Sunday, April 6, 2008

And Let's Not Forget: The Troops Are Also Racists!

No leftist theatre, such as the Iraq Veterans Against the War's recently held Winter Soldier (Non-) Investigation (WSI), would be complete unless America and in this case its troops were not subjected to the charge of endemic racism. It is integral to all such scripts.

While most of the post-WSI focus has understandably been on the war crime and atrocity related testimonies that were given, or were not given and were inexplicably missing, little attention has been paid to the panels on Racism and War: the Dehumanization of the Enemy.

Much of the testimony centered on the use of the word "Haji" by our forces in Iraq and was framed in the methods we have become used to in the drive for political correctness on campuses, where a deviation from the PC "norms"of thought and/or language is taken as prima facie proof of racism or other bigotry. One of the prominent IVAW purveyors of the racism/dehumanizing charge was Geoff Millard, who has been pursuing a BA in African-American Studies, a field of study often mired in perpetuating victimhood.

The line is that out forces, from top to bottom, use the word Haji in reference to Iraqis and others, and in doing so dehumanize those people! That, according to the enlightened, intentionally leads to users of the words being able to kill such people indiscriminately and without remorse.

In a July 2006 interview with Amy Goodman, Millard was asked for his reaction to the Mahmudiya rape and killings. Since then four soldiers have already been convicted for those crimes with prison sentences as high as ninety, one hundred and one hundred and ten years, and one more faces civilian trial in 2009 and possibly the death penalty.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to bring Geoffrey Millard into this conversation...Can you talk from your perspective as a U.S. soldier who has returned, your reaction to this [Mahmudiya] story?

GEOFFREY MILLARD: Well, to be perfectly honest with you, Amy, it’s not very shocking to me. It surprises me that most Americans are very surprised by this, in that to the American G.I., they are taught from the day that they land in Kuwait and every moment that they move north into Iraq and every moment they’re in Iraq, they’re taught to dehumanize Iraqi people. This term “haji” is very prevalent, and to the Muslim world, the term “haji” is actually a term of endearment for those who have completed that pillar of Islam, who have made the Hajj to Mecca. But to the U.S. military, it’s a term of dehumanization, one that’s used so that the American G.I. can kill without question and who can follow an order to kill someone without question, whether it’s in a gunfight or any other situation.
That is prima-facie proof of what a self-serving cretinous lout Millard is. The rape of a fourteen year old girl, followed by the killing of her and her family by Americans is shocking. For Millard to say it is not and that he was not surprised by such as we shouldn't be is a vicious and ungrounded charge, but well suited to the Millard/IVAW smear machine.

Millard followed that up with his oft told story, including told at Winter Soldier, of the killing of an Iraqi family by a young American manning a machine gun at a checkpoint. Millard had repeatedly used that story to as an intro to his recounting officers using the dehumanizing term "Haji". Yet there is no connection in Millard's story to using the term Haji and the killing! None! By Millard's own account, the soldier opened fire on the car carrying the family when that car was speeding toward the checkpoint and the soldier made the decision that this was a threat approaching! If the soldier opened fire because the car was occupied by dehumanized Hajis, why wouldn't he open fire at all such cars driven by Hajis regardless of particular actions, and not the one speeding toward the checkpoint!

Such critical thought eludes Goodman and the bobble heads in the Winter Soldier audience.

The ever unreliable Aaron Glantz wrote Winter Soldiers Tell Tales of Dehumanization on that Winter Soldier testimony:
Geoff Millard, a former sergeant in the New York Army National Guard, spoke about his time stationed at Camp Speicher near Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit. He said during his deployment he heard high-ranking officials use the word haji to refer to all the Iraqi people.
Millard, like the other veterans at the gathering, linked the needless deaths of innocent civilians to a culture of racism and dehumanization of the enemy that’s part and parcel of the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
Glantz is correct that Millard "linked" needless deaths of innocent civilians to a culture of racism but like Millard, doesn't establish any grounds for that linking! Glantz continues:
The former National Guard sergeant spoke about one incident he witnessed in the summer of 2005 when a machine gunner in his unit opened fire on an Iraqi vehicle that was driving quickly toward a U.S. military checkpoint and killed an entire Iraqi family.

“He killed a mother, a father and two children,” Millard said. “The boy was four, and the daughter was three.”
Again the reason for the shooting was a vehicle driving fast toward a checkpoint at a time when the enemy was precisely using bomb laden cars as a method of attack. What does that have to do with dehumanizing? Glantz also made a mistake of fact in that writing, but I find myself uncharacteristically forgiving him for this one. Glantz wrote that Millard spoke of an incident he [Millard] witnessed, but Millard did not witness the event and did not claim to. Millard's testimony and repeated telling is that he was present at a briefing to staff about the incident that involved photos. I am somewhat understanding of Glantz making that mistake, though, because unless one listened very carefully, the histrionic manner in which Millard told the story could lead someone to believe he did witness it. At Winter Soldier, Millard introduced the story with:
"...one of the most horrifying experiences of my tour that still stays with me..."
Yes, Millard was indeed saying that one of the most horrifying experiences of his tour in Iraq was being present at a briefing! He did see graphic photos and supposedly heard an officer use the term Haji in a disparaging manner, but did not see the actual violence, deaths, bodies, etc! He didn't talk to the soldier who opened fire and did not hear that soldier give as his reason for doing so as "They were just Hajis!"!

What horrified Millard, and what didn't shock him about soldiers actually raping and killing, was this, according to Glantz:
That evening, Millard said he was in a briefing where the chain of command was informed of the shooting.

“After the officer in charge briefed it to the general in a very calm manner, a commander turned in his chair to the entire division-level staff, and he said—and I quote—‘If these f------g hajis learned to drive, this s--t wouldn’t happen.’”
That is it! That is why Americans kill innocents! Millard went on to say:
"That stayed with me the rest of my tour.”
This is another example of why in an earlier post I termed Millard a narcissist.

IVAW co-founder and atrocity fabulist Jimmy Massey was exposed in 2005 by embedded reporter Ron Harris of the St. Louis Dispatch who followed up on Massey's fabricated claims. In a debate with Harris conducted by Amy Goodman in November 2005, the subject of checkpoint shootings was prominent. Massey had claimed, untruthfully, that his Marine unit had killed thirty innocent people at checkpoints in two days, and in a very Millard-like manner, spoke of dehumanizing. Toward the end of the debate, there was this exchange:

JIMMY MASSEY: First, I would like to say, why would the military admit to atrocities now? They’ve never admitted to atrocities in Vietnam. And then, furthermore, Mr. Fowler, Corporal Fowler: “There were no explosives but it was highly probable there could have been weapons. We were all”—this is an exact quote from Mr. Fowler. “We were all pissed off at shooting women and children. Nobody was doing it on purpose, but they were doing it. They were killing civilians and plenty of them.”

RON HARRIS: Wait, but you said nobody was doing it on purpose?

AMY GOODMAN: He’s quoting. You are quoting Fowler?

JIMMY MASSEY: Yes, I’m quoting from Fowler, yes.

RON HARRIS: The second shooting of civilians that we reported, the way I found out about it, Marines were pissed off. And they were pissed off at each other. They were pissed off that somebody had accidentally shot some civilians, and they were furious.

Why would those Marines be upset, even furious, pissed off, as even Massey acknowledged, contrary to earlier claims, if to those troops the Iraqis were dehumanized Hajis, whose deaths would be of no consequence to one's conscience?

