Winter Soldier II; my impressions, an AAR

| March 16, 2008

I’ve been ruminating how I would close out this weekend after focusing on Winter Soldier for the last few days. I thought a point-by-point refutation of the testimony, but I figured that’d be disingenuous of me, since the testimony lacked context – there were no dates or times or places (other than general references) or even participants in some cases. So, just like the participants, I can only give general impressions – only I’ll do it without playing to the applause.

First, my personal experience with the IVAW/Veterans for Peace and the other and sundry people was professional. I wasn’t especially pleased that I was escorted everywhere I went, or that we spent the day surrounded by security people, or that our blogs were being monitored – however, it does lend what I wrote a measure of credibility. But there were news outlets like the Guardian and al Jazeera wandering around without security and writing what they want. I’ll grant that my readership is somewhat less than theirs, but the product I created was under much more scrutiny while it was being released to the public.

I commend Army Sergeant for her hard work in getting access to the event for us. I’m sure she burned off more than a few calories running in circles making sure we weren’t overly-harassed or confined. Without her support, we’d have been stuck watching the streaming video from our homes like everyone else. We were instructed to only photograph the panels and that we couldn’t photograph the audience. When one member of the audience took a snap shot of TSO and me, I brought it to the attention of one security member and she deleted the picture from his camera.

However, I do condemn them for tackling from behind Gerry Kiley whom I reported stood up and yelled “Kerry lied and good men died”. I don’t agree with what Mr. Kiley did – it certainly didn’t remove any scrutiny from what we were doing – but tackling a frail 61-year-old from behind was just as cruel as any testimony from the panel. I’m sure they could have easily pulled him from the room without the drama. But then the whole day was about over-reaction, wasn’t it?

But to the testimony; War sucks. It’s sucked since the beginning of the invention of the rock as a weapon. Innocent people die in war, and that sucks, too. But not since the beginning of warfare has any Army taken such care to minimize innocent deaths as the United States armed forces. Never. That’s indisputable.

But, the people who testified Friday glossed over that fact. Take Kelly Dougherty’s testimony that Kellog, Brown and Root prevented scavengers from taking the diesel fuel from their disabled vehicles by firing beanbag rounds at them. What other military entity in the world uses beanbag rounds in a combat zone?

Jason Hurd testified that the ROE ALMOST forced him to shoot a woman carrying home groceries – he broke into tears and slung snot all over the panel because he ALMOST shot a woman. I guess the fact that escaped him was that the ROE worked – he didn’t have to shoot her.

Hurd also tearfully testified that his unit, when fired upon from a building turned a 50-cal on the building and unleashed 200 rounds on the masonry structure. The firing stopped and the unit continued their mission. Hurd went into great detail explaining the size of the rounds and the brass (by the way, Jason, a fifty-cal is a half-inch in diameter, you missed that) and how much ammo is in the metal container – but I fail to see how that reflects on the Bush administration or that Pentagon entity he was trying to blame. Hurd admitted that he doesn’t know how many people were in the building, that he knows of no casualties resulting from that action – so one is left to wonder what was his point?

The point of the whole testimony, for the entire day I spent there was that the war is illegal from the get-go. They offered no evidence that the war is illegal – but when there’s room full of aged bobbleheads nodding on cue – who needs evidence? All of these terrible things that happened could have been avoided if George W, Bush and the evil neo-cons hadn’t invaded Iraq in the first place. No one had stories of torture or atrocities – they only described the horror of being in war. You could only accept these things as atrocities if you accepted at the beginning that war is illegal. Without that admission, you were left to wonder what everyone was talking about.

That was one of the problems – I was probably one of the youngest people in the room and I’m nearly 53 years old. The audience were a bunch of old hippies who’d never served in the military and had never seen a war outside of the context of the politics of war. They tch-tched their way through the hearings without understanding the pains the military had to suffer to avoid real atrocities. Their only solution to the war was ending it – today with no real thought of the consequences. The only victory they sought was a victory of Democrats over Republicans regardless of what the nation would be forced to deal with when their solution was enacted.

Almost everyone testified that they were confused as to the ROE – but then they all testified to a measure of restraint they all knew was present. Um, the ROE. The confusion came when they actually had to apply their own common sense in relation to the ROE and their circumstances.

Jon Michael Turner started telling us how he shot people, he showed us pictures of his kills (dare I say trophies?) – but he neglected to fill in the part about why he shot those people in the first place. I’m pretty sure he didn’t just indiscriminately shoot “the fat man” or the guy in the bicycle. Why didn’t he tell us about the events leading up to his pulling the trigger instead of beginning his stories with the death of his targets? He referred to his “choking hand” and his bracelet on his choking hand – but he failed to tell us if he ever used his “choking hand” to choke anyone that didn’t deserved to be choked. Just that he had a “choking hand”. And then he went on to tell us that he’s not the monster he once was. Well, fellow Vermonter, what made you a monster – the fact that you designated one of your hands a “choking hand”?

His testimony has changed somewhat since January when this video was posted on YouTube and Turner announced that atrocities against innocent civilians was the policy of the military in Iraq.

