March 8, 2008 --
Next week in Silver Springs, Maryland about 100 members of the Iraq
Veterans Against the War, discharged veterans opposed to the Global War
on Terror, will spend three days publicly revealing their knowledge of
American war crimes at an event dubbed “Winter Soldier II.”
addition to media attention they hope to generate, the veterans may
find themselves getting attention from federal prosecutors armed with
a relatively new law that can send them to the penitentiary,
knowledgeable lawyers say.
name suggests, Winter
Soldier II is not the first time disaffected veterans have protested
the war they fought in. Almost four decades ago, 108 veterans and 16
civilians testified to their knowledge and participation in war crimes
in Vietnam at an event called the “Winter Soldier Investigation.”
Sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, it was held from
January 31 through February 3, 1971 at Howard Johnson facility near
Detroit. Without real consequences, aside from launching John Kerry's
political career, the Winter Soldier Investigation was merely theater.
According to the IVAW promotional material, the veterans intend to
reveal to the world that they were either aware of--or participated
in-- war crimes while fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. The
organization’s stated purpose in sponsoring the extravaganza is to
garner support for ending the Global War on Terror immediately by
exposing the constant illegality endemic in its prosecution.
“soul-searching, freedom-losing session”
watching the events say the former warriors who participate in Winter
Soldier II face a different world than their Vietnam-era counterparts.
A new law adopted in 2000 puts them at risk of prosecution by the
Military attorney Jim Culp called Winter Soldier II the
“soul-searching, freedom-losing session in Silver Springs.” Culp
says the IVAW member’s desire to “tell the truth” about the war in
Iraq carries with it possible heavy consequences because doing so
expose the veterans to possible prosecution under the Military
Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act.
the same law used by a civilian federal Grand Jury to indict former
Marine Corps Sergeant Jose Nazario with killing an Iraqi prisoner of
war more than three years ago. The former Riverside cop, who was
abruptly fired, is waiting to go to trial sometime this year.
another application of MEJA in Kentucky, the federal government used
the act to arrest and charge former 101st Airborne Division veteran
Steven D. Green with rape and murder. He had been discharged from the
Army for a “personality disorder” when the crimes were revealed.
men will serve long prison terms in federal custody if they are
McDermott, the Orange County, California defense lawyer representing
Nazario, said the IVAW volunteers are stepping onto a slippery slope.
The Act ostensibly applies to crimes committed abroad by civilians
that carry at least a one-year prison term, but the federal government
now uses it to prosecute former service members as well, he said.
could be charged if there was any independent evidence of their
crimes,” McDermott said Wednesday.
time, participants promise to tell truth. Really.
original Winter Soldier Investigation generated attention its managers
did not seek after several of its stars were revealed to be frauds.
One unmasked soldier was Al Hubbard, a professed winged warrior who
repeatedly bared his tortured soul for the cameras. Hubbard claimed to
have been an Air Force captain who flew murderous missions into
Vietnam, both clandestinely when the French were losing and again when
the Americans were still trying to win.
turned out he was a sergeant who may have never even visited Vietnam.
Neither he nor the Air Force was ever able to prove whether he was
lying or telling the truth about his purported service inside the war
zone. Hubbard was exposed after appearing on “Meet the Press” and
lying to host Lawrence Spivak on national television.
producers of Winter Soldier II say they have taken steps to prevent a
repeat of the embarrassing revelations in the first effort by making
sure the people testifying actually were service members with
authentic discharge papers. Those intending to speak have also
promised to tell the truth.
them is a former Marine infantryman named Jason Washburn, a 28-year
old former infantryman who served three tours in Iraq. Since being
discharged two years ago, he has become an activist in the anti-war
recently told the London Times that alleged atrocities like
Haditha, and the very real murders and malfeasance revealed at other
times and places, were not isolated events. In Washburn’s world, war
crimes were commonplace.
“Washburn says Haditha was not an isolated incident,”
the Times reported. “It’s the one that just happened to be
the hell is Jason Washburn?
this week Defend Our Marines set out to find Washburn. The
disenchanted Marine was unknown to long-term veterans of the
Thundering Third. Like Sgt Sanick Dela Cruz, Washburn transferred from
the 1/4 to the 3/1 for his third and final tour.
once a Marine, and I'll always be a Marine,” Washburn told us. “I will
always defend my brothers and sisters that serve in the military. I
would not be a part of Winter Soldier if I thought it was going to do
anything to bring harm to them. This is not going to be like the VVAW
version of WS. We are not just getting together to talk about ‘war
crimes’. The policies being implemented and occupation of Iraq are the
pointed out to Washburn that this was at odds with a statement on
own IVAW profile page. The statement read: “During [my third] tour
it was a squad in my unit that went on a rampage after they were hit
with an I.E.D. and ended up killing around 26 civilians.” The Justin
Sharratt case alone proves that isn't true.
Washburn answered: “I completely forgot about that shit on my
profile. I wholeheartedly apologize and retract that statement. I was
wrong to put that up.”
next day, Washburn had changed the last
sentence of his profile to read, “During that tour it was a squad
in my unit that was hit with an I.E.D. and while repelling the attack
that followed, they incidentally ended up killing around 26
26? Twenty-six is not a round number, and the figure is more than even
Murtha and Time magazine claimed.
days to showtime
last e-mail to Washburn, we pointed out that Americans who really care
about defending their brothers and sisters in the military have, to
date, donated well over $450,000 to the Haditha Marine defense funds.
It's been no easy task to generate publicity for the funds since the media lynched and left the Haditha Marines for
dead many months ago.
challenged Washburn to ask his audience to look into the facts about
Haditha and be ready to have their preconceived notions challenged by
what they’ll find.
few days, we’ll see what Jason Washburn is made of. Maybe the Left is
ready to speak truthfully about Haditha. Wouldn't that be a hell of a