Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Touching Nerves, Hearts and Painful Memories

Last Monday morning (Feb 25) Scott Swett’s timely article “Newly Discovered Army Reports Discredit ‘Winter Soldier’ Claims” on the discovery of the summary files of the Army CID Investigations of VVAW War Crimes Allegations from the 1971 Winter Soldier Investigation was published at By late that evening, at the suggestion of a friend, I had gotten the on-line petition entitled “Appeal to the Senate Armed Service Committee” up, and it has been there for less than two full days.

Many of the hundreds of signatories have made comments. Many of those show how truly appalled people are that the Senate allowed the 1971 Winter Soldier Testimony to be entered into the Congressional Record, with none of that testimony having been given under oath or accompanied by legally binding affidavits or depositions. When that is added to the Senate also giving VVAW’s John Kerry a televised and credible platform to smear the Vietnam veterans, without rebuttal or follow-up hearings or report on the veracity of the charges by the Senate, the emotions and righteous indignation run high.

That combination, with already available quotes by and statements about IVAW and its members allow for – something of an overview:

  • “Charges of atrocities must be taken seriously and investigated. False allegations are equally serious and must be prosecuted.” Lewis Waters, SASC Petition Signatory
  • "The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the Veterans of earlier wars to be treated and appreciated by their nation." -- George Washington Michael Dennin, SASC Petition Signatory
  • “As both a retired Marine Gunnery Sergeant and one who served during Tet-1968 I ask that you please do not allow our Brave Men & Women serving in Harms Way in Iraq and Afghanistan to go through what we Vietnam Vets went through in returning home.” Lawrence B. Hoffa, SASC Petition Signatory
  • “Not again, nope, not again!” Steve Nelson, SASC Petition Signatory
  • “Please don't make the same mistakes that were made in 1971.” Robert H Veno, SASC Petition Signatory
  • “DO NOT allow lies and innuendo to become part of history! Stop the smear of our good men and women in uniform by this maladjusted group of malcontents. They lied during Vietnam, and their offspring are attempting to do the same...NEVER AGAIN!” ROGER ERIC PETERSON, SASC Petition Signatory
1971 Winter Soldier CID Investigation files: Douglas Craig claimed at WSI that members of his battalion had fired mortar rounds each night into a local dump, intentionally killing civilians who were scavenging for food. Craig told investigators he had no direct knowledge of these events and expressed misgivings about making allegations in Detroit he could not substantiate.

“Personally, I will be testifying to the illegal use of Afghan corpses for medical "practice," which I witnessed while serving as a medic in Afghanistan.”
Perry O’Brien, Iraq Veterans Against the War
  • “Any and all claims MUST be investigated and charges brought forth under UCMJ. This can not further erode the confidence the American public has, we must stand behind our brave men and women in the armed services.” Garth von Homan, SASC Petition Signatory
  • “It is especially important that, if claims of illegal acts are made against US military personnel, the claimant be subpoenaed for sworn testimony.” Dr. Marc Fries, SASC Petition Signatory
  • “Never again let our veterans feel their Country doesn't stand behind them. Thank you.” Gini Squire, SASC Petition Signatory
  • “We will NOT STAND for any repeat of what our veterans went through in Vietnam. NEVER AGAIN!” Robert Caissie, SASC Petition Signatory
  • “I am a Viet Nam veteran. I served from 1965 to 1969. I ask that you do not let this happen again. These men and women serve a far greater need than to be labeled as those in 1971. It was crap then and it will be crap again today”. Jerry D. Christensen, SASC Petition Signatory
1971 Winter Soldier CID Investigation files: Larry Craig claimed at WSI that he watched US soldiers murder a Vietnamese civilian and, on another occasion, desecrate Vietnamese graves. Craig admitted to investigators that the man who was killed could have been Vietcong, and that the soldier allegedly digging in a cemetery could have been looking for weapons caches.

"The policies that the military engages will create situations, create dynamics, create, ultimately, atrocity."
Matt Howard, Iraq Veterans Against the War
  • “As I vividly recall The Congress is charged with providing the Common Defense of this Republic. Do the Right Thing... for those that have served honorably in the Uniform Services of this Nation. Unsworn testimony in the Congressional Record by malcontents? God Save this Republic from them.” Maj. S. M. HARTNETT USMC, Ret, SASC Petition Signatory
  • “Take good care of those who take care of you. Use due diligence when proving/disproving stated claims. Remember, these people have a specific agenda which does NOT include defending the United States.” James B. Faux Jr. , SASC Petition Signatory
  • “So that lies will not go unchallenged, and unexposed THIS TIME.” William G. Smith, SASC Petition Signatory
  • “My younger son is a newly minted Marine presently stationed at Kaneohe Bay, awaiting deployment. I am proud of him, as I am of all the other men and women who have chosen to serve this country, risking their lives for our sake. I deplore the politicization of our engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan, putting the lives of our military in unnecessary jeopardy for the sake of political posturing and gain. I sincerely hope that the Senate Armed Services Committee will assure that their sacrifices will not be blemished by those whose opposition to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan is motivated by a desire to see the United States as inevitably wrong, and act from the desire to see us fail.” Rita F. Mattingly, SASC Petition Signatory
  • “This is right on track and we should have learned from past mistakes. Let us not forget Vietnam and what was said about those who served our nation at that time.” Stephen R. Dodimead, SASC Petition Signatory
1971 Winter Soldier CID Investigation files: Donald Donner claimed at WSI that Army personnel had murdered a Vietnamese male, intentionally wounded a 14-year-old Vietnamese girl, indiscriminately slaughtered livestock and failed to bury enemy dead. Donner admitted to the CID that his stories were actually lies, rumors and accounts of accidental events.

"The killing of innocent civilians is policy…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."
Mike Blake, Iraq Veterans Against the War
  • “The honor of those who serve our country should not be allowed to be stained by these "sunshine patriots." Please do not allow another generation of soldiers to be found guilty in the court of public opinion without signed depositions and witness statements.” Ron Allen, SASC Petition Signatory
  • “As a Vietnam Era USMC Veteran, who also had a sister in the Corps and three brothers in the Army then, and lost a family member in Kuwait in March 5, 2004, I can not stress enough my support for this petition. Our "Troops," "Veterans," and Our "Nation" deserve accountability based on facts not innuendo or political expedience!” Brenda S. Ramos, SASC Petition Signatory
  • “I am a 100% disabled Vietnam Veteran…the Winter soldier fiasco of 71 was fraudulent and backed by communist organizations who backed the VVAW...the IVAW now is taking directions from the VVAW...It would be a crime against our armed forces to allow several hundred men out of millions who served to tarnish their service to our country.” Gary Assell, SASC Petition Signatory
  • “As a retired 23 year special ops veteran, I demand that the US government not allow a repeat of the 1971 winter soldier fiasco of liars, anarchists and socialist politicians. We veterans and active duty military will be closely watching how our collective reputations are protected, or not, by you the government of the US.” Timothy L. Woods, USAF, MAJ, SASC Petition Signatory
  • “I'm a proud Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom!” Paul Couturier, SASC Petition Signatory
1971 Winter Soldier CID Investigation files: John Lytle claimed at WSI that his unit murdered civilians by destroying villages with artillery fire without making any effort to determine who was there. However, Lytle told the CID that the villages were actually fired on because it was suspected that Vietcong occupied them and incoming fire had been received from the area.

