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A few points about that video and the rules of engagement.

I was going to post it in a comment but it was too long.

The rules of engagement (ROE) state that these people were enemy combatants.  The evacuation of wounded enemy combatants from the field was going to lead to the continued deaths of u.s. military troops.

This in no way justifies the illegal war crime of the Bush/Cheney group and the Office of Special Plans (OSP) also known as "The Cabal" who goosed the intelligence to get us into Iraq.

In the video a series of things happened.

  1.  Two Reuters cameramen were seen walking with a group of people, it appears that they were discussing a battle and had seen a weapon on the field.
  1.  Within the group of people there were two men carrying cameras who were then followed by two men (presumably insurgents) who had an AK-47 and an RPG in their possession.
  1.  when the group of men gathered behind a wall, one of the cameramen knelt down behind the wall and peaked out with the tip of his camera sticking out from behind the wall.  At this point the Apache pilot called out an RPG and that the individual was preparing to fire.
  1.  The apache pilot received clearance to engage the target, he did.
  1.  A van pulled up to remove a wounded individual.  
  1.  The apache pilot received clearance to engage the target, he did.
  1.  When ground troops made it to the scene they realized that they had targeted a civilian group.

-------------------------------------

Questions:

Was the fact that two men had AK-47s enough to justify engaging the target based on the Rules of Engagement (ROE) being maintained at that time?

Did the Rules of Engagement at the time allow for someone giving aid to a wounded combatant (attempting to remove them from the field of battle) to be attacked?

------------------------------------

based on the video, it was obvious that the Apache pilot was justified in his attack as he clearly saw what he thought was an RPG and a person preparing to fire on u.s. troops.

------------------------------------

what is not clear is,

  1.  if he had not misjudged the camera as an RPG, would he have still received permission to engage based on the AKs in the group?

and

  1.  did the rules of engagement allow for him to engage the people giving medical assistance to the wounded?

-----------------------------------

other than that, this is just another example of the tragedy of war.

this war was orchestrated from the beginning, even before bush became president, as evidenced by the Cheney energy task force, in which cheney divulged that they would be invading Iraq.

and the mechanism of the invasion crafted by Feith and Wolfowitz under the office of special plans.

Why are there no criminal charges being filed against the bush neocons???

----------------------------------

Update: according to this report, a "retired intel officer" says that the rules of engagement were broken.

Now, he doesn't know specifically the rules of engagement that were being maintained at the time.  He only stated general "laws".  It is unclear if he even served in the Iraq or Afghanistan theaters.

he states that,

"First rule is, you may engage persons who commit hostile acts or show hostile intent by minimum force necessary," he said. "Minimum force is necessary. If you see eight armed men, the first thing I would think as an intelligence officer is, 'How can we take these guys and capture them?' We don't want to kill people arbitrarily; we want the intel take.

which is just stupid because the apache pilot thought that they were preparing to fire an RPG at troops, at that point maximum firepower was dictated by the conditions in the field.

he also says,

"Now, most importantly, when you see that van show up to take away the wounded, do not target or strike anyone who has surrendered or is out of combat due to sickness or wounds. So, the wound part of that I find disturbing, being that you clearly have people down, you have people on the way there. Speaking as an intelligence officer, my intent is to capture people, to recover them. That is the idea here. If you're not really doing that, you're not really doing precise combat."

and this is the most disturbing part.  They received permission to engage the enemy, but it is unclear if that permission was given in violation of the standing orders of Rules of Engagement at the time.

if it was then an investigation must be held.  If not, then the policy should be examined, but it cannot be fixed, not without persecution of the Bush/Cheney war criminals.

Originally posted to innereye on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:45 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Ccriminals with contacts and CASH (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    innereye

    Cheney will never pay, at least in this world, for all the mayhem he created. And in my opinion, he has just as much innocent blood on his hands as Bin Laden.

  •  All war's are tragic. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PDM, SoCalHobbit

    An unjust war, waged for political purposes and to enrich a handful of elite billionaires is not only tragic, it is morally abhorrent and is a crime against humanity.  Where is the accountability?

