Monday, February 18, 2008

IVAW: Enough Already With "I was told...", "I didn't actually see..."

So, having the #$%^ flu, I am not my normal pleasant self. Well, actually I am never really a pleasant self, but whatever I am or have been - I’m now much worse.

A good friend just apprised me of a post at HuffPo by a person who claims to be IVAW, and IVAW’s membership page does show a member by that name.

Before I let rip on this one, a quote from Mackubin T. Owens, Vietnam Vet:

“I always agreed with the observation of Harry Summers, a well-known military commentator who served as an infantryman in Korean and Vietnam, that the story teller’s distance from the battle zone was directly proportional to the gruesomeness of most atrocity stories."

This comes from SGTHogg posting at HuffPo:

“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.”

Anyone else getting sick of “I actually didn’t witness...” (Aidan Delgado) or “I was told...” (Michael Blake) or “I saw enough to figure out...” (Camilo Mejia) from members of IVAW!!!!!!

There is a lot that doesn’t pass the smell test in that one short paragraph. An E-6 in his forties is what, an exceptional over achiever or a version of my invisible friend? Night raids are very risky and involved operations requiring intense specialized training. Anyone else doubt that mechanics from an engineering battalion are sent on those? The military is all about task specific training.

Sgt. Hogg was indeed a mechanic, from her HuffPo profile:

“Served as a mechanic in the Army National Guard from 2000-2005 and was activated for 9/11. Left the military due to my disagreement over the Iraq war, the treatment of gays and lesbians in the military as well as other minorities. I am now in Iraq Veterans Against the War ( and working to end the war in Iraq as well as call out sexism, homophobia and racism where I see it.”

Pardon me, but if Sgt. Hogg was so opposed to sexism, wouldn’t she have insisted on being deployed to Iraq?????? Sorry, it's the fever!

I’ve sent an inquiry to the 42nd ID PAO asking about whether female unit members like mechanics in support groups like the engineers were ruled out of deployment because those support units were to be used as combat infantry in things like night raids!

Back to SgtHogg at HuffPo:

“You know that if you were to report something like that there is a chance the guys involved would get very mad at you, and we all know anger and guns don't mix. Not to mention, you don't betray your fellow soldiers or marines, right?”

Nice touch, that! Speak the “truth”, your fellow soldiers with guns might do something to you, but the Sgt goes on to say:

“IVAW isn't trying to make war criminals out of service members, they are trying to expose what is normalized.”

Mensa is not calling Sgt. Hogg! Back to her:

“So if we as a service we normalize things that are wrong and place having your buddies back over what may be right (when not in war) as more important, do you think it is impossible to have things go wrong?”

Except the Sgt. supposedly heard this from one person and therefore concludes it is normal!

Real high bar for credulity, that, unless one is predisposed!

Here is former Sgt. Hogg's member page at IVAW, in which she says of the Army:

"...there is no real honor in an organization whose history is so tragic to those who have served in its ranks and to multitudes of those that have been murdered, been raped and pillaged in its tracks."

Well, to paraphrase Bogie, at least the Army will always have Paris!

And maybe some other places:


Over at the Helen Benedict site, some words from Sgt. Hogg who is now calling out sexism in the military:

"Jennifer Hogg, 25, who was a sergeant in the Army's National Guard, said her company treated her well because she had a commander who wouldn't permit the mistreatment of women. But another National Guard soldier, Demond Mullins, 25, who served with the infantry in Iraq for a year, from 2004 to '05, told me that although there were no problems in his unit he heard from his commanders that there were rapes in other units in his camp. 'One time a woman was taking a shower late, and guys went and held the door closed so she couldn't get out, while one guy went in to rape her,' he said."

So the one calling out sexism was treated well, and the guy who didn't see problems in his unit heard about bad things in others, right down to the "how to" details! Oh, as though I had to tell you: Desmond Mullins is also IVAW!



Army Sergeant said...

Man, I go away from the net for a few days, and everyone posts IVAW stuff! You'd almost think that people were taking advantage of the quiet. ;)

In all seriousness, I'm sure you're aware there are three choices one has when dealing with 'I heard from someone else stories.'

1) The incident was relayed accurately to the individual, who relayed their telling accurately.

2) The incident was relayed inaccurately to the individual, who relayed their telling accurately

3) The incident was relayed accurately to the individual, who relayed their telling inaccurately.

You obviously have your idea of which one this is: I obviously have my own. However, in any case, what I will point out is that while you may be personally tired of people reporting 'what they heard from others', it is, as far as I recall from my training, supposed to be encouraged .

If someone relays a crime to you, and you don't report it, you can be later charged as an accessory.

Assuming the incident is accurate and Sgt Hogg relayed it accurately, what would you have her do? Would you have her not tell it at all because it's hearsay?

(I may return to go more in depth on this, but I have four days of internet to catch up on. Man, things move quick.)

Denis Keohane said...

Now Sarge, you got it exactly right! Now did Sgt Hogg report that to the proper channels? She obviously knew the man who claimed to have killed people without cause!