This is why narcissist Massey leaves a slime trail. He never spoke to that soldier, who pulled the trigger on that machine gun. It is that soldier who had a horrifying experience, not Geoff Millard advancing PowerPoint slides in a briefing. Listen to the audio of Millard telling the story at WSI, and note the emotionalism when he tells of what this incident did to - him! What of the young machine gunner? He may live with a terrible gut wrenching regret his entire life. He may spend that life second guessing himself because people, even children, died at his hands. He may have determined that given what he knew and saw he reacted properly and rationally to protect his unit and himself, and still be burdened with a terrible hurt. Yet for Geoff Millard, it is Geoff Millard who bears the pain and memory and Geoff Millard has pronounced that soldier of being guilty of having dehumanized the family he killed, as he again and again tells that story to make that point!

How could Geoff Millard do that? It is simple. Geoff Millard has dehumanized that young soldier. That soldier only exists as a prop, not a human being, in a story Millard tells to enhance a perception of his own wonderful humanity!

Millard and others from IVAW have at least honestly made the point that the term Haji is one of honor and endearment in Arabic. It is not used by our troops for an enemy but for the people of Iraq. There is a story there they are not telling.

During his testimony, there was one point where the crowd applauded Millard loudly. That was when speaking of the use of Haji to dehumanize Iraqis, he said:

"These things start at the top - not at the bottom."
The applause was loud in something like direct proportion to the asininity of the statement itself.

Somewhere and at some time someone in the US miitary began calling Iraqis Hajis, and it got picked up. I am in the middle of raising my fourth and fifth teenagers. Doing such provides a first hand witness to how language changes and words come into use. Language is fluid, and changes virtually never come from "the top"! Does Millard know how the terms pogue or fobbit came into use?

Rumsfeld, Tommy Franks, Paul Bremmer, Bush, Cheney, et al, never had a meeting where they determined that the Iraqis would be called "Hajis"! Whoever began doing so had to have some knowledge of both Arabic and Islam. It is striking that a term that has come into such wide use by our side is in the language of the locals and rather than insulting, a compliment!

In accepted PC terms, the use of such terms is meant to make people "others", different than "us"! But of course, that is simply true! To Marines, the Army is made up of others. To the Iraq Veterans Against the War, the members of Veterans For Freedom are others. To my family, members of other families are others. Yet Marines and Army soldiers are members of the US military, and the British troops are others. Members of IVAW and VFF are veterans, and non-veterans are others. All the families in my neighborhoods are North Carolinians, and folks from South Carolina are others.

Having a name for others is not inherently racism, bigotry or dehumanizing. Using a term for that otherness that is an honorable one in the other's culture is a sign of respect, not dehumanizing.

Haji can most certainly be and no doubt at times is used disparagingly and as a slur. But the term itself can be used in a positive, neutral or negative manner. Use of the term is not a sign of racism or dehumanization.

Here are other terms for people that can be and are used in positive, neutral or even negative ways: Republicans, Democrats, conservatives, liberals, Frenchmen, Italians, Christians, Jews, Yankees, Southerners, soldiers, Marines, men, women, Americans, Europeans, and on and on.

Yet Millard and IVAW and the left as a whole want to paint the picture of the killing hordes of White Anglo Saxon Protestant Americans brutalizing the darker people of the world, while led by commanders with names like Abizaid and Sanchez! The US military is and has been the most thorougly integrated by race, culture, ethnicity and culture at every level in history.

For Millard and IVAW to try to paint the members of our military as full of people who can kill anyone without qualm simply because they have been led to call them something like Haji is despicable.

Millard may want to try to talk to members of his own IVAW and their allies about dehumanization. Maybe to Adam Kokesh, to whom his political enemies are "Dumbocrats and the criminal Repugs", and speaks of them wearing "jackboots". Maybe he should speak to the IVAW supporters at Daily Kos and DU who call our troops killbots, or those like Dissident Voice who call members of Gathering of Eagles fascists and who wrote of "the Stygian depths of depravity and evil that US service personnel have sunk…" in promoting the video by IVAW's former member Jesse MacBeth. How about the DU commenter writing about the IVAW Bus Arson that wasn't who just knew it had to have been done by a Freeper Nazi?

Any of that dehumanizing?

Green Left Weekly quoted Millard at something called the World Social Forum held in Caracas in January 2006, where Millard's PC indoctrination was on full dislay:
“US soldiers are put into a situation where they are forced to brutalise, forced to racialise, forced to sexualise everyone in order to dominate and control a people..The way that has to be done is that you are forced to dehumanise that person. That’s what they are doing in Iraq. You see this brutalisation factor whenever you talk to World War 2 veterans about 'Japs’..."
The attitude of Americans of the WWII generation towards the Japanese had a lot more to do with things like the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Bataan Death March than that they used a shortened version of the word Japanese, just as they also used the shortened Brits for the British and Poles for the Polish, and they were allies. Millard went on to say and proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is getting an un-education but is getting the left PC drivel down pat:
The real Iraqis getting bombed are the poor. It’s the poor in Iraq who make up the resistance, just like anywhere, because the rich are still going to get their’s, whatever.
Millard doesn't seem to know that a considerablely large part of the insurgency involved the Ba'athist Sunnis, who were trying to get back the exalted social and financial status they had over the country's beleagured, oppressed and sometimes slaughtered majority Shia and Kurds!

And if he ever bothered to read any one of a number of letters from AQI's Al-Zarqawi, he would have noted that it was not objection to poverty that motivated his slaughtering of countless civilians. Likewise, Osama Bin Laden is not impoverished.

Over at Active Duty Patriot IVAW's Army Sergeant has a complaint about Jason Mattera of YAF disobeying some of the WSI rules and harassing people while videotaping. I am sympathetic to the concept that if there are rules of conduct promulgated they should be obeyed. I will just point out that in demostration after demonstration, IVAW members have intentionally broken rules, laws, harassed people and otherwise did not much care abour "rules'.

One such event happened in September 2006, when Geoff Millard was arrested at a demonstration at the UN for breaching security. About the events of that day, Next Left Notes wrote:
...an Iraq War Veteran named Geoff Millard simply walked into the 'secure area’ - finding himself between the NYPD, FBI and Secret Service and the UN itself. Millard told NLN that he was: “tackled, kicked in the forehead and hit with rifle butts” multiple times. Arrested for disorderly conduct he was nylon flex-cuffed so tightly that his circulation was cut off. The following day Millard said that he still couldn’t “feel (his) left thumb”. Millard, who served in the 45th Infantry Division, NY State National Guard, fell when he attempted to climb into the police van. Rather than help him up the NYPD charged him with resisting arrest.

“I fell at the paddy wagon and for this they charged me with resisting arrest,” said Millard who fought in Iraq from October 2004 until October 2005.

Paddy wagon? Perhaps Millard missed PC class on the day the history of the term paddy wagon was explained. It is an ethnic slur against the Irish, which stock accounts for 100% of my breeding. The term came into use in the US, Canada and Australia and was meant to convey the idea of the transport vehicles the police would use to round up all the drunken and misbehaving Irish immigrant scum, all called - Paddy!

I guess in Millard-world I have been dehumanized.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Three Stomp Signal - Anyone?


In the Times OnLine piece Patriot Missiles: Iraq Veterans Against the War that ran in early March, IVAW's Jason Washburn got some focused attention from Robin Boyd at Chickenhawk Express and also from Dave Allender and Nat Helms at Defend Our Marines. Perry O'Brien also got some attention for "heart touching", but I have to admit to having overlooked this:

On a February morning at a cafe in Brooklyn, New York, Perry O’Brien is explaining the difference between the “book way” and the “real way”, and the significance of the “three-stomp signal” that is used to differentiate between the two.

