Iraq Vet Accuses Bush-Obama Of War Crimes In Suicide Note
Above: From Gawker, “I am sorry it has come to this: A soldiers last words. By Getty Premium.
“I was made to participate in things, the enormity of which is hard to describe… to move on would be the mark of a sociopath.”
On Tuesday, the New York Times published the suicide note of Daniel Somers, a 30-year-old war veteran from Phoenix, Arizona who shot himself in the head on June 10, four years after the end of his second deployment in Iraq. The young man is a casualty of an American war machine that has claimed the lives of over one million people in the last decade alone. Somers’ note (see below) is a chilling indictment of the Bush and Obama administrations, which have waged a series of wars of aggression, devastating the lives of thousands of soldiers, having ordered them to commit unconscionable war crimes.
“The simple truth is this,” the note reads, “During my first deployment, I was made to participate in things, the enormity of which is hard to describe. War crimes, crimes against humanity. Though I did not participate willingly, and made what I thought was my best effort to stop these events, there are some things that a person simply cannot come back from… to move on in life after being part of such a thing would be the mark of a sociopath in my mind. These things go far beyond what most are even aware of.
“To force me to do these things and then participate in the ensuing cover-up is more than any government has the right to demand. Then, the same government has turned around and abandoned me. They offer no help and actively block the pursuit of gaining outside help… Any blame rests with them.”
The note describes in harrowing detail the effects of these wars on their participants:
“My body has become nothing but a cage, a source of pain and constant problems. The illness I have has caused me pain that not even the strongest medicines could dull, and there is no cure. All day, every day a screaming agony in every nerve ending in my body. It is nothing short of torture. My body is a wasteland, filled with visions of incredible horror, unceasing depression, and crippling anxiety, even with all of the medications the doctors dare give.
“Simple things that everyone else takes for granted are nearly impossible for me. I cannot laugh or cry. I can barely leave the house. I derive no pleasure from any activity. Everything simply comes down to passing time until I can sleep again. Now, to sleep forever seems to be the most merciful thing… I have nothing left. Too trapped in a war to be at peace, too damaged to be at war.”
In the note, Somers points to the deep undercurrents of violence and suffering that plague American society. He issues a sharp rebuke to Barack Obama and George Bush, condemning them for overseeing a “system” predicated on high levels of misery, poverty and social inequality.
“Is it any wonder that the latest figures show 22 veterans killing themselves each day? That is more veterans than children killed at Sandy Hook, every single day. Where are the huge policy initiatives? Why isn’t the president standing with those families at the State of the Union? Perhaps because we were not killed by a single lunatic, but rather by his own system of dehumanization, neglect, and indifference.
“It leaves us where all we have to look forward to is constant pain, misery, poverty and dishonor. I assure you that, when the numbers do finally drop, it will merely be because those who were pushed the farthest are all already dead.
Towards the end of the note, Somers sums up his dilemma as being “Too trapped in a war to be at peace, too damaged to be at war.”
The questions posed in Daniel Somers’ suicide note are being asked by increasingly wide layers of the American population. The same questions drove PFC Bradley Manning to turn over hundreds of thousands of documents detailing US war crimes to WikiLeaks at the cost of years of torture and decades in prison. The same questions pushed former NSA contractor Edward Snowden to risk his life in order to make available secret documents proving the existence of a vast and illegal international spying apparatus run by the US government and its allies.
The answers to these questions bear revolutionary implications. For this reason, the group “Tragedy Assistance for Survivors (TAPS),” a nonprofit veterans’ organization with close ties to the military and the Obama administration, urged reporters to limit coverage of Somers’s suicide note.
A press release published by TAPS two weeks after Somers’s death attempted to muzzle news coverage of Somers’s letter under the pretense that the note might drive other veterans to kill themselves. “While the note highlights important issues, portions of the note may also pose risks to vulnerable people who may be struggling with mental health fitness or post-traumatic stress,” the organization wrote.
The press release continued: “TAPS encourages the media to pay attention to the important issues raised by the note about veteran health care, and also asks the media to consider carefully which portions of the note to publicize and how it is presented, so that risk can be minimized for others, in accordance with safe messaging guidelines.”
TAPS’s Board of Directors is dominated by corporate CEOs, defense industry executives, Wall Street bankers, high-ranking military officers and ex-senators.
