confiscated the Iraqi resources. If it turns out that the suit was even partially engineered by the US, then I guess we owe them something for their efforts and they're getting screwed for doing what they were encouraged to do.

If the suit was entirely their own idea (doubtful as that may seem) then perhaps a billion bucks IS excessive. I also wonder if the lawyers were on the federal dole or if they were supposed to get the normal 1/3...
 

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eljay45 said:
IMO when you join the military you are aware that you may be killed or captured. It is just part of the job. They should have never filed the law suit.
Maybe, but this whole thing is deja vu all over again: the same thing happened to the people who were held captive and tortured in Iran when they took our embassy. The governement used it as an excuse to sieze all of Iran's assets, the courts made the awards to the victims who filed suit, but the government never gave them a dime (accounts are still being held). The people in that embassy sure didn't take the post with the undertsanding they would likely be captured and tortured.

And, you are saying that a person gives up his rights to seek redress through the courts if he joins the military? Why shouldn't a country that tortures our soldiers be forced to pay damages for their suffering? And where should that money go.... to the victims of the torture or the GWB re-election fund that just last week passed the mark where money has to be counted using astronomical units that measure the distances between stars.

Bush is going to deny these litigants the settlement they lawfully were awarded for the same reason Tiger Woods only dates tall blonde supermodels:

Because he can.
 

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bountyhunter said:
[B



And, you are saying that a person gives up his rights to seek redress through the courts if he joins the military? Why shouldn't a country that tortures our soldiers be forced to pay damages for their suffering? [/B]
Lawsuits and money are not the answer to everything. If these military personnel were given every single dime that the U.S. has siezed it would not give them back what was taken from them and it would in no way punish the people that tortured them. It would simply make them and their attorneys wealthy with funds that rightfully belong to the Iraqi people. Using the money to rebuild the country seems to make more sense to me.
 

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JTP said:

bountyhunter- LOL, I can almost guarantee that you have no idea what you are talking about. Granted, disability pay is deducted from the veterans pension... But, the amount they receive in disability pay ranges from $10,000 to $20,000 depending upon their level of disability and number of dependants. This money is tax free, and likely exceeds by a vast amount the $ value of their likely pensions. This is especially true for the Vietnam War era disabled veterans who probably have at most 4 or 5 years of service. Those years of service do not add up too much of a pension check. As usual your rhetoric is quite shallow and is tellingly partisan.
Interesting. I quote verbatim an article written by someone else who says exactly what I said and your conclusion is that "I don't know what I'm talking about".

And, not to mention, my father retired after 33 years of service and had to sue the VA for his disability rating... yet I know nothing of these matters... OK.

Well... FYI, getting the disability rating (so that a portion of the income is now disability pay) does make a portion of the income tax free. Although, the disability benefits were also offset against social security benefits. So, there is a tiny benefit in saved taxes when you are awarded a disability rating, but the amount is miniscule considering what tax bracket the average pensioner is in. It is nothing compared to actually receiving the pension you earned through service and the disability pay which you earned by being disabled during that service... and that is the point of the article.

As to your statement:

"But, the amount they receive in disability pay ranges from $10,000 to $20,000 depending upon their level of disability.......and likely exceeds by a vast amount the $ value of their likely pensions. "

It's amazing what that actually says about how are vets are treated if a $10,000 annual income would "vastly exceed the amount of their pension". They must be living high on the hog.

Think about it.

The point I said which is also clearly spelled out in the article is the one you have completely ignored (for obvious reasons):

If a person is disabled and entitled to an award for that (because he can't work and he has suffered a hardship) it is a lie to say he gets that benefit if the governement simply takes it out of his other pocket.... or if they take 60% or 80% of it away. And it is especially infuriating when it is only service vets who are getting screwed this way on their pensions, and it is not applied to any other federal pension such as retired congressman who may be drawing as many as four different pensions.

You also completely ignored the point that the combined houses of congress (who normally can't agree which direction the sun comes up) came together and overwhelmingly passed legislation to correct this injustice, and the guy who killed it was GWB.

