National security reporter Spencer Ackerman, who's written before about the disconnect between the wants of the anti-war left and the needs of soldiers, has a preview of the new, upcoming "Winter Soldier" hearings that will expose human rights violations in Iraq.
Organizers estimate that perhaps 45 to 55 Iraq veterans, and some from Afghanistan, will testify to such "terrible things" at Winter Soldier. Liam Madden, 23, a Marine veteran of Iraq who's now a student at Northeastern University, came up with the idea for a second Winter Soldier in late 2006 with his fellow IVAW members Aaron Hughes in Chicago and Fernando Braga in New York. "The people I've talked to who are testifying are going to talk about their experiences in Iraq, how they're put in positions to harm the people of Iraq and harm the image of America because of the position they're put in, and the complete injustice involved in that," Madden said. "Other people will talk about how a run-of-the-mill day in Iraq is. It adds up to a checkpoint here, a house raid there, a house raid there, a house raid there, to a population of Iraqis who can't tolerate you any longer."
They're all too aware of how the first Winter Soldier hearings turned ugly.
Yet the organizers of Winter Soldier will consider the event a failure if it appears to blame soldiers and Marines for the war. "Imagine you're out on a convoy and you get hit by an IED," Millard said. "And the SOP [Standard Operating Procedure] is you fire in that direction of that fire that came in. That's indiscriminate. Civilians get killed in that. It's not the soldier's fault. It's not the civilian's fault. It's the occupation's fault." Millard, a recently-discharged Army National Guardsman from upstate New York, served in Iraq as a general's assistant in Tikrit from October 2004 to October 2005. His job involved briefing senior officers on daily violent incidents and it led Millard to renounce the war as beneath the dignity of his comrades. "The common U.S. soldier is not a bloodthirsty animal," he said. "The problem is the occupation of Iraq itself."
Headline explained here.