The IVAW media folks must be getting swamped. I sent them an e-mail over a week ago (12/27) asking a few questions, and they haven’t had time to get back to me. Here is the text:
I would hope that you can take the time to answer a few questions re: your WSI next March:
Will there be accomodations and permission by pre-arrangement for live-blogging the event?
Understanding that IVAW will not disclose names (other than those testifying, I presume) of people below the ranks of O3 and E8, will those providing testimony give locations for the events testified to (whether in Iraq or Afghanistan), dates and military units involved?
Will there be a full compilation of all the testimony, not just excerpts, made available? On the Net, perhaps?
Will IVAW attempt to have this WSI testimony entered into the Congressional Record, as was done by Senator Hatfield for the initial WSI in 1971? If so, would Senator Kerry be the likely choice to have this done?
If crimes are attested to, will those testifying sign legal depositions or affidavits and otherwise cooperate with criminal investigations? I know that is probably a sticking point, but you also must know the question is coming. If not, how do you indend to handle that?
Thanks in advance for any assistance..."
It is that last question that I would most like to hear from them about. The 1971 WSI was a travesty for many reasons, and that was a primary one: the testifiers would not enter into any legally binding depositions or affidavits regarding their charges. That impedes investigations, protects them from charges of perjury if they are telling falsehoods and is morally and legally indefensible.
I came upon this about the obligations of soldiers whe dealing in situations where atrocities or war crimes may have happened:
"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."
What is striking about that is that the writer was - Dahr Jamail!
Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette correctly made this observation a while back:
"The IVAW boys and their fellow travelers will get some airtime on this, and tell some more stories about unnamed units and unnamed "superiors" - the answer to which is simply to demand names and specific details. If they have real information on crimes of this nature it's criminal for them to participate in a cover-up."
Jamail wrote of an interview with IVAW members in August 2005, about which he 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."
Jamail managed to write that dispatch without revealing a single detail of any such atrocity. Did he inquire of those IVAW members if they had reported these, and advised them of the UCMJ requirements and potential legal penalties if they had not done so?
I also had asked IVAW if a full transcript of all the charges will be made public. On IVAW's site they say this:
"IVAW will also arrange to make available copies of the Winter Soldier transcript highlights to support the various efforts of the antiwar movement."
That is pretty brazen stuff! "Highlights" to support the antiwar movement, but what about details, not just highlights, so that justice may be done, and crimes investigated and transgressors punished? Ivaw also states:
"To the extent possible, IVAW will attempt to corroborate veterans’ testimony, and there will be some video and photographic evidence at the event..."
Extent possibe? What does that mean? Run it by experts like Dahr Jamail, who was in Iraq, and knows all these people, and who wrote about Jesse MacBeth's claims that "I have never seen this level of honesty from a US soldier who directly participated in the slaughtering of Iraqis"? Some video and photographic evidence? Videos and photographs have never, ever been put under oath. They are not subject to legal penalty for lying.
Greyhawk is right! The biggest weakness they will have is being pressed on the pesky details. IVAW members do not have a very good record of having their stories hold up when that is done.