Book documenting war crimes committed by U.S. troops in Iraq published


Tihar Jail
Jun 16, 2009
Book documenting war crimes committed by U.S. troops in Iraq published
2009-08-20 05:44:39 GMT2009-08-20 13:44:39 (Beijing Time) Xinhua English

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) -- A book has been published recently by Iraq Veterans against the War, which documents war crimes committed by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The book, entitled Winter Soldier Iraq and Afghanistan: Eyewitness Accounts of the Occupations, was compiled by Iraq Veterans Against the War and freelance journalist Aaron Glantz whohas covered the Iraq war from the front lines. The English editionwas published in the Spring and the Japanese edition was publishedthis month. Both editions are selling well.

The book shows that well-publicized incidents of American brutality like the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and the massacre of an entire family of Iraqis in the town of Haditha are not the isolated incidents perpetrated by "a few bad apples," as many politicians and military leaders have claimed. They are part of a pattern, the group says, of "an increasingly bloody occupation."

The Japanese translation of "Winter Soldier" was done by 20 citizen volunteers from Translators United for Peace (TUP). The translators that worked with TUP to translate Winter Soldier span the spectrum of age and employment.

"The only way this war is going to end is if the American people truly understand what we have done in their name," said Kelly Dougherty, executive director of Iraq Veterans Against the War.

The name "Winter Soldier" is borrowed from the famous Vietnam-era Winter Soldier hearings.

On Jan. 31, 1971, members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) met in a Detroit hotel to discuss war crimes they claimed to have participated in or witnessed during their combat tours in Vietnam.

During the hearings, more than 100 Vietnam veterans and 16 civilians gave anguished, emotional testimony describing hundreds of atrocities against innocent civilians in South Vietnam, including rape, arson, torture, murder, and the shelling or napalming of entire villages.

The witnesses stated that these acts were being committed casually and routinely, under orders, as a matter of policy.

In April, the VVAW stormed Washington in a week-long protest. At its height, spokesman John Kerry went before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations to accuse the United States military of committing massive numbers of war crimes in Vietnam.

The charges he made shocked and sickened the whole nation, changed the course of a war and stained the reputation of the American military for decades.

In spring 2008, inspired by the Vietnam-era Winter Soldier hearings, Iraq Veterans Against the War gathered veterans to expose war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The book recorded the powerful words, images and documents of this historic gathering, which show the reality of life in Afghanistan and Iraq, the authors claimed.

The book recorded testimonies by Iraqi veterans who described the frustration of routinely raiding the wrong homes and arrestingthe wrong people in Iraq.

It was common for unarmed Iraqis to be killed at U.S. checkpoints or by U.S. convoys, they said. Many said they were congratulated on their "first kill." Some even desecrated Iraqi corpses.

Hart Viges said he refused to pose in a photograph with a corpse when his fellow soldiers prodded him. "I said no -- not in the context of, that's really wrong on an ethical basis," he said.

"I said no because it wasn't my kill. You shouldn't take trophies for things you didn't kill. That's where my mind-set was back then," he said.

Several veterans was quoted as saying in the book that it was common to carry a stash of extra automatic weapons and shovels to plant near the bodies of unarmed civilians they had killed to makeit look as if they were combatants.

Others described the surreal sensation of committing cold-blooded murder without facing any consequences. Jon Michael Turner, who served as a machine gunner with Kilo Company, Third Battalion, Eighth Marines, said he shot an unarmed Iraqi in front of the man's father and friend.

"The first round didn't kill him, after I had hit him up here in his neck area. And afterwards he started screaming and looked right into my eyes. So I looked at my friend...and I said, 'Well, I can't let that happen.' So I took another shot and took him out.He was then carried away by the rest of his family," said Turner.

San Francisco Chronicle commented on the book: "Winter Soldier makes us feel the pain and despair endured by those who serve in amilitary stretched to the breaking point by stop-loss policies, multiple combat tours, and a war where the goals and the enemies keep shifting, and also makes us admire the unbreakable idealism and hope of those men and women who still believe that by speakingout they can make things better both for themselves and for those who come after them."

"Winter Soldier" is a phrase apparently inspired by and playingoff of American revolutionary patriot and propagandist Thomas Paine's writing in his first "Crisis" pamphlet written in 1776 to inspire American colonists in their break from Britain.

Book documenting war crimes committed by U.S. troops in Iraq published - World News - SINA English

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