Thousands of protesters marched in Washington, DC Oct. 26 to oppose the pervasive United States surveillance of its citizens and others. Spy targets include leaders of major United States allies, with France, Germany and Brazil now rallying global opposition to United States spy policies because of recent revelations.
Protesters organized in DC by the "Stop Watching Us Now" coalition released a short, powerful video of the speeches demanding greater oversight of such spy networks as that run by the super-secret National Security Agency (NSA), which is part of the Department of Defense.
Beyond the speeches of Oct. 25, this column will explore the hidden power-relationships that marchers are challenging. Also, we'll propose next steps for those concerned with privacy rights, surveillance, unjust imprisonment of whistleblowers, other retaliation, due process, and free speech.
Police state tactics against the press were underscored in recent days by a federal-state armed raid Oct. 25 seizing records of Washington Times reporter Audrey Hudson.
Separately, Alabama deputy sheriffs arrested, beat, and jailed for an unlimited term Roger Shuler, a prominent investigative blogger. As I reported previously, Shuler is being held without bond after a kangaroo court proceeding. He faces a judge who received a special appointment for a libel suit brought by one of Alabama's leading political families. Without an appearance by Shuler, the judge forbade Shuler to write about an alleged sex scandal, to remove previous articles, and to remain in jail without bond for an undetermined period. Because it is a contempt of court process, the judge does not permit bond and has not set a hearing date as of this writing. The judge also sealed the case from public view. Mainstream media have provided virtually no coverage as of the morning of Oct. 28, five days following the arrest.
Update: From the Washington Post: NSA infiltrates links to Yahoo, Google data centers worldwide, Snowden documents say.
For Washington and other protesters concerned by government surveillance, retaliation and the impact, next steps should include due process and other protections for reporters and pro-transparency whistleblowers facing long prison terms.
Those who most need protection -- or at least treatment proportionate to their actions -- include former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, former CIA analysts John Kiriakou and Jeffrey Sterling, and former Army Private Chelsea (Bradley) Manning.
More generally, the widespread but hidden clout in Washington of intelligence agencies and their private sector enablers is a hidden factor that blocks reform and civil rights, as I document in my new book, Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters.
I use the term "masters." But such credentialed experts as Republican President Eisenhower, left, called it "The military Industrial Complex." The late Col. Fletcher Prouty, who was the Pentagon's top liaison to the CIA under Eisenhower and President Kennedy, called the government's hidden masters "The Secret Team."
As shown below, these powers protect spy agencies and those who profit from their operations on Wall Street and the rest of the intelligence, military, and mining complex.
Furthermore, current practices intimidate Congress and other watchdog groups -- sometimes with the help of information obtained via secret surveillance. Former NSA analyst Russell Tice has said that NSA undertook secret surveillance of members of Congress, including then-Sen. Barack Obama. He is far from alone in arguing that government officials are not simply reluctant to crack down on intelligence agencies -- but scared to do so.
Indeed, a mantra among experts speaking at a major conference in Pittsburgh this month on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was that JFK was the last U.S. president who dared challenge the CIA, and therefore paid with his life. That's just one view, with the Warren Commission holding another. But they are each worth studying.
With that background, let's examine the weekend protest, fears -- and suggested solutions.
Please look at this powerful video with statements by courageous experts in advance of this weekend's rally.
The Oct. 25 protest was based on the city's grand mall across a waterway from the steps of the Capitol. Yet few elected officials were visible even regarding an issue theoretically popular, such as enforcement of privacy rights. House Judiciary top-ranking Democrat John Conyers of Michigan and Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon appeared in the promotional the video. Republican Congressman Justin Amash of Michigan, at left below, and liberal former Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio spoke on the program.
News coverage was erratic and otherwise strange.
USA Today, which is owned by Gannett, a traditional media company, provided normal-looking coverage in Anti-NSA rally attracts thousands to march in Washington. The mainstream MSNBC-TV, a pro-liberal subsidiary controlled by Comcast and Microsoft, broadcast a brief news report.
By contrast, the hometown Washington Post assigned a longtime gossip writer to publish in its Style section a preview headlined Techies concerned, narrowing the focus in a strangely subjective manner.