    •  Videos like this one (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pineapple head joe

      end up moving any accountability down the chain of command and only some low level soldier ever gets a sentence.

      I'm sure US soldiers have cold-bloodedly beaten, tortured, raped and murdered many people over the last decade but when public anger is stirred up the targets are always the "easy" ones, and usually the ones "with pics!!".

      How Bush etc have twisted and ignored the law, deceived the nation and allowed the descent into depravity is just too big and complex a subject for the mass public to ever demand any accountability.

      •  I try not to be so cynical, but (0+ / 0-)

        the increasing piggishness, selfishness, and greed of your typical American makes it increasingly difficult to have any faith in the public.  

        Remember, America is a nation in which nearly 60,000,000 voting age people cast a ballot supporting a Sarah Palin Vice Presidency.  It IS hard to believe in America any longer...

  •  What a tragedy war is. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina, psilocynic

    It makes good guys bad guys, innocent bystanders collateral damage. Once begun (maybe for the "best" of reasons), it engulfs even those who never knew of its existence. Are we better off seeing these videos? They seem to evoke either a state of denial or terrible condemnation(even though we weren't there). No wonder so many of our soldiers come back and can't deal with life here.

    Where is our Wilfred Owen? Our Vera Brittain? Instead, we reduce war to sound bites and leaked videos.

    Millions long for immortality who don't know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon. -susan ertz

    by graycat13 on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 12:07:29 PM PDT

  •  Myself and a couple of marine buddies of mine (0+ / 0-)

    like to debate these things over coffee in the morning. The consensus over this one was that it's horrible that it happened but you shouldn't hang out with people holding AK-47s in war zones.

  •  bad assumptions (0+ / 0-)

    Fact: Two RPGs and at least one RPG round were recovered on the scene, so this wasn't a case of civilians or even cameramen with bodyguards, it was a full-on case of insurgents (with a couple of "embedded" Reuters cameramen).

    Fact: As pointed out in the diary, the initial engagement occurred not because a bunch of guys were walking around with RPGs and AK-47s in an active combat zone, but because of an imminent threat to friendlies (the cameraman peering around a corner at a Humvee less than 200 meters away, with his telephoto lens being understandably mistaken for an RPG, which is the same mistake that probably 99% of people would make when first viewing the video).

    Fact: The second engagement of the black van was not an attempt to PREVENT bodies from being recovered or the injured being evacuated, but rather it was an attempt to neutralize LIKELY insurgents who posed an imminent danger to approaching ground troops. The M.O. of insurgents is to quickly remove bodies and wounded before the arrival of ground troops, which is EXACTLY what was happening here. This is why the air combat team got so riled up and wanted to re-engage so badly: that same black van evacuating bodies one moment could be the source of an RPG round that destroys a Bradley the next moment. The problem of course turned out to be that the driver of the black van happened to be a confused civilian who foolishly entered an active combat zone with two kids (several men seen helping the van driver, however, were very possibly insurgents).

    •  you are wrong (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NoVa Boy

      the guy with the RPG (yes it looks like there was one)actually followed the cameramen as they walked by.  It looks like on of the cameramen group stopped them and told them to stay away.  One of the cameramen even waved them back.

      note:  your claim that they were "embedded" with terrorists stinks to high heaven.  you are obviously biased.

      secondly, your "fact" about removing bodies is a lie,  I got to tell you you are putting out misinformation on my diary and I am not liking it.

      the apache pilot reported and received justification to engage based on the fact that they were removing the wounded.  He was very upset by this as is plainly obvious in the video.

      so cut it out with the misinformation.

      •  no, you are wrong (0+ / 0-)

        The guy who is visibly carrying an RPG is seen mingling with the group throughout the video. There is also another guy with an RPG round. And another RPG was found on the scene so yet a third guy had an RPG as well. You don't seem to understand the structure of an RPG insurgent team, which is usually a group of 3-10 men including spotters, RPG round "mules", a team leader, etc.

        The "embed" comment is simply that the Reuters cameramen were mingling with an RPG insurgent team. Note I didn't use the word "terrorist", so you saying that shows more of your own bias than reveals any of mine.

