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I actually forced myself to read The Nations article on atrocities committed by US Troops in Iraq. No surprise, I found some familiar names - they'd appeared in Mudville before. Oddly enough, most of the claims they made back then - some of which were well refuted here - are not included in their latest attacks.
For instance, in the Nation, Spc. Aidan "Coke Bottles" Delgado describes a riot (one he didn't witness, by the way) at Abu Ghraib prison. Judging by their absence, we must assume Delgado has dropped other claims he used to make about his fellow soldiers. Specifically, that they kept empty coke bottles in their Humvees to smash over the heads of Iraqis as they drove by them in the streets.
Jeff Englehart has no real atrocities to describe in this story, just that American troops are ignorant racist thugs:
"I guess while I was there, the general attitude was, A dead Iraqi is just another dead Iraqi," said Spc. Jeff Englehart, 26, of Grand Junction, Colorado. Specialist Englehart served with the Third Brigade, First Infantry Division, in Baquba, about thirty-five miles northeast of Baghdad, for a year beginning in February 2004.He's really toned down his rhetoric. Back in November, 2005, Englehart made a bit of a name for himself by claiming that his fellow soldiers burned Iraqi Civilians to death in Fallujah using White Phosphorus. That claim - certainly more of an atrocity than any described in the Nation - is surprisingly not noted there.
"You can honestly see how the Iraqis in general or even Arabs in general are being, you know, kind of like dehumanized," said Specialist Englehart. "Like it was very common for United States soldiers to call them derogatory terms, like camel jockeys or Jihad Johnny or, you know, sand nigger."
Some classic Englehart quotes not appearing in the Nation:
a) ...a former US soldier who served in Falluja, tells of how he heard orders for white phosphorus to be deployed over military radio - and saw the results.Also appearing, "Spc. Garett Reppenhagen, 32, of Manitou Springs, Colorado":
"Burned bodies, burned women, burned children; white phosphorus kills indiscriminately... When it makes contact with skin, then it's absolutely irreversible damage, burning flesh to the bone," he says.
b) "White Phosphorous was used, which is definitely, without a shadow of a doubt a chemical weapon".
c) When I joined the United States Army I swore an oath to "serve and protect the Constitution of the United States", not an ignorant greedy little fuck like George Bush or any of his court jesters in the White House. And by writing and speaking against his policies and his war and his grossly high death tolls, I know in my heart that I am still, to this day, fighting to protect all the constitutional rights that his administration is robbing from us everyday.
d) The Iraqi insurrection, in itself, is what I believe to be an honest rebellion. Because it is a guerrilla war against an illegal occupation enforced by our conventional military force, with far superior weapons and technology, it seems obvious that acts of terrorism are also acts of desperation.
Probes into roadblock killings were mere formalities, a few veterans said. "Even after a thorough investigation, there's not much that could be done," said Specialist Reppenhagen. "It's just the nature of the situation you're in. That's what's wrong. It's not individual atrocity. It's the fact that the entire war is an atrocity."A ,long-time anti-war activist and Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) member Reppenhagen - although he hails from Manitou Springs, Colorado, is often called upon to make appearances posing as an audience member during John "Jack" Murtha speeches and appearances. Following Murtha's declarations, "audience members" will be invited to address the congressman. Reppenhagen will be one of the first, announce his status as a veteran of Iraq, and praise Murtha for his courage. Here's one such example.
Another such planted soldier at that meeting was "Sgt. John Bruhns, 29, of Philadelphia" - who, in an amazing coincidence, also appears in the Nation's article, revealing the terrors of house raids:
As the Alpha Company team leader, Sergeant Bruhns was supposed to be the first person in the door. Skeptical, he refused. "So I said, 'If you're so confident that there are a bunch of Syrian terrorists, insurgents...in there, why in the world are you going to send me and three guys in the front door, because chances are I'm not going to be able to squeeze the trigger before I get shot.'"
