Well, your intrepid blogger immersed myself once again in the IVAW backwash. Thus Spake Ortner live blogged the hearing off the radio from the comfort of his Playboy Manor so you can probably read a more coherent version there. I’ve cracked open a Saranac Traditional Lager and I’m uploading pictures and suds while I type this.
When I arrived – at exactly 7:30 – there was no one else there so I plugged in and started filming just in time to catch Geoff Millard doing what he does best – testing all of the microphones like a good little general’s gopher;
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But they asked me to leave and wait in the hall. The VVAW already had a guy at the table to the enterance. You remember VVAW – the guys that are babysitting IVAW to give them some leverage and the benefit of IVAW’s vast experience at being blowhards. Soon after I arrived, I was overjoyed to see Coby show up – Coby is a member of the Free Republic, the Veterans for Freedom and the Gathering of Eagles and I’ve seen him at nearly every event I’ve attended this year. He’s also upwards of 6 feet tall and a very imposing figure. He set out to deliver the opposing view of the GOE to various Congressional offices on the floor. While we were talking, Army Sergeant showed up and we took a picture to prove that no matter how much we disagree, we’re still buds;
Notice the VVAW guy horning in on our picture with the VVAW shirt – I’m sure Raoul knows who he is. He tried to talk to me once because we’re both wearing CIBs, but I know I earned mine, so I didn’t have much to say to him.
Code Pinks drone hags showed up, but I wasn’t in the mood to photo them after spending Sunday at their clown picnic. Finally it was time to let us in the hearing room. Five old hippie chicks got ahead of me because they’d explained to the IVAW chic that they’d come a long way to be there. I’d come a long way, too. Glenmont’s at the end of the Red Line. Luckily, the Code Pink hags got there late and there was no room for them. For some reason they told Coby and I to sit next to each other. Whatever.
There was no internet access, so I just typed out notes in Notepad. As I said, if you can’t get what’s going on, go to The Sniper.
Woolsey opened the hearing. I got the impression she was talking to kindergartners and treating them with kid gloves – but that’s just me. I thought there would at least be an appearance of objectivity, but Woolsey blew that away in the first minute when she said that General Petraeus was telling Congress things that just “not so”. I’m pretty sure that Congress is supposed to rely on the testimony of people on the scene and not make judgements that are contrary to that unless they have evidence of some sort.
The Barbara Lee got cranked up – I just videoed her because Woolsey had me a little sick;
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Lee went on to say that Congress wanted to be at the Winter Soldier hearing in Silver Spring, but they were battling the Bush Administration at the time. Kucinich was there briefly, so actually, Lee was just trying to make excuses for not driving in crosstown traffic at rush hour. If they’d held Winter Soldier in Vegas or Jamaica, I’ll bet they’d have made it. It was on a weekend, there were no battles on weekends.
Lee also said that she expected the testimony to be damaging to the Bush Administration – so much for the whole impartial scrutiny of all of the facts. Why were the IVAW even testifying to Congress if the outcome was already clear before the IVAW said a word? She went on to talk about the “cheerleading” and “false bravado” of the Right. So basically she was admitting that the only reason these folks were testifying to Congress was for the media’s sake, not the People of the United States.
At no time were there more than four Congresswomen in the room – when Jackson-Lee left, she was replaced by Kaptur so despite the list of 73 names on the committee, only five bothered to listen – or at least to be there.
First up was Kelly Doughtery in her fishnet stockings. At least she spared us the ridiculous storyof the KBR security folks shooting bean bags at Iraqi looter. By avoiding that story, she probably helped me stay in the hearings a little longer. But, just like my discussion with John Grant last week, she hasn’t been in Iraq since 2004 – none of the folks who testified had – what could she possibly say that would disparage General Petraeus’ testimony last month? Well, she didn’t. She explained that IVAW had already vetted all of the testimony, so there was no need for Congress to put the witnesses under oath.
Hey, good enough for me. Can you imagine a defense attorney telling a judge that he’d already verified a defendant’s story so there’s no need to put his client under oath? Drivel.
Jason Lemieux followed Kelly. He was discharged in 2006 – before General Petraeus took command. He began with the standard illegal war blather and testified to the destruction of property. His Rules of Engagement (ROE) were that he should shoot Iraqis that made him uncomfortable and he claimed that excessive force was routine.