"...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… No, I didn’t personally witness any [atrocities], but I came to know about certain cases."
Harvey Tharp, Iraq Veterans Against the War, interviewed in the Yemen Times 2/25
  • “As a commissioned officer veteran of the Vietnam War, I ask that the honorable members of the US Senate take action to prevent lies similar to those told before you after the conflict in Vietnam from tarnishing the honor of our men and women involved in Iraq.” Gary J. Honold, SASC Petition Signatory
  • “I am a VietNam Vet. I was offended with John Kerry and the likes of him back i n 1971 and am offended with the so-called Obama story on the lieutenant in Afghanistan. Give us date, times and names. Not usual barracks B.S. talk, but real facts and none of this political rhetoric and war stories without substance. Without facts of dates, times & names, its pure fiction. I didn't like being labeled a killer back then and I know our soldiers now don't either. If you make a public claim, then back it up under oath with a penalty of perjury if you don't. Let's keep the politics out of it and let our troops do their jobs.” Ishmel Taylor, SASC Petition Signatory
  • “It is about time the risks, the service of our military overseas is reviewed, evaluated and protected by honest criteria, instead of lies, innuendo and rhetoric that is intended solely for political purposes.” Tom Page, SASC Petition Signatory
  • “I am a Korean War Ex-POW and a 2-tour veteran of the Vietnam War with the 101st Abn Div. My generation was disgraced by people of the same ilk as the IVAW. Do not let the IRAQ Veterans suffer the same fate as the Korean & Vietnam Veterans did.” Edwin C. Lundquist, SASC Petition Signatory
  • “I am a Combat Vietnam Veteran 1965-1967 We do not need the same garbage to happen to the Gallant Men and Women that are now serving. See what happened to our Country before. It took 35 to 40 years to over come the crap. God Bless our Country and the Men and Women who are now serving.” Johnie Lee Qualls, SASC Petition Signatory
1971 Winter Soldier CID Investigation files: Robert McConnachie claimed at WSI that Army troops in a convoy threw C-ration cans at Vietnamese children with such force as to kill one or two. He also said an artillery unit had intentionally shelled a hospital and killed civilians. McConnachie backtracked when questioned by military investigators, saying that no Vietnamese children were actually killed by troops throwing C-rations. He said he now believed that the alleged killing of civilians in a hospital by artillery fire was accidental.

“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.”
Dahr Jamail, independent reporter, writing in Aug 2005 about a conversation with Iraq Veterans Against the War members Abdul Henderson, Alex Ryabov, Camilo Mejia, Harvey Tharp, Michael Hoffman and Charlie Anderson. Details of the hours of atrocity stories were not provided.

Harvey Tharp, who this month admitted in the Yemen Times that he had never witnessed an atrocity in Iraq, told Dahr Jamail in 2005:

“Most of what we’re talking about is war crimes…war crimes because they are directed by our government for power projection.”
  • “I am a former member of the USAF who served honorably from 1973 to 1984. We must honor our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coasties. They stood up for us by serving voluntarily, Now we must honor them by standing up for them and doing what is right.” Charles F. Gait, SASC Petition Signatory
  • “Unless sworn testimony can be proven to be accurate, this testimony should not be included in the Congressional Record. When the Vietnam Veterans Against the War provided testimony and it was included in the Congressional Record, Congress dropped the ball and failed to investigate. When it was independently investigated, many of those who testified [were] proven to be liars. Don't let this happen to another generation.” Vickie Perkins, SASC Petition Signatory
  • “I beg you... Do not let this go unchecked. Not again.” Dan Clifford, SASC Petition Signatory
1971 Winter Soldier CID Investigation files: Ronald Palosaari claimed at WSI that Army troops killed two children and an old lady by throwing a grenade into a bunker next to a house. He also said he saw a Vietnamese soldier cut off the ear of a NVA soldier who had just been killed. Interviewed by Army investigators, Palosaari was unable to provide specific dates, locations or the names of any individuals involved in the alleged grenade incident. He admitted that he did not actually witness the mutilation of any enemy dead.

“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.”
Jen Hogg, Iraq Veterans Against the War
  • “The Armed Services Committee should be present for the entire proceeding and have access to those testifying. Any allegations against our troops, be it equipment shortages to any alleged atrocities should be aggressively challenged and thoroughly investigated. No one should be able to make any claims unless they are willing to back them up and cooperate with an investigation. I would prefer that they be sworn in before they testify and held liable for any false testimony.” Daniel Recine, SASC Petition Signatory
  • “If testimony regarding the use of steroids by Major League Baseball players rises to the level of requiring sworn testimony in order for the statements to be entered into the Congressional record, certainly claims of widespread atrocities, indiscriminate and unwarranted killing of civilians and destruction of property and infrastructure, torture of detainees, mutilation of corpses and the illegal use of Afghan bodies for medical "practice", rampant sexual misconduct, racism and drug/alcohol use by American soldiers and more should also require that such statements be attested to by sworn statement and legally authenticated affidavits.” Bruce, SASC Petition Signatory
  • “It is our duty as Americans to protect the honor of our troops from slander and defamation at home while they are serving us abroad.” Dan Maloney, SASC Petition Signatory
1971 Winter Soldier CID Investigation files: Donald Pugsley claimed at WSI that a helicopter gunship strafed and killed water buffalo. He admitted to investigators that no water buffalo were actually fired upon.

Claims to have witnessed Americans "murdering thousands of Iraqis"during the invasion.
Charles Anderson, Iraq Veterans Against the War
  • “I am the sister of a Medal Of Honor soldier killed in Viet Nam and it breaks my heart to see once again our soldiers in Iraq vilified. They are America's best and they are giving their lives for us and the people of Iraq. Please do what is right.” Patricia (Gertsch) Leggate, SASC Petition Signatory
  • “No testimony should be taken without accountability and proof; and certainly not entered into the Congressional Record without that proof. I can't believe that was allowed to happen in 1971!!!” Richard Miller, SASC Petition Signatory
  • “Dearest Honorable members of the SASC, Right your wrong from the past. My father and uncles hung their heads at the admission of their service because of you. Right your wrong. Be proud of your veterans, not suspicious.” Thomas Chandler, SASC Petition Signatory
1971 Winter Soldier CID Investigation files: Kenneth Ruth claimed at WSI to have witnessed the torture of Vietcong suspects, and told Life Magazine that he saw troops test fire weapons into a village, wounding 43 civilians. However, Ruth admitted to Army investigators that he had no personal knowledge of such an event. The CID found his torture claims unsubstantiated.

