Contents: The Sir! No Sir! blog is an information clearing house, drawing on a wide variety of sources, to track the unfolding history of the new GI Movement, and the wars that brought the movement to life.
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On Nov. 26, 2008, AWOL US soldier André Shepherd applied for asylum in Germany. His tour of duty in Iraq caused him to acknowledge that he could no longer take part in an illegal war which is contrary to the international laws of human rights. Because he does not fit the American military regulations´ definition of a consientious objector, he decided to go Absent Without Leave and apply for asylum in Germany. In his application he pointed to the directive of the European Union, from October 2006. With this directive persons are to be protected who remove themselves from such wars or actions which are against human rights, and then must fear persecution.
Currently, André Shepherd is waiting for a decision from the German migration authorities concerning his application for asylum. Now he needs political and financial support.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Robert Smith in Washington. Neil Conan is away.
Two days ago, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced that the commander of American forces in the Middle East, Admiral William Fallon, will retire early. Officials have suggested that his public disagreement with elements of the president's foreign policy led to his resignation. There's a profile of Admiral Fallon in the most recent issue of esquire magazine.
The article quotes from an interview he did with Al Jazeera. The constant drumbeat of conflict about a potential war with Iran, he said, is not helpful and not useful. Going on with the quote, I expect that there will be no war, he added, and that is what we ought to be working for.
This wasn't the first time Fallon has been willing to speak his mind. His called for more troop drawdown in Iraq, and said the military is neglecting it's mission in Afghanistan.
The retirement of Admiral William Fallon has raised many questions about dissent in the military. Is it acceptable for a man or woman in uniform to criticize a mission - privately, publicly, in uniform or out? We want to hear from our listeners who serve or who have served in the military. Did you ever speak out? And if you didn't, what held you back?
Tell us your story. Our number here in Washington is 800-989-8255. Our e-mail address is [email protected] And you can also comment on our blog, it's at npr.org/blogofthenation.
Later this hour, "Ask Amy" columnist Amy Dickinson will be here to talk about spousal duty in the face of betrayal. When should you stand by your man or woman, and when should you walk away?
But first, dissent in the military. Joining us now is retired General Robert Scales. He served in the Army for more than 30 years. And he's joining us now by phone from Norfolk, Virginia.
General Scales, good to have you with us.
General ROBERT SCALES (Retired, U.S. Army): Hi, Robert. Good to be here.
SMITH: So do you think that Admiral Fallon's comments about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and about the prospects of a war with Iran went directly against the Bush administration?
Gen. SCALES: Oh, I think they weren't terribly congruent to what the administration was saying. But I think the issue here is not what he said so much as how he said it and the atmospherics that sort of surrounded the way he said it and - oh, by the way, also who the audience was and who he spoke it to.
SMITH: Well, what do you mean by that? The atmospherics and the controversies surrounding this?
Gen. SCALES: Well, I mean, there is a long tradition in the American military that if you're a commander, there - you have a very, very broad opportunity to dissent inside the institution when decisions are being made. And that if once the decisions are made, then your obligation is to support the decision or support the policy or the operation or whatever it happens to be. And your other course of action is to retire or resign and carry on your dialogue outside of uniform. And over the - and this is uniquely American. This is the way the American - a way civil military relations has work since the Civil War, and we've had several very famous generals who've been cashiered, you know, obviously, George McClellan during the Civil War, Douglas MacArthur after Korea, who chose to speak out publicly against the administration policy that they disagreed with while they were in uniform.
SMITH: Well, let's talk about the line here. Certainly, we would expect, I mean, we would require our military commanders, when speaking to their commander in chief or a commander above them, to speak their mind, right?
Gen. SCALES: Absolutely. Absolutely. Without a question.
SMITH: Now, can they - if they disagree with something their commander does or commander in chief, can they talk with members of perhaps another branch of the military...
Gen. SCALES: Of course.
SMITH: ...talk to their men?
Gen. SCALES: Of course. Well, no, that - the senior leadership of the military is very much like a, I guess, you'd almost attempt to call it something like a club. And as long as you keep the conversations inside the club, you can be just as free to dissent as vociferously and as passionately as you desire. It's only when you go outside the confines of the command authorities in the military and begin to speak in public and your views are counter to the administration is when you've crossed the line.
SMITH: Now what about to Congress? That could be seen as speaking publicly but they have a certain responsibility.
Gen. SCALES: No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. Look at the law. The law is very, very specific. The first thing a senior officer says - and I testify it, I know - is you must raise your right hand and swear that the opinions that you're about to give are yours and are freely given. And so when you talk to Congress, you have the full authority - legal authority to speak your mind freely and openly, and I've done that many times.
SMITH: Now, have other officers gotten in trouble for not following this line?
Gen. SCALES: Of course. We have a rich history. The admiral in 1941, who went against Roosevelt's decision to move the Pacific fleet from San Diego to Pearl Harbor because he thought it was a stick in the eye of the Japanese, was cashiered by Roosevelt. We're all very familiar with the Truman-MacArthur controversy where MacArthur wanted to attack and recapture all of Korean and retaliate against the Chinese. He was cashiered. The most famous, of course, was the famous Lincoln-McClellan controversy after the Battle of Antietam. When McClellan went public to criticize Lincoln's war policy and Lincoln fired McClellan.
This is very much an American - this is very American. Because in our society, the military must be subordinate to the administration. And it's been that way for 225 years. And that's one of the reasons why we're the only Western democracy to never been - that's never been governed by the military.
SMITH: We're talking about dissent in the military with General Robert Scales. We are going to try and get our listeners into this conversation.
Paige(ph) is with us from Tucson, Arizona. Go ahead, Paige.
PAIGE (Caller): Hello. I was in the Army for four years and sometimes the difficulty in the Army is that your get a direct order that you - but you also have a standing order to challenge orders that are illegal. And if the president is ignoring the Constitution, then that calls into a lot of his actions and decisions and judgments, and you have a responsibility to challenge illegal orders, and you have to protect yourself and the consequences.
SMITH: Well, General, does this - if you have an illegal order, is there a place you have to go to? Can you go to the press with that?
Gen. SCALES: No, it's different, that's different. Everything I've just said, everything I've just said before is a difference in policy and the way wars will be conducted. If it deals with things that are illegal, now that completely crosses the line and that's when a commander, even when in uniform, has the obligation - the moral obligation to speak out. I understand what this lady was saying. And she's absolutely right. And, oh, by the way, that goes for generals just as much as it does for anyone else. And of course the incident that always comes to mind about this was My Lai in 1968 where the incident of My Lai was covered up and the military and the nation suffered irreparable damage by simply trying to sweep it under the carpet.
SMITH: Thanks for your phone call, Paige.
Is it always clear when something is illegal and when something is a military member might just consider wrong?
Gen. SCALES: Oh, sure. I mean, read - the Uniform Code of Military Justice is very explicit on that. If you are - if you have been ordered to perform an illegal act, you are not obligated to carry out. And the old saw about I was following orders doesn't apply anymore, and all you have to do is go an look at the Nuremberg War Crime Trials in 1947, '48 to see how a whole new dimension was created when the horrors of World War II were propagated in many ways by Axis generals who claimed after the war they were only following orders.
No, that's - the code of conduct for an officer is very, very explicit in that regard.
SMITH: The frustration for those of us in the media is that we want this rich public debate about military policies. We have it constantly. And we get views from all sides and we talk to people like yourself, a retired Army general. But at the same time, the people who know the most, who know that best, are members of the military. And it would be interesting if there were some way to get them into the public debate without necessarily going outside the chain of command, or do we just have to suck it up?
(Soundbite of laughter)
Gen. SCALES: Look, I don't think there is any major disagreement in policy - particularly as it regards to Iraq and Afghanistan - that hasn't, at one time or eventually, come out into the public media. That's not the issue here.
The issue is a commanding general publicly undermining, if you will, the policy of the administration through public pronouncements directly to the media. There's a difference between that and the famous now - now-famous and ubiquitous Pentagon leaks which occur all the time.
SMITH: with us now to talk more about what is allowed and what isn't within the military is Eugene Fidell. He teaches Military Law at Yale Law School and the Washington College of Law. And he joins us today by phone from his office in Washington D.C.
Welcome back to TALK OF THE NATION.
Prof. EUGENE FIDELL (Military Law, Yale Law School and Washington College of Law; President, National Institute of Military Justice): Nice to be back.
SMITH: So, when you join the military, do you forfeit some of your rights to speak out?
Prof. FIDELL: Well, forfeit is such a harsh word.
SMITH: You agree. You agree to give up certain rights, of course you do, right?
Prof. FIDELL: Yes. But, you know, a long paragraph has to follow. Really, we have, as General Scales correctly indicated, a wonderful tradition in our society of subordination of the military to the civilian leadership. We don't have a history of military coups, touch wood. And part of the overall package of relationships is that people who are in uniform, whether they're buck privates and seamen recruits or generals and admirals, will observe certain limits on their ability to exercise their constitutional rights to free speech.
You and I have, you know, largely untrammeled rights. In the military, it's a little different. For example, a person in the military cannot speak contemptuously - excuse me - an officer in the military cannot speak contemptuously to the president, the secretary of defense, the service secretary, certain other high officials. That doesn't apply to us. And that's one illustration of a situation where the constitutional right of free expression doesn't apply at least to the same extent for a personnel in uniform as it does to civilians.
SMITH: Well, you know, I visited West Point a few years ago and I was really surprised by how much West Point encouraged the cadets there to sort of have this rich discussion about foreign policy and direction. There were entire classes that had as their premise that perhaps what the military is doing was wrong and there are other ways to look at it.
So, clearly, the military has realized that there is a value to that kind of dissent, at least within the military, and to get critical thinking skills within their cadets, right?
Prof. FIDELL: Right. You need that in order to provide the kind of leadership that any modern military force requires. Of course, the military is not a debating society; it's not the Oxford Union. But there are situations in which dissent may not have quite the right, you know, flavor to it. But disagreement maybe not only appropriate but in some situations desirable. To give you an illustration...
SMITH: Oh, no. We need to take a quick break.
Prof. FIDELL: Okay.
SMITH: We're speaking with Eugene Fidell and General Robert Scales, and we're talking about dissent within the military. A little later we'll talk with a former Marine sergeant who founded a group that's meant to make dissent a little easier for men and women in uniform.
We want to hear from you. Our number here in Washington is 800-989-8255. You can send us e-mail, the address is talk@[email protected]
I'm Robert Smith. It's TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.
(Soundbite of music)
SMITH: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Robert Smith in Washington, sitting in today for Neal Conan.
We're talking about the rule of dissent within the armed forces. There are strict laws governing when military men and women can and cannot speak out on any number of issues, some are on the code conduct and some are culturally enforced.
Guiding us through those laws is General Robert Scales, retired Army general, and Eugene Fidell, he teaches Military Law at Yale Law School and the Washington College of Law.
General Scales has just a few more minutes to be with us. So I wanted to ask you first. Have you seen much of a change in the nature or amount of public dissent coming from the military especially during this war?
Gen. SCALES: Yes. I've seen less of it in this war - let me rephrase that - I've seen more dissent bubbling out indirectly in this war through the media and indirectly through, I guess, folks like me and those who are sort of attuned, I guess, if you will, to sort of the character of the discourse. And I see less and less coming out officially - that is elements of discussion and dissent coming through the chain of command, if you will, from the president on down to the ranks.
There's clearly less maneuver room, if you will, in this administration and during this war to express dissent officially or unofficially, for that matter, than there have been in previous wars.
