August 14, 2006


Caption: This is something to howl about.

This is hard to believe (well, maybe not), but Congress voted to slash funding in half for research and treatment for brain injuries caused by bomb attacks, a frequent source of injury for US troops serving in Iraq.

USA Today
reported last week that

House and Senate versions of the 2007 Defense appropriation bill contain $7 million for the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center--half of what the center received last fiscal year.

Proponents of increased funding say they are shocked to see cuts in the treatment of bomb blast injuries in the midst of war.

Traumatic brain injury due to blasts has been called "the signature injury of the war on terrorism."

A spokesperson for the Senate Appropriations Committee is quoted as saying, "Honestly, they would have loved to have funded it, but there were just so many priorities. They didn't have any flexibility in such a tight fiscal year."

El Cabrero would beg to differ:

*If Congress and the administration had not been addicted for the last five years to slashing taxes for the very wealthy; and/or

*If Congress and the administration were not spending billions on expensive new Cold War era weapons systems largely irrelevant to dealing with terrorism (see the New Yorker link in Friday's post "Lessons") and/or

*If the Defense Department's privatization mania had not created such a largely unmonitored gravy train for military contractors (see the Business Week link in the "Lessons" post) then

there would have been plenty of money to fund this vital program of research and treatment.

Regardless of the politics of the Iraq war or the bad leadership that led to it, the men and women who have put their bodies on the line deserve better treatment.

As many as 10 percent of US troops in Iraq and 20 percent of those on the front line suffer blast-related concussions during combat tours which can cause headaches and/or sleep, memory, or behavior problems. Frequent sources of concussions are mortar fire, rocket-propelled grenades, and roadside bombs. Multiple mild or moderate concussions can cause permanent damage to the brain.

The center has previously proposed a program to screen all troops returning from Iraq to set up a brain injury data base and treat symptoms, a move resisted by the Pentagon.

A GOOD CRITIQUE of Friday's post on the London plots can be found in a comment to the post by HillbillyEno. I will respond to one point by referring readers to an earlier Goat Rope post on the question of whether the invasion of Iraq has reduced terrorism world wide. This is from the May 6 Goat Rope:

One of the frequently given but constantly changing rationales for the U.S. invasion of Iraq is that it would make us and the rest of the world safer from terrorism.

It doesn't seem to be working out that way. The Los Angeles Times reported April 29 that the annual State Department report on global terrorism "concludes that the number of reported terrorist incidents and deaths has increased exponentially in the three years since the United States invaded Iraq, largely because of Iraq itself."

There were 11,111 attacks that caused 14,602 deaths in 2005. According to the Times, "Those figures stand in contrast to prior State Department reports, which cited 208 terrorist attacks that caused 625 deaths in 2003; and 3,168 attacks that caused 1,907 deaths in 2004." Thirty percent of the attacks and 55 percent of the deaths occurred in Iraq.

Click this link to access State Department reports.


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