For substantive coverage of the protest, the Post relied on a blurry, 49-second video provided by the Reuters wire under the title, Protesters rally against NSA surveillance. The video caption had virtually no written context of the diverse coalition of more than 100 advocacy groups supporting the protest. The coalition included among top leaders of the Free Press, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Among others were the Koch brothers' FreedomWorks, Occupy Wall Street-NYC, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
My Puppetry research demonstrates that such patterns are best understood in the context of power relationships far removed from the adage "they're just trying to sell newspapers." The Post, for example, received just 4 percent of its revenue from circulation and just 15 percent more from advertising in the years before its sale this summer to Amazon.com founder Jeffrey Bezos. The rest of the money came from subsidiaries, especially the heavily regulated Kaplan educational services.
Much more important, a close look at the Post's history shows an intimate relationship with Wall Street and intelligent agencies that is largely kept under wraps, although reasonably clear to those who go beyond free-press rhetoric to examine relevant history. Similarly, the Post itself has noted at least a few clues to current and perhaps enhanced relationships with intelligence sectors. Amazon.com is competing with IBM to handle the Central Intelligence Agency's futuristic cloud computer network.
The Post and its Washington clout, Amazon.com's consumer database, and Amazon.com's effort's to win the CIA contract may look like totally disparate efforts. But they happen to have a common link in the new owner, as I describe in my history of how such relationships have shaped politics at the highest level -- largely in secret -- over the past half century.
Such one-sided reporting was illustrated in a different context by the Post's treatment Oct. 25 in its Outlook section of the more than 70 new books this year about John F. Kennedy and his assassination.
In a seven-page section treating more than 30 such books and related the themes, the Post did not once mention in the context of the assassination or investigation the CIA and its longtime director Allen Dulles.
Dulles, a former Wall Street lawyer for the powerful, was arguably the most important member of the nine-man Warren Commission because he led the probe. Many prominent books ignored by the Post this weekend and previously have argued in recent years that Dulles also led a CIA cover-up plot -- at the minimum -- regarding the JFK killing. The motive? There are a number of oft-cited reasons. They include JFK's firing of Dulles, and the president's decision to reduce the nation's reliance on the CIA secret operations and pull troops out of the Vietnam War.
Outsiders can only speculate regarding current news judgments about news articles published over the weekend. But we have proof positive regarding those I have assembled from years past regarding mind-boggling intelligence agency pressures on major news organizations and politicians.
True, the Post has taken a lead along with the United Kingdom's Guardian in publishing Snowden's purloined revelations of NSA snooping. Snowden himself selected former Post staffer Barton Gellman, now a Post contractor, as a major conduit for documents. But those stories, closely following the reporting of the Guardian team led by Glenn Greenwald, pulled their punches in a number of respects too complex for full treatment here.
Yet independent writers and whistleblowers documented the NSA spying story and related horrors for years in ways ignored by the Post and most mainstream outlets.
Snowden made a further ignorance or cover-up impossible regarding secret surveillance of United States citizens. The Post then went to the forefront of leaping to the front of the parade -- while also pulling its punches. The CIA itself created a term for its own similar procedures: "a limited modified hangout," according to Victor Marchetti, a former assistant to a CIA director.
The Post recently has gone far beyond limited reporting, at least in terms of volume. But the overall history is useful in assessing what next steps mainstream organizations and elected officials are likely to support without more public pressure.
Assange, Manning, and others fulfilled similar functions as Snowden, who is shown at right in a spoof containing the Department of Homeland Security's widely used slogan.
Assange remains confined in Ecuador's London embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden on a trump-up investigation of sex misconduct allegations.
As Naomi Wolf (a speaker at the weekend rally) and I have reported, there are legitimately fears the sex allegations are a ruse for his rendition to the United States to face spy charges. Wolf, a famed feminist and longtime volunteer rape counselor, has argued that a three-year investigation of Assange on the reported evidence now public is without known parallel, and clearly indicates a hidden agenda.
Separately, I reported ties by the female complainants' law firm to a previous CIA rendition, and that Karl Rove for years has been an adviser to the Sweden's prime minister. Conventional wisdom in the United States has been that Sweden is a left-wing nation strictly adhering to neutrality principles and so suspicions against Assange must be meritorious and non-political. In fact, has not been charged with an offense despite all the drama over the allegations, and conservatives have governed Sweden during recent years. Also, many top officials from both major parties have long-standing, hidden ties to the CIA, NATO and other such bodies.
