Skip to comments.Iraq Veterans To Testify at Their Own 'Winter Soldier' (Treason Alert: CODE RED!)
Posted on 01/24/2008 8:47:23 AM PST by .cnI redruM
On three frigid days in early 1971, more than 100 Vietnam veterans gathered at a Detroit hotel to indict the most contentious American war of the 20th century. In measured tones, occasionally quivering with emotion, they described what the war had done to them as much as what the war had done to the country. The veterans talked about abuses made routine, like throwing prisoners out of helicopters, torturing Viet Cong detainees or mutilating enemy corpses. Many had never told their stories before. Sponsored by Vietnam Veterans Against the War, they called their investigation the Winter Soldier project, after a line from Thomas Paines famous denunciation of the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot [who] will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country.
Vietnam, by 1971, was the most domestically divisive U.S. conflict since the Civil War. Yet the public displayed little desire to hear from those who prosecuted the war about what was done in its name. What little press coverage Winter Soldier received was largely hostile. A short, un-bylined New York Times story portrayed young veterans of the Vietnam war quietly [telling] of their war crimes.
But while the investigation itself may have made little immediate impact, its disclosures would reverberate for decades. We learned the meaning of free fire zones, shooting anything that moves, and we watched while America placed a cheapness on the lives of orientals, a 27-year old Navy veteran, John Kerry, told the Senate about what Winter Soldier uncovered. The bitterness that testimony sowed in other Vietnam veterans, who felt betrayed by Winter Soldier, stayed alive through 2004, when the so-called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth falsely maligned Kerrys service record as payback. Now, with another intractable conflict proving to be another defining moment in American history, some veterans of the Iraq war intend to take up the Winter Soldier banner. On March 13, Iraq Veterans Against the War, an organization inspired by Vietnam Veterans Against the War, will convene at the National Labor College just outside of Washington to say, in so many words, that its all happening again.
Whats happening now is no different than over the past five years, said Geoff Millard, 27, the president of the groups Washington chapter. Its the result of systematic problems in the way we fight an occupation. Its not that were going to outline these huge atrocities. Its how the systematic nature of occupation is oppression. This time around, Winter Soldier will have what its predecessor didnt: digital video to back up the charges.
The critique that the Winter Soldier investigation presents is both subtle and incendiary. Throughout the course of the war, the public has become agonizingly familiar with its excesses, most notably the torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib and the deliberate killing of civilians at Haditha. Winter Soldier, according to the veterans group, wont expose the next big Iraq scandal. What it will do instead is argue, through testimony from soldiers and Marines who fought the war, that standard military behavior in Iraq can look more like Abu Ghraib or Haditha than the public perceives.
I do believe that the profession of soldiering is fundamentally an honorable one, said Perry OBrien, 25, an Afghanistan veteran and key leader of Winter Soldier. But the disconnect between the [soldiers] code and what soldiers are asked to do in the war is the source of a tremendous amount of guilt that many of us carry around. Kids grow up wanting to be GI Joe and save lives. But military policy is dictating that people do terrible things, things that violate their conscience, and then have the psychological burden of carrying that around, because the military says you cant talk about it. Soldiers live with it and die with it.
Organizers estimate that perhaps 45 to 55 Iraq veterans, and some from Afghanistan, will testify to such terrible things at Winter Soldier. Liam Madden, 23, a Marine veteran of Iraq whos now a student at Northeastern University, came up with the idea for a second Winter Soldier in late 2006 with his fellow IVAW members Aaron Hughes in Chicago and Fernando Braga in New York. The people Ive talked to who are testifying are going to talk about their experiences in Iraq, how theyre put in positions to harm the people of Iraq and harm the image of America because of the position theyre put in, and the complete injustice involved in that, Madden said. Other people will talk about how a run-of-the-mill day in Iraq is. It adds up to a checkpoint here, a house raid there, a house raid there, a house raid there, to a population of Iraqis who cant tolerate you any longer.
