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:
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" email@example.com 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 gather...to 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 Ranger.com 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.