Sunday, February 3, 2008

Reply to Army Sergeant....

Normally I would and do reply to comments in the comments. However, Army Sgt. brings up several things that I think are worthy of a post reply. Words in italics, unless otherwise noted, are the Sarge's.

"Here's the thing, Denis. Winter Soldier is not about Jimmy Massey. Winter Soldier is not about Adam Kokesh. Winter Soldier is not about any one person in IVAW, even if they are one of your "favorites". Winter Soldier is about veterans telling their stories to the American public and other veterans."

Okay, you got me on the point about Winter Soldier being about one person or a few.

Oh wait, I never made such a point. The point I have made, and backed up, is that some folks who are or have been members of IVAW, which is the group planning and presenting WSI 2008, have a sordid history of telling untruths about supposed atrocities. MacBeth and Massey come to mind. MacBeth is now gone from the picture, but Massey is not. Why is speculation about whether Jimmy Massey, a co-founder of IVAW and an Energizer Bunny of supposed atrocity stories going to be at WSI or not out of bounds? And from its own published comments, Ivaw does not claim that "Winter Soldier is about veterans telling their stories to the American public and other veterans". IVAW makes it plain that WSI is about charging American soldiers with wide spread and routine atrocities. You want all the chapter and verse on that, I'll supply it.

Denis, there is no pleasing you. Either someone testifies, and you're complaining about Winter Soldier because of it, or someone doesn't testify, and you're still complaining about Winter Soldier. Just what is the condition that will get you not to complain?

Are you saying Jimmy Massey, atrocity story IVAW emmisary to foreign lands is not going to testify? I haven't complained about Massey not testifying, as I don't care whether he does or not, but it is most certainly relevant if a co-founder of IVAW who writes books and speaks around the world representing IVAW telling of such things does not appear! I haven't, by the way, complained about anyone testifying. I have asked if the signed statements IVAW claims it will have, and the transcriptions they claim they will have, before WSI, will be released. I have further asked whether anyone testifying to having committed or witnessed actual crimes will sign a legally binding affidavit or deposition, or other official investigatory report, as would be required by civilian law of any civilian in such a situation and by any military person under the UCMJ.

I think your posts are beginning to sound a little like you're scared that Winter Soldier will be all that I say it will be-a collection of veterans and active duty soldiers whose stories cannot be denied.

No, Sarge, not scared at all. But I and others just might have IVAW a little scared that they are going to get a whole lot more attention concurrent with this WSI than the elders of VVAW got with theirs, and which they would not have survived with a shred of credibility. My concern, in thousands of words, has been pretty clear. You say I am afraid of stories that cannot be denied, but I am concerned about stories that cannot be verified because people telling them will not do the morally and legally 'right thing'. That is what was done at the first WSI and the IVAW makes no bones, as neither does VVAW and VFP, that this WSI is being crafted on the pattern of the previous one.

Sarge, you are too young to have personally seen the decades of after effects of the first WSI, including Kerry's testimony to the Senate and the media attention that followed, and the ball being picked up by Hollywood and television, did to the reputations and honor of almost three million Americans who served in Vietnam. I'm not.

Whose stories are both truthful and corroborated.

Corroborated by who and corroborated how are the questions. How can they be corroborated unless details are given? If they are given, given to who, when? Who defines the charges, law or individual inclinations! I've seen several IVAW members, like Camilo Mejia, call things that are neither war crimes nor atrocities by those titles. He, like many IVAW members, is a CO. In order to have obtained that status, Mejia and every other CO in IVAW has to have made claim to moral opposition to any war and combat as against their principles. As such, any war fighting from that perspective can be called a crime and atrocity, but that is not according to law. Mejia told of a man who was killed by Mejia's unit when the man was throwing a grenade at the compound where Mejia's unit was. Mejia went on to say he could find no justification for shooting that man, and by the lights of a CO perspective, that can be so. However, the overwhelming majority of people do find self defense to be legitimate and not something that cannot be justified, and the law most certainly does not make that a crime.

I call what Mejia and others have done and are doing Defining Atrocity Down. That is also why details are important, Sarge!

And Sarge, Mejia's stories keep changing! He's not alone!