You also ignored the obvious conclusion that flows from that, which is he doesn't give a flaming crap about disabled veterans and doesn't think they deserve the money.

So, your "you don't know what your talking about " comeback is not only inaccurate, it also falls about 1000 miles short of answering the issue that is posted... obviously because it is indefensible and doesn't jive with the Bush supporters fantasy about how he is 100% behind our armed forces. facts are facts. As they say, money talks and BS walks. Congress did the talking, and GWB spouted his BS and walked away with the money that the vets rightfully deserve. Slice it any way you want, it still comes out the same.
 

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bountyhunter said:
Maybe, but this whole thing is deja vu all over again: the same thing happened to the people who were held captive and tortured in Iran when they took our embassy. The governement used it as an excuse to sieze all of Iran's assets, the courts made the awards to the victims who filed suit, but the government never gave them a dime (accounts are still being held). The people in that embassy sure didn't take the post with the undertsanding they would likely be captured and tortured.

And, you are saying that a person gives up his rights to seek redress through the courts if he joins the military? Why shouldn't a country that tortures our soldiers be forced to pay damages for their suffering? And where should that money go.... to the victims of the torture or the GWB re-election fund that just last week passed the mark where money has to be counted using astronomical units that measure the distances between stars.

Bush is going to deny these litigants the settlement they lawfully were awarded for the same reason Tiger Woods only dates tall blonde supermodels:

Because he can.
:rolleyes:

Do you ever actually make a point, or address any aspect of the rather obvious complications in this situation? Any reply you make seems to include at least one gratuitous spiteful remark aimed at the current administration, and absolutely zero contributions to the current topic of discussion. What you wrote above is just plain retarded.
 

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JTP said:
:rolleyes:

Do you ever actually make a point, or address any aspect of the rather obvious complications in this situation? Any reply you make seems to include at least one gratuitous spiteful remark aimed at the current administration, and absolutely zero contributions to the current topic of discussion. What you wrote above is just plain retarded.
LOL. Tell us something we dont know. Its all so clever isnt it?
 

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JTP said:
:rolleyes:

Do you ever actually make a point, or address any aspect of the rather obvious complications in this situation? ....What you wrote above is just plain retarded.
I'll have to defer to your expertise on what is retarded, since I have been made aware by the mods that personal attacks are never tolerated here unless they are directed at me.

SEE IF YOU CAN FOLLOW THIS:

Being in the service does not void your legal rights to sue someone who has wronged or harmed you. Period. If our courts find legal cause to make an award, stop whining and admit they are entitled to it. Clear enough? And the government should not then simply ignore that court's ruling as they also did in the previous case regarding settlements of Iranian siezed assets and refuse to pay.

It's the same BS: the governemnt siezes money, people who are entitled to part of it sue for their share, the courts decide and then the adminsitration ignores the law because they can get away with it. It is total BS, they should be forced to obey the same laws we do and they should cough up the money. This "they should have never sued because they were in the military" is the biggest crock of manure I've ever heard.

THOSE POINTS CLEAR ENOUGH TO BE UNDERSTOOD?

Here is the other point which you failed to grasp: the governemnt can simply refuse to pay it's lawful debts when it chooses and nothing happens. Period.

The fact that the people being screwed in this case are veterans makes it even worse, and the people saying veterans are not entitled to sue for damages just because they are servicemen are wrong. They may not have the right to sue the US government, but they sure as hell have the right to sue other governments. And if our courts find their claims valid and award damages against assets in this country, our government needs to get their greedy paws off the money and abide by the law.

CLEAR ENOUGH TO UNDERSTAND?

As to the issue of veterans getting screwed out of disability pay, it's relevant because it's cloth sewn from the same thread: If you are out of the service, you are no longer valuable and you are fair game to get screwed like a $2 whore. Bottom line, money talks and the way veterans are treated is the only real barometer of how they are valued. And Bush's performance on that currently rates an "S" for shameful.
 

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bountyhunter said:
I'll have to defer to your expertise on what is retarded, since I have been made aware by the mods that personal attacks are never tolerated here unless they are directed at me.
That's not exactly true..I just hadn't caught this one yet.

Let's not call each other retarded.
 
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