Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Perry O’Brien WSI e-mail

Something has gone “wobbly” at IVAW, to use Margaret Thatcher’s term!

At IVAW member Adam Kokesh’s site, posted two months ago on December 4, 2007:

"Dear Friends,
As you may or may not know, Iraq Veterans Against the War is currently organizing an exciting campaign called Winter Soldier: Iraq andAfghanistan. This March, over one hundred members of IVAW will gather in Washington DC to testify to the war crimes that they observed or participated in while deployed overseas. The goal of this testimony is to condemn military policies and challenge the liberation narrative being fed to the American public...please forward this e-mail on to others.

Best, - Perry Perry O'Brien Testimonial Team Leader Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan" Posted by Adam Kokesh at 2:33 AM"

This Indypendent report by Erin Thompson was posted on February 4, 2008, two months later:

"Return of the Winter Soldier: Iraq Vets Prepare Atrocity Testimony
By Erin Thompson
From the February 4, 2008 issue

...more than 45 current and former soldiers plan to describe the indiscriminate killing and injuring of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, the use of chemical weapons, the torture and killing of detainees, rape — within the military itself and against Iraqi civilians — the denial of medical care to the injured and the mutilation of the dead, and other war crimes.”

O’Brien still seems to be the point man on testimony. Note that in his e-mail from December he wrote “over one hundred members of IVAW will testify." The Indypendent "more than 45..."

These were not the veterans and active duty the IVAW site was publicly soliciting to testify! These were folks who were a part of the 700-800 members IVAW already had. Think about it a bit.

O’Brien had to have felt pretty comfortable with what was IVAW’s own membership, the who is whom and who could and would presumably “testify”. They were not an unknown quantity to IVAW. O’Brien did not throw a dart at a board to come up with “over one hundred members”!

So if the Indypendent report is true, half of those in whom O'Brien and IVAW had some reason for confidence – have fallen off the stage!

Could it be that as IVAW, knowing that they would be scrutizized and having been badly burned by Jesse MacBeth really began to verify their own members – things went south! As in, maybe the stories they had been telling did not stand up, or those telling the stories among other IVAW members and sympathetic and accepting anti-war folks, suddenly got cold feet about – a little too much scrutiny by folks - not too easily accepting!

An example: when Jesse MacBeth was representing IVAW on a panel at the “Halliburton On The Run” teach in and press event in May of 2006 (and some days before his video went viral), he shared that panel with IVAW members Hart Viges and Alan Shackleton. Accepting without hesitation that Shackleton and Viges are exactly what they represent themselves to be, something is odd. Shackleton was in an ANG Transportation Company, so give him the benefit of the doubt that perhaps he couldn’t spot MacBeth’s Ranger act as phony. But Viges was 82nd Airborne!

How could someone who had served in the 82nd not spot Jesse and what Jesse was claiming as frauds!

Correction: Despite several sites carrying a schedule that purported to show Hart Viges and Jesse MacBeth on the same panel, that information is incorrect. Go here.

Jesse’s garbage had been public since the month before, when in April an interview with him appeared at The Socialist Alternative. While that site became a part of the Great Jesse Clean-Up And Page Dump that happened after MacBeth was exposed, other sites like Army captured it.

Among Jesse’s gems was:

“We would go into people's houses and plow down entire families. We would interrogate people. If we didn't like the answers that they gave, then we would kill the youngest child. If they gave more answers that we didn't like, then we'd move on to the rest of the family. They could've been innocent people. We would leave the bodies in the streets and blame it on the Shi'ites or the Sunnis. [In Fallujah] we were ordered to go into mosques and slaughter people while they were praying. I won't go into full detail because I'm still haunted by the memories.”

Does anyone think Jesse wasn’t saying things like that not only at the “Halliburton On The Run” event, with Viges attending, but also to his fellow IVAW members?

As Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette wrote :

"No veteran could fail to spot MacBeth as a phony - it took about 3 seconds. But IVAW couldn't do it until after he was outed by milbloggers."

The number of IVAW members “testifying” might have been cut by more than half in two months! I don’t think it was a DD214 problem. Jesse, after all and even if doctored, had one, and did qualify for IVAW membership. I think there were a bunch of folks telling "stories", with no repercussions and a certain amount of social reward for doing so. But when suddenly faced with serious scrutiny, I think a lot of them simply said “I know I said it but I can’t testify to that! Sorry!”.