The projects interview and verification committees are just getting started. But glimpses of the expected testimony are beginning to emerge. One of the early interviewees, a medic, told IVAW about treating a two-year old shot in the thigh by U.S. soldiers, and witnessing the mutilation of the dead, according to Jose Vasquez, 33, a former Army sergeant who heads Winter Soldiers verification team. The public should expect to hear about unnecessary killing of noncombatants on the battlefield, said Vasquez, an anthropology graduate student at the City University of New York. (Vasquez himself filed as a conscientious objector after finding himself unable to participate in the Iraq war.) Indeed, a frequent theme among group members in interviews has been the intensity of manning checkpoints, where Iraqi civilians can die for simply not approaching a checkpoint slowly enough to reassure an apprehensive soldier who doesnt speak their language.
Yet the organizers of Winter Soldier will consider the event a failure if it appears to blame soldiers and Marines for the war. Yet the organizers of Winter Soldier will consider the event a failure if it appears to blame soldiers and Marines for the war. Imagine youre out on a convoy and you get hit by an IED, Millard said. And the SOP [Standard Operating Procedure] is you fire in that direction of that fire that came in. Thats indiscriminate. Civilians get killed in that. Its not the soldiers fault. Its not the civilians fault. Its the occupations fault. Millard, a recently-discharged Army National Guardsman from upstate New York, served in Iraq as a generals assistant in Tikrit from October 2004 to October 2005. His job involved briefing senior officers on daily violent incidents and it led Millard to renounce the war as beneath the dignity of his comrades. The common U.S. soldier is not a bloodthirsty animal, he said. The problem is the occupation of Iraq itself.
For Pete Hegseth, 27, the executive director of the pro-war Vets For Freedom, the distinction that Mallards group seeks to draw is untenable. Hegseth served with the 101st Airborne Division from 2005 to 2006 in Baghdad and Samarra. Winter Soldier, to him,will treat the honor of U.S. service personnel as collateral damage in the organizations attempt to stop the war. Id ask, Is what you saw U.S. policy, or is it an unfortunate occurrence? Lets be real here, Hegseth said. Did your company commander tell you to shoot women and children, or to maximize casualties? No! We dont do that. To talk about systematic brutality is essentially indicting the military as being complicit in war crimes.
Worse, Hegseth feared, will be the impact Winter Soldier has on U.S. troops currently in Iraq. Theyre making a concerted effort to make claims about atrocities, he said. We live in a satellite world, where information is disseminated immediately. Were connected. Every single mud hut, home or apartment in Iraq has a satellite dish, and they hear what goes on in our country. It doesnt take a rocket scientist to know it would be something that people who dont like us in Iraq beam around the Muslim world. It could be turned against the troops on the battlefield.
Hegseth said he didnt want to overstate his case, but the investigation could have real consequences. What Im not going to do is say because they do this therell be more attacks, but I dont think it would do anything to improve sentiment toward the American soldier on a foreign battlefield.
But why do women and children get killed? Because of the systemic problems within the occupation, which is why we want to bring the occupation to an end. Millard doesnt dismiss Hegseth out of hand. I would totally agree that there arent first sergeants who get upand if there are, theyre extremely rarethat would ever get up and say, Were gonna kill women and children today. No! Millard said. But why do women and children get killed? Because of the systemic problems within the occupation, which is why we want to bring the occupation to an end. Hes less sanguine about the idea that Winter Soldier will get U.S. troops killed. You know what endangers our soldiers? Having them in Iraq, he said. Im pretty sure no soldiers are going to die at Winter Soldier. Im not a fortune teller, but Im pretty damn sure were not gonna kill any U.S. soldiers. But Im pretty sure on that date, U.S. soldiers are gonna get killed in Iraq.
Another telegraphed critique is that Winter Soldiers presenters will lie about their service. Its a reprise of a long and bitter controversy surrounding the first Winter Soldier. In a 2004 National Review cover story, Mac Owens, a professor at the Naval War College and a Vietnam veteran, called the investigation a lie. More recently, Rush Limbaugh referred to antiwar veterans as phony soldiers. Thats something Iraq Veterans Against the War has already faced. Last year, Jesse Adam Macbeth, 23, lied about killing civilians in Iraq in a video that appeared on YouTube and referred viewers to Iraq Veterans Against the Wars website.