“If someone is giving a briefing and they stomp their foot three times after what they are saying, it means ‘disregard what I just said’. For instance, ‘Make every effort to avoid civilian property damage,’ stomp stomp stomp – [means] ignore that. The idea is that when you get back [from combat], anything that you did the book way can be spoken about – but not what was done the real way.”

It isn’t just between the book way and the real way, he says; it’s become between the honourable way and the immoral way...

“The book way was we treat everyone the same…” Perry smiles and taps his foot three times. “You are ordered to do things that are clear violations of our conscience and what we know to be moral. It’s not even what’s prescribed by the Geneva conventions. It’s what every human being knows to be right and wrong. We’re asked to do things that violate that and told it’s about the war, but you can never tell anyone because we need to protect them from that."
O'Brien was a medic in Afghanistan. From all that I've read from him, I have never seen where he has given any indication that he ever went on a combat mission or was engaged in any fighting. I am not sure how many, if any, briefings like the ones he describes he may ever have personally attended.

That alone would not have so effectively triggered my olfactory senses, but that "three stomp signal" certainly has! O'Brien describes it as something routine, ordinary, even well known among military personnel. Yet a Google search of "three stomp signal" returns O'Brien as the only source for such a concept! The only other remotely close return was from a software patent:
...protocol in which a stomp signal is propagated to cancel a prior request...
I cannot even find where Geoff Millard, who graduated from advancing the slides in a PowerPoint presentation to giving briefings to generals and colonels spoke of the three stomp signal!

So I am throwing this one out there: anyone ever heard of "Perry O'Brien's Three Stomp Signal"? At this point, I am naming it after him as he seems to be, at this time, something like the sole owner of the concept.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Rurik's 2nd (and sadly final!) Winter Soldier AAR...

...is up at Veteran American Voices:

What I Saw at the Circus - Part 2 - Carnival of the Moonbats.

Rurik also believes he may have identified this WSI's prreminent John Kerry wannabe in Captain Luis Montalvan. I still believe Geoff Millard thinks he's got a shot, though.

Meanwhile Robin at Chickenhawk Express says she was late (but not nearly as late as I am!) with the very gratifying news that LCpl. Stephen Tatum has had all charges against him in the Haditha incident dismissed. Robin has been tracking the story of the Haditha Marines for a long time, and along with Dave Allender's Defend Our Marines offers one of the best repository's of Haditha related fact vs fantasy.

Bruce Kesler of Democracy Project also weighs in with Only Haditha Massacre by Media and Murtha.

In No one is more professional than they are! NO ONE! Thus Spake Ortner at The Sniper provides a follow-up to the soldiers recovering from wounds at Walter Reed who took and completed the BNCOC training course and the graduation ceremony held last Friday:
It was quite clear that these weren’t wounded soldiers in this course, but warriors, who just also happened to have been wounded. One soldier had to be rushed to the Emergency Room twice during training because of heart problems. Another tore out stitches during the training. And yet they carried on, there is no quit in these people. “Cut and Run” is not only a mantra to Congress, it’s these soldiers mantra too, but in the sense that even if they are cut, bleeding or wounded in any manner, they’ll still be running to the front. Warriors, every one of them.

The Members of the Graduating Class:
SSG Billy Brashears, Commandant’s List
SSG Renee Deville
SSG Warren Finch
SSG Dorthea Hooper
SSG Shad Lorenz
SSG Eric Sundell

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Dahr Jamail: Credibility Deficit Disorder


Dahr Jamail is struggling to get back on track after his pet IVAW's Winter Soldier Investigation failed to produce the longed for evidence of "the Stygian depths of depravity and evil that US service personnel have sunk…" that Jamail's fans have been longing for since he touted Jesse MacBeth as the real deal.

Jamail has another co-authored piece (with Ali al-Fadhily) at IPS entitled IRAQ: Fever Named After Blackwater.

With his usual standard of fact checking demonstrated so aptly with his MacBeth promotion (see Jesse MacBeth to Winter Soldier: Exposing Dahr Jamail), Jamail and his partner write of a form of malaria:

" What Iraqis now call Blackwater fever is really a well-known medical condition, and while it has nothing to do with Blackwater Worldwide, Iraqis in al-Anbar province have decided to make the connection between the disease and the lethal U.S.-based company which has been responsible for the death of countless Iraqis. "
Jules Crittenden calls Jamail on it, pointing out that
falciparum malaria has been called Blackwater Fever since the 19th century! Crittenden also points out that a ten second Google search by the intrepid independent reporter would have shown the term being used as such in 1991.

Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit picks up the story as does Bruce Kesler of Democracy Project.

Hat tips to Bruce & Dan.

RELATED:

If you need to get the bad taste out after that, though, read Robin Boyd's The Heart of a Marine.

And remember, if you can possibly make it, there is the BNCOC graduation ceremony at Walter Reed tomorrow morning. These wounded soldiers who undertook that training while recovering from their injuries are an inspiration, and deserve to be honored.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Repost: Wounded Soldiers Complete BNCOC!!!


Thus Spake Ortner has two important posts up at The Sniper on a remarkable and inspiring subject:
Walter Reed Army Medical Center has for the first time offered the Army's Basic Non-Commission Officers Course (BNCOC) to wounded troops at the facility. In order for a Sergeant E5 to be promoted to Staff Sergeant E6, the courses must be attended and passed. TSO says of these:
Any of you who have been to PLDC, BNCOC, ANCOC or Sergeant Majors Academy no doubt remember these courses. They're not exactly R&R. Now imagine doing it as a wounded troop.
TSO and others are trying to get as many people as they can to be at Walter Reed for the graduation ceremony this Friday (March 28) at 8:00 a.m. to honor those first wounded troops to have gone through the course. See the above photo.

Check in at The Sniper for details and to contact for arrangements.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

More IVAW Cover Up and Clean Up

Members of the IVAW seem to be on a cover-up/clean-up tear. Earlier this month they very belatedly doctored their founder's page when the question of Jimmy Massey, IVAW co-founder and established fraud came up.

I have been working on a page (Missing Testifiers and Testimonies) with copious links detailing earlier statements by IVAW members for which the claimants or the claims went MIA at Winter Soldier. I was going to add a link to a post about a statement by IVAW's Jen Hogg, even though that would be a bit out of the normal. Sgt. Hogg was not an OEF or OIF veteran, and as such would not have been likely to testify at WSI, and most especially not at those panels that touched on such as war crimes and atrocities.

However, last January Stan Goff posted an article at The Huffington Post entitled Winter Soldier. In the comments to that, a person signed as jrockbg claimed to have been a Marine who served in Ramadi, and he took exception to the widespread atrocity claim, saying "I never once saw an 'atrocity' or criminal act of any kind".

The IVAW's Jen Hogg replied to him, with among other things this:
When my unit came home (I was not sent with them because mechanics were deployed as infantry, and as a female I was barred) one of the older guys told me a story. He said they would arrest Iraqi's in night raids and turn them in only to be later asked to go get them again after they were released, as they were now wanted. He told me (E-6, in his 40's, pro-war) that they would just shoot the guys when that happened. He said this as if it were normal and ok.
I addressed that in the post Enough Already With "I Was Told...", "I Didn't Actually See..."!

That led to another post Discussion With Jen Hogg, IVAW, involving Jen Hogg and containing a reply I had received via e-mail from the PAO (Public Affairs Officer) of the 42nd ID, LTC. Goldenberg.

