Iraq Veterans Against the War – 2008-03-13 22:19:17
How to watch and listen to Winter Soldier
Iraq Veterans Against the War
Winter Soldier will be broadcast live. Here’s how you can watch and listen. For links to these resources, click here.
* Satellite TV Friday, March 14 and Saturday, March 15
Get satellite details (new info added 3/11/08)
* Streaming video on ivaw.org Thursday, March 13 through Sunday, March 16
Get details on watching Winter Soldier online
* Streaming audio at KPFA.org and warcomeshome.org Friday, March 14 through Sunday, March 16
* Radio broadcast on KPFA in Berkley, California and other Pacifica member stations Friday, March 14 through Sunday, March 16
* List of local cable broadcasts of Winter Soldier
Video and audio archives of Winter Soldier will be available after the event.
View the Winter Soldier broadcast schedule
For flyers, press releases and other documents to help you organize a local screening of Winter Soldier, visit our resources page.
Iraq Vets Will Detail US Atrocities
In Winter Soldier Hearings
Editorial Staff, / AlterNet
(March 11, 2008) — This week, on March 13-16, a new generation of “Winter Soldiers” — veterans of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq — will descend on the nation’s capitol to tell America in their own words what they saw during their service in the “war on terror,” the Bush administration’s signature policy. They’ll give a ground’s eye perspective on the occupation’s toll on the people of those countries and the costs to the military, and they’ll tell stories of what it was really like in places like Fallujah and Ramadi — places that are just names on a map to most of the people back home.
They’ll be following large footsteps. In the early months of 1971, a group of Vietnam vets, organized by Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), gave two days of testimony about the Vietnam that they had seen, up close and all-too-personally, in the original “Winter Soldier” investigation. While largely dismissed by the political establishment, their wrenching testimony redoubled the peace movement’s efforts to end that war.
In his opening statement 37 years ago, William Crandell, a 26 year-old lieutenant who served in the 199th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division — the division that committed the infamous My Lai Massacre — told the hushed room, “The Winter Soldier Investigation is not a mock trial. There will be no phony indictments; there will be no verdict against Uncle Sam.” He promised “straightforward testimony — direct testimony — about acts which are war crimes under international law. Acts which these men have seen and participated in. Acts which are the inexorable result of national policy.”
And they did just that. Over two days, more than a 100 vets of the Vietnam conflict bore witness to the horrors that they had seen with their own eyes — “the inexorable result of national policy.” One panel examined the question, “What are we doing to Vietnam?” and another asked “What are we doing to ourselves?”
The media largely ignored the hearings. The East Coast papers, with the exception of a New York Times article a week after the event, refused to even cover them. The VVAW complained of an “official censorship blackout.”
That was before the right had built its formidable echo chamber — before Fox News, the Washington Times, the New York Sun and the emergence of the right-wing blogosphere, with its instinctive attacks on any who question the morality of the “war on terror.” It’s difficult to imagine the kind of character assassinations the soldiers who gather in Washington this week will face from the war’s supporters, but it’s likely that they’re going to redefine courage and genuine patriotism in the face of withering criticism.
But the progressive community is also better prepared to push back against those attacks this time around. A robust alternative media, of which AlterNet is proud to play a role, will at least allow this new generation of Winter Soldiers to be heard. You can get involved as well by supporting IVAW, by tuning in to the proceedings live via the internet, satellite TV and select Pacifica Radio stations, or you can organize an event to view the testimony with others in your community.
All week, AlterNet will feature special coverage of the hearings. Each day leading up to the event, we’ll be posting some of the transcripts from the 1971 event. You can read Lt. Crandell’s opening statement [See below] and testimony from members of the First Marine Division, and we’ll post more as the week progresses. We’ll also take a look back at the impact the original hearings had on the anti-war movement and on the larger debates of the day.
Several members of the AlterNet team will be in Washington this weekend, and we’ll bring you the sights and sounds and in-depth coverage that the commercial media won’t.
1971 Winter Soldier Hearings: Opening Statement by William Crandell, 1st Marine Division
(March 13, 2008) — Iraq Veterans Against the War is holding a new round of “Winter Soldier” hearings in Washington, DC, March 13-16. Selections from the original hearings, held in Detroit in 1971, are published here for interested readers.
Opening Statement of William Crandell
“Over the border they send us to kill and to fight for a cause they’ve long ago forgotten.” These lines of Paul Simon’s recall to Vietnam veterans the causes for which we went to fight in Vietnam and the outrages we were part of because the men who sent us had long ago forgotten the meaning of the words.
We went to preserve the peace and our testimony will show that we have set all of Indochina aflame. We went to defend the Vietnamese people and our testimony will show that we are committing genocide against them. We went to fight for freedom and our testimony will show that we have turned Vietnam into a series of concentration camps.
We went to guarantee the right of self-determination to the people of South Vietnam and our testimony will show that we are forcing a corrupt and dictatorial government upon them. We went to work toward the brotherhood of man and our testimony will show that our strategy and tactics are permeated with racism. We went to protect America and our testimony will show why our country is being torn apart by what we are doing in Vietnam.