"During the initial invasion we killed women. We killed children. We senselessly killed farm animals. We were the United States Marine Corps...and we left a swath of death and destruction in our wake all the way to Baghdad..."
Matt Howard, Iraq Veterans Against the War
  • “I request that the members of the Senate Armed Services Committee not allow what happened to a previous generation of veterans be allowed to happen to another and even be aided, as it was then, by the United States Senate.” MSG ROGER H. COOPER USA(RET) , SASC Petition Signatory
  • “As a Vietnam War Army volunteer and partially disabled veteran, I have lived through this ugly lie for nearly four decades... almost my entire adult life. Don't let this travesty destroy the public perception of our honored military again. They have more than earned their honor with their blood, their sweat, and the tears of their loved ones.” Donald Castella, SASC Petition Signatory
  • “I wholeheartedly agree with the proposal outlined in this petition and request appropriate action be taken by those in Congress. We don't need another group making false allegations and destroying the public's faith in our military.” Dave Nesbitt, SASC Petition Signatory
1971 Winter Soldier CID Investigation files: George Smith claimed at WSI that members of his Special Forces unit had beaten enemy prisoners and placed them in small barbed-wire cages. Smith backtracked on these claims when interviewed by Army investigators, saying that the alleged acts were actually committed by South Vietnamese forces rather than American troops.

"We would declare zones 'weapons-free'...and shoot everything that moved...weapons-free means you can shoot anyone and that's exactly what we did...tanks went in and shot everything that moved: men, women, children, donkeys—it was a turkey shoot."
Matt Howard, Iraq Veterans Against the War
  • “Our military personnel deserve our support and respect for their selfless service, not unsubstantiated and inflammatory charges from sources of questionable veracity and suspect motives.” Stanley J. Dykstra, LTC, USAR (Ret) , SASC Petition Signatory
  • “As a Viet Nam veteran I have been besmirched by these self serving, lying slugs. As the father-in-law and grandfather of serving soldiers in theatre, I will not stand by and allow the same treatment of my progeny by traitors. If this so called \"investigation\" is not monitored by competent authority it is the same horse puckey perpetrated thirty-seven years ago, and will be legitimized by the same traitors in your august body today and their ilk.” Matthew J Worner , SASC Petition Signatory
  • “I am in full agreement with this petition, and trust that the honorable members of the committee well ensure that these accusations by the IVAW are fully investigated and dealt with appropriately.” Timothy S. Kindred, SASC Petition Signatory
  • “I am a combat veteran 1966-1969. Please do not allow the slanderous travesty that happened in 1971 to once again occur. Our Soldiers and Marines deserve better from their legislators.” Robert l Monahan, SASC Petition Signatory
1971 Winter Soldier CID Investigation files: David Stark claimed at WSI that hundreds of Vietnamese civilians were killed by indiscriminate bombing and strafing in the Saigon area during late 1968. He also claimed to have witnessed the maltreatment of prisoners. However, Stark told CID interviewers that he actually saw no bodies, was unable to identify the aircraft or military units involved in the attacks or the cleanup operation, and admitted that he had never witnessed maltreatment of prisoners, except for a single occasion when he said he saw a prisoner pushed and shoved by two South Vietnamese officers.

"I will be testifying to the abuse of detainees and having participated in the use of sleep deprivation and other inhumane treatment as well as the desecration of Iraqi bodies.”
Adam Kokesh, Iraq Veterans Against the War
  • “Because of the armed forces from years gone by, we are able to get out of our beds each morning, look out the window and breath in the air of freedom. This petition is long overdue and very much on target. God Bless those who put themselves in harms way and put a serious burden on those they love in order to do what they do.” Martha Gayle Brenizer , SASC Petition Signatory
  • “Thirty-seven years ago John Kerry was allowed to testify before congress with statements and assertions that were not only unproved but blatantly false about the conduct of Vietnam Veterans. I never raped, randomly shot civilians or killed babies as he testified and know no one that did. Kerry's testimony stained 2.6 million Vietnam Veterans for life and my request is simple do not accept unproven testimony from the Iraq Veterans Against The War. Donald L. Forkum, SASC Petition Signatory
  • “Past Commander American Legion Post 291 Newport Beach, California If we as a country order our troops into harms way, it seems to me we have an obligation to stand with them in matters of ethics and integrity among other things. Those who are willing to testify, should be allowed to do so under oath and for the record. The record should not include unverified information from those not sworn to tell the whole truth.” Paul Curtis, SASC Petition Signatory
"...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 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...”
Geoff Millar, Iraq Veterans Against the War

Desensitized American Soldier Dehumanizing an Iraqi:

The story of Sgt. John Gebhardt and the little Iraqi girl.

"I was able to see the full humanity of Iraqis in a way that we as Americans simply fail to recognize in foreigners generally..."
Harvey Tharp, Iraq Veterans Against the War

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

IVAW: At What Point Aiding & Abetting?

It is one of those days when yet another member of the Iraq Veterans Against the Word blithely goes about the business of defaming our country and possibly getting some of our troops killed!

Before I take on IVAW member Harvey Tharp, something in a similar vein but more entertaining. No one I know can make me laugh as much while he eviscerates someone as Thus Spake Ortner (TSO), who does so here and here at The Sniper to the well deserving Matt Howard of IVAW.

An interview with Harvey Tharp was published yesterday in the Yemen Times. For any Democrats or geographically challenged out there, Yemen sits along the southern Saudi Arabian border. It can reasonably be described as a Middle Eastern Arab Moslem country.

Here is the lede:

"An ex-American Navy Lieutenant: “It is just a matter of time before the American people get sick of this war and force a pull out.” - Yemen Times"

Tharpe is a military lawyer, and the military financed his education. He was also somewhat proficient in Arabic, and as such was deployed to Kirkuk from October 2003 to March 2004. He was assigned to a diplomatic team handling reconstruction.

Tharp tells the interviewer:

"In April clear that there were no weapons of mass destruction and that this hadn’t been an honest mistake, it had all been lies."

Tharp is saying this in Yemen. The intelligence service and leaders of Yemen were among those many in the world, some even beyond the reach of Karl Rove's mind control ray, who also believed Saddam Hussein had WMDs before the 2003 invasion! Such easy to find facts of course wouldn't trouble someone as intelligent as Harvey Tharp, who has memorized the entire Code Pink Manual with forward by Michael Moore! The President of Yemen from before the 2003 invasion and continuing today is Ali Abdullah Selah.

From the Christian Science Monitor:

"When the president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had close ties with Hussein, told Vice President Cheney that Hussein did not want war but would use chemical weapons if attacked, Mr. Cheney did not blink. The Americans, said Cheney, would deal with them."

As an aside, the President of Yemen was not the only person stating such a warning. Well before he became the first crooner of the Bush-lied chorus, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, husband of super-duper-top-secret-master-spy Valerie Plame, wrote an Op-Ed for the LA Times on the eve (Feb 6, 2003) of the invasion of Iraq. Entitled A "Big Cat" with Nothing to Lose, Wilson warned that:

"There is now no incentive for Hussein to comply with the inspectors or to refrain from using weapons of mass destruction to defend himself if the United States comes after him.
And he will use them; we should be under no illusion about that."

Tharp goes on to tell the interviewer of his time in Iraq:

"...although I had to display considerable physical courage to drive around the city in a conspicuous vehicle with no radio in a very dangerous situation, I wasn’t a combatant."

This is not the first time I have come across Tharp still seeming very upset that he was driving around Kirkuk in such unguarded fashion as well as commending his own bravery. I do not doubt for a moment that there was risk involved in that, but Kirkuk was in the heavily Kurdish north, crawling at the time with our allied Kurdish Peshmerga. It was not one of Iraq's hotspots. Tharp has never written that I have seen that he ever came under any kind of fire. When asked why he came to live for a time in Yemen, Tharp replied:

"Due to my time in Iraq, I developed post-traumatic stress disorder, so I’m unable to work and I have some spare time."

