How many stories of dead teens and 20-year-olds in Iraq must Congress read before it attends to the overwhelming cries of the American people to bring our troops home immediately?

Over the past weekend, a Klamath Falls Marine was laid to rest. Elsewhere in the state, a few dozen friends and family gathered to mourn the loss of the first Oregon female killed in Iraq. The key question in the loss of this 26-year-old woman's life was simply, "why was she in the Army?"

Spc. Michelle Ring wasn't your ordinary young recruit seeking a road to a better life, convinced the military could offer what was missing. She had already seen a number of harsh times. She dropped out of high school and left Oregon for Alaska. Her first love was a soldier. He was killed in a fight while she was pregnant with his child. She found new love with a man she married in Tennessee. That marriage wouldn't last, but Ring would bear another child from the union. After working two factory jobs, she decided to give the Army a try.

So here's the question again. Why was Ring in the Army?

She dropped out of high school. At the time of her death she left behind a 7- and 5-year-old. At the time of her recruitment, her recruiters knew she was the mother of two children. They knew she had a very good chance of being sent to Iraq. The Army was quite aware of the position into which this young woman was entering. Ring was a vulnerable, naive young woman hoping for a better life through the "opportunities" offered by Uncle Sam.

As a former Navy recruiter, I understand both the challenges inherent in recruiting and the difficulties of recruiting during time of war. I was a recruiter from 1989 through 1993, which included the Gulf War. But there were a number of hurdles the Army had to leap or move out of the way in order for Ring to join its ranks. And in order to move those hurdles or lower them enough for her to leap them, the Army had to ignore the fact that it was creating a situation that would deprive two young children of their mother &

not only for the training and deployments she would inevitably experience, but potentially for life, as is the reality today.

It is quite clear that the Commander-in-Chief is less concerned about the lives of those subordinate to his military commanders. It is equally clear that Congress &

which has the power to both declare war and end it &

is either inept in exerting its power to advance the will of the American people or perhaps complicit with the executive branch in maintaining an illegal and immoral war in the Middle East.

The irony of the callousness of so-called patriotic American leaders is such that:



"With President Bush's popularity scraping bottom in opinion polls, with U.S. casualties rising in Iraq in a force surge that has stretched soldier tours to 15 months, the Bush administration July 10 said it 'strongly opposes' a 3.5 percent military pay raise and key benefit gains tossed into their fiscal 2008 defense bill," according to a new veteran's report.

It is clear that last year's election, which resulted in the relatively light overhaul of Congress, has done nothing to further the power of the voice of the people. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has demonstrated without a doubt that she is either unwilling or unable to exert the power of the legislative branch to enforce the will of the American people. Instead, she has kowtowed to the fear promoted by the executive branch. Presidential candidates have failed to embrace Rep. Dennis Kucinich' proposal to impeach the president and bring the troops home immediately. Congress has the ability to do both.

It is no secret that the U.S. initially lied in order to garner support for a war in Iraq. That lie wasn't first told by George W. Bush. It was the lie promoted by his father in the summer of 1990, when he sent then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney to Saudi Arabia to convince the Saudi rulers that Saddam had amassed more than 120,000 troops along the Kuwait-Saudi border in preparation for an invasion. The satellite photos produced by the U.S. were fabricated, as subsequent satellite photos acquired by a newspaper in Florida would clearly show. But by the time the story was printed the invasion of Iraq had taken place.

It is interesting to note that while a Pulitzer-Prize-nominated reporter took the initiative to seek out those satellite photos from a source outside of the U.S., the mainstream national newspapers and the Washington Press Corps completely ignored the damning evidence that showed the U.S. had lied in order to send more than a half-million troops into Iraq.

That lie continued as the president announced the war was over in 1991. But, the truth was that a "cease-fire" had been called in the war. And the U.S. military would never leave Iraq from that day to this. And the "cease-fire" would no longer be a cease-fire after our military was ordered by the Clinton administration to engage in a "sustained series of air strikes against Iraq" in what was called a "policy of containment of Saddam and his weapons of mass destruction."

Today, the lie continues.

"If we don't fight the terrorists there, we will fight them here" is the claim made by the current liar-in-chief. Fight who?

We claim we are "helping" the Iraqis. We also once claimed to be "liberating" the Iraqis. Remember the Iraqi Liberation Act of 1998? Yet another deception by the White House and Congress. The truth is that the Iraqis are fighting us. Not "terrorists" or "extremists" or "radicals." But rather, devotees who vehemetly believe in their religion, culture, country and the notion that only they ought to determine the direction and course of Iraq, not the United States and its congressional benchmarks and executive privilege. Both Sunni and Shiite are battling the U.S. for control of their own nation. The only ones we consider "Iraqis" are the ones who have sold out allegiance to Islam and embraced allegiance to America. These Muslims place themselves and their families in the danger zone of an all-out battle for the soul of Iraq.

America's lies have demolished a nation that holds what the executive branch considers "America's vital interests." Such rhetoric has been the mantra of presidents dating back to Jimmy Carter. But the lies of our government have not only cost millions of Muslims their lives and livelihoods, those lies have also impacted Americans here at home.

Today, the U.S. military targets our nation's youth, seeking to convince them that service to our country is an honorable act. I agree. But that service ought to be made in seeking higher education goals and lending new talent and knowledge to industries here at home. The military today is vast wasteland where the knowledge and talents of valuable lives are expended at the whims of a callous, deceitful executive branch that operates with impunity due to the cowardice of Congress.

Perhaps it is time to consider a nationwide boycott of the armed services recruiting efforts until the volunteers currently serving the whims of the Bush administration are brought home from the Middle East. After all, the primary concerns for preserving the lives of our brave volunteers serving in the military seems to be coming from the families of service members and those supporting the call to save their lives rather than sacrifice them upon an altar of ignorance, apathy and political allegiance to "U.S. vital interests."

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is the author of "The WHOLE Truth about the U.S. War on Terror: answers to every question you never knew to ask"