As Sergeant Bruhns ran security out front, his fellow soldiers smashed the windows and kicked down the doorsBut in addition to appearing as a random veteran audience member praising John Murtha, other details of his post-military career didn't make the published version of The Nations hit-piece. He's a favorite of the MoveOn political group:
MoveOn.org Political Action said this afternoon that the liberal group's members have chosen the subject they want to see turned into a "pro-troops," anti-war, television ad that film director Oliver Stone will create....and frequently protests with Code Pink outside Walter Reed Hospital. Bruhns is a full-time Democratic party activist. He is probably the most heavily quoted ex-soldier in the Nation's story.
The spot will focus on the story of John Bruhns, who served with the U.S. Army in Iraq and now says "I feel used and I feel misled" by the Bush administration.
Sgt. Kelly Dougherty Tells one of the most horrific stories in the piece:
"It's like very barren desert, so most of the people that live there, they're nomadic or they live in just little villages and have, like, camels and goats and stuff," she recalled. "There was then a little boy--I would say he was about 10 because we didn't see the accident; we responded to it with the investigative team--a little Iraqi boy and he was crossing the highway with his, with three donkeys. A military convoy, transportation convoy driving north, hit him and the donkeys and killed all of them. When we got there, there were the dead donkeys and there was a little boy on the side of the road.She adds that she thinks the vehicles didn't slow down much before they killed them. Dougherty is co-founder and current executive director of Iraq Veterans Against the War>. Most of the ex-soldiers appearing in the article are members.
In fact, that's essentially what The Nation's story is - a thinly disguised public relations piece for Iraq Veterans Against the War.
The Nation interviewed fifty combat veterans, including forty soldiers, eight marines and two sailors, over a period of seven months beginning in July 2006. To find veterans willing to speak on the record about their experiences in Iraq, we sent queries to organizations dedicated to US troops and their families, including Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the antiwar groups Military Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War and the prowar group Vets for Freedom. The leaders of IVAW and Paul Rieckhoff, the founder of IAVA, were especially helpful in putting us in touch with Iraq War veterans. Finally, we found veterans through word of mouth, as many of those we interviewed referred us to their military friends.Surprise!
This Nation investigation marks the first time so many on-the-record, named eyewitnesses from within the US military have been assembled in one place to openly corroborate these assertions.As noted previously - at least since John Kerry fled Vietnam. I guess IVAW doesn't hold physical meetings.
Update: Via email, from Paul Rieckhoff of IAVA:
Great blog. I am a regular reader.
I wanted to contact you ASAP to let you know that we agree with you about
The Nation piece 100%. It was a total hit job. We do not approve of or
support this piece of trash in any way. We responded immediately here:
Of course the Nation buried our letter, and gave the authors a chance to
respond before it was posted--a courtesy they didn't give us.
But there are also some other things you should know. Our guys have done a
bit of digging into who the writers of this piece are.
Laila Al-Arian has an interesting past. Look into Sami Al-Arian ("reporter"
Al-Arian¹s Father). FYI, Laila told LTC Mike Zacchea, (one of an number of
our vets who were approached, and refused to be interviewed when they
sniffed out the direction of the piece) that Sami was her uncle, not her
father. More background on that here:
The issues surrounding this piece are so numerous I don't know where to
begin. The fact that the magazine assigned Laila Al-Arian to this piece
alone undermines the article's credibility (and that of The Nation)
tremendously. Her work as an activist on her father's behalf is clearly
relevant, and obviously impacted her ability to be objective. Most of our
vets never would have talked to her had they known that.
The Nation wanted to smear vets and create an anti-war piece of propaganda.
They succeeded. They are using the names of groups like ours, Vets For
Freedom and others to do it. Please help us push back against this, and
alert all veterans. I'd be happy to answer any questions you have. Just let
Also, please check out the latest from the Dole-Shalala Commission today
Important news that folks need to know about.
Call anytime we can be a resource.
Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)
Excellent roundup of characters! Thanks, Greyhawk!Posted by wordsmith at July 27, 2007 04:44 AM
If the Nation had just kept it anti-war, Reickhoff and IAVA would have had no problems with it.Posted by RTO Trainer at July 27, 2007 08:40 AM
Concerning Cast of Characters. Why aren't these people discharged? I was in Vietnam and I would not want to serve with these people.They are dangerous to there fellow soldiers.Posted by Dave at July 27, 2007 12:28 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(3) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)