Alright! Yes, I know PTSD is real. Yes, I know that one does not have to be involved in combat to be exposed to conditions that can cause PTSD. As Mackubin T. Owens wrote of the 1988 Center for Disease Control study of PTSD and Vietnam veterans that found that:

"...15 % of Vietnam veterans experienced some symptoms of combat-related PTSD at some time during or after military service, but that only 2.2 % exhibited symptoms at the time of the study."

And as CBS reported on another study in 2007 by Columbia University:

"Whatever the actual numbers, the researchers said it is clear that the more combat exposure for a veteran, the greater the likelihood of the disorder."

It is four years since Tharp completed his six month tour in Iraq, and he cannot hold a job! My sympathy juices are simply not flowing. There is a man who works at my aerospace company. Other than the occasional "Hi" or "How ya doin'?, we've never talked. We work in different buildings with mostly different people. He is, I would guess, about fifty. Two years ago, when he and his Reserve unit returned from a tour in Iraq, the company held a small ceremony welcoming him back. He was a senior NCO in an engineering unit, maintaining vehicles, and he spoke a bit. His unit had taken frequent rocket and mortar fire, but never engaged in combat. He described what they did as very up-tempo. They tried to keep vehicles in good order and turn around the ones that were damaged, because they knew the lives of the "youngsters" in the fight depended upon them. Sometimes the vehicles came in with damage and sometimes with lots of blood they'd have to clean out. He said that was hard. He thanked everyone for their thoughts, prayers and packages, and then thanked God for granting his prayer that he brought back all of his crew.

He came back from Iraq, spent ten days with his family, and was back at work! The military did not, as they did for Harvey Tharp, put him through law school.

Harvey Tharp was asked what he was going to do when he returned to the U.S. He repiled:

"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."

Either Harvey Tharp did not get the memo that that is not what Winter Soldier is supposed to be all about (but interestingly he has the more recent "fifty" number, and not the old "over one hundred!), or it's just okay to talk like that to a paper in the Arab Moslem Middle East!

Harvey was asked if he had witnessed any of these war crimes, and gave the standard IVAW reply:

"No, I didn’t personally witness any, but I came to know about certain cases."

Harvey put some moral equivalence perspective into things when he was asked if there were any Yemeni foreign fighters in Iraq:

"I didn’t have any experience of that, but I know Yemenis were among the foreign fighters, although most were Saudis. They were really so-called foreign fighters, but as Americans, so were we!"

Asked if the U.S. has lost the war:

"As far as the U.S. government’s aim to control oil in the Middle East more, it’s been a failure. Once the U.S. military leaves Iraq, the Iraqi government will collapse because it has no legitimacy – and that’s why we’ve lost the war."

Millions of Iraqis risked Al Qaeda "takfirist" reprisal to vote for their government, and Harvey Tharp of IVAW declares the fruits of their risks illegitimate!

Yemen has an Al Qaeda problem. Maybe Harvey Tharp was just trying to help with recruiting. Or just maybe it's the self-obcessed hubris of the morally superior:

"I was able to see the full humanity of Iraqis in a way that we as Americans simply fail to recognize in foreigners generally..."

If Harvey Tharp testifies or takes questions, asking a former Navy JAG about the UCMJ crime reporting requirements could be enlightening.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Petition to the Senate Armed Services Committee

An On-Line Petition is up. Please pass it on.

Text of the Petition to the Senate Armed Services Committee:

To The Honorable Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee

During the Democratic Debate between Senators Clinton and Obama televised on the evening of February 21st, Senator Obama spoke of information passed on to him by an officer in the United States Army about our forces in Afghanistan suffering from a shortage of equipment and weapons. The very next day, a member and former Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Senator Warner, sent a letter to Senator Obama, asking for information about these charges. Senator Warner wrote:

"...I, and I believe other members of SASC, have a responsibility to establish where in the military chain of command rests the 'accountability,' depending of course, on the accuracy of the facts...

What I need from you are the essential facts of when- the dates- the unit was deployed, to which brigade combat team, or other unit it was assigned, the name and current location of the captain, or other military personnel who shared the alleged facts with you, so that committee staff can debrief them."

Senator Warner was, as should be the case, taking the oversight responsibility of the members of the SASC seriously.

The anti-war activist organization Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) has advertised widely that it will hold a public event it has entitled "Winter Soldier Investigation (WSI) - Iraq and Afghanistan" near Washington D.C. next month (Mar. 13-16).

The event is self-consciously patterned after the 1971 Winter Soldier Investigation held in Detroit by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War(VVAW). During that event, over one hundred purported Vietnam veterans "testified" to widespread and horrific atrocities committed routinely by American forces in Vietnam.

In April of 1971, Senator Mark Hatfield moved that the entire WSI "testimony" be entered into the Congressional Record, while also calling for the relevant investigatory agencies in the military to investigate the charges made. None of that "testimony" had been given under oath or in legally binding depositions or affidavits. Later that same month, Senator William Fulbright's Foreign Relations Committee held hearings, well publicized on television, in which young war hero and VVAW leader John Kerry testified to the widespread atrocity "findings" of that WSI.

When military investigators for both the Army and Navy attempted to investigate the charges, those who had "testified" and could be located were almost universally uncooperative with those investigations. They would not give names, dates, units or details of events that would allow investigation to proceed. There is no record that the Foreign Relations Committee or any committee of the Senate ever held hearings to receive those follow-up reports. As such, the general theme of the 1971 WSI of widespread atrocities committed by American forces in Vietnam passed largely unchallenged into much of our culture. It has been a mainstay of the film industry for decades. It has harmed the image of American in general, and the honor of three million Vietnam Veterans in particular.

Various sources on the Internet and in print, including the IVAW, the VVAW and the Veterans for Peace as well as other organizations associated wth them have been claiming that "testimony" given next month will be about a variety of matters including widespread atrocities, indiscriminate and unwarranted killing of civilians and destruction of property and infrastructure, torture of detainess, mutilation of corpses and the illegal use of Afghan bodies for medical "practice", rampant sexual misconduct, racism and drug/alcohol use by American soldiers and on and on.

I (we) the undersigned request that the United States Senate Armed Services Committee take the following steps:

  • Make request of the Iraq Veterans Aagainst the War that member(s) of Committee staff be permitted to attend the entire Winter Soldier Investigation "testimony" proceedings and be provided access to those testifying.
  • That in the event that staff determines that there has been testimony given that touches on areas where, in the words of Senator Warner, the members of the SASC "have a responsibility to establish where in the military chain of command rests the 'accountability,' depending of course, on the accuracy of the facts...", the Committee or a Sub-Committee of its delegation begin proceedings to follow-up on the claims made.
  • That the Committee or Sub-Committe investigation be prepared to request and/or subpoena all documents and records, signed statements and recordings, audio, video or digital, that bear on the claims made and being investigated.
  • That those making such claims or professing publicly to verify those claims be requested or subpoened to appear before the Committe or Sub-Committee, under oath, to answer questions.
The IVAW has also publicly stated that it intends to have the unsworn "testimony" from the upcoming event also entered into the Congressional Record. In 1971 the Senate of the United States was derelict in its duty of both oversight and follow-up and in the reasonable regard and respect it should have shown in consideration of the sacrifice and service of the American armed forces and veterans.