Mackubin T. Owens, Vietnam War vet, wrote some years ago:

“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.

Jesse MacBeth was a perfect example of that. But to a lesser degree, were “first hand” stories being passed around in IVAW gatherings things that turned out to be “Well, I didn’t see it – I heard about it!”.

Something has happened at IVAW that shook up the plans and the numbers of IVAW testifiers, and is causing backtracking on the war crimes and atrocity theme.

Don’t, however, hold your breath waiting to hear from IVAW such as “we recognize that individual atrocities occur in all wars.” Oh wait, IVAW did say that – but they said that about the insurgency, like Al Qaeda in Iraq, committing atrocities! Not about our troops.


Army Sergeant said...

Nothing has gone wobbly at IVAW.

I believe the newspaper story that you are quoting from is referencing the number of verified testifiers rather than the numbers who have offered their testimony to the verification team. IVAW is not allowing testifiers who are not verified, and the verification process is long.

Perry O'Brien does not publish The Independent.

Also, individual members may have different feelings about what aspect of Winter Soldier is most important to them. However, that does not make Winter Soldier any different than what it is-which is expressed on the website currently.

Denis Keohane said...

Hi again, Sarge,

"I believe the newspaper story that you are quoting from is referencing the number of verified testifiers rather than the numbers who have offered their testimony to the verification team. IVAW is not allowing testifiers who are not verified, and the verification process is long."

That makes sense, except it doesn't explain O'Briend's confidence of two months ago that he had over one hundred. The verification is a good and necesary thing, Sarge, but as I said in my last comment, IVAW is an advocacy group that constantly has members speaking or writing to the public. Quite a few of those have done so about war crimes and atrocities. I'm pretty sure you know that if IVAW members who have publicly and in front of media spoken about atrocities and war crimes in the past (Matt Howard, Mike Blake, Camilo Mejia, Jimmy Massey) DO NOT testify to their first hand witnessing of those things at WSI, it cannot escape notice!

"Perry O'Brien does not publish The Independent."

Agreed, but it's reasonable to assume someone at IVAW gave the Indy that number.

"However, that does not make Winter Soldier any different than what it is-which is expressed on the website currently."

It's that "currently" that I wrote about. When an organization makes a point to get in front of the public, some of those in the public will pay heed! It's the nature of the thing.

Army Sergeant said...

Over one hundred people sent emails and phoned saying that they would like to testify. However, the verification team is relatively small, and most have full-time jobs on top of that. It's a slow process contacting people, contacting others in their units, getting records, etc.

The other sad fact is that not everyone can come to Winter Soldier. Many people have families-and some are concerned given the threats that Gathering of Eagles have made, that their families will be in danger. Others have jobs that they cannot afford to take time from.

Some people speaking may be those who have spoken before-but we only have the National Labor College for four days, and those aren't going to be all full days. There's a limited amount of time people can talk. Which would be more fair-to fill the testifier slots with people who have already all had chances to speak their stories, or to let some people who haven't had that opportunity have a turn? It seems reasonable to me that not all of the "Big names" will be testifying, for just that reason. It may not seem reasonable to you, but of course, that's your prerogative.

Someone at IVAW likely gave the Indpendent the number of verified testifiers, and they ran with it, not understanding the difference. That's my guess, anyway.

Thus Spake Ortner said...

"Many people have families-and some are concerned given the threats that Gathering of Eagles have made"

Can you send me the link to the threats? I will post them as "what not to do". I am as interested in outting idiocy on our side as the other, if not more so.

If this is another vague thing, don't worry about it.

Souljah said...

Hart Viges here. This acticle has one big lie. I never met Jesse MacBeth.

As far as I am concerned this "blog" is propaganda to cover the truth.

Souljah said...

As a matter of fact. I was the ONLY IVAW at the Haliburton protest AND follow up at the Church.
The other two people mentioned didn't show up.


SGT de Wald said...

Psst, Denis. I did get the memo. It's updated daily, in fact. With now more than 60 vetted witnesses, a process begun in mid-January, we have 36 days to continue. Meaning we used the first 3 weeks to verify 60 witnesses and now have nearly 5 more weeks ahead of us, which will in all likelihood bring us to our goal of "more than 100".

I read that you're going to sic your son on me. What SFG is he in? My buddy Jason is a SFODA commander in 5th Group.

