Francois-Marie Arouet, better known as Voltaire, was once quoted as saying, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” It is this enlightened philosophy that helped shape the greatest governmental document ever written, the United States Constitution, and in fact the quote well articulates the First Amendment of the Constitution’s Bill of Rights, which grants American citizens the right to freedom of speech. However, what most Americans do not realize is that the freedom of speech is both a blessing and burden, as it allows them to express their thoughts freely, but also places them in the position of having to decipher truth from fiction among waves of reports, a task many Americans reluctantly accept.
President Barack Obama claimed August 31 in an Oval Office address to the nation that “tonight, I am announcing that the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country.”
Speaking in a television address broadcast nationally just hours before the formal end of U.S. combat operations in Iraq on August 31, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki told the nation it was a "bright day for the people of Iraq."
Your tax dollars at work, as reported by the Associated Press: “As the U.S. draws down in Iraq, it is leaving behind hundreds of abandoned or incomplete projects. More than $5 billion in American taxpayer funds has been wasted — more than 10 percent of the some $50 billion the U.S. has spent on reconstruction in Iraq, according to audits from a U.S. watchdog agency.”
Aijalon Mahli Gomes — a U.S. citizen imprisoned in North Korea last January, and later sentenced to eight years of hard labor with a fine of about $600,000 for the crime of illegally entering North Korea — headed home on August 27. Gomes was accompanied on his homebound trip by former President Jimmy Carter, who had traveled to Pyongyang to negotiate his freedom.
According to the Daily Paul website, early Monday morning, August 23, five anti-war protesters wearing black shirts that read “Disobey,” attempted to block six buses carrying troops from Ft. Hood’s 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment deploying to Iraq. The activists, including two veterans of the war in Iraq, one veteran of Afghanistan, and one military spouse, “took the width of Clarke Road” by Clarke gate, briefly halting the buses.
According to one of his captors and Afghan intelligence officials, missing U.S. Army Private Bowe Bergdahl of Hailey, Idaho, has become a Muslim and is training Taliban fighters in bomb-making and ambush skills.
The first U.S. soldier in Iraq has been killed since the withdrawal of the last “combat” brigade from the country on August 18, according to the Manchester (UK) Guardian. The death demonstrates that Americans will continue to fight and die in Iraq even though President Obama publicly announced “combat operations” have officially ended. The soldier was reportedly killed in a mortar attack on a U.S. air base in Basra, and the Pentagon has not yet released the name of the deceased. The Pentagon estimates that 52,000 U.S. Army soldiers and Marines remain in Iraq.
Two days after taking the oath of office, President Barack Obama signed an executive order stating that “the detention facilities at Guantanamo … shall be closed as soon as practicable, and no later than 1 year from the date of this order.”