Sunday, January 13, 2008

IVAW Goes “Oops!" on Winter Soldier...

In my comment's discussion with IVAW's Army Sgt that led to IVAW’s publicly agreeing to invite milbloggers to their WSI next March, we got into some things that I think someone at IVAW belatedly realized could be a serious problem for them. I was pressing Army Sgt on testifiers signing depositions or affidavits and on IVAW providing full transcripts and detailed information of the testimonies they receive. Army Sgt was doubtful that IVAW had the resources to transcribe the material before the WSI or to get anyone to sign anything. I then quoted to Army Sgt from the IVAW's own website and their questionnaire form for submitting testimony as follows:

"Veterans should give as much detail as possible concerning dates, places, and units involved. However, we are not interested in naming individual soldiers below the rank of O-3...Methodology - Ideally, the collection of testimony should be done in person. Use the questionnaire to get a general sense of the veteran's wartime experiences. The preferred format for collecting the testimony is an audio or video recording in digital or analog accompanied by a typewritten transcript. If you don’t have the capacity to transcribe the interview send us the recording along with pages 2 thru 4 and we will have it transcribed. If you cannot record it try to take as detailed notes as possible. Include details: dates, locations, number of times events occurred, presence of any NCOs/officers, and a brief description for each response to the best of your ability. DO NOT include names of any military personnel with the rank of O-3/E-8 or below. Ask the veteran to review and sign the consent form before the interview.
Provide them with a copy as well."

In short, IVAW is planning to have signed statements and full transcriptions well before the WSI.

That's the "Oops!"!

If one goes to the IVAW site to the Submit Testimony page for Winter Soldier, it reads:

"Submit your testimony and Evidence

If you would like to submit your testimony to Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan, contact the Winter Soldier testimony/verification team at wintersoldier@ivaw.org This team will be responsible for collecting and verifying the authenticity of the testimony. We need combat veterans to join our verification team. Contact Perry O'Brien for more information. perry.obrien@gmail.com."

Something went missing from a few days ago. In the earlier version, right after that statement above was this:

"If you would like to submit testimony, download the Winter Soldier Questionnaire as a PDF document or Microsoft Word file.
A Winter Soldier Evidence Collection Form will be available for download soon."


Those links still work as of right now, even though the statement on the Submit Testimony page with the links has gone. Feel free to download them! And yes, I've saved the older files complete. Here is the earlier version of their Submit Testimony page. Here is the pdf of the questionaire that I've saved, in case theirs goes missing. Suddenly they don't want people to see those questionnaire files, that speak about details, signatures and transcriptions.

Two big reasons why this is an "Oops!".

One, IVAW won't be able to say they don't have compiled and signed testimonies and transcripts when asked. They will!

Two, someone there just might have realized the legal jeopardy. If their folks testify to actual or claimed crimes, and IVAW has written and signed detailed statements about those crimes, and they withhold them, well, that could well be a crime itself. At the least, after they give their WSI "testimony", any legal follow-up to claims of crimes can and will rightfully request or subpeona all records that might shed light on that alleged crime being investigated. Now there's a public record that IVAW is indeed collecting that material and will have it.

UPDATE: To be frank, I think the odds of anyone at IVAW facing legal jeopardy for their “WSI testimony” is extremely slight. Same holds true for legal jeopardy for withholding information that IVAW has but won’t release.

However, WSI is meant to be nothing but a media event. That’s where they will take a hit. When asked, and they will be asked, even by the regular media, for details, thanks to their own Website’s pages they won’t be able to claim that they don’t have such detailed information such as dates, events and units, and that transcribed with signatures of supposed witnesses.

The claim
is that the IVAW “budget for this undertaking is extremely large. A documentary film will be made, the hearings will be webcast, people will be flown in from around the world, etc...”

IVAW is holding WSI fundraisers, such as here
and here.

If at WSI they claim war crimes and atrocities, they have no excuse, financial, resource or otherwise for not providing the public with the details of what they claim.

Of course, the media can play their own DUPES
card!

10 comments:

QuestioningSoldier said...

Its kinda funny to see the assumptions you make regarding IVAW.

For one, a large budget means its going to cost a lot of money, not that IVAW has a lot of money.