That's fine by me. SGT de Wald doesn't scare. Bear in mind, though, I have no intention of being an aggressor. I just finish fights. So if any of you, or your proxies, want to take a swing at me, you know what I look like and where to find me, both in DC and Milwaukee.

Denis Keohane said...

Hi Hart,

If you had never met Jesse MacBeth, my sincere apologies. However, I didn’t make that up, as I think you know. AfterDowningStreet, not exactly a notorious right wing smear machine, listed you and Jesse as being on the panel.

However, let me ask you. Understanding that while you were 82nd and as such would probably, as I’ve indicated, had more of a nose for Jesse’s “Ranger” act than other veterans, do you think it was at all strange that others in IVAW didn’t apparently catch that Jesse had been embellishing, to say the least, for quite a while before the video went viral?

Denis Keohane said...

Hi Sarge,

As to the numbers, 45-55 testifiers is coming from more than the Indypendent. IVAW “organizers” are using that number if this is correct, and that Perry O’Brien is one of the sources gives that credence.

Hi Sgt de Wald,

You wrote:

“I read that you're going to sic your son on me.”

Actually, no you didn’t. What you read is that someone who was and continues to be threatening to a woman (you!) was notified to some extent that that woman had people offering her some protection. I wrote that my son might work out with you after you wrote of working out with a woman. If working out is siccing,, are you admitting something, Sgt?

“Bear in mind, though, I have no intention of being an aggressor.”

Nice of you to make that plain, Sgt. de Wald, but do you really think these, written to a woman by you, come across as non-threatening?

“My ass isn't sorry: it's 240 pounds of solid muscle fortified by 10 years in the Army and 12 years of boxing. I'd love to see you take action against it. You can find me everyday at the Ace Boxing Club at 10th and Lincoln in Milwaukee, WI. We can execute this "action-taking" in the ring.”

And to another commentor…

“You know why I was a Sergeant after ten years? Blasting a loud-mouthed E7 in the mouth when I was a promotable Staff Sergeant. He had the same sour, bitchy look you do in your DA photo... where you're also an E7! What an amazing coincidence. Another sassy senior NCO stepping into my sector of fire. Anyway, luckily for me, everyone else in all of V Corps hated that fat pogue as well and I got off with just an Article 15…You'll be providing "security escorts" to Gathering of Chickenshits members "counter-demonstrating" at IVAW events like Winter Soldier II? That's a laugh. In response to your statement on Robin the Man-Thing's page (I really had no idea she was considered a woman. I thought she was a dude with man-tits.), any "encounter" between us will go down however the fuck I see fit.”

And Sgt deWald, you sent the e-mail to Robin after she blocked you from her site. You looked for jon’s e-mail to send the second to him. At what point does a reasonable person think someone who writes constantly about physical violence and takes the pro-active actions that can qualify, if continued as stalking, is a potential threat?

Undercover said...

I think there might only be 10 people testifying at Winter Soldier. They have heard that the Eagles are showing up and that this website knows the TRUTH about Jesse MacBeth, so they have opted to stay home so they aren't discovered to be liars too.
Even if they show up with 45 people we already know it will all be lies becasue they said it would be 100 people, so that proves those 45 are liars. Yeah!

The Eagles, through the power of their Internet Typing fingers, have managed to scare IVAW off. I think Winter Soldier might even be canceled.

Its a good thing the internet saves EVERYTHING so we can show people like Viges that ONE unverified story is all we need to place him in a situation (becasue it does not matter if he was there with Mcbeth or not, what matters is that it was published online, because the interent ALWAYS tells the truth).

Eagles Up!

SGT de Wald said...

I sent them email messages because I'm entitled to make responses to claims made about me or threats made against me. Having made my point with all concerned parties, I'm going to give it a rest.

I had no idea Robin was a woman. I would've used different language. There was a picture of a man at her profile. Or I made some kind of error in trying to determine who this person was.

If you think she or anyone else needs protection at Winter Soldier, that's fine. Not from me, however. The only interaction I plan on having with any "counter-demonstrator" is having a good laugh at them while they shriek at me and call me "traitor", "faggot", or something on that order, as they've done on every occasion they've been able. But if, and only if, any of them, or all of them, makes a move that I interpret to mean physical harm to me or any other IVAW member, I will send him, or them,
to an ICU looking like something that came from another planet. I can't see how this constitutes a threat. It's a simple guarantee that we can't be intimidated.

Undercover said...

