Winter Soldier: Iran & Afghanistan

The library is closing, but check out the site on how you can watch the hearings today through March 16. Here's the rundown. Sorry for the wacky format.

To mark 5 years of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, Iraq Veterans Against the War
(IVAW) will gather at the National Labor College near Washington, D.C. March
13 thru 16 to disclose the realities of U.S. war policy in a public investigation
called Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan. Veterans and civilian survivors of
both conflicts will give public testimony and share the eyewitness stories that
have been censored from the American public about the true human cost of
these occupations. This testimony also will reveal how the Iraq occupation is
tactically un-winnable, morally wrong, and has brought our military to its breaking

Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan aims to:
1) Motivate veterans and active duty service members to get involved in
todayʼs growing GI resistance movement;
2) Awaken America to the real human costs of war that have not been
exposed sufficiently by the American media; and
3) Hold both Democrats and Republicans accountable for the illegal Iraq
occupation they have jointly kept going.

The term, Winter Soldier, is a play on the words of Thomas Paine who wrote in
“The Crisis” (1776) that summer soldiers ʻshrink from the service of their countryʼ
in times of crisis. In contrast, Winter Soldiers are those who stand up for the soul
of their nation in its darkest hours. Americaʼs democracy is in crisis today,
motivated by an economic addiction to oil and empire, engaged in ongoing illegal
occupation that has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands, and stymied by a
political process that values moneyed interests more than the majority of the
American people. Over 35 years after the first Winter Soldier investigation
conducted by Vietnam Veterans Against the War, America needs Winter Soldiers
again.1 Continuing in this tradition, IVAWʼs Winter Soldiers are performing a
difficult but essential service to our country.

For the past five years, Americans have heard from generals, pundits, and
politicians about the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, but they haven't heard enough from those who have first-hand experience. IVAW believes that for our
democracy to truly function, Americans must understand the reality of the wars
our government is waging in our names. We know that veterans are most
qualified to expose the true face of the Iraq and Afghanistan occupations
because we are the ones who fought on the ground. And Iraqi and Afghan
civilians who have survived these violent occupations have important stories to
tell about whether or not they are better off with U.S. military intervention.

Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan testifiers will share their first-hand accounts of:
• Killing and injuring of innocent civilians, including children and women;
• Destruction of property, infrastructure, and natural resources;
• Racist dehumanization, torture, and abuse of civilians;
• Injured soldiers being forced back into combat before full recovery;
• Denial of medical treatment and health benefits for active duty troops and
• Waste, fraud, and abuse of private military contractors;
• Policies of discrimination against women, gays, and service members of
different ethnic and religious backgrounds within the military; and
• The breakdown of the U.S. military due to prolonged occupations in Iraq
and Afghanistan.

From incidents like Fallujah and Abu Ghraib to the awarding of no-bid contracts,
Winter Soldier will show that wrongdoings and failures in Iraq and Afghanistan
are part and parcel of war policy set at the highest levels of power. Troops are
being ordered to do things that violate their conscience and the rules of war.
Civilians whom the U.S. purports to be helping are being violated causing anger
and resentment. The U.S. military is being broken from the institutional level
down to individual service members. And large companies are profiting greatly.
Winter Soldier will place the blame of this failed war policy where it belongs – on
our political leaders.

Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan will be the largest gathering of IVAW members
to date and is the largest project IVAW has organized in its young three-and-a-
half year history. IVAW members and leaders are working diligently with
thousands of allies around the country to prepare for this historic event. We are
reaching out to our over 800 members to get them involved, and expect more
than 200 of them to attend. Teams of interviewers are taking testimony from over
100 veterans about their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their testimony is
being vetted and corroborated for accuracy and truth. Volunteer lawyers from the
National Lawyers Guild are counseling testifiers, and mental health professionals
have been made available around the country for emotional support before,
during, and after the event.