From his testimony Friday, it seems the only policy of committing atrocities against Iraqi civilians was his own.

James Gilligan’s claims were funny. Some troops stole a few gold coins they found (wasn’t that in the movie “Three Kings?) – what about the troops who found billions of US currency and didn’t take even a George Washington? His first sergeant threatened a boy with a pistol – he didn’t kill the boy, he didn’t harm the boy, he just threatened him. hardly an atrocity. Oh, and he outright lied about witnessing someone being waterboarded – but then he was playing to the crowd. More detractors of the practice have been waterboarded to demonstrate it to the masses than have been actually waterboarded to extract information. But as soon as he said “…and of course they were waterboarded”, all of the bobbleheads in the audience went to nodding.

While we’re on the subject of lying, Adam Kokesh began his testimony with a lie – that’s why I switched on the video – so I didn’t have to listen to him and then get dragged out like Gerry Kiley. He claimed that he’d opposed the war before it began but joined because he thought it was his duty – his website used to claim he joined because he was a real hoo-ah guy and supported the war against terrorists and he’d been influenced by recruiters but the horrors of war turned him against it. So now that he’s established that he’s a liar. when was he lying – on Friday or on his blog? Kokesh depends on people to forget what he’s said in the past.

The real atrocity stories were being told out by the ashtray, though. I don’t know how many of the IVAW kids I heard relating their tales to the belly-shirt, hip-hugger wearing college aged chickies while I took my smokebreaks. But I don’t want to c***block on any of those guys who might still be laid up with their airhead honeys today – that’d be a neocon atrocity.

No matter how hard the panels tried, they tried to make it about the Bush Administration, but their testimony all boiled down to the actions of the soldiers. They claimed to support the troops, but their supposed atrocities were all the result of small unit leaders’ actions (yes, guys, your captains and lieutenants are “troops”, too). No matter how hard they tried to deflect their criticism away from the troops, it hit all of our service members square in the forehead. Registering your gun with willie pete isn’t a decision made by some faceless neo-con in the Pentagon, calling for fire on a village is a company commander’s decision, not Dick Cheney’s. Bragging about firing up a civilian car isn’t coming from the Defense Department. George Bush wasn’t pushing down on the 50-cal’s butterflies or reloading the gun.

I may have some more thoughts as the day goes on, but I’m going to spend the day with my grandson. Keep an eye on The Sniper, TSO is supposed to be live-blogging the media portion of the testimony.

Thanks to all the bloggers that linked to this today and welcome to the readers of Blackfive, Pal2Pal, the Democracy Project, Chickenhawk Express and Obit Dictum.

Update: Make sure you read the AAR of my battle buddy, TSO, at Vets For Freedom and The Sniper.

Category: Antiwar crowd, Bloggers, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Media, Phony soldiers, Politics, Protests/Rallies, Support the troops, Terror War, Winter Soldier II Live blogging

Comments (24)

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Sites That Link to this Post

  1. BLACKFIVE | March 16, 2008
  2. Rosemary's Thoughts | March 17, 2008
  3. IVAW ‘Winter Soldier II’ AAR (The Circus Leaves Town) « The Foxhole | March 18, 2008
  1. Great report, thanks for being there. Looks to me like Winter Soldier II was a big wet firecracker, really pathetic. How tragically comic that they tackled a dissenting senior citizen veteran instead of just escorting him out; great point well made by the author.

    Also, good points that they didn’t offer any proof the war was illegal, and how Kokesh lied (the author did provide the proof, Kokesh’s own website!)

  2. Robin says:

    Jonn – great analysis of WSII. Exactly what we thought it would end up being. So much for all those atrocities and war crimes claims. Thank you for sitting through all of this.

  3. Scrapiron says:

    But did any of them stand up to their previous claims of killing civilians for fun? Was waiting for them to be arrested and returned to Iraq for trial and execution by the Iraqi people. That would be fun.

  4. Jonn,

    Excellent round-up, inciteful and we are all in your debt for having done the real work in this!

  5. John,

    Thanks for the reports. I was expecting a guy named Jason Washburn to do some yarning about Haditha, but maybe he thought better of it.

    I put a link to your blog at the top of


  6. Jonn,

    Bruce Kesler of Democracy Project was highly impressed with your AAR, as is only proper!

  7. LT Nixon says:

    Thanks for the round-up!

  8. yankeemom says:

    Thank you, James!! I so appreciate your being there and listening to the “testimonies” for those of us who couldn’t.

    A Grateful and Proud Army Mom

  9. ponsdorf says:

    Well done. Sorry I couldn’t be there with you, but my conscience is salved because you were!

  10. Speakinhg of Washburn, I was fairly surprised to not hear about his testimony – but Dahr Jamail is reporting he did testify.

    Jonn, don’t want to trouble you but when you can could you look at this:

    Doesn’t seem to square, which would be a real surprise coming from the credible Jamail!