        The "removing bodies" is not a lie, it is supported by years of experience with Iraqi insurgents (indeed with insurgents elsewhere as well including Afghanistan). Moreover, the combat reports and investigations mention that preventing the removal of bodies was not the reason for engaging the black van but rather that the act of removing bodies made it likely that the black van was part of the insurgent operation.

        The "apache pilot" did not receive justification to engage based on the fact they were removing the wounded, the justification to engage was based on the probability that an unidentified black van removing bodies (wounded or otherwise) was part of the insurgent operation, noting that at the time friendly ground troops were advancing on the position within 100 meters. He was upset because he was observing what he thought to be insurgents in the middle of an insurgent operation with ground troops approaching.

        You cut it out with your complete lack of knowledge about anything military.

        •  bullshit (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NoVa Boy

          in the beginning of the video, the reporters are walking down the street, the guy with the rpg is behind the wall next to the guy on the scooter.

          watch the vid.

          there are no other rpgs in the video.  that is very clear, watch the video.  

          you are saying they are concealing an rpg in the video, all participants are clearly seen only one has anything long enough to be an rpg (it could be a SMG with a tripod)

          the lie was not that they were not trying to remove the bodies, nor that this is not standard insurgent ops, the lie is that the intent was to protect arriving troops when in reality it was to secure potential intel, by preventing the removal of the wounded, as clearly shown in the video.

          in fact, just before they picked up the wounded cameraman, the ground forces jumped in on coms and said,

          "hey, we need to stop that, we need that information"

          at the same time, the apache pilot reported that they were picking up "bodies and weapons" to crazyhorse, when in fact, there was no evidence that they were picking up weapons (although, had they been insurgents, then they would have, of course).

          I am sorry but you are not basing your opinion on the video as evidence.  You are making stuff up, based on previous experience, not what is said and done in the video.

          you also know way way too much about the reports to be trusted on this, i am sorry but your bias is too much.

          •  truth (0+ / 0-)

            The video released by Wikileaks is not a complete video and so no you cannot see two RPGs in the same frame but that doesn't mean there weren't two (or more) RPGs on the scene, which was clearly the impression the air combat team had, remembering that they had the benefit of not only that video but unaided eye and other spotting methods as well.

            Regarding the idea that it would be effective to "secure potential (human) intel" by firing 30mm rounds, that sounds pretty ludicrous, but I'll allow that there was probably frustration on the part of the friendlies about what they likely thought was a brazen insurgent operation happening right under their noses.

            If insurgents in the area faced no threat to ground forces, there would have been no need for air support.

            More to the point, whether or not the black van was picking up weapons, clearly the air combat team was under the impression that it was.

            In closing, the rules of engagement were followed in this case and the tragic results cannot be blamed on the U.S. military. To call it "murder" is vile and does disservice to those instances where U.S. military personnel actually do commit murder (which unfortunately happens all too frequently).

  •  There were 2 investigations (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    innereye

    by the military which completely cleared the gunners. But why did it take 3 years for the military to release the video? You know why.

    The written reports of the gunners and the conclusions written by the investigators conflict with the actual footage.

    1. It was a massacre
    1. The gunners really enjoyed it
    1. The military covered up the incident.

    This above all: to thine own self be true...-WS

    by Agathena on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 12:21:45 PM PDT

  •  My understanding of the ROE... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rja, innereye

    ...is that deadly force may be used only against "individuals who commit hostile acts or exhibit hostile intent against US Forces or Coalition Forces."

    The people in the van don't fit that bill.  Not even hardly--not only did they not exhibit "hostile intent," but they never even seemed to notice there were US forces in the area.

    Further, there was no question that the man the van stopped to help was unarmed--a mere minute before firing, the Apache crew acknowledged he was unarmed.  So unless the insurgency learned to shit AK-47s and pull RPGs from gaping bullet wounds, there was no reason to presume they were armed.

    Finally, "Bushmaster Seven" seems to have authorized the strike against the van without any indication that there was reason to do so under the ROE.

    Defend the first strike if you wish, but the attack on the van was inexcusable by any honorable measure.