IVAW's Matt Howard, in the recent "Military Ecourages War Crimes" piece is quoted as saying:

"The policies that the military engages will create situations, create dynamics, create, ultimately, atrocity."

What policies, what situations, what dynamics and define the atrocity! IVAW has been doing this for months! Sarge, during Operation Overlord, the six week operation that began on D-Day to secure a beachhead in Europe so as to drive the Nazis back to Germany and ultimately defeat them, between twelve and twenty thousand French non-combatant civilians were killed, most of them without a doubt by Allied air and naval bombardment and artillery. Was that:
a) a war crime
b) an atrocity
c) a terrible tragedy of war

Yet that invasion was the instument of the policy to defeat Hitler! It created a situation where Allied forces engaged German forces in areas where civilians were placed in danger, but that's would be true anywhere the Allies tried to engage the Germans. The dynamics were that advancing Allied forces had to eliminate German armor and artillery, much of it hiding in farm buildings and towns, as well as German resupply and reinforcements on rail lines that traveled through populated areas, or the beach head could fail. The Allies actually did try mightilly to limit and avoid civilians casualties, which the invasion in rural Normandy itself was a part of, but could not hope to defeat Germany, and liberate France without pressing forward.

I want some clarity, long overdue, from IVAW. It is that simple. You folks, even if it has to wait until WSI, provide the details and clarify the charges, and then they can be taken for what they are and verified.

Yet if that happens, you have nothing to blog about! Oh no! What to do?

Sarge, I've had articles published in American Thinker since October 0f 2006. I had a blog at Townhall last summer. I started this one last September. Last October I wrote an American Thinker article on the first WSI, having no idea IVAW would do another. I didn't learn of and then address the new WSI until late last December, here and at American Thinker. In other words, in almost a year and a half of blogging and writing published articles on the Net, excluding comments on other's blogs going back years, I've only been on this subject for less than six weeks! I don't need it, Sarge! I am, however, interested.

You can't possibly blog about the patriotic IVAW members participating in Winter Soldier-or can you?

Will you, Denis?

Will you take the challenge Jonn Lilyea wouldn't?

If IVAW at Winter Soldier contains soldiers who are not telling their stories with one hundred percent integrity, I will make a public post admitting that I was wrong-but I know I'm not going to be.

If IVAW at Winter Soldier does NOT contain the kind of testimony you claim to fear...

(I haven't claimed to fear any testimony, but go on)

will you make a public post-not in the comments, but a public post on the front of your blog, admitting you were wrong, and IVAW is a group of honorable and brave veterans who happen to oppose the war?

I eagerly await your response.

Admitting I was wrong about what exactly? Please cite for me my statement that will be shown as wrong? That simple, and then we'll talk. If admitting that IVAW and WSI testifiers are honorable, brave and patriotic is an admission that I was wrong, please show where I said that IVAW and WSI testifiers are dishonorable, less than brave or cowards, and unpatriotic! Just show me anything of the sort? Sarge, have I made a claim of anyone being dishonorable (which lying about grave issues would constitute) that was not based on an individuals specific actions, like statements that were false? MacBeth and Massey were not honorable. If someone charges anyone with gross crimes, and withholds the details of what he is claiming, yes, that is and will be dishonorable! Very! Again, the first WSI was very dishonorable. If the new one is not the same, and veterans testify to what is real, and what they know to be true, and do as they are required to allow those things to be investigated and shown to be true, I'll applaud and honor them! Promise! There's a point that many on your side miss: a great many folks on my side, when they hear about all these atrocities, want the details because we do believe that those who are responsible for such should be and must be held to account, whoever they are! However, we want those claims and charges investigated, and do not want to rely on someone's 'political opinion' about who they believe is responsible! The first WSI failed on that count, and from what IVAW itself has said, they are preparing to follow suit.

It is in IVAW's literature, Sarge! As I've shown you several times, before this supposed "investigation" IVAW leadership has concluded who is guilty of certain vague charges without giving details! It does not work that way, Sarge, in an honorable society governed by law.

Sarge, I have not gone the ad hominem route against IVAW members, period. I challenge and contend with specific actions and statements, not a person simply because of their positions on any issue. I do not believe that all IVAW members or all the folks who may testify at WSI are dishonorable or less than brave, and that they are veterans means I am in their debt and grateful to them for their service.