I (we) request that the members of the Senate Armed Services Committee not allow what happened to a previous generation of veterans be allowed to happen to another and even be aided, as it was then, by the United States Senate.


Winter Soldier Chickens Home to Roost

This is extremely big and timely news.

FRONTPAGE published an article today by Scott Swett, the proprietor of and the author (along with Tim Ziegler) of “To Set The Record Straight – How Swift Boat Veterans, POWs and the New Media Defeated John Kerry.”

The article is entitled “Newly Discovered Army Reports Discredit ‘Winter Soldier’ Claims”, found here.

Read the article. It is devastating to both the 1971 Winter Soldier Investigation (WSI), and to the IVAW and their upcoming "WSI – Iraq and Afghanistan" that they have so energetically tied, even in name, to that earlier event!

Swett has come into possession of and published on-line copies of the Army CID (Criminal Investigation Detachment) summaries of the investigations of the charges made by purported and real Army veterans and members of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War at the 1971 Winter Soldier Investigation.

Similar files and the findings they revealed from the Navy's NIS were written of years ago by the historian Guenter Lewy in his 1980 book ‘American in Vietnam'. While there has been indication that some others had seen those files, they have been missing from the available public record for decades.

Just yesterday I posted “A Vietnam Vet Replies to the IVAW Video”, in which I published comments and photos I received from John “Doc” Boyle. Boyle had sent them to me at the suggestion of a friend. That friend was Scott Swett. Scott and I have become acquainted via e-mail after my article last October in American Thinker, “Investigate the Winter Soldier Investigation”.

Today I find that John Boyle was instrumental in finding those files in the possession of an historian who had made copies before the record disappeared into the labyrinth of the National Archives!

Scott and John, well done!

Some at IVAW, members and even non-members operating behind the scenes, have known all along what they were and are attempting. Others have been led, and I have to add willingly, down a primrose path by the old leftist guard of the VVAW and VFP.

Last January, I posted “Winter Soldier 2008 Preview” in which I addressed comments by IVAW member Matt Howard. Howard has become adept at mouthing the empty inanities and pseudo intellectual formulations passed on to him no doubt by and through those elders. At Dandelion Salad, Howard said:

“So Iraq Veterans Against the War is taking back our history – the history that has been robbed from us. We are dispelling the myth that the Vietnam war ended when the Democrats started voting against it. Instead we are spreading the truth about how the American War in Vietnam ended. The Vietnam War ended when soldiers put down their weapons and refused to fight; when pilots dropped their bombs in the ocean.”

What struck me at the time I read that is that there are a great many serious historical works written about the Vietnam War, from a wide range of perspectives and political leanings. One can search and search in vain for any remotely serious historical analysis that will credit the ending of that war to anything as delusional as “soldiers put down their weapons…pilots dropped their bombs in the ocean…”

The only explanation for that, and other statements made and actions taken by IVAW members, including simply naming their event after and self-consciously equating it to the 1971 WSI, is that they have been fed a whole lot of outright hokum and garbage by the leftist elders recounting their halcyon glory days when they think they represented a great “resistance” movement within the ranks!

I will have more to say about this later, time permitting. For now, the IVAW (Iraq Veterans Against the War) now has the opportunity to know exactly what horse they had determinedly hitched their wagon to for these last few months, even to naming their upcoming event after what was, as many have said, a travesty and an injustice. It is probably too late for the IVAW to change the name from “Winter Soldier Investigation – Iraq and Afghanistan” to something like “Just Us Vets Telling of Our Experiences!”

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Appeal to The Senate Armed Services Committee

An On-Line Petition has been set up. Go here for the text and link.

The membership of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee can be found

The addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses of members of the United States Senate can be found here.

Levin, Carl
269 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

Kennedy, Edward M.
317 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

Byrd, Robert C.
311 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

Lieberman, Joseph I.
706 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

Reed, Jack
728 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

Akaka, Daniel K.
141 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

Nelson, Bill
716 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

Nelson, E. Benjamin
720 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

Bayh, Evan
131 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

Clinton, Hillary Rodham
476 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

Pryor, Mark L.
255 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

Webb, Jim
144 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

McCaskill, Claire
717 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

McCain, John
241 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

Warner, John
225 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

Inhofe, James M.
453 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

Sessions, Jeff
335 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

Collins, Susan M.
413 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

Chambliss, Saxby
416 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

Graham, Lindsey
290 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

Dole, Elizabeth
555 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

Cornyn, John
517 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

Thune, John
493 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

Martinez, Mel
356 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

Wicker, Roger
C4 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

A Vietnam Vet Replies to IVAW's Video

The Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) video has been circulating on the Net for over a week, and can be seen at IVAW's Army Sergeant's site, Active Duty Patriot. A friend of mine received an e-mail from a former combat medic in Vietnam, John "Doc" Boyle. "Doc" served as Company Medic in D Co.,19th Engineer Battalion (Combat)(Army), Quang Ngai Province, RVN, 1967-68. The friend suggested that Mr. Boyle forward the e-mail and accompanying pictures to me, which he did, with permission to use the material.

I gave some thought to how to present Mr. Boyle's material, and then simply decided that "as written" is the only method that will do it justice. Mr. Boyle writes with strong emotion, and the photos go a long way in showing why that is the case. Yet he does so without detriment to the intellectual soundness of the points he makes. So also, and something the relative youngsters of IVAW don't seem to be able to or want to grasp, his ire is directed at the legacy the first WSI bequeathed, unfairly, to 2.9 million Vietnam Veterans for what has been the majority of their lives, and that the same may happen to another generation.

What the former combat medic says about medical triage in combat as opposed to how it was presented in the IVAW video is extremely telling.

As such, without editing other than the bolding, which is mine:

"IVAW's new preview video of their 'winter soldier' tribunal is just awful. If this is the best they can do, they will never withstand critical inspection. Talk about propaganda! I now *get* that this is timed as an effort to make the war an issue in the election campaign; or, more exactly, to delegitimize any candidate who supports a now 'unfortunately' (to them) successful war.

The event plans look like an exact duplicate of WSI - 1971, including journalists and 'professionals.' Obviously the IVAW's mentors are folks we have run into before.
The video is all mournful music and long sections of ominous but generic Iraq war zone videos and graphic photos with zero context: no captions and no voice over, no set-up comments and no after-word comments. The 'witness' talk has no connection to anything depicted in the videos and still photos. None.

One gruesome image is a body with a blown up head, obviously a sniper head shot -
but we are not supposed to notice the guy has a suicide bomb vest on. Another body is burnt to a crisp - but we are not supposed to remember that it is a photo from Fallujah of a Blackwater contractor's desecrated body prior to the infamous bridge hanging by insurgents. The 'implication' is that these are all results of 'awfu' American military actions - 'atrocities' (but that word is unspoken - let pictures say the thousand lying words they dare not speak). Going for the emotional gut shot, not rationality or even honesty - or, just like B. Obama - not even any content beyond emotional appeal (or, in this case, emotional aversion).