    "When those windmills start to chop people up, tilting at them may not only be rational, but may become a necessity." -arodb

    by JR on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 12:28:02 PM PDT

    •  wrong (0+ / 0-)

      Not only had a black vehicle been observed earlier in the area dropping off and picking up insurgents, the rules of engagement fully permit attacks against enemy forces when military necessity justifies the action, even if civilian casualties cannot be avoided. The enemy does not need to be armed at the moment of engagement nor does he need to be an immediate threat. That said, ground troops were approaching a confirmed RPG insurgent team at the moment that a black vehicle was moving bodies after a black vehicle had earlier been seen picking up and dropping off insurgents, so in this case there was in fact an immediate threat even if no weapons were observed (how would someone know if there were several people in the van with RPGs ready to be fired?) Moreover, I would note that the emphasis was on DISABLING THE VEHICLE and not necessarily killing the driver or the (likely) insurgents who were helping him load bodies.

      •  how do you know that the black (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        WhiningRepug

        vehicle was working with the insurgents earlier? if so, why wasn't it fired on at that time?  do you have a link or are you working from some talking points handed you?

        without a link,  with your previous bias and untruths, you are just not credible without a link.

        •  see battle and investigate reports (0+ / 0-)
          •  that doesn't mean (0+ / 0-)

            that it was true.

            I seriously doubt that the van was performing insurgent support ops with two kids in it.

            and the other rpgs were probably plants.

            •  no, the van was probably not performing (0+ / 0-)

              insurgent support, it was likely a confused civilian who tragically did not understand the danger into which he was putting himself and his children by entering an active combat zone. Your point?

              Regarding the other RPGs being plants, why would that be necessary? It was only later that the missing Reuters cameramen were connected with this engagement, up to that point it was believed the cameramen were "insurgent documentary filmmakers" (yes, they are quire common). The ground troops did not see any reporter credentials before they left the area and turned it over to Iraqi police. Oh yeah, they left because they continued to take insurgent fire. In summary, the engagement was initially viewed as a success and there was no reason to suspect that RPGs "needed" to be planted in support of a future coverup. Of course your accusation that something like that would be SOP is not a lie, right?

      •  and again you lie (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        WhiningRepug

        when the apache got through to bushmaster all they told him was that the van was picking up bodies.  They received permission to engage based on this information alone.

        and your most obvious lie is that the "emphasis was on disabling the vehicle" when the second volley shot was to take down the personnel who fled the scene and took cover behind a wall.

        you really deserve some hide rates for that one.

        •  Your ability to jump to emotional conclusions (0+ / 0-)

          is simply amazing.

          You realize Bushmaster was tactically in charge of the mission and was aware of all battlefield information, right? You realize they could hear all communications not just what was addressed to them, right? You realize the lack of hesitation to engage the black van demonstrates situational awareness that would support rules of engagement were being properly followed, right?

          What part of the word "emphasis" do you not understand? Yes, they also fired on who they believed to be fleeing insurgents. So? The point is that the EMPHASIS was on disabling the vehicle in order to deny the insurgents a tool in battle and a tool of escape.

          Also note that they did not fire on the injured person (even though they believed him to be an insurgent) and this also demonstrates they were under control and observing rules of engagement. I suppose you'll reply this was simply because they wanted to "secure intel", right?

      •  Can you point me to that ROE provision? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        innereye

        Because my reading of the ROE cards' text (here) would counter your argument.  "Military necessity" is a pretty damn vague term, especially when considering, again, that there was no indication of hostile intent from the vehicle--what was the necessity involved?

        Your argument also relies on willful ignorance to justify the use of force--i.e. "because there might be men with RPGs in a van (where we have no reason to suspect there are), firing on the van is justified."  That's counter not just to my understanding of the ROE, but of the laws of war itself.  (It's also a profoundly counterproductive way to wage an asymmetric war, since, you know, there might be kids in the vehicle, too.)  To quote the ROE card distributed to forces: "Positive identification (PID) is required prior to engagement."  That was decidedly lacking when the van was fired upon.