Manning has begun a long prison sentence. Kiriakou, author of The Reluctant Spy and a former TV news guest commentator, is serving a 30-month term after pleading guilty to illegal contact with a news reporter. And so on.
Each deserves much fairer treatment in the courts and media than they have received. Focused public pressure like that evident at Saturday's protest is the only way it will occur.
Pressure needs to be visible, persistent, and peaceful. Also, the public's pleas for justice will not be effective as polite requests for justice. Decision-makers and their masters have vast career, financial, and ideological incentives to abuse their government powers and oaths to advance special interests and agendas.
To advance this goal, this week the Justice Integrity Project will be among those outlets to provide free weekly excerpts from Puppetry that provides the essence of its disclosures about the surveillance state and the major political and financial stories that affect us all.
The serial excerpts are timed over the next weeks to coincide with the publication this week of the updated hardback edition, which covers the NSA surveillance and the government shutdown scandals. For those who want all 500 pages at once, an electronic version will be available for $2.99 for the next two weeks.
The revelations proceed like a mystery story. So I won't spoil the surprise endings that tie unlawful surveillance and political reprisals directly into the Wall Street profiteering that has hurt so many people during recent years.
More generally, I plan to speak at a forthcoming protest rally planned for Nov. 5 on Washington's Mall.
Christine Ann Sands, who is helping to organize The Million Mask March through her website of that name, says, "In my view, Million Mask March on November 5 is a time for all to unite and to take a stand against worldwide political corruption."
In closing, I can think of no better call to action than that provided by retired federal administrative judge, prosecutor, and law professor Lillian McEwen, right. She applied the words to my Puppetry book. But they apply more generally to all next steps for protests against unwarranted government surveillance and reprisals.
She was a former staff counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee under Vice President Joe Biden, among her other accomplishments. She bravely showed in her powerful 2010 memoir, D.C. Unmasked and Undressed, what it is like to take bold steps to bare her soul, friendships, and other status for the civic good.
"We must rouse ourselves," she wrote more recently, "to prevent a small number of wealthy, cynical men from usurping the power that rightfully belongs to the American citizen."
We know these men, women, and their motives. We know also that surveillance is part of their basic arsenal against the public. We know that the top leaders of the major social media companies, including the Post's new owner, Jeffrey Bezos and former owner Donald Graham, convened with David Rockefeller, Nathan Rothschild and approximately 130 other masters of the universe in June at the secret annual Bilderberg meeting outside London.
They call these secret gatherings harmless policy meetings on the rare occasions when someone can approach an attendee somewhere else to ask a question for the record.
Usually, the head of NSA, General Keith Alexander, joins this elite pan-national group for their annual meetings -- a strange role in a sense for the super-secret keeper of United States secrets. That is an even stranger role for those high-level executives in the news media who attend with fellow Puppet Masters and keep the secrets away from viewers and readers. There are a number of such elite, overlapping bodies.
Thanks to Edward Snowden and a few other brave souls, we are each on notice to learn and act bravely. Because the next generation of web and social media titans increasingly share their capabilities and dreams with the other oligarchs and their minions in government, it may be now or never for the rest of us.
Related News Coverage
Stop Watching Us Coalition, Stop Watching Us Video, Demonstration at Capitol in Washington, DC, Oct. 26, 2013. Thousands came together in Washington, DC on October 26, 2013 to protest the NSA's mass surveillance programs.
USA Today, Anti-NSA rally attracts thousands to march in Washington, Bart Jansen and Carolyn Pesce, Oct. 26, 2013. Thousands rallied against NSA's domestic and international surveillance on Saturday by marching to the Capitol and calling for closer scrutiny of the agency as more details of its spying are leaked. Holding signs that said "Stop mass surveillance," "Thank you, Edward Snowden" and "No NSA mass spying," and chanting slogans like "no secret courts," the protesters gathered under a blue sky to hear various speakers. Craig Aaron, head of the group Free Press, said "this isn't about right and left -- it's about right and wrong." Stop Watching Us organized the march and is a diverse coalition of more than 100 public advocacy groups aiming to deliver a petition to Congress on Saturday calling for an end to mass surveillance of the National Security Agency.