The three 'witnesses' in the video have not one concrete or specific detail to tell among them. It is all the generalized whining of group therapeutic narcissism, common in the 25 Army WSI witnesses from 1971 whom the CID investigators declined to be bothered with. No dates, no place names, no unit designations, no personnel names. Nada.
Pitifully forced angst. And hokum.

Reality check: One 'witness' tells of an American soldier seriously injured in a vehicle roll-over. He claims the soldier was given zero medical help (zero!) because the medics invoked triage protocol and said he was going to die anyway.'Oh, the inhumanity!' we are incited to think.

The 'witness' totally misrepresents what 'triage' means. Triage is only invoked in mass casualty situations where the available medical resources might be overwhelmed by the number of casualties - time wasted on those badly hurt but who cannot be saved, taken away from those less seriously hurt who could have been saved if resources had been properly rationed. Yet this "witness" does not refer to any other casualty in this incident but one. There is no such thing as triage of one casualty. The casualty did die, reports this witness, hours later 'enroute to the clinic.' BUT, if they did 'triage' him out, how did he wind up on his way to a hospital for treatment? The internal inconsistencies are embarrassingly obvious to anyone who knows anything about such situations.

There is not a medic in the Army or Marines (Navy Corpsmen) I ever heard of who would not risk his own life to save another soldier, let alone prefer to not *inconvenience* himself over a dying guy. It's what we were trained for; it's what gives meaning to our even being there. I've personally given CPR to the already dead! In the attached photos (ED: scroll down), I am under that rolled bulldozer with the casualty, and you can see one of our boot soles in the shadows at the center of one of the photos. He did die (three days later in the hospital - the 20 year old on the stretcher - I've blurred his features here deliberately). He stopped breathing while I was under that dozer with him, while between us was a hot engine over the middle of his body and concertina barbed wire wrapped all around. I could not quite reach him - an arms length separated us.

The frustration was agonizing and my own predicament did not even occur to me until later. We literally moved heaven and earth to save him. While the engineers dug out with shovels around the sides, and they searched for wire cutters and flak jackets as heat shields for me to use, a crane was brought up and actually lifted the damn dozer off of us. The heroes of MedEvac did mid-air CPR and got him to a hospital alive.

THIS is why we Nam Vets are so pissed at these goddam liars ever since 1971, and now - unbelievably - again.

Tell them: we know what you are! We are watching you! We will not be silent this time!

Never, never again!

John Boyle Company Medic D Co.,19th Engineer Battalion (Combat)(Army) Quang Ngai Province, RVN, 1967-68"

Photos: A Very Bad Day, from John "Doc" Boyle
(Click on Photos to Enlarge)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Senator Warner's Letter to Senator Obama

Something quite unusual happened yesterday, at least in my recollection and experience, that might have a significant bearing on what happens next month during or immediately after the Iraq Veterans Against the War planned Winter Soldier Investigation (WSI) – Iraq and Afghanistan.

During the Democratic Presidential debate between Senators Obama and Clinton last Thursday night (Feb 21), Senator Obama made a claim, quoted in the CNN transcript as follows:

"You know, I've heard from an Army captain who was the head of a rifle platoon -- supposed to have 39 men in a rifle platoon. Ended up being sent to Afghanistan with 24 because 15 of those soldiers had been sent to Iraq.

And as a consequence, they didn't have enough ammunition, they didn't have enough humvees. They were actually capturing Taliban weapons, because it was easier to get Taliban weapons than it was for them to get properly equipped by our current commander in chief.

Now, that's a consequence of bad judgment."

Set aside for a moment the questions and observations about that claim. Other sites and news agencies are dealing with that. Simply look at what followed. The very next day, Senator John Warner, as Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee sent this letter (pdf) to Senator Obama.

In the letter, Senator Warner comes very close to covering the D.U.P.E.S. theme developed here for the media in regards to the March WSI, of Date(s), Unit(s), Personnel, Event and Signatures/Statement.

Senator Warner's letter reads as follows:

"...I, and I believe other members of SASC, have a responsibility to establish where in the military chain of command rests the 'accountability,' depending of course, on the accuracy of the facts.

I am endeavoring to determine this now and have tasked the Chairman of The Joint Staff, through his J-3, and other entities in the Department of Defense to assist me. Moreover, it is my intent to raise this issue with Secretary Geren and General Casey when they testify before the Armed Services Committee next Tuesday.

What I need from you are the essential facts of when- the dates- the unit was deployed, to which brigade combat team, or other unit it was assigned, the name and current location of the captain, or other military personnel who shared the alleged facts with you, so that committee staff can debrief them."

That was an amazingly fast responce to such a claim or almost any claim! Further, the responsibility Warner cites for the SASC would also apply to many if not most or even all of the claims made at WSI! I've talked for quite some time about signed affidavits and depositions and how the 1971 testifiers at the first WSI would not execute them. There has been discussion of what can or might be done to next month's WSI testifiers if they make charges but do not cooperate with investigators following up on those charges. For many, if they are no longer active or reserve, the military would have no method to compel cooperation with an investigation.

But the United States Senate has wide ranging subpoena power, and the ability to enforce its disregard as well as legal recourse to compel cooperation and testimony.

Senator Warner is retiring, after a long career that has included service in the Marine Corps during the Korean War, Undersecretary and then Secretary of the Navy and Chairman of the SASC. He has spend most of his adult life concerned and involved with things related to the military. He is also of an age to know what happened to the reputations and honor of the Vietnam veterans.

It just might be that Warner would not like his valediction to be seen as his retiring from service as another generation of warriors find themsleves tarnished and worse by unsubstantiated charges.

In 1971, the Vietnam Veterans Against the War were fortunate that Republican anti-war Senator Mark Hatfield had their WSI testimony entered into the Congressional Record without any of their testifiers having been sworn in. In 2008, others might just find an invitation in the form of a subpoena from the U.S. Senate "requesting" that they show up, take a legally binding oath, and now tell the elected officials charged with oversight - their Winter Soldier stories!

Then too, there is always the option of making the request of Senator Warner and the SASC to investigate those things, as his letter indicates, that are that Committee's responsibility.

It really isn't 1971!


This could be an interesting and timely story and exercise. According to the AP, ABC News claims to know and have spoken to the Captain who was a Lieutenant at the time of the supposed events, and further says that Obama's recitation "was for the most part accurately summarized by Obama".

But Obama's staff also claimed that the soldier never spoke directly to Obama, but told the story to a staffer, who passed it on to the Senator.

Putting those together, we might find out something and incidently have a timely example of what happens to such stories as they are passed on it such fashion, or maybe "for the most part"!

