Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Winter Soldier 2008: Steve Pitkin as Precedent?

Another IVAW question has this:

34. Will you speak to an IVAW verifier to help recall and confirm your testimony?

In the American Thinker article I alluded to IVAW possibly “coaching” potential “witnesses”. Supposed assisting with memory recall can be useful for doing just that. During the original WSI in 1971, John Kerry and other VVAW leaders “assisted” young
Steve Pitkin in recalling atrocities…that he neither witnessed nor participated in and frankly never happened. Pitkin is the only witness from that WSI to have signed an affidavit.


IVAWSgt said...

Once again: why assume that veterans and active duty members who happen to be against the war will automatically be dishonorable?

Whenever one of my soldiers is going to go talk to the 1SG, I talk to him first-I suppose you could call me the 'SL verifier' or 'NCO verifier'. Why? Because when I walk in with a soldier of mine, I am effectively backing him with my honor and my rank. I am saying, simply by my presence, "Yes, Top, this soldier is not full of BS. There may still be an issue, but he is telling the truth."

I'll ask my soldier a bunch of questions to get them to remember little details. Why? Not because of nefarious purposes, but because I'd rather not get into Top's office and only then learn that they are missing a detail like, "Oh yeah, and I was drunk at the time." A detail which Top will know, and I the sergeant will not, which will come up with me having egg all over my face, and looking like an NCO that knows absolutely nothing about their own joes. And I also want to call the soldier on any BS they may be spewing /before/ we get in there.

Having an IVAW verifier makes perfect sense in that context. Make sure the person is remembering all details, so they won't then wind up coming up with a statement which someone will then call faulty on-not because the servicemember intended to lie, but because they simply didn't recall a few details. And if someone /is/ just wanting to lie about their experience, they can be called on it before they're going out in public.

I'm not sure why you want to again, assume people have ulterior motives for stuff that seems perfectly reasonable-but you're welcome to email me about it if you don't want to respond here.

"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:

"...why assume that veterans and active duty members who happen to be against the war will automatically be dishonorable?"

Nice try, but I didn't assume that. IVAW is expressly basing its WSI on the VVAW's WSI. They say so. That earlier WSI has credibility problems. So does IVAW.

In the ealier 1971 WSI, one of the leaders, Al Hubbard, lied about his service. He was not penalized by VVAW for that. Steve Pitkin signed an affidavit stating that John Kerry and others from VVAW pressured him to tell of atrocities that never happened and he never witnessed. Interesting thing about that afidavit. If Pitkin lied about that, Kerry and those others could bring charges against Pitkin. They never did.

Jim Massey, one of the founders of IVAW, lied repeatedly about supposed atrocities, and was found out by the regular media to have been lying. He still works for and with IVAW. That's a credibility problem.

I am serious in my suggestion that various combat experienced milbloggers offer to do some vetting for IVAW. They did spot MacBeth as a phony very quickly, as they also nailed Beauchamp's stories as bull almost instantanously. If they are willing to do that, IVAW should jump at the chance. It would help their credibility.

Some of what you say about having a verifier makes sense, but can I ask: why is IVAW having to ask for such verifiers from outside their ranks? Out of your hundreds of veterans, don't you have a pretty substantial number of combat vets who could do that already?

What are your thoughts on Pitkin's affidavit, and his claim to have been pressured by VVAW to lie?

After the 1971 WSI, there were 46 allegations of crimes and atrocities that the Army judged would qualify as war crimes if true, and they investigated.

"Three individuals could not be identified. The other 43 cases were resolved as follows: 25 individuals making the allegations "refused to provide factual data," 13 more provided information to investigators that "did not support the allegations," and the final 5 could not be located."


That's not a good track record to be designing your own WSI after. Witnesses do get coached. Pitkin was. He signed a legally binding affidavit to that effect, exposing himself to criminal charges if he lied. Are the VVAW folks going to sign depositions and affidavits if they claim to have participated in or witnessed crimes? That would be a legal and moral requirment for all citizens in such circumstances.

JSybman said...

Hi Denis Keohane,

I'd like to correct a couple of your "facts."

First, the WSI of 1971 doesn't have credibility problems. Not a single word of the testimony given by more than 100 honorably discharged veterans has ever been shown to be false, despite the best efforts and twisting of its critics.

Second, you incorrectly claim Al Hubbard lied during the 1971 WSI. Hubbard never testified during that event. The misrepresentation of his rank that you mention happened much later during a television show. The credibility of the Winter Soldier Investigation remains intact.

Third, you mention just one of Steve Pitkin's evolving affidavits that were generated to smear John Kerry during the last 90 days before the 2004 presidential election. When the facts in Pitkins "sworn statement" were challenged, he quickly revised them in new affidavits. When events and conversations that he claimed happened were shown as not possible (in his earlier affidavits), he recanted. It turns out Pitkin was just attempting to muddy the waters during a political campaign. Pitkins actual 1971 WSI testimony is recorded for posterity, and even Steve, himself, hasn't retracted it.

You wrote, "After the 1971 WSI, there were 46 allegations of crimes and atrocities that the Army judged would qualify as war crimes if true, and they investigated."

Nice try, but you are incorrect, and, I believe, intentionally trying to be misleading.

According to the article you cited, of the 46 veterans the Army investigated, they were able to confirm 43 of them were who they claimed to be. The other 3 couldn't be located at that time. As for their allegations, the Army investigators were unable to disprove a single one -- although they did encounter numerous refusals by the veterans to cooperate with the investigations. The vets saw the Army investigators as part of the problem. After the My Lai massacre cover-up attempts, who could blame them.


The bottom line: The Winter Soldier Investigation testimonies have never been discredited. None have been proven false, while some have been proven true. Hard to swallow, but those are the real facts.