(March 13-16, 2008; National Labor College, 10000 New Hampshire Avenue,
Silver Spring, MD)
An Information Release from "Stop the Slander" - a coalition of concerned veterans, family members and friends. Download this document in Word or PDF.
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.What is Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW)?
- The IVAW is a tax-exempt activist organization founded in July 2004 with the assistance of older radical organizations Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) and Veterans for Peace (VFP). IVAW obtains its 501(c)3 tax exempt status from the latter group.
- The organization claims about 800 members, which would be 1/2000th of the 1.6 million who have served in Afghanistan (OEF) and Iraq (OIF) if all the IVAW members had actually served in either theatre.
- The organization’s name is misleading. Service in Iraq (or Afghanistan) is not a requirement for membership. Membership criteria is that a veteran or active duty person had to serve in any capacity in the active duty military, National Guard or Reserves for any period of time after September 11, 2001.
- A significant but unknown number of members, likely 20% - 40% based on IVAW’s public member profiles, have not deployed to either Iraq or Afghanistan
- Primarily demonstrations, street theatre and using whatever media they can to further the anti-war cause, much of it having to do with vague but constant charges of atrocities and war crimes by American forces.
Video: Commanders Encourage War Crimes – The Killing of Civilians is Policy
Does IVAW Have a History of Credibility Problems? Yes. Here are a few examples:
- In May 2006 an IVAW member named Jesse MacBeth appeared in a video widely circulated on the Internet. MacBeth claimed to have been a Ranger in Iraq who had committed horrific atrocities with his unit, including the execution of hundreds of men, women and children. However, MacBeth was exposed as a fraud who had been dismissed from the Army before completing Basic Training. Source: Seattle Times
- In 2005, IVAW co-founder Jimmy Massy, a Marine veteran of Iraq, was found to have fabricated stories published in the Modesto Bee, the Sacramento Bee and the Associated Press. Ron Harris of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and four other embedded reports and other Marines in Massey’s unit refuted the claims. The news organizations published retractions. Sources: Jewish World Review / Michelle Malkin
- In an interview in March 2005, IVAW leader Camilo Mejia was asked if he had ever abused or tortured detainees in Iraq and replied in the negative. During his court martial for desertion Mejia again made no claims to have done or been ordered to do so, which claim if made might have strengthened his defense. However, in an interview the next August with Dahr Jamail, author of “Beyond the Green Zone”, Mejia’s story changed to “I tortured guys.” Sources: PBS / Dahr Jamail’s Mideast Dispatches / Point of Clarity News
- In the same interview with Dahr Jamail in Aug 2005, Jamail wrote of what several IVAW members were telling him "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." IVAW member Harvey Tharp was quoted by Jamail saying “Most of what we’re talking about is war crimes…war crimes because they are directed by our government for power projection.” However, in an interview with the Yemen Times published on Feb 25, 2008, Tharp admitted to never having witnessed an atrocity in Iraq. Sources: Dahr Jamail’s Mideast Dispatches / Yemen Times
- The stories follow a familiar pattern. Wartime events that are often both legal and moral, but that may have disturbing or tragic consequences out of the realm of normal civilian experience are deliberately mischaracterized by IVAW activists to put them in the worst possible light.
- The stories are invariably presented without the details that would enable them to be verified. Nor is there any indication that the alleged events were reported to the chain of command when they happened, as is required in the case of genuine crimes by the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Sources: Times Online / Video: Commanders Encourage War Crimes / About.com: Uniform Code of Military Justice
- In 1971, more than 100 members of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) held a three day conference in Detroit to make hundreds of unsupported allegations of war crimes that they claimed to have participated in or witnessed.
- The VVAW allegations were presented to the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs in April 1971 by John Kerry, in an event given enormous publicity by the “Big Three” networks, ABC, CBS and NBC. The networks and print media repeated the war crime allegation uncritically, without demanding evidence.
- The Kerry / VVAW allegations were widely believed, and helped contribute to an atmosphere of public contempt toward American Vietnam Veterans.
- The military was charged with investigating the VVAW allegations, but the results of those investigations were never made public.
- The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) opened cases for 48 VVAW allegations that, if true, would qualify as war crimes. Summary reports show that 25 of the “witnesses” refused to support their allegations with evidence. Several others provided statements that could not be confirmed, or that were contradicted by investigation. At least ten more backtracked on their Winter Soldier allegations when questioned by investigators. Out of 76 allegations made by purported Army VVAW members, only one case showed probable evidence of a war crime.
WinterSoldier.com: Army CID Investigations of VVAW War Crimes Allegations
FrontPageMagazine.com: Newly Discovered Army Reports Discredit “Winter Soldier” Claims
How Should the Media Respond to the Winter Soldier Stories and Allegations?
- Journalists should exert due diligence to establish the truth and search for the facts that will verify or refute each allegation.
- An acronym has been developed as a simple guide to what should reasonably be asked by journalists of those making allegations: DUPES:
U: Unit(s) – What military units were involved?
P: Personnel – What are the names of the participants and witnesses?
E: Event(s) – What exactly happened exactly where?
S: Signature(s) – Was this reported at the time or later and were reports, affidavits or depositions signed, or will they now be signed?
- Journalists can and should check with the Pentagon to verify service claimed (via DD214) of testifiers.
- Statements and written accounts made by many members of IVAW are readily available on the Internet and should be checked against the claims made at Winter Soldier to establish consistency or changes in these allegations over time.
- If such questions are not asked, answered, and professionally followed up, journalists are merely helping activists spread political propaganda.
For more information on VVAW and the 1971 Winter Soldier Investigation: WinterSoldier.com
Contact: Denis Keohane
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