I was going to add that to the list of MIA material for the simple reason that Jen Hogg's allusion to the execution of detainees as a "normal" practice and reaction to a kind of "catch and release" frustration was not supported by any of the actual WSI testifiers!

As I started to do so, I went back to the Huffington Post page, and found that Jen Hogg's comments were now gone! The page actually shows that there were five replies in comments, but only two are available any longer. Jen Hogg's "as if were normal and ok" comment is gone, as is a rely to that from jrockbg and one from a condescending and faux morally superior something called timm0 who presents a reasonable argument for abolishing police departments or something.

However, the Google Cache is on the job, and had all the comments, and is now screen capped and archived.

So back to the Missing Testifiers and Testimonies page, and now you'll know why Jen Hogg was added. I think it is important to remember that Sgt. Hogg posted that comment as a reply to a person claiming to be a Marine veteran of Iraq who was saying he had not seen any war crimes or atrocities, and Sgt. Hogg apparently believed hers was a proper reply to that.

What Went Missing at Winter Soldier?

What went missing was both testifiers and testimonies that one would reasonably have expected to be there.

The question is why.

Last February I posted The Perry O'Brien WSI e-mail here. That e-mail appeared at IVAW's Adam Kokesh's blog on December 4, 2007. It read as follows:
Dear Friends,
As you may or may not know, Iraq Veterans Against the War is currently organizing an exciting campaign called Winter Soldier: Iraq andAfghanistan. This March, over one hundred members of IVAW will gather in Washington DC to testify to the war crimes that they observed or participated in while deployed overseas. The goal of this testimony is to condemn military policies and challenge the liberation narrative being fed to the American public...please forward this e-mail on to others.

Best, - Perry Perry O'Brien Testimonial Team Leader Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan" perry.obrien@gmail.com Posted by Adam Kokesh at 2:33 AM
O'Brien ran the WSI testifier and testimony verification process. In that post I pointed out that by February this was being reported:
"Return of the Winter Soldier: Iraq Vets Prepare Atrocity Testimony
By Erin Thompson
From the February 4, 2008 issue

...more than 45 current and former soldiers plan to describe the indiscriminate killing and injuring of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, the use of chemical weapons, the torture and killing of detainees, rape — within the military itself and against Iraqi civilians — the denial of medical care to the injured and the mutilation of the dead, and other war crimes.”
I also pointed out at that time that there was evidence that IVAW was backing down from the lurid atrocity claims, and it now seems that was so because they just weren't getting the material or those to deliver it. That number forty-five is very close to the actual number of IVAW veterans that testified at Winter Soldier, but nothing even close to all or even most of them testified to those kinds of events! In December the IVAW had seemingly high confidence of having over one hundred testifiers who had witnessed or participated in war crimes but by mid-March that number had dwindled to a relative handful!

What happened?

IVAW was vetting their members and their testimonies. The very reasonable assumption is that in doing so, a whole lot of the claims about themselves and charges their members were bantering about among friendly and accepting company didn't hold up. Such tales that would bring a certain group status and approval and little if any doubt or skepticism (as with Jesse MacBeth) didn't pass muster when being verified with an eye towards the scrutiny WSI would certainly get and was already getting in the blogosphere.

Winter Soldier did not deliver the atrocity-fest advertised and hoped for, yet that is in spite of many members of IVAW and their colluding allies railing on and on about witnessing and participating in war crimes and atrocities for years!

As such, on the upper left of this page I have posted a Winter Soldier section, under which one can find WSI Testifiers and Testimonies as well as WSI Missing Testifiers and Testimonies. The various testimonies are being verified, as all expect. Yet IVAW members like Adam Kokesh and Geoff Millard play the "Don't throw me in the briar patch" game of hoping that the veteran status of their testifiers is challenged, and that is likely a ruse meant to hide where they know they have a damaging problem. There is an IVAW credibility story, a potentially huge one, in the number of IVAW members and the tales they have told that did not make it to Winter Soldier.

I've listed some of the no-show members as well as stories that were not told or were told at WSI with details missing or changed. I will add to that list, and as always ask for input from any on those I'm missing. Some of IVAW's most lurid atrocity chargers are on that list.

We can't expect the IVAW to admit publicly that they may have found fraudulent claims about themselves or events being made by their members, sometimes for years. When the MacBeth imbroglio hit, IVAW only sought to seriously verify his veteran status after he was effectively challenged by others and merely distanced itself from MacBeth after he was outed. There was no admission to or aplogy for having given MacBeth the platform ypon which to make those false charges.

So researchers, diggers and fact finders, there is a lot to be uncovered about what went missing. I have no doubt that IVAW verifed the DD214s for example of everyone who testified. I also don't doubt that they sought to check the DD214s of those - who didn't testify. And their claims to have participated ot witnessed things. That's a story worth developing.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Important: Wounded Troops Complete NCO Training


Thus Spake Ortner has two important posts up at The Sniper on a remarkable and inspiring subject:
Walter Reed Army Medical Center has for the first time offered the Army's Basic Non-Commission Officers Course (BNCOC) to wounded troops at the facility. In order for a Sergeant E5 to be promoted to Staff Sergeant E6, the courses must be attended and passed. TSO says of these:
Any of you who have been to PLDC, BNCOC, ANCOC or Sergeant Majors Academy no doubt remember these courses. They're not exactly R&R. Now imagine doing it as a wounded troop.
TSO and others are trying to get as many people as they can to be at Walter Reed for the graduation ceremony next Friday (March 28) at 8:00 a.m. to honor those first wounded troops to have gone through the course. See the above photo.

Check in at The Sniper for details.

Another Winter Soldier MIA: Mike Blake

(Correction: when this post initially went up I mistakenly confused Matt Howard with Mike Blake as both were quoted in the same article. Howard did testify at Winter Soldier)

Few members of the Iraq Veterans Against the War have been as outspoken about claims of US atrocities than Mike Blake. He too apparently did not testify at Winter Soldier. The list of those who may well have been vetted out by IVAW itself grows. Perry O'Brien's testimony didn't make the cut, as neither did the hours of atrocity stories told by Abdul Henderson, Alex Ryabov, Camilo Mejia, Harvey Tharp, Michael Hoffman and Charlie Anderson to Dahr Jamail.

The Guardian reported (March 2006):
[Michael Blake] claims that US soldiers such as him were told little about Iraq, Iraqis or Islam before serving there; other than a book of Arabic phrases, "the message was always: 'Islam is evil' and 'They hate us.' Most of the guys I was with believed it." Blake says that the turning point for him came one day when his unit spent eight hours guarding a group of Iraqi women and children whose men were being questioned. He recalls: "The men were taken away and the women were screaming and crying, and I just remember thinking: this was exactly what Saddam used to do - and now we're doing it."
...He tells us that he witnessed civilian Iraqis being killed indiscriminately..."When IEDs [Improvised Explosive Devices] would go off by the side of the road, the instructions were - or the practice was - to basically shoot up the landscape, anything that moved. And that kind of thing would happen a lot." So innocent people were killed? "It happened, yes." (He says he did not carry out any such killings himself.)
...Blake, an activist with IVAW for the past 12 months, is angry that American people seem so untouched by the war, by the grim abuses committed by American soldiers. "The American media doesn't cover it and they don't care. The American people aren't seeing the real war - what's really happening there."
...Just outside New Orleans, the sudden appearance of a reporter from al-Jazeera's Washington office electrifies the former soldiers. It is a chance for the vets to turn confessional and the reporter is deluged with young former soldiers keen to be interviewed. "We want the Iraqi people to know that we stand with them," says Blake, "and that we're sorry, so sorry. That's why it was so important for us to appear on al-Jazeera."...Blake turns reflective. "I met an Iraqi at one of the public meetings I was talking at recently. He came up to me and told me he was originally from the town where I had been stationed. And I just went up to this complete stranger and hugged him and I said, 'I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.' And you know what? He told me it was OK. And it was beautiful ..." He starts to cry. "That was redemption".
At a fundraiser for Winter Soldier last January Blake had this to say:
“The killing of innocent civilians is policy”, Iraq war veteran Mike Blake told a public meeting held on January 19 at the Different Drummer Cafe in Watertown, New York State, near the Canadian border.