Winter Soldier Investigation - March 2008

Winter Soldier Investigation - Iraq & Afghanistan: Hype and Advertising

  • The original IVAW statement about Winter Soldier Investigation (WSI)-Iraq and Afghanistan as it appeared in November 2007.
  • The current IVAW statement on WSI, significantly toned down on the atrocity rhetoric. See here.
  • "Iraq Vets Prepare Atrocity Testimony" from Sir! No Sir! - Feb 3, 2008
  • “The goal of to show that systematic government policies are to blame for the myriad atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan.” - The Indypendent - Feb 4, 2008 (The link in my original post no longer works but the story can be found in the Google cache.)
  • "War crimes have been identified, and once again, politicians and generals repeat history by blaming 'a few bad apples' for such atrocities, rather than examining the military policies that destroyed Vietnam then and are destroying Iraq and Afghanistan now." - Vietnam Veterans Against the War
  • "Maine Veterans For Peace invites you to a fund raising party to benefit Winter Soldier, the public war crimes investigation being organized by Iraq Veterans Against the War..." - Peace Action Maine - Feb 22, 2008
Why and to Whom it Matters:
How I got Involved:
Blog Posts:

Back to Obiter Dictum Main.


IVAW & Media: Tactics, Allies & Critics

Media at WSI, March 2008:

IVAW & Dahr Jamail:

IVAW Credibility Problems:

IVAW In The News:

Sparing Us the Details:

IVAW Watchers & Critics:
Back to Obiter Dictum Main.


Friday, February 22, 2008

Winter Soldier Investigation - 1971

The 1971 "Winter Soldier Investigation", conducted by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, is the forerunner and template for the 2008 "WSI - Iraq and Afghanistan", according to its organizers in the Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW).


To better understand the 1971 event and aftermath and what IVAW and its allies hope to and might accomplish:

Winter Soldier and the Media

The 1971 WSI had a negligible effect on the Vietnam War and largely escaped the notice of the media when it happened. In the Presidential election of 1968, both candidates, Nixon and Humphrey, campaigned on the withdrawal of American forces. The drawdown of American troops from the peak of over a half million (536,000) in 1968 had begun in early 1969. By 1971 the U.S. troop level had been reduced to 157,000.

Months after the first WSI was held, it was made prominent retroactively by two subsequent and related events.

  • On April 5, 1971, anti-war Republican Senator Mark Hatfield moved that the text of the WSI "testimony" be entered into the Congressional Record, even though not one word of that testimony had been given under oath or was accompanied by any sworn affidavits or depostions.
  • On April 22, 1971, young and highly decorated Vietnam veteran John Kerry represented VVAW before Senator William Fulbright's Foreign Relations Committee. Citing the WSI testimony, Kerry testified to widespread and routine atrocities being committed by American forces in Vietnam.

Scott Swett and John Boyle Locate the Long Missing CID Summaries of the Investigations into Winter Soldier Allegations:

The Repercussions of the First WSI on the Vietnam Veterans and Influence on America’s Culture and Image

Related Blog Posts:

Back to Obiter Dictum Main.



To All:

Over the next several days this site will be substantially changed. It has been, simply, a blog. In that, and somewhat in keeping with a format that has little in the way of established form, it has been, well, free form: generally relaxed, and more of a spontaneous discussion than a systematic presentation of facts and arguments.

When I’ve written for a serious on-line journal like American Thinker, I’ve made the effort and took the time to present something that was a formal, linear, cohesive and readable presentation. What I have done here has largely been to jot down thoughts and findings, generally in the evenings, after work and when already somewhat tired.

While I sought to deal with serious issues seriously, I also used the site as something like recreation and relaxation. Blogs also tend to become a community thing, and it is perhaps natural that the blogger can tend, as I have, to more and more write for that community, as opposed to a broader audience. A person coming to such a site may not be able to nor believe it warranted to spend the time to come “up to speed” on what has been going on.

That ended last night. I was brought up short on the divide between what the seriousness of the issues deserve and what I was putting into delivering.

Many years ago, when I read of Abraham and Moses I was able to intellectualize something of what they must have experienced. The All Powerful God told Abraham to pack up his family and belongings and leave everything he knew to travel to parts unknown with no idea of what he would find there. The All Powerful God told Moses that he would be the Lord’s emissary to Pharaoh, and later, the man who would lead God’s Chosen People to a new land. I could well imagine how those events must have intimidated and triggered, even if momentarily, self doubt.

Last night I believe I came to perhaps better empathize with that intimidation and self doubt before the awesome Lord of All Creation.

I got my marching orders, however, from a Marine!

It was less like a voice coming from a burning bush and more like a mule kicking one upside the head. That’s in effect, if not delivery, which was gracious. Maybe velvet glove gracious, but gracious none-the-less.

The comments will remain free form, and I’ll engage in them. However, it is my intent that a few days from now, a new visitor to this site will find it easy and intuitive to use this site and its linking capability to come away with a good background on the first Winter Soldier Investigation of 1971, its effects, direct and indirect on our culture in general and the Vietnam Vets in particular, and how the new WSI next month may follow the same pattern. Hopefully, that person will also be able to systematically find information and background on IVAW and the upcoming event.

As such, over the next few days you may see posted comments that don’t seem to make sense, and in isolation they won’t. If I do this correctly though, when all the posts are done, and linked for navigation, they will make sense. This won’t be perfect, as I don’t have the time to even attempt to rewrite what I had placed here for months. But all material will hopefully be categorized and easy to find.

Stand by.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Discussion with Jen Hogg, IVAW

Army Sergeant posted comments to me from IVAW's Jen Hogg. As this is going to get a bit detailed, it's worthy of a post. SgtHogg's words in blue. LTC Goldenberg's in red.

"Hi Dennis, Jen Hogg here.

My company was support for Combat Engineers in the National Guard, where many soldiers are in their 40's. A few with prior infantry experience were deployed.

Also the male mechanics were told to do a two week course in order to get MOS'Q as combat engineers so they could move to the line units and get rank. When the war started that two week course allowed them to be deployed as Infantry. Myself and the other female mechanic were not deployed with them as we did not have that course. Males without that course were also not deployed if I remember correctly. Our unit was used as filler for multiple other units that deployed so we were not sent as one whole unit (so much for gays ruining unit cohesion). The mechanics were deployed with the 69th as Infantry. I would not have volunteered to go because I was against the war nor would I have been able to. I often joke that it was one of the few times sexism worked in my favor although the guys did not think it was funny that they signed up to be mechanics and were sent as infantry. Also they did a 6 month train up at Drum before deploying."

Hi Jen,

Thanks for that, and back to you in a moment. One of the problems I had with your post at HuffPo was that it certainly gave the impression that a support unit was deployed as combat infantry. You still did not make it perfectly clear here, although slighty better than at HuffPo, that the soldiers deployed were all volunteers, and that those (males only) who were deployed as combat infantry had to have had that skill set. I'm a little perplexed at your claim that "the guys did not think it was funny that they signed up to be mechanics and were sent as infantry" when they volunteered to go as opposed to being sent.

From the e-mail I received from LTC. Goldenberg, PAO for the 42nd I.D.:

"The former 152nd Combat Engineer Battalion, once based in Buffalo New York, and now deactivated as a component of the New York Army National Guard, did not mobilize for service overseas. The battalion did, however, provide augmentees to other deploying units bound for Iraq.

During 2004 and 2005, Citizen Soldiers from the 152nd Engineers volunteered to serve with a deploying infantry battalion task force and an engineer brigade headquarters detachment. Both units were from the New York Army National Guard deploying to Iraq. Cross-leveling between units has become a routine and predictable method to fully man units preparing to deploy overseas.

