Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Winter Soldier 2008: The IVAW Questionnaire soliciting...

...WSI testimony.

That questionnaire can be found here. This document tells us some things about IVAW. For a start, they apparently don’t have anyone on board with a lick of editorial competency. Their list of questions to which a respondent is to reply with a “Yes” or a “No” begins with:

Did you ever participate in or observe (this includes the monitoring of communications) any of the following:

Among the specific categories that follow are these, are remember, the only answer is either a “Yes” or a “No”:
24. What was the general attitude of your unit towards civilians?


25. How prevalent was the use of racist or derogatory terminology towards civilians?


Uh, “yes”, er, I mean “no”…wait, “yes”…oh…

Some of those “Yes” or “No” questions are seeking to find the really bad stuff! As in:

Did you ever participate in or observe… 19. The use, both prescribed and non-prescribed, of anti-depressants, uppers, or other medications?
21. The use of alcohol?

27. Did you ever witness or observe any civilian contractors engaging in any of the activity mentioned above…

Soldiers and contractors having a few beers or using medications from Tylenol to allergy relief over-the-counter medicines qualifies as a “Yes”! The questionnaire doesn’t ask specifically if the respondent witnessed or observed only our side doing these things, but it is strongly implied and some questions are specific to what can be called "our side". There are a lot of those questions that could properly be asked as:

Did you ever observe any of the following done by AQI or any of the various Sunni or Shia insurgents groups:

1. The killing or wounding of a civilian or unarmed combatant?
2. Stealing from civilians/theft of non-military property?
3. Physically abusive conduct towards civilians or local military/police?
4. Excessively aggressive or reckless driving that needlessly endangered civilians?
5. Killing of medical personnel or destroying of medical equipment and facilities?
6. Torture, abuse, or humiliation of detainees or prisoners?
8. A house raid where life was needlessly disrupted and/or property was needlessly destroyed?
11. Sexual assault, harassment, and/or rape of local civilians (both male and female)?
15. Engagement of a target that recklessly endangered civilians?
16. The destruction of civilian infrastructure (to include bridges, irrigation or water purification equipment, hospitals, power plants, generators, etc.)?
18. The mutilation of bodies?

But of course, as IVAW says, they can only speak to the practices and policies of our government…so if veterans actually witnessed those kinds of things, they should just shut up about it! It doesn’t count.


IVAWSgt said...

The use of medications can be a big deal for a couple of reasons. It's not just Ranger Candy, as you imply. The Army (as I only really know about the Army)'s mental health system is absolutely broken, as is much of the physical health system. Soldiers can wait weeks to get an appointment, only to be given a thirty minute interview, after which they are often shut up with pills rather than therapy, because they simply don't have the mental health professionals to arrange for actual continuing therapy. This is counter to good medical practice, which recommends /against/ overprescribing.

If you're in the Army, I guarantee that you've probably been overprescribed drugs, from the 'take an Ibuprofen 800 and drink some water' variety to the Trazodone they seem to be making the new Ibuprofen.

Having soldiers with PTSD who are given multiple antidepressants, told to take them at will, and sent back to their unit, is a bad idea. It's a horrible idea. I know for a fact it's happened a couple times-but I don't know how prevalent it is. Neither does anybody else. Is it one bad medical unit, or is it actual policy? Only getting testimony from a large source will be able to determine that.

Alcohol? Well, since you're forbidden alcohol in the applicable zones, yeah, it is a big deal if someone has a few beers and then goes out on patrol. You're first of all, disobeying orders, and secondly, you're drunk on duty. That's what I'd call a big damn deal.

As for only asking about us? Well, yeah. I don't care what the other side does. They're not my people. They don't have to serve with honor. I don't care what they do-they haven't raised their right hand and given an oath to support and defend the US Constitution. They don't have to abide by the Code of Conduct or the UCMJ. Forget them, they ARE irrelevant. We are held to a higher standard, because we're supposed to be the good guys-and if we're not, or some great soldiers come in and then are told by their officers to stop being great soldiers...then damn right, I want to know about it.

"The opinion expressed through this comment is that of the author and does not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government."

Denis Keohane said...

Hi ivawsgt,

You wrote:

"I don't care what the other side does. They're not my people."

That just about says it all, and thanks for the honesty. It dovetails with your forebears from the VVAW in the seventies.

IVAW now and VVAW then (and others) make a lot of noise about America and our troops doing terrible things to poor Iraqis (or then Vietnamese). Atrocities, crimes, killings, etc. But you folks have historically not given a hoot if those same people are being slaughtered in great numbers by others, particularly our enemies.

In the seventies, after the North crushed the South in Vietnam, and the Cambodian bloodbath began, and tens of thousands of Vietnamese (including a friend of mine) were sent to reeducation camps, where many of them died, and hundreds of thousands if not more Vietnamese took to the high seas in leaky boats to escape the horror, anti-war activist Joan Baez said that the anti-war left had to speak up and out against those atrocities. She was basically told to shut up, because the anti-war movement on the overwhelming whole didn't give a whit about those people or care to crticize those committing the atrocities. They weren't, as you say, "my people".

ivawvet, the IVAW website explains that it doesn't ask about witnessing atrocities and crimes by our enemies in part because they recognize that "personal atrocities" occur in every war! That's incredible, because both VVAW and IVAW constantly deny that that when it comes to our side, in which every such crime or atrocitiy just has to be widespread and the result of atrocity. Can you explain why you folks give Al Qaeda in Iraq, for whom the atrocity is their tactical weapon of choice, that pass while denying it to the many hundreds of thousands of Americans who have served in combat with honor?

Army Sergeant said...

I think you may have misinterpreted me a bit.

I don't think anyone needs to testify about Al-Qaeda or other terrorist group's atrocities, because no one is even attempting to argue that they do not commit atrocities. There's no real dispute or debate about it. It happens. We are not a moral authority that they acknowledge: thus, our moral condemnation or lack thereof will not affect them.

I did not write the website, nor can I speak at to particular wording of the Winter Soldier project. (I also note that you ignored the bulk of the things I could speak to, but I'll leave that alone and continue to your point)

I do not deny that many Americans have served with honor. It is those people who I feel need to be protected from bad policies and bad leadership. It is the Americans who intend to serve with honor and are guided into committing crimes, then abandoned by leadership, who need to be helped. While I cannot say with certainty, that may in fact be why the names of junior enlisted and junior NCOs are not being solicited-because no one wants to punish good people for being good people put into a bad situation.

It is the bad situation that we want to change. I do not suggest that all crimes are widespread, or that all atrocities are. To look at things in terms of black and white is the act of a child. Only children see things that way, and we are not children-nor should we look at things in that fashion. But simply because things are not black and white does not mean that bad things are not taking place, and should not be stopped.

You seem to be seeing things in very black and white: I would ask you-do you think there is nothing good that VVAW/IVAW have done, since you seem bent on considering them the same organization? Will you deny the good things that they have done, simply for the sake of discrediting their part in the anti-Iraq-war wing?