“It’s unit policy and it’s Army policy. It’s not official policy, but it’s what’s happens on the ground everyday. It’s what unit commanders individually encourage.”
Yet Mike Blake didn't at testify at Winter Soldier! He was apparently just saying those things about killing civilians as policy to raise money for IVAW and WSI! The question about him and others is - why not, after all those claims and charges against your country and fellow troops - what happened?

If IVAW vetted these people out, they owe the public to whom they have been claiming to tell the truth - the truth. When IVAW member Jesse MacBeth was outed as a fraud when he was passing lurid fabricated atrocity stories, IVAW distanced themselves from him and denied any responsibilty. There was no honor in making the separation after he was exposed. There was only CYA.

Long after IVAW co-founder Jimmy Massey was exposed as having lied about atrocities, IVAW kept the statement that Jimmy Massey had been telling people the truth up at their site for years! They only removed it days (Mar 4) after I challenged IVAW (Mar 2) on whether Massey would show at Winter Soldier.

If there were reasons why these members and their stories did not stand up to IVAW scrutiny for Winter Soldier, after all the months and years that they have been a part of charging our country and our forces with crimes and atrocities, IVAW has to come clean on that.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Winter Soldier: The Cast of Characters

This is being posted as a service for those researching and as a solicitation to anyone to offer corrections in the comments which I will use to update the post. It is an attempt, based on the audios and transcripts posted at War Comes Home, to determine which IVAW members "testified" at Winter Soldier and by extension, which had not.
  • Clicking on the persons name takes you to the WSI audio.
  • A single asterisk (*) means that person's name has already appeared and is a duplicate.
  • Two asterisks (**) denotes non IVAW members
  • Three asterisks (***) denotes an IVAW member or other veteran for which there is no confirmation found (yet) of service in either OIF or OEF.
  • "Profile" is a link to the person's IVAW Member profile.
  • "Blog" indicates the person's own blog.
  • "Post" indicates a post that discussed this member.
  • "Blog Title", e.g., Chickenhawk Express, indicates a post at that blog on the subject.

Rules of Engagement Panel 1:
Rules of Engagement Panel 2:

Veteran Healthcare Crisis Panel:

Corporate Pillaging Panel:

Gender & Sexuality Panel:

Racism and War Panel 1:

Racism and War Panel 2:

Military Breakdown Panel:

GI Resistance Panel:

By my count, there may have been a total of forty-four veterans (max) of OIF and/or OEF who testified.

Another Winter Soldier War Crime No-Show: Perry O'Brien

In early March I posted Finally Some Detail from Perry O'Brien, IVAW. O'Brien had claimed in an e-mail posted at Adam Kokesh's site that:
“I will be testifying to the illegal use of Afghan corpses for medical "practice," which I witnessed while serving as a medic in Afghanistan.”
Well, that did not come to pass. Read the post, and especially the comments that follow which include a reply from O'Brien himself, and the responces he received and in particular that from Namedic (John "Doc" Boyle), a combat medic in Vietnam - and you will see why in all likelihood he did not testify.

At one point, O'Brien said:
If you admitted a family member to a hospital, and that relative sadly passed on, how would you feel if you discovered that the body had been used as a teaching tool? Without consent? Can anyone on this site honestly tell me they wouldn't be outraged if it became known that we were using the corpses of American soldiers this way?
It is absolutely routine for surgeries to be used as training, which is why doctors in training will assist the more experienced surgeons, to precisely get training not otherwise available. And in cases where a patient dies on the table, of course there is likely to be attempt to both be sure of why that happened and instruct those present who may well need that information later to save lives, even if that means touching the deceased, which is exactly what has O'Brien riled up.

The crime he was going to testify to was military surgeons letting medics touch the heart muscle of a deceased patient. For combat medics to recognize that muscle by touch can be a future life saver, and was not disrespectful to the corpse.

As John "Doc" Boyle asked:
For starters, so what if a doctor in an OR or surgery asked staff to examine post mortem remains for purposes of an otherwise unavailable – and extremely valuable - training experience?
Scratch another IVAW claim of American crimes and atrocities which can be chalked up to American military medical staff taking the opportunity to instruct others in a way that may someday save the life of one of our troops, an Afghan civilian, adult or child, or maybe even a wounded enemy!

Then too, it might also have been Namedic's final comment and challenge to O'Brien:
From Perry O’Brien’s entry in “Member Profiles” on the IVAW website:
“I felt like a terrorist myself for being complicit in the illegal detainment, torture, and murder of thousands of innocent civilians.”
Say W H A T??

And you can back this up, right?

What are IVAW and Dahr Jamail Hiding?

On March 12, the day before the Iraq Veterans Against the War launched their Winter Soldier Investigation (WSI) I posted IVAW: Time To Put Up – Or Retract.

At this point, they have not put up! I have just gone through the entire listing of Winter Soldier testifiers and that list is very notable for who is not there!

The people of this country and also those abroad, owing to the far reaching efforts of Jesse MacBeth's former de facto publicity agent, Dahr Jamail, are owed an explanation by both the IVAW and Jamail.

Speaking with a half dozen IVAW members identified by name in one of his dispatches ("What Have We done?") in August 2005, Dahr Jamail wrote:
"I type furiously for three hours, trying to keep up with the stories each of the men shared….about the atrocities of what they saw, and committed, while in Iraq."
According to Jamail his site, on which he posts his dispatches, was receiving over one million hits a day well before August 2005. The IVAW members present for those hours of atrocity "testimony" were Abdul Henderson, Alex Ryabov, Camilo Mejia, Harvey Tharp, Michael Hoffman and Charlie Anderson.

Now, with the Winter Soldier testimony having been given - what happened to those atrocity stories???

In that interview Jamail quoted Mejia as saying:
"I tortured guys...and I’m ashamed of that."
Yet Mejia has said otherwise at other times, and didn't make that claim even when it was in his interest to do so. See the previous post on Camilo Mejia.

Jamail quoted Harvey Tharp as saying:
“Most of what we’re talking about is war crimes…war crimes because they are directed by our government for power projection.”
But just last month Tharp was quoted in the Yemen Times as saying he had never personally witnessed any American atrocities in Iraq, but he had come to “know about certain cases”. He also stated he would not be testifying at WSI.

The other four, Abdul Henderson, Alex Ryabov, Michael Hoffman (IVAW co-founder) and Charlie Anderson, as far as I can find, also did not testify! The audios and transcripts have been going up since March 14, a week ago. None of those show up. If they did testify, I will correct that when I read or hear that testimony.

In any event, what happened to the three hours of atrocity stories Dahr Jamail claims to have been told by IVAW members who committed or witnessed them, and that he told the world about? Was someone lying? There was no three hours of first hand accounts of atrocity stories in all of Winter Soldier! For two and a half years the IVAW and Dahr Jamail have led people to believe, without correction, that those six veterans alone could tell hours of American atrocities that they had first hand knowledge of!