SMITH: General, we want to take one phone call while you're still on the line. Paul(ph) joins us. Paul is on the air from Parma, Ohio. Go ahead, Paul.
PAUL (Caller): Hi, how are you doing today, sir?
SMITH: Fine. Go ahead.
PAUL: I do not believe that general or Adm. Fallon should have gone public with his comments. I spent 18 years in the United States Marine Corps and although I did not agree many, many times with my superiors and their orders, I don't believe that I should have gone public with any comments about it. If I did, I may as well, as a leader - and this holds specially true if you ask me - with officers, specially high-ranking officers, you may as well just go right before your troops and tell your troops, I don't agree with the orders. We got to carry them out, but I don't agree with the orders. You just shouldn't do that. That does not add for good discipline and good morale.
SMITH: And, you know, General, that's not true just in the military. You get that advice as a manager in any organization, going - passing orders through, yeah.
PAUL: I worked at a large corporation and we even have within the corporation regulations regarding comments about the company in public - you can get fired and that's a legal thing, if I'm not mistaken. They can hold your feet to the fire outside of work if you make disparaging comments about the company.
SMITH: Absolutely. What do you think, General?
Gen. SCALES: Well, first of all, war is not about making a profit. When wars are fought, lives are lost, and so it is a very, very form - a very, very serious form of human endeavor.
And one of the things - I'm also in the corporate world, and one of the things I've noticed to the gentleman's point is that the quality of dissent and foment(ph) and oftentimes the passion of the argument both before, during, and after a war within the military is much, much richer than it is corporate America simply because the stakes are so high, and all you have to do is rifle through any number of publications or listen to public speeches and pronouncements and read the wires to see how rich the discourse is, literally, from private all the way to four-star general.
SMITH: Thank you very much for your call, Paul. And thank you General Robert Scales. We appreciate that you are retired Army general and you can speak your mind. Thanks for joining us.
Gen. SCALES: Thank you, Robert.
SMITH: With us now is Eugene Fidell from Yale Law School and the Washington College of Law. We touched about this a little bit with General Scales, but have you seen a change in military culture about the type of dissent allowed and the amount?
Prof. FIDELL: Oh. I think - yes. I - and let me say that I think his comments have been right on target. I had a sense though that there were other aspects of this that people weren't focusing on.
For example, the current war is the first one of what - let's call the cell phone era. So opportunities for communication - or the Internet era...
SMITH: Yeah. MySpace. Facebook, that sort of thing. Yeah.
Prof. FIDELL: ...opportunities for communication are much different. It's the first war of the digital camera era. So, you know, this does have an effect. Also, remember - and here contrasting with the situation during the war in Vietnam - there's no conscription, we don't have a draft. So everybody who's currently in the service is there - you know, they - not necessarily everybody wants to be there right now, but there are people who came in to the service voluntarily.
The other thing that I think is worth mentioning is that we have, over the last several decades, let's say, had a substantial growth in the number of officers with very advanced degrees. There were a lot of Ph.D.s in the service. These are people who are used to doing independent work, independent thinking, independent study, and some of them are going to be written off as gifted mavericks - wonderful image. But, you know, others contribute to the robustness of debate within the military community. So that's a change, I think.
SMITH: Well, that's what happens when you have a professional Army, any profession part of being a professional is having a lot of opinions and having an invested stake...
Prof. FIDELL: It's true.
SMITH: ...in how things turn out. On this topic, I wanted to go to now to Liam Madden, and he joins us. He served in the Marine Corps for four years and now he is a student at Northeastern University in Boston. He cofounded a group called Appeal for Redress while he was a Marine.
Liam Madden is with us studio at WBUR, a member station in Boston. Thanks for being here.
Mr. LIAM MADDEN (Cofounder, Appeal for Redress; Former Marine): Thank you for having me, Robert.
SMITH: I understand you were in Iraq in 2005, right?
Mr. MADDEN: That's correct. I served in Iraq in Haditha in September 2004 through February of 2005.
SMITH: Did you speak out against the war when you were actually deployed there?
Mr. MADDEN: No. At the time, I felt that my biggest commitment was to the people around me and to ensure that I did my job as best as I could. And that's kind of a personal decision that every person who is serving overseas has to make at that time.
SMITH: But when you came back, did you speak out against the war while in uniform?
Mr. MADDEN: I spoke out against the war - I cofounded this petition of over 2,000 service members who asked Congress to end the war while I was still in the Marine Corps. But the Uniform Code of Military Justice actually cites that you can't do it while in uniform, while on base or while on duty. So, although I was serving as an active duty Marine, I never did it representing - I never spoke out representing the Marine Corps or the Department of Defense. I did it off duty.
SMITH: Now, of course, the media may not take this as a - you may have obeyed the letter of the law and found a loophole for that, but clearly the media would treat this as someone who is in the military, who disagrees with the policies of the military.
Mr. MADDEN: Well, I think it's interesting that you say loophole. I think it's actually a protection that's afforded to members of the military because that's exactly what Americans who expect people who take the oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States to be allowed to do, to be able to speak out on behalf of their conscience and do what is right, and that is the highest authority we have is the Constitution. Our duty is to protect that.
SMITH: Eugene Fidell, who is a professor of Military Law, has this been tested in the courts? Does a military member have all the protections for the constitution at all times?
Prof. FIDELL: Well, the answer is no. At times, issues have bubbled up. I remember there was a famous case during the Vietnam War of a junior officer who was engaged in a peace march in which he carried a sign accusing President Johnson of being a fascist. He misspelled the word fascist by the way, and he wasn't punished for bad spelling, but he was convicted at a court martial for treating President Johnson contemptuously or speaking of him contemptuously.
Other issues tend to come up from time to time. For example, there were issues as to whether a G.I. could have a bumper sticker that said, Impeach Nixon, around the time of the Watergate controversy. And it was determined by Army legal authorities that there was no provision on having such a bumper sticker. But it's - a great thing about our society is we're very creative about finding ways to express our view, sometimes in ways that are a little subversive.
SMITH: Well, let's have both of you stick around while we get some of our callers in the conversation. We go now to Ian(ph). Ian is in Blacksburg, Virginia. Hey, Ian.
IAN (Caller): Hello. It's very - I'm happy to be on the program. An issue that is, I think, missing is the difference between the (unintelligible). The Reality of the situation is, you're (unintelligible) being in the armed forces that everyone around you needs to know that you have their back and they have your back, and voicing dissent and voicing a contrary opinion, you are offering up a reception that that may not be the case.
Even for me right now to be on, you know, the air with you, it's a questionable thing for me. I don't know if anyone is going to hear this and I don't know what type of trouble this may cause.
SMITH: Well, thanks for your phone call, Ian. I'm going to take you off the line because we're having a little trouble hearing you. But I'm going to get Liam Madden to respond. Because you were sensitive to how your fellow military members felt while you were actually in the field but, you know, this is the modern age, anything you say can get back to them, and do you think about that when you're speaking on political issues?
Mr. MADDEN: Oh, I agree strongly with the sentiment that there's a big difference between the reality and the hypothetical and I think the reality here is that in the cases like Admiral Fallon resigning it's - in speaking out, it indicates that the reality of the situation is that there's a political entity in power that has a clear record of lying our nation into conflicts. And the reality, in my opinion, is I want a leader that is bold enough and the has the courage enough to not sit on his hands during a reality like that. So reality is an important part to infuse into this scenario and I think it leads me, personally, to the conclusion that we are on a dire situation and we can't be embroiled in any more conflicts based on lies.
And that as a soldier, as a Marine, as a service member, it's the highest priority leaders have, is to ensure that when you sign up for the United States Armed Forces, you do so with trust that your government will put you in harms way only when it is just and only when it is necessary. And that's a trust that's extremely important, and protecting that is just as important to maintaining the sanctity of the oath of services as any other.
SMITH: Let's speak with Fred(ph). Fred is in Wyoming. You're on the air, Fred.
FRED (Caller): Yes, Robert, thanks for taking my call. I served in Iraq as well in April of '04 to April of '05, and I believe that we definitely need to help more dissent within the ranks because ultimately more dissent leads to a more informed policy. And there are troubles within each command to bring the dissent up. I don't believe it's appropriate to go the media directly, but if and when your dissent isn't being taken seriously within your command I think it's up for you - you might want to think taking it outside.
SMITH: Well, thanks for your phone call. Let's go to Bob(ph) now. Bob is in Minneapolis.
BOB (Caller): Good afternoon. I have a question concerning the use - possible use of the classification system by vigorous people trying to restrain their subordinates. If they classify things top secret, it would restrain the subordinates from testifying before open members of Congress. The Congress would go into closed session. Who passes on the eligibility of those members of closed session to hear classified information and could this be used to restrain the passage of information from the military to the Congress? Thank you.
SMITH: Thanks, Bob. Eugene Fidell, you want to take that question?
Prof. FIDELL: Well, certainly members of Congress, particularly members of the committees that are concerned with military and national security issues, do have a clearances and the clearances are given by the executive branch, obviously. Is there a danger of manipulation by withholding a clearance? I don't think that's a significant danger. But I think there is a problem of over-classification. I think things are classified too easily and it's very difficult to get an outside source, let's say, to look over the executive branch's shoulder and say, you know, you classified acts not because it's really national security at risk but because it might be embarrassing. And that kind of thing is very hard to poke into from outside.
SMITH: You are listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.
Liam Madden, I wanted to ask you a question because I think people - even people who want to hear some forms of dissent publicly might think there's a line which gets crossed, which is, at some point, do you want to hear all of the tactics and military strategy basically debated at the highest levels and in the media. At some point, the unified command isn't there anymore if everything is being run through leaks and statements and press conferences.
Mr. MADDEN: Well, I don't think that necessarily tactics should be open for discussion publicly. I think that's something that - it doesn't make any sense at all to have the government openly discussing what kind of methods we would use to fight a war...
SMITH: To the (unintelligible) policy.
Mr. MADDEN: Exactly. I think that the reality of the situation is that our government has a history of bringing us into conflicts when it is unjust, when it's unnecessary. And that, one of the first lines of defense is a vigilant and, you know, honestly courageous officer corps, enlisted ranks of the military being what is historically been referred to as winter soldiers, people who stand up in times of crisis, during the country's darkest hour and does what's difficult to do but necessary. And I think that is being repeated - it was repeated from Shays' Rebellion - soldiers coming back after the revolution and demanding, you know...
SMITH: Liam we want to try and get one last phone call. Michael(ph) joins us now. Michael is in Oklahoma City. Go ahead.
MICHAEL (Caller): Yes. Hello. I'm Michael in Oklahoma City. I'm a National Guardsman. Just last year, I spent a year in Afghanistan and what I've discover it overtime is it's a lot easier to defend in-house, within the ranks. When I was coming up through the ranks in the 90's as a junior enlisted soldier, it was fairly irritating to hear your superiors say things along lines of, well, if you don't vote for this guy, you know, you're an idiot, or well, I'm not going to have anybody of this particular political persuasion in my squad or my platoon, I'm going to get rid of them.
Today, you know, what I noticed in Afghanistan was it was lot easier for me to talk with my superiors. There was a much more of a common goal and respect for other opinions, you know, to a certain point. I mean, you know, with how you deal with your superiors, of course that never changes. But I guess what I found is that it's more valued internal to the Army. And doing it externally is still frowned upon it. It doesn't matter what everybody thinks about the current of situation. We're given an order, we salute and move out.
