Monday, September 15, 2008

Mad Progress TV: Breaking the Silence on Winter Soldier

By: Harry Waisbren

Our first episode of Mad Progress TV aired this past Saturday on Madison's Community Access Channel 4 WYOU. The episode entailed an analyzation of the upcoming Winter Soldier investigation to be held at 3:00 PM on Sept. 27 at the University of Wisconsin's Union Theatre. 

Madison Winter Soldier is being organized by Iraq Veterans Against the War, but I am very proud to say that Madison's chapter of Campus Progress is among the litany of organizations supporting this effort. We will be working with these true patriots to amplify their voices and work to force our elite decision makers to listen to those most affected by their blood-drunk decision making. Just as it was in Vietnam, our soldiers are once again being compelled to commit immoral and illegal acts for the benefit of a cowardly elite, and it is long past time for their calls for redemption to be heard!

In our first full episode of Mad Progress TV I interviewed Chris Dols who is on the national coordinating committee for the Campus Anti-War Network (CAN) while also serving on the Madison Winter Soldier media team with me. In the introduction to the episode I explain exactly why Madison's chapter of Campus Progress is supporting this effort as much as we possibly can:

As discussed in the above clip, one of the prime purposes for our chapter is to amplify the voices of those who have been silenced by our political and media elite. It is shameful to the most base degree that this silenced majority includes the very soldiers who such institutions purportedly support, and this is specifically why I am so honored to be working on helping them make their voices heard through any method possible.

One of these methods mentioned in the clip is Campus Progress Actions' I'm Voting For Campaign which strives to collect online video testimonials in order to give young people a platform to talk about the personal experiences and passions for the issues that are driving us to the polls. I know that the un-American negligence of our soldiers is driving me to vote and to activate, and I know first hand that many others are similarly inspired from seeing members of our generation exploited in such a craven fashion. Also, I find it particularly important to incorporate soldiers and veterans into this effort considering the military's ongoing shameful efforts to prevent our troops from voicing their opinions about the presidential rate.

In the second segment of the episode, Chris discusses the history of what Winter Soldier really is:

In the clip above Chris discusses how the original Winter Soldier investigation of the Vietnam war exposed the widespread nature of atrocities in Vietnam. Furthermore, it exposed how such atrocities were not the work of a few bad apples but were officially sanctioned government policy. Quite regrettably, this has also become the case with the Iraq war as know for a fact that our soldiers have been pressured by superiors to increase body counts. Furthermore, the officially sanctioned torture policies at facilities such as Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo has been cited before congress as being the "first and second identifiable causes of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq". Such policies completely neglects our soldiers' requirement to disobey unlawful orders and have also directly led to soldiers fleeing to avoid having to commit such blatant atrocities.

In our third segment we discuss why it is such a worthy cause for local organizations such as Campus Progress and CAN to support Madison Winter Soldier:

Chris discussed here how it is of the upmost importance for soldiers considering dissent to know that there is an anti-war movement at home prepared to defend their right to speak. Although it seems entirely counterintuitive for those who have proven their patriotism beyond a shadow of the doubt to see their liberties taken away, this remains the case. Furthermore, Chris astutely cites Martin Luther King's quote that "the bombs of Vietnam hit at home" in regards to how all of us bare the brunt of the war and the larger military industrial complex economically. None of us can escape such moral decay, and the great American experiment with democracy will undoubtedly fail if this decay is not alleviated.

The fourth segment of the episode highlighted the specific ways in which the original Winter Soldier led directly to the end of the war in Vietnam:

Chris detailed here how the anti-war movement consciously decided to change tactics in an effort to reach those who could most directly work to end the war---our soldiers in the field. In fact, the Winter Soldier investigations organized by these activists directly led to soldiers refusing to fight through their realization that they were participating in an illegal war. In fact, it got even worse than this, as many of our soldiers went to lengths far graverPaul Rosenberg of has written superbly about this very topic and has cited Col. Robert D. Heinl Jr. to confirm this point:
"Frag incidents" or just "fragging" is current soldier slang in Vietnam for the murder or attempted murder of strict, unpopular, or just aggressive officers and NCOs. With extreme reluctance (after a young West Pointer from Senator Mike Mansfield's Montana was fragged in his sleep) the Pentagon has now disclosed that fraggings in 1970(109) have more than doubled those of the previous year (96).

Word of the deaths of officers will bring cheers at troop movies or in bivouacs of certain units. In one such division -- the morale plagued Americal -- fraggings during 1971 have been authoritatively estimated to be running about one a week....

The issue of "combat refusal", and official euphemism for disobedience of orders to fight --[is] the soldier's gravest crime

It is shocking to believe that our soldiers would ever engage in such a grave crime as "combat refusal", much less go so far as to FRAG THEIR OFFICERS (i.e. throw a grenade into their room and run)! It is useful to remind ourselves that the same ruling class that forced our soldiers into such predicament then are still in power today, as it is the most brazen example of just how far down the path of irreconciable misdeeds our power elite will go. Furthermore, it should be seered in our societies collective memory as an example of just how much horribly wrong things can go in war, and why it is so important for the people to compel their media and government to disclose the most important issues of war and peace.

And finally, in our last segment we discuss why it is such a worthy endeavor for anyone to listen to soldiers who speak out against the war:

The audience at Madison Winter Soldier will have the opportunity to hear first hand from our troops about the government supported atrocities they saw or perhaps were even compelled to participate in. As I discussed in the clip, it is a sight to behold to listen to our soldiers discuss things far too painful for someone like me to even imagine, and it is a blemish on our country that our mainstream media system refuses to give them a platform to speak.

I, for one, refuse to sit silently and continue watching the silencing of our soldiers, and this is why I find Winter Soldier to be such a breathtakingly important endeavor. I refuse to remain silent as the rate of veterans' suicides continue to exceed their combat deaths, and as our government continues to underdiagnose post traumatic stress disorder in their efforts to save a buck. There is no issue of more importance, considering that while one fifth of our veterans suffer from PTSD or major depression our government remains more concerned with concealing this ongoing suicide epidemic.

It is long past time to Break This Silence. It is long past time to actually Support Our Troops. Fortunately, it is almost time for Madison Winter Soldier!


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