Soldiers who deployed with the infantry battalion task force did perform duties overseas alongside infantry Soldiers, therefore Army and DoD regulations prohibit the assignment of female Soldiers to this frontline combat formation. The infantry battalion served north of Baghdad in Taji and in Baghdad proper. The engineer brigade headquarters deployed to Tikrit, Iraq and served as the senior engineer element for the Multinational Division for North Central Iraq. Soldiers who volunteered to serve with the engineer brigade headquarters came from a variety of military skills and gender was no prohibition on service. Any engineer from the 152nd with the needed skill set could volunteer to serve with that organization."

Back to you:

"I was discharged before they came home and later I visited my unit. This is when I was told the story. I can't account for its truth but I can account for it being presented as normal by the story teller. Not verified normal policy, but normal morality. That is the point that seems to be missed."

It is still missed. You wrote of what was a personal impression at HuffPo: "He said this as if it were normal and ok.” Even if that was told to you exactly as you say, by what standard do you take that as normal for a broad spectrum of others as opposed to the one person speaking? That is, at the best, reading into something that which one wants to be there.

Back to you:

"No I did not turn him in. Would you if you couldn't prove it was true?"

Pardon me, but it is never to job or duty of a person who comes into possession of information about a potentially serious crime to "prove" anything. That task falls to the proper official investigators charged under our laws, military and civilian, with doing so. The person who comes to the knowledge of information that a serious crime may have been committed is both morally and legally obligated to report it. You argued against a Marine who was taking exactly that moral and legal position. Back to you:

"Its war, what do you expect people to do? Not kill people thy are told are their enemies? Once again the point is what is morally seen as normal."

And you are again drawing a personal conclusion with zero factual back-up. It is not as though there have not been thousands of detainees held and released in Iraq over the years, rather than an implied "normalized" that they were simply executed!

"I did not see any rapes in my unit and I do believe my commander would try address them if they did happen there was blatant sexism in the attitudes and interactions in my unit. However if they had happened I can't speak to how they would have been handled. Helen took "no rapes" to mean treated well. Many females just "suck it up" when it comes to the day to day reality. I just reconnected with a female I went through basic with and she was sexually assaulted by a Drill after she recycled for a hip fracture. I helped another female report being grabbed between her legs from behind by a male during basic training. While I did try to address what I saw as the "big wrongs" of sexism (harassment and assaults) I certainly just let comments and harassing looks go as something women in the military just have to 'deal with'.

It would seem from your interpretation one should only speak up if something happens directly to them and ignore things otherwise."

Hold it right there! I am the one pointing out the legal and moral obligation to precisely report indications of crime to the proper authorities. You were the one telling a Marine with the same stand that he might well be concerned about armed retribution! If you were made aware of the unjustified killing of detainees in Iraq you had an obligation to report it, and not on a HuffPo discussion site while arguing against a soldier stating that he and the Marines he knew would do so in such an event.

"I could see the sexism in the military and its affects on other women in other units. You don't have to google very far to see the multiple reports of it. I don't intend to stay quiet because you think there are contradictions. I think commanders that stand for whats right have units that perform in that manner. Whether its ROE or sexual assault."

Full circle, what would you consider "normal", the commanders and units that do, or those that don't?

"Also the HuffPo comment was not trying to prove anything happened but was in response to another comment where someone said they don't believe "wrong" things happen in Iraq because HE didn't see anything."

That's is not what was said, period. Here is jrockbg's entire statement (in green) that you responded to:

“Wow. I take serious exception to your statements claiming that servicemen are routinely committing war crimes. I served in Ramadi, under the 2nd Marine Division in '05. I never once saw an ‘atrocity’ or criminal act of any kind. Nor would I have turned a blind eye. And we saw some of the worst this war had to offer. Why didn't these soldiers report these alleged atrocities to their commanders? Why is it that we've only heard of a few isolated incidents? I know my commanders were ultra-sensitive about even the appearance of a cover-up.

I don't object to your opposition of the war, just your false characterization.

Back to you:

"My point was to ask is it possible that things out of his sight happened? Especially since there are multiple reports that things DID happen."

And that brings us back to LTC Goldenberg, who was asked about any report or investigation regarding this killing of Iraqi detainees by members of that unit:

“As for your second inquiry, there are no reports, ongoing investigations nor criminal charges pending against any member of either organization for actions that are described in the writer's blog.”

So kindly point us to these "multiple reports that things DID happen"?

"Another soldier was just convicted for shooting an Iraqi. Are the pro-war people comfortable with these convictions? We are trained to fight and kill and then people are convicted for fighting and killing. This takes us into jus ad bellum and jus in bello. Since I believe the war is wrong so much about it is unjust, things that could be just in a just war."

In all things in life, perspective is a requirment for rational thinking. 1.9 millions Americans have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of course there have been crimes, even heinous ones, as there would be among any population that size, and particularly one skewed heavily in favor of young males. The point is always about people trying to present as "normalized" and "systemic" that which they make not the slightest attempt to show is the case, and further, often do so, as you do, with unverified and uninvestigated charges. The military has always had prisons, laws, trials and punishments. No one argues that crimes are not committed. One side argues that examples, even unverified ones, can be used to charge widespread actions by members of an identified group. The Klan would always point to some genuine crimes by African Americans to make the case that African Americans as a subset of the population commit widespread crimes on a routine basis. The anti-war left has been using the same tactic for decades.

"Also, I think the only honor in the military lies in the goodwill and honor of its members, not in the organization and its uses. That is my opinion."

And you are welcome to it. I grew up in NYC, surrounded by what was likely to world's most polyglot population, and I was entranced from an early age by different cultures and peoples. Suffice it to say that I have known a great many from foreign lands who have felt very differently than you, with cause, about America's armed forces.

If you believed, as you posted at HuffPo, that this story of the killing of Iraqi detainees had even the chance of being true, much less something "normalized", you had the moral obligation to report it. The immoral thing to do would be to not report it, and then seek to use the story for a political purpose.

UPDATE: LTC Goldenberg had a bit more in that e-mail, and I believe I am morally obligated, as a matter of honoring those who deserve it, to show that also:

"Both units served with distinction. The infantry battalion task force, known as Task Force Wolfhound, served on infamous Route Irish, the Baghdad Airport road in the summer of 2005. The unit reduced violence on that route dramatically, turning around one of the most dangerous roads in all of Iraq. Their story is told in "The Fighting 69th," by Sean Michael Flynn, a rifle company commander who served with the task force. The engineers in Tikrit served as part of Task Force Liberty and oversaw more than 1.8 Billion dollars in local and regional reconstruction projects, construction of Iraqi security facilities for army and police forces and assisted the economic development of the four provinces of North Central Iraq as they conducted their historic constitutional referendum vote in October 2005.

...Our Citizen Soldiers reflect the best of American values. We set aside our commitments to our families, our jobs and our communities at home when our nation calls for our service. We mobilize and serve our nation and our Army at war when called. It is frequently noted that when you call out the Guard, you call out America. Thousands of National Guard men and women from across this country have served honorably and nobly in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, Guanatanamo Bay and other places throughout the world we would much more rather not see. "

That doesn’t sound like IVAW member Clifton Hick’s description of “these National Guard types who are safe and don't even know what an Iraqi looks like."