Thats where Vasquezs verification process comes in. First, the group will keep on file in its Philadelphia national office a copy of each testifiers military service record, known as a DD-214 form. After interviewing the potential testifier, Vasquezs committeemade up of a team of twelve veterans around the countrywill reach out to members of his or her unit for corroboration. A network of journalists currently in Iraq will reach out to Iraqi civilians in the relevant cities and towns for independent eyewitness accounts. Finally, IVAW will file Freedom of Information Act requests with the Pentagon for relevant corroborating or refuting information, assisted by a task force of the National Lawyers Guild to expedite the process. Were laying our credibility on the line, Vasquez acknowledged.
And while media coverage of Winter Soldier may not be any more attentive or sympathetic than in 1971, this time there are some technological work-arounds. Iraq Veterans Against the War plans to host live streaming video of the conference on its website, where archived footage of direct testimony will remain. Whats more, during the testimony itself, Winter Soldier will have an advantage that its Vietnam-era predecessor didnt: digital video. Practically every soldier in Iraq packed a camera or a video recorder or a camera-enabled phone, and several are bringing what they recorded to Winter Soldier. It will be much harder to ignore testimony backed by videoespecially if those videos go viral on YouTube. Were already starting to receive a fair amount of footage and photographs corroborating these stories, OBrien said. It will be very different for the right wing to say were lying [at the second Winter Soldier investigation]. These photographs exist.
The attacks on their credibility may be guaranteed, but the group draws strength from a sense of veterans espirit dcorps. Its DC office, in the working-class northwest Washington neighborhood of Petworth, is a brown brick rowhouse that doubles as Millards home. The study, kept polished and immaculate, resembles a Tactical Operations Center, with humming computers topping neat rows of desks. Downstairs are air mattresses and bedding for vets in need of a place to crash, weights and a punching bag for their workouts, and nearly every Nirvana CD to aid their catharsis.
Millard, like many soldiers, switches from intensity to self-depricating humor in the same sentence. His tattoos, peeking out from his black IVAW hoodie, mark him as the punk rock kid he was growing up in Buffalo, N.Y. And the unity that the hardcore scene preaches is evident in his attitude toward his fellow veterans, no matter their politics. Vets for Freedom, he says, should tell their own service stories. I think the American public should hear their experiences as well, not just IVAW. Were the ones just happening to take the initiative to tell the American people, because we feel they dont get these stories, he said. I think the American people need to hear the experience of not just us but all veterans, from veterans themselves. As Millard spoke, an Iraq vet, who had arrived unannounced on his doorstep at four that morning, was upstairs napping.
For Iraq Veterans Against the War, there is more at stake than just its reputation, veterans dignity, or ending the war. On the table at Winter Soldier, as they see it, is the transformation of both military culture and the relationship of veterans to American democracy. We joined this incredibly honorable profession, driven by this code of honor, yet what we do needs to remain hidden, OBrien said. Its a necessary evil, supposedly, that needs to be hidden from the rest of America, he continued. Winter Soldier One was a direct confrontation with this idea that what soldiers do needs to remain hidden. It established a tradition it happened once, with Winter Soldier [in 1971], and if it happens again, its a tradition. Obviously, none of us want future wars. But if they happen, we need to have soldiers come back and tell their stories.
The author should be tried for treason.
IVAW is a kangaroo court, no defense of the troops allowed, no opportunity for the accused to confront the accuser, unless of course we all show up and demand a voice.
If they claim war crimes, they need to name the names, who pulled the trigger and do that under oath.
Winter Soldier from the 60's was not under oath and they said things like, "We did this, we did that..." so the only people we know for sure are War Criminals are the Vietnam Veterans Against the War.
I want and person who testifies to provide a signed SF-180 releasing their military records to corroborate their "testimony."
There's not a damn thing that they haven't copied from the VVAW history form the 60's. All one can say is that their re-enactments have been poor shadows of the 60's, gaining no where near the crowds or support the VVAW did.