        To say the emphasis was on "disabling the vehicle" is cute, but we're not talking about some guys with M-4s firing on an engine block.  We're talking about, what, a 30 mm weapon being discharged at the top of a slow-moving van?  I think it would take a fool to believe that the goal of such an attack is just to "disable"--that would be like thinking that firing a shotgun at a fly was an attempt "just to wing the guy."

        I understand the desire to defend our troops.  But attacking that van appears to me to be counter to the laws of war, the Rules of Engagement, and basic common sense.

        "When those windmills start to chop people up, tilting at them may not only be rational, but may become a necessity." -arodb

        by JR on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 01:26:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  agreed (0+ / 0-)

          they got through to command with only the statement, "they are picking up bodies"

          to which they received clearance to engage.

        •  your source (0+ / 0-)

          is a pocket card for general use of force that does not even apply in combat or counterinsurgency missions but rather is intended for peacekeeping forces on protection missions. But even if we use that as the guide here, the engagement of the black van can be justified. Positive ID is not an absolute concept, it is "reasonable certainty that the proposed target is a legitimate military target" in the words of the pocket card. In fact, the black van was engaged in an activity that is almost exclusively associated with insurgents and rarely with civilians (it's not reasonable to think civilians would rush into active combat zones to evacuate wounded combatants). Now in this case, it is also possible that the people in the black van knew the Reuters photographers and were perhaps even their ride but that still doesn't mean the U.S. forces were unreasonable in believing the black van was an enemy vehicle. There is a reason why ambulances tend to be white with red markings and also why journalists travel in vehicles with "TV" written in big white letters on the roof or hood of their car. In regards to self defense, which is the only instance in which use of force is permitted in peacekeeping missions as reflected on the pocket cards you cite, the proximity of ground troops combined with the observation of at least one RPG is more than sufficient a threat to be engaged. In the end, I'm not saying the call to fire on the black van was not questionable, and indeed there was an investigation into that precisely because it was questionable. But taking into account all of the factors and not just the excerpts on the Wikileaks video, the engagement was justified and it does not represent a war crime or murder. I'll consider taking that back when soldiers with actual combat experience start piping up here or elsewhere on the Internet to denounce the incident.

          •  you are so full of it (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JR, WhiningRepug

            you think that only soldiers with combat experience can decide if something is a war crime?

            that flies in the face of every war crime trial ever held.  They are almost always done in civilian courts and most of the time, the combatants believed they were justified in their actions.

            your obvious inability to recognize the fact that the authorization to engage the black van was made based solely on the call that they were picking up bodies shows that you are not functioning in reality, you are operating in a compromised environment (either obviously denial or ptsd).

            if you watch the video below starting at time 6:47 you will see clearly that bushmaster 7 was uninformed of the van situation.

            the full, uncut version of the video is found here:

            also, your adherence to the finality of the military investigation is so beyond the pale that it shows obvious bias.

            to wit:

            the American-led military command in Kabul admitted late on Sunday that its forces had, in fact, killed the women during the nighttime raid.

            A NATO official also said Sunday in an interview that an Afghan-led team of investigators had found signs of evidence tampering at the scene, including the removal of bullets from walls near where the women were killed. A senior NATO official later denied on Monday that any evidence tampering occurred.

            On Monday, a senior NATO official denied that there was any effort to tamper with evidence.

            “We have discovered no evidence in our investigation that any of our forces did anything to manipulate the evidence at the scene or the bodies,” said the deputy chief of staff for communications for General McChrystal, Rear Adm. Gregory J. Smith.

            And in what would be a scandalous turn to the investigation, The Times of London reported Sunday night that Afghan investigators also determined that American forces not only killed the women but had also “dug bullets out of their victims’ bodies in the bloody aftermath” and then “washed the wounds with alcohol before lying to their superiors about what happened.”

            just drop it, I am not blaming the military for this specifically, much much much worse went on intentionally, not all bad eggs, just a few rotten apples.  I am a wartime vet and I am proud of my country.  I just wish to God that we did not go into Iraq.

            •  But, but, but... (0+ / 0-)

              ...you can't be a wartime vet, because you don't agree with silveraxis! Unpossible!!!