Two, you write as if you want legal prosecution by way of signed statements. I am not sure if you fully realize what legal prosecution means. You can't just go after IVAW members, you would have to take out all involved. Is that what you want? The E1, E2, E3 and E4's to take the fall for following orders?

IVAW is not looking for prosecution of people who felt they were doing what was right or had no other choice. That is not the point. We lower level service members don't get to choose the war we fight, the leaders we have and what missions we are given.

Maybe you want the lower level people to take all the blame, or maybe you just want IVAW members to take the blame, I don't know.
What I do know is that IVAW isn't looking to persecute service members, which is what these pro-war blogs seem to want.

Denis Keohane said...

Hi QuestioningSoldier,

Your words are in quotes.

“Its kinda funny to see the assumptions you make regarding IVAW. For one, a large budget means its going to cost a lot of money, not that IVAW has a lot of money.”

What assumptions? According to IVAW’s own and associated sources, IVAW is raising money, is planning for a large budget, and has publicly stated that they will receive written and signed detailed statements, or, will have transcribed and had signed detailed statements from testifiers – before the WSI convenes. Where’s the assumption?

“Two, you write as if you want legal prosecution by way of signed statements. I am not sure if you fully realize what legal prosecution means. You can't just go after IVAW members, you would have to take out all involved. Is that what you want? The E1, E2, E3 and E4's to take the fall for following orders?”

Friend, “you write as if” doesn’t cut it with me. Address what I write, not what you can imagine. If, as is claimed all over the Net, IVAW is going to stage a WSI in which people are going to “testify” to war crimes and atrocities, I believe they have a moral as well as legal obligation to present all the details they have about those, so that investigations can be done. IVAW makes no bones about their designing this WSI after the 1971 WSI. The history of that spectacle was an extreme lack of cooperation by the testifiers with attempts to investigate the charges.

“IVAW is not looking for prosecution of people who felt they were doing what was right or had no other choice.”

And my point, which you reinforce, is that IVAW is claiming that they will perform an investigation, yet already have the conclusion they intend to reach, before investigating! You are already speaking of people who “felt” they were doing right or “had no other choice” – before one word of the investigation and with no detail!

“We lower level service members don't get to choose the war we fight, the leaders we have and what missions we are given.”

Of course! That’s the way the country was established. Civilian control of the military by elected officials, and a military chain of command!

“Maybe you want the lower level people to take all the blame, or maybe you just want IVAW members to take the blame, I don't know.”

Earth calling QuestioningSoldier: what I want is the details released that IVAW says they will have! If there are prosecutorial crimes, of course they should be prosecuted, no matter where that prosecution leads. If there are claims of atrocities and war crimes, of course they should be investigated by those authorities that under our laws have the obligation to do so! But on the other hand, since there have been many false claims of atrocities and war crimes, and some of them coming from IVAW members (MacBeth, Massey) members, there should also be the opportunity to find out whther the claims are true or false!

“What I do know is that IVAW isn't looking to persecute service members, which is what these pro-war blogs seem to want.”

What I don’t want is another smear of soldiers and Marines, which is what the first WSI was all about. Read the following:

“The U.S. Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) states clearly that the observance of this Code is fully and equally binding upon U.S. personnel, in whatever capacity they may be serving, whether capturing troops, custodial personnel, or any other. The UCMJ applies equally to all detained or interned personnel, whether their status is that of prisoner of war, civilian internee, or any other.

It may be added here that it applies regardless of whether they are known to have, or are suspected of having, committed serious offenses that could be characterized as war crimes. The administration of inhumane treatment, even if committed under stress of combat and with deep provocation, is a serious and punishable violation under national law, international law, and the UCMJ.

Soldiers who murder Iraqis are not the only ones violating the UCMJ. All those who are witness to the atrocities but fail to report them to concerned authorities are to be held equally guilty of violation.

The UCMJ clearly states that violations of this Code may result in an individual being prosecuted as a war criminal, and that anyone observing a violation of law, or suspecting one has happened, has a positive legal obligation to report it to appropriate authorities. Failure to do so is a violation in itself."