Lemieux recounted one incident, and began the story with the standard “I don’t remember the date”. His unit returned fire with thousands of rounds and Lemieux called it indiscriminate (even though he was in the headquarters and only heard the rounds being fired and didn’t witness the actual fire fight). IVAW seems to be fixated on destroyed buildings. Probably because most were so far from the action, all they got to see was destroyed buildings. He went on to say that troops aren’t fighting for democracy, or the flag, or the country…just for their own safety and that somehow makes them dangerous to Iraqis. We can only hope the Iraqis realize that.
He was followed by Scott Ewing who mumbled so badly that I couldn’t hear him, but he did show us pictures of a messy house – I can only assume that the house was made messy by evil US forces searching an Iraqi home. Nothing was destroyed, just strewn about – like those houses the police enter on “Cops” and find the criminal hiding in the closet. Then he showed a Iraqi guy with his face shot off – Coby tells me that Waters and Woolsey both cried, I didn’t see that. But there was no back story to the photo – he didn’t say the guy was tortured or innocent or anything. The picture was for pure shock value. Waters and Woolsey bit.
Then came Geoff Millard who trotted out his “troops are racists” line. I’m not going through it, his story hasn’t deviated from the version that Denis Keohane detailed at Obiter Dictum.
Kristopher Goldsmith told the committee that he’d only joined the Army because he wanted to kill, that his longing for killing went back to his youth – but we shouldn’t be afraid of him because he’s not a killer or a racist anymore. Whew. He followed with pictures of backed up toilets and sewer systems. The horrors, the horrors. Goldsmith claimed he was discharged without benefits because he tried to commit suicide. I find it hard to believe, I mean really hard to believe. If he was discharged without VA benefits it was for something other than trying to commit suicide.
You’ll be happy to know that Maxine Waters, communist POS that she is, told the witnesses that they are braver than than the folks who do their job day-after-day without seeing the atrocities of backed up toilets and she told Goldsmith, based purely on his testimony, that she’d get him his benefits and get him into college. Does that piss off anyone who did their time and did what they’d agreed to do to EARN their benefits? Apparently, if you want to get free benefits, just act up, get discharged and then go tell Maxine Waters.
They all claim that IVAW saved them from a life of drugs, alcohol and despondency – good for them.
Sheila Jackson-Lee told them that if they bring a hundred thousand protesting troops to Washington to march “we’ll be your soldiers”. Well, how about being the soldiers for the folks that are still over there? How about you stop playing keep away with their funding by tacking it to social spending. Be a real soldier instead of just mouthing the words to assuage your own guilt.
I sat through Emanuele’s and Gilligan’s testimony which was word-for-word what they’d said in Silver Spring. Kokesh began and it was just like the tape I still have on YouTube. He was scheduled to talk about war trophies, but I was pretty sure that he wasn’t going to mention that he’d been busted from the rank of sergeant for smuggling his own war trophy back – an Iraqi pistol.
I knew I had to get out of there before Montalvan started spraying the room with sleeping gas, so Coby and I split.
I should mention that Coby stood by the door for the whole hearing and passed out GOE talking points to everyone who came in the room. I saw Millard sent one of his pudgy minions over to question him about it.
Heading up the street, we found rongkirby, frequent commenter here and FReeper extraordinaire manning his corner outside the Rayburn Building. We seem to run into each other everywhere these days.
If the media found anything to sink their teeth into, I certainly didn’t hear it. As I said in my AAR of the first Silver Spring testimony, in order to consider anything these folks said to be atrocities, you have to accept that the war in Iraq is illegal – and no one can prove to me that it is.
Woolsey said that the 1971 Winter Soldier brought the Vietnam War to a close – but that’s faulty recollection. Combat trrops were already being withdrawn by 1971. The last draft was in 1972…Winter Soldier in 1971 was an asterisk, a footnote. The only people who think it brought the war an end are fooling themselves. this one will have the same pathetic effect. Waters claimed that the media isn’t giving IVAW a fair shake and getting the news out – it’s because it’s a “dog bites man” story. Buildings get blown up in war, soldiers fire lots of real bullets in war. Where’s the news?
Every major news outlet was in Silver Spring and they all arrived at the same conclusion. Why would they bother to go to the expense of putting all of those crews on the scene if they hadn’t planned on using it in the first place? One of my commenters said it best, that Winter Soldier was a wet firecracker and I’ll add that no amount of hot air from Maxine Waters or Lynne Woolsey can dry it out.