Its chairman, John Wood, is a former investment banker and current CEO of Telos Corporation, a defense-contracting firm that provides the Pentagon with network security consulting assistance. Its vice chairman, Charlotte Tsoucalas, is a former Pentagon attorney and lobbyist, and currently the director of the Washington DC office of TriWest Healthcare Alliance, a company that oversees health benefits for nearly 3 million veterans.
Board member Mark Grier is the former chief financial officer of Prudential. Board member M.L. Hefti was a lead lobbyist for both Honeywell International and Boeing.
In addition, TAPS lists among its “honorary board members” senators John McCain, Kit Bond, John Warner, Barbara Mikulski, Kay Bailey Hutchinson; former Senator Bob Dole; and former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, Richard Myers and Colin Powell.
This organization has sought to prevent Somers’s note from reaching wider sections of the population because it is an unanswerable indictment of the US government, the Armed Forces and the American ruling class.
The note was written by a young man who felt an immense burden of guilt for having been a witness to and reluctant participant in the destruction of an entire nation and murder of large numbers of its people. Daniel Somers was also a husband and musician, a man who felt deep sympathy for the Iraqi victims of the war and kept himself alive with a strong desire to atone for his actions and share the love of his family and friends.
He is one of hundreds of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who have killed themselves since the wars began over a decade ago, and one of thousands whose cries for help are met with the callousness of the likes of US Army Maj. General Dana Pittard, who said in 2012: “I have now come to the conclusion that suicide is an absolutely selfish act… I am personally fed up with soldiers who are choosing to take their own lives so that others can clean up their mess. Be an adult, act like an adult, and deal with your real-life problems like the rest of us.”
Pittard openly expresses the criminal outlook that pervades the American ruling class and its political and military executioners.
Final Words of Daniel Somers, “I Am Sorry It Has Come To This”
Daniel Somers was a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was part of Task Force Lightning, an intelligence unit. In 2004-2005, he was mainly assigned to a Tactical Human-Intelligence Team (THT) in Baghdad, Iraq, where he ran more than 400 combat missions as a machine gunner in the turret of a Humvee, interviewed countless Iraqis ranging from concerned citizens to community leaders and and government officials, and interrogated dozens of insurgents and terrorist suspects. In 2006-2007, Daniel worked with Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) through his former unit in Mosul where he ran the Northern Iraq Intelligence Center. His official role was as a senior analyst for the Levant (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, and part of Turkey). Daniel suffered greatly from PTSD and had been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury and several other war-related conditions. On June 10, 2013, Daniel wrote the following letter to his family before taking his life. Daniel was 30 years old. His wife and family have given permission to publish it.
I am sorry that it has come to this.
The fact is, for as long as I can remember my motivation for getting up every day has been so that you would not have to bury me. As things have continued to get worse, it has become clear that this alone is not a sufficient reason to carry on. The fact is, I am not getting better, I am not going to get better, and I will most certainly deteriorate further as time goes on. From a logical standpoint, it is better to simply end things quickly and let any repercussions from that play out in the short term than to drag things out into the long term.
You will perhaps be sad for a time, but over time you will forget and begin to carry on. Far better that than to inflict my growing misery upon you for years and decades to come, dragging you down with me. It is because I love you that I can not do this to you. You will come to see that it is a far better thing as one day after another passes during which you do not have to worry about me or even give me a second thought. You will find that your world is better without me in it.
I really have been trying to hang on, for more than a decade now. Each day has been a testament to the extent to which I cared, suffering unspeakable horror as quietly as possible so that you could feel as though I was still here for you. In truth, I was nothing more than a prop, filling space so that my absence would not be noted. In truth, I have already been absent for a long, long time.
My body has become nothing but a cage, a source of pain and constant problems. The illness I have has caused me pain that not even the strongest medicines could dull, and there is no cure. All day, every day a screaming agony in every nerve ending in my body. It is nothing short of torture. My mind is a wasteland, filled with visions of incredible horror, unceasing depression, and crippling anxiety, even with all of the medications the doctors dare give. Simple things that everyone else takes for granted are nearly impossible for me. I can not laugh or cry. I can barely leave the house. I derive no pleasure from any activity. Everything simply comes down to passing time until I can sleep again. Now, to sleep forever seems to be the most merciful thing.