SMITH: All right. Thank you very much, Michael. We have run out of time on this. But Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice. He teaches military law at Yale Law School. Thanks for joining us.
Prof. FIDELL: My pleasure.
SMITH: And Liam Madden is a former Marine sergeant. He is a cofounder of Appeal for Redress. He joined us from the studios of member station WBUR in Boston. Thanks, Liam.
Mr. MADDEN: Take care.
SMITH: Coming up, Silda Wall Spitzer stood next to her man as he admitted to what he call private failings. Should you stand by your spouse when he or she lands on the hot seat? It's time for our weekly visit from 'Ask Amy's' Amy Dickinson. We'll talk about betrayed spouses next.
I'm Robert Smith. It's TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.
“Only The Fear Of Mass Action By Enlisted Men And Women Can Prevent Retaliation. Veteran And Civilian Support Is Imperative”
By Jonathan W. Hutto, Sr. GIvoice.org.
Navy Petty Officer Jonathan Hutto is a founding member of Appeal for Redress. He can be contacted at [email protected] This is an excerpt from Anti-War Soldier: How to Dissent Within the Ranks of the Military, forthcoming from Nation Books.
On November 9, 1969, The New York Times published an open appeal by 1,365 active-duty service members calling for an end to the Vietnam War and for no punishment for participating in the historic Vietnam Moratorium march.
The petition of these soldiers, representing 80 bases and ships throughout the world, had a huge impact and helped establish the (limited) civil liberties and rights GIs have today.
The members of the GI Movement risked their careers and personal security by signing this petition and participating in subsequent actions.
One of those signers was David Cortright, who went on to write Soldiers in Revolt, the definitive 1975 chronicle of the GI Movement. He was part of an activist group of GIs at Fort Hamilton, New York.
Thirty-five of the 60 personnel in his company signed the petition and several traveled to Washington, D.C. for the historic march.
I contacted David to arrange for a community meeting with some of my civilian and active-duty colleagues in June 2006 in Norfolk, Virginia. Its success led us to ponder whether something similar could be organized around the Iraq War. We wanted to build a movement where service members could express their dissent in a legal, constructive way. I began researching the rights and responsibilities of active-duty service members. The most comprehensive source I found was the website for the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors (CCCO), which was very helpful in determining the limits for GIs in petitioning their government for redress of grievances.
I also found an old leaflet from the Military Project, an organization based out of New York, which seeks to educate active-duty service members about their civil liberties and constitutional rights.
The leaflet had several DOD directives that listed limited rights to express dissent:
DOD Directive 7050.6: Military Whistle-blower Protection Act
This Act is the foundation for the Appeal For Redress, our organization. It establishes that every soldier can communicate individually with a member of Congress and Inspector General (IG) without reprisal. Punishment constitutes a violation of Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Failure to Obey Order or Regulation. Once a reprisal is initiated, the soldier can file a complaint with an IG and seek redress from his Commanding Officer (CO). If the CO fails to provide it, the military member has the right to file an Article 138 complaint against the CO seeking redress and restoration to the member of any rights, privileges, property or status to which the member would have been entitled had the wrong not occurred.
Guidelines for Handling Dissident and Protest Activities Among Members of the Armed Forces: This directive explained how to conduct the redress campaign.
Distributing newspapers and/or publications: Soldiers can distribute newspapers—even ones critical of government—at official outlets on base such as post exchanges and military libraries.
Publication of Underground Newspapers: A member of the military may write for an underground publication if it is done off duty and on nonmilitary equipment. Articles in the publication may not contain slanderous language that is punishable under federal law.
Participation in political demonstrations: Soldiers can participate in political demonstrations while off base, off duty, in the United States, out of uniform and not acting on behalf of the military. Military members cannot attend demonstrations where violence is likely to occur.
DOD directive 1344.10: Political Activities by Members of the Armed Forces on Active Duty: Military members:
may express their personal views on political and social issues.
may make monetary contributions to a political organization.
may attend political meetings, rallies, or conventions when not in uniform.
may write a letter to a newspaper editor expressing personal views on public issues.
are prohibited from making a contribution to and soliciting or receiving a contribution from another member of the armed forces or a civilian officer or employee of the United States to promote a political cause, including a political campaig
are prohibited from using contemptuous words against officeholders and government officials.
DOD Directive 1354.01: DOD Policy on Organizations That Seek to Represent or Organize Members of the Armed Forces in Negotiation or Collective Bargaining. Military members may:
join or maintain membership in any lawful organization or association not constituting a “military labor organization.”
present grievances concerning the terms or conditions of the service of such member in accordance with established military procedures.
petition the Congress for redress of grievances.
The Strom Thurmond Anti-Union Law
In 1976 the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) was considering a union drive in the military. The drive was based on the recent GI Movement and the American Service Members Union (ASU), the first attempt to organize a service members union within the United States.
At its height in 1970 the ASU had 15,000 members. Although it had all but disappeared by 1973, with GI activists being discharged and transferred in the thousands, the ASU was a bold example of the political potential of lower-ranking GIs (it was solely for lower-level troops).
Strom Thurmond led the charge to outlaw unionization and organizing within the military when he introduced S. 3079 during the 94th Congress. Before the bill was signed, the military made it law in October of 1977 through the establishment of DOD Directive 1354.1, prohibiting all forms of “collective job-related action” within the ranks and banning union solicitation on base. The directive prohibits soldiers from joining, maintaining or soliciting membership in a labor organization and from striking.
The Appeal for Redress, however, has shown that active-duty troops can express themselves legally to the government and civil society at large. Using the limited rights we have under the Military Whistle-blower Protection Act and DoD regulations, we mobilized more than 2,000 U.S. military members in 10 countries to send appeals to their congressional members to end the Iraq War.
But there are limitations to our work.
Commanders do not legally have to recognize active-duty organizations. Many soldiers are unaware of their political options. Most fear potential reprisals for speaking out. Not breaking any laws does not prevent retaliation by the brass.
Only the fear of mass action by enlisted men and women can prevent retaliation.
The Appeal for Redress is a model for a successful GI movement for the 21st century. Human Rights training in boot camp and the support of the veteran/civilian community are key to success.
Human rights training in boot camp. Boot camp is where service members must receive a firm grounding on all of their rights and responsibilities.
They must be educated about their rights under Article 138 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and their right to seek out an IG to correct misconduct by the chain of command and to appeal to higher authority if the wrong has not been addressed. These complaints are sent to the General Court-Martial Convening Authority, comprised of general and/or flag officers.
Unlike Equal Opportunity advisors, IGs are independent of the command structure, DoD civilians mandated by federal law to investigate and report to commanders on mission performance, discipline, efficiency and the morale of the armed forces. They do not have the authority to correct the wrong, but their findings carry weight with commanders.
Veteran and civilian support is imperative.
The appeal’s success was largely due to the support of major veteran peace organizations, which formed a task force that supported the troops in terms of supplies, contacts, legal support and overall coordination.
Civilian activists and community organizers were also instrumental.
The Military Project, a civilian organization in New York City, provided key support in their publications.
It is my hope that with the support of these peace activists, the appeal will develop into a permanent active-duty support network.
This network must work with influential, established nongovernmental organizations and members of Congress. Organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and Amnesty International USA (AI) can be effective in helping GIs maintain, enhance, and become educated about their civil liberties.
The ACLU can help publish manuals that educate GIs on their rights; the NAACP can help organize hearings with the Congressional Black Caucus addressing the surge in Nazis and white supremacists joining the military. Former California Congressman Ron Dellums used his position on the House Armed Services Committee to investigate racism and other misconduct within the military in the wake of hate crimes committed by troops in the early nineties.
This type of advocacy is needed today from Congress. AI can help the GI movement by challenging the unionization ban using the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR). Countries such as South Africa, Belgium and Australia grant their troops unionization rights.
The history of social justice movements demonstrates that when all legal means are exhausted, those seeking relief will use unsanctioned strategies if the government fails to act.
During the struggle for the abolition of slavery in the 1800s, the denial of Dred Scott’s human rights in 1857 led to John Brown’s raid in 1859.
During the Vietnam era, the brutality of Chicago’s police against antiwar demonstrators in 1968 led to a mass movement against the war. The Appeal For Redress gives our leaders the platform to address the concerns of GIs before they lose faith in their government.
The last blog entry published here reproduced Denis Keohane's "A Vietnam Vet Replies to IVAW' video". This was followed by a robust discussion between the active duty/IVAW blogger Army Sergeant, Denis Keohane and a number of his regular readers. Here is that discussion:
Discussion about "A Vietnam Vet Replies to IVAW's Video" Obiter Dictum, Monday, February 24, 2008
February 24, 2008 3:40 PM - Army Sergeant said... I respect Mr. Boyle's service, and I would address him by rank had you included it here, but I do not see it, which is my only reason for addressing him with a (respected) civilian honorific.
I understand that he also is angry at the Winter Soldier which took place previously, and that his anger touches his words.
But I think that his anger also colours his opinion as well. He assumes the photos are being used to show atrocities for no real reason, unrelated to the witnesses. This is incorrect. The reason these photos are included is that these are photos which were taken of and by the units those individuals served with. They were their personal pictures, and they were included to show the war as seen through these individual's eyes. That is why positive as well as negative images were included. The pictures illustrate what those units saw-and saw well enough to photograph.
I am also saddened that Mr. Boyle assumes that soldiers and marines who are saddened by their experiences show 'forced angst'. I have been beside some of my fellows as they were racked with nightmares. I have taken the phone calls in the middle of the night. This is experience common to both IVAW members and non-IVAW members.
As a currently serving soldier, I see both sides, and the emotion from both sides, and I can say with certainty that the only difference between the words my fellow IVAW members said in the preview and words my fellow currently serving soldiers say among our brother soldiers is that one has a video and one does not.
I have sat in a room holding a friend of mine who was racked with sobs, because he was forced to kill a child. It was not an atrocity. The child had a weapon and was pointing it towards my friend. He did not know if the child would have fired or not. In his judgement, he could not afford to wait. Were his tears therapeutic narcissism? Was he any less a man because he shed them? I say no. He's not an IVAW member, my friend. He may never be. I don't know-I lost touch with him, and I haven't seen him again since we changed units. Nor do I care. Because he is no less my brother if he does support the war, and no more my brother if he does not. Nor are his tears and his pain any less real, no matter his political stance.
I respect Mr. Boyle's service, but I resent that assumption. I resent and am angered by the assumption that those who do not agree with him, those who, due to what they have seen through their own eyes happen to be against the war, are forcing pain and grief. No one forces pain. No one forces grief. I think my friends who made the video would far prefer to sleep easy of a night.
I'm glad that Mr. Boyle's medical unit was able to always give good service to those who required it-but such is not always the case. A chief warrant officer wrote in to the Army Times recently about being ordered not to medevac wounded because they might have taken fire in the doing so. That they were ordered not to risk their lives, even though their wish was to do exactly that.
Mr. Boyle's experience is not everyone's. It is not Jason Washburn's, or Steve Mortillo's. It is not Logan Laituri's.