The public is owed an explanation. If the answer is that these IVAW members did not testify at WSI about these atrocities they committed or witnessed for fear of getting themselves or others in legal jeopardy, the question then is: why did you then tell them to a supposed journalist, without anonymity?

Smell test grade well below passing.

And of course, as IVAW has been broadcasting its extensive vetting of their members and their stories in preparation for WSI, did the claims by those members maybe not pass that vetting? If so, shouldn't that be made just as public as the claims that these men had enough first hand knowledge of atrocities to keep a journalist typing furiously for hours?

Perhaps Jamail will release, in the interest of full disclosure and journalistic ethics, those things he typed furiously for those three hours.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Winter Soldier: Camilo Mejia Version 3.0

The Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) should announce with regret a glitch in that chair Camilo Mejia's testimony at Winter Soldier is not backward compatible with earlier versions of the same story.

In the audio of that testimony at the recently convened and misnamed Winter Soldier Investigation (WSI), Mejia testified about what he and his squad did while guarding detainees in Iraq. He has told this story many times, and the story has changed in ways that are mutually exclusive. In short, some of it has to be lies.

At WSI Mejia told of sleep deprivation methods he and his squad were ordered to use to "soften up" detainees for interrogation. These included shouting, banging sledge hammers on walls to similate explosions and cocking a pistol next to the detainee's ear. This was described by Mejia in a May 2005 interview:

They were hooded prisoners. Yell at them, tell them to get up and get down. Let them sleep for five seconds, so they will get up disoriented. Bang a sledgehammer on a wall to make it sound like an explosion, scare them. And if all of that fails then, you know, cock a .9 millimeter gun next to their ear, so as to make them believe that they're going to be executed.

Mejia's telling at Winter Soldier was more lurid. He described objecting to yelling at the detainees in a language they couldn't understand, and was supposedly told that they would come to understand just as dogs would, since they were animals. He also called the cocking of a pistol next to a dozing off or sleeping detainee a "mock execution".

Yelling, slamming a hammer on a wall or cocking a pistol are all sensory (aural) means to startle a sleeping or dozing person awake. If such a person is startled by the cocking of a pistol at his ear and finds that pistol pointed at him in a threatening way, it may well be a mock execution. If it is only the sound of the cocking pistol that is startling, and the detainee is not being threatened by that firearm, it is no more a mock execution than a sledge hammer simulating a bomb going off is a mock execution. John Conroy, author of Unspeakable Acts, Ordinary People and critic of American policy was quoted in the National Catholic Reporter in May 2004 about Mejia's claims:

Conroy said “the revolver business” is also torture if it simulates a mock execution, which he described as one of the “worst forms of torture” because of its long-lasting psychological effects.

Conroy, who believes that sleep deprivation itself is torture, correctly noted about the use of the pistol that it is only tortures "if it simulates an execution", meaning, its use as described many times previously by Mejia did not clearly indicate such.

For a comparison to what are definitely mock executions there are examples provided in the materials submitted to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by the attorneys of Americans taken captive in Iraq and Kuwait by Iraqi forces under Saddam Hussein at the time of the Gulf War:

Nichol goes on to describe the mock execution of himself and Larry Slade, as the Iraqis pulled their gun and pointed at Slade saying "you are dead" and "you are now going to die," moving closer to Larry until he could see down the barrel of the gun, and then pulling the trigger, "click."...he indicated how the Iraqi "sneered at the expression on our faces [after the mock execution], and walked away laughing."

and...

Several times over the first few days of his captivity, Acree’s captors held mock executions in an attempt to extract information from him. During one of his early interrogations, he was asked for strategic information, and when he did not supply it, a guard put a pistol to his head.
and...

Four times during his captivity, [Chief Warrant Officer Guy Hunter's] captors held mock executions wherein they pushed his head to the side with a gun, paused for about ten seconds, and pulled the trigger.
and...

[Lt. Lawrence Slade's] captors then told him to prepare to die, pushed a pistol against his head, and pulled the trigger

In comparison to those, there is one glaring and consistent details that appears in all of Mejia's currently released versions of the story that argues against the charge of mock execution: the detainees presumed to be enemy combatants were wearing sandbag hoods! They could not see the pistol, the person who was holding it, or whether it was pointed at them or not. The point of a mock execution is to make the person believe he is about to be killed. A person being startled by the sound of a pistol being cocked may be afraid and speculate that this may happen, to the point of confusion, but he is not being made to believe he is being executed.

In his WSI testimony Mejia said:
"...our job was to keep prisoners who had been detained as enemy combatants sleep deprived for up to seventy-two hours."
In addition to that "our job", in his testimony Mejia used the word "we" repeatedly, as in "the next thing we did" as a lead-up to use of the sledge hammer and pistol and then saying:
"We were performing mock executions."
That certainly gives Mejia's tale a first person and experienced quality. However, in a March 2005 interview with Amy Goodman, Mejia was asked if had ever engaged in the actions described by him at the time (yelling, sledge hammers and cocking pistols) and which did not include the claim of "mock executions", Mejia replied:

"Not really, because we weren't there very long. We only were there for six hours with these enemy combatants and it was during the daytime. Some of the guys in my squad did yell at them on my orders. They used the sledgehammer. I don't think they used the gun. But then we were relieved and then they were taken away. It was enough to see who was going."

How were Mejia and his quad keeping what he called enemy combatants sleep deprived for seventy-two hours if they were only there for six? How can he claim "we performed mock executions" if neither he nor any member of his squad used a pistol?

In an August 2005 Dahr Jamail article entitled "What Have We Done", "dispatched" over the world wide web through Jamail's propaganda operation, Jamail quoted Mejia as saying:

"I tortured guys...and I’m ashamed of that."
All of Mejia's versions of what he has told cannot be true. He cannot keep someone sleep deprived for seventy two hours if he is only there for six. If he claims to have tortured guys why did he deny doing such things only months before? During his court martial hearing for desertion, Mejia made no claim to have engaged in torture or mock executions when such could have helped his defence for desertion. Rather, Mejia's defense was based on his "expectation" that if he returned to Iraq he would be ordered to do things that violated law and his conscience.
Citizen Soldier's cooperating attorney, Louis Font, of Brookline, MA is preparing to appeal Camilo's conviction on two different legal grounds. First, the appeal argues that the court martial judge erred when he refused to allow defense lawyers to offer evidence of international law violations which Mejia had a legal duty to refuse. During Camilo's five months of combat in Iraq, he personally observed such violations on a regular basis. Therefore, his expectation of illegal orders was based on his actual experience--not on speculation.
Maybe the next version, Mejia 4.0, will get rid of the bugs. Don't count on it, however.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

WSI Milbloggers: Nice to be Noticed - Maybe?

If you were wise or fortunate enough to have started your day with Rurik's Send in the Clones at Veteran American Voices (and if you weren't go there now!), it is time to kick back and enjoy Jonn Lilyea's DC Moonbat Convergence at This Ain't Hell and TSO at The Sniper in a series of posts that can cause damage to your keyboard if you read while drinking a liquid. Luckily I had a spare....until the wife notices hers is missing.

And in the "getting under their skin" department, apparently our intrepid Winter Soldier milbloggers are now recognizable in public settings by the street demonstration set! Jonn, TSO, Rurik, you can buy anti-Bac in a spray can, and carry it with you.