But Sarge, IVAW has a history, and is plain about what it intends to do and what it is patterned after. As you are in high dudgeon over what you imagine I might have implied about these honorable veterans who are going to tell the truth as they know it, let's visit some IVAW statements about other active duty and veterans.


SSgt. Wuterich, the leader of the squad at the Haditha incident, is in deep trouble, and facing court martial on serious charges. Even so, though, by now all but the most clueless know that the investigations have shown that here were no execution style killings, no cold blooded murders, no revenge rampage, none of the crap that was thrown at those Marines before they had any chance to defend themselves! IVAW, along with many others, jumped all over those Marines without giving them the benefit of the doubt they deserved, innocent until proven guilty, as all deserve when facing such charges.

I wrote about that at American Thinker last August.

Congressman John Murtha made despicable public statements, among them:

"Our troops overreacted [at Haditha] because of the pressure on them and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood..."

"I will not excuse murder, and this is what happened..."

No waiting for a trial and formal investigation! So, of course when these Marines were so convicted in the media, we could have expected IVAW to do as you do here, say that we should wait until the facts are known, correct?

Nope, IVAW threw those Marines under the Humvee because it suited their political goals!

From an IVAW statement, and by the way, regardless of what your politics were in 2004, the members of the Swift Boat Veterans and POWs for Truth were also veterans, Sarge, and note how IVAW treated them:

Iraq Vets Back Murtha On Haditha Massacre Revelations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE IVAW P.O. Box 8296 Philadelphia,
PA 19101

Phone: 215-241-7123 E-mail: ivaw at

Philadelphia, May 20 -- Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), a national organization of hundreds of veterans of the "Global War on Terror", came forward today to defend Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha from "a barrage of Swift Boat attacks orchestrated by the architects and supporters of the war in Iraq." The organization...has taken a public stand defending Murtha from "attempts to discredit him from gasbag Sean Hannity to John O'Neill, a spokesperson for the right-wing front group "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth." IVAW, in the public statement issued yesterday on their web site,, They emphasize that their criticism of Congress is bipartisan, and that this is one reason they welcome and said that the Haditha massacre "is not an exception to the situation in Iraq, it is its punctuation mark."defend Murtha's decision to speak publicly and "plainly" on Haditha.

...Representative Murtha has done a great service in forcing Haditha into the public discussion of the war."

...The massacre at Haditha is not an exception to the situation in Iraq, it is a punctuation mark in a longer atrocity - the war itself.

We are grateful to Representative John Murtha for speaking plainly, and for not evading the terrible reality of Haditha. Our own membership at IVAW has observed systemic and serial violations of the rules of engagement (ROE), the Law of Land Warfare, and the Geneva Conventions.

The attempts to discredit him from gasbag Sean Hannity to John O'Neill, a spokesperson for the wing-nut front group “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth”.

So Sarge, your group, IVAW, in a formal statement, calls the veterans who were members of Swift Boat Veterans and POWs for Truth a right wing front group and wing-nuts! They congratulate Murtha for speaking of the "terrible reality" and the "speaking painly" of Haditha that Murtha got wrong! They cared not one whit for the rights of those Marines to a fair hearing. And again they speak of systemic and serial violations, and underscore that "Haditha" is not an exception.

And just for the heck of it, Arrmatey at CourtZero nicely parses IVAW's Clifton Hicks' statements about soldiers who support the mission in Iraq:

"[to paraphrase interviewer: some veterans think that the anti-war folks are damaging morale] Hicks: "[derisive laughter] That's a damn foolish lie.
I'd like to actually meet those two so-called soldiers and find out what they do in Iraq. I bet they pump gas and scrub mess hall floors. They -- they -- don't know what they're talking about. The only people you'll ever see doing stuff like that are the -- these National Guard types who are safe and don't even know what an Iraqi looks like."

As Arrmatey points out:

Just by the way, the specific soldiers who were involved in the Tampa rally, the ones Mr. Hicks declares to be "so-called" soldiers who surely must have spent their time pumping gas or scrubbing mess hall floors, have among them these gentlemen. One was awarded the Silver Star for taking Baghdad Airport early in the war, with a Congressional Medal of Honor winner under his command because of the operation. The other helped actually find and capture Saddam Hussein.