I didn’t write that! That was written by Dahr Jamail, the independent media guy who is all about IVAW, and writes about “atrocities” with IVAW sources, but somehow leaves out the details!!

http://keohane.blogspot.com/2008/01/wsi-2008-its-in-details.html

http://www.antiwar.com/jamail/?articleid=8907

QuestioningSoldier, what I want is for the truth to be made manifest! That means, if IVAW is, as they say, going to collect the details about atrocities and war crimes, including dates, units and personnel involved and descriptions of the incidents, with the signatures of witnesses and participants, they should release that – not just the “highlights” and “CD” targeted to help the “broader anti-war movement”!

In 1971 VVAW made the claim that they wouldn’t sign legal depositions or affidavits because they didn’t want to see the lower ranking service members take the fall! That was dishonest then, and is dishonest now. The VVAW ended up smearing 2.9 million Vietnam Vets. If a crime has been committed, and you are a witness or a participant, there is a moral obligation to state the facts, and let the investigation go where the evidence leads. IVAW like VVAW before them have already concluded where they believe, based on a political decision, the blame lies. That is not their call if actual crimes have been committed.

If what IVAW will have in those signed and transcribed testimonies is “the truth”, why would IVAW be afraid and reluctant to get that truth out to the public?

Anonymous said...

We lower level service members don't get to choose the war we fight, the leaders we have and what missions we are given.

Nor will you be afforded the opportunity to demagogue the issue of atrocities and war crimes for political expedience either unimpeded, unchallenged or without consequence. That was done in 1971soldier...with a complicit media aiding and abetting the agenda.

This.Ain't.1971

Denis Keohane said...

"Nor will you be afforded the opportunity to demagogue the issue of atrocities and war crimes for political expedience either unimpeded, unchallenged or without consequence. That was done in 1971soldier...with a complicit media aiding and abetting the agenda."

Darnit, anonymous....I can't stand folks who so well and succintly say what I can't in multiple paragrpahs! Well said!

Anonymous said...

GOE will be there, anywhere, anytime, any weather to oppose this act of treason loaded with lies. Eagles up!

Anonymous said...

Cock balls eagle eggs crackling in sphincters.

Army Sergeant said...

Denis:

I state again: I don't run the whole show. I can only speak with authority on the blog-show.

Also, a signed consent form to me doesn't read like a signed sworn statement, if in fact that is current procedure. I think you're assigning nefarious motives to something that doesn't necessarily have to be so. If these transcriptions take place, they will likely be of pre-testimony only for verification purposes.

I know a lot of accusations have been made that there will be liars at Winter Soldier. How better to handle weeding out the liars than getting a clue about what they want to say, and seeing if there's any truth to it? It seems sometimes like people want to have their cake and eat it too. They want us all to be a bunch of liars, but then, they don't want us to go verifying people's stories either.

Denis Keohane said...

"If these transcriptions take place, they will likely be of pre-testimony only for verification purposes."

You are missing the point! If those documents in the hands of IVAW are used for verification and to weed out the possibly false, then what IVAW will have is documentation with signatures attesting to actual crimes!!!! What do you believe is IVAW's moral and legal obligation regarding those documents???? Any?

What is IVAW's obligation then to the public, to whom it purports to be speaking the truth? Cull out "highlights' as they say that will assist the anti-war movement, or turn that information over to both the public and the parties that under ouer laws are obliged to investigate such things?

If you are a witness to a serious crime, Sarge, what is your legal and moral obligation? If you hve evidence in your hands of a serious crime, what moral and legal obligation do you have as regards that information?

Only use it to further your personal goals based on your politic decisions?

Army Sergeant said...

Oh, man. Less exclamation points and question marks! They lose their value with over use, you know.

What IVAW will have, in such a case, is documentation written about what might possibly be said in testimony, that they personally believe are verified. And separate consent forms to interviews which are signed. That's not, by any stretch of means, documentation with signatures attesting to crimes.

What do I believe is IVAW's obligation in that? Legally, I have no idea. I'm not a lawyer. Morally, I believe that it will depend on each individual circumstance. Since the testimony itself should be available, I think it can be easily investigated, should it be decided, by people who have done it professionally for a living, rather than IVAW members who do it out of love of country.

If you are a witness to a serious crime, it is your legal and moral obligation to come forward and speak out about it. However, it is my understanding that hearsay does not count in that regard, and is generally known as RUMINT. Again, I'm not a lawyer, but I believe you're not even able to testify in court about what someone else told you happened.

Anonymous said...

Of course, that excludes IVAW and its own kangaroo court.