All anyone can do is speak about what they see, what they feel. I cannot comment on Mr. Boyle's combat service, because I was not there and did not see. I do not understand why he feels he can comment on theirs. These men love their service. They love their country. They did good work. But they cannot support this war-and to see them mislabeled as engaging in 'therapeutic narcissism' wounds me. It wounds me deeply-and it does make me wonder if some gaps, after all, are too deep to heal. But perhaps, not the ones you were trying to show. February 24, 2008 3:46 PM - Army Sergeant said... I've got more on this, but I realized it's getting long-I'll post on my own blog a bit, later. February 24, 2008 5:01 PM - Denis Keohane said... Sarge, I believe you are missing some things. As you write “I understand that he also is angry at the Winter Soldier which took place previously, and that his anger touches his words”, it is long past time that you and IVAW simply acknowedge that it is you who have intentionally made and pounded in the connection! You have named the event precisely after the 1971 charade. IVAW’s own statements have linked them, repeatedly. Other sitesm like those of the VVAW and VFP and a host of IVAW supporting sites have done the same.
I watched the video, Sarge, and as most such are, it is themeatic. The same inmage can be shown in one way and then another, and because of how it is presented can carry a very different message. The old adage that pictures don’t lie was never correct. In video especially, what surrounds the image gives it context.
As to soldiers bearing scars and shedding tears at the things they have had to do and experienced, no one argues that such is not real or somehow diminishes the soldier. Yet IVAW, as an activist organization, has always sought to use such for political purpose, and the concern for the soldier from the organization on the whole is secondary at best. I know that will get a rise out of you, but the simple truth is shown in what you and I discussed here when we first met: IVAW only talks about atrocities, policies that lead to tragedy, and bad behavior when they can pin it on “our side”! If IVAW and you care about a soldier who has had his heart and soul torn because he killed a child carrying a gun, it is long past time that IVAW points some kind of anger and questioning at those who so put children in that position – the enemy!
“A chief warrant officer wrote in to the Army Times recently about being ordered not to medevac wounded because they might have taken fire in the doing so. That they were ordered not to risk their lives, even though their wish was to do exactly that.”
Sorry, Sarge, but you are apple and oranging! If this was a warrant officer, there was a chopper involved. It has been the case that choppers have had to be warned away from overly hot LZ’s because of the danger to the crew and the wounded they may actually get on the chopper. That does not compare to the story told in the video of an IVAW member saying medics would not treat an injured soldier triaged out of treatment. February 24, 2008 5:15 PM - NAMedic said...If you think IVAW is about your emotional trauma and they are going to honestly portray anything at this kangaroo court of theirs, then you are too naive to discuss this with - either that or your oozing soft sell here is a ploy to disarm those who can see through this whole political charade.
I've lived through this - and with this - before. Your mentors in VVAW played all these games before on the entire nation - all except the oh-so-victimized-I'm-so-gentled-out-now-you-be-nice-too peacenik gambit. That's new.
You can forget about using that one on me.
The last time this was done to Americans, by Americans, in America, in 1971 by the VVAW, an entire generation of veterans wound up dishonored, marginalized, delegitimized and shamed.The only way you could get straight with your countrymen was to turn on you comrades-in-arms, by doing something like joining VVAW. Fortunately, the vast majority of us stayed loyal to each other and waited for our countrymen to wake up to what had been pulled on them. We had to wait a long time. And it was all based on a lie. A propaganda campaign.
This is what you are involved in and what you defend here. If you have any honor or decency at all, get the hell out of it while you can. You say I "assume(s)" the photos are being used to show atrocities for no real reason . . ." Is that so? Pray do tell?
Which "atrocities" exactly do these picture show? Where? Committed by whom? When? Is that what they are? Is a guy in a suicide bomber vest with his head blown off the victim of an American atrocity? Is the Blackwater contractor burned to a crisp and about to be hung from a bridge the victim of an American atrocity?
Aside from the political dishonesty here, stringing a bunch of pictures together with no comment, no context, no nothing, is just a transparenmt manipulation of the audience, just from the standpoint of artistic criticism; forget about the politics. Fortunately for propagandists, it is a method that works on a lot of people who should be smarter.
If you are opposed to all war, fine. That's you're right. If you are opposed to this war, fine. That's your right. If you are, and you are still on active duty, you better apply for CO status before you wind up deployed and in an ethical dilemma you cannot resolve. That or get a discharge. I'm sure they will give you a good one if you are honest about your beliefs and inner conflicts.
But do not dare, do not ever again dare, to implicate American soldiers, and even worse ALL American soldiers, in criminal wartime actions unless you know what you say is true. Every word of it. Do not dare put the reputations and honor of American service members in the cross-hairs of your political agenda.
This entire fiasco is a nauseating and infuriating deja vu for millions of Vietnam veterans and millions of others who lived through the 1970's, and fortunately many of the latter have since woken up.
You and your cohorts are not going to pass off your mush-headed Marxist reducated pity-pot party/slasher flick on us. It is not going to wash. If you had any real interest in truth and reality, you'd be digging into who and what is on the other end of your puppet strings at IVAW. The old guys especially.
Since you asked, I was a SP 5 (E-5) after 17 months in the Army. All of my active duty except training and leave was served honorably in Vietnam. I have no regrets and would do it all again. And the vast majority of Vietnam vets have said the same.
All except the homecoming part; that carries regrets, and reasons. That's why I'm here on this site. February 24, 2008 5:41 PM - Army Sergeant said...As to soldiers bearing scars and shedding tears at the things they have had to do and experienced, no one argues that such is not real or somehow diminishes the soldier.
You're wrong. I wish to God that you weren't wrong, but you are wrong there. You may not, and I applaud if you do not, but I have seen far too many postings, heard far too many interviews or talking heads, where that very point is in fact argued-which is in a way one reason I got so angry-it ties into an existing pain that I feel seeing that type of stuff, because it does occur so often.
Yet IVAW, as an activist organization, has always sought to use such for political purpose, and the concern for the soldier from the organization on the whole is secondary at best.
Again, you're wrong. Our first and primary concern is the mental health of the individual. You may not see it, because it doesn't make the news, but we have a large number of mental health professionals on standby, and a lot of our members have volunteered themselves as peer counselors, day or night, to those who need it. I personally have counseled members not to speak publicly or get more involved when I did not think they were ready for it and I thought it would be more damaging for them. So yes, that does get a rise out of me-because I personally can attest to that not happening.
I know that will get a rise out of you, but the simple truth is shown in what you and I discussed here when we first met: IVAW only talks about atrocities, policies that lead to tragedy, and bad behavior when they can pin it on “our side”!
That is far from simple, and it is far from the truth. I think that you spend more time on 'atrocities' than IVAW-it's really not what Winter Soldier is about, and it's not what we as an organization are about. It's simply what you choose to focus on. You are speaking for 'your side', and it is a side which has chosen to condemn Winter Soldier, so you do not speak about the positive things IVAW has done. You choose which side of the facts you plan to portray, and give evidence which speaks to that. You don't speak about the extensive mental health support IVAW provides, nor do you speak about the IVAW members who speak and served with integrity and honor. When pressed, you admit their existence generally, but you don't talk much about them otherwise. What simple truth is shown there?
If IVAW and you care about a soldier who has had his heart and soul torn because he killed a child carrying a gun, it is long past time that IVAW points some kind of anger and questioning at those who so put children in that position – the enemy!
I'll note that this incident was long before I joined IVAW, so really, it's about me personally caring about that. We often, and I'll go into this more on my own blog, put soldiers in terrible positions to make terrible choices. This is what war is-whether just or unjust, war is a terrible thing. It is an evil-sometimes a necessary evil, but an evil all the same. The child had a gun-neither that soldier or I will ever know why. She might have picked it up. She might have been playing. She might have been training as a youth insurgent. She might have been terrified at seeing soldiers. No one will ever know. I cannot blame that on anyone. Children have been shot right here in the United States by police officers who didn't know they were holding a watergun-that's why you can't get them in black anymore.
If this was a warrant officer, there was a chopper involved. It has been the case that choppers have had to be warned away from overly hot LZ’s because of the danger to the crew and the wounded they may actually get on the chopper.
Yes, it was a chopper-but the warrant officer and his crew were willing to take the risk. They were not allowed. My point was to illustrate that sometimes, the medics may want like hell to sacrifice themselves, but they are not permitted to. February 24, 2008 5:52 PM - Army Sergeant said... Which "atrocities" exactly do these picture show? Where? Committed by whom? When? Is that what they are? Is a guy in a suicide bomber vest with his head blown off the victim of an American atrocity? Is the Blackwater contractor burned to a crisp and about to be hung from a bridge the victim of an American atrocity?
As you'll see in my response to Denis, I'm not arguing that they show American atrocity. I'm not against the war because I think Americans commit atrocity. I am against the war because I believe it is hurting America and the Army I love, and that we entered into it under false pretenses. I think those pictures were chosen because they are pictures taken by the soldiers and marine in the video, and their units. If I saw someone in a suicide vest about to blow people up, I would shoot him too, and only hope my aim would be good enough for a headshot before he triggered it. This is why I could never be a CO.
If you are opposed to all war, fine. That's you're right. If you are opposed to this war, fine. That's your right. If you are, and you are still on active duty, you better apply for CO status before you wind up deployed and in an ethical dilemma you cannot resolve. That or get a discharge. I'm sure they will give you a good one if you are honest about your beliefs and inner conflicts.
I am opposed to the Iraq War. I think all war is evil, but that it is occasionally a necessary evil. As such, I do not fall under the definition of a conscientious objector, because I believe war can on occasion be necessary. See my commentary on the headshot above. However, I do not see and have not seen an ethical dilemma in my conduct: whether I agree with the war or not, my actions help save American lives, and that is something I can support wholeheartedly.
But do not dare, do not ever again dare, to implicate American soldiers, and even worse ALL American soldiers, in criminal wartime actions unless you know what you say is true. Every word of it. Do not dare put the reputations and honor of American service members in the cross-hairs of your political agenda.
When have I ever done so? I ask you to point me to any statement I have ever made about that? I do not think that criminal wartime actions are a matter of course. I think that they occur-yes, certainly they occur. Sometimes soldiers don't know what they're doing is criminal. Sometimes they know it's criminal, but they do it anyway because they think it saves lives. Sometimes they aren't trained well enough.
Many times actions which are not criminal occur. Many and I believe most Americans serve with honor and distinction. I think that the current lowering of standards and moral waivers allowed into the Army does cause more problems and crimes to occur than might otherwise, but I think that the vast majority of the American soldiers are good, honest, law-abiding citizens.
Why would I want to attack American honor? I believe in American honor, I volunteered to put my life on the line for American honor. That is why to me it is the most crucial thing in the world that we uphold the ideals that the flag I believe in has always stood for. That we uphold the ideals of the flag to which I stood up and said my first oath to, my successive oaths to. That flag which will cover my coffin and be presented to my family when I am eventually killed, with the thanks of a grateful nation. America is a good and great country, and we need to keep it that way. February 24, 2008 6:10 PM - Denis Keohane said... "You may not see it, because it doesn't make the news, but we have a large number of mental health professionals on standby, and a lot of our members have volunteered themselves as peer counselors, day or night, to those who need it."
Sarge, I have been following what IVAW has put out in the "news" and especially in the outlets they chose for months and going back years! If you are trying to tell me that the primary activist concern, even to the political "use" of soldiers experiencing problems, is not both political and to make the U.S. the bad actor, you have a mighty large mountain of contrary evidence to overcome!!!!
You may need, Sarge, to have your bubble burst about what the organization you belong to is really about, and what serves as window dressing. Again, it is not me nor anyone outside of IVAW who made and makes the direct connection to the 1971 WSI! It was not the oppoments of IVAW but its friends and allies who have adverised incessantly about atrocities.
The IVAW "care" for the soldier mimics that expressed by VVAW after they smeared them in the millions! The "troubled vet" was and is a prop, one used by the political manipulators staying in the dark.