What was it you expected me to apologize for again, Sarge? Maybe it was when I didn't say things like that about IVAW members?


talon said...

Excellent rebuttal, Denis.

As I pointed out in a previous post, regardless of Army Sergeant's disingenuous claims to the contrary, the Winter Soldier "investigation" IS about IVAW - in fact, it is ALL about IVAW and their motives, which, in my estimation, are anything but noble and honorable.

If IVAW was the least bit concerned with "integrity", much less justice, they would be encouraging their members to testify before the authorities responsible for investigating and adjudicating allegations of war crimes, but because this is about POLITICS, they are testifying in an auditorium at the National Labor College. It looks like Army Sergeant better get busy on her admission concerning the lack of integrity and due process in their so-called "investigation", which will be, in fact, nothing more than low political theater.

Army Sergeant said...

My concern about your speculation about Massey stems from the fact that it feeds celebrity-based culture. There's little curiousity or interest in the other names you don't know who will be testifying, or so it would seem.

Also, IVAW does in fact claim that Winter Soldier is about veterans telling their stories. Go ahead and look to what it says on the website, what we are actually putting out. While I certainly think, for example, that the state of veteran's health care is an atrocity, it's not exactly the kind of atrocity that you may be referring to.

WSI is not about charging American soldiers with atrocities.

Also, I do not know if Massey will appear or not. I don't have a list of the full programs. I do know that there are some public figures within IVAW who are not testifying, in order to make more room for those veterans who may not have gotten a chance yet to tell their stories. I don't know if he's among them.

I again state that IVAW will not have signed statements, at all. I still don't know where you are getting that from. Signed 'consent to record' forms are /not/ signed statements.

I, and IVAW, welcome all the attention you would like to give us. The truth is never scared of the light of day.

You also seem confused on what Winter Soldier will entail. Not every person speaking will be speaking about "crimes". They will be speaking the truth of their experiences, that the American public may not have had the chance to hear. Some may speak to crimes-but not all will.

Denis, you've been pretty clear about the fact that you expect this WSI to be a smear job. Smear jobs, by their very definition, cannot contain truth.
"The left side of the web is busy spreading the word that next March the ideological descendent of the VVAW, the Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) is planning another WSI dealing with Iraq and Afghanistan, thereby intending to smear another generation of over a million and a half Americans who have served to date in those wars and those who will serve."

Army Sergeant said...

I also add, because my first post was getting a little long, that I'm not going to get into the case of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. I have a bad taste in my mouth about them and about all of those 'purple bandaids' that the Republican delegates wore to the national convention. I also don't like that people made fun of Murtha's injuries when they didn't like his politics.

I don't believe in anyone, no matter what their organization, attacking someone's service for their political beliefs. If I see someone in IVAW do it, I'll call them out just as much as others.

Anonymous said...

I'm not going to get into the case of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. I have a bad taste in my mouth about them...

Must be ideological indigestion sweetheart...served up by a five course meal of Swiftvet truth.

There's no inhibitor invented that can keep a leftist demagogue from gagging on it.

Bon appetite to you and yours when the new media serves you your WS2dessert.

talon said...

"WSI is not about charging American soldiers with atrocities."

Am I the only one who has noticed how IVAW keeps attempting to operate within a fog of plausible deniabililty??

Army Sergeant said...

You know, the funny thing is that we keep getting accused of being "leftist", but there's a lot of conservatives in the IVAW movement. One of the reasons I'm against the war is because it harms the strong military I want to be ready to defend the United States from actual attackers.

It's not "left" to be against the war, or to deplore the tactics of the Swift Boat Vets. It's just a quick way of trying to dismiss us.

Also, Talon, it's not plausible deniability: the fact is that while WSI II will have some threads in common with WSI I, the only major one is that of soldiers and veterans speaking up about what they believe. Beyond that, there aren't too many similarities-it is an entirely different war, after all, and we have many different reasons for opposing it.

Zero Ponsdorf said...

AS: What exactly were the tactics used by Swifties that you deplore?

A small group of Vets got together to address issues that they felt the American Public should know about.

Pretty much what the IVAW claims to be doing.