And that's my point, Sarge! If the good Sgt did so, she is owed congrats! If however, she only seems to "report" such things informally like when representing herself as IVAW at internet discussion boards, then I and you also should have a problem with that!

Ron Ridenhour only "heard" about My Lai, but he followed up on it and reported it.

And you left out number 4) the incident never happened, but got passed on!

It happens!

Denis Keohane said...


I gotta ask, as you are closer to this than I am, being active. Does the idea of folks in a suppoort unit like mechanics going on night raids sound kosher to you?

Jonn Lilyea said...

Well, I had a comment, but I see Army Sergeant is here and my point would get buried in all of his "what ifs".

I feel ya, Denis, I've been fightin' a monster illness the last few days, too. Wanna compare bags of spent Kleenex?

Denis Keohane said...


I gave up on the Kleenex. Just have a pail under my nose.

Other end not much better, to be kinda delicate.

Thus Spake Ortner said...

I'm with you on this one, every attrocity is heard from someone else.

If you saw something, report it. If you heard about it, report it. If you didn't report it, the just STFU already. This kinda shite always gets me.

Can't wait to hear what you get back from the PAO. I've kept an eye on SGT Hogg on the site waiting for just such a thing.

I can't help but note that the vast majority of these stories is from one Fobbit or another. Cantu was an ammo guy, Massey just plain made up stories, Kokesh volunteered to go back but is a criminal shitweasel. Seriously, enough already. You either saw it or you didn't.

Army Sergeant said...

Sorry so delayed..I am /incredibly/ busy right now. I still haven't gotten around to your other posts, though I plan to.

4) I took to be included into 2). Incident not happening but being relayed would be being relayed inaccurately, just hugely inaccurately.

As for mechanics going on raids, yes. Right now, bodies in Iraq are so short that the Army is pulling a lot of people whose job it isn't to do stuff like that. It's so crazy right now. You have infantrymen working in TOCs and intel professionals driving humvees. There's a lot of 'any warm body' going on.

TSO: Cantu wasn't a fobbit. I don't personally know Massey so can't talk about him, but Cantu was not in fact a fobbit. And he's not an ammo guy. Where are you getting your facts?

Also, I have a question for you guys: an honest question, I'm seriously interested in what you think on this.

I'm in the Army, I'm an NCO. If one of my soldiers reports something to me, even if it's hearsay, I need to go hard-charging in.

How does that apply to my attending of Winter Soldier? If I do hear reports of criminal behavior going on, though of course that is not the main focus of the event, what should my standards of reporting be?

Army Sergeant said...

Also, Jen Hogg just emailed me this, requesting that I put it up, since I post frequently at your site:

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.

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.

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

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. 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.

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. 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. 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.

Also, I do have an IVAW member page. You can search by last names. Which you seemed to find as you wrote the article.

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.

Denis Keohane said...

Okay, this has jumped the bar from comment stuff to post:

Denis Keohane said...

Sarge, you asked:

"I'm in the Army, I'm an NCO. If one of my soldiers reports something to me, even if it's hearsay, I need to go hard-charging in.

How does that apply to my attending of Winter Soldier? If I do hear reports of criminal behavior going on, though of course that is not the main focus of the event, what should my standards of reporting be?"

I'd suggest you would be between a rock and a hard place!

Not necessarilly legally, though, and not because you couldn't be. As an NCO or for that matter a soldier, you are obligated to report credible information about possible crimes. See that little problem? If you believe such a testimony is credible, you are obligated. If you don't believe it is credible, why would you support its dissemination?

You may well be in a formal legal jeopardy, if authories took action, but frankly, and only my opinion, I don't think the military will do so. For all the huff and puff thrown at the American military for most of my entire life, that organization does not court political controversy nor seek to use its power, even its legal power, when even tangentially the issue is political. Testifiers at the first WSI made numerous charges, recorded and entered into the Congressional Record. The Senate ordered the relevant military commands to investigate those charges, and they tried. The WSI testifiers almost universally would not assist with those investigations. The military took no action against any one of them for that, and that is something to note, since those accusations trashed the reputation of the military with much of the public for a generation.

But having spoken of the legal, Sarge, there is the moral. No matter what is outside, we all have to lives with ourselves. I've always liked the line Walter Scott gave to Rob Roy MacGregor in the novel, and delivered by Liam Neeson in the movie:

"Honor is the gift a man gives to himself."

It comes down to what you can live with yourself about, honorably.

Anonymous said...


"...what would you have her do? Would you have her not tell it at all because it's hearsay?"

Yeah. Your kangaroo kourt allows "hearsay" which is regular courts don't.

I never want to hear anything about "Constitution" and "oath" out of your piehole ever again because you don't mean it.

Only when you construct some silly ass justification for your treason are you this patriot who loves the Constitution and is bound by your oath.

That same oath says you should have reported what you saw, you didn't.

I think your Halo is on a bit too tight and is affecting the blood circulation.