The VVAW were all about, for example, outrage over the supposed "murder" of over 200,000 Vietnamese a year by the U.S. (Kerry's words). When Soutyh Vietnam fell, and the real slaughter began in SE Asia, VVAW said not a peep. There is supposed concern now about Iraqi and Afghan civilians, but if we leave and those places descend to slaughter pits, IVAW will likewise not utter a word of protest!
IVAW is seeing the soldiers as victims. If those who are behind this get the victory they want, meaning our loss, they will forget those soldier victims just as they will the Iraqi and Afghans.
IVAW is comprised of two types of people, Sarge. Those being used, and users. February 24, 2008 6:22 PM - Zero Ponsdorf said... Decidedly the oddest exchange I've seen. I everyone here speaking English? "Our first and primary concern is the mental health of the individual." What individual are you referring to?
This is a straw man justification. The IVAW is chewing through the lives and souls of thousands of older Vets as if they are of no consequence. Doesn't the simple fact that some of us old farts are disturbed have an impact?
I do respect you, and your opinion, but your effort is simply old hat. You can not cite anything new. You should really look at the history of PTSD, et. al.
If Iraq is your primary interest don't pretend that war veterans are. Just stick to the Iraq issue. February 24, 2008 7:36 PM - NAMedic said... army sergeant, If you don't want to attack American honor, what are you doing in IVAW? This is not about what *you* are saying or not saying. It is about what the IVAW is very clearly saying and doing. Your position seems to be that it doesn't matter what the IVAW publishes, posts, states explicitly or imples, since you are not saying, or never have said, or implied the same things they do. Yet you support them wholeheartedly. So what are you doing in an organization you don't agree with?
This does not sound like a rational position to me. It sounds like a psychiatric problem beyond my qualifications to define, beyond "denial." That is the charitable possibility. The other possibility is you are so deep into intellectual dishonesty you are not even aware that's where you are. You're the one who referred to the pictures in the IVAW video as "atrocities," which is exactly the impression the video tries to create. You accepted that was their intended mesaning by your own statement. The video didn't offer any explicit definition of the images at all. You did.
The IVAW, just like the VVAW, is not interested in you, and I have a surprise for you. They are not much interested in the war either. The war simply provides a very convenient pretext for bringing the United States into moral disrepute all over the world, but most especially at home. That's the game, and the only game. Exploiting the emotional and psychic trauma of combat vets, not healing it, is their stock in trade. So what if they are further traumatized by all this? So what if all of them, their whole generation, is trashed by a national backlash of disgust at the "revelations" patriotically manufactured by the suffering vets' "best friend" organization. A greater good is served - crippling the evil USA. But what does that matter to you? That's not what you're about, so it's not an important consideration.
Do you know what narcissism means?
And who needs IVAW to do all that good mental health outreach you talk about? Which is just so much window dressing to justify (and/or obscure) their real purposes. The VVAW said and did the very same things. The connection between the two organizations, which you would like to paint thin, is that there is no tactic, not terminmlogy, no public relations strategy that is one iota different now in IVAW than what VVAW used in the 1970's. None. I saw this coming five years ago, although in the climate of opinion in this country recently, I never believed it could happen. You would think they'd have some new ideas in 35 years! They can't even come up with new terms for themselves and their forums. Except the new "kinder-gentler" farce as a strategy.
The VA is fully qualified to provide mental health services, thanks to the efforts of Vietnam Vets who not only helped define PTSD, but staffed most of the Vet Centers over the past three decades. Over 230 new Vet Centers are scheduled to open all over the country. I'd sure as hell prefer getting professional help there, than from some anti-war political activist. Who wouldn't? February 24, 2008 7:49 PM - Skyeblue said... Will you be posting back at base..Army Sergeant? Oh, there is another YouTube video that may be of interest... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCoN0tDeVqI
Of course, I would strongly urge all those participating in IVAW to submit their file for public review and cross examination.
I have sat in a room holding a friend of mine who was racked with sobs, because he was forced to kill a child. Was your friend named Jimmy Massey?? February 24, 2008 7:49 PM - Army Sergeant said... I neither know nor can speak to the "primary activist concern". I can only speak to what my concern, and what the concern of the members of IVAW I speak for may be. There is a large population of active duty within IVAW. Our concerns are what they are; they are not what may be politically expedient for you to believe they are.
You claim that: You may need, Sarge, to have your bubble burst about what the organization you belong to is really about, and what serves as window dressing. I generally do respect you, Denis, but wouldn't you think that the person who is actually a member might have more knowledge of what the heart of the organization actually is? What the organization is all about is not dictated by the impressions of others. It is dictated by its own core goals.
The "Troubled Vet" is not merely a prop, as you would have it. It is a reality, and one I see personally on a daily basis. They cannot and should not be so casually dismissed simply because you wish to ignore their existence. You read about them: I see them, hear them, and feel them.
You think that all those of us with honor are being used. What an insult is that! To think that everyone with honor must not have any intelligence if they choose a course which is opposed to yours. I don't think my opponents are stupid: I just think they're wrong. I don't think the VFF are being used, even though I disagree with them. Why must we be 'used' in your eyes?
Zero: The individual referenced is the individual Denis suggested IVAW does not care about: soldiers who appear publicly and expose their pain to the world. I do not understand how the IVAW is chewing through the lives and souls of older vets with an event that hasn't even happened yet. With all due respect, I believe that older vets are chewing through their own lives and souls expecting something which I do not believe will materialize. That's not something I can affect. I've tried explaining what Winter Soldier is in fact about to as many vets as I can: those like Denis Keohane simply insist that I don't know what I'm talking about, and we're all being used by old puppetmasters. Also, why must I personally choose a primary interest? I'm a complicated person, with complicated views. Both Iraq and war vets are important to me. I don't see why I should have to put one aside arbitrarily.
Namedic: Where in the goals of IVAW is it stated that it wants to attack American honor? I think it matters what the national organization of IVAW posts or states. It matters very much what they post or state-you're right, I don't want to belong to an organization which is opposed to my views. But IVAW does not state that it is against America, or against American honor. The overwhelming majority of IVAW members that I have met love America, and are honorable individuals. All of my fellow active duty members that I have met are good people that I am proud to have with me in military service. I don't agree with what your views of what IVAW is about-but you are not an IVAW member or leader. With all due respect, sir, why should I take your characterization of an organization you don't belong to as gospel truth?
You say that I define the pictures as atrocities, but I cannot see, either in my original post on the subject or here, where I have said that. Please point me to that? I think the only time I refered to them as atrocities is when I was stating what I believed your opinion was. What makes you so sure you think you know what the IVAW is about? I have sat in many meetings, met many people, and I have never heard this supposed agenda referenced. No one wants to cripple the USA-among most of those whom I have spoken to, a primary reason for opposing the war is to keep America and its ideals strong.
I would oppose any organization determined to go against America or its strength. I have opposed instances where I saw the larger anti-war movement take action against military or America-again, though, not something Mr. Keohane likes to publicize.
You claim that the VA is fully able to offer mental health services. That may be your experience, but that is not mine. I have a very good friend who was told by his VA doctor to "mix and match" his medication as he felt like. I have other friends who are still waiting for treatment.
Yes, I think better help is available from friends and brothers, especially since many military and former miltiary distrust headshrinkers as civilians who haven't experienced what they felt. I personally would go to a Homefront Battle Buddy long before I would go to a shrink if I was having problems, and I know several IVAW members have given me a call when they needed a friendly ear as well. February 24, 2008 8:07 PM - Zero Ponsdorf said... AS: "Both Iraq and war vets are important to me. I don't see why I should have to put one aside arbitrarily." I suspect that you question is true as far as you see it. But it does ask the question in turn. Is Iraq your primary issue? If so, deal with that.
"I do not understand how the IVAW is chewing through the lives and souls of older vets with an event that hasn't even happened yet." I've talked with you enough that I have to ask if this is a joke?
When you get to DC and see the folks outside the NLC, ask that question again. Maybe, at least, some of those folks are vets. February 24, 2008 8:32 PM - Army Sergeant said...Zero: No, Iraq is not my primary issue. My primary issue as I see it is my NCO duty-taking care of soldiers. I don't think my job stops when they get out of the service. The Iraq War is just one factor of that.
As for your question as to whether it's a joke, no, I'm not joking, but my point is that people and veterans are lining up to protest something when they're not even sure what it will be. Thus far, IVAW has not injured them, it has not done anything to damage them. It is in expectation of damage that people are acting, and expectation of damage I don't think will occur.
I know that you think poorly of the larger IVAW community, but I would remind you that you haven't talked to most of them. Maybe, just maybe, a lot of your opinion is based not on conversations with them, but on remembrance of what you feel happened in Vietnam-a time when most of us weren't even alive. And I would ask: is it really fair that we bear the brunt of expectations from a previous generation? February 24, 2008 9:31 PM - NAMedic said... army sergeant, You wrote in your first post on this thread: "He assumes the photos are being used to show atrocities for no real reason, unrelated to the witnesses."
This statement by you, as proven by the content of the rest of your paragraph, claims I assumed there was no connection between the depicted witnesses and the depicted photos. Your argument - very awkwardly stated - is about the connection of the visuals to the witnesses. It is that about which I made an unarranted assumption (according to you). You do not address nor do you claim here that I assumed anything about the character of the photos. If I misread you, it's not my reading comprehension, but your syntax you can blame. Going legalistic about the written goals statement of IVAW is not going to help your argument. What IVAW is in the process of doing, including this video, is all the information anyone needs to discern their agenda. Hitler's stated goal was to make a better world. So who knew, right?
IVAW posts a video stating that Army medics in Iraq treat dying wounded Americans with callous indifference. The overall impression is clearly and deliberately created that the stated (alleged) facts are representative of what goes on in Iraq and will be reinforced at IVAW's kangaroo court - because the purpose of the video and of the "winter soldier" is to reveal the "true" representative facts of what goes on in the war zone to the public. For very good reasons which I've stated in my original post, I simply find this whole story not credible, as well as an insult to the American soldier as medic especially. It is DISHONORING. But you're on board with it; no problem.
"With all due respect, sir, why should I take your characterization of an organization you don't belong to as gospel truth?"
Because I'm not a member or leader of al Queda and I do know damn well what they're up to, and I would wager you do too. You're not one of their members, are you? A leader, maybe? Then how'd you come by your opinion of them?
"I would oppose any organization determined to go against America or its strength."
If you'd spend half as much time looking into the origins of IVAW and its parent organizations and current connections as you do posting blog comments, you might just start doing that right where you are.
"I have a very good friend who was told by his VA doctor to "mix and match" his medication as he felt like. I have other friends who are still waiting for treatment."
Sounds like the IVAW has indoctrinated you well. You are definitely getting the technique down. You have just delegitimized the entire $28 billion a year VA system because a friend told you what his VA doctor told him, so you say, and so he says - and what he passed on to you is not even a complete sentence! Case closed! Do you see how it works now?
For your information, about treatment delays - the VA's Vet Center system was set up to do "readjustment counseling" including especially PTSD problems, which is mainly what we are talking about, right?. It is a walk-in set-up, community based and expanding by over 230 locations as we speak. You can probably be seen the same day at most locations. They also have social services representatives there and they do family counseling as well. They are all supported by the full range of VA medical services, and by referring from a Vet Center, you can cut a lot of wait time for additional services.
And, by the way, many of the providers are military vets, and often combat vets. Although most of the combat vets were Vietnam guys, and they are retiring out. So maybe IVAW could use its cadres of trained counselors to fill the ranks of the Vet Centers and really do a service for their fellow soldiers.
