Sunday, March 23, 2008

What Went Missing at Winter Soldier?

What went missing was both testifiers and testimonies that one would reasonably have expected to be there.

The question is why.

Last February I posted The Perry O'Brien WSI e-mail here. That e-mail appeared at IVAW's Adam Kokesh's blog on December 4, 2007. It read as follows:
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
O'Brien ran the WSI testifier and testimony verification process. In that post I pointed out that by February this was being reported:
"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.”
I also pointed out at that time that there was evidence that IVAW was backing down from the lurid atrocity claims, and it now seems that was so because they just weren't getting the material or those to deliver it. That number forty-five is very close to the actual number of IVAW veterans that testified at Winter Soldier, but nothing even close to all or even most of them testified to those kinds of events! In December the IVAW had seemingly high confidence of having over one hundred testifiers who had witnessed or participated in war crimes but by mid-March that number had dwindled to a relative handful!

What happened?

IVAW was vetting their members and their testimonies. The very reasonable assumption is that in doing so, a whole lot of the claims about themselves and charges their members were bantering about among friendly and accepting company didn't hold up. Such tales that would bring a certain group status and approval and little if any doubt or skepticism (as with Jesse MacBeth) didn't pass muster when being verified with an eye towards the scrutiny WSI would certainly get and was already getting in the blogosphere.

Winter Soldier did not deliver the atrocity-fest advertised and hoped for, yet that is in spite of many members of IVAW and their colluding allies railing on and on about witnessing and participating in war crimes and atrocities for years!

As such, on the upper left of this page I have posted a Winter Soldier section, under which one can find WSI Testifiers and Testimonies as well as WSI Missing Testifiers and Testimonies. The various testimonies are being verified, as all expect. Yet IVAW members like Adam Kokesh and Geoff Millard play the "Don't throw me in the briar patch" game of hoping that the veteran status of their testifiers is challenged, and that is likely a ruse meant to hide where they know they have a damaging problem. There is an IVAW credibility story, a potentially huge one, in the number of IVAW members and the tales they have told that did not make it to Winter Soldier.

I've listed some of the no-show members as well as stories that were not told or were told at WSI with details missing or changed. I will add to that list, and as always ask for input from any on those I'm missing. Some of IVAW's most lurid atrocity chargers are on that list.

We can't expect the IVAW to admit publicly that they may have found fraudulent claims about themselves or events being made by their members, sometimes for years. When the MacBeth imbroglio hit, IVAW only sought to seriously verify his veteran status after he was effectively challenged by others and merely distanced itself from MacBeth after he was outed. There was no admission to or aplogy for having given MacBeth the platform ypon which to make those false charges.

So researchers, diggers and fact finders, there is a lot to be uncovered about what went missing. I have no doubt that IVAW verifed the DD214s for example of everyone who testified. I also don't doubt that they sought to check the DD214s of those - who didn't testify. And their claims to have participated ot witnessed things. That's a story worth developing.


Dissenting Patriot said...

The absence of testimony about atrocities does not automatically indicate a lack of credibility. What about the possibilities that those stories were not told because of (1) fear of legal repercussions, or (2) lack of corroborating evidence (other members of the unit willing to come forward).

Denis Keohane said...

Agreed, it is not automatic. However, for those who have indeed told of witnessing or participating in atrocities before, a slew of them, why back out at WSI? How did the legal jeopardy change?

And lack of corroborating evidence can mean that other "witnesses" won't come forward just as it can mean the story didn't hold up because there are no other witnesses as it didn't happen. or didn't happen that way!

Mssey's and MacBeth's atrocity stories didn't crash because others wouldn't back them up. They crashed because they were fraudulent.

Simply put, DP, the numbers dropped off dramatically when the verification got under way.

I will say this though: the absence of a lot of testimony about widespread atrocities (other than vague and unsubstantiated claims of things being "routine") by the organization that has, with their pressmeister Dahr Jamail, been the most vocal in every bit of leftist media they could get to pay attention in disseminating the picture to not ante up at their own adverised media event is telling, very, very telling.

Anonymous said...

Winter Soldiers Sound Off

by Dahr Jamail
Global Research, March 23, 2008
The Progressive, April 2008

Dissenting Patriot said...

I think you're essentially doing the same thing you're accusing IVAW of doing- coming to a foregone conclusion in order to invalidate information that does not fit into your paradigm. And I would add that the paradigm of nationalism is just as much a reckless ideology as what your subscribers accuse IVAW of adhering to.

Army Sergeant said...

I will also point out that the amount of testifiers who did participate in Winter Soldier was a logistical nightmare to get accomplished in the amount of time we had. To add additional testifiers would have severely strained both resources and endurance.

If all you can point to complain about Winter Soldier is that your favorite IVAW members were not in attendance, I think we did a pretty good job.

NAMedic said...

Army Sergeant:
When are you going to publish the corroborating evidence and name the corroborating witnesses to support what was said at WS2? You did such a good job advertising your thorough vetting process, but in the end the world is supposed to just take your word that you actually did it?

Army Sergeant said...

Namedic: Probably after we get through the enormous backlog of other stuff that needs to be done. Winter Soldier was a really important event, but one that required a lot of lead-up time. Many people with important testimonies to give were simply unable to do it because of their logistical responsibilities. Those people will be giving video testimonies as well-and there are a lot of them. Those people too need to be verified.

There's a lot of work to do, and please remember that most of us have full-time jobs. I myself haven't been online much, since I don't own a laptop, and my computer is disassembled for shipment.

NAMedic said...

"Those people too need to be verified."