From there on the differences are dramatic, but for another venue perhaps.

I was struck by the similarity of intent and am a bit puzzled. One would think the Swifties constitute a pretty good example of what works.

Army Sergeant said...

Because the issues were with a specific individual and were fairly venomous, at least with what I saw. Some of the things were not necessarily directly the Swift Boats' fault (such as the purple bandaids I found so mortally offensive), but they certainly didn't decry them, either.

Also, they were not speaking to what they had personally witnessed. In fact, only one person had even been on the boat with him, and that person had not been present at the actions for which he won his medals. Those who had, supported Kerry's service.

Essentially I see the difference between IVAW and Swift Boat in that IVAW members speak to their own personal experiences, while Swift Boat veterans attempted to discredit the service of someone they had not themselves served with, and incidents they had not personally seen.

Talon said...

I stand by my statement, Army Sergeant. You claimed that "WSI is not about charging American soldiers with atrocities" but your website stated:

" 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.

Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam.

Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same..."

(Oh, the irony!)

That is exactly what one could call charging American soldiers with atrocities.

Another recent statement of this sort was recently made by IVAW's Mike Blake, who claimed:

"The killing of innocent civilians is policy. It's unit policy and it's Army policy. It's not official policy, but it's (sic) what's happens on the ground everyday..."

In other words, it's policy, but it's not policy.

That's what you call operating in the fog of plausible deniability, Army Sergeant, and it's a pattern of behavior over at IVAW.

Army Sergeant said...

Look at the website again, talon.
It was originally written under the idea that few would know what the Winter Soldier I investigation was, and focused heavily on that investigation. It has since been revised to state our own goals.

Army Sergeant said...

Also, Denis himself has admitted that the IVAWactions site shows evidence of not being an IVAW site. (After I expressed confusion at it, and investigated)

It's a group of people who claim to support IVAW, but I see no connection between them. It is also not peopled by IVAW members, with the possible exception of one, and I don't know who those other people are.

talon said...

"Essentially I see the difference between IVAW and Swift Boat in that IVAW members speak to their own personal experiences, while Swift Boat veterans attempted to discredit the service of someone they had not themselves served with, and incidents they had not personally seen."

That's not accurate.

"...our group includes men who served beside Kerry in combat as well as his commanders."

talon said...

I noticed that the language on your website has changed, but I'm not sure what, if anything, that signifies.

I'll grant you that IVAWactions may not be an IVAW site - perhaps you should do something about your name being attached to that site - but Mike Blake has been a member of IVAW since March 2005:

Will Mr. Blake be participating in WSI2? Can we expect him, and others, to repeat this "not-policy policy" testimony?

Army Sergeant said...

Talon, I tried to go to a reasonably "neutral" site, Wikipedia, to look up the Swift Boat vets, and my head is still spinning from the argument.

While I recognize it's not a 'real source', it's hard to get 'real sources' for things like advocacy groups, they don't make encyclopedia entries. It does state only Stephen Gardner from his boat crew was a member of Swift Boat Vets, which doesn't seem contradicted, and that every other living member of his crew said the Swift Boat allegations were lies. It also references sources for that.

Would you say that is inaccurate?

Also, I would do something about that (the website), but I really am not sure how. I'll be the first to admit I'm fairly new to the world of internet claims and such.

I do not know whether Mike Blake wishes to or plans to testify. However, I doubt that language will be repeated, and it may have been taken out of context.

Leaders need to be held accountable-that's something everyone who's ever served in the military should get behind. You're always responsible for the results of your orders, or the actions of those under your command.

But we see lower enlisted soldiers getting punished again and again for actions that they claim were in line with policy, or that they claim they were told to do. Look at the 'baiting' program, in which Army Rangers are being left out to dry rather than their leaders accept the political ramifications of admitting to a policy that lots of people in Iraq knew about.

If a junior enlisted soldier does something like that, whose fault is it? Not the junior guy. It's the fault of the people who told him to do it, or the fault of the people who had such gaping policy holes that new, young soldiers thought it was okay.

Testifiers at Winter Soldier who testify about policies and their implications will be doing so not to speak against soldiers who were doing the best job they could with unclear direction, but to speak against those who put them in that position.

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