And if your ribs can handle any more, drop by Robin at Chickenhawk Express and read DC Suffers Through Another Moonbat Tsunami in which THE question is asked:
What exactly does Medea flashing her goodies in a bed on the streets of DC mean? Is she protesting Eliot Spitzer?

Rurik's Winter Soldier AAR....

..is up at Veteran American Voices - Send in the Clones, and he will be on blogtalk radio with Cao and Concrete Bob on Saturday evening, 7:00 PM Central Time.

Read Rurik with your coffee and start your day right.



Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Winter Soldier: A Theatrical Review

The Iraq Veterans Against the War’s (IVAW) much touted Winter Soldier Investigation – Iraq and Afghanistan (March 13-16) has concluded not with a bang but with a whimper.

Both Jonn Lilyea of This Ain’t Hell and TSO (Thus Spake Ortner) of The Sniper who live-blogged the event delivered AARs (After Action Reports). I'm going to address it more in the form of a review, what one writes for, well, theatre.

Details of individual and panel performances are to come, but for now, like many reviews, I'm going to focus substantially on audience reaction.

The show flopped!

The theatrical as opposed to investigative endeavor has to have been a huge disappointment to many who had high hopes for and a lot riding on the show. WSI simply failed to deliver.

No one can be more disappointed than Dahr Jamail, the “unembedded reporter” and “independent journalist” who at one time played the role of de facto press agent for Jesse Macbeth, the atrocity charge spewing IVAW fraud outed in 2006. Jamail has published an article on WSI for IPS. While Jamail quotes five WSI testifiers about actions and events in Iraq, some of which if true come up to the level of crimes, the amazing thing is that this article is an incredible climb-down for Jamail! His atrocity charge laden pieces have been flowing for years with far more lurid and damning claims than anything he has taken from WSI! Culling the most atrocious from the testimony in the statements by Vincent Emmanuel, Garret Reppenhagen, Jason Wayne Lemue, John Michael Turner and Jason Washburn, Jamail did not come anywhere close to what he has trumpeted in the past, for example, in May 2006 Jamail wrote "Countless My Lais in Iraq", claiming:
"The media feeding frenzy around what has been referred to as "Iraq's My Lai" has become frenetic. Focus on U.S. Marines slaughtering at least 20 civilians in Haditha last November is reminiscent of the media spasm around the ‘scandal’ of Abu Ghraib during April and May 2004…countless atrocities continue daily...Torture did not stop simply because the media finally decided...to cover the story, and the daily slaughter of Iraqi civilians by U.S. forces and U.S.-backed Iraqi ‘security’ forces had not stopped either."
There has been a longing on the anti-war left, a deep yearning, for that story or series of stories that would nail the American military and its killbot minions as evil incarnate. We saw signs of that with the fraudulent MacBeth video, as with this from the producer, Randy Rowland who wrote in an e-mail:
"After all, the news these days is about a Marine squad who are accused of exactly this same behavior [at Haditha]. Jesse's story would clearly show the Marine story to be common policy, rather than a squad of loose cannons..."
Or the Dissident Voice on the same subject, spitting spittle and crying for Lord MacBeth to rescue us all from Bushitler:
"If the [MacBeth] video gets widespread exposure, it is unfathomable that support for a US troop presence in Iraq could be sustained...It is a video that should number the days of the Bush administration...we hear the shaken ex-army ranger and Iraq war veteran Jessie MacBeth admit to the Stygian depths of depravity and evil that US service personnel have sunk…"
Say what you will about WSI 2008, it didn't reach those longed for Stygian depths of depravity by our troops!

Indication was given over a month ago that the Knights of the IVAW would not deliver the atrocity Holy Grail the left desired. The old hands at Vietnam Veterans Against the War must also be disappointed, after having broadcast:
This spring, the largest gathering of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan will share their experiences in a public investigation called Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan. Providing testimonies to war crimes the United States perpetuates with the ongoing wars and occupations...
Oddly enough, the IVAW backed off that "largest gathering of U.S. veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan…” when challenged on it months ago. The claimed number of "testifiers" also went from over one hundred to under fifty. Less than half of those could be considered to have testified to anything like atrocities.

Readers of the Yemen Times had to be disappointed, as IVAW's Harvey Tharp sang the siren song only last month, even if the later abridged version:
"I’m a member of the Iraq Veterans Against the War. As the only officer who has joined, I’m the highest ranked...I’m going to Washington, D.C. for the winter soldier hearings from March 13-16. Fifty members from the Iraq Veterans Against the War will testify to war crimes they witnessed or even participated in and I’ll be there in support."
And of course, the most internationally well known and published [possibly former] IVAW member and co-founder, Jimmy Massey was a no show! Massey fans in Malaysia, Venezuela, France and Cuba must be wondering what happened!

It is at least possible (okay, highly probable) that the vetting process IVAW said they were going through dwindled their earlier presumed numbers. DemocracyNow! also didn't get what they hoped for:
Winter Soldier: Hundreds of Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan Gather to Testify in Echo of 1971 Vietnam Hearings

Hundreds of veterans and active-duty soldiers of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are gathering today for the Winter Soldier hearings. The soldiers plan to give eyewitness accounts of the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Channeling Mel Gibson's William Wallace from Braveheart, "It was more like fifty!".

Bruce Kesler at the Democracy Project reports in Elmer Gantry Needed At Winter Soldier II (Even Feminist Supporters PO'd) this "ouch!" quote from a feminist site:

Saturday's hearings opened with the Divide To Conquer: Gender and Sexuality in the Military. From the title of the panel, we were looking forward to this panel….

The panel was an embarrassment….

A panel at Winter Soldiers promises testimony. Testimony is based on what you saw. A witness in a court of a law attempting to 'testify' to what they themselves didn't witness would be reduced to rubble under cross examination. For this panel, such requirements were largely tossed out….
Other fans are besides themselves that their stars didn't draw the crowds, or the right crowds! From OpEd News:
What is the Difference Between the Mainstream Media and Goebbels' Ministry of Propaganda?

In America, Truth gets slaughtered daily in the mainstream media, just like it was in Nazi Germany. The American media has always taken great umbrage in condemning the perfidy of the German people who supported the deadly war policies of Hitler, yet they whistle past the graveyard while ignoring another holocaust going on in Iraq, not to mention Afghanistan. Nowhere is this more evident than in their blackout of WINTER SOLDIER.
Also at OpEd News:
WINTER SOLDIER BLACKOUT CONTINUES: Look in the Mirror America!!!!!

By Kevin Stoda, Kuwait
As there are reports across the globe of a USA-wide blackout of major media news from the WINTER SOLDIERS presentations or soldiers’ testimonies on the Iraq and Afghanistan War at the Labor College outside of Washington D.C. this week...
Only the independent media, like REAL NEWS NETWORK...is doing its job.
Otherwise, only the Huffington News seems to have noticed this gaping absence, despite complaints appearing all over the web, like on YAHOO discussion lists.
Even the BBC’s coverage has not been as good as one would expect from a respected international news network.
Even the light comedyIVAW tried didn't make a splash, like Camilo Mejia going from his squad guarding detainees for six hours to him running a POW camp, or Geoff Millard's clicking the mouse to advance Power Point slides evolving into him giving a briefing to generals and colonels! There were more than a few testifiers who spoke of bad actions like taking pot shots at cars and carrying shovels around to plant evidence of IED emplacement near the bodies of those killed and insisted these things were commonplace, the usual. Well, commonplace and usual for exactly whom? Squad, platoon, company, battalion, regiment, division, what? Because if these things were true and that common and usual, how come all the testifiers didn't testify to the same common and usual things? In professinal theatre and movies they have a person assigned to the task of assuring continuity, such as the same buttons on the shirt buttoned and unbuttoned scene to scene and shot to shot. WSI missed that.