Lots of luck.

"There's a lot of work to do, and please remember that most of us have full-time jobs."

So much for "our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor."

I know it is a big job dismanteling the institutions of the United States, demoralizing its military and its population, and establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat. Especially as a part time thing.

We'll wait.

Army Sergeant said...

I have to say that I make it a point to have my eyes glaze over every time the word "the proletariat" is mentioned. So I'm pretty sure I don't want to establish its dictatorship.

Also, I like morale, and while I can't say I love all the institutions of the US (there are some pretty crazy ones), I do generally support most of them.

My full-time job happens to be the US military, which I swore an oath to. So hopefully you can understand why I give it a lot of priority.

Denis Keohane said...

"If all you can point to complain about Winter Soldier is that your favorite IVAW members were not in attendance, I think we did a pretty good job."

Sarge, nice bit of phrasing that doesn't fit. I am asking why there have been so many IVAW members who have leveled charges and made accusations PUBLICLY and in the name of IVAW - who either didn't show or changed or dropped the stories?

One exampe only, Sarge: Dahr Jamail wrote two and a half years ago that six members of IVAW told him hours of atrocity and war crimes stories of things they participated in or witnessed. That Jamail Dispatch went right to the Middle East, Sarge! They all do!

Is the public entitled to hear what those hours of atrocities were, or was Jamail not being accurate, or did those IVAW members say thise things - and then let it go?

This is what I told you about when we first met here! The unsupported and undefined charges that hurt your country, will hurt the veterans and even get our folks killed, and does so in ways that you seem unable to get in spite of those who lived through it trying to tell you,

NAMedic said...

AS -
"My full-time job happens to be the US military . . . "

So why does the online WS testimony archive identify you this way:

"Former US Army Sgt. Selena Coppa . . . "

Army Sergeant said...

...that's a really good question, Namedic.

I think I'd know if I weren't in anymore, though. Given that I have orders saying I'm still supposed to report somewhere in a short while, I'm pretty sure that the Army hasn't discharged me and forgotten to tell me. I'm sure it's just someone's bonehead mistake in labeling. I'll try to find a contact I can shoot an email about it.

Dissenting Patriot said...


As I've said before, if the government wants to take down names and statements that is their prerogative. IVAW is not the government. IVAW does not have the authority to put people under oath or hold a trial. All IVAW members can do is relate their experiences to the American public and let people judge for themselves. If working within the system worked there would never have been a Winter Soldier, but to reiterate, when the corruption starts at the top it affects the political/military establishment at all levels.

On March 24 at 8:13PM you wrote: "I am asking why there have been so many IVAW members who have leveled charges and made accusations PUBLICLY and in the name of IVAW - who either didn't show or changed or dropped the stories?"

Again, there are a number of possible reasons for this. Here are a few: (1) The psychological stress of testifying publicly; (2) fear of legal repercussions (3) lack of corroborating evidence, either due to the inaccessibility of witnesses or their unwillingness to corroborate and risk reprisal from the chain-of-command.

Have you given any of these possibilities their due consideration? I think not. Again, you are predisposed to discredit IVAW and its members. What does this say about your credibility?

I haven't read the Dahr Jamail articles you cited, but I will say that, in general, journalistic integrity mandates that journalists make every effort to verify first- or second-hand accounts and should clearly specify when they haven't been verified as follows: "According to so happened...." and perhaps add the disclaimer, "This could not be independently verified." Journalists should also ask their sources to define what they mean or elaborate with examples when they use words such as "atrocity" "war crime", etc., so that people are presented with an accurate impression.

NAMedic said...

DP -

All you need to make an affadavit is a Notary Public, a couple of dollars for her fee and some personal identification.

What you are saying is the world should just take their word for it.

Sorry, it's not going to happen. And, actually, I'm not sorry.

Based on the experience of VVAW's first WS, anything that is not corroborated by real evidence must be presumed to be false. Anything that is not supported by real evidence is objectively meaningless in any case.

VVAW complaned about a lack of coverage by major media, just like IVAW now does. The reason major media won't cover this kind of propaganda festival is they have some standards of credibility - albeit watered down a lot from what they once were.

All that reasonable people expect is this minimum level of standards from IVAW. Whatever excuses you want to dream up for failing to meet these standards - knock yourself out. Convene a panel and invent/present as many speculative excuses as you wish.

About Jamail, your naievete in assuming he is a "journalist" is touching.

Dissenting Patriot said...


Thanks for the tip about the Notary Public. I'm not sure if anyone actually thought of that.


Army Sergeant said...

I don't think the notary public will fly for a military affidavit, but I'd have to give it another look.

Denis: I think something you really need to consider was how much time everything took. Many panelists were limited to fifteen to twenty minutes, or less if other panelists ran long. Many panelists could have had hours of stories, but they were limited on what they could say.

I know logistics aren't a glamourous reason, but they certainly are and were probably the most pressing reason. Those of us who worked logistics at the event were kept busy morning until night, and that's with the truncated testimonies that did take place. We also had a limited amount of days.

I expect more testimonies to continue to come forward as the Winter Soldier Project continues.

Also, Namedic, KPFA has gotten my actual testifier bio. I'm not sure where they grabbed the last one from.

streetsweeper95B said...

army sergeant said: "I don't think the notary public will fly for a military affidavit, but I'd have to give it another look."

Ehhhhhh......Sarge.... a sworn & filed affidavit is just that...sworn & filed, matter of public record & only done with a clerk of whatever district court or county clerk period. As long as its notorized by either a public notory or clerk of district court, it counts....sorry cutie!