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Monday, July 23, 2007

Winter Soldier Part 2, 3, 4, etc - Updated

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Everyone is up in arms about the article in The New Republic by the "Iraq war vet" Scott Thomas who wrote of disgusting and vile behavior by the US Military in Iraq. While everybody is trying to figure out who Scott Thomas really is and how much of his story is made up (my guess- 97%), a similar article by The Nation is flying under the radar.

The article, "The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness", was written by Chris Hedges and Laila Al-Arian. The name Al-Arian should sound familiar. Laila Al-Arian is the daughter of Prof. Sami Al-Arian who was deported for conspiring with terrorists and raising funds for terrorist organizations disguised as charities. Anything written by Al-Arian is immediately suspect and reeks of an underlying agenda.

Hedges and Al-Arian claim to have interviewed 50 Iraq war vets about their experiences killing civilians in Iraq. Actually the interviews were conducted under the guise of general experiences in Iraq. (Click here to read Paul Rieckhoff's, Director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America - IAVA, complaint letter to The Nation). The authors claim that fact checkers were employed to verify the stories by the Vets and their military service records. They also claim they tried to get responses from an equal number of "pro-war" organizations without much success.

But when you tally up the actual names of people quoted in the article, there are only 29 vets identified by names. Of the 29, 48% are members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) while 6% are members of Vets for Freedom. The rest of the numbers break down like this... 24% IAVA members and 17% had no "official" ties to any organization per a Google search.

See if some of these names ring a bell.... Geoffrey Millard, Garett Reppenhagen, Kelly Dougherty Jeff Englehart, Camilo Meija, Aidan Delgado and Michael Harmon. These are some of the more "active" anti-war activists involved with IVAW. Anytime there is a news piece about an anti-war protest or hunger strike or "street theater" protests, you'll find at least one of these names.

The basic gist of their stories falls in line with Scott Thomas' fable. Tales of children mowed down by Humvees, dogs killed for no reason, desecration of dead bodies, murder at checkpoints, kicking in doors, terrorizing the civilians, planting weapons and shovels beside victims of US murder, etc etc ad nauseum. It's as if we've jumped into a time travel machine and gone back to John Kerry's "Genghis Khan" speech.

Now in all fairness I cannot say without a doubt that some of the events described are figments of an overactive imagination. I am not so naive that I think all soldiers behave appropriately at all times. BUT I do question the more lurid events and the indiscriminate murder of civilians. I believe that this continuous drumbeat of supposed atrocities is nothing more than taking a page from the Winter Soldier hearings. You know the old 'claim atrocities so Americans will be disgusted and demand we leave the war' tactic that was so successful in ending the Vietnam War.

It's time for the truth. If there is documented proof of these acts or witnesses (not other IVAW members) that can attest to the validity of these claims, they should come forward. Otherwise we're just repeating a sad part of our history. It is a betrayal of the soldiers they claim to support and of a country that gives them the freedom to do so.

Word is starting to get out about this article. The Shield of Achilles does a great job "fisking" the claims. Jules Crittendon offers his take on the article and Chris Hedges.

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