  11. yankeemom says:

    Jonn, I just reread my comment and realized I wrote ‘James’. Forgive that, please. I was a bit punchy from the day’s events when I wrote the comment – I’m not as young as I used to be….heh

  12. Jonn Lilyea says:

    Yankeemom – you can call me anything you’d like. I answer to everything at my age. I just read on your blog yesterday that you were at the rally, too. Sorry we missed each other.

  13. Rosemary says:

    Thank you so much for doing this (so I didn’t have to do it, lol). I tried to find a livestream, but I was too jazzed about the National Heroes Tour. Besides, I have an inclination to want to avoid these ‘people’. You did an excellent job! Have a great week after taking a long, hot shower. 😉

  14. Good times, good times. I didn’t realize you had those pics deleted. Good for you, that was starting to piss me off.

    I never did go back yesterday. Honestly, I was feeling so unwelcome it just didn’t seem worth it, plus I noted that IVAW was throwing clips up on line, so we can dissect them to pieces now.

    Seriously appreciated having you with me. Not sure why you look so much safer than me to the moonbats. You got to walk around with relative impunity, while they treated me like Hannibal Lector. Very odd.

  15. GI JANE says:

    “But, the people who testified Friday glossed over that fact. ”

    They glossed over a lot of things, facts, in particular.

    “The point of the whole testimony, for the entire day I spent there was that the war is illegal from the get-go. They offered no evidence that the war is illegal – but when there’s room full of aged bobbleheads nodding on cue – who needs evidence? All of these terrible things that happened could have been avoided if George W, Bush and the evil neo-cons hadn’t invaded Iraq in the first place. No one had stories of torture or atrocities – they only described the horror of being in war. You could only accept these things as atrocities if you accepted at the beginning that war is illegal. Without that admission, you were left to wonder what everyone was talking about.”

    Ya gota love the hypocritical talents of the little whiners at WSII. They volunteered to do exactly what Soldiers have done for centuries, but after they actually had to do what they were trained for, they came back as professional mayrters. Iraq and Afghanistan are both battlefields in the WOT, and the little darlings better brace themselves, because it ain’t over by a long shot. Not until the Islamofascist turds who attacked us first, (a fact the IVAW convieniently forgets)are all dead.

    The biggest shitbird in the bunch, Adam Kokesh, is the epitome of stupid. “I joined and fought in an “illegal war” because I thought it was my duty”. Jeezustapdancingchrist. Some people need to submit to an IQ test before they’re allowed to breed, vote, or volunteer for the military.

    All one needs to do is research the first Winter Soldier farce and read about the perjury, and the fakes who had never been to ‘Nam telling lies about things they never did or saw, and you get the gist of the Winter Soldier redux.

    All in all, good job Jonn, reporting on the antics from the circus.

  16. GI JANE says:

    typo: Mayrters=Martyrs

  17. sue says: has transcripts of some of the testimony online, and it seems you might have gotten some of the stories mixed up. jason hurd almost shot an 80 year old woman for driving towards him, but did not when someone ran out and got her to stop the car.
    jason washburn told of killing a woman walking by with a large bag, that after they ” lit her up” with a grenade launcher they realize the bag was full of groceries.
    yet another jason, JASON LEMIEUX testified that,,,,
    This Marine had had his best friend get killed on our last deployment and had also related to me a story about the two-day firefight that I mentioned earlier, when he watched the commander, who had given us the order to shoot anyone on the street, shoot two old ladies that were walking and carrying vegetables. He said that the commander had told him to shoot the woman, and when he refused, because they were carrying vegetables, the commander shot them.

    easy to get all those jasons and women they either killed or didn’t kiil mixed up

  18. Jonn Lilyea says:

    No, I think the transcripts may have changed a bit, sue. When (whoever) was telling the story about the commander shooting a woman (just one woman when he told the story), he told it in the third person – that someone had told him it happened. Someone who had heard it from someone else.

    I was pretty clear that Jason Hurd’s story was about ALMOST shooting a woman – he didn’t shoot her because he followed his ROE and waited until she was close enough that someone stopped her from approaching any closer. He followed his ROE and it worked out for him.

    Now, I’m not changing my stories at this point because Democracy Now or anyone else changes their transcripts. I have a witness and we know what we heard.

  19. sue says:

    right, he didn’t shoot her, but it wasn’t a lady carrying groceries – that was another jason. i think the ivaw plans to archive all of the proceedings online , and democracynow has the video/audio with accompanying transcripts. i just mentioned the transcripts because they’re easier to just scan rather than having to watch the whole thing.

  20. Jonn Lilyea says:

    Thanks, sue. I guess I’m just a bit touchy – you should see my email.

    If anyone wants to read the transcript at Democracy Now here’s the url;

    http://www (dot) democracynow (dot) org/2008/3/18/winter_soldier_contd_us_vets_active

    You can copy and paste it into your browser after you make the (dot)s actual dots.

  21. gary says:

    Good article. It is a shame that these young men are so pathetic. This is what comes of raising young men to be young women. They liberal agenda has always been about wussification of the American male.

    These little boys have never learned what it means to be a man so they look for adulation and love of their peers by becoming go alongs.

    These poor excuses for males will someday regret they gave up their manhood for media attention.