Because the cowardly terrorists we're fighting use them as shields.
Let the Left have its “show hearings”. They will be opposed by Vets for Freedom and others.
However, what needs to be explained is that this is a copycat of John Kerry and fraudulent Viet Vet Al Hubbard’s Vietnam Veterans Against the War’s “Wintersoldier Hearings”.
Many of the so-called atrocities could not have physically happen, and Kerry conveniently forgot to tell people that he indiscriminately killed Vietnamese civilians and covered it up.
Also, having the marxist-created National Lawyers Guild involved in this propaganda operation only confirms that it is both anti-American and far-left.
Reportedly older reds from VVAW helped in setting up this newer version of their organization/hearings.
One thing to watch for is the time of service of the “witnesses”. Things that were chaotic in 2003 & 2004 were not chaotic afterwards.
Some accidental killings of civilians occurred because the civilians refused to obey military commands to stop for a car check. My son saw the results of this where a man (with a weapon) tried to run to US checkpoints and even after receiving warning shots to stop, continued to drive at a high speed at them. The driver’s family was not seen in the car until it had been shot and stopped. A tragedy, but one that could have been prevented by some common sense on the part of the driver. He chose to get his family and himself killed for some unknown reason.
Was he a terrorist, or just plain stupid? No one knows.
Also, these so-called “hearings” come in tandem with Rep. Dennis the nut Kucinich (D-Oh) call yesterday for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney (so what else is new?).
Other hard-core reds and leftists in Congress will come out in support of these hearings just as Fulbright and his crew of war-saboteurs did during Vietnam.
Appropriate steps will be taken to expose these leftist and duped IVAW “witnesses”, organizers and supporters.
Basically, they are outlining a slicker way to deceive.
Hypothetical scenario: a post IED-detonation firefight in Iraq results in a female civilian being killed in the crossfire.
the group will keep on file in its Philadelphia national office a copy of each testifiers military service record, known as a DD-214 form
They will find an IVAW shill with a military service record who can plausibly claim to have been in Iraq at the time and who is willing to tell a fanciful story about the incident.
Vasquezs committeemade up of a team of twelve veterans around the countrywill reach out to members of his or her unit for corroboration
They will find one person from his unit who will say that the IVAW shill was in their unit at the time specified. Maybe the contact will also say that he had heard about the incident or was there for it.
That other veteran may not agree with or even know what the IVAW shill's recollection is, but that won't matter.
A network of journalists currently in Iraq will reach out to Iraqi civilians in the relevant cities and towns for independent eyewitness accounts.
Journalists in Iraq will contact local terrorist sympathizers and get their fanciful version of what occurred.
Finally, IVAW will file Freedom of Information Act requests with the Pentagon for relevant corroborating or refuting information
They will get paperwork from the DoD that will tersely document the incident.
Then the IVAW shill will get up on stage and say "I heard my fellow soldiers tell me of a firefight in which a soldier was ordered to shoot an unarmed woman - the officer kept shouting: 'Get her! Kill her!' until someone blew her away. I later found out that she liked to make origami puppets for sick children in the local hospital and dreamed of being a talk show host. Those dreams are now gone forever."
And when questioned, IVAW will produce a DoD form referring to the incident, a DD-214 form showing the IVAW shill to have been present in Iraq on that day, a partial, edited transcript of another soldier attesting that the DD-214 form is accurate, and finally some long colorful accounts of all the lurid details in the IVAW shill's testimony from local Iraqi terrorist sympathizers.
even though this dossier would not stand up to any minute scrutiny, it looks and sounds impressive to a journalist, it gives any journalist more than enough plausible deniability, and it allows IVAW to say: "This is all documented by the US government and eyewitnesses!"
Protest Warrior could have with this.
” ... Many had never told their stories before. “
Many had never heard their stories before they were given to them in the motel room the night before by the people sitting on this Kangaroo Court. In fact, most of them never were in the plasces they described, and that can be proved. See “Stolen Valor” by BJ Burkett.
DITTO! Well said!
DITTO! thank you!
They definitely are.
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