Saturday, March 15, 2008

Winter Soldier: Bitter Truths From Those Who Know

This weekend, as we approach the fifth anniversary of the American invasion of a defenseless oil-rich country which never threatened us, Iraq Veterans Against the War are presenting the testimonies of soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and of civilians who have lived through the invasion and occupation of their country.

The event is called "Winter Soldier", and you can watch it happen (or watch archived video) here.

Apparently it isn't worth a mention in our allegedly liberal "paper of record".
Your search - "winter soldier" - did not match any documents.
But Saturday's Washington Post has a piece on page B1, the web version of which (much to the WaPo's credit) actually links to the IVAW website!

The WaPo piece, by Steve Vogel, gives the Pentagon a chance to speak, and cleverly leaves no doubt as to the value of the verbiage.
A Defense Department spokesman said he had not seen the allegations raised yesterday but added that such incidents are not representative of U.S. conduct.

"When isolated allegations of misconduct have been reported, commanders have conducted comprehensive investigations to determine the facts and held individuals accountable when appropriate," Lt. Col. Mark Ballesteros said.
How laughable this would be if it were not so tragic. Mark Ballesteros hasn't even seen the allegations but he can already assure us that they're false!

This is an unprovoked war of aggression -- the invasion and occupation of a defenseless, non-threatening country -- the ultimate crime against humanity. That's not an isolated allegation of misconduct; that's a fact!

The so-called "War on Terror" is in fact a barbaric assault on several foreign countries simultaneously (Afghanistan and Iraq directly, and Somalia and Pakistan by proxy, with even more countries in the cross-hairs). It has killed at least a million people and ruined the lives of millions and millions of others. And all the reasons officially given for it have turned out to be not just false but ludicrous!

It's a crime of monstrous proportions, and the individuals who ought to be held accountable are still at large. But instead we get this ... so let's wait a while and see whether Lt. Col. Mark Ballesteros can stuff his head all the way up into his small intestine. Oh, my mistake! There was no need to wait!

Vogel's piece bends over backwards to go the "fair and balanced" route, giving plenty of space to obvious liars of all types. But that seems to be the price of admission in post-democratic America, so it's not surprising.

And yet, the article also includes some nuggets of truth.
Former Marine Jon Turner began his presentation by ripping his service medals off his shirt and tossing them into the first row. He then narrated a series of graphic photographs showing bloody victims and destruction, bringing gasps from the audience. In a matter-of-fact voice, he described episodes in which he and fellow Marines shot people out of fear or retribution.

"I'm sorry for the hate and destruction I've inflicted upon innocent people," Turner said. "Until people hear about what is happening in this war, it will continue."
I couldn't agree more, and in fact this is the key reason why the government and the "news" media don't want us to know what is happening in this war.

Not just this war, of course: they don't want us to know what happens in any war. If everybody thought Rambo was realistic, the warmongers would be very happy. They do their best to control what we see, and it works very well for them, unless we go looking.

So we can't just sit passively and watch TV, or go to Hollywood movies for our worldly education. If we want the truth about what our country does in the world, we have to pay attention to the people who have done it, and listen carefully to the people to whom it was done.
Two former soldiers who served with the 1st Armored Division described an attack by an AC-130 "Spectre" gunship [photo] on an apartment building in southern Baghdad that they said took place Nov. 13, 2003.

"It was the most destructive thing I've seen, before or since," said [Cliff] Hicks, one of the soldiers.

"These are not bad people, not criminals and not monsters," said [Hicks]. "They are people being put in horrible situations, and they reacted horribly."
Horrible is right! And the most horrible aspect is that there is no reason for any of these horrible situations -- unless you count the part where we lost control of our electoral system, or the part where the real news vanished from our "news" media, or the fear generated by obvious false-flag terror, or the stupidity that somehow in modern America acts like a gas and fills all the available space.

Other than these relevant yet unrelated issues, there's no good reason for any of our soldiers to be in any horrible positions.

Unless you count the oil.
Adam Kokesh, a student at George Washington University who served with the Marine Corps in Iraq, said Marines were often forced to make snap decisions about whether to fire on civilians.

"During the siege of Fallujah, we changed our rules of engagement more often than we changed our underwear," he said.

On the screen, a photograph showed him posing next to a burned-out car in which an Iraqi man was killed after approaching a Marine checkpoint.

"At the first Winter Soldier in 1971, one of the testifiers showed a picture like this and said, 'Don't ever let your government to do this to you,' " Kokesh said. "And still the government is doing this."
The people of Iraq and Afghanistan are not the only ones suffering, and they're not the only ones whose suffering has been mostly hidden from us:
At a session on shortcomings in veterans' health care, audience members sobbed as Joyce and Kevin Lucey described the suicide of their son, Marine Cpl. Jeffrey Lucey, a death they blamed on his inability to get treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Mental health specialists were on hand to help speakers and audience members, and a workshop was offered on PTSD.
The veterans who participate in Winter Soldier will undoubtedly be smeared forever for having told a few minutes of truth.

Such is life in post-democratic America.
Those who spoke yesterday described the experience as intimidating.

"It was terrifying for me," said Steven Casey, a former 1st Armored Division specialist from Missouri who also described the AC-130 attack. "I knew somebody needed to hear it. All I wanted to do is say what I saw. I'm not accusing anyone of a crime."
From the look of the IVAW site at the moment, a lot of people need to hear it.