But first I suggest if you are going into the counseling business, you should try to know what you are talking about in respect to available help and proper referrals. Maybe you can squeeze that in between your English and logic classes. By the way, How many suffering combat vets have you steered away from effective professional help anyway? February 24, 2008 9:32 PM - streetsweeper95B said... Ok...If I may intercede here Denis. Ummmmm... army sergeant? Thank You for serving your country. *salute* So....sergeant be that as it may, are you able to answer a few questions that do not relate to your current military status?
In short, I am not asking anything about where your stationed, your unit or MOS. I see you just made another post in response to zero's. First I don't want to be addressing an unknown person of an unknown sex in an inapropiate manner. Men I address as sir, ladies are ma'am. Which are you? (Blame it on my mother, she was insistent I address men & women in the proper manner, hold doors open, pull chairs out, ect) February 24, 2008 9:58 PM - Army Sergeant said... namedic: I will concede that my syntax may have been faulty. I disagreed with your characterization of the photos as atrocities, and I apologize for not stating it more clearly.
We see different things in the video-which may be according to our viewpoints. If you looked at the credits of the video, you would see that the video is produced by the individuals who spoke in it. As such, I see it as the best example of soldiers (and one marine) telling their stories, which is what Winter Soldier will be about. No one would try to claim that combat medics in general treat patients with callous indifference. In fact, we have some combat medic IVAW members who would probably take issue with that characterization. The individuals told their stories as they saw them, about individual incidents that troubled them.
As for the VA: I honestly don't know how you can try to say that no one experiences delays in the VA system. I experience major delays in the military medical system, and I'm active duty. I can't imagine that the VA is somehow speedier when it has an astronomically larger number of people to take care of, even leaving aside the anecdotal evidence. My point in relating it is not to say that everyone gets terrible treatment at the VA: but rather to say that some people are not getting adequate care at the VA, and I believe that those people still deserve treatment.
As for suffering combat vets I've steered away from professional help? None. I've always offered it and provided contact information. And you know what? I'll still continue to talk to vets any time, any hour: because whatever you may think of me, I've had to talk people down from suicide and I've done it. And that to me makes it worthwhile. You can damn me all you like. I will take care of my own come hell or high water.
Skyeblue: I am not friends with Jimmy Massey. No. And that particular friend you're talking about is not even an IVAW member.
Streetsweeper: I'm not an officer, I work for a living. Please address me as Sergeant, or if you like you can take on Denis' habit of calling me 'Sarge'. I am happy to answer any question I can that doesn't require me to violate oaths or confidentiality. February 24, 2008 10:17 PM - Army Sergeant said... Skyeblue: As for the video: I'm sorry the first gentleman feels that way, and feels necessary to read a pre-prepared speech to that effect. I am sorry also that he chooses to refer to the opposition in Iraq as 'raghead'. Given that the people we are supposed to be winning the 'hearts and minds' of are also Muslim, I don't find his language very helpful. Nor do I agree with his statement on why most IVAW members joined. Many of us originally believed in the war, such as Jason Washburn and Ronn Cantu-who was originally pissed that his recruiter couldn't get him out the door any sooner. Also, I note that this member talks about atrocity far more than IVAW does.
I am also amused by the "I am looking forward to staring the cowards in the eye and putting the fear of the real god into them", followed by "May god bless our troops". Perhaps the gentleman is unaware that many members of IVAW are active duty. I wish he would make up his mind as to which he would like for us-fear or blessings. February 24, 2008 10:32 PM - streetsweeper95B said... Ok....army sergeant since you have obviously chosen to dodge my post...'mere you NCO piece of smuck! I'll be the inept stOOpid MP, you continue to be the dumbass NCO from whichever country it is you come from. You sir/ma'am are not/nor ever were in the United States Army. Coupla things are burning yer tail, I'm holding the torch. The rest of you take a seat, have a cup of joe with yer donut, chill pill time. February 24, 2008 10:48 PM - NAMedic said... "As for the VA: I honestly don't know how you can try to say that no one experiences delays in the VA system." I never said any such thing. We happen to be talking about apples and oranges. See below. "As for suffering combat vets I've steered away from professional help? None. I've always offered it and provided contact information."
And how can you do that properly when you apparently are unaware of the primary help option available - the VA Vet Centers? "And you know what? I'll still continue to talk to vets any time, any hour: because whatever you may think of me, I've had to talk people down from suicide and I've done it. And that to me makes it worthwhile. You can damn me all you like. I will take care of my own come hell or high water." This nobility/self-pity stuff is getting old. I'll bet you are not even aware that's what this special pleading is. Do you think that's the path to getting credibility?
I talked a kid down with a unpinned grenade in his hand in a bunker full of .50cal ammo and a couple cases of grenades. I Had my hand on my.45 and was thinking about whether or not I had to shoot him to get the grenade away and prevent a disaster and threat to my own life. I sent a runner to commo to radio down the hill to make sure everyone down below got the hell out of the way if I got it in time to toss it. But none of this about you or me has anything whatever to do with the price of apples here - which is IVAW's current incarnation of grand opera which doesn't belong in public but in a therapist's office or a court room.
You are really very good at missing the entire point and only hearing what you prefer to hear. Maybe that's how you can stand IVAW. The VA Vet Centers are the primary resource for vets and now even some active duty (I'm pretty sure) for PTSD and like interventions. They are set up as I described - community based and walk-in. The only paperwork you need is a DD214 or, if active, your ID card. No appointments, although a call ahead is wise. What you are talking about is VA Medical Centers, or maybe even the outpatient satellite clinics. Not the same thing.
If you are unaware of this resource, you are doing those you talk to a disservice. If IVAW is really in the help business, it is inconceivable they have not filled you in on this. But then, I'm not surprised, because that's not the business they are really in, is it? February 24, 2008 11:29 PM - streetsweeper95B said... Wanna know something army sergeant? You have beennnnn backstroking real bad lately. So bad in fact, nobody else has paid attention to your eloquent usage of the "Royal Language".
Why? Because they are too ticked off to notice & you know it. 'Mere you rat mofo.....pretty wild a real deal street punk fingers your act out, ain't it?
Everyone was so busy running your gaunlet, they had no clue what yer up to. 'Mere..I'm gonna violate yer so-called criminal rights....You really shoulda checked yer spelling dictionary before posting on any threads.
Sweet, nice, very nice "colours' 'stead a "colors" hehehe.....oh yea! "honorific" orginates in two places on this planet called Earth, dude/dudette. Middle East,Pakistan, India, several other mid east countries including Saudi Arabia & Asia! February 24, 2008 11:32 PM - Robin said... Army Sergeant - while I respect you and the strength of your convictions, I do have to ask myself why you continue to defend IVAW.
IVAW encourages active duty military to "refuse and resist" as a way to end the war. IVAW sponsors actions such as blocking recruiting efforts, encouraging and assisting AWOL soldiers, promulgating the atrocity angle all the while teaming up with organizations such as ANSWER, CodePink and United for Peace & Justice. Claim "supporting the troops" all you want, but the above actions are nothing more than a rehash of the very same tactics the anti-Vietnam War protesters used - not surprising since VFP and VVAW were instrumental in helping organize IVAW. The sole purpose is to force the US to withdraw from Iraq in such a way as to embolden our enemies.
Screaming "Halliburton", "blood for oil" and carrying the American flag upside down is certainly not supporting the soldiers who are fighting in the war. It does nothing more than inflame the anti-American hatred of our enemies and as such endanger the lives of every single member of the military currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
When a founder of IVAW serves as a member of the veteran's advisory board of such a vile publication as GI Special/Traveling Soldier (which is featured on the pro-insurgent website albasrah.net), then I do have to question the motives behind the organization.
I truly believe that your heart is in the right place. Just because you are a member does not make you an expert - sometimes it only serves to blind you to the truth. I encourage you to read the book "Stolen Valor" prior to Winter Soldier II. You will get a profound sense of deja vu.
Winter Soldier was an inordinately bad choice of a title for the "meeting". But IVAW does not distance itself from the original Winter Soldier - in fact it uses the orginal WS as an argument for WSII. It does nothing more than open up the scabs of wounds in the hearts of MOST of the Vietnam Veterans. There was nothing honorable about Winter Soldier and there is nothing that leads me to believe the reincarnation will be any different. February 24, 2008 11:45 PM - Skyeblue said... AS, Jimmy Massey is not IVAW - but he did claim to kill a child, a story he later refuted. I want the after action report from your 'friend'.
Glad you find it amusing. With al-queda comitting suicide in Iraq, it seems the 'hearts and minds' of the Iraqi's are firmly on our side. I look forward to requesting the service records of all who particpate in this travesty. I'm sure it will be a Scott Beuchamp redux.
Oh, fellow posters, I did catch an original winter soldier change his story in the following conversation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAdbkaCtqMo February 24, 2008 11:48 PM - Skyeblue said... Perhaps the gentleman is unaware that many members of IVAW are active duty. How many of them? I recall you were not able to precisely numerate the membership of IVAW. February 24, 2008 11:55 PM - Skye said... IVAW and their actions: I believe this is a violation of Title 18, US Code. Sections:
1381. Enticing desertion and harboring deserters
2383. Rebellion or insurrection (solicting the Military to go against the government, siding with enemies, etc)
2384. Seditious conspiracy
2387. Activities affecting armed forces generally
(a) Whoever, with intent to interfere with, impair, or influence the loyalty, morale, or discipline of the military or naval forces of the United States:
(1) advises, counsels, urges, or in any manner causes or attempts to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty by any member of the military or naval forces of the United States; or
(2) distributes or attempts to distribute any written or printed matter which advises, counsels, or urges insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty by any member of the military or naval forces of the United States—
Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both, and shall be ineligible for employment by the United States or any department or agency thereof, for the five years next following his conviction.
(b) For the purposes of this section, the term “military or naval forces of the United States” includes the Army of the United States, the Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Navy Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, and Coast Guard Reserve of the United States; and, when any merchant vessel is commissioned in the Navy or is in the service of the Army or the Navy, includes the master, officers, and crew of such vessel.
February 25, 2008 12:11 AM - Army Sergeant said... Streetsweeper: I didn't ignore your post, I said I'd answer your questions. Also, yes, you're quite right, 'honour' is the British spelling, as is 'colour'. I also spell gray/grey interchangeably, and probably a few others I wouldn't notice without it being pointed out. I read a lot of literature from an early age, some of it British, and I honestly don't pay attention to which way I'm spelling things. Thinking this means I'm from Saudi Arabia or the Middle East is pretty damn funny. I'm sorry to tell you, I'm an American citizen, born in America, and I am a non-commissioned officer in its Army.
Namedic: I will take into consideration your support of the VA vet centers you mention. If you have a list of where they are, I will add it to potential references, though I will reserve judgement until I see it myself in action. I am glad you talked that guy down-and would hope that would help you to see the value of peer talk as opposed to professional talk, at least sometimes.
Robin: I think that resistance can take many forms, and it doesn't have to take the form of illegality. It can include, for example, signing the "appeal for redress". Someday when I have more time, I'll post about it.
I don't know if you were reading me back when I talked about the flag code, but essentially, it's not anti-American to fly the flag upside down-it's a symbol of distress. Whether I believe the time has come for that signal or distress within the bounds of our own country or not, the fact remains that it is not inherently disrespectful to fly the flag with the union down.