              "When those windmills start to chop people up, tilting at them may not only be rational, but may become a necessity." -arodb

              by JR on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 07:23:18 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Lt. Calley was not alone (0+ / 0-)

              Vietnam was full of A Teams terrorizing innocent villagers, and murdering them.
              The fantasy of the virtuos American G.I. of WW2 is a delusion.
              Bring the troops home from all foreign entanglements, as George Washington said, and use them to kill off the gangs, the real terrorist.

          •  My original source was wikileaks... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            innereye

            ...but their page on the ROE has been taken down.  You can google the phrase "commit hostile acts or exhibit hostile intent" and find several other sources.

            But seeing as how you have no sourcing, and you are seriously arguing that rendering aid to wounded people is "almost exclusively associated with insurgents," I'm just going to assume you're talking out of your ass and would find a way to justify anything and everything that you approve of.  So, good on you for consistency at least...

            "When those windmills start to chop people up, tilting at them may not only be rational, but may become a necessity." -arodb

            by JR on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 07:22:14 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Soldiers with actual combat experience? (0+ / 0-)

            Soldiers like Brandon Friedman, who called for the court martial of "the guy who decided to fire on the van"?

            Or 2-tour Iraq vet Anthony Martinez, who likewise thinks the crew behaved properly until they fired on the van?

            Or do they not count because they don't agree with you?

            "When those windmills start to chop people up, tilting at them may not only be rational, but may become a necessity." -arodb

            by JR on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 07:35:06 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Bullshit. (0+ / 0-)

    Ever see a 30 mm projectile? They pierce armor. They destroy people.

    If you want to examine more info on "state of mind," start talking about the other engagement that took place that day ...

    just twenty minutes later, by the same crew, involving three Hellfire missiles fired onto an apartment complex where the roof was still under construction ... there were three families living in that apartment complex, many of whom were killed, including women.

    just proves their careful observance of rules of engagement.
    http://www.democracynow.org/...

    It's pretty clear that these activities were SOP. Nobody was playing "cowboy" here. Nobody was doing anything that they didn't do on a daily basis. People have been getting killed by occupation forces this way ... without confirmation, without going for intel regularly. It desensitizes soldiers. That's why they begged the wounded man to pick up a weapon- they WANTED to shoot him. He was absolutely no threat. That's why there was laughter about killing the larger group of people ("... hahaha, I hit ‘em") and why voices from the cockpit laughed when a bradley tank drove over a dead Iraqi body. That's why a soldier said

    Well, it’s their fault for bringing their kids to battle.

    when they first learned of children being wounded. As if occupants of an occupied city have the choice of living elsewhere in a country occupied by foreign soldiers.

    The tragedy of Iraq isn't this particular episode in and of itself. The tragedy is an entire military/political mindset that allows these kinds of scenarios to be played out on a daily basis- business as usual. The tragedy is the unnecessary deaths and injuries. The tragedy is the dehumanization of our soldiers. The tragedy is the knowing cover-up of this episode and all the others yet to be revealed that proves complicity all the way up the military food chain.

    Good luck explaining these simple observations away.

    In a democracy dissent is an act of faith. Like medicine, the test of its value is not in its taste, but in its effects. J. William Fulbright

    by crescentdave on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 01:09:33 PM PDT

    •  the tragedy is that U.S. and other countries' men (0+ / 0-)

      and women have been put into this situation for illegitimate reasons. I would mostly agree that what is seen in the video is pretty much SOP and yes it is shocking for most people to witness, but I would also point out that even with such relatively aggressive tactics the U.S. and other friendly forces have suffered thousands of combat casualties in Iraq. You can't put soldiers into a combat situation where they are being fired upon daily by an enemy that doesn't wear uniforms and then expect them to make perfect split second decisions about who is friend or foe.

      •  We can agree (0+ / 0-)

        on your first point ... but there was no split second decision which needed to be made re: the van-and obviously, no one has been talking about anything remotely resembling "perfection" here.

        In a democracy dissent is an act of faith. Like medicine, the test of its value is not in its taste, but in its effects. J. William Fulbright

        by crescentdave on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 02:25:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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