In the bleak winter of 1776 when the men who had enlisted in the summer were going home because the way was hard and their enlistments were over, Tom Paine wrote, “Those are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will in this crisis shrink from the service of his country, but he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”
Like the winter soldiers of 1776 who stayed after they had served their time, we veterans of Vietnam know that America is in grave danger. What threatens our country is not Redcoats or even Reds; it is our crimes that are destroying our national unity by separating those of our countrymen who deplore these acts from those of our countrymen who refuse to examine what is being done in America’s name.
The Winter Soldier Investigation is not a mock trial. There will be no phony indictments; there will be no verdict against Uncle Sam. In these three days, over a hundred Vietnam veterans will present straightforward testimony — direct testimony — about acts which are war crimes under international law. Acts which these men have seen and participated in. Acts which are the inexorable result of national policy.
The vets will testify in panels arranged by the combat units in which they fought so that it will be easy to see the policy of each division and thus the larger policy. Each day there will be a special panel during the hours of testimony.
Today, a panel on weaponry will explain the use and effects of some of the vicious and illegal weapons used in Vietnam. Tomorrow there will be a panel on prisoners of war composed of returned POWs, parents of a POW, American POW interrogators and vets who served in our own military stockades. Every witness throughout the three days will be available for cross-examination by the press after their initial statements and questioning by their fellow-vets who are acting as moderators.
We had also planned to present a panel of Vietnamese victims of the war who would testify by closed circuit television from Windsor, Canada. Last Wednesday, after we had spent a great deal of time and money arranging to bring these people to Windsor so that they could tell the people of the United States and Canada what we are doing to their country, the Canadian government denied them visas. We need not speculate upon the motives and policies of the Canadian government as our primary concern is with the motives and policies of our own government.
In addition there are two evening panels. Tonight at 7:30 a panel which includes Sid Peck and John Spellman will discuss what we are doing to Vietnam. Tomorrow night at 7:30 two psychiatrists, a lawyer, and three vets will discuss what we are doing to ourselves.
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 atrocity beyond the usual barbaric bounds of war. It is legal definition growing out of custom and tradition supported by every civilized nation in the world including our own. 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. The use of certain arms and armaments and of gas is a war crime. The forcible relocation of population for any purpose is a war crime.
All of these crimes have been committed by the US Government over the past ten years in Indochina. An estimated one million South Vietnamese civilians have been killed because of these war crimes. A good portion of the reported 700,000 National Liberation Front and North Vietnamese soldiers killed have died as a result of these war crimes and no one knows how many North Vietnamese civilians, Cambodian civilians, and Laotian civilians have died as a result of these war crimes.
But we intend to tell more. We intend to tell who it was that gave us those orders; that created that policy; that set that standard of war bordering on full and final genocide. We intend to demonstrate that My Lai was no unusual occurrence, other than, perhaps, the number of victims killed all in one place, all at one time, all by one platoon of us.
We intend to show that the policies of Americal Division which inevitably resulted in My Lai were the policies of other Army and Marine Divisions as well. We intend to show that war crimes in Vietnam did not start in March 1968, or in the village of Son My or with one Lt. William Calley. We intend to indict those really responsible for My Lai, for Vietnam, for attempted genocide. General Westmoreland said in 1966:
I’d like to say that let one fact be clear. As far as the U.S. Military Assistance Command in Vietnam is concerned, one mishap, one innocent civilian killed, one civilian wounded, or one dwelling needlessly destroyed is too many. By its very nature war is destructive and historically civilians have suffered. But the war in Vietnam is different; it is designed by the insurgents and the aggressors to be fought among the people many of whom are not participants in or closely identified with the struggle.
People more than terrain are the objectives in this war and we will not and cannot be callous about those people. We are sensitive to these incidents and want no more of them. If one does occur, mistake or accident, we intend to search it carefully for any lesson that will help us improve our procedures and our controls. We realize we have a great problem and I can assure you we are attacking it aggressively.
We need not judge Westmoreland’s bland assurances nor need we pass responsibility for these crimes. You who hear or read our testimony will be able to conclude for yourselves who is responsible.
We are here to bear witness not against America, but against those policy makers who are perverting America. We echo Mark Twain’s indictment of the war crimes committed during the Philippine insurrection:
We have invited our clean young men to soldier a discredited musket and do bandit’s work under a flag which bandits have been accustomed to fear not to follow. We cannot conceal from ourselves that privately we are a little troubled about our uniform. It is one of our prides: it is acquainted with honor; it is familiar with great deeds and noble. We love it; we revere it. And so this errand it is on makes us uneasy.
And our flag, another pride of ours, the chiefest. We have worshipped it so and when we have seen it in far lands, glimpsing it unexpectedly in that strange sky, waving its welcome and benediction to us, we have caught our breaths and uncovered our heads for a moment for the thought of what it was to us and the great ideals it stood for. Indeed, we must do something about these things. It is easily managed. We can have just our usual flag with the white stripes painted black and the stars replaced by the skull and crossbones. We are ready to let the testimony say it all.
Copyright: The 1960s Project.
© 2008 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/79137/
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