Is there really nothing that leads you to believe that anything will be different than you believe it? If so, then all I can say is that I hope the events will persuade you otherwise. I truly hope that when Winter Soldier comes, you will see that the troops are not going to be maligned, and that things will take place that can only help them.
Skyeblue: I don't know how many times I can tell you that I am not friends with Jimmy Massey. Nor have I ever been friends with Jimmy Massey. I don't think I've ever even met Jimmy Massey in person. The individual I am referring to was posted with me three years ago, and I have since lost touch with him. However, when I last talked to him, he supported the war.
Also, even if I had the exact membership records, I would not release them: active duty in IVAW have an anonymity option.
Skye: (who if you are the same as skyeblue, sorry for the separate heading)
That would be correct: if I were actually advising, counseling, urging, or in any manner causes or attempts to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty by any member of the military or naval forces of the United States;
Instead, I am urging members of the military forces to exercise their full rights under DoD Directive 1325.6, which governs protest and dissident activities. I do not encourage anyone to mutiny, or to disobey any legal order. I encourage all military members to disobey illegal orders, as they should. February 25, 2008 7:10 AM - streetsweeper95B said... Oh come on, sergeant! You are from & educated in A) Au Canada, B) Great Britian, C) Australia D) Middle Eastern/ Southwest Asian country where use of Royal Language is the norm, not the exception & a strong Islam/Muslim background. I don't buy for a nano-second your reading a lot books from England as a child influencing your grammatic skills now, dude (or dudette as the case may be) February 25, 2008 7:16 AM - streetsweeper95B said... Keep putting the pressure on sergeant, Denis, skye & namedic.....This one's a real charmer. February 25, 2008 10:07 AM - Thus Spake Ortner said... I think my bona fides are atleast well wnough known by Robin and Dennis, and possibly Skye who knows I am friends with bellavia to jump in here. I disagree with damn near everything AS says, from flags upside down to the stories of the IVAW clowns. But AS is an american, I've tested to ensure that AS who who he/she claims to be by checking my blog for a hit from where he/she claimed to be. Also, if he/she is not, then I have been conversing with the wrong person on going to WSI, since he/she has all my crap to get me in the door.
Although as I said I disagree with most everything AS posts, and have done so repeatedly on my blog, I do not believe that AS is anti-military in aim, although I would certainly agree with the masses here that that is what results. In short, I don't ascribe anything nefarious to AS, althoughj I also don't agree with 90% of his/her positions. February 25, 2008 10:07 AM - Thus Spake Ortner said... Oh, also, totally endorse the idea of Senate Armed Services Committee people coming. I'd like to think IVAW would also approve, since they are the ones who are asking Bush et al to attend, and they should want more exposure, assuming that all the stories are on the up and up. (Yeah, I know, I don't believe it either, but benefit of the doubt before we clobber them with it.) February 25, 2008 10:34 AM - Army Sergeant said... I'd endorse it if we get more than 11 minutes. Also, if they understand that they are not there to speechify, and the first person trying to get in front of the cameras and talk about election stuff gets unceremoniously asked to leave. That's just my personal preference, though, not official policy. February 25, 2008 11:04 AM - Thus Spake Ortner said... I wouldn't even give them that. Give them a kids desk and tell them to sit in the corner. Let teh bloggers do the lifting, we're better than senate staffers any day of the week. February 25, 2008 6:29 PM - NAMedic said... army sergeant, You wrote: "I will take into consideration your support of the VA vet centers you mention. If you have a list of where they are, I will add it to potential references, though I will reserve judgement until I see it myself in action." All this statement does for me is confirm that you are an idiot and you have no idea what you are talking about. Anyone who listens to you is a fool.
Here is a link to the VA's book (170 pages in pdf) of Federal Benefits available for Veterans. It includes a state by state listing of all contact info for all VA facilities including hundreds of Vet Centers at the back of the book: http://www1.va.gov/opa/vadocs/fedben.pdf
Meanwhile, as you digest this, I'm sure the Secretary of Veterans Affairs is anxiously awaiting your approval of this program, which has been operating for the last 28 years or so, and is the go-to, state-of-the-art, worldwide resource for PTSD.
You also write, "I am glad you talked that guy down-and would hope that would help you to see the value of peer talk as opposed to professional talk, at least sometimes."
Nice try at turning the argument. Among all the other things about which you have no clue, the Vet Center program has as its major component peer group counseling. They even have specialized peer groups, like one for combat medics.
It's amazing to me how you manage to avoid dealing with any real issues and never answer when what you've posted here gets blown away.
As in my: "If you are unaware of this resource, you are doing those you talk to a disservice. If IVAW is really in the help business, it is inconceivable they have not filled you in on this. But then, I'm not surprised, because that's not the business they are really in, is it?" February 25, 2008 6:43 PM - NAMedic said... Skye, You wrote;
"IVAW and their actions, I believe this is a violation of Title 18, US Code. Sections: . . . etc."
Of course these are violations of the law. These people need to be in jail. One reason the VVAW and Winter Soldier 1971 and a lot else that went on then is so infuriating to veterams of that era is the failure of the United States to prosecute these people at the time. The governemnt failed in its duty to protect its protectors, just as is happening again in places like Berkeley, and next month at this WS event. In fact, none of this would be happening now if the government had abided by the rule of law in the 1970's and done its duty. Much of the political subversion that is now so widely accepted as normal among masses of useful idiots would not now be happening.
Meeting abroad with high ranking officers of an enemy governemnt at a time when we were at war with them, then returning to this country and publicly promoting that enemy government's war time aims and political agenda is defined in the highest law of the land - the U.S. Constitution. It's called treason. But instead of invoking the law against this treason, the nation winds up putting the offenders in high public office, and eventually one of them almost became the President and Commander-in-Chief. February 25, 2008 6:57 PM - NAMedic said... army sergeant wrote, "I do not encourage anyone to mutiny, or to disobey any legal order. I encourage all military members to disobey illegal orders, as they should." Yeah, but the people you and the IVAW are in bed with, real charmers like Code Pink, sure do. Don't you know who you are in bed with?
Just take a look at this video of them http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ecy0LONUjKE
You might want to stop the video at the last frame, which appears only briefly at the end, so you can believe your blinking eyes. The banner they are carrying down the middle of an American street says "We support the murder of the American troops." February 25, 2008 9:13 PM - Thus Spake Ortner said... That last picture with the sign has been photoshopped I believe. I've seen it before and someone admitted that had photoshopped it. Will try to find the link to it. February 25, 2008 9:15 PM - Thus Spake Ortner said... http://angela-stevens.com/archives/i-dont-understand-the-code-pink-mentality/ Can't find a direct source, but this talks about it. February 25, 2008 10:48 PM - NAMedic said... thus spake wrote, "That last picture with the sign has been photoshopped I believe. I've seen it before and someone admitted that had photoshopped it."
All you have to do is watch the rest of the video to know that last frame is not far from that mind-set. It is just a bit more direct and to the point.
February 25, 2008 11:18 PM - NAMedic said... Thus Spake, I won't argue whether or not the photo is faked. The site you linked to conatins numerous comments that claim it is fake, but provide no link to anything that demonstrates that as a fact. One commenter says there is a watermark on the photo showing who actually created it. That mark is "www.codepinkalert.com" and that opens the official Coded Pink website.
Let me know what you find.
February 26, 2008 7:56 AM - Thus Spake Ortner said... I don't take a back seat to anyone hating code pink, trust me. I've been at Walter Reed during their demonstrations, I go to Senate and House hearings where these retards are thrown out, and I've been at Vets For Freedom rallys when these people get arrested for making asses of themselves, so trust me, I'm one of you guys.
But, I will try to find specific stuff on that pic being faked. They are all deadbeats in my mind, I just don't like photoshopped stuff.
February 26, 2008 10:36 AM - NAMedic said... TPO, Totally agree. I'm not interested in being hoodwinked by anyone or in propagating false info. The advantage we have is in being factually accurate vs their whining personalized mush. I also know enough about the disinformation mind-set of the Left that it is not improbable that such photos are a set-up by them to get us to make fools of ourselves by using falshoods they created just for that purpose of delegitimization. So the actual source would be interesting to know - if it can ever be found at all.
Regardless, the entire remaining substance of that (and other) CP videos is devastating to any sane American, and is typical of the kinds of things the MSM deliberately hides from public view.
February 26, 2008 10:53 AM - Army Sergeant said... My primary job isn't peer counseling, because I don't really have the time to offer it on a real part-time basis. Although as an NCO, I spend most of my time talking to soldiers and helping them with their lives-and far from discouraging me from it, the Army says that's what's supposed to happen.
As to Code Pink...on the subject of photoshopping and counter-double-reverse, I really don't think anyone has the time, energy, or sufficient deviousness to try to create a photo that looks bad, for the explicit purpose of letting pro-war individuals use it, only to jerk the rug out from underneath them. It sounds like way too much work.
I often have my differences with Code Pink in some locations. I do not approve of what is going on at Berkeley, and I do not approve of protesting in front of Walter Reed. In my eyes, the only legitimate purpose for protesting is to request redress of grievance from government officials who have grieved you, and wounded soldiers are neither said government officials, nor are they able to redress any grievance. All decisions are made echelons way above their paygrade. I've never been shy of admitting that.
However, other Code Pink groups across the country have not all followed in that model: some have even taken the pink off in order to help. Thus, I would not tar them all with that brush.
February 26, 2008 12:03 PM - NAMedic said... Army sergeant is back with his/her moral relativism again. If he/she thinks leftist agitpropers don't have the time to be ruthlessly devious, he/she is providing still more evidence of living in a dream world.
He/she now abandons the avocation of peer counseling she once held out to be not only her role - as an IVAW member - but as an avocation superior to the unknown (to him/her) and useless (to him/her) efforts of the VA system in helping vets with combat stress.
He/she now justifies Code Pink and its support for and affiliation with IVAW because they are "not all that bad."
It's like hanging out with drug dealers and defending this association because they go to church twice a year and are not child molesters.
As a friend wrote to me privately about this thread :
". . . great job cutting through the "soft propaganda" approach that seems all the rage among leftists these days when they're trying to defuse critics. The goal is to use soothing language and pretend to seek common ground in order to make their opponents feel sheepish about being ticked off at their lies and propaganda."
It can't be said any better than that.
So, Army Sergeant, try selling your crap to some befuddled high school student you can recruit to a life of subversion. It ain't floating here, because we all know your game.
February 26, 2008 12:34 PM - Thus Spake Ortner said... Don't want to throw in a link on your blog, but I have 2 posts up today about an IVAW founder y'all might enjoy. I linked back to you guys of course.
February 26, 2008 2:19 PM - Denis Keohane said... This thread did quite well without me, not very much of surprise. Didn’t intend to neglect it, just a whole lot of things on the plate right now. Did want, though, to say some things I think are important to Sarge.
AS: “…wouldn't you think that the person who is actually a member might have more knowledge of what the heart of the organization actually is? What the organization is all about is not dictated by the impressions of others. It is dictated by its own core goals.”
Of course the answer to that is - “yes” and “no”. Isn’t it a mainstay of many IVAW member’s statements that they had served in the military, sometimes for years, but belatedly came to the realization of the bad things they were being used for – by that organization?
I’m going to speak plainly to you, Sarge. You and those close to you in IVAW may be entirely honest and sincere in what you hope and believe WSI will and is to be about. But the evidence is also plain and there for any to see that your view is not the driver behind this thing. One can still go to the VVAW site, or those of the VFP, and many others, and they are still expecting and promoting the widespread atrocity theme. That’s the money theme!