And milbloggers TSO and Jonn Lilyea didn't help the image situation of 'we care for the troops' when they reported that when the panel began on veteran care, the mass of the audience scattered to other parts!

Possibly the biggest indication of how badly the show flopped? Only moments ago, a Google search for "Winter Soldier" brought up this:

Yup, the number one return on Google for "Winter Soldier" is Scott Swett's WinterSoldier.com site, the one that has all that debunking information about the Kerryfest of 1971!

As Thus Spake Ortner might cry, "Oh the huge manitees!"

Monday, March 17, 2008

IVAW on "Best Behavior"

Dahr Jamail, one time de facto publicity agent for the IVAW's former member Jesse MacBeth, had this in an IPS article:
[John Michael] Turner explained one reason why establishment media reporting about the occupation in the U.S. has been largely sanitised. "Anytime we had embedded reporters, our actions changed drastically," he explained. "We did everything by the books, and were very low key."
Now that is Turner singing Jamail's tune! Only an unembedded reporter who sits on an activist organization's advisory board and colludes with that organization to get the story the way they want it to be can be credible!


However, there is no doubt some truth in that most people will be on something like better if not best behavior when they believe they are being observed.

Kind of like IVAW sidelining a couple of members for habitually threatening people when they became aware that folks were beginning to notice and taking notes.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Geoff Millard Story at WSI

During the panel on Racism, IVAW member Geoff Millard repeated a story he has been telling for some time, but with a difference. Millard finally named names of two of the officers involved. More on that later. Last July the story was reported at Common Dreams as:
During the summer of 2005, Sergeant Millard, who served as an assistant to a general in Tikrit, attended a briefing on a checkpoint shooting, at which his role was to flip PowerPoint slides.

“This unit sets up this traffic control point, and this 18-year-old kid is on top of an armored Humvee with a .50-caliber machine gun,” he said. “This car speeds at him pretty quick and he makes a split-second decision that that’s a suicide bomber, and he presses the butterfly trigger and puts 200 rounds in less than a minute into this vehicle. It killed the mother, a father and two kids. The boy was aged 4 and the daughter was aged 3. And they briefed this to the general. And they briefed it gruesome. I mean, they had pictures. They briefed it to him. And this colonel turns around to this full division staff and says, ‘If these fucking hajis learned to drive, this shit wouldn’t happen.’”
The audio from WSI repeats the story, although it omits the 18 year age and adds the names of the general and colonel. Eight seconds of Millard's testimony in which he quoted the colonel about "hajis" has also been erased from the War Comes Home audio. However, Veterans for Peace reported it as others heard it on the live broadcast and recorded it.

Last July, SFC Jeff Nuding, who is proprietor of Dadmanly milblog, wrote a deconstruction of Millard's story based upon it being written in The Nation, that is more than worth the read:

I can’t dismiss the anti-war voices in The Nation piece, but I can quickly surmise that many of the soldiers interviewed are anti-war careerists, who have attached themselves to groups like Code Pink or Iraqi Veterans Against the War (IVAW). I can also state with absolute conviction that among those who make the most damning assertions about US military conduct have no first hand basis for their assertions.

Sergeant Geoffrey Millard is one such soldier who makes claims beyond his experience in The Nation piece. Millard was assigned to the Rear Operations Center (ROC), 42nd Infantry Division at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Speicher in Tikrit. I also served with the 42nd, I am familiar with the ROC at Speicher, and know two officers who served in the ROC during the same period as Millard, one of whom I would say I have a casual acquaintance (and great respect). I served as his First Sergeant for a brief period when he was the HHC Commander.

After redeployment, I had a chance to get reacquainted with spent some time explaining to me what his section did, how they interacted with the Division HQ and the other 42nd ID Commands. Among other duties, the ROC tracked the convoys that exited and/or entered the FOB. Their mission included the tracking of IEDs and VBIEDs in the Area of Operations, supervising the proper submission and quality control of convoy paperwork – there’s always paperwork for everything -- and keeping command and staff informed of recent trends, updated threat assessments, and so forth. SGT Millard served as a staff NCO in an administrative section in the rear – what combat soldiers would correctly (if harshly) ridicule as a “Fobbit.” (I was a Fobbit too, though I complete about a dozen convoys off the FOB.)

In The Nation piece, Millard even reinforces the obvious distance from which he offers criticism of our military, as the “clicker” for a Command Powerpoint presentation on an unfortunate checkpoint shooting of a family. His beef in that instance? That a Colonel, briefing staff officers and commanders at what sounds to be like a weekly Commander’s brief, made the comment that “If these fucking hajis learned to drive, this shit wouldn’t happen.”

If that passes for scandal to anti-war types, we’ve come quite a ways from My Li.

Based on what I know of the 42nd in Tikrit and our Command structure, the Colonel Millard uses as example for US military callousness is likely a Brigade Commander, most probably from Artillery or one of the Infantry Brigades. These were some no sh**, can the nicety type commanders. But discipline is discipline, they knew the public relations and “hearts and minds” importance of their missions, and took extraordinary effort to prevent the kinds of unfortunately incident briefed in Millard’s powerpoint slides. The fact itself that they briefed the incident in detail speaks volumes about how important the command viewed these setbacks, as setbacks, to be avoided however possible.

What Millard didn’t add to this little anecdote was what happened next, based on this incident and others like it in theater: revised Rules of Engagement, follow-up training and briefings by Commanders and NCOs, and changes in procedures for Convoy drivers, truck commanders (TCs), and gunners. I know, because our guys bitched like hell every time some incident or another caused yet another command directive: Wave them off (or for a while, throw small stones at windshields), point the barrel of the M2 at them, and lastly, fire a warning shot on the pavement in front of the vehicle.

Sometimes that meant the round glanced back into the engine block, disabling the vehicle entirely – not good, now you have a broken down vehicle in your way – or even into the vehicle and causing injuries to driver or passengers.

Iraqi drivers obey a coda of traffic laws known only unto themselves, if at all, in peacetime. Adding the stresses and threats of insurgents, VBIEDS, US and Coalition Military, Iraqi Army, and Iraqi Police into the mix, they only get worse. So yes, for local commanders, if the locals would exercise a little more care and prudence, Commanders at all levels wouldn’t have any such incidents for which soldier correction would be required.

Just as at our FOB (Danger) down the road about 20 kilometers, FOB Speicher received its share of mortar and rocket attacks, the overwhelming majority of which were completely ineffective without causing any injuries. Yet SGT Millard, endearing himself to his anti-war audiences, makes it out like some Vietnam redux, only worse, with “pops of machine gun fire and the bangs of mortar rounds exploding all hours of the day and night.”

Our FOB was tiny in comparison to the square mileage of Speicher, so the net effect of any rounds impacting this great big patch of desert with great amounts of open space had to be even less intimidating.

Look, we had soldiers who were spooked by what little we experienced at Danger. I wouldn’t dream of suggesting poor Millard can’t be suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) -- if not from close physical contact with Cindy Sheehan, then from whatever he witnessed at Speicher (or was told about, or heard about in FOB gossip). But I would bet a month’s wages that, pressed top back up his claims, Millard like most of the other voices The Nation selected, they “heard about this kind of sh** from lots of guys.” (Especially after making themselves celebrities in the anti-war industry.)


Read it all.

For an interesting on-line discussion between Sgt Geoff Millard and a SFC Holmes who served with him, go here and scroll down.