Los Angeles Times, Magazine says NSA spied on Vatican; U.S. denies it, Tom Kington, Oct. 30, 2013. The U.S. National Security Agency may have spied on the future Pope Francis in the run-up to his election in March, an Italian magazine reported Wednesday. The NSA strongly denied the report. Without citing sources, Panorama magazine said the NSA intercepted calls in and out of the Rome residence where cardinals stayed before the papal conclave. Among them was Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who was on the verge of being elected pope.
New York Times, Spain Summons American Ambassador on New Reports of N.S.A. Spying, Raphael Minder, Oct. 28, 2013. The Spanish government on Monday summoned the American ambassador to address allegations that the National Security Agency had recently collected data on 60 million telephone calls in Spain. Adding to a spying scandal that includes Brazil, France, Germany and Mexico, the government’s move came after two Spanish newspapers reported Monday that the agency had gathered data on phone numbers and locations but had not monitored the contents of the calls.
Washington Post, NSA infiltrates links to Yahoo, Google data centers worldwide, Snowden documents say, Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani, Oct. 30, 2013. The National Security Agency has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world, according to documents obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and interviews with knowledgeable officials. By tapping those links, the agency has positioned itself to collect at will from hundreds of millions of user accounts, many of them belonging to Americans. The NSA does not keep everything it collects, but it keeps a lot.
OpEd News, Andrew Kreig: Alabama Journalist Roger Shuler Beaten and Arrested! Joan Brunwasser, Oct. 26, 2013. My guest today is Justice Integrity Project's Andrew Kreig. JB: I just saw a headline that Alabama-based investigative journalist Legal Schnauzer, Roger Shuler was arrested. What can you tell us about this upsetting turn of events? AK: "Joan, this is a breaking news story that is both dramatic and important to every reader concerned about justice and the First Amendment."
Reuters via Huffington Post, British Accuse David Miranda, Glenn Greenwald's Partner, Of 'Terrorism,' Mark Hosenball, Nov. 1, 2013. British authorities claimed the domestic partner of reporter Glenn Greenwald was involved in "terrorism" when he tried to carry documents from former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden through a London airport in August, according to police and intelligence documents. Greenwald's partner, David Miranda, was detained and questioned for nine hours by British authorities at Heathrow on Aug. 18, when he landed there from Berlin to change planes for a flight to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. At a London court hearing this week for Miranda's lawsuit, a document called a "Ports Circulation Sheet" was read into the record. A key hearing on Miranda's legal challenge is scheduled for next week. The new details of how and why British authorities decided to act against him, including extracts from police and MI5 documents, were made public during a preparatory hearing earlier this week. British authorities have said in court that items seized from Miranda included electronic media containing 58,000 documents from the U.S. National Security Agency and its British counterpart, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). In an email to Reuters, Greenwald condemned the British government for labeling his partner's actions "terrorism." "For all the lecturing it doles out to the world about press freedoms, the UK offers virtually none...They are absolutely and explicitly equating terrorism with journalism," he said.
OpEd News, As Europe erupts over US spying, NSA chief says government must stop media, Glenn Greenwald, Oct. 26, 2013. With General Alexander calling for reporting on NSA surveillance to end, US and UK credibility as guardians of press freedom is crushed. How are American and British officials going to maintain the pretense that they are defenders of press freedoms and are in a position to lecture and condemn others for violations? In what might be the most explicit hostility to such freedoms yet -- as well as the most unmistakable evidence of rampant panic -- the NSA's director, General Keith Alexander, left, actually demanded Thursday that the reporting being done by newspapers around the world on this secret surveillance system be halted.
El Mundo via Huffington Post, NSA Collected Data On 60 Million Phone Calls In Spain Over Course Of One Month: Report, Oct. 27, 2013. An upcoming story in the Spanish newspaper El Mundo reports that the U.S. National Security Agency swept up data on 60 million phone calls in Spain over the course of one month in 2012. This latest revelation comes from documents uncovered by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The El Mundo story was written by Glenn Greenwald and Germán Aranda.