WSI is a meant to be a media event, Sarge, with a purpose, and not a group therapy session or caring educational instrument. If it becomes that symposium you allude to where soldiers simply tell of their experiences, and issues like veteran care and the like are prominent, WSI does not make the leap from the left and anti-war echo chamber media to the MSM. It won’t have the pizzazz to capture the headlines. But it has to make that leap, for many, even if behind the scenes at IVAW to some degree, because nothing and no one matters more than our withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, no matter the consequences of that. In order to make that leap, the widespread atrocity theme has to be in play.
Sarge, anyone, and I mean anyone, can find the connections. One only has to look. They are not well advertised, but neither are they well hidden. IVAW has support and advisors with publicly available records that go back years. I’ve found them! You can. Say what you will about care for the veteran, yet I can find a trail in which such lofty concerns are not remotely present. What is present is the constant drumbeat of crime, brutality and atrocity by Americans, and that message is beamed repeatedly into the area of the world where it will most aid recruiting of those who will – kill those soldiers you say you care about. Those messages, sent by those who advise IVAW, are credited to IVAW.
Whether you admit to it or are unaware that it is going on, there is friction right now on your side. Big friction. There are those who have “invested” in IVAW to deliver on the war crimes and atrocities themes, with the lurid and headline grabbing. They are not going to let go. Some of that ‘advisory’ capability is going to be there, at WSI. Mark my words on that.
Sarge, you and others in IVAW are right now, whether you are aware of it or not, at a crossroads in your lives.
Have you ever given much thought, or have any of your IVAW companions, to the those Winter Soldiers of 1971, and what has become of most of them?
If what I say about that from here on it sounds sympathetic, it is not. It is simply describing something like tragedy they brought on themselves as part of a greater tragedy.
When the Swift Vets and POWs for Truth were mentioned on this site some time back I thought your reaction was a bit strange. Never mind that, though. Just an overview of the type missed in all the fire and thunder.
The SwiftVets who had served with Kerry believed that the man was a self-serving opportunist who turned his back on his brothers and had used them badly and simply for his own ends. Oddly enough, or not, there have been several published reports and also evidence in the comments made here by VVAW members, that that is also exactly how the members of the Vietnam Vets Against the War came to see Kerry. That uniformity of opinion was lost in the furor.
At that first WSI, the leaders like Kerry and Al Hubbard didn’t testify! They didn’t go on that record with their “testimony”. They left that to others. You may or may not have heard of Steve Pitkin, the only WSI 1971 testifier who has actually signed a legally binding affidavit about his Winter Soldier testimony. He didn’t do so until 2004, when in that statement he admitted he had lied, and did so when pressured by Kerry and other VVAW leaders to tell of witnessing atrocities that never happened.
Sarge, it has been well known in greyer veteran circles for decades that a significant number of those WSI 1971 testifiers had become very ashamed of what they had done. Give it a little thought.
They give that testimony, and a few moths later John Kerry becomes a national figure and star at Senator Fulbright’s hearings. Kerry’s career in Democratic politics has gotten its decisive kick-start.
By the end of the next year, 1972, virtually all of the US combat forces had been withdrawn from Vietnam. The drawdown began almost two years before WSI. In 1975, Saigon falls and the communist north wins…and the bloodbath begins.
Millions killed in Cambodia. Tens and hundreds of thousands in Vietnam sent to reeducation camps, many to simply perish in them. Between one and two million Vietnamese, women, children, the elderly, set to sea in any leaky piece of garbage that will float simply to escape. They become known as the Boat People. As many as a million and more simply perish on the high seas. For some reason, even while the US forces were in Vietnam, rampaging and pillaging the countryside like the hordes of Ghengis Khan as described by VVAW’s most notable spokesman, the Vietnamese has not taken that desperate step. And the Winter Soldiers of 1971 see that.
By the eighties, it is common throughout much of America to see Vietnamese and Cambodian families, communities, restaurants and businesses. They came to the country with the racist people they should have been terrified of, if Winter Soldier 1971 was true. The Winter Soldiers of 1971 saw that too.
Also by those eighties and continuing, TV and film were in full neo-DePalma mode. The Vietnam veteran was a deranged drug using time bomb or mental case, or a guilt ridden murderer who could not cope, or the like. That was a WSI legacy, and the Winter Soldiers of 1971 saw that too, and knew the part they played in it. Meanwhile, studies then and later showed that to be way off the mark. The Vietnam Vets were doing as well or better in every societal indicator as any other group, and better than most.
The Winter Soldiers had slandered their brothers, perhaps the only group of individuals with whom they shared what could have been a bond that would stand forever. They had destroyed the possibility. They were not seen as the heroes or even simply very decent souls who had spoken the truth. By then, the truth was known by all if not admitted by some for political reasons: we had been fighting against truly evil people, for the sake of others.
Perhaps the best indication of what has become of those Winter Soldiers was what happened in 2004, when Kerry ran for President. He surrounded himself with his Vietnam “Band of Brothers”, men who had served on his Swift Boat and others like Jim Rassman. Anything odd about that, Sarge?
Why weren’t the Winter Soldiers of 1971 those who made up the Kerry Band of Brothers? Weren’t those Viet Vets the ones who spoke truth to power, who did what they could to end an unjust war? Weren’t they the ones who gave credence to Kerry’s line that about being the last man to die for a mistake? Yet when the members of Kerry’s Band of Brothers were introduced on stages and at the Democratic Convention, they were applauded, and honored, not because they had testified at Winter Soldier about the atrocities committed by Americans in an unjust and criminal war – but because they had fought in that war!
Of those Winter Soldiers of 1971, there are still a few who cling like radicals of all times and places to the glory days. Yet for most, it is simply something that they did, and I would strongly suggest came to regret, and could not undo, and would simply like to forget. Were you aware, Sarge, that when those Viet Vets gathered at the first WSI they did not know what it was to be about? They didn’t know they would be “counseled” by those “professionals” on hand, and the cameras were ready for them, just waiting. They got caught up in something, and for whatever reasons of the time and place, went along. They ended up having no real effect on the outcome of that war, but their own lives were effected, very much, in the private recesses where we all hold our regrets.
A great many units from the Vietnam War, like veterans of others wars before it, have held reunions, years later, when the now older comrades in arms catch-up with each other. Something worth giving thought to: the Winter Soldiers of 1971 have never done so! The producers of the filmed testimony did so, but not the veterans. There is a loud statement in that.
Sarge, there are those who know what they expect to get out of WSI. One way or another, they are going to try to get it. February 26, 2008 2:50 PM - Denis Keohane said... TSO: “Don't want to throw in a link on your blog, but I have 2 posts up today about an IVAW founder y'all might enjoy. I linked back to you guys of course.”
Damn, son, heck of a take-down and pin, and he’s got to have at least eighty pounds on ya!
I’ll throw up the links! They are more than worth it!
What an IVAW Founder Thinks of You http://3-116thsniper.blogspot.com/2008/02/what-ivaw-founder-thinks-of-you.html
Addendum to Last Post http://3-116thsniper.blogspot.com/2008/02/addendum-to-last-post.html February 26, 2008 2:52 PM - NAMedic said... Denis, I'm told by those who made a largely sucessful effort to talk with many of the WSI-71 witnesses that the recurring refrain among them was summed up in one word: "repudiate." But getting them to say so on the record may never happen because of shame and fear. I'll ease their fear by agreeing with you that they may not have understood exactly how they were going to be used, nor understood what the historic consequences of that manipulation would be. And I think I can ease their fear by remembering that Steve Pitkin was taken warmly back into the fold of the real "Band of Brothers" of honorable veterans. They were thankful for the vindication he offered them and they admired the courage and humility he showed.
Isn't it so very, very ironic that the millons of Nam Vets unjustly saddled with shame and fear - not to mention stifled outrage - by the original winter soldiers are now mostly freed from it, and the only ones left with those burdens to take to their graves are the WSI witnesses themselves.
Maybe this IVAW retrospecive will prod a few of the first winter soldiers to finally come clean in public. Confession is indeed good for the soul. You are wise - and compassionate - to urge the new crop in IVAW to think about what they are doing.
Who wants to be the last radical to die carrying a lie - alone? February 26, 2008 3:45 PM -Denis Keohane said... "Isn't it so very, very ironic that the millons of Nam Vets unjustly saddled with shame and fear - not to mention stifled outrage - by the original winter soldiers are now mostly freed from it, and the only ones left with those burdens to take to their graves are the WSI witnesses themselves… Who wants to be the last radical to die carrying a lie - alone?"
That is just stunningly worth repeating!
This article was originally published in the New York Times, February 28, 2007
In a small but growing sign of dissent, a group of active-duty military personnel and reservists, including many who have served in Iraq, is denouncing the war and asking Congress for the prompt withdrawal of troops.
The service members, who number more than 1,600, have sent an Appeal for Redress to their Congressional representatives, a form of protest permitted by military rules. Most of those who signed the appeal, at www.appealforredress.org, are enlisted soldiers in the Army, from the lowest to the highest ranks.
''There is a sense of betrayal,'' said Specialist Linsay Burnett, 26, who recently returned from Iraq with the First Brigade combat team of the 101st Airborne Division, based at Fort Campbell, on the border of Kentucky and Tennessee. The division is readying for its third deployment.
''These soldiers stand up to fight, to protect their country, but we are now on the fifth reason as to why it is we are in Iraq,'' added Specialist Burnett, who has served as a public affairs specialist and as a military journalist focusing primarily on the infantry. ''How many reasons are we going to come up with for keeping us over there?''
The Appeal for Redress reads: ''As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq. Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home.''
The protest, which was started in October by two active-duty service members and is sponsored by three antiwar groups, initially drew 65 signatures, growing to more than 1,300 by February. This week, after the CBS News program ''60 Minutes'' reported on the appeal, about 300 more active-duty soldiers joined the campaign, said Petty Officer Third Class Jonathan Hutto of the Navy, a co-founder of the group behind the appeal.
While the 1,600 make up a tiny part of the armed services, the appeal is one of the first official signs of protest from people within the military. An estimated 70 percent of those who have signed it are on active duty; the rest are members of the Reserves or the National Guard, and about 100 officers have signed it.
Describing themselves as supporters of the military but critics of the Iraq war, leaders of the appeal say they believe it is their right and duty under the Constitution to question the war and its mission, a position not widely voiced in the military.
Their decision to speak out and take their opposition outside the chain of command has been criticized by some veterans' groups that argue that soldiers are obligated to follow orders, not change policy. Critics also say that while service members cannot choose where they will be deployed, they can choose to join the military or not.
When the group sent its first letter in October, the White House spokesman, Tony Snow, said it was ''not unusual for soldiers in a time of war to have some misgivings,'' adding that the group constituted a small minority of service members.
In a phone call yesterday with three signatories, including Petty Officer Hutto, the service members said their decision to appeal had not been taken lightly. The military does not allow service members to organize and frowns on dissent.
''The Army has many ways to make your life very difficult,'' Specialist Burnett said, adding that she had come forward largely because ''there are not many voices out there for the men on the ground.''
Jeff Slocum, a chief master sergeant of the Air Force who is scheduled to deploy to Iraq next year, said his high rank was one reason he had signed the appeal. ''I'm not antiwar, I'm not antimilitary,'' said Chief Master Sergeant Slocum, who added that the troops were feeling ''used and abused.''
That 1,600 service members have signed the appeal ''shows just how much we are willing to risk,'' he said. ''We are trying to raise awareness that we need people to be sticking up for us, because nobody else is.''