Saturday, March 15, 2008

Saturday's Winter Soldier Investigation

Iraq Veterans Against the War Winter Soldiers Investigation continues today. The hearings opened Thursday, continued all day yesterday and are airing today and tomorrow. You can stream at the IVAW website or cath the broadcast n KPFA with Aimee Allison (co-host of the station's The Morning Show and co-author with David Solnit of Army Of None) and Aaron Glantz hosting and the KPFA live stream will also be available at Glantz' War Comes Home as well as on KPFK, WBAI and at the Pacifica Radio homepage. The times are nine in the morning until seven at night for Saturday and ten in the morning until four in the afternoon on Sunday that should apply to all Pacifica stations that are broadcasting the hearings. Viewing options and meet ups can be found at Iraq Veterans Against the War. (Dish Network is airing it on satellite TV as is Link TV today). Today's testimonies will cover discussions on gender and sexuality, racism and the 'other' to dehumanize the enemy and various costs of the illegal war. Sunday will cover how the US military is breaking under the strain of the wars and on the GI resistance. (Click here for a schedule.)

If you're not following the hearings, you're missing out on a lot. A soldier ripped apart the commendation David Petraeus gave him declaring, "General Petraeus, you pinned this on me in Babylon . . . I will no longer be a puppet for your personal gain and your political career."

You missed, on Friday, a young man tossing his dog tags and declaring, "F.U. I don't work for you no more." In yesterday's snapshot that's noted and a few e-mails came in asking if my comments about where they were thrown (out to the audience) and noting that they could be recovered if the man wanted to recover them was my say it was no big deal? No.

I was thinking of John Kerry who tossed medals and later asserted that they weren't his own medals. A lot of people who weren't there were just convinced they had to be his medals. The young man may, like Kerry, have some change of heart. If he ever does, we noted that they could be retrieved if he wanted to at a later time.

Hopefully he'll never want to. But John Kerry used to act brave and these days? In the latest of his long list of embarrassments, he refused to attend or even comment on the Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Maybe he had to do that. Maybe any kind of a reflection on his part would bring home to him just how damn little he's done to end this illegal war and how greatly he has betrayed the young man he once was?

If you're not following the hearings (and can -- if you don't have Dish TV, I don't believe closed caption is an option), you missed Camilo Mejia speaking on dehumanization, of how, "You remove the humanity from them to basically repress them, to beat them; and, doing so, you remove the humanity from yourself." Mejia shared the "blank spaces" that now exist in his memory such as the face of a child whose father had been decapitated with US machine gun fire.

"I remember," he declared, "seeing this young person standing next to the body of the father that was decapitated and, when I think about it, I cannot remember the expression on this child's face."

He stated he only knew about it "because people told me later that was the man's son."

He explained how you "erase certin memories that are too overwhelming, too painful to deal with. He called for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Iraq and noted that war was destroying "the humanity of US soldiers . . . and destroying the Iraqi people."

"The rules of engagment we operated under were very strict," Michael Leduc testified but then came the impending second slaughter of Falluja and "and this was all about to change." He saw the head of corpses be used by US service members to "sharpen the sights" of their rifles. Brian Casler discussed the negative pressure and the lack of positive pressure, the value placed on US lives and not on Iraqi lives.

You heard about Iraqi prisoners being beaten, being mocked, a US marine grabbing a hat off one, shoving it down the back of his pants and wiping himself with it, and then trying to feed it to the Iraqi.

Christopher Arendt testified about being stationed at the prison on Guantanamo Bay. Geoff Millard testified about generals using derogatory terms for Iraqis (the h-word) all the way up to General George Casey. If you're following the hearings, you're learning a lot. If you're not, why aren't you listening.

(For community members who are hearing disabled, Friday's transcription of most panels runs in Polly's Brew tomorrow, El Espirito will have the transcription of Saturday's panels.)

The New York Times not only doesn't cover it, they don't even offer a report filed from Iraq.
The Washington Post offers a read/watch option for their report. From the text report by Steve Vogel:

For some of the veterans speaking yesterday, the experience was catharsis.
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."
Winter Soldier is modeled after a well-known and controversial 1971 gathering of the same name at which veterans of the
Vietnam War gathered to describe alleged atrocities. John Kerry, then a young veteran, spoke at the Detroit event, which brought him to prominence. The soldiers' claims sparked lasting enmity, which resurfaced during Kerry's run for president in 2004.
The 2008 Winter Soldier will probably be no different. The event drew dozens of counter-protesters who were kept from the conference site at the National Labor College by a contingent of
Montgomery County police. Although entrance to the event was limited to participants and the media, one protester managed to slip in and walked toward the stage, interrupting a speaker.

Added: The following community sites have updated since yesterday morning:

Rebecca's Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Cedric's Cedric's Big Mix;
Kat's Kat's Korner;
Betty's Thomas Friedman is a Great Man;
Mike's Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine's Like Maria Said Paz;
Wally's The Daily Jot;
Trina's Trina's Kitchen;
Ruth's Ruth's Report;

All comment on the Winter Soldiers Investigation in their posts.

The e-mail address for this site is

aaron glantz