At right, President Barack Obama is framed through the right arm of Chief of Staff Denis McDonough during a meeting in the Oval Office, Oct. 10, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Washington Post, Obama unaware U.S. spied on allied leaders, Scott Wilson and Anne Gearan, Oct. 28, 2013. The president was surprised to learn this summer about the scope of the “head of state collection,” which began in 2002.
Reuters via Huffington Post, Edward Snowden Has A New Job, Russian Lawyer Says, Steve Gutterman, Oct. 31, 2013. Former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden has found a job working for a website in Russia, where he was granted asylum after fleeing the United States, a Russian lawyer who is helping him said on Thursday. "Edward starts work in November," lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said, according to state-run news agency RIA. "He will provide support for a large Russian site," he said, adding that he would not name the site "for security reasons."
FireDogLake, What is the Point of Spying on Allied World Leaders if the President Doesn’t Know? Jon Walker, Oct. 28, 2013. Did Obama allow a rogue NSA to develop a frightening level of power? I don’t know which is the scarier possibility: that President Obama knew about the spying on our allied world leaders and is lying about it, or that he was ignorant of what the NSA was really doing. It is sadly a repeat of the old game of “incompetent or liar.” If the NSA was really spying on Angela Merkel’s personal phone for five year without Obama, being aware of that is a truly frightening statement about just how out of control our surveillance agencies are.
FireDogLake, Photos and Videos from the StopWatching.US DC Rally, Brian Sonenstein, Oct. 27, 2013. On Saturday, October 26th, protesters gathered in Washington DC to speak out against the NSA’s illegal dragnet surveillance tactics. StopWatching.Us organizers estimated 2,000 people attended the DC rally alone, with several rallies taking place across the world from San Francisco to Germany.
Washington Times, Armed agents seize records of reporter, Guy Taylor, Oct. 25, 2013. Washington Times prepares legal action. Maryland state police and federal agents used a search warrant in an unrelated criminal investigation to seize the private reporting files of an award-winning former investigative journalist for the Washington Times who had exposed problems in the Homeland Security Department's Federal Air Marshal Service. Reporter Audrey Hudson said the investigators, who included an agent for Homeland's Coast Guard service, took her private notes and government documents that she had obtained under the Freedom of Information Act during a predawn raid of her family home on Aug. 6. The documents, some which chronicled her sources and her work at the Times about problems inside the Homeland Security Department, were seized under a warrant to search for unregistered firearms and a “potato gun” suspected of belonging to her husband, Paul Flanagan, a Coast Guard employee. Mr. Flanagan has not been charged with any wrongdoing since the raid. The warrant, obtained by the Times, offered no specific permission to seize reporting notes or files.
Voice of Russia, 'Anonymous is engaged in battle for truth over evil,' John Robles Interview of Christine Ann Sands, Oct. 20, 2013. Christine Ann Sands one of the chief organizers and one of the few public faces of Anonymous spoke to the Voice of Russia, in an exclusive interview, about the Million Mask March, Hacktivism, WikiLeaks and the truth movement. According to Sands the American people have been hijacked by evil forces that were behind the 9-11 attacks and that continue to control the US government, the media and political parties. After speaking to hundreds of journalists and former White House correspondents she came to the conclusion that the US mass media knows this but any journalist who might dare go against the “government line” faces losing their job. Sands says the people know something is wrong and this is where those fighting for truth such as Anonymous, Occupy and WikiLeaks come in.
Voice of Russia, Hacktivism is needed to fight oppression – Christine Ann Sands, Interview by John Robles, Oct. 26, 2013. Activists in support of Anonymous, WikiLeaks and the Occupy Movement are organizing mass demonstrations worldwide on the 5th of November in protest of what they say is massive government corruption, war crimes, the crackdown on internet freedom and the war on whistleblowers and those who seek the truth behind the mass media façade and the government lies. The Voice of Russia’s John Robles spoke to Christine Ann Sands, regarding the upcoming Million Mask March, an event she is helping to organize.
Washington Post, Techies concerned over NSA surveillance will march in D.C., proclaiming 'Stop Watching Us,' Amy Argetsinger, Oct. 25, 2013. Protesters planning march Saturday in D.C. say collection of personal data is 'defining issue' for tech generation.