Also, because women are so supported here I want to remind everyone that the man who murdered Marine Lance Cpl. Lauterbach is still missing.

I think I missed the post about this Marine becasue I am sure everyone who supports the troops wants justice for Lance Cpl. Lauterbach.

Support the Troops!

Army Sergeant said...

I can try to dig them up, TSO, if you plan to do that-it's primarily on webforums though I think Adam and a few other 'public' folks have gotten emails. Surprisingly, I've got no threats to my knowledge, though they do like calling me a colorful variety of names. Better they spend it on me than on someone who's sensitive, I suppose.

Personally, I'm sure, or hope I'm sure, anyway, that it's just posturing, and that the surveillance photos they claim to have taken to identify IVAW members will not be used for bad purpose. (Though I did inquire with the semi-reasonable people I've been talking to at EaglesUp as to decent purposes for that surveillance before making that judgement)

It's still poor behavior, and I know I'd feel a lot better if the leaders of those groups would post something reassuring that there are actually lines that will be drawn, if only to reassure me that human decency still exists despite disagreement.

Denis Keohane said...

Sgt deWald: "Having made my point with all concerned parties, I'm going to give it a rest."

Probably for the best from all sides on that.

Just a point, and not just to you.

All the talk of violence, from both sides, and all the potential psychological getting geared up for simply over the top.

With all the years of demonstrations and counter-demonstrations we've had in this country, you would think at times that blood has been running down the streets and the ERs jammed to capacity and calling in aid from other states every time CODEPINK or IVAW and GOE members temporarilly share a zip code!

It ain't happening and it hasn't happened.

All sides can point to the incident or a few where tempers went critical and things happened. But they are a tiny, tiny few, out of hundreds of events engaging thousands of people.

For the most part, the confrontations have been verbal, and from what I've seen, even when the language is foul the tempers are controlled.

I'd suggest all back off all talk of violence, even if it assuming that one will be one the defnsive.

Robin said...

Denis - Just to clarify a point. Sgt. de Wald knew I was a woman when he sent the second email where he called out the male members of my family. He also knew I was a woman when he commented that he thought I was a "man with tits", a "so-called woman", etc. Frankly I've had enough of the immaturity but it has only strengthened my resolve in regard to exposing those that claim "atrocities" without supplying any proof.

Army Sergeant said...

Denis, can you email me? Oddly, despite how much we've talked back and forth, I don't think I have your email. There's been a claim made that this Sgt De Wald stuff is more of the "too cute" variety, and I'd like to track down some evidence one way or the other, would appreciate some help.

Souljah said...


Jesse Macbeth is old fucking news. WE KICKED HIS ASS OUT OF IVAW.

Next time you put my name in print CALL ME FIRST TO VERIFY.

Now take my name off the article or erase the whole article.

Denis Keohane said...

"Just to clarify a point. Sgt. de Wald knew I was a woman when he sent the second email where he called out the male members of my family. He also knew I was a woman when he commented that he thought I was a "man with tits", a "so-called woman", etc."

Hi Robin,

Yeah I know. He claims he's backing off. That'd be wise of him because you already have enough that is actionable in a legal sense. If that's not the case, let me know.

Denis Keohane said...

Hi Hart,

"Jesse Macbeth is old fucking news. WE KICKED HIS ASS OUT OF IVAW."

Damn, son, I don't want to argue, but that's not what's out there! The folks at DU (not my side of the great divide, if you catch my drift) say they were told Jesse resigned.

BushFlash says the same:

"Next time you put my name in print CALL ME FIRST TO VERIFY."

Okay, Hart, now you're being a tad unreasonable. You have intentionally been in the media! You've given speeches and interviews and written things for publication.

Here's a few:

And, I already showed you three sites, AfterDowningStreet, Michelle Malkin and DailyKos, and there's more, which show that schedule that purported to show you on a panel with Jesse. If you willingly become a public person, as do bloggers who blog under their own name, you are a legitimate subject of public discussion.

And Hart, in none of those things did your phone number appear! How am I supposed to call you? No, I don't want your number!

I've not only apologized, but as of now, the only site on the whole world wide web that tells the truth as you've told it, and I accepted that uncritically, that you never met MacBeth - is mine!

Sorry, but I can't erase it. I will and have apologized and corrected, but even an error is a thing to be recorded for honesty's sake - because it happened!

Retractions are honest. Deletions hide things.

Now take my name off the article or erase the whole article