You must not blame yourself. The simple truth is this: During my first deployment, I was made to participate in things, the enormity of which is hard to describe. War crimes, crimes against humanity. Though I did not participate willingly, and made what I thought was my best effort to stop these events, there are some things that a person simply can not come back from. I take some pride in that, actually, as to move on in life after being part of such a thing would be the mark of a sociopath in my mind. These things go far beyond what most are even aware of.
To force me to do these things and then participate in the ensuing coverup is more than any government has the right to demand. Then, the same government has turned around and abandoned me. They offer no help, and actively block the pursuit of gaining outside help via their corrupt agents at the DEA. Any blame rests with them.
Beyond that, there are the host of physical illnesses that have struck me down again and again, for which they also offer no help. There might be some progress by now if they had not spent nearly twenty years denying the illness that I and so many others were exposed to. Further complicating matters is the repeated and severe brain injuries to which I was subjected, which they also seem to be expending no effort into understanding. What is known is that each of these should have been cause enough for immediate medical attention, which was not rendered.
Lastly, the DEA enters the picture again as they have now managed to create such a culture of fear in the medical community that doctors are too scared to even take the necessary steps to control the symptoms. All under the guise of a completely manufactured “overprescribing epidemic,” which stands in stark relief to all of the legitimate research, which shows the opposite to be true. Perhaps, with the right medication at the right doses, I could have bought a couple of decent years, but even that is too much to ask from a regime built upon the idea that suffering is noble and relief is just for the weak.
However, when the challenges facing a person are already so great that all but the weakest would give up, these extra factors are enough to push a person over the edge.
Is it any wonder then that the latest figures show 22 veterans killing themselves each day? That is more veterans than children killed at Sandy Hook, every single day. Where are the huge policy initiatives? Why isn’t the president standing with those families at the state of the union? Perhaps because we were not killed by a single lunatic, but rather by his own system of dehumanization, neglect, and indifference.
It leaves us to where all we have to look forward to is constant pain, misery, poverty, and dishonor. I assure you that, when the numbers do finally drop, it will merely be because those who were pushed the farthest are all already dead.
And for what? Bush’s religious lunacy? Cheney’s ever growing fortune and that of his corporate friends? Is this what we destroy lives for
Since then, I have tried everything to fill the void. I tried to move into a position of greater power and influence to try and right some of the wrongs. I deployed again, where I put a huge emphasis on saving lives. The fact of the matter, though, is that any new lives saved do not replace those who were murdered. It is an exercise in futility.
Then, I pursued replacing destruction with creation. For a time this provided a distraction, but it could not last. The fact is that any kind of ordinary life is an insult to those who died at my hand. How can I possibly go around like everyone else while the widows and orphans I created continue to struggle? If they could see me sitting here in suburbia, in my comfortable home working on some music project they would be outraged, and rightfully so.
I thought perhaps I could make some headway with this film project, maybe even directly appealing to those I had wronged and exposing a greater truth, but that is also now being taken away from me. I fear that, just as with everything else that requires the involvement of people who can not understand by virtue of never having been there, it is going to fall apart as careers get in the way.
The last thought that has occurred to me is one of some kind of final mission. It is true that I have found that I am capable of finding some kind of reprieve by doing things that are worthwhile on the scale of life and death. While it is a nice thought to consider doing some good with my skills, experience, and killer instinct, the truth is that it isn’t realistic. First, there are the logistics of financing and equipping my own operation, then there is the near certainty of a grisly death, international incidents, and being branded a terrorist in the media that would follow. What is really stopping me, though, is that I simply am too sick to be effective in the field anymore. That, too, has been taken from me.
Thus, I am left with basically nothing. Too trapped in a war to be at peace, too damaged to be at war. Abandoned by those who would take the easy route, and a liability to those who stick it out—and thus deserve better. So you see, not only am I better off dead, but the world is better without me in it
This is what brought me to my actual final mission. Not suicide, but a mercy killing. I know how to kill, and I know how to do it so that there is no pain whatsoever. It was quick, and I did not suffer. And above all, now I am free. I feel no more pain. I have no more nightmares or flashbacks or hallucinations. I am no longer constantly depressed or afraid or worried
I am free.
I ask that you be happy for me for that. It is perhaps the best break I could have hoped for. Please accept this and be glad for me.