Reuters via Washington Post, Protesters rally against NSA surveillance, (49 second video). Critics of the U.S. National Security Agency's surveillance program gather in D.C. on Saturday to demand a stop to government spying.
FireDogLake, NSA Official: Obama Was Informed of Spying on Merkel’s Cellphone, Let It Continue, Kevin Gosztola, Oct. 27, 2013. German media reports new details related to National Security Agency spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone. Her phone was on a list for monitoring since 2002. President Barack Obama was also apparently briefed by NSA director Gen. Keith Alexander on the program in 2010 and did not stop it. The NSA’s Special Collection Service (SCS) was the unit involved in the surveillance. According to Bild am Sonntag, Gerhard Schröder, Merkel’s predecessor, was also a target of surveillance. Part of the motivation for the spying was the country’s participation and support in the Iraq War. The same newspaper quoted an unnamed “high-ranking” NSA official, who claimed, “Obama did not halt the operation but rather let it continue.” This sharpens the scandal between Germany and the United States considerably, as it had seemed the spying had only taken place while President George W. Bush was in office.
OpEd News, Edward Snowden's Brave Integrity, Ray McGovern, Oct. 15, 2013. Ray McGovern, left, is a peace activist and former career CIA officer whose agency duties included assisting in the daily briefings for two presidents. President Obama says he welcomes the debate on post-9/11 surveillance of Americans and the world, but that debate was only made meaningful by the disclosures of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who was then indicted and sought asylum in Russia, where he just met with some ex-U.S. intelligence officials, including Ray McGovern.
Washington Times, John Kerry under fire for NSA’s global snooping scandal, Le Monde story based on Snowden’s leaking outrages another ally of U.S., Guy Taylor, Oct. 21, 2013. Seeking to tamp down the latest diplomatic crisis stemming from the National Security Agency snooping scandal, President Obama called French President Francois Hollande on Monday in an attempt to allay French outrage after a newspaper report revealed how U.S. intelligence officials have spied on tens of millions of phone calls and text messages in France. Secretary of State Kerry is shown at right.
BBC, Ex-Halliburton manager admits destroying oil spill data, Staff report, Oct. 15, 2013. The Deepwater Horizon rig blast led to a massive oil spill. An ex-manager of US energy services giant Halliburton has admitted destroying evidence linked to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Anthony Badalamenti, 62, pleaded guilty in a US district court, and faces a maximum sentence of a year in prison. The disaster -- the biggest offshore oil spill in US history -- was caused by an explosion at the Deepwater Horizon rig, which killed 11 people.
Catching Our Attention on other Justice, Media & Integrity Issues
Guardian, Pakistani family of drone strike victim gives harrowing testimony to Congress, Karen McVeigh, Oct. 29, 2013. Translator brought to tears by family's plea as Congress hears from civilian victims of alleged US drone strike for the first time, The family of a 67-year-old midwife from a remote village in North Waziristan told lawmakers on Tuesday about her death and the "CIA drone" they say was responsible. Their harrowing accounts marked the first time Congress had ever heard from civilian victims of an alleged US drone strike. Rafiq ur Rehman, a Pakistani primary school teacher who appeared on Capitol Hill with his children, Zubair, 13, and Nabila, 9, described his mother, Momina Bibi, as the "string that held our family together". His two children, who were gathering okra with their grandmother the day she was killed, on 24 October 2012, were injured in the attack. "Nobody has ever told me why my mother was targeted that day," Rehman said, through a translator. "Some media outlets reported that the attack was on a car, but there is no road alongside my mother’s house. Others reported that the attack was on a house. But the missiles hit a nearby field, not a house. All of them reported that three, four, five militants were killed." Instead, he said, only one person was killed that day: "Not a militant but my mother."
War Is A Crime, Got His Gun -- Lost His Legs, Arms, and Penis, David Swanson, Oct. 26, 2013. Ann Jones' new book, They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America's Wars -- The Untold Story, is devastating, and almost incomprehensibly so when one considers that virtually all of the death and destruction in U.S. wars is on the other side. Statistically, what happens to U.S. troops is almost nothing. In human terms, it's overwhelming. Know a young person considering joining the military? Give them this book. Know a person not working to end war? Give them this book.