Thursday, March 13, 2008

The New Winter Soldier Hearings Start Today

Iraq Veterans Against the War, following in the footsteps of Vietnam veterans in 1971, are holding new winter soldier hearings about the Iraq & Afghanistan wars beginning today through March 16, 2008 in Washington. IVAW's membership includes veterans from the US & Canada.

Details on how to watch and listen to those hearings are listed here. If the site is down, as it was earlier today, you can also access the hearings at this site.

Via Salon:

Will American war crimes be revealed?

Like Vietnam vets did decades ago, a group of soldiers are poised to speak out about atrocities they say the U.S. committed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"It has often been remarked but seldom remembered that war itself is a crime. Yet a war crime is more and other than war ... It is an act beyond the pale of acceptable actions even in war. Deliberate killing or torturing of prisoners of war is a war crime. Deliberate destruction without military purpose of civilian communities is a war crime."
-- Former infantry platoon leader William Crandell opening the "Winter Soldier Investigation" in Detroit, Jan. 31, 1971

More than 100 veterans gathered in a Detroit hotel in early 1971 to talk about things they had seen and done in the Vietnam War. Called the Winter Soldier Investigation, the group spoke about a horrifying array of allegations: convoys driving over civilians; burning of villages; bodies thrown out of helicopters; torture, mutilation and infamous "free-fire zones," where anyone not wearing a U.S. uniform could be killed.

Thirty-seven years later, more than 100 veterans will gather over the next several days for "Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan." The event is designed to be another purging of the horrors of war, and another effort to put American military policy on trial in the public eye. The gathering this time, at the National Labor College outside Washington, D.C., is sponsored by the group Iraq Veterans Against the War. "Soldiers will certainly be testifying about their experience and observation of actions which are absolutely in violation of international law," says IVAW spokesperson Perry O"Brien, who served as an Army medic in Afghanistan in 2003.

In interviews with Salon, several veterans from the group described incidents in Iraq that they believed constituted wrongdoing by the U.S. military, including disproportionate use of air power resulting in civilian deaths. The soldiers were unable to provide Salon with any conclusive evidence of war crimes. But as the fifth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq approaches, the allegations they and other Winter Soldier members will publicize in Washington this week add to a long-term set of questions about the damage and destruction wrought by U.S. military operations over years of war.

These veterans deserve to be heard and it's quite telling that the author of that article who, after using the quote that "war itself is a crime", asserts that "the soldiers were unable to provide Salon with any conclusive evidence of war crimes" especially in the face of proven allegations of torture, collective punishment and murder.

Will anyone in the MSM listen? That remains to be seen. It should be the duty of citizens in both of our countries to hear what they have to say about the conduct of both of these wars, especially to counter the unending militaristic war propaganda that we are fed daily to attempt to boost support for these missions.

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